If you’ve only just started following this blog, allow me to introduce you to Eroticon: the sex writing conference based at Arlington House in Camden, where sex bloggers, erotic writers and other awesome people gather once a year to share their knowledge and expertise. This year’s was exceptional, and if you’re interested in getting started in sex blogging/writing, now feels like the perfect time to join in, because the community is growing so wonderfully.
For a start I got to sit back and participate in lots of the talks and workshops without having to do any behind-the-scenes wrangling (and I cannot thank Molly and Michael enough for that opportunity – more on this later!) but also because there were so many new faces at the con!
One of my greatest hopes for Eroticon, ever since I started attending in 2014, has been that word of this loving and supportive community of sex nerds would spread, and more people would come to join us and share their unique experiences and thoughts. Momentum is growing, and that means there are even more incredible sex blogs, erotic books, hot pictures, toy reviews, articles and more for you all to enjoy. Fuck yeah!
New friends and old ones
Don’t want to make you all jealous, but I got to meet Bianca from Helen’s Toybox, Brigit Delaney, Valery North, LittleSwitchBitch, EL Byrne, SilverDom, ZebraRoseSub, Hazel Mead, Gilly Langley, some partners and friends of those folks too and other amazing people. I also got to have some great catch-ups with people I only get to see once or twice a year – Petticoat Diva Jo, On Queer Street, Ros Ballinger, the gorgeous guys from Luke and Jack, Monika and Adam, Charlie Rose, Tabitha Rayne, Sub Bee, Innocent Loverboy (who holds a special place in my heart because he was the first person to ever come say hello to me back at Eroticon 2014!), Zak Jane Keir, The Other Livvy, Franki Cookney, Exposing40, Eve Ray, EuclideanPoint, and absolutely loads more. , Hannah Lockhart brought me a veritable mountain of caramel-and-shortbread-based-treats, for which I am eternally grateful as it’s only the sugar that’s powering me through this post right now.
When we go to conferences like Eroticon, it’s often hard to write round-up posts because there’s so much amazing stuff to mention. We met loads of people, and there’s a worry that by including some we’ll forget others, and end up not offending or insulting those we don’t mention. Naturally, as an incredibly anxious person, this worry is top of my list.
But it’s better to mention (and link to!) some, rather than worry you’ll forget people and end up not posting anything at all. We’re all fallible humans, memory is hard, and it’s especially hard when you’re meeting dozens of new people within 48 hours, most of whom you recognise only via avatars. You cannot possibly be expected to remember all off the top of your head. Sometimes you have to give yourself permission to do something less-than-perfectly in order to ensure it actually gets done at all.
So here’s my promise: I solemnly swear that I will not be offended if you miss me off your list, even if we had a lovely chat. And I do hope that you won’t hold it against me if I missed you off here – it was a very full weekend and my brain struggles, and I’m sure that over the next couple of weeks I’ll think ‘oh FUCK! I can’t BELIEVE I forgot so-and-so!’ then have to pop back and edit this post, which I’m writing quickly because I have foolishly agreed to go away this week and I’m worried if I don’t do it now I’ll forget until after I get back. If we met and you’d like a link please do just get in touch and I will add you to this post, and make a note to check out your work if I haven’t already!
Cool things I did/heard/saw at Eroticon 2019
All the talks I went to made an impression on me, and left me fizzing with ideas on things to write about in future, so I hope I can draw on a lot of them to do longer posts, but here is a list of every session I attended, because fuck it I need to make notes before I forget, and also because if you attended one of the talks scheduled opposite I would LOVE to read any notes/write-ups so please do add links in the comments so I can add and share!
- Dr Eleanor Janega gave a belting opening session on the history of women and desire, which I think should be required listening for anyone who wants to hold forth on what women want in bed, especially those MRAs who occasionally show up in my comments to tell me that I can’t possibly enjoy sex because something something evolutionary psychology.
- Zebra Rose gave a fascinating and strongly argued presentation on sex blogging and human rights, which I am going to follow up on in a lot more detail a little later down the line, because I have a lot of action points/things to review off the back of her presentation.
- Kayla Lords inspired me so much with practical and enthusiastic tips on scheduling writing. Kayla is one of my heroes, and she’s extraordinarily prolific. She writes The Smutlancer as well as her own sex blog, and she podcasts, freelances and so much more.
- Jaime Mortimer’s stroll through depictions of BDSM throughout history was an absolute delight, and there was a lot of history that I had never heard before, as well as some insight into BDSM classics like Story of O that I am going to crack out as fun facts at parties.
- Franki Cookney persuaded me to evaluate the way I approach mainstream audiences, and her talk is the one that kicked off the most discussion on Saturday night. I absolutely loved Franki’s approach, and I also want to give a particular shout-out to Masterseye, whose contribution to the Q+A afterwards added a personal story on why it’s so important to step outside of the ‘sex-positive’ (or sex-critical/knowledgeable) bubble.
- At some point during the day I managed to tour all the sponsor stalls and check out the brilliant stuff they were demo-ing/discussing, as well as pick up some excellent conference swag: awesome t-shirts, tote bags and notebooks from Fetish.com, a reusable coffee cup and some cool stickers from Hot Octopuss, mugs and a seemingly infinite supply of sweets from LoveGivr, and I had great-but-far-too-brief chats with the folks from Temptation Holidays and Ruby Glow/Rocks Off. Sadly, Doxy – one of my favourite companies in the adult industry, not just because they create incredible toys but because they are so supportive of bloggers – couldn’t have a presence at the event, but they supported it financially and were there in spirit.
