SeXSW: Talking Shop In Texas

South By Southwest (SXSW) is one of the world leaders in pulling together all manner of people from various industries across the globe. On the surface, and to many, it’s the world’s largest music festival that also takes in film, business and just about anything else that exists under the sun.

But while thousands congregate in and around the streets, bars and stores of Austin, Texas, to watch the same kind of bands play the same kind of songs and watch feverish arty film directors deliver pre-screening speeches before yet another film that has A Message To Give You, there has been quite the undercurrent of sex and SexTech-based opportunities, talks and feeling throughout the city.

Cindy Gallop, still fondly remembered for her charming and disarming talk on ‘The Future of Porn’ at SXSW 2013, returned this year with her new talk, entitled ‘Sex, Drugs & Bitcoin: Vice vs Virtue Investing’. The thrust of the talk centred around the various pitfalls associated with the “bare-knuckle, backroom dealings of the venture capital world and whether one can attain virtue on a path littered with vice.” It’s what investors, VCs and a lot more mainstream companies don’t want to hear, but their interests (i.e. the making of money) would be best served by doing so.

The success of Make Love Not Porn has provided a platform for which Cindy can stand tall and say: “See? It DOES work!”

Two other sex-themed presentations and displays at SXSW seemed to follow the path well tread by Cindy and her team: that of frank discussions in the real world about sex, sexuality and relationships. BedPost Confessions, already a monthly regular on the Austin scene, asks its audience to face up to their past, their responsibilities and sexuality by submitting anonymous confessions and declarations. The confessions are then performed by a regular cast of actors and presenters. Their SXSW showcase asked questions relating to the combination of sex and technology; a further notch on the post for SexTech, its rays of light now reaching into the dark bar rooms and performance spaces of the American dustbowl.

‘Love And Sex: A Provocative New Transmedia Series’ sought to uncover new forms of truth in the tangled, complex web of ideas and actions that constitutes young love. The landscape is changing in how people, particularly younger generations, view the notion of relationships and sex via media. One on hand we have the unfettered and sterile presentations of mainstream porn. On the other we have the burgeoning feminist producers, those like Cindy Gallop, the rise of SexTech and societal mores such as the growth of feminism and gender equality in the public sphere. Love And Sex posited new slants that offered a hazy look through fact, fiction and documentary concerning matters of body, heart and soul.

… and in one final snippet to exhibit just how crazy the world we live in is right now: A number of festival goers had their legs and heart-strings pulled rather a lot as a Tinder profile caused something of a stir to people around town. People busy swiping between beers and bands may have encountered Ava; an attractive 25-year-old woman. Well, long story short – if you engaged with Ava (which a lot of guys probably) did, she began asking you a series of questions about the nature of love and humanity.

A little deep for a first Tinder conversation, right? Far too deep it turns out, as ‘Ava’ is nothing more than promo fodder for the upcoming Alex Garland picture, Ex Machina. Still, it’s nice to feel wanted if only for a little bit!

We’ll be back with more from SXSW as soon as we can!

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