Tired of adult films? Sick of movies that promise plenty of steamy action but deliver tepid, vanilla scenes and nothing but flaccid performances? Looking for something beyond the usual?
Well, how about getting it live? And all at once. Yes, we’re talking about sex festivals — huge, live events that feature ringside seats some of the most unique exhibits, shows and spectacles in the world. Specifically, the ten biggest festivals in the world. They offer every flavor of no holds barred, from festivals devoted to the world of BDSM and fetishes both ordinary and bizarre, to those sponsored by the adult film industry or built around erotica or erotic movies.
In fact, you could probably build a pretty entertaining annual calendar around these type of events. If it’s May, you should be in France partying with the adult film stars in Canne at Hot d’Or while the rest of the entertainment world chases celebs at the annual artsy film festival. If you’re looking for a truly hot July, the top choices include Indiana and Finland, the former for would-be nude beauty queens, the latter for a soup to nuts tour of all things sexual.
September is for Barcelona, where you can catch up on the film you missed in Canne by taking in a spicier variety at the Erotic Film Festival. Or you can head down to South Africa, or maybe even go down under to join the Aussies at Sexpo, a dual event that’s gained a considerable international audience.
October means Halloween, of course, which means it’s time to head to the Left Coast and San Francisco, where the bizarreness that is the Exotic Erotic Ball happens before the witches and goblins come out to play. And if you’re into the trade show side of the equation, in November you should be in London for Erotica to restock your collection of sex products.
Without further adieu, here’s a guide to the best and the biggest in the world of sex festivals around the world:
10. Kinky Copenhagen (October, Copenhagen, Denmark)
Did you know that adult films are legal in Copenhagen? If you’ve got a fetish for unusual intimate festivals, put this one at or near the top of your list. The intent here is to explore the world of BDSM, fetishes and unusual sexual behaviors, so this festival represents the dark underbelly of the adult festival industry. Also, if you’re into body art, piercings and other “modifications,” this is the festival to get your bodywork done or updated.
9. Folsom Street Fair (September, San Francisco, California)
Call it a prequel to the madness of the Exotic Erotic Ball. Or maybe the EEB is just the after party, so to speak. Either way, this is probably the largest event to focus mostly on fetishes and BDSM, and similar events have sprung up in New York, Berlin and Toronto. If you’ve got a kink or an unusual itch to scratch, this is probably the best place to fulfill your fantasy, and it’s also a good place to preview some of the costumes that will turn up at the EEB.
8. Love Parade (July, Berlin, Germany)
This may be the biggest sex event that’s not really a sex event. Technically, it’s a techno festival that celebrates the sense of unity, peace, love and understanding that helped get the East and West Germans back on the same page after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Regardless of the purpose of the celebration, it’s a fine excuse for approximately a million and a half young Germans and their friends to engage in all sorts of lewd sexual behavior while the local law officers basically just stand around and watch.
7. Sexpo (September, Capetown, Johannesburg, and Durban, South Africa)
Sexpo specializes in erotica, with the organizers claiming that the true goal of this festival is to broaden your sexual horizons. Take them at their word or not, but the Sexuality & Lifestyle Expo has a reputation for being a jaw-dropper, to the point where this festival has become popular enough to spawn a sister event in Sydney, Australia. For those who prefer more mainstream entertainment, companies from a variety of G-rated industries now participate, with exhibits and events covering aviation, physical fitness, wine tasting and spa pools.
6. Nudes-a-Poppin’ Pagaent (July, Roselawn, Indiana)
Held in the conservative wilderness of Indiana, this annual festival is sponsored by the Ponderosa Sun Club, a “family nudist resort” in nearby Roselawn, which has been ranked as one of the ten kinkiest cities in the country because of the various activities associated with this festival. Previous hosts have included the likes of Ron Jeremy, Tim Allen and John Wayne Bobbitt, some of whom are willing to make an appearance because the actual contest itself is a G-rated aside from the nudity. Trophy titles include Miss Nude Go Go and Miss Nude Showstopper, and speaking of show-stoppers, the group photo of the contestants is said to be a stunner.
