Top Toronto Spots For… Sex Nerds

me wearing a "Sex Geek" T-shirt

It’s so much easier to be a sex-positive weirdo when your city is brimming with other sex-positive weirdos. And Toronto certainly fucking is! Here are some sex-nerdy spots you should check out, if you decide to visit Toronto for the porn festival in April or for any other occasion…

me dressed eclectically and looking apprehensive
On my way to an art party at Good For Her in 2009.

Sex shop: Good For HerWe used to have some other great feminist sex shops – like Come As You Are, which shuttered its brick-and-mortar location and converted to all-online this past year – but right now, Good For Her’s the only one still standing. It has a relaxed, low-pressure ambiance that’s super important when you’re shopping for something as sensitive as sex products. The staff always offer me water or tea when I walk in, which is just lovely. They carry a lot of different sex toys, kink items, sexual health supplies, sex books, and menstrual products. They also run workshops on various topics related to sex, dating, and sensuality. And I love that the hours from 12 to 2 PM every Sunday are only for customers who identify as women or trans folks – sometimes you just need to shop in an environment that is guaranteed to be free of cis dudes.

Leather/fetish gear: Northbound Leather. I was introduced to this shop by my friend Taylor J. Mace, who knows his shit when it comes to kink! I doubt I’ll ever be able to afford anything from this upscale leather store, but it’s sure fun to window-shop at. If you have a leather fetish or just want to breathe in the sweet, soothing scent of fancy-ass leather, put this shop on your itinerary.

Condoms and lube: the Condom Shack. This Queen West shop is exactly what it sounds like. Do your research before visiting, because they carry a bunch of cheap, shitty stuff alongside their higher-quality wares – but if you need a quick top-up of, say, Blossom Organics lube or Crown condoms, you can make a pitstop here.

my friend Dan and I drinking ciders
Drinking ciders with Dan at the Glad Day.

Queer books: Glad Day Bookshop. Did you know that we have the world’s oldest LGBT bookstore here in Toronto?! Glad Day is such a wonderful place, and I recommend supporting them whenever you get the chance. Their current space on Church Street is sprawling and beautiful, and you can get coffee and tea there in addition to books. It’s a lovely place to sit with your hot beverage for a few hours, reading or writing or hanging out with friends. They also host plenty of fun events for the local queer and sex-positive community – as does the 519, just up the street.

STI testing and contraception: Hassle-Free Clinic or Planned ParenthoodI have not accessed services at either of these places (I get my testing done through my family doctor), but they come highly recommended by friends of mine. You will be treated well at either clinic, and you can also grab a handful of free condoms at either one. The Hassle-Free may be of particular interest to you if you’re visiting from outside the country: their services are free, even if you don’t have a Canadian health card. Oh, Canada, how I adore thee.

Dane Joe and I smiling at each other
With Dane Joe at Oasis, about to get it on.

Sex club (with caveats): Oasis AqualoungeIt would be strange to write about sexy spots in Toronto without mentioning Oasis, our local water-themed sex club – but this recommendation isn’t a whole-hearted one. Oasis has some transphobic policies, is rumored (in my communities) to employ someone who has committed sexual assaults in the past, and even did a “Slave Princess Leia”-themed event mere days after Carrie Fisher’s death (YIKES). All of these issues are apparently being addressed but I’ll still have my reservations about Oasis until I see them take action to fix and apologize for these problems. However, there are few – if any – other spaces like Oasis in Toronto, unfortunately. They have a nice pool and hot tub, a well-stocked bar, and several rooms to get bizzy in. Go if you must… although I’m sure there are more ethical places where you could fuck.

a tag with the number 4 on it, pinned to my chest
My number tag at Crush.

Sex-positive socializin’: Crush and Puppy Love. These are fun dance-y parties designed to help you mix ‘n’ mingle with other sex-positive cuties. Crush is more introvert-friendly, with icebreaker games like Truth or Dare and Twister on offer, and a system of anonymous “crush notes” where you can tell someone you think they’re cute even if you’re shy. Meanwhile, Puppy Love has more of a clubby vibe, and is great if you want to dance the night away.

