♦ March the 3rd marked the day of the UK’s first conference for sex bloggers and erotica writers and yours truly is here to tell you probably very little about it, actually, because I’m pretty damn certain I can’t do it justice. Also it’s been about a week and I’ve forgotten a ton. But I shall try.
I heard of the conference pretty late, actually. Maybe I suck at paying attention or maybe I didn’t previously follow the right people or whatever, but I think I actually only knew of it’s existence this year. Now, though, I’m really glad I went.
The day soon rolled around and I found myself walking into Bristol’s Armada House bright and early in the morning. I picked up my lanyard, my programme and my shag bag and went off into the side room to stand around awkwardly. Things soon warmed up, though, and a couple of people I’d never met before were kind enough to say hello (and had actually heard of my blog, which made me really chuffed). The lovely couple of DomSigns and Molly came over to say hello and give me my nipple charms prize from the Sinful Sunday competition that I won. And they just about refrained from making me try them there and then, too!
I also managed to use my ninja skills to hide from ILB and Lady Pandorah, before popping up behind them and saying hi, which was great. LadyP is one of my oldest blogfriends and also happens to be the subject of a massive girlcrush on my part, so to meet her in person was one of the best things about the day. Rest assured, she is as sexy and lovely in real life as online.
After precious caffeine, I mooched on over to the stand of buzzing, throbbing things staffed by Eroticon sponsors Lovehoney, who just also happen to be my favourite sex shop. I was a bit shy, as usual, but was soon put at ease and I was incredibly pleased that they remembered me from my reviews for them. The girls all really knew their sex toys too and it was fantastic to geek out over different buttons and speeds and doohickeys with them. I felt the strength of the Lelo Mia and thought it felt probably about as strong as my We Vibe Tango, actually. I played with buttons on the Je Joue FiFi, which are still a bit awful (I’ve been assured they’re getting a rework soon). I found the We Vibe 3 surprisingly flexible and the Sqweel surprisingly pleasant on my fingers. I got to try some delicious flavoured lubes from Sliquid and will be damned shocked if I haven’t picked up at least the Cherry Vanilla before the year is out. Most awesomely of all, I got to try the Neon Wand out on my arm, all the way up to the max! I’m very tempted to get one with my Eroticon money, but I’m sure my housemate Alt would steal it.
Anyway, before I get carried away nerding on sex toys, the rest of the day!
The first session was Identity, Ethics and Sex Blogging and was a panel discussion headed by Eroticon organiser Ruby Kiddell with Molly, Mina Lamieux, Lori Smith and Zoe Margolis. Frankly, it was fascinating and could have gone on twice as long and still not have had time for everything. As an anonymous sex blogger, this topic was really close to my heart and I loved hearing the discussion on the pros and cons of anonymity, the risk of sex blogging, the attitudes towards sex writers, the issues with consent, pigeonholing, etc. It sparked at least half a dozen ideas for blog posts in my brain and really gave me something to think about. More of this next year, please?
The next session was the Writing Workshop with erotic writer and editor Maxim Jakubowski. There was no interactive element except questions from the floor, but instead the session was a great half-and-half mix of erotic writing tips and tales from the writer’s own experience. I found myself writing furiously during the former while my pen would go silent for minutes during the latter, but it was always interesting and entertaining, even if it wasn’t quite what I’d expected. He had a great insight into the erotic fiction world and the tips were either new to me or reinforced and expanded on things I already new, which was great. He even discussed taboo in erotica, which is very topical at the moment.
Following that, a hard choice between learning how to write from a different viewpoint and DomSigns’ Tech Workshop. I went for the latter because I’m hoping to move to a self-hosted blog in the summer and because getting my blog out there is important to me. It was a great session that had some things I knew but a lot that was new to me and a good mix of things that are useful right away to things that’ll become useful after I self-host. It was perhaps the most directly useful session all day and from the level of knowledge in the room I was able to feel a little cool and geeky without getting too cocky! I’ve even used some of the tips already!
Lunch was delicious, even if mostly composed of food that crumbled all too easily and made me look like a mucky pup.
After lunch, the Photography Workshop with the amazing John Tisbury. His work was probably some of the very first erotic photography, especially bondage photography, that I ever saw and I instantly loved his distinct style, so I was excited to attend his session. He was a very friendly and jokey host, which made me feel very at ease and the level went from basic to more advanced as it progressed. At times it was perhaps a bit basic for me, but I did definitely learn some handy little tips I didn’t know before and he showed some cool example photos for us to point out what was wrong, which was fun and made me feel clever! I’d perhaps hoped for a bit more information on self-shooting, but what was there was very useful.
