City Press went to Sexpo 2017 and this is what happened

2017-03-26 08:30
Pricasso, the penis artist. (Photo: Tebogo Letsie/City Press)

Johannesburg - On day two of Johannesburg’s Sexpo at the Sandton Convention Centre – which ended on Saturday – a bare handful of visitors dotted the exhibition space.

“It’s about 300% fewer people than last year,” says Pricasso, the penis artist. He paints with his penis and butt cheeks. He is doing my portrait as we speak and a smattering of people have gathered round to record it on their smartphones.

There are fun things to do, such as tweeting a selfie with a penis cookie and getting your photo taken – for R150 – with porn star Anna Bell Peaks. It’s all a big goof to share with your friends later.

Billed as “South Africa’s premier health, sexuality and lifestyle expo”, Sexpo has been going for 11 years. It attracts a mainly white audience, and seems to cater for cisgender couples.

The Convention Centre is filled with exhibitors selling toys, while two floors down visitors can pay an extra R50 to R200 to see a striptease, watch live sex shows and listen to workshops on topics such as Anal Sex 101 and The Mystery of the G-spot.

The stalls are repetitive; most sell vibrators, lubricants, flesh lights and faux-leather whips. There is a confectionery stand with chocolate penises, cupcakes topped by icing vaginas (some brown, some pink), and phallic lollipops. Here and there is a lingerie shop flogging fishnets, furry handcuffs and sexy nurse and cop costumes in cellophane packets.

To incorporate the expo’s lifestyle component there are car displays and stalls selling beard oil, nail polish and hair extensions. And randomly, one booth sells jars of chillies and pickles.

Watch a video of all the attractions at Sexpo 2017:

(WARNING: This content is not suitable for younger viewers)

Rumour has it the exhibition may run at a loss this year. I visited US adult-film star Peaks’ booth, set up to look like a bedroom. She is famous for using a webcam for her sessions. Titled “oil and water fun,” internet users log on to a website called Chaturbate and can request her to do things on camera.

Sexpo visitors get to watch it live, and Peaks even asks people to interact with her by spanking her and dousing her in water and then baby oil. It’s absurdly hard for her to get the audience involved. We are South African, after all – generally conservative and shy around each other.

In an interview afterwards, Peaks tells me she’s a qualified chartered accountant, and that she quit her job because she enjoyed doing webcam work so much. Later, she moved into porn, where her specialty, she says, is deep-throating.

“I get paid very well and get to travel. I love my life,” she says, and you can see she means it.

On the main stage in the expo hall, acts such as burlesque, pole dancing and dance troops take to the stage every half hour. Two floors down are Sexpo’s live shows, presented in cordoned-off booths including a Teazers one and a Tease-Hers, as well as a Red Light District lounge where you can watch live sex.

Apparently, on Friday, the male performer strained without success to get an erection, and after a while tried to insert his semi-flaccid penis into his co-star. It was awkward as hell, everyone tells me.

The big exhibition space stripped away all the sensuality and mystery I associate with sex, turning it into something cold and mundane. Although I hope the turnout improves for the likes of Peaks and Pricasso, Sexpo isn’t for me. After all, sex is better without fluorescent lighting.

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