image

Sex and relationships

Male strippers, rope bondage: inside 18+ Central, Hong Kong’s first consumer adult show

Aimed at women and couples, 18+ Central has passed security checks and placated the censors. There will be meet-and-greets with porn stars and a chance to watch Pricasso who paints with a very unusual brush ...

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 March, 2018, 7:47pm
UPDATED : Friday, 30 March, 2018, 2:43pm

If you’ve never met a porn star now is your chance, as Hong Kong steps into the unknown by hosting the city’s first consumer adult show on the Central harbourfront.

Inside two giant purpose-built tents, in the shadow of the Hong Kong government headquarters and PLA’s Central Barracks, 18+ Central will feature a host of erotic, acrobatic and artistic performances – including an artist who paints with his penis – alongside sex-related workshops, a sex toys marketplace and more. The event will take place from April 5 to 8.

Women-only sex club makes its Asian debut in Shanghai, doing its bit to reduce gender inequality

Billed as an adult carnival, and with the aim of appealing mainly to women and couples, it may not be as racy as it sounds. One tent, Chic, will host performances and activities not particularly sex-related; while in the other, Wild, anything with even the slightest potential to frighten the horses will be hidden from public view.

“It’s a carnival, with 10 shows and five stages, but instead of the usual music or beer carnival, there are elements of an adult show,” says Kenny Lo, CEO of organiser Vertical Expo Services, which also organised the Asia Adult Expo in Hong Kong. “We’re differentiated from most adult shows, which are more or less just thinking about retailing adult products. Our major focus is on workshops and performances; we emphasise experience more.”

Even this relatively tame offering, has taken a long time to get here, and has faced numerous hurdles. Consider that only 17 years ago police were raiding retailer Fetish Fashion for hosting a totally private, entirely consensual kinky party. Even the two tents at 18+ Central – with a capacity of about 4,000 people, costing US$1 million each and taking nearly three weeks to construct – are a result of conservatism, built after no permanent venue would accept the event.

Vertical Expo is also behind the annual Asia Adult Expo trade show, which likewise struggled to find a home in Hong Kong. It was launched in 2008 in Macau, with a two-day trade show and a third day open to the public, after no Hong Kong venue would host it; and moved to the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in 2013 on the condition that it would be a trade show only.

The fact that the same company has put on the Asia Adult Expo so many times without any problems helped when it came to getting permission from the authorities for 18+ Central, says Lo. Still, everything has had to go through lawyers and be approved by the censors.

The future of sex? VR porn all the talk at Hong Kong’s Asia Adult Expo as filmmakers get excited over the immersive possibilities

“They had queries at first about security issues, and whether the content is in line with the law of Hong Kong. As long as those conditions are satisfied, they’re OK with it. From our experience with Asia Adult Expo in Macau, after a few years the government thought we were doing a positive thing.

“We have very strict security measures to make sure everyone’s over 18, and our principle is that even if you’re over 18, in the general area you shouldn’t see anything that will surprise you.”

Areas devoted to BDSM and meet-and-greets with adult video stars will be closed off from public view and carry warnings, as will one of the show’s biggest stars, Anglo-Australian artist Pricasso – who, as his name suggests, paints using a very unorthodox brush.

In a couple of years the public will see this as a very natural, fun, healthy, positive thing
Kenny Lo, organiser

Lo says Pricasso was the toughest act to get past the censors, because he is naked when he performs. He has apparently been asked to bring along a penis cover, just to be on the safe side. The organisers’ argument, says Lo, was that “he is doing art, and he is solo; it’s not anything to do with sex. And if you go inside, that’s your choice”.

Among the other events in the Wild tent are performances from male strippers Badboys Australia, pole dancing displays; demonstrations of shibari (Japanese rope) bondage; and sessions with two local female photographers. Events in Chic, meanwhile, will include a variety of acrobatic displays, a neon light show, tattoos and a virtual reality play zone. There will also be a market where 120 exhibitors will be selling a variety of sex toys and related products.

