Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sexpo: flaccid and inadequate and entirely too small

So this weekend there was another exposition at the convention centre that we attended. We’ve been to decorator shows and home improvement shows and hobby shows, and generally had an entertaining, enjoyable time. So there was no reason for us to expect any less from Sexpo, particularly since sex is something that, unlike home decorating or jigsaw puzzles, appeals to almost everybody.

While I like these various shows and expos, I’m not terribly keen on crowds. I don’t know if the Convention Centre’s air conditioning is inadequate to the task or if the staff simply doesn’t want to spend the money to actually cool the space, but if it’s crowded it is invariably overheated in there. So, when we entered the parking structure and found it full…the parking area for the adjacent office tower had been opened for the overflow…I got a bad feeling.

It didn’t get better when we entered…the area leading up to the entrance to the show space was just a little OTT…a roped off red carpet leading to the ticket area and then to the venue, and glitter-framed posters, for all the world looking like a cut-rate movie premiere…although I must say the flasher in the trench coat popping out from behind a pillar was a cute touch. And the entry fee…well, let’s just say that when you charge a premium entry fee—roughly four times the price of Decorex or the Home Fair—an increased level of expectation is created in the minds of the attendees. And when we couldn’t use a credit card for the unusually high entry fee…alarm bells began to softly clang in the back of my head.

There must have been something else going on at the Convention Centre that day because there just weren’t enough people in the show to account for all those cars. Half the huge space was set aside for booths, but the array of items displayed was disappointing…not a lot of variety (how many sex-toy booths can you look at before complete boredom sets in?) and a surprising lack of imagination.

When we first entered Sexpo, there was a roped off circular area inside which there were two large swings, each swing holding a bare-breasted young woman. Now, if I was the organizer of this event, I would have made much more of this “set the tone” opportunity. As it was, the girls were unremarkable in any way except that their boobs were naked. The space they inhabited was bare. The swings were unadorned. The whole thing screamed “cheap and tacky.” Not the message I would want to slap all my customers in the face with, the minute they stepped inside the door. The bare-breasted maidens were completely ordinary except for their lack of a top. They were not particularly pretty or curvaceous, their outfits unremarkable, they wore no make up, jewellery, or costumery, nor had they bothered to fix their hair. What different message could have been sent by having them provocatively dressed, glam makeup, sexy hair, tall spike-heeled shoes, feather boas or glitter on the breasts, and carrying some interesting props like long gloves, fans, or even some of the exotic toys on sale in the booths. The swing seats could have been draped with a fluid fabric, the ropes garlanded or festooned with lamé ribbons or some other kind of decoration. Their circle could have been defined by some decorative fencing, and another young lady, provocatively dressed, could have walked around inside the fence, distributing literature from the various booths (the vendors could pay the organizers to have the distribution made). If you walked into something like Sexpo and were immediately greeted by two sexy, nearly naked women on fancy swings and then approached by a beautiful young woman in a formal gown, the top of which was cut so as to reveal her breasts, what would you think?

One thing that struck me was the dearth of condom representatives. In a country where HIV/AIDS is a scourge, one would think that any show with a sexual theme and aimed at the young and horny would have an abundance of “safe sex” messages around. Not a one!! And only one condom manufacturer…Durex…had a booth.

It wasn’t particularly entertaining, either. There were several interactive “stations” provided…an adult “jumping castle” kind of thing with a 10 or 15 foot tall erect penis in the middle ,was empty, and the “Gold Member”—a giant gold penis on a supermarket pony ride mechanism—was empty. The mechanical bull had a small…maybe five people…group in attendance, but here the organizers missed another great opportunity. Instead of a mundanely clad man sitting off to the side with the controls, why not a beautiful woman in cowboy boots, denim “boy shorts” showing the lower cheeks of her bum, a short leather vest playing peek-a-boo with her breasts, and a cowboy hat? Surely she would have attracted more people to the bull?

Then there was Miss Nude SA who lounged around on a sofa in a booth wearing stretch lace broekies (boy shorts). Sorry, but if her claim to fame is nudity, she should be nude. I am not sure what she was supposed to be doing, but she was beckoning people into the booth like an Amsterdam window girl. Yes, this is Sexpo, but is this the association the Miss Nude SA wants with their pageant? I don’t know, but if I were them, I might be concerned that potential entrants might be put off by the idea that they would be equated with whores after this.

