Recently I have taken it upon myself to begin analyzing the events and conventions I attend in the scope of understanding the appeal of adult content. Conventions are often intended for participants of all ages and interests. These are businesses, often for profit, that focus on entertainment and retention of patrons and participants as well as maintaining a positive rapport between vendors, performers, and guests. I have worked conventions both as a volunteer and as staff in coordinating and executing programming intended to both captivate and arouse the imagination and enthusiasm of attendees. Taking all of that into consideration, when it comes to programming more geeky and even more kinky, how much is too much to dissuade both patronage to these conventions and vendors and guests? And do we need more of it in our convention programming? At what point does a family-friendly event become a full after-hours party of debauchery?
From my own experiences at kink conventions, anime conventions, and festivals, and more the patrons will always resolve to venture where their tastes are going to be tantalized. The individual wants of any convention-goer will always vary from one person to the next. I have been to "adults only, 18+" hentai viewings at anime conventions here in the North-East Coast and for me, it usually ends after a few quick peeks, giggles, and utter surprise at the dead-pan stares of other patrons in a dark conference room enthralled by the screen. I would imagine the follow up to these viewings is an intensive Question and Answer panel-based discussion on what was watched, I personally never found myself engaged enough to sit around long enough for it. It may have been educational but I know my cup of pervy tea was better found in realism and that hentai panels and showings just seemed too personal to watch and immerse yourself in.
Panels and workshops are another fun and engaging aspect of conventions that tend to open more discussion about interests, hobbies, and creativity. Having attended panels and programming content where experts and guests on such subjects as Victorian pornography, erotica, and sexuality, these tend to be vastly more to my interest. Everyone's tastes will vary in what they want from their adult-content at conventions but I enjoy learning and engaging in workshops that promote positive sexuality and openness for the sake of well-informed nerds and geeky enthusiasts. In more recent years, with the surge of the "Cosplay is Not Consent" movement, we have sen even anime conventions host panels on the subjects of sexuality, gender-identity, or proactive and safe sexual play among partners of all interests and persuasions. It is here that I think adult content at conventions could continue to flourish as the taboos of sexuality are lessened. In our age of internet expansiveness, we have vast opportunities to communicate with one another in many, many mediums that so often in the sea of information (and sometimes misinformation) the truth becomes somewhat bogged down. This is not to say that good, adult-related panels need to be educational. My favorite to date remains a panel where I learned all kinds of different functions and sex toys from vibrators to pocket-toys for the gents. Informative as ever, panels and workshops remain the most expansive mediums for adult content at conventions.
However, there remains one dynamic of a very particular vein of conventions that never ceases to enthrall my curiosity in the few times I have encountered it. Dungeons. Dungeons are exactly what you would expect them to be if you have even the slightest streak of deviance. My experiences lend me to have only encountered dungeons at conventions that are closed off to public access, require background checks from attendees, and are kept supervised for patron health and safety. Either I am a shy prude or voyeurism is one of the more timid sins that keep me awake at night, as I have never participated in the activities of a dungeon. I am grateful to see what precautions are taken for those who do participate. Healthy behaviors and protection were all adhered to in the Dungeon. Pads were laid out along the mats and though we were clothed spectators, nudity was expected and welcomed. Small groups of bodies were enthralled by pleasure in all shapes, sizes, and genders. But what I did notice about this particular Dungeon was the fact that even as remarkably well-lit as the room was (along with the pulse of low-playing music) people were having fun. They were expressing themselves fully and felt entirely liberated in their nakedness and self-expression. I imagine the thrill of engaging in such acts in public were what aided all of their evening inspiration and more. Dungeons are certainly not the norm of adult content at conventions and are usually regulated to very protective environments, however.
Ultimately, I would welcome more adult content at conventions that allows for adults to make safe and well-informed decisions in embracing their sexuality and desires right alongside geeky and nerdy hobbies and interests. This does not mean that barriers should be dropped down for the sake of all-age events and that these things should necessarily be made more open or accessible to younger audiences that are not yet emotionally prepared for it. It is possible to have too much of a good thing; even if that good thing is a medium to discuss freely and openly sexual themes and topics that can cross over in a shared love of anime, video games, cosplay, and so on. Patrons are always encouraged to be informed about what the events are offering in terms of content, be it adult or otherwise, but I would further conclude that people owe it to themselves to keep open with themselves and their feelings. Panels, discussions, and safe-spaces alike can be great ways to engage in a community that seems to be in a positive trend of welcoming sexuality as more than just an extension of geeky perversion and delight. And if all else fails, don't hesitate to research a convention before attending if you ever doubt having the best time for whatever programming suits you.