It’s over a week since I returned from the annual ETO Show at Birmingham’s NEC and I don’t think I’ve come back down to earth yet. As usual, the ETO Magazine team put on a spectacular adult industry trade show, with a gala dinner and awards presentation in the middle of the two days to celebrate the best in the biz.
The ETO Show was held on Sunday 28th and Monday 29th June 2015. As I had not just one but two stands to prepare for the show, my partner Sable and I travelled early Saturday to reach the NEC early afternoon and help my teams set up the areas. E11 was The Cara Sutra Collection, presenting the Fantasy kit for distribution and sale, and A36 was BlogSpot, the new ETO Show initiative especially for sex bloggers and writers.
It always feels like reconnecting with family when I enter the NEC Pavilion and say hi to everyone. Sure, it’s all work – but this is such a fun and sexy industry that everything from writing away at home to exhibiting at trade shows is a unique and pleasurable experience.
After the two stands were pretty much ready, with just last minute touches to add on Sunday morning (mostly even more goody bag freebies from Nexus, Uber Kinky and Kinky Monkey), Sable and I went to check in to our hotel. We were at the ‘official’ ETO Show hotel again, Crowne Plaza. We were lucky to get a room as there were a few NEC events on at the same time, meaning rooms had become booked up faster than ever. Our room was spacious and cool, a welcome bonus in the midst of a surprising heatwave, and Sable and I chatted for a while as we unpacked. We passed a few hours talking with slave Penny who was our driver for the weekend, and Kev Blisse, Smut UK director and BlogSpot co-host.
All too soon Kev had to travel home, ready to return in the morning for Day One of the ETO Show. Darren, Penny and I had our own plans; we were spending the evening with ElectraStim thanks to their fantabulous marketing lady and all-round sexy superstar Hella Rude. Sadly, ElectraStim couldn’t move to a Crowne Plaza room until Sunday night, so we popped across to their hotel nearby and found them in an adjoining pub, The Little Owl.
After a much needed glass of wine and a delicious meal, Hella and I left the boys to talk tech and we retired to her room for girly time. You can read more about what we got up to in her blush-inducing blog post here. Thanks Hella!
I will be writing a separate post about our time together very soon.
A sensible bedtime led to a bright-eyed Sunday morning, ready for Day One. It was going to be a long day, with the ETO Awards dinner in the evening to look forward to as well. With two stands to run back and forth between I couldn’t do heels (sad face) so a summer dress and ballet pumps it was. Crossing the lake on the connecting footpath Sable and I were excited to meet all the show visitors and network with the businesses in attendance too. In particular, I couldn’t wait to see how BlogSpot would fare in its first year. You might have noticed one or two tweets (!) about the blogger goody bags and Grand Prize Draw before the show, whipping up a frenzy of excitement in the blogging and writing community. You’ll be able to read an in-depth report about everything BlogSpot in the August edition of ETO Magazine.
As always, Day One passed in a blur of walking between stands, checking out the exhibitors, talking to business colleagues, drinking coffee, greeting bloggers, watching the lingerie and fetishwear catwalk show, drinking more coffee, networking some more and handing over business cards and rate sheets. All of a sudden, it seemed, Day One was over and it was time to head back to the hotel to get ready for the ETO Awards dinner 2015. -gulp-
I have to admit I was really feeling the pressure this year, nominated yet again for Best Erotic Journalist. Not only because I have been lucky enough to win this award the two years previously, but because the other finalists in this category are quite honestly, outstanding. In particular, Emily Dubberley, Alix Fox and Girl on the Net are all brilliant writers and I was so sure that one of them would get the award this year that I kicked off my heels during the meal, deciding that I wouldn’t have to get up again for quite a while. The category rolled around and when Lee from ETO called my name as the winner I honestly couldn’t believe it. After a moment of confusion I staggered up barefoot to the stage (classy) and stuttered out my thanks to the audience.
Thank you so much to everyone who voted for me. I’m pretty sure 3 times winning an ETO Award is the limit, right? Am I out now? Can I relax next year? I hope so! 😉 Thank you, everyone. Xx
Also, thanks to Nexus Range for the seats for Sable and I on your table! Congrats on your award.
Quite aside from the Best Erotic Journalist award, there were tons of other categories. You can read all the ETO Awards 2015 winners here, but here are a few of my personal faves:
Best New Male Product: Nexus Revo Stealth
Best Social Media Use: Doxy Massager (and thanks for the lovely mention in your speech – and the flowers when I arrived home)
Best Erotic Author: Kay Jaybee
Most Innovative Retailer: Sh Women’s Store
Best Pleasure Products Brand: Rocks Off
Best Sales Team: ABS Holdings
Best Retail Chain: Simply Pleasure
As a side note, I want to congratulate Uber Kinky on their first ever ETO Awards nomination this year, reaching finalist for Best Online Retailer. It was won by the just as lovely Bondara, but to reach finalists stage is an amazing achievement. Next year, for sure!
After a gorgeous three course dinner with complementary bubbles and wine, then the heart-stopping awards ceremony, it was time to celebrate on the dance floor with a wonderful live band. I don’t think they were meant to carry on playing for as long as they did, not that we gave them much choice. One does not simply say no to the ETO party crowd. Especially when they start stamping their heels on the dance floor and chanting ‘MORE! MORE! MORE!’ at the stage, confidence assisted by generous quantities of alcohol. Obviously I was merely a sensible onlooker and definitely not right at the front, chanting, stamping my 6 inch red heels on the dance floor or slurping wine like a pro. *ahem*
Somehow, although I’m not quite sure how, Sable and I got to bed at a reasonable hour (2am – in comparison to reports of a pizza hunt at 4am and others greeting the sun at 6am). There was still another day of the ETO Show to enjoy, so it was time to strip off, shower and sleep deeply.
