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?

12 Days of Girly Juice: 4 Fun Events

events

I’m so, so lucky to get invited to cool sex-positive events on the regular. One of the key ingredients of happiness is having something to look forward to, and I always do, thanks to these events.

It was hard to choose the 4 that I loved most in 2015, but these were really the ones that transformed my life the most, gave me the most fun and laughter, and brought me together with incredible people.

Tell Me Something Good

I attended my first TMSG in December 2014, as a guest judge – and immediately, I was hooked. It’s a sexy storytelling event; there’s a different theme each month, and attendees can volunteer to tell their best (TRUE) sex story related to the theme. Judges appraise the stories and the best ones win prizes at the end of the night.

Despite there being judges and scores, there is no sense of competition at TMSG. It’s all about community, commonalities and commiseration. Stories can be funny, or sweet, or sad, or strange – or all of the above. The only rules: stick to the theme, stay under 5 minutes (unless you’re really interesting), and keep oppressive -isms and -phobias out of your stories.

I’ve never once had a bad experience at TMSG. Never has someone told a story that made me uncomfortable, or reacted to my stories in a gross way. Getting sexual sagas off my chest at TMSG has become a monthly ritual, a joy I avidly look forward to. The community there is like this cool little club that comes together monthly just to reassure each other: “Yeah, sex is weird. But that’s okay.”

Drunk Feminist Films

I first attended DFF when they screened Fifty Shades of Grey back in April. It’s an idea so simple and yet so genius: a bunch of feminists get together in a movie theatre, feminist drinking game rules are distributed, and everyone (optionally) drinks their way through a gender-problematic movie.

Here are some samples of DFF rules. Drink every time Anastasia Steele tells Christian Grey what to do and he does the exact opposite. Drink every time one of the characters in Bridesmaids does something that would get them arrested (or worse) if they weren’t white. Drink every time a woman in Love Actually sacrifices her happiness to take care of someone else.

But DFF doesn’t just tear down troubling shit; it also celebrates what’s good in the movies it highlights. We were encouraged to twirl tampons in the air and shout “AGENCY!” every time Ana Steele made her own decisions, and we chorused “BFFs!” each time female characters supported one another in Clueless. Even though most of the movies shown at DFF are dumb comedies or dry dramas, I’ve found tears welling up in my eyes at almost every screening, because the feeling of feminist solidarity packed into that cinema is palpable.

A common criticism of the feminist movement is that we’re “too angry.” And yeah, it’s perfectly reasonable to get angry – nay, furious – with the state of gender equality in the world today. But anger is exhausting. Sometimes I just want to laugh and drink and relax in the company of other feminists. That doesn’t make me less of a fighter for the cause; it just makes me human. DFF understands that, which makes it one of my favorite events and most valued spaces of 2015.

DildoHoliday

Seven sex bloggers walk into a beach house…

Nope, that’s not the beginning of a joke. That’s what happened at DildoHoliday. It was a bloggers’ retreat organized by Piph, Bex and Aerie, and it was, without a doubt, one of the highlights of my 2015.

I finally got to meet all these people I had only known through the internet, and they became much more real to me. Those friendships deepened and became some of the most solid and supportive alliances in my life.

For days on end, we laughed, watched porn, posed for nude photos, masturbated, skill-shared, live-tweeted, and lounged around. We made our own dildos, snapped endless sex toy photos, and pranked each other with a stone cherub.

Being around like-minded people is relaxing in its own right, so combine that with an idyllic environment like an Oregon beach house and you’ve got a recipe for a super rejuvenating vacation. I truly feel like these memories and friendships will stick with me for life.

Playground Conference

It’s an oft-repeated piece of wisdom amongst my friend group that sex conferences are usually fun because of the people and the after-hours events, not so much the actual conference sessions. Playground did what few conferences can do: both the sessions and the “extracurriculars” were fun, informative, and enlightening.

It was one of the best weekends of my year. I got to spend time with friends visiting from afar, have big delicious meals at brunch restaurants, and ogle steel dildos in the expo room. I had an impromptu threesome, a sex-tinged hotel-room cuddle pile, and a quiet late night getting sleepily fingered by a dom gentleman. I learned about sex and depression, sex and self-care, sex and gender identity.

At the end of the weekend, I was exhausted, but I also felt pumped up with new knowledge and new experiences. It was, in short, exactly what a sex conference should be.

 

What events rocked your world in 2015?

Playground Diary, Part 1: Biscuit Porn, Short Skirts & Special Brownies

Ha. Remember last week when I prophesied that Playground would be “one of the best weekends of my year”? Yep, I was right.

imageMy Playground adventure began with a Thursday-night porn party hosted by the beautiful and wonderful Kate Sinclaire. Kate knows porn: her softcore site Cherrystems and soon-to-launch porn site Ciné Sinclaire are the cat’s pajamas. She showed us some stuff she’d been working on, all of which was hot and fresh and compelling. Then we watched various other clips, including this adorable one in which Zander Storm shows you how to make biscuits, while wearing nothing but an apron. CUTEST.

I got to meet several cool folks at that get-together who I would see intermittently for the rest of the weekend – including Rogue, who has been a Snapchat buddy of mine for ages! Yay!

