I kept thinking about it on the Tube back home. What would be the best tips I could give someone? If I could go back to 2007, and talk to embryonic ILB, how would I phrase these things? And what would be the best advice?
And so I present here a survival guide. And, in true Essex Lad style, these are the ultimate and unquestionable tips.
Bring your own food
The most valuable tip I could ever give anyone, and the one that - had I followed it myself - would have been kinder to my financial balance this weekend. Unless you happen to be a member of the Sainsbury family, any food you happen to buy in a convention centre will certainly leave more of a hole than the one it's supposed to fill. There's a Costa just outside Olympia, if you must spend anything on food.
The same, of course, goes for drink... preferably water, although if you can get through quite a few beers in a day, then that's absolutely fine, Zak.
Befriend at least one exhibitor
|Satine Spark, Lu Elissa & Magikarp Me|
Talk to everyone... to a point
There isn't much that can't be gained from talking to people, but there is much to be lost from talking to the wrong people.
I'm a chatterbox, so I talk to everyone, too quietly and too fast for most people to understand, but it's not a skill everyone has. And that's fine - you don't need to twitter at a rate of knots about the changing personal homepages of porn stars or the benefits of evolving all three starter Pokémon if you don't want to - but, if you're not going to buy something from somebody, you may as well get them talking. It assuages the guilt of not mortgaging your house in order to be able to afford everything at your favourite stall.
And now that I mention it...
You don't need to buy everything... you don't need to buy anything!
Yet another one that I could have stuck to this weekend but didn't. Well done, ILB.
The best things in life are free
If you consider lube and condoms to be the best things in life, then this is technically true.
There's a lot to be gotten for free at these events - especially if you're willing to downsize from posters to promotional flyers people will sign for you (people will sign anything if it stands still long enough), or from huge containers of lube half the size of your body to a bag full of sachets obtained from simply taking a sexual health test and saying you liked sanitary products.
Or, if you happen to be Jillian, free pants tend to manifest somehow.
One may argue that these aren't events designed for freebies, but I'm not sure I'd agree, entirely; at Sexpo, there was free entertainment on all the way through!
Learn to say "no"
If you seriously don't want to spend £50, allegedly priced down from £7,000,000 for one hour only, on a
|A thing of beauty is a joy forever.|
I did come back on Sunday, but deliberately avoided these stands, often taking a detour the size of Nebraska to do so.
Learn to say "yes"
You don't want to put your finger into a Twerking Butt? Okay, sure, neither did I. But why not? It's not going to hurt anyone, and you certainly need something to write about...
...and come to think of it...
Say you're a sex blogger
This is a fantastic way to ingratiate yourself to someone. I've even found that you don't even need to say which sex blogger you are... just indicate that you spend a large part of your time writing about sex and how open you are to new experiences, and smiles tend to magically appear on faces - it's brilliant!
If you happen to review products (even if they may not be the most favourable of reviews - *cough*), then people will be more willing to let you "try" their stuff. If you flirt enough, you may even get one for review purposes. Even if not, everyone will want to be your best friend...
...and why? Because sex bloggers are awesome!
Some people go to events to buy stuff. Sell stuff. Attend seminars. Give seminars. See performances. Perform. Network. Meet friends. Make friends. Help friends. Satiate curiosity. Pull someone. Be pulled. Or even find something to do with their weekend.
Don't be a shark. Let people do what they want - that's what sex-positivism is all about, and there's no reason that industry events should be anything different.
Relax. It's just sex.
At my first event, I was a bundle of nerves... until I walked in and relaxed almost immediately.
These things are always full-on. There are likely to be a lot of things you like just as much as there will be things which make you step back and question your life choices. (I'm always upset that nobody ever sells soft porn at these things, or I'd probably never leave that stand.) But, for whatever reason you came, you came, and so you must have had at least some idea of what to expect.
Sex is a part of life, and so events related to the sex industry should be too. And they are. And that's brilliant. So take part while you can.
It can't last forever.