Queer-specific socializin’: Queer Slowdance and the Butch/Femme Salon. These are fun places to make new friends and/or get your flirt on if you’re a queerdo. I love that the Queer Slowdance has volunteer “designated dancers” whose entire job is to seek out nervous wallflowers, make them feel comfortable, and invite them to dance. I am the introvertiest introvert but I find this environment less anxiety-provoking than most parties.

Queer history: the Canadian Lesbian & Gay ArchivesI haven’t been here but I hear good things! Our LGBTQ foreparents did such important things for the cause, and they deserve to be celebrated for generations to come. Visiting the archives is a way you can honor and learn about those who came before you in the canon of queer history.

Smutty laughs: Bed PostThis variety show at the Social Capital Theatre mixes sex-centric storytelling and comedy with other art forms, like burlesque, music, and dance. It’s hosted by the ever-charming Erin Pim. There are always giveaways of sex products, too. It’s a real mixed bag of an evening!

my beautiful blonde friend Georgia animatedly telling a story in front of a crowd
Georgia telling a story at Tell Me Something Good.

Sexy storytelling: Tell Me Something GoodA highlight of my month every month, TMSG is where a bunch of super-supportive sex-positive cuties get together in a room and listen to some brave volunteers tell true sex stories from their lives. There’s a different theme each month, hilarious guest judges, and X-rated prizes to be won. Whether you decide to tell a story yourself or just opt to sit in the crowd and laugh the evening away, it’s always a supremely fun night out.

Fellow Toronto-dwellers: what are your favorite sex-nerdy spots in our city?

Condoms, Candles & Crystals: My Bedside Table

You can tell a lot about a person by looking at their bedside table. It’s where their everyday nighttime necessities are kept. It gives you a glimpse into their private life – or what they want visitors to think about their private life.

Mine right now is pretty indicative of me and my priorities. The table itself isn’t a table at all – it’s a set of drawers in which I store some of my sex toy collection. The top drawer contains my favorite toys, for easy access: the Tango, Double Trouble, S-Curve, Seduction, Mustang, Eroscillator, and a few more.

On top of the drawers, I’ve got my two external hard drives, both primarily full of years’ worth of old photos and videos. I need to have these in an easily-accessible spot, but they’re kind of ugly, so I like hiding them under the other stuff I keep on my nightstand.

Right now I’ve got a copy of Lolita by my bed, because I’m (slowly) re-reading it. I wrote my final high school English paper on it, way back in 2010, and I still love it as much now as I did then. Plus it makes a pretty good – and thematically relevant – impromptu spanking implement!

On top of that, I’ve got my iPad – which, these days, I mostly use for watching porn while masturbating, because I am a modern heathen. And on top of that is a small bottle of BabeLube Natural – a recommendation from Bex when I last visited them in New York and needed to pick up a lube that’d work well for hand stuff and butt stuff with my FWB. I always keep at least one bottle of good-quality water-based lube by my bed. Silicone-based and oil-based lubes are great, too, but water-based can be used with everything, including sex toys and latex barriers, so it’s my evergreen go-to.

Next to that is a Bath and Body Works “Flannel” candle. Admittedly, while I swooned over this scent when I first discovered it in-store, I’m less enamored with it when it’s filling my room. A quick sniff of this candle smells like the deodorant and musk of the handsomest man you’ve ever met; a roomful of it, however, is more like a gaggle of Axe-happy teenage boys in a locker room. I’m looking forward to finishing up this candle and moving on to a gourmand old faithful, like “Twisted Peppermint” or “Salted Vanilla.”

