Event Review: Sexapalooza (Montreal edition)

Last night my partner and I attended the first Sexapalooza show in Montreal. Our overall impression of the event was a little underwhelming: it was much smaller than we had anticipated and seemed to be geared towards a very specific audience – a bored straight couple in a long-term relationship looking to “spice things up” a little bit.

We tried not to have¬† any expectations going in, but it’s difficult not to compare Sexapalooza to other events when it shared the same convention space as large-scale cons like the Montreal Comic-Con. We were very much aware of the empty spaces we’re accustomed to see filled with exhibitors and swarming with people. While my partner and I both got weekend passes to the event, we were able to complete our tour and watch most of the programming in just a couple of hours last night. The large room was essentially divided into 4 areas: the main stage, the exhibitors area, a seminar room and a corner dedicated to educational videos.

Performances on the main stage were hit-and-miss. We didn’t stick around the stage because of the long stretches of MC chatter between each act, but we did catch several acts over the course of the evening. Some were great- there was one fantastic burlesque performance and a short BDSM demonstration towards the end of the night that we really enjoyed watching – and others were too amateur-ish to hold our interest.

The educational video room was a very short stop for us. The video programming consists of a total of 3 educational videos (‘Advanced Toys for Great Sex’, ‘G-Spot and Female Ejaculation’ and ‘The Art of Advanced Oral Sex’) each about an hour long and cycling repeatedly throughout the weekend. We stopped in for the Oral Sex video which was offering tips on communicating with your partner and looked like it dated from the 90s. While the content itself wasn’t terrible, we didn’t feel like it was worth sitting through more than a few minutes. We’re pretty good at communicating. We never came back for the other videos.

Similarly, the seminar programming didn’t offer much more variety with a total of 4 different seminars for the weekend: Introduction to BDSM, Playing Safe, Introduction to Japanese Bondage, and Lapdance 101.

Side note: What sucks for me about conventions like this in Montreal is that the seminars are often only presented in French. I would have loved for them to offer each seminar in both languages. My French isn’t awful, but I missed bits here and there due to not understanding what was being said.

We watched 2 of the seminars:¬† Introduction to Japanese Bondage and Lapdance 101. The Japanese Bondage presentation was easily the highlight of our night, even if it was just a short demo that quickly glanced over a handful of different techniques. We both agreed it was something we wanted to look further into. The host of the Lapdance 101 seminar was very enthusiastic, but the extremely minimal content left much to be desired (for us anyway, but again, we were well-aware that we weren’t the target audience here).

I thought the presentations were far too short. I would gladly have stayed for a 45 minute seminar that offered more in-depth content. I didn’t learn anything of value from the 15 minute seminars, but all the topics presented potentially have so much more to offer.

The exhibitor area was the biggest disappointment for me. There weren’t very many booths so it was quick to make the tour of the area. Most of the shops selling sex toys essentially had the same small assortment of generic cheap toys priced even higher than I’ve seen in most retail adult stores. I only noticed a single exhibitor shop with any luxury toys and these were older discontinued products and toys with damaged/opened boxes dismissed in a tiny area (and still sporting their original outrageous price tags). Also, in spite of the Sexapalooza’s large banners claiming We-Vibe as a sponsor, they had no actual physical presence and none of their products were actually featured at the event. Some of the other booths included jewelry, steampunk accessories and dance classes. It was an odd, underwhelming selection for a “sex” show. They were clearly trying not to shock or offend anyone, but that dismisses a large portion of what the industry has to offer.

There were a couple of noteworthy attractions like a Sportsheets area starring a display of their bondage bed sheets and a wide variety of their products, a small artist’s corner with bodypainting and some nice artwork, and the “Sex Museum” which featured some vintage porn from the early 1900s and some information on the history of sex, BDSM and pornography.

We left empty-handed with an indifferent shrug. There wasn’t really anything relevant to us as two random 20-something-year-olds of average creativity already familiar (however vaguely) with toys and BDSM. Even if we haven’t explored these things together yet, knowing that they exist pretty much killed everything Sexapalooza had to offer. Other than the Japanese bondage ideas neither of us has tried with other partners, we didn’t really find new discoveries or even potential conversation topics. I never thought I’d say my partner and I had nothing new to talk about after spending a night at a sex convention, but the drive home was pretty quiet.

I think Sexapalooza does have potential to expand and become a worthwhile event, but their first appearance in Montreal was a bit on the dull side. I hope their future editions broaden their target audience to include people of all genders, orientations and experience levels, include some content relevant to masturbation, more than short minimalistic “introductory” speeches on the topics they present and a wider variety of educational information.

I didn’t dislike the experience, but it felt like they scrambled to pull a 3-day event together at the very last minute and didn’t quite manage.

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