NJ EXXXOTICA EXPO 2014
AMBER LOVE 08-NOV-2014 The night started out with a full moon just over the treeline when I was driving south on US 287. It glowed with a golden hue and looked like it was within touching distance. By the time my commute to Edison, NJ was over, the moon had orbited out of that gorgeous view. Of course I wanted to try and get a photo of it but I didn’t want to pull over on the street. I tried when I arrived at the expo center but it just didn’t work. You can’t even tell by the picture that the moon is the glowing orb near the top right of the tree branches because the parking lot lights outshine it. Oh well. It was a sign that it was a great night for the counter culture crowd to come out of their caves and cubicles and walk among their own kind.
I was grateful to attend the NJ EXXXOTICA expo as I have done in the past; last year I got sick and had to miss out. This year I was in the same predicament I was back in 2010 when I covered the show alone. In other years I’ve had contributors to the site either accompany me or go without me which I liked because my point of view alone doesn’t give enough range about what kinds of experiences people can have there. Overall, I had a good time and felt safer than I did in 2010 where someone had the nerve to put his hands on me without permission while I had my head down texting.
This year, security was ramped up with bouncers in suits, street clothes and accompanied by uniformed Edison police officers (the one I spotted looked funny trying to keep his composure since his pants were not of the tear-away variety). There were signs posted throughout including two flanking the main stage which explained the security, etiquette and the use of photography; when it says you are not allowed to photograph for commercial reasons that is to prohibit people from taking high resolution stills and video of the celebrity performers and selling them because selling prints is an important part of the porn star business model. So never be a dick about it. Take pictures for your own use. Some of the celebs allow you to take photos for free of them; some charge a fee from $10-20 to take a photo with them.
Each celebrity is different and works with a management team. I had to ask every star first, and several times I was told to either ask the booking agent if it was allowed, even with Press credentials, or simply told no because their photo ops were restricted. The latter was the case with one of my favorite performers and writers, Stoya. I love her work so much and had a gushing, stuttering, need to shut up fangasm talking to her. Mainly I wanted her to know that I love her writing and that her lyre/aerial performances are so inspiring that I had wanted to work my way up to that if I could have continued taking lessons. I’m positive none of that came out coherently when I saw her. Two years ago, I was able to get one of her lyre performances recorded.
Also, regarding photos, cameras are out EVERYWHERE. You cannot reasonably expect privacy at this show. If you want to enjoy the convention and all it has to offer, such as the dungeon and sampling any S&M gear, you are allowed to wear a mask. Some wore simple black domino masks; I saw a couple women with pretty masquerade style masks; and I’ve seen full covered masks like from stretchy nylon but not as creepy as pantyhose over the face. So, I encourage you to go and get educated about the businesses and the massive quantity of sex toy options on the market knowing you can do so without fear of being caught on someone’s YouTube or blog. There were plenty of D/s couples sporting the collar and leash things they do. If that’s your thing or if you just don’t want your boss ever spotting you, you have options of not looking like yourself. I would steer away from Halloween monsters but I don’t think there’s any prohibitive rule against it.
The registration wasn’t bad. They had a clearly marked registration booth for media first then a booth for the Ladies’ Free Friday (may have been why it appeared that the women outnumbered the men) with other ticketing booths to the right of the large men at the entrance. With a badge, you still have to endure a plastic wristband that you are supposed to keep on all three days. At the entrance doors, one of the burly men will hole punch the badge and then put the wristband on. I wondered why both but then I figured out the logic. You can’t remove the wristband and give it to someone like the lanyard with the badge. The hole punch tells them that whoever is presenting that badge had better also have a wristband on. VIP badge holders had some perks too. They were given a small ticket that they had to present at the VIP check-in booth inside the expo; they received a goodie bag and a t-shirt. However, I was disappointed that the VIP lounge was gone. Apparently it wasn’t there last year either and with a lack of places to rest, that lounge had been a nice feature. If you’re tired though, the seminar rooms have ample rows of seating. Just go in one of those whether you want to hear the panel or not. Unfortunately, I missed every panel I was interested in. My recommendation would be for them to have large standing posters at the entrance to both seminar areas with the daily schedule. While I was resting in one of the rooms, a lot of people came in asking if it was the Dom/sub panel or the Webcamming for Profit panel; no one seemed to know and no one came in to present.
If anyone attends a comic con or toy show, then you know what the situation for food and refreshments is like. This was a small concession area with not nearly enough tables. As I said, if you wanted to rest, your best bet was just getting to a seminar room. There were three food vendors near the front of the con floor instead of tucked far into the back like the concessions. One had a variety of sweets, one was Hungarian cuisine, and one was “Dick on a Stick” corndog type things, I’m not really sure but they were funny. With all my allergies and vegetarian restrictions, the only food items I picked up were two lollicocks.
