For nearly the past two decades, Tampa/St. Petersburg’s Fetish Con (aka Fet Con) has served as an outpost for the kink community to celebrate itself, as well as highlight its related industries. The 19th edition of the event took place from August 8-11, 2019, at the St. Petersburg Hilton. For four days, the hotel was inarguably North America’s fetish-friendly epicenter. Whether a kink novice or expert in sexual freedom, there are numerous reasons to attend this long-running conference. I was there, so here are what I think are the top five.
I Attended Fet Con 2019 - Here's Why It Rocked
Read: Everything You Need to Know about Attending Your First Kink Conference
You'll Learn a Whole Lot
Yes, not unlike a more vanilla conference, 2019’s Fetcon featured dozens of courses ranging from how to create fetish content, to discussions around FOSTA/SESTAregulations. You can, of course, also get all kinds of great sex tips and practical advice on everything from pegging to smothering. In full, it was a smorgasbord of intelligent delights.
There’s a Red Carpet
Fetish Con’s ultimate event is the Fetish Awards. A photograph-friendly red carpet is rolled out and any attendees with an all-access pass are allowed to strut their stuff. The thrill of being able to be seen as one’s most idealized and fetishized self is already a benefit of going to this event. Dominatrixes in latex and leather, adult babies with blinged-out pacifiers, gimps in hoods, cosplay fetishists, collared and bound submissives - the whole lot are all represented. As for the awards ceremony itself, it’s a highlight event honoring both live and web favorites, many of whom are also in attendance. It’s generally a most exhilarating of many exhilarating thrills.
Vendors and Exhibitors Galore
Many of us, due to stigma or fear, are online-only lurkers or purchasers of kink-related items. So, having 56 vendors or exhibitors available, real-time, in a kinky safe space could very well be reason alone to travel to St. Petersburg. Everything from Bad Dragon’s whimsical and fantastical insertables to content hubs like Clips4Sale, plus a slew of independent, DIY creatives peddling innovative and exciting clothing, toys, art and more were present. Nothing compares to seeing and feeling a product you potentially wish to own in real-time. Moreover, being surrounded by a plethora of toys and goods is an intensely inspirational experience that can unlock new portals of pleasure.
Read: 4 Things You Learn When You Attend a Sex Toy Conference
Fetish Superstars Galore Are In Attendance
There were 205 kink content creators listed as “Attending Talent” at Fet Con. In fact, Fet Con is best-regarded as a meet-and-greet for content consumers and fetish stars. Over time, as the number of creators has come closer to matching the number of consumers in attendance, there is just as much meeting happening between stars and fans as there is networking between creators. It is a fascinating moment to watch two top-tier artists share in mutual admiration and then decide, on-the-spot, to collaborate. If you're a fan of fetish content, it’s pretty cool to watch! If you're a fellow creator, it’s likely a motivator to do the same!
There Will Be Fun!
There were 11 listed, official on- and off-site parties during Fetish Con’s four days. As far as the “unofficial” events of the weekend? Let’s safely presume there were 10 times as many. As well attended as the kinky class learning track and vendor/exhibitor hall were, Fet Con is also quite well known as a sensorial and temporal cavalcade of fun. (And, yes, there's a dungeonon site!) Thus, for four late nights, the pool at the St. Petersburg Hilton is filled with all manner of All Access Pass holding Fetcon revelers winding down their day, and also possibly looking to make a fashion statement or two poolside. As you might expect, Fet Con works hard but plays harder. And if you're into fetish, it's definitely the place to be.
Marcus K. Dowling is a journalist, broadcaster and entrepreneur. Recently, he's had a role in concept development, marketing, and promotion for Rewind and Decades, two wildly popular retro-themed entertainment venues in downtown Washington, DC. In the past ten years, Marcus has written for VICE, Pitchfork, Complex, Red Bull, Bandcamp, Mixmag, ESPN's Undefeated, and more. As well, he's the CEO of professional wrestling startup company Capitol Wrestling.