The Sexual Freedom Awards comes of age

“A deeply affirming night with a warm, positive, forward-thinking collection of human beings,” is how one guest described this year’s Sexual Freedom Awards ceremony.

Taking place on 10th November 2015, the ceremony marked the 21st anniversary of the Awards, which were held at Fire, a popular night club nestled beneath the Vauxhall railway arches in London.

The Sexual Freedom Awards promote excellence in erotic performance and sexual services and celebrate pioneers in the field of sexuality. The proceeds of the Awards ceremony are used to fund the work of the Outsiders Trust – a charity that supports disabled people to find partners. The Sexual Freedom Awards evolved out of the annual international Erotic Awards, which were run by Tuppy Owens from 1994–2013.

Following in a long line of successful events, this year’s Awards ceremony did not disappoint. The packed-out auditorium was decked out in red flowers and illuminated by purple spotlights and glitter balls. The friendly and inclusive 200-strong audience sat clustered around elegant round tables draped in white table cloths, enjoying an evening of saucy entertainment acts, interspersed with award-giving and speeches. (For details of the award winners, see below.)

Leading the line-up was performance poet Rex Denial, who describes his poetry as "Roald Dahl meets X-rated porn". Rex challenged the audience with a provocative exploration of homoeroticism that was by turns both shocking and delightful. Equally powerful was a performance by Gypsy Wood, who delivered a stinging satire of American Beauty Queens through a stunningly beautiful dance routine during which her dress transformed from virginal white to blood red. Last (but by no means least) came Missa Blue with her postmodern take on the traditional strip-tease. Performing to the song, ‘Big Spender’, Missa Blue captivated the audience with her vibrant energy, charismatic presence and hot and lusty dancing, which had the audience roaring for more.

All in all, the event was a resounding success, raising £2,000 for the Outsiders Trust. Discussions are already underway about next year’s event, which looks set to be even bigger and better.

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Winners of the Sexual Freedom Awards 2015

Activist: Stacey Clare - founding member of the East London Strippers Collective, which advocates for strippers’ rights and campaigns against stigmatisation.

Special Jury Prize for International Work: COSWAS – a Taiwanese Collective of Sex Workers and Supporters, which campaigns on behalf of sex workers and those subject to sexual repression, such as the disabled and gay and lesbian communities.

Ally: Claire de Than - co-director of the Centre for Law, Justice and Journalism, City University, and campaigner on issues relating to sexual consent, particularly those concerning people with disabilities.

Event of the Year: Summerhouse – an annual country house retreat focusing on community, creativity and connection, with a particular emphasis on consent and inclusivity.

Pioneer: Laura Lee – a writer and campaigner for sex workers’ rights, who has launched a legal bid to challenge Northern Ireland’s ban on paying for sex.

Publicist: Pandora Blake – a feminist porn performer and producer who has developed a radical politics of ethical porn production.

Sex Worker (Joint): Seani Love – co-founder of the School of Erotic Mysteries who works closely with the healing and consciousness-expanding potential of certain kinds of sexual exploration.

Sex Worker (Joint): Mistress Tyania – a dominatrix, pornographer and founder of femdom studio Urban Chick Supremacy Cell, who has spearheaded a revolt against the regulations and censorship of ATVOD (Authority of Television on Demand) and Ofcom.

Somatic Sex Educator: Betty Martin – a chiropractor and Certified Sexological Bodyworker who has pioneered a powerful model of sexual consent and now trains other hands-on professionals to work effectively with consent and boundaries.

Performance Artist of the Year: Rex Denial – a provocative performance poet who describes his work as Roald Dahl meets X-rated porn.

Striptease Artist of the Year: Sam Reynolds – a freelance performer, host, producer and the co-founder of Cushion & Co, a cabaret and performance art collective.

For further information about this year’s winners, and the other finalists, click here.