I have another candle on my nightstand, of an entirely different type: it’s a spell candle from Enchantments, the witchy haven in New York’s East Village. Bex bought me this one as a gift the last time I visited them, because they are a gem. I asked the shop’s resident witches to make me a candle that would bring me good luck and greater opportunities in my career, so they whipped this one up for me. It’s very orange and very glittery!

Around the base of the spell candle, I’ve placed a few heart-shaped crystals, because mystical talismans make me happy. There’s rose quartz, carnelian, and tiger’s eye. Rose quartz is the “love crystal,” carnelian is associated with sex and sensuality, and tiger’s eye is said to reduce anxiety – so these are all lovely crystals for me to keep by my bed, as a person who suffers from anxiety and (obviously) loves sex!

Propped up behind all this stuff, I have a framed collage that my friend Cadence made for me. A couple summers ago, we spent a whole day cleaning and organizing my room, and found an old framed photo of me and my ex-boyfriend that he had given me while we were together. I didn’t want to keep the photo but saw no reason to ditch the perfectly-fine frame, so I asked the artistically-minded Cadence to make a collage out of various photos and mementos we’d found around my room. Some of my favorite parts of the collage: a romantic photo of Jeremy and Elsie Larson (they are so #RelationshipGoals; he wrote a whole album of adorable songs about her!), a hand-scrawled note from my friend Eric that says “I LOVE YOU,” and my number tag from the first Crush party I ever went to.

At the moment, I’ve slotted a large print of “The Boss Fight of Nudes” in front of this collage. It makes me laugh every time I look at it. I also have a “Make America Gay Again” postcard from American Apparel displayed there.

Of course, no sexually active person’s bedside table would be complete without safer-sex provisions! I have a cute pink basket covered in roses which I keep well-stocked with condoms. Right now it’s a mix of Kimono Microthins, Crown Skinless Skins, Lifestyles Tuxedos, and One condoms. I love being able to offer partners a wide selection of condoms to choose from – like a good Girl Scout or a sex-positive Martha Stewart!

What’s on your bedside table?

Sharing the Sexy #27

• A new study shows that condoms may boost your vaginal health!

• Even military dudes use Craigslist to find hook-ups.

• Here’s an interesting article on where fetishes come from.

• Margaret Cho came out as non-monogamous.

• Y’all probably already know about the internal clitoris but it’s still fascinating info!

• Appropriate sex shop behaviour, a.k.a. how not to be a dick in a sex shop.

My Sex Toy Drawers

Today I’m going to take a leaf out of Epiphora’s book and show you how I store my sex toys. This is something I’m always curious about with other people, so I thought I’d share some photos for those of you who obsess over toy storage as much as I do!

When I first started reviewing sex toys, I cleaned out this old stack of plastic drawers that had been holding miscellaneous papers and objects in my bedroom for years. I had previously been keeping my sex toys in a vintage hatbox, but my collection was already starting to outgrow that method, so I knew it was time for an upgrade.

On top of the drawers, I keep my external hard drives (there’s no other place for them to go, so whatevs!), a bottle of antibacterial toy cleaner, and a washcloth for wiping off the cleaner once it’s done its job. I also usually keep newer toys on top of the drawers as a reminder to myself that I need to use them so I can review them.

The top drawer holds all my frequently-used favorites, with the exception of the Eroscillator which I keep plugged in at my bedside. This drawer contains the Fling, Pure Wand, Tsunami (review coming on Friday!), Lelo Mona, Turbo Glider, and Amethyst. I’ve also stuffed in some Tantus stickers that I don’t know what to do with, and my original Eroscillator attachments, which I never use now that I have the fingertip attachment.

The second drawer holds anal toys like the Ripple and Joe Rock, vaginal exercisers like the Eclipse balls and Magic Banana, and couples’ toys like the Tiani and FixSation. I’ve also filled this drawer with toy wipes, small bottles and packets of lube, unneeded bullet vibes, flavored condoms, and latex gloves. This is basically a drawer of miscellany. As a side note, I keep all the silicone toys wrapped in plastic bags so that they don’t touch each other and have chemical reactions.

