Feminists typically take one of three stances on the issue of porn: Anti-porn (its exploits and objectifies), anti-porn-but-pro-choice (a woman has the right to do with her body as she sees fit), and pro-porn (porn benefits women). As a liberal and a feminist I´ve aligned myself at one time or another with all of the above ways of thinking, leaning heavily toward the anti-porn end of the spectrum in terms of pornography´s implications for the women who perform in the films. But I am also a sexual being and from the perspective of someone who has on occasion watched an erotic film – and I realize the murky ethics of being anti-porn but watching it anyway – porn has always failed to captivate me. It lacks plausibility and plot. It features wildly disproportionate actresses who appear to have been engineered by mad-scientist tweens who´ve never actually seen real boobs. It´s entertainment by men for men.
If, like me, you waffle on the question of women and pornography, or simply don´t like what porn has to offer, a trip to the upcoming 2010 Prague Erotica Sex Show (November 11-November 14 at Výstaviště Holešovice), now in its sixteenth year, may flesh out your feelings on the subject. This year´s event, says organizer Ivana Mattei, head of Bohem Productions, a Czech Republic-based talent-casting agency for adult films, has much in store for female attendees. Says Mattei, “It´s not true that the fair is designed for men, though they definitely go there more. For instance, sex toys are intended primarily for women and this year [we are offering many] enhanced tools for women.” Among the state-of-the-art bedroom gadgets on sale – and being demonstrated – at the fair is the Cadillac of sex toys, the Sex Machine, a multi-speed, multi-attachment thrill device for her.
Mattei says that while films will indeed have a presence at the event, including screenings of 3D adult movies and appearances by two of the genre´s top European stars, Czech legend Dolly Buster and Italian favorite Vittoria Risi, “this year it isn´t about porn films [as much as] it´s about the erotic as a whole.” To that end, Dr. Radim Uzel the controversial sexologist will be on hand to promote his instructional sex-school DVD series as well as a topic that is of the utmost importance to Mattei: safe sex. “The aim of the fair is also raising awareness of safe sex, which affects everyone and so I think that at least is the reason for someone to come.”
Toys and instructional DVDs aren´t the only things up for grabs at the Erotic Sex Fair. Numerous vendors will be peddling kinky lingerie and shoes, many of their labels unavailable in Prague, at bargain prices. And in case you´re not exactly sure which strap goes where, ongoing erotic fashion shows promise a panty primer. Why add a pinch of spice when a pound will do? Lucky ladies plucked from the crowd during the “Beauty Show” will get free porn-star makeovers (hair, make-up, clothes) and have the chance to try a procedure known as “cavitation” (a non-surgical form of liposuction).
Evening entertainment in the Central Hall of the Industrial Palace is also geared toward us. A “Ladies Night” party slated for Saturday evening stars the buff Italian acrobatic troupe Cohors, whose repertoire consists of not your run-of-the-mill Chippendale´s stuff but impassioned percussion and dance. To further inflame fairgoers, a striptease group known as the California Dreams will also take the stage to take down their pants. For those who prefer their entertainment sans oiled biceps, the Travesti Show, Prague´s fiercest drag and cabaret act, does their raucous Scandal in the Living Room routine for the Sunday “Ladies Night” party.
If, as Mattei says, the Erotic Sex Fair is designed to squelch stereotypes about the adult entertainment industry (“It gives normal people a chance to see us not just as a bunch of perverts.”) then the all of the above activities certainly work in its favor, highlighting the theatrics and camp that ground it in the realm of fantasy. And despite the fact that I for one don´t believe anyone needs to have their flesh vacuumed to be rendered sexually appealing, I´ll admit that shopping for lacey underthings is a guilty pleasure. But there´s another, less innocuous side to the Erotic Sex Fair that attendees should know about.
A contest in which actresses compete to make as many men as possible ejaculate within a given time frame is also a featured part of the fair as are masturbation shows, live sex shows and girl-on-girl action. Live gang-bang scenes will be filmed daily and men who come prepared with medical proof clearing them of STDs may participate. The hardcore elements of the fair are unsettling, but attendees do have a choice – an a la carte price list lets interested parties avoid the full-on flesh circus and come solely for the evening performances. Separate V.I.P tickets must be purchased for the live shows. The entrance fee is 299 CZK. Free speech and choice comprise yet another defense of porn; not just the choice of the woman to do as she wishes with her body but also the freedom of the filmmaker to make the film and the choice of the viewer to watch or not.
Ultimately, I choose to compartmentalize my feelings on pornography and the adult-entertainment industry. Certain aspects of it can liberate and help women, many of whom are socially wired not to do so, to enjoy sex. Mattei continues to do what she does because she sees sex as a tonic for society, “Every adult needs some love and touch, arousal and sex…when you have good sex you have no reason to treat other ones badly.” True enough. But until our collective notions of what is arousing do not take the form of entertainment that requires its women performers to be treated for lockjaw afterward, I´m staying out of the V.I.P. room.
Photo by Marcelo Aquilio
Official website of the expo http://www.eroticasex.cz/