Rose Davidson / Lantern photographer
Several dozen people of varying ages sat in folding chairs in a corner of the Franklin County Veterans Memorial on Saturday evening and listened intently as two women wearing revealing lingerie instructed them in the art of burlesque.
One held a microphone and told the audience that taking your clothes off can be more complicated than it seems, while the other demonstrated a burlesque-style striptease as old-fashioned jazz played quietly in the background.
Shoes should be taken off slowly, Cherie Blondell said, because “there’s going to be somebody in the audience that has a shoe fetish. You want to do it in a sexy way.”
Everything in burlesque should be done slowly, she said, adding, “You want it to be a tease.”
It was one of many seminars and demonstrations available to participants in this weekend’s Sexapalooza, which served as a forum for a variety of sexual things. One corner was reserved for a Sex Museum, dildos were displayed at a nearby table and one vendor set up a stripper pole, inviting passers-by to try pole dancing.
Immediately following Saturday evening’s burlesque seminar, members of a nationally touring burlesque group, Viva Valezz, performed on Sexapalooza’s main stage.
Participants seemed to be predominantly couples, and their ages varied greatly. Each offered a similar reason for being there, with most saying they wanted to try new things.
Boyfriend and girlfriend Greg Daniels and Jodie White, who drove to Columbus for the weekend from their shared home near Cincinnati, said they came to Sexapalooza to find ways to “spice things up in the bedroom.”
“We’ve been together for more than five years,” White said. “After a while you just have to try new things.”
Before being interviewed, Daniels had spoken to a salesperson from a vendor selling bondage equipment and had been invited to lie down on a bed for a graphic demonstration.
“It was a little awkward at first,” he said. “But she did a good job of being professional and making sure I didn’t have to do anything I was uncomfortable with.”
Practices such as bondage carry a stigma in polite conversation, White said, making it difficult to find someone to go to for advice about it.
“We may end up deciding it’s not for us,” she said. “But at least we got the chance to try it.”
Sexapalooza was held Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Columbus is the only U.S. city the event visits and was ranked the third Most Sex-Happy City by “Men’s Health.”