NEW YORK — There was something new and exciting to explore for everyone when the Sexual Health Expo (SHE) opened its doors for the first time in New York City to more than 2,500 enthusiastic attendees at the Millennium Broadway Hotel last weekend.
Following shows in Los Angeles and Phoenix, the Big Apple event surpassed all expectations offering various genders, age groups and solo curiosity seekers state-of-the-art sexual health information and a unique opportunity to “kick the tires” of some of the hottest pleasure products on the market today.
Rousing workshops from the top educators in the field including a memorable keynote address by official show host Emily Morse, along with stimulating and fun talks by Dr. Jessica O’Reilly, Dr. Ava Cadell, Dr. Charlie Glickman, Dr. Hernando Chaves, Dr. Zhana Vrangalova, Reid Mihalko and more drew standing room only crowds.
A unique blend of entertainment, and a hunger for timely sexual advice filled the air where show goers had the chance to sit and take a “rocket ride” on the world’s largest vibrator at the Vibrators.com booth, as well as touch and feel cutting-edge pleasure products, or sit back and learn new sex techniques from one of the many sex-ed tracks presented by workshop sponsor The Pleasure Chest.
Victor Tobar, manager of the Pleasure Chest’s New York store told XBIZ that the SHE venue has been a positive experience for the company, noting it also took part in the inaugural Los Angeles event. “We love the idea that we’re able to reach a national audience through the show and provide professional educators. The New York audience is especially diverse — and we hope to continue working with SHE for future events.”
We-Vibe, another returning SHE exhibitor and major sponsor saw steady traffic at its booth. Director of business development Tori Parker lauded the event for allowing the company to position its product in a propitious environment. “We are very excited to be part of SHE as sexual health and wellness is the core of our brand. SHE brought us consumers who want to be educated and see our type of product.”
Especially impressed with the diverse demographic range of guests— from young to old and couples seeking to explore their sexuality, Jimmyjane vice president of public relations Molly Murphy said the company and sister exhibitor, condom company Sir Richards, received positive responses from everyone that stopped by.
“Our wearable Form 1 panty vibrator was especially popular — especially with couples,” Murphy said. “SHE offers us a platform for people to really understand our band.”
Another major show sponsor and first-time exhibitor Erosscia that debuted its unique portable vibrator, created and distributed by the Soixante9 Development Group, was particularly impressed at how SHE was able to blend sex education in such a way that it delivered self-awareness, with vendors that augmented the idea all in a one-stop shopping space.
Spokesperson Steffan Martell noted that the show even contributed to an uptick in page visits to the company’s website that he hopes will result in an increase in sales.
Some products even made their debut at the show. New pleasure products brand Blewit showed its innovative and body safe masturbator designed to simulate intercourse and enhance a user’s overall sexual health.
But it wasn’t all about commerce. Consumers lined up for a double dose of titillation at the Fleshlight booth, first to see the ever-popular products “in the flesh” and also to meet adult star Lisa Ann who talked about her custom molded Fleshlight and was busy signing photos for fans and couples alike.
Ann told XBIZ, “This show is such a great way to display sex toys and everything is so female-friendly. It really makes this event different and appealing to so many people.”
SHE also provided a valuable forum for intimate product providers whose brands are not as well known or recognizable as some of the major players in the industry.
OneTaste NYC introduced its Orgasmic Meditation (OM) course described as a wellness practice designed to focus on the clitoris for singles and couples to experience better connections and pleasure. Representative Sasha Hood explained, “A lot of people hunger for deeper connection but don’t have the language to describe what they want from their partners. Our intent is to educate them on the empathic connection through our course that lets them stop thinking and instead follow the feeling.”
Penis de-sensitizing product manufacturer Promescent’s eastern regional sales director Lisa Waddington, also a first-time SHE exhibitor was impressed with the show’s “great turnout” and noted how many females and couples stopped by to learn about the company’s product. “Couples were quite open about wanting to enhance their lovemaking.” Waddington noted that the brand commonly exhibits at medical shows but SHE opened up a number of new doors.
Hot Octopuss founder Adam Lewis also had praise for the quality of attendees. He said the great mix of customers — both singles and couples — along with top industry professionals was very impressive.
Another show newbie, BDSM-centric product provider Orchid and Serpent’s Susan Miller said the company’s first time at the show was enjoyable because it allowed them to branch out to both novice and experienced pros seeking their products, and noted that there were more attendees than she expected.
