EXOTIC EROTIC BALL – 30th Anniversary, Friday and Saturday At The Cow Palace

The XXXth Celebration lets it all hang out with Tila Tequila, DJ Skribble, Missing Persons, Coolio, The Frail, LZ Love, Mini-Kiss and more!

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By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

The legendary San Francisco event, the EXOTIC EROTIC BALL, is celebrating its 30th Anniversary Friday and Saturday at the Cow Palace Arena. Musical performers include DJ Skribble, Missing Persons, Coolio, The Frail, LZ Love, Mini-Kiss, and The Impotent Sea Snakes. Reality show superstar Tila Tequila will celebrate her birthday at the show and judge the costume contests along with Danny Bonaduce and Seymore Butts. Over $10,000 in cash and prizes will be awarded for the three contest winners, including all expense trips to Hedonism III.

During the past 30 years “The Ball” has regaled half a million attendees, featured a thousand live performances, and received 50 awards. It fills six acres of space and hosts 65 acts – music, dj’s, erotic artists, exotic dancers, and wild circus sideshows. It’s all happening Friday and Saturday at the Cow Palace (2600 Geneva Avenue, Daly City).

I’ve been in a few costumes and attended some hugely popular conventions. It was a pleasure to talk to Howard Mauskopf, the Executive Producer of the Exotic Erotic Ball, and to the show’s Creator – the unparalleled Perry Mann.

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PERRY MANN’S EXOTIC EROTIC BALL – XXX ANNIVERSARY

Howard: I am so excited. There is one thing we wanted to do at this year’s Ball – and it just happened five minutes ago – as part of the Expo portion and also with the Ball itself. We wanted to present a series of exhibits that espouse the future of sex – emerging technologies that are changing how people interplay with adult entertainment. RealTouch – it’s produced by a company called AEBN which is one of the large adult entertainment companies that is involved in all forms of content delivery, video on demand platforms, etc. But it’s true haptic technology – meaning, the sense of touch. RealTouch will be there! We had approached them to come on-board and sponsor the event. We want to do live demos of their product. So, try to imagine – a guy is watching porn, he inserts his penis into a sleeve of some sort, and he actually feels what the actor is experiencing.

Seán: Got it.

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DJ SKRIBBLE and TILA TEQUILA

Howard: So, it’s a true sense of touch and a very complicated technology. This is the first true adaptation for adults. The term that they use is “haptic”. The more humorous term they use is, “teledildonics”. RealTouch is going to be unveiled in a couple of months at the January show in Vegas. Meanwhile, at our show, it will be demoed live in all it’s naked glory. So, that sort-of anchors our “Future of Sex” exhibit section which also includes the state-of-the-art condom and a bunch of other things.

Seán: What does RealTouch look like?

Howard: I think you’ll have to check that out on their site. I’ve not seen it up close. I would hesitate to be able to describe it. I’ve seen it from perusing their site. It looks like what you would expect it to look like. You are inserting a penis into a sleeve, but it’s also clearly made in such a way that it can be easily cleaned and re-used. A lot of the stuff we’re doing at the show talks about the history and looks backward. This gives us a chance to look forward as well.

Seán: This is going to be one of the sideshow exhibits?

Howard: You got it. As you know, we’ve expanded into a two-day show. The Ball is what we’re always going to be known for. It starts on Saturday at 8:00 and lasts until 2:00 in the morning. We like the idea of presenting a tamer form of entertainment that is more fun than a trade show – very consumer friendly, has a lot of live entertainment but is not as amplified, and is price-pointed. The Expo gives us a chance to tell people that if they cannot make it to the Ball, come to the Expo. It’s only $20 at the door. A lot of the content you would see at the Ball except for the name acts. The outrageous fashion people are wearing you will see at the Expo as well.

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MISSING PERSONS and COOLIO

Seán: So, people can find an outfit on Friday that they might wear on Saturday.

Howard: That’s exactly right. That’s a big part of it. It also allows us to research what’s new, who’s willing to give a deal to our customers, and it’s a great value. We keep it going. Have you heard of Spike and Mike’s Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation?

