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April 10, 2020 2 min read

The Rise of the Sexpo

By Elena Ognivtseva

Trade expositions have long provided a convenient way for product manufacturers to showcase their wares and find new buyers, and recent years have seen the ‘sexpo’ grow in popularity. Many people are too shy to visit adult stores, which is one of the reasons why a person might prefer to buy sex toys or personal lubricants online. Yet a sexpo (such as the UK’s own ‘Erotica’, which takes place in October this year) isn’t only for buying novel vibrators and the latest sex-related gimmicks. These events are fast becoming entertainment spectacles too.

One reason why the sexpo has become a popular annual event in a number of countries is that people feel less shy to splurge on all kinds of erotic goods when other shoppers around them are doing the same. Some attend events for a laugh, and many curious performers have made appearances at sex trade shows, including Australia’s famous ‘Pricasso’, whose colourful portraits are executed using his willy as a paintbrush (NSFW).

A trade exhibition focusing on sex and sexuality often offers classes in erotic activities like burlesque and pole dancing, and provides numerous ways for couples to reinvigorate their sex lives. Lovers who find that sex has become a little unadventurous or routine often attend these events not necessarily to buy products, but simply to gain some inspiration for how to shake things up.

One area in which the sexpo is important is sexual health education. Despite costly awareness-raising campaigns, many people remain unaware of basic sexual safety practices (or ignore health threats at their own peril), and events such as Erotica frequently employ counsellors to provide visitors with free sex advice or testing for STDs. In addition to providing entertainment, a good sexpo also reminds people to enjoy their erotic freedom responsibly.

Many people working within the adult industry, as well as ordinary tourists, travel to the UK for annual trade exhibitions, and a diverse range of people attend erotic trade exhibitions, from leather fetishists to glamorous London housewives. For those who prefer the secretive thrill of ordering sex toys online, a sexpo is at least a chance to see what’s new and watch some outrageous performances.

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