Ten years ago Come As You Are held their very first Erotic Arts and Crafts Fair. For those of you not familiar with this terrific store, Come As You Are is the world’s only co-op sex shop – owned and operated by its workers. They formed in 1997 with a mission to scrub away the sex-shaming that so often comes with toy purchases, while also ensuring an environment which reflects diverse genders, orientations, sexualities, and life experiences. Not only do they provide a ton of useful information on the products they sell, they also discuss such topics as sexuality and aging, sexuality for the disabled, how to clean your sex toys, and instructions on how to recycle your toys when they’ve given you your last thrill.
I got a chance to check in with Noah Kloeze: Worker-Owner at Come As You Are Co-operative and the event coordinator for the Erotic Arts and Crafts Fair. He told me that back in 2007 Jack, (also a Worker-Owner) at Come As You Are, was at that very first Fair. What was it about that first Fair that made them realize they had something really special on their hands? According to Jack, his impression at the time was that “it was a stunning opportunity to celebrate some of our favourite things: sex, community, and DIY culture. Everyone involved had a blast, and visitors were blown away by the array of skilled makers we have locally. It wasn’t ever a question that this event needed to happen again.” And so it did!
Now, I love the idea of erotic arts and crafts as much as anyone – but I’m curious … who says what’s erotic when it comes to the artists being showcased? Noah will be the first to tell you, “Erotic is very much in the eye of the beholder. One person’s erotic is another person’s banal.”
So when it came to curating this event, “This year our requirements were that vendors offer products / services that explored sex, gender, identity, pleasure, or sexual health in some way. So, as you can see, the Erotic Arts and Crafts Fair has definitely grown and evolved to include all kinds of content! What we are always working to offer is a dynamic and playful event full of goods that are cheeky, charming, sexy, educational, raunchy, affirming – hopefully all at the same time!”
Sounds like loads of fun! So what kind of experience will a newbie have when they start wandering through the fair? After all, even the most openminded of folks have boundaries. Noah assures me he and the Come As You Are team have made every effort to take the comfort of the guests into consideration.
Noah tells me that, indeed, a lot of exciting things often happen after the event.”Some of our previous years’ vendors credit their exposure at the Erotic Arts and Crafts Fair for getting them placement in retail stores and for driving more customers to their Etsy and other online shops. For some of our amazing artists and crafters who do custom work, they’ve definitely connected with new clients at the fair. Some vendors – like the phenomenal Hoi – we’ve actually picked up their work and carried it at Come As You Are Co-op thanks to the fair. But mostly, it is just a really fun time, a great opportunity to meet other makers + fans, and because we keep the price of vendor tables as low as possible, some of the lesser-known artists doing great work here in Toronto can afford to access the event.”
For all of you in, near, or willing to travel to Toronto I wouldn’t miss this event! Here is just three of the artists that caught MY eye.
“Geeky, playful, whimsical and fun adult fantasy toys. All hand sculpted and made out of safe platinum grade silicone.”
“Gauthier attempts to create a strong juxtaposition between form and content, and enables the viewer to question society’s opinions and norms about these subjects. Just like every person and body, none of her works are exactly alike.”
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