A slave auction is a social event, usually run as a fundraiser for charity and as a way to meet new people in the BDSM scene.
The general scenario is that slaves or submissives are presented on a stage by their Tops or Masters, and the latter would list (or have the former demonstrate) their skills and credentials, as well as what sorts of BDSM activities they have to offer. Usually a short scene of spanking, flogging, etc, would accompany the auction process.
There are many variations of this practice in terms of location, dress codes, etc. Typically, the slave auction is combined with other types of kinks that provide a context for the auction to take place. For example, if the participants of the auction enjoy public nudity, then the auction can be performed outdoors with the slaves scantily clad or even nude. Other times, the auction can be indoors, for example in an office setting, with all participants dressing like professionals. Thus, the enjoyment of the auction for a slave or submissive not only stems from the humiliation he/she receives from his/her Top (by being "owned" and "sold"), but also from being able to fulfil certain sexual fantasies during the course of the auction.
People in the audience bid on their offer, perhaps using play money and often as a donation to a charity. The winner then makes arrangements for the scene with the person who bid their services.
No actual exchange of property takes place as owning people is illegal in most countries.
It is a popular way for people who are new to the scene to demonstrate what they have to offer, or for the newly single to advertise their availability, much like a vanilla "bachelor auction" would be.
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