WELL, this weekend just gone – August the 21st-23rd – I spent the weekend in Manchester trading at the most amazing event! It was called Sexhibition!
The woman behind it, Cheryl Smith, decided it was time to create an epic event oop North, bringing in all aspects of the sex industry into one big room. It was held at Event City and was a very colourful weekend, I am so glad to be a part of the first one and I would highly recommend you visit next year. I reckon I will be there again!
My wife was lovely enough to come with me and support me for the whole weekend. I tell you what, I definitely couldn’t have done without her. Still being so new, I can’t afford to employ anyone, and because my wife has ‘put up’ with my sex toy geekery over the last year and a half, she has turned into a bit of a sex toy expert herself, I am so proud of her! I am pretty sure that being a sex toy expert in her spare time was not part of her agenda in life before she met me! Along with the amazing customer service she gave and the sales she made, the emotional support was something no other employee could have given!
The first day was a bit stressful (this is where the emotional support came in!) – we left at 10.15am from Cardiff and should have got to Manchester by 1.30pm, but loads of different bits of traffic meant that we didn’t get to Event City until 4pm – and that is the time we should have been set up and ready!!! Luckily, a lot of other exhibitors had been through the same thing, so we were all running late and the programme of the evening changed a bit to accommodate those that were late. There was meant to be the opportunity to walk about the place to see everybody else’s stalls but as so many of us were still setting up, it was a more bit ad hoc than intended…I think?!
At 8pm it was the industry cocktail evening, we had managed to get changed and make ourselves look decent for the evening and managed to get to the bar before the queue got silly.
Before we got in, we bumped into Cara Sutra – THE sex blogger of the UK (check her out, she is a big name in our industry) and hung out with her for a good ten minutes, which felt quite special. I met her briefly at the ETO trade show in June as she was running a blog-specific area, and tried to chat with her, but being such an in demand person, and now with her own bondage kit being retailed, which was elsewhere at the show, she was understandably very busy so we kept missing each other! So what did I do with my time I had with her on Friday? Made small talk and a bit of a fool of myself. I cracked a silly joke that was just embarrassing and didn’t make sense. Nevertheless, it was great to hang out with her a little. (Gonna be honest, I was a bit awestruck and not many women reduce me to the person I was in those ten minutes. Embarrassing much. She had a very vampy look about her though, which didn’t help!)
The industry night wasn’t a success for me unluckily. We chose somewhere to sit down which I think was a bad move, but we were knackered and had a big suitcase with us as we were staying with a friend in town. There is one couple that sat on the other end of the table, which made conversation difficult. We probably should have stayed standing and near the bar so we could have started chatting with people than. There was a panel talk for the night too, which was a discussion about porn and the paywall. It had some great panellists and great points being made, but due to the space we were in, and the buzz of chat in the air, it was difficult to hear them, which was a pity. We left the night a bit earlier than we could have and found our way to the correct bus into the middle of Manchester and had a great catchup with my bud who let us have his bed. I studied in Manchester so still have a decent amount of friends up there, but he is the only one I was able to see, as the weekend kept me quite busy!
I think this cocktail was called something like ‘sexually arty’? It had Goldschlager, lime and other flavours we loved!
Now Saturday was EPIC. It was from 10am-5.30am then it closed down for a reset for the evening do which was from 7.30pm-1am, and yes, we were to be there for the whole time. This is the biggest event I have taken part in, so far, and was a bit of a financial risk. I had intended on just visiting for the day and ‘scoping it out’ but Cheryl seemed to like my business a lot and charmed me into exhibiting there in the end! I didn’t know what to expect and in one way I was looking forward to just getting my name out there. I’ll tell ya what, we were busy all day! Something That’s The Spot prides itself on is giving information to all about how things work and why they work like they do and what they can do for you. The advice is bespoke and detailed, and it was great chatting with so many different people about our toys. The G Vibe was a favourite – it does look different from the rest! The Stronic always provokes a reaction with the women and immediately goes on their wishlist. Another big point of conversation was the Mooncup – some women had heard of it and some hadn’t. It was great to educate so many women this weekend on why the Mooncup is the future. It left a lot of women with something to think about and some of them took the leap and bought one – praise to each and every one of you! The biggest seller, by far, were the Quickie Cuffs – we sold out of them in the first day, never mind the evening!