Lo says that Sexpo, which has editions across Australia and a similar focus on women, is the carnival’s biggest inspiration. “We are following their model. We’re targeting women and couples, not men; there’s plenty of entertainment online for men. The potential for growth is among couples and girls, and it’s very big.”

He adds that women have tended to book tickets for the event in big groups, but men individually.

“In a couple of years the public will see this as a very natural, fun, healthy, positive thing. Now Hong Kong people don’t have a set idea of what an adult carnival is, but will change when they experience it and find it is totally different from their imagination. I think it will take maybe two or three years to educate people and for them to get used to it.”

There will be a fairly full-on immersion in that particular brand of education for anyone who visits Pricasso’s booth at 18+ Central. The UK-born, Queensland-based artist, real name Tim Patch, only took up painting using his penis (he has also been known to use his scrotum and buttocks) in the early 2000s, when he was already in his 50s. Inspired when he heard about so-called genital origami show Puppetry of the Penis, he googled “penis artist”, found that there weren’t any, and decided to give it a go.

“I’ve always been able to draw really well, but before doing this I’d only sold two paintings before in my life, when I was 12 years old and my dad owned an antique shop,” he says. “They were copies of old paintings, but my dad said it was forgery so I had stop doing it.”

I prefer the grannies and aunties; they’re more open and much more raunchy than younger women
Pricasso, penis artist

After he had his eureka moment, Pricasso says, it took him a couple of years before he felt confident going public. His first public performance was on New Year’s Eve 2005 – at a BDSM party. “I thought it was the least conspicuous place to do it. I had a few drinks, I must admit. They’d never seen anything like it. I never thought anyone would it accept it, but it turned out lots of people were fine with it.”

Daring to dance: one Hongkonger’s journey from cooking school to male pole dancing

In 2006 he did a turn at his first adult show, Sexpo in Perth, where he spent four days painting onto rough canvases with minimal lubrication – and ended up rather sore. Afterwards, he says, “I spent a lot of time researching non-toxic chemicals”.

He now mixes his own non-toxic paint and uses “an awful lot” of coconut oil (“I also tell people it’s edible”), plus vaseline, buckets of water, and a waist-level heater to prevent paintbrush shrinkage and/or a hairdryer to keep it warm (“I don’t mind the cold, but if the air con’s on and I’m washing my d*** with water, it gets like a block of ice”). He also uses a combination of antiseptic cream and kitchen wrap at night during these events, which can involve knocking out a painting every 20 minutes for up to 12 hours, several days running.

“The painting goes quickly; I go into a meditative state,” he says. “But if I end up standing there doing nothing, the days do drag a bit. I like it when people are a little bit interactive; it breaks up the day a bit. And you meet some interesting characters.”

In addition to adult shows, Pricasso gets the bulk of his work from private commissions for portraits over the internet, mostly from the US and mostly for birthday presents, all of which come accompanied by a video of their creation – varying levels of explicitness available. He is also in demand for all-female events.

“I enjoy hen parties, but I feel a bit old doing them now,” he says. “I prefer the grannies and aunties; they’re more open and much more raunchy than younger women, especially when they’ve had a few drinks.”

The ‘findom’ fetish in Asia: pay pigs, money slaves and why men don’t want sex with the women they hand their cash to

The 18+ Central carnival will be his first trip to Hong Kong, but he has featured at the Asia Adult Expo in Macau, where he had a farcical encounter with that city’s official guardians of morality; to get permission to appear, he had to perform privately in front of a government committee.

“It was about 12 to 15 ordinary-looking guys sitting there with their arms crossed, watching me paint,” he says. “One of them sat for the painting. It was like: ‘OK, you can start now.’ There was no music; total silence. They didn’t even laugh. Although they did clap at the end.”

18+ Central, Central Harbourfront Event Space, 9 Lung Wo Rd, Central. Apr 5 to 8, 6.30pm to 10pm.