When I heard the news that Sexpo™—the largest sexual health and lifestyle show in the world—was about to hit London for the first time, I was scratching at the doors of the Kensington Olympia before you could say "Really? It's Sunday and Mom's got a chicken in the oven, why would you want to go to that?"
I'm not quite sure what I expected the atmosphere of an indoor sex market to feel like, but it definitely wasn't as electrifying as I'd anticipated. There was a whiff of resignation in the air, much like the departures lounge of an Easyjet flight to Alicante. The main difference being that in the airport you don't often see a six foot phallus and pair of tits tearing through the aisles after a man in a Barbour clutching a Lidl bag, the scalp of a giant purple dildo winking out the top of it.
The first stall I chose to visit was that belonging to Lucy Ann and Porchia: two stone-cold centerfold hotties with pearlescent teeth and their arms crossed over a formica trestle table. On the plastic walls behind them were pinned pairs of their lacy thongs and stilettos. Scattered over the table in front of them were many, many pictures of their own breasts resting on the ledges of various swimming pools. As I perused these relics of a fallen lads mag empire, Porchia and Lucy Ann told me wearily they were here in bikini tops to sell the last of the loot.
"Lucy Ann does the daytime shows on the phones," said Porchia, pointing to her co-saleswoman: "But I'm done with it now. I don't tell this lot, but I've got two kids. I'm just doing this for the cash for my babies." Over her shoulder I spot a withered pencil-drawing of a man sidle up to the trestle table and trace his finger around Lucy Ann's aerolas, but before he could lift the paper, a squarely manicured hand was pinning it to the table. "That's a fiver, darling" Porchia says. "And if you want a picture it's a tenner."
"This is the only chance the fans get to meet us," Porchia continues. "But to be honest with you now everyone's giving it away for free on Twitter, work's dried up a bit for us."
"A man came by earlier," says Lucy Ann, "told me he's in £450,000 in debt from calling babe shows like mine in the day, the poor sod. He was in his early 20s, it's so weird." Safe to say, Lucy Ann—a sort of soft porn Sheryl Sandberg and my topless namesake—is stacking cheddar. She says: "I do three 12 hour shifts a week and I'm making anything from three to five thousand quid."
"We don't get why anyone would spend their money like that," chimes in Porchia, "but if they're stupid enough to part with it." They tell me the girls are bought presents by philanthropic 'pervs'—a girl recently acquired a brand new BMW, but today Porchia was making do with the gift of a tuna and sweetcorn sandwich from a lustful fan.
Worried I was starting to cramp these girls' style, I decided to check out the rest of the glorious sexhibition. Edgar Allen Poe steampunks, horny witches, and lost Cyberdog nymphs you might have found doing poi in the common room: here they all were, thrown into a sort of erotic casserole. Frankly, it was all getting to be a bit much.
After getting to grips with a solid silver buttrod, I stopped off for a hot dog and a cheeky Fanta at the unintentionally hilarious eatery "Dockers" for some R and R. I desperately tried to think of something kinky I might be "into."
Every now and then I would catch people talking to each other in that weird lingering way people do when they're trying to fuck each other but nobody knows what the sexy bit is. "You like my tail do you?" said one girl who had been marauding the aisles (with what may or may not have been a dead ferret stapled to her ass) to a leering buttplug stallholder. A mother and daughter anal probe manufacturing duo were jointly disciplining their 'mascot'—a man in a dalmatian costume. Was this sexy? Is this a sex thing or a dog thing? A question I never thought I'd end up asking myself more than once on a Sunday.
Around another corner I met a rather less sexually ambiguous woman spatchcocked around a stripping pole. Nearby, a German salesman was selling 'nice and slippery' butterscotch scented body oil. There were bored cybergoths and a woman vigorously taping a reduced sign to an inflatable penis.
Over in the corner there was a screech of a PA system and the sound of steel café furniture being dragged across the floor, which could mean only one thing: the "colorful feast of eye-catching live entertainment" promised on my ticket was about to start. An elderly couple had front row seats, enjoying a nice frothy coffee and a bun in front of a wall of vulva and scrotum printouts. The grand prize: a disembodied fake vagina worth "THREEE HUN-DRED pounds." What followed doesn't bear explanation, but all you need know is that there was 'twerking' and Gangnam style and tribal butt tattoos. And that I shed a solitary tear of apology for our generation. After the show was over, there was only one thing to do: I went in search of this pricey prize pussy on everyone's lips.
