Phew. I. Am. Exhausted. My Erotica journey started on Wednesday, where I dropped off the dog with the boyfriend, then headed down to London on Thursday. A cheeky Twitter conversation meant that the lovely John Tisbury (fantastic erotic photographer) ended up taking my books down to London, leaving me slightly less laden down – and there’s my first thank you of the post – thanks John! Victoria Blisse and I had a fairly chilled out Thursday evening, which is just as well, as it’s been insanity ever since.
(Click on any of the photos to enlarge)
Friday saw us wandering East London in search of the venue, the Tobacco Dock shopping centre, which we’ve since discovered was actually built by Harrods. Fortunately, I have a good sense of direction and am handy with a map, so we found it with no trouble. We picked up our passes and went in search of our stand, which gave us a peek at the venue – a real place of two halves. Downstairs is all vaulted ceilings and is very dungeon-like, which fit in really well with the kinky stalls and shows. Upstairs is much lighter, and that’s where we were. In a fabulous spot opposite the Television X and Get Adult stands, to be exact.
Victoria and I were alone to start with, setting up the stand and putting up posters, laying out promo materials, etc. But soon we were done and the show opened with crowds filtering through straight away. We were soon joined by the fantastic Zak Jane Keir, who I’d never met before, but very soon we were chatting nineteen to the dozen! Zak added books, badges and promo stuff to the table, and we were away. Soon we were chatting with people interested in erotic fiction – even some people who weren’t! – selling books, having a laugh, seeing some very interesting sights and generally having a good time. Friday was busier than I expected it to be, and we made a good dent in our stock before the day was out.
Saturday was always going to be the busiest day. The most visitors and the most authors appeared that day, including Zak Jane Keir, K D Grace, Kay Jaybee, L C Wilkinson, Cara Sutra, Toni Sands, Aoife Brennan (who made the trip all the way from southern Ireland!) Ashe Barker and Kristina Lloyd. The stand itself was mad busy, with lots more books being sold, and the Smutty word spread far and wide. We did plenty of readings, managing to scare the crap out of people (one guy happened to be right next to the speaker when I started) and turn them on (one of the scantily clad Bondara boys said Victoria’s reading turned him on) and of course entice them to our stand for goodies and reading material. The day flew by in an insane daze and while I spoke to tons of people, there were others I didn’t get chance to chat to. But it’s always the way 🙂
Sunday was busier than Friday, but not as busy as Saturday. As our sales were so fabulous on Saturday, we put out an SOS to K D Grace’s lovely hubby to bring more books to sell, so we popped them on the stand and we were away! We were joined once again by Aoife Brennan and Ashe Barker, and we also had good friend and super Sh! girl, Renee, helping us out. She was a genuine wonder as Victoria and I were getting a little worn out by our long weekend, but Renee was a sales whizz, handing out free lube, postcards and business cards to receptive passers-by. She of course touted our smutty books, too, recommending ones she’d read and enjoyed and generally being bloody awesome. I don’t know how we’d have managed without her. Thanks, Renee, you have our undying gratitude!
So, our stand was all about erotic fiction and spreading the smutty word, but I suppose you want to know what the strippers and submissives were all about, don’t you? Well, okay, here goes…
The Erotica show had everything from a stand selling regular jewellery (not a collar in sight!) to a mostly-naked woman covered in sushi, glamour models to porn stars. Any kink was catered for. As a result, we of course saw people in very different outfits. Lots of people were dressed in regular clothes, others were slightly kinkier, and others were mostly naked. The mostly naked includes both visitors and the male strippers, who myself and the other attendees to our stand had the benefit of watching wander in and out of their changing room, which was next to our stand. They were pretty smiley guys, and I managed to grab one and have a photo taken. We also had eye candy in the form of the Bondara boys (there were bunny girls, too, for the boys to look at!), who were a lovely bunch, very friendly, fun and totally okay with being stared at and photographed. But I suppose they could hardly be anything else in those outfits! There were lots of submissives being led around on leads, and I remember one very shy guy who wore a Spiderman t-shirt and a skunk tail who was a sweetheart.
