Wed, Nov 22, 2006 - Page 13 News List

London sheds sexual conservatism

The Erotica Show attracts thousand who want more than just the missionary position

AFP , LONDON

Visitors browse through merchandise at the fair.

Whips, chains, sex toys, erotic art, leather, lubricants, rubber, fetish demonstrations, naughty nurses and Thai transvestites: ladies and gentlemen, welcome to London.

Forget stiff upper lips — the "No Sex Please, We're British" attitude is being firmly handcuffed in a dungeon this weekend as London gets a taste of the Erotica Show, the world's largest adult lifestyle exhibition.

From Friday through to Sunday, up to 80,000 people are expected to get an eyeful of the arresting array on show at the Olympia exhibition center, targeted at inspiring "free thinking adults" in their love lives.

On stage at the giant venue, burlesque icon Dita Von Teese made rare public performances, while Tiffany's Show, a Thai transvestite extravaganza performing in Britain for the first time, was among the other acts whipping up the punters.

"This is a fantastic opportunity to bring burlesque dancing into the mainstream," said Von Teese, the wife of goth rocker Marilyn Manson, who performed her trademark Martini glass strip.

"It's such a sexy show and the perfect opportunity to fuse the art and culture of the 1930s and 1940s into the liberal mindset of 2006."

Men and women of all ages — some dressed in nothing more than bondage tape or revealing tops — cruised around the 170 stalls, with all tastes catered for among the sexy outfits, sex aids, erotic foods and even "alternative furniture."

"It's so fantastic that people are starting to realize life is about sex," porn star Linsey Dawn Mackenzie said.

"I think Britons are beginning to accept that there's more than just the missionary position."

The sexually curious were treated to fetish demonstrations, public displays in body art, human statues and demonstrations from the guild of erotic artists.

Women looking to lick their sex lives into shape surged into the "Giving Pleasure" foreplay lessons — which help ladies feel comfortable stripping for their partners — while men keen to spice up theirs swelled the "Slide!" foreplay masterclass.

"Britain is a lot more liberal than people might think," Tracey Farr, Erotica's brand marketing manager, said.

"Erotica is daring, decadent, fun and responsible. We're putting to rest the myth that sex is sleazy and it shouldn't be enjoyed. We want to offer people alternatives in their love lives.

"For example, if a couple have been together for a number of years, instead of looking on the other side and saying 'the grass is greener' and having an affair, we hope they can find something to rekindle their passion.

"We attract and actively target couples. There's the normal, everyday high-street Joe Public but also there's the more eclectic couples, the weird and the wacky who like to dress up and are proud of their sexuality."

Boyd, from Bristol in southwest England, definitely fits the bill.

"A lot of people are put off by blokes wearing women's shoes," he told said.

Boyd made the day trip decked out in high heels, a skintight PVC catsuit and fur-lined cuffs.

"I can't stay, unfortunately — I've got work tomorrow. I've come here to have a wander round and see what's new. A PVC jacket would be nice; could be rubber though.

"It's great to mingle and have people come up and compliment me on my outfit," said the 30-year-old, who has a partner and two children.

Student Roz, 18, and her tattooed New Yorker friend Inna, 19, paid up to avoid another day of lectures.

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