Upcoming Exxxotica Expo in Dallas sparks controversy

A three-day event is coming to downtown Dallas next month and it’s already causing controversy.

It's called the Exxxotica Expo, and a local women's group wants to stop it before it starts, claiming it's connected to  human sex trafficking.

It's billed as the largest event in the U.S. dedicated to love and sex. It’s been held previously 26 times in six different cities.

"What concerned us most is the convention is being hosted on a city-owned property, and that, in a way gives a sort of tacit OK-ness to a convention that really in a way glorifies the sex trade,” said Roslyn Dawson Thompson. 

The Dallas Women's Foundation has raised the alarm, noting in a letter to Mayor Mike Rawlings that the event is sponsored by online escort businesses and others who deal in the sex trade.

"A lot of the sex trade does impact women and children who are not willingly participating, so our concern is with the victims of trafficking,” said Thompson. 

Mayor Rawlings responded to the Dallas Women's Foundation, writing, "I am deeply concerned" and "I understand your disgust,” but noting, "Use of the Dallas Convention Center is subject to the First Amendment” and "the city therefore cannot deny its use strictly based on the content of a planned event."

The letter seems to imply that the mayor intends to do what he can to prevent Exxxotica Expo's return.

"I believe he does,” said Thompson.

"Have you run into blowback like this before at other events in other cities?” FOX 4’s Richard Ray said via Skype to J. Handy, who produces the Exxxotica Expo.

"We certainly have had different protests,” he said. "To anybody in that situation I would simply say don't come to the show…it's an opportunity for open minded, like-minded adults to celebrate and embrace something that's been going on since the beginning of time The mental picture people get, the conclusions they draw before the event happens are not really in line with what the event actually is."

To detractors who are hoping to stop a return visit of Exxxotica Expo, Handy had this to say: "Pretty much every city we've done once, we've done twice."

Handy says there will be more than 100 vendors selling what he called "pleasure products" and adult entertainment.

Also on hand will be more than 150 adult performers signing autographs and taking pictures.

The three-day event begins Friday, Aug. 7.