How To Put On A Mediocre Sexuality Event: Sexpo Melbourne 2010

As I walked into the Melbourne Exhibition Centre, my hopes for the 2010 annual Sexpo were high. I saw lots of vanilla-looking over-50s and leather-clad 30-40-somethings, along with the scantily clad 20-somethings I was expecting. This apparent diversity was exciting! Perhaps Sexpo would be even more than I had hoped?

Alas, no. I soon learned that the Exhibition Centre was also hosting a motorcycle show and a “lifestyle” expo for baby boomers.

I had heard mixed things about Sexpo – that it was fairly heteronormative, and mostly frequented by “bogans” (Aussie slang for rednecks). But I was excited nonetheless. It was advertised as “Melbourne’s Premier Health, Sexuality, and Lifestyle Exhibition.” Sounds like my sort of thing, right?

I expected it to be pretty commercial, and was frankly looking forward to doing a little shopping, but the selection was, by and large, disappointing. It was mostly cheap jelly rubber and generic naughty nurse costumes. However, I was able to find several of my favorite brands like Lelo, Pjur, and Fun Factory amongst all the phthalates.

Here’s what I liked:

- Several samples of Pjur silicone-based lube in my entry bag

- Awesome sexy acrobat show

- Decent selection of higher-end sex toys (when you could find the good brands)

- Penisaurus (As a general rule, I am a fan of penis costumes.)

- State election-weekend campaigning by Australian Sex Party

I would have like to have seen more “health” represented (in a sexy way, of course). If you’re going to advertise health, it should have a significant presence at your event. Beside the a couple of stands selling condoms, the only “health” presence I saw was for free spinal checks. I’m sure there are connections between spinal health and sexual health, but it still seemed a bit out of place. Random, non-sex related booths were abundant, my favorites of which were for microwavable hot pads and the Salvation Army. Seriously, WTF?

What really turned me off about Sexpo (and really, turning-off should not be the idea of such an event) was the ubiquitous sales army with vibrators in hand, non-consensually buzzing people’s bodies. One guy came up behind my friend and surprised her with the business end of an I Rub My Duckie. Not cool, Sexpo. NOT cool. If we wanted that kind of treatment, we could go to a TSA convention.

There were other presentations that I missed that may have tilted my opinion slightly in Sexpo’s favor. For example, I had hoped to see the adult sex education presentations they were doing periodically and to see “Pricasso,” the man who paints with his penis. But to be honest, after all the non-consensual touching, I was ready to depart. I suspect I would’ve have had more fun with the baby boomers.

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About Kate McCombs

Kate McCombs

Kate McCombs, MPH is a NYC-based sex educator + blogger. She's the founder of Sex Geekdom, a global community for sex educators, researchers, and other folks who love having geeky conversations about sex.