You’ve probably heard, more than once, the idea that the Chinese ideogram for ‘crisis’ is a mix of the symbols meaning ‘danger’ and ‘opportunity.’ Perhaps unsurprisingly, this isn’t quite true. It’ll still probably pop up fairly frequently on your social media, with or without a picture of a brave kitten or something, as a way of people trying to cheer themselves and each other as the dark clouds grow ever darker.
This morning brought the news that the Sexhibition event in Manchester, scheduled for September this year, will not be going ahead. It follows on from the cancellation of the ETO Show and the closing down of several erotica/erotic romance publishers in recent times.
There has been a certain amount of anxiety and grumbling in the last year or so as to whether the adult industry, and particularly the erotic writing industry, has peaked and must now inevitably decline, and may have been the case that, no matter what, we were heading for a point where the sheer volume of post-50-Shades bandwagon-jumping was likely to make the wheels fall off. I’m certainly old enough to remember previous surges and slowdowns, such as the explosion of porn-for-women products in the very early 90s, which dwindled pretty quickly once the market was overloaded, along with the various ‘adult sexy shopping’ events which tanked in the wake of the original Erotica.
Another theory I remember hearing from my own early days in the industry, though, was that the two areas of commerce which actually thrive in times of economic and cultural chaos are porn and cosmetics. It was sold to me as: people may be reluctant to spend on big things like holidays or furniture or designer clothes, but they still want small treats if at all possible. Therefore a woman might buy a new lipstick and a man might buy a porn mag/DVD. (OK, yes, I KNOW this is both dated and too gendered.) I’m nowhere near enough of an insider to the make-up industry to know if that’s regarded as true among cosmetic companies, or whether it’s a story they also try to tell themselves as they huddle together for financial warmth…
We seem to be very much in a ‘no one knows anything/we’re all fucked (and not in a good way)’ mindset at present. Yet, many times before, a big shake up has led to a change for the better. There may be opportunities. We can at least hope for a change that comes without much more in the way of collateral damage. We can try.