The adult sex education field has experienced considerable growth during the digital age, and with that growth has come an abundance of conventions and conferences where sexperts can share their knowledge and expertise. Some have a heavily academic focus, while events such as the Sexual Health Expo (SHE) are paving the way to connecting sexperts and consumers.
Held at the Millennium Broadway Hotel in New York City’s Times Square on September 19 and 20, the recent Sexual Health Expo attracted a who’s-who of sexperts: Dr. Ava Cadell, Dr. Jessica O’Reilly, Dr. Emily Morse, Reid Mihalko and Dr. Hernando Chavez were among the speakers. And a wide variety of topics were addressed, from BDSM to anal sex to the use of sex toys. Journalist Rachel Kramer Bussel, a widely published sex writer, offered advice on erotic writing — and sexpert Walker Thornton addressed sexual pleasure after 50. BDSM expert Mollena Williams discussed dominance and submission, and dominatrix Midori gave a presentation on rope bondage.
The fact that we can go to an event like SHE in a fancy hotel in Times Square — one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world — and talk to people about all kinds of sexuality and buy sexual products is something that would not have been possible 40 years ago. -Reid Mihalko
Morse told XBIZ: “The Sexual Health Expo is extremely valuable to both consumers and sexperts. In a weekend, consumers can attend dozens of workshops and also learn about the latest sex and intimacy products available today. SHE is also beneficial to sexperts, as they can reach a wider range of consumers and make an impact that enhances their ability to reach people across the country and grow their audience.”
Mihalko described SHE as a prime example of how far adult sex education has come in recent years. “The fact that we can go to an event like SHE in a fancy hotel in Times Square — one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world — and talk to people about all kinds of sexuality and buy sexual products is something that would not have been possible 40 years ago,” Mihalko told XBIZ. “The message and the subtext of having SHE in Times Square is not only ‘This is OK, this is not shameful,’ but ‘This is part of your health. Having sexual pleasure in your life is part of your health.’ That is an important message to hear.”
Other conventions and conferences focusing on adult sex education include the Catalystcon, Taboo Naughty But Nice Show, the Playground Conference, the Everything to Do with Sex Show, the Alternative Sexualities Conference and the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit. Thornton, who has appeared at CatalystCon three times, told XBIZ: “I think CatalystCon brings people together from a wide spectrum of professions and orientations. The topics are carefully chosen by the conference organizer, Dee Dennis, to represent a wide range of voices.”
Bussel asserted that at an event like SHE can encourage people to explore erotic writing even if it’s something they haven’t thought about doing. “Usually, when I teach erotica writing, people who are already inclined to be interested in the topic will sign up,” Bussel told XBIZ. “But at an event like SHE, where there’s a single admission, even those who might not consider themselves writers were likely to stop in and listen and perhaps discover an aspect of themselves they hadn’t thought about before.”
Chavez stressed that SHE and similar events are valuable not only because of the interaction with consumers, but also, because they give sexperts an opportunity to network with other sexperts and find ways to make their knowledge profitable. Chavez told XBIZ: “Sex educators can always learn from each other... Sexperts can earn a living in a number of ways such as conference and trade show presentations, workshops, seminars, sex toy and novelty shop presentations, writing, college and high school education, and passion parties.”
Describing her appearances at sexpert gatherings, O’Reilly told XBIZ: “At large-scale shows like the Sexual Health Expo and the Taboo Shows in Canada, I tend to speak about technique. These sessions are short, fun, entertaining and laced with humor.”
Cadell stressed that when sexperts appear at adult sex-ed conventions, they need to promote those appearances as aggressively as possible. Cadell, offering advice to fellow sexperts, told XBIZ: “Talk to others within the same community, as it’s beneficial to network and brainstorm with others in your field. This is a great way to find joint venture prospects because there is enough work for all of us to be successful. After all, we are all here to empower people and help them to make love a priority in their lives.”