The next day, I had two psychology exams practically back-to-back, and got through them only by reminding myself that I was going to Playground that night.

imageBex came over to my house and it was sooooo good to see her again. (We last hung out at SHE and, before that, at DildoHoliday.) She waited around for me while I got ready (a recurring theme of the weekend – sorry, Bex) and then went for dinner at my fave, 7 West. From there, we headed over to the hotel where Playground was taking place.

We missed the opening keynote but arrived in time for Tell Me Something Good, the monthly sexy storytelling event which is always one of the highlights of my month. I got to see (and introduce Bex to) a bunch of my favorite folks from the local sex-positive community. We got drinks, listened to stories, and laughed our asses off. (Dan and Tynan are two of the most hilarious people I know.) I even got to tell a story of my own – in a very, very short dress. Whoops.

We went upstairs for a tiny, intimate hotel room party that involved “special” brownies, Truth or Dare, and ridiculous mispronunciations of the word “boudoir.” Ooh la la.

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Bex and I began our Saturday morning at a talk on solo polyamory, given by Eva Dusome of Polyamory Toronto. I am just at the veeeery beginning of my foray into poly life, and while this workshop wasn’t the 101-level introduction I probably needed, it still gave me a ton of insight and food for thought about what kind of poly person I might want to be. By the time the session ended, my brain was positively abuzz with thoughts of autonomy, connection, individuality, introversion, the illusion of control, and the ways in which self-care is vital to relationships.

After that, we went to Create Your Own Porn, a panel featuring (among others) Kate Sinclaire, Sophie Delancey, and Taylor J. Mace, three of my favorite pornographers who also happen to be three truly delightful people. Also there was Sonya JF Barnett, whose work I remembered from a feminist porn screening I attended earlier this year. They shared many useful tidbits about the technical and back-end side of porn creation, probably launching the careers of several audience members with porn ambitions!

imageAfter lunch, we had intended to go to the Spit erotic boudoir shoot, but there was a huge lineup (yay, good for them!) so we went back down to the exhibitor room instead. I bought some fancy lingerie from EmMeMa and we also ogled leather kink goods, stainless steel sex toys, and fetishistic femme hair accessories. It was truly a cornucopia of Cool Sex Stuff.

It was fitting that I followed up lingerie shopping with a panel on femme identity. Some femmes on this panel I already knew, and some I didn’t, but all of them brought perspectives to the table that opened my eyes and engaged my heart. This was easily the most emotional session of the weekend for me, because femme erasure, femme competition, and femme underappreciation are all things I’ve experienced and things I’ve felt stupidly alone in. So much of what the speakers said was relatable, not only to me but seemingly to everyone else in the room. The sense of crowd-wide solidarity was palpable and it took a lot of restraint for me not to cry – but I don’t think anyone would’ve judged me if I had.

After that last session, I located Bex and we headed back to my place to get ready for prom night… (This story to be continued in part 2 of my Playground diary!)

Feminist Porn Week Diary, Part 1: Burlesque, Disco, & Vulva Cupcakes

Last week was one of the busiest weeks of my life! I’ll be servin’ up my summary of the week’s festivities in three parts, to make sure I paint an adequate picture for y’all. Today’s part covers the weekend prior to the official porntastic week, and the event I attended the following Tuesday.

Saturday April 11th was the night of the CrushTO Spring Fling, a fundraiser for Toronto’s very own queer community centre. The centre’s Grand Ballroom had been decked out to look like the world’s cutest high school dance, and DJ Nate Nightcall kept the dance floor hopping with sweet disco tunes all night long.

I had been asked to play a song, which I did, sandwiched between two foxy burlesque performers. I was nervous but the crowd was totally supportive!

Raffle tickets were sold all evening, and around midnight, Jesse chose the winners at random. The prizes were awesome: event tickets, a pole-dancing class, a photography session, and more.

Outfit-wise, I went for a ‘50s femme vibe. I wore a green polka-dotted dress I’d picked up earlier in the week at a thrift store for $7 (seriously!!). I also wore my beloved Frye harness boots, rainbow heart earrings, and hot pink lipstick. Deeeefinitely felt pretty cute!

A few days later, on Tuesday April 14th, I went to Tell Me Something Good, a sexy storytelling event. They do one every month but this edition was particularly well-attended: the little Gladstone Melody Bar was packed, and folks squished in at small tables and even sat on the floor to listen to the sexy stories on offer.

The story theme this month was feminist porn (of course!), and Toronto’s sex-positive community happens to boast a high quotient of pornographers (Spit and Sophie Delancey come to mind), so several audience members had direct experiences with porn production/performance to share. We heard about awkward orgies, pixelated cocks, amateur photoshoot mishaps, personal empowerment through porn, and so much more.

In honor of Cake & Cunnilingus Day, Julia’s partner had baked vulva cupcakes. So cute!

I wore a blue vintage slip tucked into a high-waisted navy skirt – in part because I’d been invited to a porn pajama party later in the evening and I figured I could peel off my skirt and just rock my negligée at the party. (Multi-purpose dressing is a crucial skill for busy femmes!) Unfortunately I didn’t end up making it to the PJ party, but I still had a super fun night anyway. Tell Me Something Good is always a rollicking good time and I highly recommend it to anyone who lives in Toronto or plans on traveling here!

Stay tuned for the next part of my wrap-up, in which I’ll tell you all about my incredibly hectic Wednesday night!