Seán: Actually, I have.

Howard: They’re out of San Diego. Every few years Spike saves up the sickest and twistedest of those animation shorts that are usually to racy for him to show. Because, when he does a show he allows kids there – so, he can’t show certain things. He presents them at our show. It’s perfect for the Expo. So, we build ourselves a theater and showcase the animation festival. Spike is there for the commentary and people love it. The animations are really cool. We think by coming and promoting the Expo – with some things that are a bit more cerebral than ‘come gawk at the porn stars’ – and saying we have Sex of the Future, showing what is new, the animation festival, we’re doing some previews of the Burlesque acts that are going to be at the Ball – we naturally attract a better demographic. That feeds on the vendors being happy because more people are purchasing and the people being happy because they are getting more deals. It’s a good cycle and it augments the big party. For a lot of people, it really comes down to the party. We’re excited about it this year. We’ve got a great talent line-up.

Seán: How do you get your talent?

Howard: After the New Year, we’re at it. We discuss the vision of what we want to do. Some of the companies that we solicit sponsorship alliances with like to make those decisions six, seven, and eight months in advance. The actual booking of the entertainment line-up tends to happen a little closer to the date of the event. We have so much entertainment. There are 65 acts at this show, only a fraction of which are musical. Some of them are dance-oriented, some are almost circus-like. A lot of Burlesque, a little bit of comedy, and certainly some things that are so bizarre I can’t even describe them. To an extent, we need to be economically efficient in booking our talent. We put the word out to a lot of places to see who wants to play the show. When we find a celebrity or a performer of some kind who has heard of us and considers it fitting for their career to be at the show – we can sometimes save a little money on the buy. In order to put that together, you have know how they’re being routed. If you have somebody that’s doing an east coast tour and in the middle you ask them to do a San Francisco date – it’s going to be a premium. But if you wait until you see how people are being routed and you can try to fit in a San Francisco date in-between a Los Angeles date and a Seattle date – you have your optimal situation. If we can fit in our city in some way where the travel is not onerous for the act, then the act is more likely to do it at a competitive rate.

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Seán: Thus, we can expect to see entertainment going on all over the Cow Palace and not just from one particular main stage.

Howard: When the Expo is open on Friday and Saturday afternoon, it’s only in what is called the South Hall. But there are three overall rooms that comprise the Cow Palace that add up to close to 200,000 square feet. A very large facility. People look at something like the Staple Center and say it’s big. But the Cow Palace is one-and-a-half times the size of it. It was built partly to house the Grand National Rodeo. It’s got two very large rooms besides the arena. The arena is where the Golden State Warriors played. Concerts go into that room. What we generally do is put our bands up in the arena. In the North Hall we have our second music stage which is second, but not inferior. It focuses in on Hip-Hop and we have Coolio this year. Also, on electronic music – with DJ Skribble.

Howard: In addition to that, in the North Hall is the VIP area for people who have paid a premium. They have a private room which has its own entertainment as well as video screens which show what is happening on the rest of the stages. Then we have a Blue Room which is a “Couples Only” room – which we brought back five years after not having it. The Blue Room is furnished appropriately, including furniture from Liberator. It’s very much a room for people that are in the lifestyle. That’s why we only let couples go in. The South Hall has all the exhibits as well as the Burlesque Stage and the Fetish Stage.

Seán: Do you have a favorite part of the event that makes it all worth it?

Howard: I’ll tell you what I like the best. When we added the Expo component, we did it with a vision. There were economic reasons and content reasons for doing it. What happened, as a by-product, is something we didn’t expect. To me, this is the beauty of the show. Let’s say someone is taking an exhibit because they’re selling a F#%&ing Machine. On Friday and Saturday afternoon they’re engaging customers and talking about the merits of the product. On Saturday night at the Ball, they’re demonstrating it.

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MINIKISS and CR GRUVE

Seán: Got it, yes.

