Putting the boredom in BDSM: A review of Sexpo

  I don’t know about you, but I find the concept of Sexpo fascinating. What could be more interesting than bringing something that is (generally) extremely private out into the public sphere, complete with neon-lighting, stands and Russell Gilbert?

  After attending, I decided the answer to that is almost anything.

  Don’t get me wrong, sex is a pretty good thing. Although I shudder to think of it, sex is the reason I, and you, dear reader, are here. I’m entirely sex-positive.

But the overriding feeling I got from Sexpo was that it was there to make the Benjamins for faceless multinational conglomerates, not celebrate the strange and unparalleled phenomenon that is human sexuality. Whilst advertised as providing a “fun, vibrant and positive atmosphere for like-minded people to enjoy all things adult”, the only agreeance I have with that heading was that it was “adult”. It’s hard to be positive when you’re bombarded with multiple stands promising a “designa vagina” for $4999, or group bookings to Thailand for cheap “cosmetic tourism”.

  As I watched “Trinity Porter and the Wildest Women in the West” stack three-high on top of each other, fingering and probably going down on each other (I wasn’t paying too much attention) naked on stage, I actually found it dull. In fact, I found it so scintillating that I think I yawned, because it’s contagious, and I saw my companion yawning seconds before me.

  If ol’ Trinity and her work colleagues appeared to enjoy their performance, and not just look like they were trying to get enough dough to enter rack city, bitch rack rack city, bitch, then I would have thought “hats off to you, sisters”, but their lobotomised eyes, magnified on two big screens and cast out to the grandstands sang a different tune. And that tune was flat.  These women were clearly just doing the rounds.

  Many adult entertainers develop dissociative syndrome to be able to psychologically cope with their jobs, and these women were displaying all the right symptoms. I once spoke to a sex worker who told me she did things like trying to memorise all the Chinese dynasties in chronological order whilst “on the job”. I suppose that’s the cave you crawl into when your life consists of travelling around from city to city having your vagina spat on by two other women in front of large crowds of strangers.

  Looking around and surveying people’s reactions to this, I doubt anyone got aroused. Even the rambunctious group of acne-clad 18-year-old boys next to me didn’t seem to be digging it. If Ricky Gervais and Steve Carell were somehow able to procreate, this event would have been their progeny. It was just so damn awkward. I thought it interesting that the male strippers only got down to their thongs. Obviously, men showing their junk was too controversial, but male strippers are just funny rather than sexual, so everyone was was more or less happy.

  Not to be dissuaded, I dragged my companion around, eager to get an accurate understanding of the convention. Some stuff was genuinely funny, like Pricasso, a loquacious and talented pink-vinyl-chap and cowboy-hat-wearing artist whose modesty was concealed only by a small zip-up pouch. who paints pictures with his…appendage (obviously). His artworks were actually pretty good. As we chatted to him about the university in Sydney his son is currently attending and his “body-friendly” paint recipes, he seemed more like a friendly British uncle than exhibitor at Sexpo. There was also a stall for Hero Condoms that promised to distribute a condom to people in developing countries to reduce HIV for for every condom bought by  Australians.

  Some stuff was just to be expected, there were enough vibrators and male mastubatory aids (that I was assured are ergonomically designed and made from the highest quality Japanese silicon) and female role-play costumes to fill a Hugh Hefner house. There were pole-dancing stalls and many lingerie stalls.

  Other stuff (in my opinion) was just messed up, like the blow-up granny sex-doll with removable false teeth.

  There was also the gerbil train, which featured mannequins getting their penises guillotined, submissive women being pissed on, being sprayed in the face with mist coming out of a dummy’s penis, a guy on all fours shitting out of a light-up tube and a whole bunch of other things.

  Maybe that’s a good thing, maybe it’s normalising some people’s sexual habits so we can work toward one big happy sexual world where pissing on people for sexual gratification is accepted, or maybe it’s just homogenising and commercialising fucked-up stuff that porn is perpetuating.