I don’t know why Miss Nude SA was being so modest about showing her nether regions…there certainly was no prohibition against it. One of the main advertised attractions was Pricasso, a fellow who paints using his manly bits as his paint brush, and he was there giving live demonstrations of his talent. I must confess to disappointment, however, as both Hubby and I were under the impression that the man used his erect penis to render his masterpieces…and we expected a much younger artiste. The gentleman does have some artistic talent…his portrait of Paris Hilton as the Mona Lisa was recognizable…but somehow we did not expect him to be taking his flaccid penis in hand—literally!—and painting with it! You can see him here http://www.pricasso.com/

And then there was the live stripper… I have long since given up expecting South African strippers to have a sense of rhythm or any inkling of what it means to move sensuously for the titillation of observers, but this girl was just pathetic. The organizers had erected a huge stage complete with cameras and gigantic monitors—big enough for a rock concert—and across this massive expanse of stage there pranced a single stripper, dwarfed by the space around her. The space in front of the stage was without seating and stretched interminably back towards the retail floor. A small group of people…perhaps three deep…clustered in front of the stage where this young woman gyrated clumsily and without regard to the music pumping loudly behind her. Those of us on the retail floor who couldn’t make out what the bouncing blob on the stage was could look to the monitors to see what passed for action on stage. The high…or low…point of the strip show was when the stripper stepped down from the stage, removed her clothes, and then went back up on stage to awkwardly gyrate some more, this time in the buff.

The best part of the show was the incongruous presence of the Baptists. Seeking to trade on (or induce) guilt in the patrons of this supposedly salacious event, a local Baptist church rented a booth and set up a donation station for the hungry. Since few people come to a sex show with tins of soup in their pockets, the church was soliciting funds and had the foresight to set up examples of what your donations could buy. I don’t think it was coincidental that their booth was located such that their view of monitors for the stage was blocked by the other booths! But their sober presence was a deliciously ironic counterpoint to what could have been a delightful meander through the joys of human sexuality.

Sexpo’s website claims it is “…the entertainment festival of the year, packed with continuous stimulation and is the ultimate adult shopping experience…” but I’m going to have to disagree. It lacked subtly, it lacked sensuality, it lacked imagination, it lacked fun, and it was waaaay too expensive. Up in Durbanville there’s an adult shop located next door to a strip club called Teazers…pretty much the same offerings as Sexpo but a whole lot cheaper.


  1. You write so well that your descriptions create vivid picture sin my mind's eye. I'm laughing so hard I can hardly type. What an adventure. I'm disappointed that I missed the opportunity to attend this laugh in.

  2. I totally agree! We have the Sexpo come to Adelaide (I haven't dragged my husband to one). I actually went with my brother and his friend, weird enough I know. We paid $20 to get in and I saw so very many sex toys, and pretty much nothing else. The highlight was watching an old guy from the audience not be able to manage to put on a g-string. He came onto stage with it on backwards. It deeply disturbed me..I still have nightmares =)

  3. I totally agree. The Sexpo comes to Adelaide, which I have never dragged my husband to. I actually went with my brother and his friend, weird enough I know. We paid $20 to get in, to see so very many sex toys and not much else! The highlight was watching people from the audience dance naked on stage. I have to admit it took quite a bit of bravery, but that didn't compensate for the lack of rhythm and disturbing sights. If it wasn't enough, they send you home with a Sexpo DVD, to enjoy the experience at home. On this DVD I saw an old man dance, who had absolutely no idea how to wear a g-string and had somehow put it on backwards *shudder*

  4. Hmm...interesting.

    I've never been to a "Sexpo" so this sounds about like what I'd expect from them. Cheap...unorganized...relying too heavily on breasts to entertain.

    LOL@Pricasso. As I'm at work...I dont think I'll check out the link but...who wants to watch some guy rub his penis on a board. The least he could do would be to...be excited. Silly men...

    Thank you for sharing this quite quirky (and seemingly eventful) day!


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