The Sexual Freedom Awards – formerly known as The Erotic Awards – returns to London for the 22nd year in November, honouring the most unsung champions of sex work and erotic performance.
Launched in 1994 by Tuppy Owens, the Erotic Awards – and the accompanying Sex Maniacs Ball / Planet Sex Ball / Night of the Senses (depending on year) were the highlight of the kinky calendar. More than just a fetish night, the Ball was a celebration of all things sexual and consensual, and the Awards became an integral part of that night – a moment where those working within the sex industry (as performers, writers, filmmakers, artists or sex workers) could be acknowledged and appreciated, rather than sneered at and victimised.
The Awards are now more narrow in focus, restricted to strippers and sex workers. As the organisers explain, “we felt that the world has generally become more accepting
of erotic art, film, writing etc., but the people selling sexual services and stripping are becoming increasingly vilified.
“Strip clubs have been closed down and sex workers described as shameful or victims.
It seems important to focus on these people who are, in fact, doing great work in bringing happiness, inspiration and a sexual education to many people who need and enjoy them, including disabled people.
“Labour rights for sex workers and strippers are of highest priority and we acknowledge those working towards these goals.
“Restricting the Awards to sex work and stripping has meant that our events have become warmer and more focused.”
I’m not sure that I’d agree that the world is more accepting of adult entertainment – not with new laws being enacted to crush the porn industry and block any vaguely sexy content from the internet, Facebook shutting down accounts for posting images showing female nipples and angry campaigns against any kind of erotic entertainment – but I do see the point in focusing the awards against the most openly oppressed and vilified groups.
The proceeds of the Awards ceremony are used to fund the work of the Outsiders Trust – a charity, which supports disabled people to find partners. Nominations for the Awards are accepted for individuals, services and organisations. Nominations are now open for 2016. The categories are:
Female Striptease Artist
Male Striptease Artist
This year’s Awards will take place on Monday November 14th at the Hackney Showroom, London. Tickets will be available soon.