by Jean Roberta
Afternoon on Saturday, March 17, at EROTICON: Annabelle Knight, author of The Endless Autumn (with some television experience on Channel 5 in the UK), discussed erotica, and more specifically, erotic romance, as a genre of fiction that sells very well, but which critics disparage and few readers will openly admit to liking — as distinct from readers who openly read mysteries on the beach or on public transportation.
This talk was given in a large, packed room. Unfortunately, the speaker’s voice didn’t carry well, and she stood near a pillar. Giving talks to large audiences in large rooms is clearly different from performing for the camera.
At the same time, Miss Eve E was discussing disability and sex work in another conference room, but Mirtha and I couldn’t be everywhere at once. (Next time, we might split up, then compare notes later.)
AND there was a demonstration of vac play going on, followed by Kayla Lords on a podcasting panel.
At 2:30, Emmeline Peaches gave a talk called “Cracking the Whip? Different Approaches to Sex Toy Activism.” What does sex toy activism look like?
Alas, I never found out because we went to a workshop named “Self-Editing Tips and Tricks” by Anna Sky, with whom I had exchanged some emails about the anthology, Truth. She is “the brains behind” two presses: Sexy Little Pages, and Resonance Press. The editor of the anthology, Zak Jane Keir, was there, wearing a toque that labelled her a “DOXY” (the name of a sex toy company) in large letters. The speaker discussed some of the common mistakes made by fledgling writers of sexually explicit work (independent body parts, impossible actions, etc.)
I had brought along three handouts that I had used when I co-led a workshop on grammar for sex-writers with Shar Azade at the first annual conference of the Erotic Authors Association in Las Vegas in 2011. I offered them to Anna Sky after her talk, in case the material might be useful to her. Mirtha was amused by the passion that editors/English teachers/grammar nazis bring to the subject.
Later, there were more “Kinklab” demonstrations, but Mirtha and I felt the need for some rest in our hotel room before the Saturday night social event.
Beginning at 7:30, all the attendees were invited to a pub in NW1, The Edinboro Castle, where we had our own section. The place was packed and noisy (not really our scene), but we were able to order food there. We both had fish and chips, and the food was excellent.
Even though it’s possible to buy “fresh” seafood in Saskatchewan (flown in from a faraway ocean), there is something distinct about the taste of seafood in Britain. It was as amazing as I remembered.
Apparently the original plan was that the crowd from Eroticon could circulate in and out of the pub and the enclosed outdoor space, but the cold weather discouraged that.
We noticed a woman across the table from us sitting perfectly still, and then we saw why. A young woman standing nearby was busily using scissors on black paper to make a silhouette of her model. Silhouette-making is a Victorian art-form that the artist, Alison Russell, learned from her late grandmother, a painter and silhouette-maker for over fifty years. Mirtha and I were impressed by the results, and we asked Alison to make our silhouettes. We learned that she didn’t need to be paid because she had been hired for the event. (For examples of her work, see my silhouette below or check out her website: www.alison-russell.co.uk)
A company named Eropartner was giving out free drink tickets and displaying “Zumio” sex toys which could be won, but there was such a crowd around their table that we couldn’t get close.
I drank Guinness all evening, but I didn’t hear a word about St. Patrick’s Day, and the few attendees wearing green didn’t seem to be doing it for any particular reason.
I found the women’s loo clean and quiet, but when Mirtha went in there after me, she came out looking annoyed. She told me that three women had been fighting over a man in there, and she didn’t stay long enough to find out who won. I had somewhat expected to encounter some alcohol-fuelled English vs. Irish hostility, but instead, sexual competition was apparently the trigger of the evening.
We old women were relieved to go home to bed.