In a small office in Melrose Park the phone rings constantly with questions about the upcoming Erot-o-Con and Bondage Fest-a-Rama. Can I bring my wife? Will there be girls? Do you need dancers? How much is the cover?
"Just think of it as Taste of Chicago for the sex industry," says J.P. Strauss, who fields the calls with his partner Donna. The two publish and edit the Gentlemen's Pages, a guide to adult entertainment in Chicago. This weekend's Erot-o-Con will be a sort of Gentlemen's Pages come to life, with adult videos, vendor booths, dancers, topless massages, models in hot tubs, bondage shows, and contests like the orgasm shout and the banana suck-off.
"We wanted it to be something more than a club with someone dancing, something more nutty and crazy," says Donna. "Like the banana suck-off. It's nothing dirty, but you can't go to a club and see that. It's erotic."
The two have been working on the event for three months, planning body painting and contests for Miss Erot-o-Con, Miss Leather, best boobs, best buns, and sheerest lingerie. "We want to make it as interactive as possible," says Strauss. "We're trying for a mix. We'll have a dominatrix, where you can get ten spankings for $10."
Donna and Strauss say they chose to hold the event in northwest Indiana because the adult entertainment laws are more liberal than in Illinois. "You cannot put a girl on a pool table in Chicago without the cops coming down on you," says Strauss. "If a two-day event like this gets broken up, it would be disastrous."
Strauss and Donna hooked up in April, when Strauss, trying to sell ad space in the Gentlemen's Pages, came into Excalibur Video, where Donna works. The two, both 34, hit it off and have had a sort of good cop (him), bad cop (her) relationship ever since; he says yes to everything, and she sets the limits. "I have to slow him down once in a while," Donna says. "I have to tell [him], you can't do this, you can't do that."
But occasionally Strauss is the one to apply the brakes--like when Donna recently mentioned having a wet underwear contest for the men. Strauss thought it was a good idea until Donna said, "I want to pour the water. Or maybe I'll use a hose." "Then you'll get shrinkage," warned Strauss.
Donna stresses that women are welcome at Erot-o-Con. Men will be serving drinks, modeling lingerie, and dancing. "I get a lot of calls from guys asking if they can bring their wives," she says. "They want to break the ice. This will be the ideal event, where if they have questions, they can ask anyone about anything. I want the women to have as good a time as the men. We're trying to let people know there's an outlet for everybody somewhere."
Erot-o-Con takes place 8 PM to 3 AM Friday and noon to 3 AM Saturday at Fanny's Greenery Gentlemen's Club, 5250 S. Broadway, Merrillville, Indiana. Admission is $15 in advance and $20 at the door. For more information call 918-5169.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Chip Williams.