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380 Exhibits at the Venus Berlin Show

BY MOVING from real estate to the famously “recession-proof” sex industry, Melburnian Martin Logan made arguably one of the smarter career changes of these troubled times.

“It’s not a bust,” he said. “It’s a boom for us. People have no money, they stay home and they find other ways to entertain themselves.”

The steady bustle around him at the world’s biggest sex fair, held this weekend in Berlin, was ample evidence that as we turn pale in the face of an economic ice age, our basic instincts still hold irresistible power over our wallets.

The throbbing crowds at the 12th Venus fair browsed 380 exhibitions of toys, kinky clothes, DVDs and a dizzying range of lotions and potions guaranteed to boost prowess.

Many were drawn by the presence of porn stars with names such as Lexington Steel, Dirty Maggy, Tyra Misoux and Barbara Devil, who managed the seemingly impossible by causing a sex scandal at a sex fair when she had actual intercourse in front of an audience on Thursday night.

Logan was in Berlin for the comparatively humble purpose of promoting his Sexerciseball, an inflatable rubber exercise ball that comes with a range of vibrating attachments and sells for $US169 ($A245), with batteries included.

The former real estate agent and his business partner, Mark Heverin, a former sales manager, are typical of the modern entrepreneurs now common to the sex industry.

Sex is healthy and the industry is like any other, they say.

“The best illustration I can give is this: Walmart in the United States now sells adult products,” Logan said.

“The industry’s come a long way. Our first customer was a lady from Kazakhstan and she bought two balls.

“We’ve had tremendous interest everywhere, from Honduras to Greenland.”

Nearby, another Australian company, Max, was promoting its cream made from essential oils that, when rubbed on to strategic parts of the body, promises to enhance sex.

“We’re not really into that stuff,” said inventor Maurice Czarniak, nodding towards a nearby stage where a nude woman was twirling around a pole two metres in the air. We just help people have better sex. In times like these, people go for less materialistic pleasures.”

Suki Dunham, the American inventor of the OhMiBod — an iPod accessory with a difference — reckoned the credit crunch would sort the smart businesses from the rubbish.

The OhMiBod ($A135) is a vibrator that plugs into an Apple iPod and hums to the beat of the music.

“One of our goals is to bring these products into a more acceptable sphere. Associating with something as iconic as the iPod helps us to do that,” she said.

Gregory Rack, a model promoting nothing more complex than a pair of Priape undies ($A39), felt sales were unlikely to dip.

Mechadoll representative Andree Schulz, selling two eerily life-like silicone sex dolls named Leeloo and Brigitte, which cost ($A14,000) and ($A13,500) respectively, seemed less sure.

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