Magazine article Marketing

Tickle Your Fantasy

Magazine article Marketing

Tickle Your Fantasy

Article excerpt

Erotica's organisers reveal the ins and outs of staging an exhibition about sex. Ruth Nicholas writes

Forget the Ideal Home Exhibition. Doing it yourself is likely to take on a whole new meaning when London's Olympia plays host to Erotica - the UK's first public exhibition devoted to sex.

Not that the event is aimed solely at the dirty mac brigade. The organisers claim it is primarily for young couples with a healthy interest in sex. "We have all got fantasies and the majority of people go to the grave without fulfilling them," says Erotica chairman Brian Wiseman. "The show is a halfway house. It will help to broaden people's minds, show them what is available and help them on their way."

For three days in November, Olympia will become a giant sex shop, selling all sorts of goods from chain mail and chocolate knickers to more traditional marital aids, books, videos and magazines. There will be topless waitresses, catwalk shows, cabaret and body piercing demonstrations - all in the best possible taste. Wiseman says: "We have no intention of offending anyone and absolutely no intention of breaking the law."

Wiseman's professional interest in sex began earlier this year when he was approached by a group of investors who had been trying to gain a licence to stage the event. Wiseman's 30 years of exhibition organising, most of it at Blenheim Exhibitions, was crucial. "[The consortium] needed someone with history and credibility, someone who had the contacts to work with a hall owner to get the licence," says Wiseman.

He worked closely with P&O Exhibition Services' hall director Robin Hope, who met police, the local council and residents' groups. Hope describes P&O as "pretty broadminded", citing the gay lifestyle show which it has staged at Olympia four times since 1992. "We saw no problem with the subject of erotica," says Hope.

The police withdrew their objections to the licence application after assurances from Wiseman and Hope. Both stress how helpful and supportive the Metropolitan Police have been. "They made suggestions for amending contracts with exhibitors," says Wiseman. "For instance, they wanted certain signage to make it clear that the event was for over-18s only and that it contained things people could find offensive. …

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