Archive for the ‘Adult Shows’ Category

The Great Erotica Rip Off

Just returned from a trip to Erotica, held at the famous Olympia exhibition centre in London. Erotica is a well-known public/trade show, attracting attendees from throughout Europe, to sample products and innovations in the world of adult entertainment.

Now, I would love to be telling you that the show was a great success. But I can’t say that. In my opinion Erotica 2009 was a massive let-down, on many fronts.

The first thing that got my goat when I arrived at Olympia was the fact that – despite tickets costing just under thirty pounds – there was no re-admission to the venue once you were in. I’ve been to numerous trade and public shows, all over the world, over the past twenty years, and this was the first time I’d encountered this rule. And, to be frank: it’s a load of old tosh. To deny re-admittance on a ticket so expensive, for no good, obvious reason is tantamount to robbery.

My next criticism is of the security policies. Cameras were not allowed into the show, and if you were found with one on you it was confiscated. The same thing for any item that might look like a marketing handout. I took with me a couple of copies of my book, and a small amount of sales sheets – not to hand out (I was well aware that I would have been kicked out if I’d have tried to distribute them), but to give to an exhibitor who asked that I bring them. When security found them in my bag I was told that I had to hand them in because (to quote the guard) “people had spent a lot of money to exhibit at the show, and how would they feel if visitors were allowed to give out material for free?” I knew the prices being charged for stands at Erotica and understood them to be vastly overpriced, so I entered the show with the guard’s words ringing in my ears, thinking: “God damn right they’ve paid a lot of money – too bloody much!”

Once inside Olympia, the biggest disappointment came when walking the floor to view the various stands. To say that the show was sparsely populated with exhibitors is an understatement – it was half bloody empty! I failed to see a single stand that made me think “wow”, in fact I saw many that were little more than embarrassing. Sure, there were a few that were of interest, but in general most were relatively amateurish – some even lacked lighting (no doubt because Erotica’s organisers charged extra for electricity). And there were a lot of well-known adult-oriented companies conspicuous by their absence.

Of the stands that were there, there were some good products scattered among the tat (my girlfriend, who came with me to the show, particularly liked the Fleshlight, and the shoe stalls), but there was also some really bad art on display, masquerading as a good art. I’ve been through the British art college system myself and am not too bad with a pencil and brush, but some of the drawings and paintings I saw for sale were no more than A-level standard. £150 for a really bad pencil drawing of a nude woman?! £500 for a frankly terrible painting, simply because it’s big?! I couldn’t help but wonder who might buy this stuff. Surely only people with a clear taste deficiency? Don’t get me wrong: I love erotic art (and commissioned quite a bit of it for my recent book), but most of what I saw at Erotica would make most competent artists laugh with derision. And quite rightly so.

The final nail in the coffin for me was the Erotica stage show, which took place every couple of hours on a large stage constructed inside the venue. The shows were coordinated by the infamous Torture Garden and featured various performers dancing, fire breathing, swinging (from hoops and ropes et cetera) and singing. These, I thought, should have been a saving grace of the show, but in fact they were mind-numbingly unimaginative and were about as erotic as a used sanitary towel floating in a toilet bowel. That may sound harsh, but the fact is: pretty much every act during the show trod a very well-worn path (ie. nothing new – all been seen before) and some of the performances seemed little more than pointless. And, on top of that, there was little or no nudity on display (not that nudity should be a prerequisite, but a complete lack of just smacked of censorship to me – not what I wanted or expected at a show like Erotica). I don’t think the choreographers did themselves any favours in choosing the ‘safe’ path that they did for the show, and afterwards I felt more than a little disappointed.

My girlfriend and I spent three hours at Erotica on the Saturday – from 12pm until 3pm – during which time we felt we had seen enough. Both of us wanted to have said it was worth the time and expense (because, let’s face it, no one likes to waste either), but neither of us could do so. If there had been re-admittance we might have gone back in and spent more time there, but we decided to cut our losses and leave. Personally, I was quite upset by how poor the show was. How Erotica’s organisers can sleep at night I do not know. Or maybe I do. Maybe they simply have no conscience?

On the performance of Erotica 2009 I cannot recommend attending to anyone except those who have money and time to burn, or to those who have never been to anything like it before, and therefore have no expectations. How much of an effect the current economic recession has had on the show is not easy to say, though it is very unlikely I’ll be attending Erotica 2010 next year to find out.