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The 2008 Exotic Erotic Ball
October 25, 2008
Review by Bonnie Ruberg, Photos by Mike and Jen Cash
Better Than: A normal Halloween party and an amateur porno combined -- unless either of those two things were really good.
If there’s one thing that’s neither exotic nor erotic, it’s standing in line for an hour to cram yourself onto an overflowing, double-decker sightseeing bus, all for the “ease” of avoiding the 10-minute drive between SOMA and Treasure Island. Previously held at Cow Palace, the Exotic Erotic Ball, now in its 29th year, didn’t do its guests any favors by changing venues to the shadow of the Bay Bridge. For an additional $12 on top of the already $79 basic ticket price, attendees could ride shuttles to Treasure Island from AT&T park, which ball organizers advertised as “giant limos,” complete with leather seating, marble tables, and flat screen TVs. The best part, they promised: there would be “no lines, no waiting.” What greeted us who showed up in the AT&T parking lot expecting luxury? A grimy, “hop on, hop off” bus and a line hundreds of party-goers long. Forget flat screen TVs. This shuttle rider didn’t even get a seat.
Having survived the shuttle fiasco – after much grumbling – we ball attendees found ourselves outside what looked like an air hanger: the Exotic Erotic Expo. Inside we were greeted with a few rows of sex-related vendors, selling Venetian masks, $2 porn DVDs, and glass dildos. Standing in line for the bus I’d gotten a taste of the costumes people wear to this cult event – in front of me I was lucky enough to have a hot tiger, his stripes painted on his muscular body with latex – but once inside it became obvious just how far these pre-Halloween partiers go. Outfits did include the exotic (Middle Eastern princes) and the erotic (hot cops), but also the bizarre. Even the guy in the Mickey Mouse suit with the giant dildo paled in comparison to the artist who, standing naked in his vending stall, painted portraits with his penis. Nearby, a crew of beautiful Asian women let attendees cup their bare breasts as a photo op. Meanwhile a singer in a corset belted out from the burlesque stage, “I had a lot of masturbation fantasies about Jesus growing up. Here’s a little song I wrote about that!”
While all that might sound pretty exciting – did I mention the penis artist made his backgrounds by applying paint to his ass and then rubbing in on the canvas? – things in the expo actually felt pretty tame: glossy but softcore and painfully straight, with much less nudity than Folsom but also less presence from the progressive sex community.
Over in the entertainment tents, where the real exotic, erotic action was supposed to be doing down, things weren’t much different. Two hours into the event, one tent was still nearly empty. Another featured a loud cover girl band who couldn’t seem to get an already buzzed crowd excited. The majority of the action was actually happening in the VIP tent, where for an extra $40 party goers gained access to a handful of stages of go-go dancers, none of them naked, but all of them interestingly themed. The X-mas dancers earned points for cuteness, but the zombie girls earned points for creativity. Personally I was hoping my VIP wrist band – worth over $100 – would at least get me a free drink.
With the ball itself proving surprisingly dull, the party-goers themselves really became the main attraction. Though there were some younger faces (and asses) in the crowd, most seemed to be in their 40s. On the shuttle over, three middle-aged women who looked like they were probably more used to wearing pants suits than fishnets asked me with a wink whether I would do Angelina Jolie. While catching a brief moment off my feet in the VIP tent – the entire event had maybe 10 chairs; even hotties need to sit sometime – I watched a couple in leather grind awkwardly to the music, the only people dancing, the woman explaining to the man that she was a fourth grade teacher. Well before the event came to a close, which was scheduled to run past 2:00, I headed out to catch a shuttle back to AT&T park. Total number of entirely bare breasts spotted: 19. Total number of penises: 7. The bus driver explained on the way back that that “giant limo” company had dropped their contract at the last minute. It was OK though, because one of the ball attendees had given him a joint, and that took all the stress out of driving.
Personal Bias: As a sex writer who spends a decent portion of each day looking at or talking about naked bodies, I’m probably desensitized to this stuff. Normal humans, estimate being 20% more titillated than described here.
Random Detail: I saw the hairiest man in the world last night – or at least in the Bay Area – and I saw him naked. I also saw Santa Claus, complete with beard and hat and jolly belly and absolutely no pants.
By the way: Next year is the 30th anniversary of the Exotic Erotic Ball. As the fellow disgruntled party-goers on the shuttle ride home posited in between cursing this year’s ticket price and its “lameness,” maybe that’ll make next October’s ball, well, better.