Yesterday morning I opened the drapes in my Guangzhou hotel room and what a surprise: I’m located directly across the street from the convention center hosting the 7th Annual Guangzhou Sex Festival. Believe it or not, this was inadvertent – I’m (still) in town for another event located in an adjacent hotel. Then again, I’m also a big believer in providence and so I did the natural thing: had some breakfast, grabbed a camera, and walked across the street.
I wasn’t sure what to expect. My brief reading suggested that it was a salacious trade show of sorts; the morning headlines – featuring a family planning official’s suggestion that the state distribute sex toys to migrant laborers – intimated a debacle. Reality, however, was a bit more bland. More shoddy than salacious, the event is a run-down trade fair attended by retirees (male), unemployed young men between the ages of 26 and 35, and a handful of migrant (male) laborers capable of affording the RMB 30 (US$4.30) entry fee. Women were outnumbered by 50 – 1, I’d say. Here, for example, is a pretty good representation of the demographics in the form of a small sample of the large crowd that surrounded a video of a (swimming-suit-clad) couple demonstrating certain, ah, techniques.
Now you may ask, “Why spend your golden years watching swim-suit clad soft porn at run-down trade shows?” Well, take it from somebody who now knows: there’s absolutely nothing erotic – much less, titillating – about booth after booth full of condoms, vibrators, dried bull genitalia (directions not included), and “essence of kangaroo.” As a result, the only booths that attracted crowds at the Guangzhou Sex Festival were those showing video or photos of skin – including, I’m truly sorry to note – the exhibition of photos showing the rather unpleasant effects of certain STDs. But, I suppose, you take what you can get, and regardless of whether or not the images in question suggested health, somebody (often, many somebodies) was snapping furtive photos of them for latter viewing. See, for example, the photo after the jump. In it, I’ve circled all of the men taking images of the above referenced swimsuit technique video.
[in case you missed it, the expression on the face of the man in the lower left corner is priceless.]
Keep in mind that the above crowd was many times the size that my modest lens could capture. And that brings to mind a question: if you can afford a digital camera to take photos of porn at a trade show, can’t you afford an internet connection that brings those images into the privacy of your own home?
I think I’ll leave it at that. I do, in fact, have a few more photos. But really, they aren’t anything all that different from what Elaine Chow snapped when she visited the Shanghai Adult Care Expo a few months back (thus temporarily costing Shanghaiist its google adverts). So, in this instance, Elaine, speaks/photographs for me, too.