I had two tables – one was dedicated to dildos and strapons and the other was vibrators, lubes and sweets It was great how many different people took the time to look at the dildos and the harnesses, and I love chatting with the peggers. For those that don’t know what pegging is, it is the simple act of a woman wearing the strap on and giving anal sex to their male partner. I love it when I meet men who have discovered their ‘P Spot’ (the male version of the G Spot where the prostate is – up the bum) – as soon as a man allows the experience to happen to them, they then open up a new world of possibilities. It’s something I really try to encourage men to do, so when I met so many of them this weekend, it was great to see them so comfortable with it and getting excited at the thought of buying a new dildo, rather than making awkward jokes about it. I helped one woman try on a Kinky Monkey Harness over her trousers – I joined in with her of course – and I also had this lovely chat with a girl who had a very similar name to me. She had come out at the beginning of this year as gay and was interested in trying out strap-on sex. I got to have a real, proper chat with her about it – one of my favourite things – introducing something new to somebody, and not just talking about the products but also about the act of using it, and helping them feel safe and excited about it! She bought a great dildo harness combo (this time a Sportsheets harness – more affordable and machine washable) I hope she is enjoying her new experiences – would love to hear how it went, if you are reading this!
There were a lot of traders there. I have just counted the list and there were 96 altogether. In my next post I am going to tell you about my top 5 exhibitors from the weekend. Along with the weird and wonderful traders, with stalls ranging from bondage gear to fetish wear to nail art to 3D printing to sex beds, ans also companies like swingers parties, porn producers and even SEO, there were some cordoned off spaces there too. There was a XXX cinema with some tasteful, arty Avant Garde erotica on, as well as documentaries and fashion films. There were 2 spaces for workshops on various subjects, like tantra, bondage, wax candle art, pole dancing, sexual confidence. There was also a main stage with some wonderful fashion shows and talks. I almost wish I had been a punter! The wife had seen a couple of the shows and said that they were all gorgeous. I am planning on proposing a strap-on workshop for next time.
We closed at 5.30pm and we went to find somewhere to eat. We were next to the Trafford Centre, so it wasn’t difficult, oh and the wife completely fell in love with the Trafford Centre! ‘Why can’t St David’s 2 be like this, seriously, why?!’ We treated ourselves to a Gourmet Burger – we have been living very cleanly with our eating in the last few months, so this was a big treat! (Yeah we did pay for it later on with bloatedness and sugar crashes)
It all started again at 7.30pm, and it was definitely a different atmosphere. The evening was more sensual and exotic. There were some (apparently) gorgeous performances, including burlesque, pole dancing, cabaret and more. One of the workshops areas turned into a lap/pole dancing club, and the XXX cinema was still in full swing. Some Guests had pre-booked an a la carte dining experience, with the tables being right in front of the stage. The other workshop area had been transformed into ‘An adventure in debauchery’ hosted by Dystopia – a legendary BDSM and Fetish party. There was even this awesome bar which served gourmet coffees and afternoon teas in fine china, next to a stage with drag artists! A lot of people had made a proper effort to dress up for this – there were some fabulous looks going on, from corsettes to leather jock straps to gimp masks to latex spikes! We were next door to a Manchester-based shop called ROB of Manchester and they had doggy play happening all day anyway! There had been a ‘Pinups and Pornstars’ event before the evening do started, where people got to meet some of the ‘great and glamorous of the international adult and fetish scenes’ I can imagine that was quite popular! I overheard a conversation between two pornstars in the toilets – interesting getting an insight into their lives!
Due to the entertainment and other fabulous distractions, custom wasn’t so great in the evening, although there was still a lot of positive chat at our stall. We decided to close up at 11.30pm. We were knackered! Due to the fact that there were still people around, we had to pack down the stall so nobody nicked any items. We only hid everything under the tables, so if there were any ‘evil gimps’ about, they could have easily taken stuff. Being newbies to this, we learned from this and know how to deal with it next time. The stalls around us had systems and we have learned from them too! (Not a thing was stolen, the sex and fetish community can, as I thought, be trusted!)
Sunday was a quieter day generally. There was still stuff going on on the stage but no workshops. It was more chilled and less busy. Sales slowed down for us but we still made a lot of connections, and we had managed to pay for the stall on the first day so everything else was a bonus! It closed at 3pm and we managed to leave at 4pm and got home at 8.30pm. It was my turn to drive at 6pm and I decided to have a coffee just before then so that I didn’t fall asleep at the wheel. Now I haven’t drank any caffeine in months, so when we were ready for sleep at 11pm I was like ‘phew, the caffeine didn’t keep me awake for that long’…then I spent another 4 hours awake 4 HOURS!!! I got to sleep at 3am and had to be up at 4.30am to take my lovely lady wife to the airport (she had just helped me for 3 days, it was the least I could do!) Sleeping patterns are now back to normal
Despite the fact that I barely left my stall, I was still able to meet some people in the industry and make some important connections. I will talk about that in my next blog, so stay tuned!