Vibrators.com’s Tom Nardone, whose booth let people ride “the world’s largest vibrator,” echoed the sentiment and said he was having a great how and meeting lots of couples and women, along with influential people like bloggers and sex educators — people he normally doesn’t come face-to-face with. “This is a happy crowd. People are having a good time,” he said.
But the upbeat and successful outing for exhibitors didn’t surprise SHE’s own Sara Ramirez – a veteran who has seen the event grow rapidly in popularity.
Ramirez commented, “I’m very happy that we brought the show to New York City because it draws such an amazingly diverse mix of people who are interested in improving their individual type of sexuality. SHE caters to a broad base of interests and products and the exhibitors are very happy with their results.”
But it wasn’t all about products. Many show attendees — especially couples and women — came from the tri-state area to learn first-hand about sexual wellness and how to improve intimacy.
One highlight talk given by the always-popular Dr. Jessica O’Reilly gave attendees a crash course on “Hotter Oral Techniques” complete with props and audience participation. “I will not treat the clitoris like a doorbell,” O’Reilly demanded from her listeners, stressing the correct ways to perform cunnilingus. She said lovers need to take two minutes to perform “breath kisses” as part of properly arousing women, among many other practical tips.
The speaker, who also imparted the “Rules of the BJ,” said the folks that came to SHE were 99 percent ahead of most people when it comes to seeking the truth about healthy sexuality.
Dr. Charlie Glickman who delivered his talk on Prostate Pleasure concurred and said attendees had the benefit of seeing products and receiving sex-ed all in one place. “That’s what I love about SHE,” Glickman said, “it’s a place for retail, pleasure product sampling and learning.”
That sense of having questions about sexual health and wellness answered in one location was also evident in the crowds that came to listen to Emily Morse’s special keynote address that discussed relationships and amping up one’s sex life regardless of its stage of development.
Morse said that the reason SHE exists is that there’s always something to learn when it comes to sex and that people need to prioritize their sex lives. Imparting more than 10 years of experience with her highly popular “Sex With Emily” podcasts, Morse told SHE attendees “communication is lubrication,” and that everyone needs to prioritize their sex lives. “Honor thy sex life,” Morse told SHE guests.
Speaker Reid Mihalko, self-professed “sex geek” spoke on Tantra for Beginners. Mihalko’s always entertaining and animated demonstrations educated SHE attendees who were glued at his delivery.
“There is a smorgasbord of tastes at SHE for people who don’t even realize what they don’t yet know. Both in L.A. and New York I’ve seen a common curiosity for this type of information,” Mihalko said.
When asked to compare the attendees from each coast, Mihalko said New Yorkers tend to pretend that they’ve seen it all until they’re enlightened, while Los Angeles folks make-believe like they’re never shocked. “We all need to learn, however,” he said.
Dr. Hernando Chaves’s workshop on Unique Orgasms elicited nods of agreement when he said that orgasms should never be the goal, but rather the journey. People should strive for the “pleasure connection.” Chaves felt that SHE allowed him to spread his message to people of all walks of life in order to enhance themselves and their relationships.
Happy about the diversity of workshops and vendors at SHE, Dr. Zhana Vrangalova who delivered an enlightening and fact-filled talk on the social science and practicality of “Hooking Up Healthy” noted that although there were a large number of couples at the show, she was surprised at how many solo men also attended. “I spoke to people of all ages and genders. It was a very enjoyable experience and I would love to do it again.”
Vrangalova told XBIZ that she’s planning a new book and online course based on her SHE talk.
With a comprehensive slate of workshops and seminars including Sex Toys 101 by the Pleasure Chest’s Jes Tom that schooled people on how to buy and safely use pleasure products, to Brandon B’s Butt Sex Basics that instructed on the techniques and pleasures of anal sex, to “Dating Tips for Shy Guys,” by professional dating coach Dr. D and the state of Sex After 50 from Walker Thornton, to much more, SHE provided two days of intense learning and non-judgmental fun no matter one’s sexual proclivity.
One local Connecticut couple told XBIZ that they found the show to be “really educational” and would come back again. One of the partners, David, said, he heard about SHE on Emily Morse’s show and decided to come.
“The show was very interesting. I had never heard or seen anything about Fleshlight until we came here for example. I really like the up close and personal ability to be enlightened. I brought my friend along to enlighten her about sex toys. This is a great place to touch, learn and see,” he said.