Other things I remember seeing – a man with actual fangs, which was probably the most surprising thing I saw all weekend. A pony and trap, with the pony being human. Guys in rubber puppy outfits, including collars, leads and tails. Lots and lots of flesh, some of it a bit too much, I must confess. A random lap dance which was not very sexy at all, sorry. Some very cool outfits, and also some totally wacky ones. Fire play, knife play, wiggling and thrusting, spanking… the list goes on. If you weren’t there, I’m sure you can use your imagination 😉
But, lest you think the show was all total filth, here’s something to make you change your mind. I met some of the loveliest, most genuine, kind-hearted, generous souls I have ever come across at the show. Including a woman who was looking for gay erotica for her son. He’d just come out and she was incredibly proud and eager to make sure he knew she supported and loved him. That definitely plucked at my heartstrings. The wonderful Chris Hermon, a lovely, lovely man of many talents who was very interested in what we did and how we may be able to work together. The gentleman who works for a charity that rescues trafficked women and told us some horrendous stories (look out for an anthology in future that donates proceeds to that very worthy charity) – he left Victoria and I shocked and determined to do something to help.
It was, of course, a fabulous opportunity to put faces to Twitter handles, with sometimes surprising results. I confess to not expecting a priest to be following me on Twitter 😉 I also met people I’d communicated with in the past but never physically met. Spent some time with folk I don’t see very often and generally had a wicked – literally – time. I was incredibly happy to be there – don’t I just have the most fantastic job?!
The only downer on the weekend, really, was the travel chaos getting home. A storm blowing across the south of England screwed myself and Victoria – and many others, of course – up in terms of getting back home. We both managed it eventually, but not before wandering between Euston and St. Pancras several times, popping into King’s Cross (where I happily visited the Harry Potter platform 9 and 3/4 shop), getting stampeded several times and trying hard not to lose our rag. We also made the effort to be very nice to the rail staff who were getting the brunt of the bullshit, despite it not being their fault. I also found that because thousands of people were in the same situation, it made them very, very kind. Strangers smiled at one another, helped one another out, gave up seats for older folk, carried heavy bags for one another and generally restored my faith in the kindness of humans. We can be very horrible to one another, but on Monday, we were very nice. It was humbling, and I’m glad I did my bit and helped out someone. I’m also very lucky that I was just delayed – people’s houses and businesses got damaged and destroyed, and people lost their lives. So getting home a day late is nothing at all.
I know I’m missing stuff out here, but I could go on for ages and ages. So I’ll wrap up with my thank yous. Thanks, obviously, to Victoria, my fellow Northern Bird, partner in crime, for being so awesome. We did it, mate! To Kev, who helped lots with organisation and did the banners, posters, postcards and lots of other things for the cause. Thank you to House of Erotica for your support – wish you could have been there! Thank you to Kay Jaybee, K D Grace, Aoife Brennan, Zak Jane Keir, Toni Sands, L C Wilkinson, Kristina Lloyd, Ashe Barker and Cara Sutra for being there, for supporting us, helping us and of course being lots of fun! You all rock 😀 Thank you to the guy that got us there in the first place, Lee Schofield, and Lisa Gilbride. To Totally Bound for being fun, helpful, supportive and letting us steal your pens 🙂 Thanks again to John Tisbury, to Barry, the awesome sound guy who got us rigged up for reading, to Renee for helping us on Sunday out of the goodness of her heart, to everyone that stopped by and chatted with us, made us laugh, kept us going when we were running out of energy, and of course, bought books and took our promo stuffs. You’re all fantastic, and we couldn’t have done it without you. I’m very sorry if I missed anyone, blame my exhaustion.
Now, I’m off to bed for a few weeks, then onto planning next year!
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