OktoberPornoFest in Berlin! Carol Queen’s Venus/INTIMATE visit

Venus is the annual show for the adult industry in Europe. Like the ANE/AVN expo in Las Vegas, it brings film companies, manufacturers and distributors together to  represent their wares. There is one part that’s open to the public and attracts fans — it’s a big party scene, in a sense, with personal appearances by porn stars, live demos, thumping music — and then there is a (much quieter) private hall where they hold INTIMATE, the business-to-business side.

There, representatives of stores and web businesses meet the people who can sell them toys and other products. Many of those distributors were old friends of Good Vibrations, people we always see at US sex toy conventions and the “premium companies” we talk so much about: JeJoue, nJoy, OhMiBod, Fun Factory, Lelo, etc. Several European companies I’d never met were there too, and I believe there were also representatives from Chinese businesses looking for people to engage the factories they represent. This is all held in the main exhibition hall in Berlin.

This year, for the first time, INTIMATE (a.k.a. “The Pleasure Brand Exhibition”) held panel discussions for its attendees; this is specifically what I was invited to go and do. They were all moderated by Dr. Laura Méritt, a noted German sex-positive feminist academic and activist who runs an education and sales salon in Berlin as well as an online shop, “Sexclusivities.” Laura is also the creator/presenter of the European Feminist Porn Awards, PorYes, which were held in Berlin on the 15th and 16th of October; my most recent movie with Pleasure-Ed, Gush, just received one of these awards.

My two panels were “The US is leading the way with staff and consumer education: What does Europe need to do to catch Up?” and “Female erotica & educational productions: a beginner’s guide to the fastest emerging genres of sex-positive film.” We panelists had great, interesting conversations and there were lots of opportunities to chat before, after, and in the hall for the rest of the day; also, there were two business-to-business group dinners arranged. Everyone was very excited that Good Vibes was represented at the convention. On the panels themselves I was joined by Jennifer Lyon Bell from Blue Artichoke Films; French filmmaker Sophie Bramly; personnel from Mail and Female, the women-run sex shop in Amsterdam; and one of the owners of Sinful.dk, a web-based business. Both panels were recorded, and we were interviewed by Rebecca Pinette-Dorin for her forthcoming YouTube show.

The show ended Saturday, and I spent Sunday with Jennifer Lyon Bell, Sadie Lune, her friend Ena (who runs a Berlin-based English-language sex magazine called Bend Over, which I will be interviewed for soon), and some of their friends. After dinner Jennifer’s films were showing at a Kreutzberg theatre, an event hosted by Berlin’s Erotic Film Festival — the full festival is later in October. I chatted with him about Good Releasing, and possibly coming back to present something in future.

Berlin is a gorgeous and fascinating city, and I’m already looking forward to the next visit!

Dr. Carol Queen

Carol Queen has a PhD in sexology; she calls herself a "cultural sexologist" because her earlier academic degree is in sociology: while she addresses individual issues and couple's sexual concerns, her overarching interest is in cultural issues (gender, shame, access to education, etc.). Queen has worked at Good Vibrations, the woman-founded sexuality company based in San Francisco that turned 35 years old in 2012, since 1990. Her current position is Staff Sexologist and Good Vibrations Historian; her roles include representing the company to the press and the public; overseeing educational programming for staff and others; and scripting/hosting a line of sex education videos, the Pleasure-Ed series, for GV’s sister company Good Releasing. She also curates the company's Antique Vibrator Museum. She is also the founding director of the Center for Sex & Culture, a non-profit sex ed and arts center San Francisco, and is a frequent lecturer at colleges, universities, and community-based organizations. Her dozen books include a Lambda Literary Award winner, PoMoSexuals, and Real Live Nude Girl: Chronicles of Sex-Positive Culture, which are used as texts in some college classes. She blogs at the Good Vibes Magazine and at SFGate's City Brights bloggers page and contributes to the Boston Dig. For more about her at carolqueen.com.

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