The second annual Sex Down South Conference promises plenty of live demonstrations, workshops, parties and play. It also promises politics.
For many, this year’s election is not filled with any form of pleasure. In a time of social media and 24-hour news cycles, the campaign season has devolved into a he said, she said cacophony of bitterness, anger, frustration and incredulousness.
The styles and histories of the two candidates, however, unmask their pleasure principles, said Marla Renee Stewart, co-founder of the Sex Down South Conference that embraces the season with “The Politics of Pleasure” theme.
“People not only voted for President Obama for his politics. They voted for him because he was pleasurable … we would see him happy and interacting with people,” Stewart said. “When we have that happiness, it affects our ideals.”
Trump, Clinton pleasures analyzed
Donald Trump’s brash, no-nonsense way of expressing himself, of not holding back and saying what he thinks without fear of retribution, is another form of pleasure, Stewart said.
“He’s being upfront and blunt, even though some state he is racist. He expresses himself freely. That’s important,” she said. “Whoever we are, we want to express ourselves freely.”
With Hillary Clinton, whose entire career has been in public service, the pleasure comes from a different place.
“Her pleasure comes from service, helping other people,” Stewart said. “Her whole career is about getting pleasure from helping other people.”
State Rep. Park Cannon (D-Atlanta), a self-identified queer legislator, will also be welcoming conference attendees via video and to discuss how the personal is political. National, state and local politics and policies are not on the agenda at the three-day conference, however. Stewart expects to draw 400 people this year.
Building on last year’s conference, diversity
More than 50 presenters and workshops as well as “Sex Celebs” will be on hand to guide attendees through presentations on kink, BDSM, race and sexuality, reproductive justice, transgender and genderqueer sexualities and more.
“What I learned from last year is that we have some hardcore sexuality enthusiasts,” said Stewart, owner of Velvet Lips and a professional sex, intimacy and relationship coach educator.
Last year’s inaugural conference tended to provide many 101 classes – but attendees are more of a 201 crowd.
“They’ve learned the basics already and now they want more. I feel very fortunate we are able to provide this for them,” Stewart said.
The conference also focuses on marginalized communities – people of color, people with disabilities, transgender and gender nonconforming individuals. Stewart and business partner and co-founder, Tia Marie, wanted to ensure their conference provided resources for people who may be left out of other sex and sexuality conferences.
“We want to ensure that anybody who is marginalized is in the center of inquiry,” Stewart said.
What also sets the Sex Down South Conference apart from other sexuality conferences is the encouragement of live demonstrations in the workshops.
“People need practical examples,” Stewart said.
Sex Celebrities at Sex Down South Conference
Sunny Megatron and Ken Melvoin-Berg – Sunny Megatron is host and producer of “Sex with Sunny Megatron” on Showtime; her husband is Ken Melvoin-Berg, a producer of the show. They both teach sexuality workshops and will present on “G-Spot and Squirting” and “Prostate Massage for Beginners” at the conference. Megatron will also be giving the closing night keynote speech on “The Revolution Starts in Your Bedroom” where she explores “how we can reconcile our relationship between the political and personal and use what we discover as a catalyst for change.”
Orpheus Black – Orpheus Black is nationally renowned erotic educator and Southern California’s two-time Leather Master/slave titleholder and the 2016 Southwest Master/slave titleholder. Black is also the founder of Cirque de Sade, a group for dominants. Black will be giving a keynote on “The Tao of Submission” as well as teaching “Bondage & Meditation” and “The Erotic Art of Fire Play.”
Sinclair Sexsmith – Sinclair Sexsmith specializes in sexualities, genders and relationships. Sexsmith is the editor of “Best Lesbian Erotica 2012” and “Say Please: Lesbian BDSM Erotica,” both published by Cleis Press. Sexsmith’s first book of erotic stories, “Sweet & Rough: Sixteen Stories of Queer Smut,” was published in 2014. Sexsmith will be teaching the workshops “Cock Confidence” and “Trigger Warning: Staying Cool, Calm & Collected in a Seriously Fucked Up World.” Sexsmith’s keynote is “Sexual Politics of BDSM.”
Tyomi Morgan – Tyomi Morgan is a former model from Chicago who blogs at glamerotica101.com. She writes about sex for Ebony.com and is a contributing writer at Blackdoctor.org and a host on Playboyradio.com. Her opening night keynote will be on “Finding Your Space Within Sexuality.”
Tristan Taormino – Tristan Taormino is an award-winning author, columnist, sex educator, speaker, radio host, and feminist pornographer. She’s written eight books and has been featured in O: The Oprah Magazine, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Redbook, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Entertainment Weekly, Details, New York Magazine, Men’s Health, and Playboy. She will be presenting a workshop on “Making Open Relationships Work.”
Sex Down South Conference Oct. 13-15, 2016 Hilton Atlanta 255 Courtland St. NE, Atlanta, GA 30303 sexdownsouth.com