When former Miss South Africa finalist Ann Marot and her friend Connie Law hit on the idea of staging a "sexpo" in Durban, they knew they were on to a winner.

"We did our research. It was a proper business decision. It wasn't a case of two bored housewives who had nothing better to do," said Marot, who as Ann Crous represented Natal in the l982 Miss South Africa beauty pageant.

Even back then as a 20-year-old finalist in the country's most prestigious competition, she was involved in marketing her future husband's business. She was also a Scope magazine "Girl of the Year".

Now a "singleton" - as is Law - she came up with the idea of the country's first sex exhibition (it is being called the X-posure Health and Adult Lifestyle Exhibition) while having lunch with Law and a friend.

"We were discussing how 70 000 people had turned up on the first day of a similar show in China. We wondered how such a show would do here.

"We found that it was very popular in Australia and, although we knew we couldn't go as big, decided it made business sense to stage an X-posure show in Durban, even if people are more conservative here."

They booked the eThekwini Municipality-owned Durban Exhibition Centre and, using their marketing skills, set about attracting exhibitors and selling advertising space.

Now, with the three-day sexpo due to start this Friday, the women have paid for the hall and met their expenses.

Pre-show ticket sales are going well - most sales are expected at the door, however - and they are even going to donate all the proceeds from the outside catering to C.R.O.W. (the Centre for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife).

Four TV stations will also be giving them coverage.

Marot stressed that there was a serious side to the sexpo, and that the event was not "sleazy".

"It will be high-class and serious - but also fun," she said.

There will be sex toys for sale and Teazers girls teaching women how to lapdance, a Naked Chef, and an exhibitor who does chocolate body moulding (she will also be making chocolate business cards for corporate gifts), as well as experts from Ultimate Loving who specialise in relationship-building.

"They remind you of the forgotten things: how it is the woman who sets the mood in the home. And if they can't help with problems, they call on counsellers."

The provincial Health Department will also be putting out the safe-sex message and explaining the importance of using condoms.

"They will be putting their message across in a light, entertaining way. This will be an important forum for them ahead of World Aids Day on December 1," said Marot.

A local bookshop will also be displaying some of its specialist books, like the Kama Sutra.

Other literary delights will include books on "sensual cooking".

A Cape Town exhibitor will be launching a libido gel endorsed by famous sexologist Dr Eve, who in turn will be there to give advice - and to launch her own matchmaking service.

  • Marot can be contacted at 082 578 9989 and Law at 083 448 6409. Also check out www.x-posure-co.za