BY Jeeves Verma 

A.I. Companion Dolls, Sexual Education, Kink and a hell of a show: SEXPO 2018

Meet Bentleigh Gibson, the National Event Director for Sexpo Australia who has managed the domestic Sexpo events for over three years. Prepare thy eyes, ears and sponge-like youthful brains to receive the best advice on the market for Sexpo newcomers. 

For the uninitiated, what is Sexpo all about?

Sexpo is all about celebrating one’s sexuality and one’s healthy lifestyle and healthy living and embracing all things that are adult and all the benefits of the adult industry and what that can bring to one’s life. So for the uninitiated, or for the first timers, they should come with an open mind and come ready to explore and learn and be entertained in high energy, high octane, vibrant environment.

Can you tell us what Sexpo is NOT?

Sexpo is not a porn-fest, Sexpo is not just a show about Sex. Sexpo is about learning, exploring, and being entertained in a very safe, consensual, judgement free environment. 

We’re finding with the younger adults of today, they are more open to the discussion of sex and sexuality, and Sexpo provides that platform where they can come to the show and explore those sexualities and desires and seek advice and learn and be entertained all under one roof.

When, where and how much is Sexpo?

Sexpo is on from June 14-17th (that's this Thursday-Sunday for those of you lost in Semester time-warp) at the Sydney International Convention Centre in Darling Harbour. Tickets range from $13 dollars on Thursday to $110 online.

What's the role that Sexpo can play in encouraging a sex-positive society?

It creates a conversation; it gets people talking about it. And I think once we start talking about we can move past the stigmas and we can start openly talking about the issues that may exist within the industry. With Sexpo, no matter where it is in Australia, we always get fabulous feedback from on-the-ground organisations, universities, media organisations, whose feedback is - this is a great platform, this is a great event because it allows the adult industry which has traditionally sometimes been looked upon unfavourably, to really shine and say ‘this is what we’re about, we’re about healthy sex, we’re about being sex-positive.’ So I think the most importantly, it creates the conversation.

So you say you’ve been in this role for three years you say, I’m wondering - What’s the weirdest reaction you’ve faced when you tell people what you do?

One of the most common reactions is 'dude that sounds like a fun job’ or ‘is that really a job?’ And if you’ve ever been in Event Management you know it’s about 990 days of blood sweat and tears and then one day of glory – and people don’t often see the hard work and the machinations of turning an event like Sexpo into a reality.

And what do you parents think you do?

They still think I’m in seminary college. Nah my parents know exactly whatI do and they’re fine with it.

Do you see sex-shaming women as a problem in modern Australia? 

I think there is unfortunately elements of that around and it is called out when it is happening but I think we need to work consistently and strongly in removing that from not just the adult industry but from society and the community in general. Sexpo works hard to make sure that our environment is one of inclusiveness, is judgement free, safe and consensual.

Sexpo this year features the new SHARE seminars program – can you tell me a bit about the program? 

The SHARE program stands for the Sexual Health And Relationship Education Seminar theatre... there was a real yearning for more education based activations in the show where patrons come and not just speak to the retailers and the exhibiters about products but sit in a quiet space and hear from industry experts on all different topics. 

So we created the seminar theatre and reached out to many many experts – doctors, clinicians, sexologists – and invited them to come and present on a variety of topics. And I’m pleased to say what started three years ago with only one of two presenters, we now have wall to wall presenters throughout the course of the entire show, something like 35-40 presentations in total across the span of the three and a half day of the shows.

The seminars include topics such as if you’re curious about swinging, intro to polyamory, learning to deal with jealousy, improving relationship techniques, healthy marriages, sex and disability which is a really important discussion in today’s society, and just talking about having the conversation about sex! Most of the seminars are packed out with people and have Q&As at the end so it feels like we made the right move that we made to introduce this activation into the show. We’re really proud of it – because as I said, Sexpo is not just about sex, it’s not a porn-fest it’s a place of learning, a place of education and you can have fun while you’re doing it.

Do you see Sexpo as helping to normaliser kink-play in Australian culture?

Again we’ve got a very strong connection with the kink community across Australia, we have some fabulous partners who present at Sexpo. You may be aware that we have a fetish room dedicated to the world of kink, with over 30 workshops in that room being presented by Sydney’s leading kink experts. So again I think it’s creating the conversation and providing the learning experience for patrons and hoping that they uptake it! 

And I can tell you that the fetish room is the most popular lounge at Sexpo, there is always a queue to get in there so there in definitely a genuine curiosity for that kind of learning – so get in early or buy the best tickets for unlimited access!

What are YOU most looking forward to at Sexpo?  

Well Jeeves, I’m not sure if you’re aware but for the first time in Australia, we’ve got the most advanced robotic companion doll coming to Sydney, direct from the USA. Her name is Harmony and I’m really looking forward to meeting her and having a chat with her and seeing all the work that goes into creating that.

Woah, are we talking full on A.I. here?

Yeah it has a fully integrated AI system built into it, as I say the world’s most advanced AI Companion Doll or Sex Doll, complete with AI functionality, recall, memory, fully customisable to the patron’s preferences. Of course there is a male version called Henry, but unfortunately we don’t have Henry coming we only have Harmony. But I think it’s in line with our technology and future emphasis, and that’s the one activation I’m particularly looking forward to seeing.

What role do you see technology playing in the future of people's sex lives?

I think we’re gonna start seeing a sharper integration of technology in the bedroom, essentially. Be that through companion dolls or the technological developments of toys themselves, virtual reality is another big one – but really all only to enhance and make better one’s sexual experience.

Sexpo is on this week from Thursday to Sunday (14th-17th June) in Sydney and tickets are available right here. Head over to their website and check out the schedule to let your first eye opening excursion to Sexpo this year! 

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