This year there was no exotic auto show but there were a few vehicles on display. At one point the Lambo’s alarm system went off. No one seemed to come running. It was behind ropes and I suspect someone still managed to bump it.
There were a couple of beds at the front wall where scantily clad models played with giant teddy bears waiting for attendees to take their pictures with them. As usual, there were fun things set up all throughout the con floor like the stripper poles, dildo see-saw, and giant swing. No mechanical penis bull riding this year though! I wasn’t dressed for it anyway. (Yes, that happened two years ago).
It’s a small expo and you only need a few hours to get through all the aisles for shopping and seeing a few porn stars. However, if you’re a collector as many there were, you may have had to endure some slow lines for celebrity signings/photos. I was lucky that there was never more three people ahead of me to see someone at their high-top style autograph booth. You’d need the full three days if you’re interested in seeing every panel and every performance, not to mention the Ms. Exxxotica competition (more on that below).
PERSONAL ANXIETY SHIT
I had been dealing with some troubling anxiety for a few days and one of my body’s reactions to that is having skin eruptions from acne and hives to cold sores. This week, I seemed plagued by all of them in my own personal textbook-worthy leprosy – sorry, Hansen’s Disease. I do think it would be something to have a disease named after me. I really didn’t want to be there alone and asked a few photographers last minute to join me since I had one badge going unclaimed, but nothing worked out. There are several cons this weekend and everyone was booked. When I had found a resting place in one of the seminar rooms where no one seemed to know why there was no lecture, I used that time to reapply the professional grade theatrical makeup because the hives on my face were popping out again. Thank gods for photo filters that remove red!
MS. EXXXOTICA COMPETITION
At 8:30 the contestants for the Ms. Exxxotica competition were told to line up backstage. I thought that meant anyone who applied to be a contestant online, like I had. There were only ten contestants on the website so I was reasonably confident that I could go walk on a stage and maybe be asked a question like in a pageant. The online registration for it asked several questions like your background, your hobbies, why you want to be Ms. Exxxotica — the usual things. But at the actual show, it was an open call.
Soon the backstage area had about 15-20 women, 95% of them meeting a certain checklist of qualities: young, extremely thin and fit, wearing almost nothing (bras and G-strings), and had dancing talents.
Hmm…. well now. That’s entirely different from the contestant pool online. I was somewhere around fifth on the list. After several minutes and seeing more of these young women come in, I asked to be taken off the list. No problem. “Amber Love, podcaster and model” (how I listed what’s interesting about me) was scratched off and I went back into the unbelievably massive crowd waiting for the contest. Other women listed their “what’s interesting about them” as “loves anal sex.” That was on several. Others where “dancer from (wherever).”
There were two women in somewhat regular clothes who were not professional performers or models. One was in a sporty bra type of top with yoga pants which she playfully pulled down to shake her ass for the crowd. The other was your average girl next door type wearing a pretty dress with a big cardigan over it. Had I seen her backstage, I may have stayed. My black leather pants, corset, pentacle at my cleavage, vampire fangs and most comfortable flat ankle boots were my choice for “pageant ensemble” and why I wasn’t about to consider going up against all those G-string clad women that so athletically climbed to the top of pole for maneuvers. Nope. (Mind you, I had zero alcohol in my system so had I been supported by at least one friend and maybe taken two shots, I would’ve been tempted to stay).
This is what I looked liked…
And this is what I was up against…
I didn’t even stay to see all the contestants. The judges were tasked with picking a Top 10 who would have to return today (Saturday) to compete in Round Two for the chance at $1,000.
By far, the biggest line I saw was at the main sponsor’s booth, Arrangement Finders which is a sugar daddy website service. It’s not that the incredibly long line of men were anxiously awaiting signing up to be men who would happily provide financial support to women willing to date them. Not a chance. They were having free photos with one of the porn stars in the elaborate booth set up like a comfortable lounge with couches and big pillows.
While shopping, I was a bit annoyed at how few things were actually priced. Maybe the vendors charge different prices depending what city they’re in. I don’t know but it was annoying as a consumer.
I picked up some little things. And I mean LITTLE. I wanted a couple of thongs merely for taking pictures to post for the traditional Twitter hashtag, #ThongThursday. There was a BBW woman of color working the Twisted Cherry booth. Relieved at someone not a size 0 working there, I asked her if the G-strings had sizes. She chuckled and said no, there’s not really any fabric to warrant a size. I looked at them a while and had a bad feeling but picked up one in pink and one in white anyway. I tried them on when I got home and sure enough the “strings” could definitely use adjustable straps or offer bigger sizes because it was a struggle to get them onto my hips and once I did, there was some rigorous anal flossing to rival any dental cleaning I’ve been through.
