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In pictures and video: Sexapalooza shows Ottawa's wild side

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Does straight laced Ottawa have a kinky side?

Between 12,000 and 15,000 people went to Sexaplooza at the Ottawa Convention Centre on the weekend to find out.

“Thank god for them. If it wasn’t for conservative folks I wouldn’t have a show,” laughed Liz Lewis Sunday night as she described the weekend’s erotic expo as a success. “I think people sometimes show the opposite in their every day life to how they are in the bedroom. In the bedrooms of Ottawa it’s pretty wild.”

Lewis, who has been putting on a Sexapalooza show in Ottawa since 2008 and has another planned for the Ernst and Young Centre for the fall, says a show she put on in Portland Oregon, didn’t do as well, she thinks because it’s well known as an arts and culture hotspot, where people are more willing to be a bit more experimental and expressive in public.

“My Columbus Ohio show, it’s a mirror of Ottawa. It’s a government town, very conservative - it’s a huge show there.

With tradeshow booths demonstrating everything from body paint to burlesque, electro-sex to the globally popular and locally produced We-vibe sex toy line the convention centre buzzed with activity, young adults and old adults and music.

Attractions ranged from a no-cameras-allowed BDSM "dungeon," to poledancing-turned-fitness craze.

At 360 Fitness Corrine Brodthagen extolled the benefits of pole dancing to get in shape, explaining that while the dance form is associated with adult entertainment, it's gone mainstream with dancers keeping their clothes on and competing in gymnastics-style competitions.

"People love it. It's a great way to get in shape," she said.

KinkyStore.ca owner Nikki (to protect her privacy, she doesn't use her last name in media), said most people who came by her display booth were positive and asking good questions.

"They're asking things like, 'Why would people want to get into BDSM?' not stupid questions like, 'Why would anyone want to get into that are they crazy?'" Nikki said that people engaging in bondage sex play aren't out to injure their partners but to stimulate. Holing up a Wardenburg pinwheel wand as an example (think of a pizza wheel with a spiky ball at the end instead of a sharp disk) she ran it lightly over the back of her hand.

"It tickles. It's meant to stimulate the skin and make it more sensitive. It's not for tenderizing meat," she said, adding that BDSM enthusiasts often take everyday items such as rope and use them for erotic fantasy play.

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