My third drawer is deeper than the others, so it can fit more stuff. I use it to hold all the dildos I use sometimes but not too often, like the Ella, Adam, and Echo. Once again, I keep the silicone toys wrapped in plastic bags (which are kept in this drawer for easy access), and I try to wrap all the glass toys in some kind of padded covering, like a scarf or some packing materials.

The bottom drawer doesn’t get used very often. Currently it’s where I keep extra condoms, porn DVDs, erotica books, and random instructional booklets that came with some of my toys.

As for the toys I own that I rarely or never use anymore, those get stashed in my hatbox, where I can remove them to show them off to friends but don’t actually have to look at them or deal with them. I keep condoms in a little easy-access basket right next to my bed, and lube just adjacent to that.

How do you store your sex toys? What would be the ideal storage system for your toy collection?

Ask Girly Juice: Dos and Don’ts of Lube

I volunteer regularly at a sex and relationships hotline. Many of the questions we get are repeats; a lot of people same to have the same worries and inquiries. One thing I’ve been asked on multiple occasions is, “Is it okay to use [insert substance here] as lube?” Since it’s perplexing that so many people don’t know what are and are not suitable lubricant choices, I decided to compile my knowledge on the subject here.

Lube and vaginas:

If you’re planning on having vaginal sex, avoid lubes which contain sugar and/or glycerin. These ingredients can cause nasty yeast infections because of the way they interact with the naturally occurring bacteria in a vagina. You can use flavored lube while going down on your lady, as long as you make sure that it’s free of sugar and glycerin.

This also means that you shouldn’t use chocolate, peanut butter, or any other sweet food or drink in your sexytimes if a vagina will be involved. I know it sounds sexy to dribble chocolate sauce all over your lover’s vulva and lick it off, but she won’t think it’s so sexy when she wakes up a couple days later with a raging case of the yeastie beasties.

It’s also not a great idea to use non-natural oils as lube for vaginal sex, because that kind of oil can trap bacteria in the vagina and cause infections as well. Lightweight, natural oils like coconut and grapeseed are fine, but stay away from heavier options like mineral oil/petroleum jelly. Many silicone-based lubes feel and behave like oil, so they might be a better option if you like that oily consistency.

Lube and condoms:

Condoms cannot be used with oil-based lubes (petroleum jelly, coconut oil, what have you) because oil causes the latex to disintegrate. It can be fun to watch this happen, but you know what’s not fun? Realizing that you might have been exposed to an STI or sperm because the condom dissolved.

Lube and anuses:

Many people prefer to choose a thicker, longer-lasting lube for their anal sex needs, because anuses don’t self-lubricate and so you’ll want something that can last the entire length of the sex act.

Make sure never to use “numbing” products that claim to make anal sex easier, because if you (or your partner) can’t feel the pain, you won’t know if and when you’re seriously injuring yourself.

Lube and toys:

If you’re not sure what material your sex toys are made of, now would be a good time to check. Some silicone toys are incompatible with some silicone-based lubes – the toy may become permanently sticky or tacky in the place where the lube touched it. If you’re not sure, do a spot test on the base of the toy and wait a few minutes to see if anything disastrous happens. In any case, water-based lube is probably a better choice for you if you use silicone toys a lot.

If a toy is made of glass, stainless steel, wood, or plastic, however, then have no fear – just about any kind of lube should work on these toy materials. But again, if ever in doubt, do a spot test.

My lube recommendations:

Water-based: Blossom Organics, a Canadian-made, female-oriented, aloe-heavy lube that’s very soothing and has a realistic texture.

Silicone-based: Pjur Bodyglide, a sexy, smooth lube that is my go-to choice for handjobs especially.

Oil-based: unrefined coconut oil, available at your local health food store. Can conveniently double as a moisturizer, hair conditioner, even deodorant.

If you have a sex-related question for me, please don’t hesitate to ask!