Pornstars of the world, Jesus really loves you
Topless men and women are strutting around in loincloths, the women “wearing” bodypaint on their torsos. A ‘70s rock song is playing over the speakers and there must be few times in history where so many vibrators have congregated in the same room.
This isn’t the beginning of an orgy in some cheesy porno flick. It’s Sexpo, the exhibitionist industry’s annual exhibition, which kicked off in Sydney yesterday. It’s the place to be if you need advice about “how to make your vulva happy”. Or if you want to witness the artist “Pricasso” painting portraits with a fairly untraditional piece of equipment. And if you’re in short supply of handmade, chocolate-scented, penis-shaped soap, well, you’re in luck my friend.
A sideshow spruiker was shouting “roll up, roll up and come whack some cocks” yesterday and it barely elicited a sideways glance. You wouldn’t hear that at the Easter Show. Whatever, it’s standard fare here. What isn’t expected, though, is for a sexhibition to be spruiking an evangelical Christian cause.
It wasn’t particularly surprising to see that one of the more charitable booths at the convention was that of RabbitAmnesty, a group that recycles the used vibrators of Sexpo attendees. And it wasn’t even that surprising that mainstream charities like Beyondblue and the Jane McGrath Foundation have set up shop there.
After all, Sexpo is big business. It’s gone global. The company that runs it are holding five shows throughout Australia this year and another in South Africa. Sexpo general manager Rob Godwin told The Punch they’ll even be holding one in Russia this year (with love).
But it was unusual to see an organisation called the XXXChurch holding fort at a stall near the Fetish Demonstration Area.
It’s not what you’re thinking. The XXXChurch aren’t a group of kinky nuns. They’re a group devoted to helping porn addicts and porn stars alike give porn the flick.
American Craig Gross founded the organisation, starting the XXXChurch website in 2002. “There are so many people in this industry who don’t want to be in it,” Gross explained to The Punch yesterday.
His website is huge. By 2009 it had attracted 70 million visitors, no doubt partially because of its name. And since he started the charity, he’s visited at his count 65 conventions around the world, handing out Bibles to those who are stuck in a porn rut in South Africa, Canada, the UK and all corners of the United States.
And his organisation is spreading to Australia. This Sexpo is his third visit, and he’s set to talk in churches in Melbourne and Caringbah in Sydney over the weekend.
Although Gross’ website calls pornography “the most destructive force in our culture”, he stressed yesterday that wasn’t the main message his organisation was trying to put out.
“I understand why people watch it, if you don’t know Jesus – even if you do know Jesus people watch it.”
Religion has helped people get out of countless ruts. Its principles can and do provide many people with stability, although many people will surely accuse Gross’ organisation of proselytising.
Incidentally, Gross has better chance getting his message into sex conventions than with churches. He had a lot of difficulty getting his modified Bible printed and its rare getting an invite to another church when your website has XXX in it.
“We’re all about equality for all,” Sexpo general manager Rob Godwin said yesterday. “Whether it’s Bibles or vibrators.”
Whether people escape hardship through religion or something else, one thing’s for sure. Penis-shaped soap won’t be cleansing porn from any souls.
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