Howard: When we added the Expo we started wondering, ‘Are people going to care about this stuff at the Ball?’ or will they just want to watch the activity and the act. What started to happen is that the South Hall became the most populated room even during the Ball. Because, out of the 80 booths, half of them turned into miniature stages themselves. That’s what I love. When you are standing in that room and you’ve got the entertainment we’re providing on the Burlesque and Fetish Stage, and the entertainment that comes with everybody dressed their sexiest – most of them dressed in their costume, lingerie, or fetish wear – it’s multi-sensory overload. That’s when I look at it, and I laugh, and think – “There’s nothing like this anywhere else in the world!”

Seán: I think it’s really interesting that the show is scheduled within weeks of the Folsom Street Fair. I think a fair question to ask is – where does the city come in? Where do the police come in? Let’s just say, the “adult supervision” where we have to watch at least some of our Ps and Qs. Hopefully.

Howard: The City of San Francisco has had some challenges. Sadly, when a municipality is producing an event itself, the idea is to do something as a service. So, you don’t want to charge an admission and gate the neighborhood. When you make an event free, you have no barometer for demographic segmentation of any kind. It only takes one or two problem people to screw up or cause incidents at a show. The likelihood at a free event is greater than at a paid event. Plus, a paid event is going to have a point of entry where Security can check for things that can’t be brought in. And I’m not talking just about firearms here. Some people come dressed in costume and it’s real legitimate. Well, if you’re a baseball player and you come in wielding an actual wooden bat — Sorry! Can’t let you in with the bat. Likewise, you can be a Dominatrix coming in with real live whip. We cannot let you in with that whip. Anything that can be used as a weapon gets confiscated for the short term and then returned to the owner at the end of the night. We have the ability to do that. But they can’t do that on Castro Street or Folsom Street. That’s why there have been so many problems.

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LZ LOVE and THE FRAIL

Howard: We are fortunate that the Cow Palace is in Daly City. I have worked and produced festivals in dozens of markets. I’ve done food festivals, art festivals, and technology shows in almost every major city. I’ve never worked with a better police force more diligent, more competent. They’re very smart as to what they choose to enforce with utmost diligence and where they exercise a certain amount of judicious decision-making so that it’s handled by Security. I think one of the reasons the Exotic Erotic Ball has had a reputation of being an event where incidents don’t tend to occur is due to the tremendous competence level of the Daly City Police Department. The other thing we have going for us is that our long history is a sort-of throwback to the days of Peace, Love, Flowers and all that. So, there is a certain sensibility among the people who attend the event that this is a celebration of freedom of expression.

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Howard: This is a good thing. Look at the colors, look at the production design, look at all the major acts we have. Check out your peers who are all looking their best. And have fun! There’s no negativity, no fear or anxiety, and all the other stuff that permeates society so readily today in any aspect of this event. So, we try very hard to walk that line where we make the event a celebration of the freedom of expression, but we don’t stand on a soapbox and throw it in peoples’ face. We’ll do panel discussions where we have people like Seymore Butts (Adam Glasser), Tera Patrick, or Danny Bondaduce. They discuss freedom of expression as it impacts their professions and their life in the adult world or in the media world. And we’ll talk about it, but we’re not going to take a political stance one way or the other.

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Adam Glasser, Tera Patrick, and Danny Bonaduce

Seán: Is there a Gay element that is present, that is noticeable – where anyone would observe that it’s more than just about “fetish”? That it’s clearly this and not something else?

Howard: Over the years we’ve done some outreach to the Gay community and we’ve advertised in some publications. I think it would be fair to say that because the Gay community is so large in San Francisco, it has the ability to support and produce its own events. An event like ours is not a Gay event. There are alternative events for Gays to go to that are Gay events. But we probably draw about ten to fifteen percent who are Gay, Lesbian, and alternative. This event is much more of a straight event than it is a Gay event. I don’t think it can be all things.

A PITCH FROM PERRY MANN

Perry: It’s our 30th Anniversary! So, we’re billing it as the XXX ANIVERSARY. I have a very spiritual side. I think there’s a thin line between spirituality and sexuality. They both start with an “S”. My first choice when I was a little boy was to be a monk or to put on something like the Exotic Erotic Ball. This event is going to be the touch-off for our “Make Love, Not War Tour”. We’re going to be doing the Exotic Erotic bus tour. You know – a stripper pole, we’re going to line the bus in a big condom, have a big Viagra on the front. We’re going to go around to different cities and have semi-finalists that we’ll pick up on the bus. They will be the semi-finalists for next year’s Exotic Erotic Ball. It will be our Reality Show also. We’re putting together thousands of hours of video for a documentary.

