Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, joining other critics, said he is "deeply concerned" that the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center is hosting a sex exposition.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, joining other critics, said he is "deeply concerned" that the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center is hosting a sex exposition.


Exxxotica, a three-day gathering that bills itself as the "largest adult event in the USA dedicated to love & sex," kicks off in Dallas on Aug. 7. It offers seminars on sex, fetish performances, question-and-answer sessions about the commercial sex industry and meet-and-greets with dozens of porn stars.


But a few women’s advocates and others aren’t intrigued.


Among the groups that have filed objections with Rawlings is the Dallas Women’s Foundation. The mayor responded that he shared the foundation’s concerns. However, he said, he was told the city can’t stop the expo.


"I am particularly worried about the message that our playing host to this convention might send regarding our city’s position on the sexual exploitation of women," the mayor wrote.


But he said the city attorney’s office told him that the city could not deny use of the convention center, a publicly owned facility, based solely on the content of a planned event. Rawlings said "the only thing worse" than hosting the expo would be getting sued by the organizers and having to pay them.


Ron King, executive director of the convention center, echoed the mayor’s assertion that the center can’t discriminate on the basis of the content of a legal event. If space is available and an event can pay the booking fee, it’s accepted, he said.


King added that the convention center has hosted adult-themed events in the past, including the Adult Video News Awards Show, which bills itself as "the Oscars of porn."


J. Handy, the director of Exxxotica, declined to respond directly to the critics. He said the expo is held a few times a year in cities across the country. Other host cities this year are Chicago and Edison, N.J.


In Dallas, "we’ve gotten a lot of great response by way of ticket sales," he said.


Daily admission to the expo starts at $39.99. For $69.99 — or $139.99 for all three days — one can purchase a "VIP package" that includes admission to late-night "after parties."


Handy said Exxxotica typically draws more than 15,000 people over its three days.


He boasted that the event would feature more than 150 adult film stars, an entertainment stage, seminars and more than 100 vendors.


"Obviously, this is not your typical event," he said.


The Dallas Women’s Foundation sent copies of its complaint to Rawlings to local female elected leaders, the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Dallas Regional Chamber.


The foundation said that the expo "will feature numerous enterprises that contribute to the sex trade industry" and that sanctioning such events undermines efforts to combat human trafficking.


Roslyn Dawson Thompson, the foundation’s CEO, said in an interview that she realized it wasn’t possible to stop Exxxotica this year but hoped that in the future the city wouldn’t welcome groups "that glorify the sex trade."


"Conventions like this are not beneficial," she said.


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