  Whilst I find a lot of the stuff that people are into doesn’t exactly float my boat, I try not to judge. For previous articles and some fairly extensive quantitative research for major assignments etc, I’ve probably seen more porn than your average 15-year-old male. (Try explaining THAT to your computer-fixy guy when you come to him with a virus-laden laptop and a search history that would make Jenna Jameson blush.  He won’t believe you, but whenever you run into him randomly at the bus stop, he’ll smirk at you and give you a look that says “I know what you’re into”).

  As a result of said psychologically-damaging porn-viewing, I figured there wasn’t much I haven’t seen. Having said that, watching an overweight guy dressed up as a cat having the absolute shit flogged out of him by his boyfriend in the BDSM stand made me a little bit uncomfortable, my companion was almost convulsing out of disgust.

“He loves it, he has one of the highest pain thresholds out of everyone I know, he can be bleeding (from the lashings) and not even wince”, I’m informed by a good-looking clean-cut guy, who tells me he’s a doctor at St Vincent’s and is interested in “electrical-play”. “But get him with electricity and he’ll drop, it’s just about knowing your strengths and weaknesses” he added.

Chatting to this guy about using needles and injecting fluids that give you 24-hour penis or breast implants, sensory deprivation and slaves, I’m struck by how normal he appears and how we could as well have been having a conversation about cornflour.

  After declining to sit on on what he describes as the world’s best chair-vibrator, I feel compelled to prove I’m not a fuddy-duddy and so he electrocuted my and my companion’s arm at 25 per cent. It wasn’t so bad, just tickled in a slightly stinging way. Like getting a tattoo on a fleshy part of your body. Taking my laughter as an indication of me disregarding the pain, he assured me that turning it up to 100 per cent is no longer a walk in the park, but that it looks really cool in the dark because you can see the electrical current.

  In that way, I feel that sexpo could offer a kind of refuge for those who feel like they’re abnormal. On the other hand, I felt lot of the stands were just out to make money by telling people that they, or the sex they’re having, isn’t good enough.

  I know a lot of female friends who do things they’re not comfortable with or that hurt them because they’re too scared of being seen as old-fashioned or uptight. These are normally empowered and intelligent women. I work with a guy who thinks that ejaculating on a passed-out woman’s face and taking photos of it on her phone is an acceptable, nee brag-worthy accomplishment, but alas, I digress.

  Leaving the Sex Maze, a collection of mirrored walls, I navigated my way through with the labyrinth with the encouragement of an unconvincing voiceover telling me “Oh baby, like that”. Like WHAT, exactly? Navigate through the maze “like that”? I was glad our media passes meant we didn’t have to fork out the two or so bucks for entry. Making our way to the Fetish demonstration exhibition, we ran into an obstreperous and very caustic dominatrix woman in lingerie and thigh-high boots parading around harassing men by physically blocking their path whilst ululating how they’re “guaranteed  to see a pussy for two bucks” over a microphone. To me, it seemed more like a fishmongerer selling their catch than a sexy romp, or general exploitative practice.

  Probably the most offensive and pernicious part were the “Designa Vagina” stalls that promised to increase male and female enjoyment. Given that some of the poor women pictured in the A4 folders of “before” and “after” actually would need surgery, as they had extreme deformities, out of the 15 or so, only two could be considered to be outside the normal range for the size of their vaginas (that’s 2-10cm, girls).

  Hiding my media pass lanyard, two young guys were looking at the pictures.“Is this not normal?”, one of them asked the woman at the stall “God no, that’s gross”, the obviously professional stand-operator responded.

  So, would I recommend Sexpo? If it was free, maybe once — just to check it out — but I wouldn’t pay for it. I was that curious/dumb kid who licked the metal freezer door and super-glued my fingers together, I totally get curiousity. But, at the end of the day, the overriding theme of the day for me was indifference. At least you get street cred when you super-glue your fingers together. Imma stick to that.

Renee Griffin
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