I picked up quite a lot of pasties from various booths. Some were cheap and some go for $10/pair because they’re quite decorative. No photos of trying them on yet though. Some day!
One of the vendors was DNJTOYS which had a banner that caught my attention like no other. It declared bodly, “AS SEEN ON MYSTERIES OF LAURA STARRING DEBRA MESSING.” You have my attention! What? I’m a few weeks behind on watching this new cozy mystery series about a divorced woman whose ex-husband is her superior at a police precinct. It’s not a dark gritty NYPD cop drama by any means which is why I like it. It’s more of a younger version of MURDER, SHE WROTE if Jessica Fletcher had been a real cop and mother to insane twin boys.
I watched the only other solo woman I found in the crowd go up to the displays of sex furniture and ask about them. I quickly felt like this strange woman was my new BFF. She was talked into trying some kind of swinging device and I took pictures of her on her cell phone while she laughed and felt awkward. Her feet were in stirrups, her butt comfortably supported by a large rectangular padded seat the size of a card table, and her hands were supposed to grip straps to move her back and forth in a swinging motion. Just the sight of stirrups trigger me with unpleasant thoughts of the ob-gyn, so none of that for me! She said it was a fierce workout even after only a couple minutes. I thought about it later and realized it did resemble a pilates reformer. But initially, that’s not where my mind went at all.
My mind is definitely not wired like other people, as you would know if you read through some of my blog posts about mental illness. When I saw the two different types of sex swings, my thought was about how they looked like they would perhaps be useful for people who don’t have full mobility or have pain with typical sexual activity. They provided an amount of support (like a physical therapy machine might do) and had no-impact swinging momentum. I may be 100 percent wrong here since I didn’t try either and don’t have anyone to ask how might be in that physical situation if they have tried them.
I’ve learned that the man I spoke to at the DNJTOYS booth was named Brian. He was one of the friendliest people at any vending booth I’ve ever talked to and that includes the countless comic cons I attend. We talked about the furniture and how it ended up on TV. He’s friends with the prop master whose job it is to get authentic set pieces. One of my other favorite new shows is FOREVER about a medical examiner who can’t die and solves Dr. House type of mysteries with a buddy cop situation. FOREVER also had a recent BDSM themed show. Brian said he’s not aware of they also used the DNJTOYS furniture but it’s certainly possible.
This is a common TV trope, by the way. I think every cop/mystery show I’ve watched has done it including HOUSE which had an episode that I still need to skip past the opening of because it’s a couple engaged in rape “play.” Can’t do it. Can’t look at it. Don’t want to be in the same room with it. But if I skip past that scene, it’s a good episode. Anyway, non-sequiter, sorry. Brian did sell me a small bullet $10 bullet vibrator. It has one speed: Mach 3.
I’m never going to be one to try any of the racks, devices, cages, or services of a dungeon. Why would I go to that area then? Good question. Mainly because it ain’t me, so I don’t care! I have my own boundaries and it’s far, far away from this subculture. I do, however, love the psychological nature of it and the biological processes.
Plenty of bedroom aides are also a lot like things I learned to use a massage therapist. A massage therapist isn’t going to “spank” someone but there are tons of different ways the hands (feet and arms) are used with ranges of pressure and types of movement applied. There’s chopping with the hands held flat and hacking down rapidly and there’s having hands balled into fists to knead deeply into thick muscle areas like the top of the trapezius and the glutes. The similarities are why sex toys have to be marketed as “massagers” on mainstream sites like Amazon.
I also know that pain releases endorphins and other fun brain chemicals like an orgasm which people really like. I’m completely against pain and don’t give permission to any of my partners to even try it with me. As Cunning Minx says, “Your kink is not my kink.” Words of wisdom. My kink is sexy things on camera and partner sharing.
I have other profoundly deep moral issues with the dungeon too. Sex slavery is a genuine global issue. You shouldn’t need me to remind you about savages like Boko Haram who really do traffick, exploit, and enslave women and girls as little as nine and ten years old. Sex slavery is not something I consider “playful” or “therapeutic.” There are assholes like Jian Ghomeshi in the world who think it’s perfectly fine to beat the crap out of women because it gets him off sexually. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.
MISCELLANEOUS PHOTO GALLERY
AND I TOOK A LOT OF SELFIES!
Since I was unaccompanied, I was left to my devices to try and capture photos of myself enjoying the show. It wasn’t easy. And almost every photo I had a stranger take for me came out blurry except for the sweet one of me on the dildo see-saw. So when I returned home, I didn’t want the rare moment of having my hair and makeup fixed to go to waste and turned on the webcam. Narcissistic photos below!
Be safe. Be kind. Be sexy. Go forth and sex the way you want as you no one gets nonconsensually harmed. 🙂