As a fourth-year student, I am completing a journalistic thesis on the controversial topic of pornography. My two colleagues and I embarked on what can only be called our first sexhibition – we dedicated an entire day to exploring the 15th annual Everything To Do With Sex Show in Toronto.
We walk into the huge room of red and black. Immediately, we are bombarded with visuals of nudity, sex toys and lingerie. But there was so much more than that: erotic art, health foods and educational products, to name a few.
There were innovative products that could solve any sexual problem you can imagine. Some of the most noteworthy include the no-slip shower knee pads, NoMoreWetSpot blankets and menstrual products that can be worn while having sex.
On Oct. 25, I saw my first strip show, had a heart-to-heart talk with a male porn star, and had a stripper hand me his business card and open with, “Hey, want to see me get naked?”
Oh – and I learned a heck of a lot about, well, everything to do with sex.
The How-to-Squirt Seminar
We attended a seminar called “Squirt: The Secrets of G-Spots and Female Ejaculation” which began with Sex Educator Carlyle Jansen asking the attentive audience, “Anybody with G-spots out there?!” In response, the audience erupted in gleeful applause and shouting.
I was having difficulty seeing the PowerPoint screens of diagrams as there was a couple in front of me who were clearly and audibly quite excited about the seminar. Although the PDA was distracting, I got the gist of the lesson: activate your G-spot until you feel the pressure build, then you withdraw all stimulation and rub your urethra and voilà.
Jansen, founder of sex shop and education centre Good For Her, demonstrated several sex positions that activate the G-spot best. Fully clothed, she suited up with a strap-on dildo and straddled an enthusiastic volunteer from the audience.
Unsure of what was in store, we entered the area of the show dubbed “Kink Corner”. At first, it was the typical products you may think about when you think of kink: black leather outfits, whips and bondage. But as I walked past the suspended sex swing, I saw the section that was certainly new to me. The vendor was Mizz Barbie Bitch, a professional dominatrix who was a mayoral candidate in Toronto’s most recent municipal election.
Her brand was stamped on countless products some may describe as dark. There was a grape purple painted crib with zombie baby dolls, spider webs and bats visible within. Next to thatwas an enormous pink dental chair attached to a monstrous black cross adorned with heavy chains.
The BDSM Educator and Dungeon Master
We noticed some mysterious contraptions on display and wandered over to the leathered man with a nametag.
Gregory McCormick is a licenced paralegal as well as a BDSM Educator and Dungeon Master. Thrilled that we were eager to learn about the world of Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission and Sadism and Masochism (BDSM), he opened up right away. He told us about his journey from fearing BDSM, to discovering the pleasure of it, to struggling with why he loved it so much, to finding a community that understood. McCormick says even the popular series Fifty Shades of Grey perpetuates the myth that BDSM blurs consent.
“Implied consent is a tricky thing but not for sex,” McCormick said.
McCormick sits down with his partners ahead of any physical contact and extensively discusses what they want, as well as stating ‘safe words’ that can be called during the acts if the participants change their mind.
McCormick said that in the BDSM community, the gender ratio of tops (dominants) and bottoms (submissives) is about even, though more women than men like to switch between the roles.
This interview was not easy. When I looked just to the right of McCormick’s face, I could see someone demonstrating how to spank by using a paddle on a woman’s nearly bare behind. Plus, the sounds of a female orgasm happening on the main stage were booming through the sound system.
The majority of the attendees of the show were middle-aged couples and only an extreme minority wore clothing or makeup that was more provocative than you would see at the mall.
At one point, a couple, who looked around 50 years old, beside me picked up a substantial glass anal plug and openly discussed whether the size and shape would work for them: they spoke of it as though they were contemplating what shade of beige would be best to paint the living room.
The atmosphere and people at the show differed from the average crowd because everyone emanated acceptance: there was no judgment, secrecy or shame present. Only passion, pleasure and freedom.