At the end of the day I went to the Kinklab, and got to try out the audio input settings on the shiny new ElectraStim AXIS. It will output stimulation based on audio input, so we hooked it up to Kickdrum by Felix Da Housecat and it worked EXACTLY AS I HAD HOPED. Yum. I’ll have more on this soon, when I get to play with one sexily. I’ve been experimenting a lot with synaesthesia when it comes to fucking lately, so this is the absolute perfect addition. I have PLANS.
Also at the Kinklab, I watched the ever-awesome Cara Thereon getting skilfully tied and suspended, and popped my head into the vac room to watch a variety of people getting vacuum-packed in a variety of sexy ways.
In the evening, the Saturday social (sponsored by Chaturbate – check ‘em out! I go there quite a lot to watch cams with my dude because we love watching live couple fucking. Don’t forget to tip, obvs) was a proper joy. I got to hang out with lots of lovely people who I am not even going to try and mention here because the list is so long, but apologies to anyone if I rambled drunkenly – adrenaline plus alcohol equals me saying things that make no sense, then panicking the next day that I’ve been a massive bellend. Special mention to Hyacinth from A Dissolute Life though, because I love her so much. She is passionate and powerful and inspiring and I wish she lived over here so we could be pals, and regularly recreate the slumber-party that ended our Saturday night, where we shared a bottle of champagne in bed and lamented the hotel lack of phone sex TV channels.
- I started off gently and delightfully by spending some quality time with KinkCraft making a bracelet that spells out a word in morse code. I’m not going to tell you which word, I’ll let you guess: letters are spelled in purple, with one black bead in between each word to separate them.
- Next I was on a panel that was skilfully and brilliantly hosted by Cara Thereon – she, Kayla Lords and I made up the Anxious Writer’s Club, and we invited other attendees into our often malfunctioning brains to give advice on how to deal with the anxieties that come with being a writer on the internet.
- After lunch, the erotic readings! One of my favourite parts of the conference, I am absolutely gutted that I missed the first half, especially because Ros Ballinger was reading aloud the gorgeous guest post on her first time threesome that she wrote for my site. But I was there in time to hear BeStillMyBeaten read this phenomenal post – I want more – BibulousOne give a fantastic performance of this blog post ‘Intense’, and Victoria Blisse turning her sexy phrases with ‘Are you fingering me?’
- Next, JetSettingJasmine and King Noire of Royal Fetish Films gave some fascinating insights into porn sex versus reality – I’m going to write this up in more detail later because I absolutely loved it. It’s easy for us all to say ‘oh yeah I know that porn is different to sex you have without a camera involved’ but they had some really specific insights that I’d never considered before. More on this soon! Also if you want to go meet them and learn from them, they’re running a kinky popup this Saturday (23rd March 2019) in LONDON! Grab a ticket and head along!
- I hosted a panel on trends in sex toys with the incredible Tabitha Rayne (from sponsor and fab sex toy creators Ruby Glow/Rocks Off), Calandra Balfour (from the amazing sponsor LoveGivr) and Adam Breedon of dildo wizards Godemiche. The panelists did a great job explaining some of the key things consumers are looking for in the sex toy market, and giving some thoughts on new ideas and directions the industry is heading.
- Then I gave a talk on traffic-building. The main point, really, is that everything you do to build traffic needs to be strategic: measure your work, do what has the most impact, and keep refining and questioning your strategy to ensure you’re putting your energies into the things that bring in new users and get them engaged in your content. I’ll stick more detail on this (and talk slides) online later, but I hope it was helpful.
Ironically, things which absolutely do NOT drive traffic are blog posts like this one, where I am giving a long-winded run-down of things I saw at a conference. But for those who are regular readers and like a bit of behind the scenes info, I hope this gives you a little bit of insight into what the UK’s sex writing conference is like. And for those who might be tempted to join us in the future, I hope this blog – and other posts people write after the event – can persuade you to come along. It’s been a genuine joy to see so many new people joining us this year, and thrilling to hear more about new projects and ideas. Subscribe to the newsletter on the Eroticon website, and you’ll get an email when earlybird tickets go on sale, or when they open submissions for ideas for next year’s talks!
The two incredible people who made this happen are Molly (aka MollysDailyKiss) and Michael (aka @DomSigns). Prepare for a little gushing here, but these two fuckers are the bedrock of this community and they deserve a lot of gush. Oceans of gush. So much gush that you’d need at least twenty fluidproof sheets from the conf sponsor Sheets of San Francisco to collect it.
Molly and Michael have been at every Eroticon since the very first one I attended back in 2014: welcoming newbies, offering support and advice, and going the extra mile to help people out. Working with them on Eroticon in 2017 and 2018 was as rewarding as it was exhausting, and instilled a sense of absolute awe at just how much work goes into planning one of these things. They have managed to do everything we did together last year, but with less help, and to an even higher standard: that is so impressive it makes me well up with emotions. I am so grateful to both of them for their hard work, patience, love, kindness, generosity, skill, and all-important sense of humour.
I hope that right now they are resting, and looking back on the weekend with a huge sense of satisfaction. They brought so many amazing people together: opened new doors for us, let us share our knowledge and experience, and have a brilliant time along the way. Well done incredible, inspirational friends: you absolutely nailed it.
UPDATE: Perfectly proving my point about fallible memory, I forgot something REALLY important! The Eroticon anthology for this year – featuring collected writing from Eroticon attendees and speakers – is available to buy. It’s gorgeous – written by talented people, edited by Zak Jane Keir, with cover art by the fabulous Tabitha Rayne. I’m looking forward to getting stuck in to reading my copy. Grab your copy of Discovery from Amazon.