5. Kutemajrvi Sex Festival (July, Kangasniemi, Finland)
Oh, those wild and crazy Finns. Finland might seem like an unlikely destination for an erotic celebration, but this festival has a well-earned reputation for, shall we say, covering all the sexual bases. It features lectures on sex and sexuality that run the gamut from straight to things you never thought people could do together, with or without their clothes on. And the exhibits are known for presenting the latest and greatest (and in some cases, the weirdest) when it comes to sex products. Oh, yeah, the dancers and performances are pretty good, too. Personally, we’re hoping that someday they integrate it with Finland’s annual wife-carrying contest.
4. International Erotic Film Festival (Sept, Barcelona, Spain)
This one isn’t quite as much of an erotic blowout as Hot d’Or, but the festival’s alleged emphasis on breaking product taboos gives it plenty of spice and kick. The lingerie show is not to be missed, nor are the live sex shows. And if you’re a girl with a girlfriend, Barcelona is the place to be in September, because the lesbian sex shows are said to be especially enticing. The interviews alone are worth the trip to catch the adult industry’s version of Spinal Tap as stars “discuss” the merits and highlights of their, um, work. Approximately 50,000 attend every year.
3. Hot d’Or ( May, Canne, France)
Call this one the seamy (or steamy) underbelly of the Cannes scene; it’s occasionally known as “that other festival.” Held just down the coast in the same city where one of the world’s most famous film festival takes place, Hot d’Or is the industry’s annual bacchanalia blowout. Oscars will be handed out to the best and, well, steamiest of the adult industry, and you’ll probably see enough silicone here to supply a semiconductor company for months. The post-award parties, which take place not only in hotels but on yachts parked off the coast, have a notorious reputation as big league parties. Just about every adult star you can name has won an award here — Evan Stone comes to mind as an example — and they annually gather on the beach and pose nude for impromptu paparazzi and media group photos.
2. Exotic Erotic Ball (October, San Francisco, California.)
This show may not necessarily be the biggest when it comes to numbers, but it earns a high ranking based on the general wildness. Started by Perry Mann in 1979, the EEB has been held annually for 25 years, and it basically has turns San Francisco into the world’s biggest pre-Halloween party. The festival has a well-earned reputation for glitz, amazing costumes, and some of the craziest sex shows and performances you’ll ever see. The show has been featured on HBO’s Real Sex, and the documentary of the event is considered a must-have for fans seeking the ultimate erotic film.
1. Erotica (November, London, England)
It’s consistently recognized as the largest erotic festival on the globe, this massive sex-oriented trade show features exhibits from over 230 erotic vendors plying their wares, along with an erotic jewelry boutique. The casual atmosphere at this festival makes it perhaps the ultimate pickup spot for those taking in the sights, sounds and couplings at the shows. To give you an idea of celebrity entertainment at Erotica, music for this one was supplied by Torture Garden, among others, with annual attendance figures normally ranging from 50-100K depending on the year.
And now, for something completely different…here are five more that didn’t quite make the cut, but are still definitely worthwhile.
- Mardi Gras. Technically it’s not a sex festival, but don’t tell that to the thousands of college students who flock to New Orleans in February with the goal of having sex with someone they’ve never met.
- Carnival Rio Di Janeiro. Think of this one as a South American cousin of Mardi Gras. Held 46 days before Easter, Carnival is attended by about 4 million people, many of whom engage in random sexual activities with one another of which their mothers probably wouldn’t approve.
- Eroticon. Leave it to the Poles to put on the dirty step cousin to Comicon. Held for four days in Warsaw and sponsored by Pink Press, this festival features the World Sex Championships (we were afraid to ask), and the mayor of Warsaw once threatened to prosecute the sponsors under the general charge of procuring women.
- Sextival. Held in hangar at the port of Tel Aviv, this show was an effort to buck the generally conservative attitudes of the Israelis toward sex. The Playboy bunnies who were guests at the show were deluged with autograph requests, so in that sense it seems to have worked.
- Kanamara Matsuri. Held during the spring in the city of Kawasaki, the name of this event translates as Festival of the Steel Phallus. Need we say more? Thankfully, it actually raises money for HIV research, believe it or not.