It was at the plastic vaj HQ that I discovered my Audrey, my sister from a rubber mister, crouched face down like a prisoner of war on an ebony plinth. If you're in the mood for a bit of face with your masturbation, you can even lift her by the spineless head and pop your peen into her screaming silicone face. I don't think I was alone in being chilled to the marrow by Audrey, but there was nonetheless a buzz around this electric fanny.
Audrey's proprietor, eager for me to have a go, strapped a device to my face and slithered a finger condom on one of my digits, so I didn't soil her—already quite linty—labia. I got to work pleasuring the living daylights out of a pulsating plastic vagina in a Perspex box. Lost in my personal virtual reality my sensory perception was compromised, which is how I didn't clock a guy standing behind me breathing in my ear, "what does it feel like?" Aaaaand off came the goggles in a flash. Charging away (as quickly as it's possible to move when you're dodging the offer of a bumper bag of anal beads left, right, and center) I rounded a corner just managing to hurdle a woman in a floral housecoat face down on the linoleum receiving what was either erotic massage or a first aid drill.
Up ahead was the real dinner party fodder of the day. Writhing around on the same jigsaw crash mats you cartwheeled on as a child was a litter of men in latex dog-like masks surrounded by chew toys and dog bowls full of chocolate buttons. A "dog" wearing rollerblading knees pads nuzzled my feet before a tall man threw a tennis ball across the room for him, which he scampered after. The tall man introduced himself as Spunkx . He's a project manager for a conference company but at the weekends he becomes his canine alter ego: a fun luvvin' dog who, in his own words, "just wants to be cuddly and nap." He was here to "raise awareness about the pup-play community."
"We just want to relax and be who we are and that isn't about sex," Spunkx told me. "We go to the pub as a group all the time. Last week we went to Thorpe Park in our gear on a social." But the removable dick flap on his latex suggested this wasn't all as PG as I was being led to believe. "Sometimes we do have sex, sure," he reluctantly admitted. I joked they could team up with the RSPCA and he shook his head gravely. "The RSPCA don't want to be associated with us."
Spunkx really was as spunky as his puppy personality. He was very informative on the order of the gang and some #trending animals. "We have pups and alpha pups and all of us have a handler. We're getting quite a lot of raccoons coming through at the moment, a couple of foxes. We've some horses but they couldn't make it today." All this new information was making me feel pretty tired, but as much as all the dog beds full of sleeping manpups looked inviting, there was still so much more to see.
With the dogs still yapping at my heels I set off to the more mercenary corner of the Sexpo, cash burning a hole in my pocket. Buckling under the pressure in this digital age for an eye-catching profile picture, I came dangerously close to paying £600 for a glamour makeover session and photoshoot. After deciding against purchasing a drawing of an erotic stiletto on a chair, I was immediately pulled into a game of 'sexy Jenga' that had me almost signing on the dotted for a big night out at Colchester swinging hotspot 'Mingles.' And then I saw him. The artist in residence. Pricasso.
Before you could say "dick pic" I was pressing notes into Pricasso's hand to paint me. Sitting down alongside my photographer for our portrait, I tried to get a handle on this curious man. Peering under his giant PVC top hat, I craned to get a proper look in the eyes of bloke who'd spent the last ten years dipping his cock in paint and smearing it across a canvas. When he looked up from his canvas, he was very much a dude in his sixties but with the cheekiest smile. I asked him how he's made this his living. "Mostly through requests from America and stints in Vegas," he says, a despondent glaze in his watery blue eyes, "it's the same thing they want. It's extra for me to finish it off."
As my friend the painter put the finishing dick strokes to his work of art, and I tried not to imagine him ejaculating on my painted face, London Sexpo was packing up for the night. In the age of bitcoin, and Youporn, and Amazon Prime, there's something refreshingly brazen about seeing a suitcase full of plastic vaginas whistle past your eyeline. But even under the neon strip lights of the Kensington Olympia I was straining to see what my new dog friends, the steam punks, and the glamour junkies could possibly gain from being in the same room as each other. Would it not be a lot more cost effective to creep about with the rest of us perverts under the cool, shady rock that is the internet? But I don't know why I'm being such a Debbie Downer. As Pricasso put the final touches to his masterpiece by dragging it through his bum crack, I thought to myself: "Mum might be pissed I missed Sunday lunch but, she's sure gonna be chuffed with her Christmas present."
Follow Lucy on Twitter.