I’m sitting in the sex museum where the lighting is bright, at a round table covered with red cloth, and the sounds of Sexapalooza are all around me.
An MC speaks, music plays, people laugh and every now and then I hear a scream from Ron Jeremy, who’s dominating the main stage over the weekend. I can hear the occasional crack of the whip from the dungeon just on the other side of the curtains which are set up to differentiate areas in this 40,000 sq building that houses for the weekend under its one big roof.
It can be read as a metaphor of acceptance; every kind of display of sex one might imagine on offer in one form or another here. People stroll in and out of the sex museum, interested, not phased or surprised with the information, pointing to things on the walls, to someone when something caught their attention.
The people here run the social gamut: two women together or groups of men, couples, straight gay and mostly black and white and a few Asian, mostly representative of Columbus’ demographic.
This is Sexapalooza’s fourth year in Ohio. As MC Diamond Hunter notes when she opens up the conference right before the pole dancers come out, how lucky we all are to be able to participate and how much times have changed. Then she mentions she’s a guy. “Did I already tell that I’m also gay?” We’ve come a long way. On the walls of the sex museum there are weird laws on the books in different states. In Little Rock, Arkansas it is illegal for people of the opposite sex to flirt in public. It may result in a 30 day jail term. I’ll have to mention this to the MC…
The video room beyond the dungeon plays educational movies one after another: Art of Advanced Oral Sex, G-Spot & Female Ejaculations or Advanced Toys for Great Sex. Then there are the seminar rooms where one can learn in different workshops, from how to, to tell all, all about lubricants, the violet wand, the G-spot, fantasies, fetishes, bondage, or maybe you’d like to be a burlesque dancer? What else could you want to spice up your sex life? I think that’s just what most people are here to explore.
I enter the crowd to ask. Everyone walks the red carpet at Sexapalooza which guides with its bright colors the attendees from door to stage and in between. I approach a good looking young black man with stylish glasses. You look great what are you wearing? “Dolce & Gabbana, DG, yeah…” Well you look fantastic, “I’m about to go out there now so well see”. You go get ’em.
Most people are wearing jeans and T-shirts often with explicit sayings having something to do with sex. There are also a few skimpy sexy outfits, but remember its 32 degrees outside and snowing. Shoes range from flat to tall and spiky.
What’s your name? “Sandy.” says the man dressed as a well-endowed woman. “Well this is outfit number two”. His two friends laugh. “I really changed in the car because they weren’t ready for me. I’m serious”. More laughter. His friends interrupt…. “Amazon”…. ”Yeah, I got it on Amazon”.
A guy wearing a T-shirt printed with I Love My Penis. Whats your name? Silence. You don’t have to give your real name. “Sven”. What brings you out to Sexapalooza? “Curiosity”. About what? “Everything, mostly BDSM, new advancement in toys, ways to keep it interesting in the bedroom. I’ve been celibate for more a year, so you know I also kinda thought I’d hook up a little bit too”. Have you seen anyone you liked? “Several ladies, yeah”. Have you approached them? “No, no most of them have boyfriends. I don’t like to step on anyone’s toes”. Have you not seen any single ladies? “I haven’t asked, sort of a guys’ night out kinda spur of the moment thing, so… ” Are you having fun? “It’s fun here but you know once we get back to the real world and get back to our jobs it’s got to be hush hush with everything.” Why’s that? “Our employer does not condone these kind of things, so if it ends up on like social media or anything like that, then I end up losing my job, like Facebook, Twitter, that kind of stuff, but they don’t go stalking the porn sites or anything like that… ”
If new skills from a workshop are not enough to enhance your ecstasy, black curtains will guide you down the rows to booths from toys to clothing and services.
Set up in rows where vendors will sell you lube, sexy clothing, vibrators, adult anything and almost everything, even services, book a burlesque troop for your next birthday, get your body painted and walk around topless, buy an artist’s kinky painting, lingerie, sexy or silly.
It depends if you’re in the mood to be barely covered or acquire the more modest cotton panties proclaiming it “tastes as good as it looks”, “I have the pussy so I make the rules” or “spank me” written on the ass or cloth.
If you have the attention span to read more than a bumper sticker length slogan, then stop by Samhain Publishing and tell Christina Brashear, who is having a great time meeting all the ladies who like to read books that help “jump start their evening with their husbands or significant others”. “Maybe even by themselves?” I ask. “Absolutely” she says. After all, there’s no shame in self pleasure. “They’re fun to read, they’re romantic, they’re sexual, and they’re very plain spoken in their language.” Helpful when all the blood’s gone to the clitoris you’ll still be able to follow the words. She laughs (“absolutely”) and depending on what you’re into she might recommend Rough, Raw and Ready – Franken Dom. I imagine a mad scientist took Ron Jeremy, John Holmes and Peter North and made a wiener, so if that’s not your thing you may enjoy Lead and Follow, Compromising Positions or Three of a Kind.
It’s a great atmosphere. Everyone seems to be having a good time, whether they’re here with their friends or a significant others, or in a group of friends. It’s open and accepting; there’s even a woman leading a man around on a leash.
Randa came here with her boyfriend. She said she came here to see what it’s all about. She thinks it’s about everything she loves.
“I’m very excited to see all the different positions” she tells me, pointing to a bondage booth. “I think it’s very interesting and I love that everyone is very open and free here, and love that there showing things here so that people get to see what they usually don’t get to see in their homes.”
Luckily she came with a friend with whom she can practice some of these positions later on. “Yes, practice what you preach… or see. We practice this at home a lot. It’s fun to see it out and about too.” How often do you practice? “He would like to do it daily, but I think we probably practice three or four times a month.”
Most people I talk to are having a great time, and the general atmosphere smells like a party. I sit down with my dinner and a lone older man at tables close to the main stage. He came alone just out of curiosity. He’s bored, doesn’t know why he came, didn’t meet anyone, isn’t having a good time and is now leaving and will not be back. I think if you’re not having fun there’s always liquor, and if you’re still not having fun, get yourself tied up like I did in the dungeon.
Shibari is an incredibly sensual experience and the crew from Adventures In Sexuality running the dungeon don’t discriminate. If you still can’t feel your pulse maybe a taste of the single tail while grabbing onto the St Andrew’s Cross from an older gentleman sadist will wake sensations to drive out boredom. If nothing else grab another drink and park yourself at one of the tables to see the ever changing shows on the main stage and hope for the fun to come to you. Everyone is so friendly and willing to chat and be silly I can’t see how anyone could not have a good time. After all where else do you get to do and see and explore all these naughty things, outside your home, at least without the fear of being fired? At Sexapalooza!