Every October, thousands of men and women with bad spray-tans and skimpy clothes descend on the Bay Area for a signal event in San Francisco's culture of sexual exhibitionism: Perry Mann's Exotic Erotic Ball & Expo. A multiday confab of the sex industry culminating in a night of dancing and stage performances, Exotic Erotic is moving this year from the Cow Palace — where it took place from 2002 to 2007 and again last year — to a pavilion in Richmond.
And therein lies a story.
The real reason Exotic Erotic is parting ways with the state-run venue in Daly City isn't just a yearning to be closer to the Chevron refinery. According to event executive producer Howard Mauskopf, he and founder Mann chose to leave based largely on suspicions that massive ticket fraud took place at last year's ball. Mauskopf asserts that the Cow Palace's ticketing system was somehow hacked, allowing thousands of attendees with counterfeit tickets to pass through the gates — and resulting in a revenue loss he says could be as high as $240,000.
Mauskopf says there were an unusually large number of scalpers at least year's event. Many of the tickets they sold were counterfeit, he believes, since sample tickets bought by undercover security staff were recognized as legitimate by computer scanners. Dozens of Craigslist posts offering tickets for sale may also have been illicit, according to Mauskopf. “The fact that none of these tickets were getting rejected. … It clearly was a hacking scenario,” he says. “They must have known something about the way the Cow Palace processes tickets.”
Exotic Erotic promoters are considering filing a lawsuit against the state to recoup the money. “They were responsible for ticketing,” Mauskopf says. “If ticketing goes awry in some form, we believe they're culpable.” (Event producers who use the Cow Palace are required to use Ticketmaster, the Live Nation subsidiary that contracts with the state to provide sales services. Officials at Live Nation did not respond to requests for comment.)
Cow Palace CEO Joe Barkett is openly dismissive of Mauskopf's claims. “I think the promoters of the Exotic Erotic are very skillful at coming up with these theories,” he says. “All I can tell you is that we have no evidence of that whatsoever.” For instance, he says the event's organizers have not actually produced any of the counterfeit tickets they say were used. He chalks the accusations up to sour grapes over lower-than-expected attendance: “Frankly, I think there was some disappointment at ticket sales. … I can understand from the point of view of the promoter that they're searching for something other than that their event was not as successful as they had hoped.”
Ouch. With accusations like this flying, the legal drama surrounding the Exotic Erotic Ball might get almost as interesting as what goes on inside.