The last slot was another difficult choice: promoting my work or more sex and society stuff? In the end I figured the former might be for people who wrote more fiction than I do, so I went to the Sex and the Media panel with Ruby, Lori and Zoe again as well as Matt Bateman, Monique Roffey and Rubyyy Jones. For some reason, despite the similar topic, this panel didn’t click as well with me as the first and I found myself not quite as engaged with it. There were rather a lot of questions to which, through no-one’s fault, there was no real answer and it didn’t spark nearly as many ideas in me as the Identity panel had. But it was fun.
After this, wine was available and I grabbed a glass of red and sat down with everybody else to watch London Faerie demonstrate what he called Sacred Kink. For this event at least, that meant spanking, paddling, flogging and otherwise striking Lori in time to rhythmic but popular music with liberal pauses for stroking, kisses and whispers in her ear. She wriggled and giggled and I’m sure some of those strikes must’ve hurt, albeit in a good way, and soon she reached an ecstatic floaty state of mind. It was erotic, loving and wonderful to see and the atmosphere in the room was really something you had to experience.
At the end, someone in the audience asked people to raise their hands if they’d never seen something like that before but written about it and seemed shocked by the numbers of hands. I think it was a bit unrepresentative though. After all, I raised my hand and must’ve contributed to the shock, but whilst I’ve never been audience to something like that, you know, I’ve done it (albeit not shamanistically). I just haven’t watched it. And I know others who raised their hands were the same.
A little more wine followed and we watched some simply amazing burlesque by Lady Cave. It was unusual as there was less stripping than I’m used to, but she kept my attention at all times and with ease. She was graceful, beautiful and incredibly erotic and her routines were wonderful. After that, the prize draw during which I spent most of my time hoping against hope that I wouldn’t win anything and have to stand up in front of the applause. It’s weird how nervous that made me. I didn’t win a thing, though. But I can’t wait to hear what Molly and DomSigns think of their Rock Box! Also, because it is now a mandatory Eroticon in-joke: BOOK!
Then the evening became mingling and chatting, though I was a little sad to see how few people had stuck around. I finally felt a teensy bit more confident in introducing myself and everyone had buggered off! I saw both Molly and Mia try what London Faerie apparently refers to as his ‘misery stick’ and really wished I had the guts to go over and ask to try it too, but I didn’t. It’s the second time I’ve wanted to try a hitty thing and been scared of asking to do so and I hope I can manage to get up the courage next time because I keep making myself miss out. We shall see.
After the event finally closed a group of us headed off to a nearby bar for some food, drink and a little after-event chat. I was happy because there was hummus. But also awesome people! It was great to chat with both people I knew already and people I’d only met that day and I wished the evening didn’t have to end. I could have happily spent all night in such lovely, sexy, open and friendly company. We discussed our favourite sexual clichés, Fireman Sam, our writing, the Paypal issue, more blog tech and all sorts of other great things before it was time for me to leave. Sadly the last train back was ridiculously early and I managed to leave just as even more lovely people arrived, dammit! And if nothing else that day had made me feel at home and wanted, (which other things did!), the fact that so many people gave me hugs as I left, even some people I’d only that very second met, was it.
And that was the best thing about the day, really, that I felt welcomed and like I belonged. I may have been doing this a little while now, but I still feel like a massive noob. I may have written some good sex and even good fictional sex, but I still feel like I’m not a “real writer”. I may have people out there who have girlcrushes on me or who masturbate to my blog, but I still often feel not all that special or sexy. But at Eroticon, none of that mattered. I was at home and surrounded by like-minded folk and welcoming friends. That people who have mostly known me online or not at all can be so lovely to me warms my heart no end. Blogging can often feel isolated even though there are many of us, but Eroticon made me feel like part of a community and brought home that we’re all in this together in a way.
So thank you to everyone I spoke to that day, particularly to those of you at the Watershed in the evening, thank you to the speakers for their great sessions, to Lovehoney for being knowledgeable and easy to talk to, to the other sponsors for their support, to everyone I’ve forgotten and especially to Ruby for making the whole thing happen. You worked so hard and we’re all so grateful and so proud.
Here’s to Eroticon 2013, because I can’t wait to do it all again! ♦