What a weekend! And how sad are we that it’s over?
Now that the dust has settled, the goody bags are emptied, the sample toys sent out, the ‘thank you’s said and all our acquisitions thoroughly tested… we’re ready to follow Written By Jenny‘s meme and reveal our top 10 takeaways from Eroticon 2017,
1. Having a sex writers’ conference on our doorstep is the Best Thing Ever.
In 2015 and 2016, when we also sponsored Eroticon, the event was held in Bristol. It’s an excellent city, and we enjoyed visiting, but it turns out having Eroticon in Camden, the home of Hot Octopuss, is even better. Adam and Jules, Hot Octopuss’s founders, were able to drop in to say hi and Adam regaled everyone with his vision for the future of sex tech:
It also meant we got to hang out at Arlington, in the heart of Camden Town, and discover that a) the staff are amazing (and we really hope we didn’t corrupt any of you beyond repair) and b) it’s a beautiful venue that works to raise money to help homeless people in the area. We look forward to going back next year.
2. Dildos have come a long way (pun intended).
Two of our fellow sponsors were the scarily-enthusiastic-about-silicone Godemiche and the scarily-creative-with-clay Ceramic Pleasure. We had literally no idea it was possible to create dildos so beautiful and unique that you’d want to keep them on your mantelpiece. Now we have. An idea, that is. And a dildo. Sorry, two dildos. No, three. Anyway. Cheers guys.
3. The adult industry has a lot of work to do tackling racism.
One of the most eye-opening sessions for us was about the adult industry for people of colour, from Jetsetting Jasmine and King Noire, who create extremely hot ethical porn, among many other things. We didn’t know that porn performers of colour earn much less than white performers, or that there are many white porn performers who refuse to work with people of colour at all. We loved that Jasmine and King provided us with a list of actions we could take to help people of colour get better treatment by the porn industry, too.
4. Early porn was AMAZING.
Whores of Yore is a historian who does some of the best tweets on the internet, sharing her discoveries about sex work through the ages. She showed us some of the first ever porn photography, pointing out the level of body diversity, humour and downright fun involved, unlike some of today’s mainstream porn. Check out the remarkable bush on the second row, for example.
5. All the feels.
It was fascinating hearing bloggers Formidable Femme and Emmeline Peaches talk about their reasons for sex blogging. Emmeline shared some of her experiences of suffering from vaginismus as a teen, and the terrible advice she was given, aged 16, by a qualified sexual health nurse: “Why don’t you just try getting really drunk?” Emmeline’s blog was set up to try to do a bit better than that, offering advice on recovering from vaginismus (as well as all manner of other sex-related topics). Good sex doesn’t have to involve penetration, she said, and isn’t even about ‘penis in vagina’ necessarily (which we agree with wholeheartedly).
Meanwhile, Formidable Femme talked about how discussing mental health and sex together is an important part of her mission – getting really vital conversations going about two subjects that are often, sadly, taboo. She talked about the terrible sex education she received at school, and how she discovered that using sex toys could help her reclaim her body as part of her recovery from abuse. We were moved by her bravery, passion and honesty, as we were by Emmeline’s (and in fact all the attendees’) and we came away feeling prouder than ever that we’re part of this industry and community.
We also loved hanging out with our fellow sponsors – Doxy, Godemiche, Ceramic Pleasure, The Ruby Glow and Fuck.com – in the Corridor Of Swag (as we have named it) – and being reminded just how supportive an industry this is, and how much passion and ingenuity creating adult products involves.
6. The buzz around the Queen Bee is immense, literally.
Yes, we hate ourselves for using that pun (AGAIN) but in this case it’s justified, because we’re talking about those deep, bassy oscillations that make our patented PulsePlate so intense and powerful an experience for people with penises. We brought along a prototype of the Queen Bee, our new wand toy that incorporates the PulsePlate technology. A large proportion of the delegates popped along to our stand to try it out (on their hands, people) and were visibly juddering down to their elbows. We cannot *wait* to get Queen Bee on the market and find out what else it can do. We’re expecting some very raunchy reviews (like this one by Kayla Lords for PULSE – is it hot in here?).
7. The launch campaign ad for the Queen Bee will feature…
Adam and Ed Sheeran dancing on Primrose Hill, stroking Queen Bees and singing ‘I’m in love with the shape of you’. Don’t blame us, Will from Doxy dreamt it, and we believe in the power of the subconscious mind.
Now we just have to find out how much Ed charges. :-O
8. Renewed respect for the power of words
You need to be able to talk about a problem before you can really start to tackle it. Emily Rose Yates – journalist, accessibility consultant, and owner of the bluest hair at Eroticon, gave an incredible workshop for attendees on Undressing Disability. How can writers make sure that disabled people are represented in erotica, in a way that is representative of their actual lives and experiences rather than descending into fetishism and tokenism? We love Emily’s work, and the way she has of cutting through people’s awkwardness and confusion to get them thinking clearly and simply. We took a lot away from her talk, but above everything else the message that awkwardness – feeling unable to address disability – leads to less communication. As Emily put it best:
“Don’t beat around the subject – and the word ‘disabled’ – you’ll become tongue-tied. Say what you mean.”
On a less empowering but no less awesome note, she also pointed out that shower hoists and other mobility aids make for excellent kinky sex equipment. If you’ve got any stories or tips, get in touch. We might write something erotic featuring a shower hoist, a waterproof PULSE, and the sexy partners of our dreams…
9. A bit of a downer on the mainstream media
Eroticon began with a really enlightening panel from three brilliant women working in the mainstream media – Paisley Gilmour, Rebecca Reid and Morenike Adebayo. They gave the attendees the lowdown on what kind of sex stories get picked up, and a window into some of their struggles to push good sex education to an audience which is often simply hunting for clickbait. We left feeling a little despondent that there’s so much work still to do to get good, sex-positive, useful information into the mainstream media. But with a little ray of hope that there are people inside the news rooms who share that mission – and are doing their best to encourage editors to go out on a limb.
10. More than a hundred reasons to feel happy
It sounds like a cliche to say it, but it’s the attendees who really make Eroticon what it is. One of the reasons we support this fantastic community is because we can see just how passionate people are about what they do – whether that’s writing sexy stories, talking about sex in the media, or educating people via their blogs and websites.
Over the weekend, so many people came up to us to chat about PULSE (and of course be one of the first to check out the Queen Bee!) and talk about our #SexNotStigma campaign too. That campaign was inspired by the Eroticon community – their passion for making change, and talking about sex in a way that embraces all the different ways to do (or not do!) it. So number one on our list of things we took away from Eroticon are those connections – more than a hundred of them – which we hope will continue to grow in the future, as everyone who came to the event goes on to even bigger and more exciting things.