Perhaps you've seen them around town. The neon pink fliers announcing that SF's most gloriously trashy tradition, the Exotic Erotic Ball and Expo, beckons saucily to you this weekend (Fri/22 and Sat/23). Were you curious about the providence of the posters' graphic design, this just in from founder-behatted cartoon character Perry Mann: “we're very aware that it's breast cancer month.”
Well that would explain all the boob examiners! 2010 marks Mann's 31st year of organized orgy, which nowadays draws in around 10,000 gawkers and pervs a year for onstage sex shows by world famous porn performers, elaborate fetish costuming, ribald entertainment (“we've got... orgasmic bingo? I don't know what that is,” Mann admits to me on the phone), and surprisingly serious musical guests. Sort of. This year is the Family Stone, minus Sly. “We reached out to Sly,” Mann tells me. “If he can get off his crack pipe, he'll show.”
Mann, who started the Ball famously as a fundraiser for buddy Louis Abolafia's Nudist Party run at the presidency, has endured his fair share of setbacks in holding the event. A venue change under fractious circumstances (there's been a few of them over the years associated with the ball, as the East Bay Express recently reported, including complaints that organizers withhold promised prizes from contest winners) has left the EEB with a venue that's a touch more intimate than last year's Cow Palace: the Craneway Pavilion, which has about 15 percent less capacity as the Cow.
A consummate promoter, its difficult to get Mann off his press release script on the phone. We don't chat about his assertions that disappointing ticket sales in years past were due to corrupted ticket-selling websites. We do, however, manage to cover event logistics. The Pavilion is basically a large glass box on the water, which is... less than ideal? ideal? for a show full of dedicated exhibitionists. The VIP section takes the aquatic escapade to another level: guests willing to pony up the $169 get to shiver their timbers on the San Francisco Belle, a riverboat whose very girth and heft seemed to impress Mann.
This year's VIP performance takes on occult themes – vampires being the sex gods of 2010 that they are. Those interested in taking the ticket price plunge can find a preview of events on the Belle at sex blogger (and performer that night), Fleur De Lis SF's account of dress rehearsals.
And for the pervs off the A-list, don't worry gang, Exotic Erotic is nothing if not democratically-inclined. In fact, big money's on the random hallways and corners around Craneway to be where the real action's at – but if you're going for the canned stuff, the stages will play host to shows by Noname Jane, Dutch fetish model Ancilia Tilia, Eden Berlin, The Men of Exotica, and the Surreal SF Devil Girls.
Ready yet? Not til you've got your outfit, you're not. The Ball has an anything-goes philosophy when it comes to, well, most things – and the motto definitely extends to sartorial affairs. Past attendees have rocked Bumblebee Transformer 'fits, every possible form of lingerie -- even, Mann tells me, a functioning bathtub that housed three friends for a night.
“The whole event is about love, it's really all about love,” says Mann, who himself will be rocking his customary top hat tricked out with “XXXI” in honor of the event's 31st year spelled out in diamonds. Given his hopes that this year will correct a string of lackluster lust profiteering, his next comment should be a given.
“Not real diamonds,” he clarifies.
Exotic Erotic Ball and Expo
Expo: Fri/22 4 p.m.-midnight and Sat/23 noon-6 p.m., $20
Ball: Sat/23 8 p.m.-2 a.m., $79-169
1414 Harbour Way South, Richmond