Monday wasn’t quite as busy as Sunday, probably as some who attended Sunday had to travel back for business or family reasons. The show was still very well attended, although I don’t have any attendee figures for either day.
So what were my highlights of the ETO Show 2015?
The new initiative for bloggers and erotic authors at the ETO Show, BlogSpot, attracted a breathtaking amount of attention. Not only from bloggers and writers claiming their goody bag, entering the £1000+ Grand Prize Draw, sampling the refreshments and snacks and staying to chat, but also from businesses who wanted to learn just what bloggers actually do. How can bloggers help an adult industry business? What is the connection between bloggers and erotic authors? My co-hosts, professional industry writer and blogger Mel MacFarlane of Voluptasse and Kev Blisse, industry designer and Smut UK director helped me answer questions and welcomed guests to the stand. Also on hand to help out were Victoria Blisse, Kev’s wife, erotic author and also director of Smut UK – and Hella Rude who gave exciting ElectraStim sex toys demonstrations throughout the weekend. The electro paddle was particularly popular.
BlogSpot was made possible by our many generous sponsors from the industry. We had two roller banners advertising our sponsors, namely:
Thank you so much.
As well as the roller banners, we offered 50 goody bags stuffed with sexy treats and freebies, exclusively for bloggers and erotic authors. No bloggy no baggy, as we kept insisting to the several businesses who came by asking for a goody bag. Naughty, naughty!
Our blogger-exclusive goody bags contained treats from many different adult businesses:
Thank you for making the BlogSpot goody bags simply the best adult themed party bags ever, in the history of party bags. We’ve even received offers from people who couldn’t attend who wanted to buy a bag, that’s how amazing they were.
Finally, I have to thank the sponsors who donated a prize to the BlogSpot Grand Prize Draw. When I offered a Fantasy by Cara Sutra Beginner’s Bondage Kit, champagne and chocolates, I could never have imagined that the Grand Prize would grow to more than £1000 in total value.
This is all thanks to those generous sex toy and adult companies who donated a prize:
Sex Toys Flesh
Thank you. The winner of the BlogSpot Grand Prize Draw was Kinky Kitten Kim, who has received her prizes safely. What a lucky lady!
The ETO Show is the best place to exhibit new products to the adult industry in the UK. 2015 was also the first time the ‘Big Four’ of the US were exhibiting at ETO: Cal Exotics, Doc Johnson, Pipedream and Topco.
Standout products to me at the show were the Love Arc, which I have reviewed but who were exhibiting for the first time, Sheets of San Francisco who weren’t exhibiting but with whom I had a meeting – and their sheets really are impressive, Drop of Sweden who exhibited their new shower assisted vibrator, the RO-Rosa, a tough shell finger style vibrator from Rocks Off which I actually need, and of course the Doxy Skittle which I helped develop and proud to say I named. Can’t wait to receive my very own finished product.
I also enjoyed learning more about the Nexus RevO Intense, the interactive and app controlled IMTOY sex toys and the hypnotic fucking ability of King Fuk from Planet Earth.
A video posted by Cara Sutra (@carasutra) on
As I’ve mentioned, the adult industry feels a lot like one big family. It was a thrill to reconnect with people at the ETO Show, in particular Kev & Victoria Blisse of Smut UK, Mel MacFarlane of Voluptasse, Dom Strap On, Mistress Vikki of Uber Kinky (thanks for the VixSkin Royale to review!), Sam & Kerri of ABS Holdings (Simply Pleasure), Claire from Kinky Monkey, Hella, Andy and Dave of ElectraStim, Joke from Mister B, Jane and Richie from Creative Conceptions, Adam and Monika from ThatPosition, Joe from Belle de Soir, Will from Doxy Massager, the newlywed Nigel from Give Lube (congrats!) and of course Dale, Lee, Jonny and all the ETO magazine team.
I had the pleasure of meeting Nippleicious, the Rumours team, The Raunchier Side, Kevco Wholesale, APW Wholesale and Gary from Nalone who kindly offered me my choice from the range to review. Fifi vibrator review coming soon.
BlogSpot saw an impressive crowd gather for hugs and chat, with outstanding bloggers and writers such as Rhiannon from That’s The Spot, Horny Geek Girl, Divine Desire, Carnal Queen, Kinky Kitten Kim, The Big Gay Review, Just Indecerous, and Brit Babes KD Grace, Lily Harlem, Tabitha Rayne and Lexie Bay amongst many others.
At one point Sable commented that there was a ‘stern of Mistresses‘ (newly agreed collective term for Dommes) at BlogSpot, when Dom Strap On, Mistress Vikki of Uber Kinky, Hella Rude and I were joined by the utterly amazing Lady Bellatrix. 5 Dommes, one stand: watch your backsides!
As always, the ETO Show was host to the popular catwalk show, which featured adult industry fashions ie. lingerie and fetishwear. Stunning models adorned with the latest offerings from lingerie distributors and fetishwear manufacturers stalked the stage, surrounded by a huge audience every time snapping photographs and making notes. Props to the models for being able to look seductive in as little as a couple of ribbons and some 6 inch Pleaser heels while music blasted round the Pavilion from the stage speakers.
Enjoy this gallery of photographs from the shows.
Thanks to the ETO Magazine & Show team for putting on yet another spectacular expo and awards night. You outdo yourselves every year. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit yet again, and can’t wait for the ETO Show 2016.
The ETO Show 2015 Photographs
Crowne Plaza Hotel
BlogSpot at the ETO Show 2015
The ETO Awards 2015 Photographs