Seán: I think that is a fabulous idea.

Perry: Have you been to the Ball before, Sean?

Seán: Actually, I haven’t. For no particular reason! It’s just my crazy schedule. Right now it’s all about the new season with the San Francisco Opera and the Symphony and my new cuff links and pressing the pleats on my tuxedo shirt… But, you wouldn’t want me showing up in my self-tied bow tie, right?

Perry: You can come in anything you want!

Seán: To tell you the truth – I wouldn’t know what to wear! I’m in touch with all my fetishes, but I’m not sure I would know how to translate all those visuals into a costume. I wonder if a lot of folks have the same question I do – where do I get this stuff? How will I know if it’s really Me and what if it’s cold?

Perry: The temperature is set at a perfect 68° in the facility. You will not be cold. If you are, there will be plenty of warm bodies around you.

Seán: Sounds promising! What got you to do the first Exotic Erotic Ball and where was it?

Perry: I said to my partner, Louis Abolafia, “I had this dream! Exotic people walking around in different garb, music playing, having fun.” And he said, “I can’t believe that, Perry! I had this erotic dream of people in lingerie, and naked, and a big party.” And I said, “Wait a minute. Exotic … Erotic … Let’s do a Ball!!” That’s how it came about.

Seán: I understand the current advertising campaign and periphery audiences who are there today. But, how did you reach your first audience?

Perry: Louis ran as “The Nudist President”. He coined the expression, “Make love, not war!” The first Ball was really a campaign. I was his aide-de-camp. It was to get votes. He got a couple hundred thousand write-in votes. And we had about 10,000 – on Geary Street, it was basically a big orgy – at what we called “The Nudist Ball”. Then we said ‘let’s expand on this!’. The following year we changed it to “The Exotic Erotic Ball” and held it at the Culinary Academy. No pun intended. You know, pretty much anything goes – as long as it’s in good taste or tastes good. And you just let it all hang out. Some people prepare all year for it. Whether you’re a first-timer or you’ve been there before, there’s always something you’ve never seen before. We have the Menagerie of the Bizarre, the Human Petting Zoo. Costumes like you wouldn’t believe. Danny Bonaduce will be back, Dennis Rodman will be back. And we’ve got Lil’ Kim and Minikiss and the Impotent Sea Snakes.

Seán: When does the bus tour start?

Perry: The night of the Ball. The Ball itself will be part of the Tour. The first stop will be L.A. We’ll just go right into collecting people in various cities. And we’ll have a lawyer on board in case we get into any trouble. There will probably be people picketing, as there are at the Cow Palace. But it’s going to be a good one! Try not to miss it, Sean.

Click here for General Admission and VIP Tickets: EXOTIC EROTIC BALL XXX ANIVERSARY

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Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Seán Martinfield, who also serves as Fine Arts Critic, is a native San Franciscan. He is a Theatre Arts Graduate from San Francisco State University, a professional singer, and well-known private vocal coach to Bay Area actors and singers of all ages and persuasions. His clients have appeared in Broadway National Tours including Wicked, Aïda, Miss Saigon, Rent, Bye Bye Birdie, in theatres and cabarets throughout the Bay Area, and are regularly featured in major City events including Diva Fest, Gay Pride, and Halloween In The Castro. As an Internet consultant in vocal development and audition preparation he has published thousands of responses to those seeking his advice concerning singing techniques, professional and academic auditions, and careers in the Performing Arts. Mr. Martinfield’s Broadway clients have all profited from his vocal methodology, “The Belter’s Method”, which is being prepared for publication. If you want answers about your vocal technique, post him a question on AllExperts.com. If you would like to build up your vocal performance chops and participate in the Bay Area’s rich theatrical scene, e-mail him at: sean.martinfield@comcast.net.

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