New York 'Sexpo' Sparks Debate

An upcoming sex convention to be held at New York's state-run Jacob Javits Convention Center is raising some eyebrows and some ire.

Adult videotapes and sexual aids will be featured at Erotica USA, which is set to open in Manhattan April 15.

The trade show has some morality watchdogs criticizing the state for putting on the four-day sex exposition. "This is one big orgy bash, the bill of which is being footed in part by the public," said William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.

Although Governor George Pataki appoints the Javits Center board and the Center has tax-exempt status, it does not receive direct state subsidies. "This is a legal business and we cannot make moral judgments on the rental of space based on whether or not we approve of an event's content," said Javits Center spokesman Mike Eisgrau.

He noted that the center is a profit-making facility "with a legal obligation to accept business which complies with the law."

Hoping to draw 45,000 retailers and curious customers, Erotica USA is being billed as a mainstream event that promotes romance, not smut. Eisgrau said there would be no nudity, no one under 21 would be allowed in, and the event would "be under strict police scrutiny."

He added that the expo would comply with rules set out by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's recent crackdown on sex-related shops.

But Conservative Party chairman Mike Long questioned hosting the event at the state-run convention center. "It's not something that any government should be sponsoring or promoting," he said.