“Do you mind if I mention my cause?” asks Elle Patille as I approach her for an interview. She is signing photos and posing for pictures at this year’s Everything To Do With Sex Show, dressed in knee-high leather boots and the tiniest bikini imaginable.

“Sure, absolutely,” I say, perhaps too effusively, as I try to remain smooth and even-tempered in the presence of a nearly-naked woman.

“My name is Elle Patille, I’m a former Playboy cover model, born and raised in Toronto, and have recently moved to Honduras…and I was with the locals when a little baby leopard as well as jaguar pelts were being sold on the black market for $200. So, the little guy [the jaguar] had an upper respiratory infection, dislocated jaw, and now I am sharing a one-bedroom condo in Honduras with…a jaguar. So now I’m up in Toronto for one week bringing awareness to endangered species as well as the illegal animal trade. All proceeds that are made during this show will be going toward the animals.”

I have never before interviewed someone in such a state of undress, and journalistic etiquette goes out the window as my eyes blatantly dart towards her lower regions, where her skintight bikini outlines the crevices of a certain key body part. I’m in way over my head.
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“Uh…” I stumble over my words, and she giggles. “Well, y’know, I gotta say… I could never imagine wearing…” I point in the general direction of her bikini. “Uh, I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s great that you can, but… I mean, I’m sort of a shy guy…” my voice trails off pathetically.

“Well, if you want you can try it on!” she laughs. “Nobody’ll say anything. You are at the Everything To Do With Sex Show.”

• • •

The ETDWSS pretty much lives up to its name, with dozens of booths offering hundreds of goods and services for every conceivable sexual scenario, and plenty of inconceivable ones. There are dildos, vibrators, penis rings, linens, massagers, “Sticky Dickies,” thongs, douches,
anal douches, whips, paddles, and enough condoms for a thousand water balloon fights. Though tempted by a pair of singing plastic breasts called “Jigglin’ Jugs,” I limit myself to a $3.99 sexual energy drink called Sex Shots. “Drink one serving, wait five minutes—FEEL THE POWER!” promises the label. Consumer report: it doesn’t work.

There’s even a booth for Glitz Professional Teeth Whitening, whose inexplicable presence I find so fascinating that I request an interview with a sales representative named Keith three times before he finally relents. “They sit for 10 minutes under the lights,” says Keith, point-
ing to the customers at the booth, “then we re-apply some gel, they sit for another 10 minutes, then rinse, and they’re done. We guarantee they go up a minimum two shades.”

“I guess I’m wondering…what brings you to the sex show?” I ask.

“Oh, it’s people. All we need is people walking by.” alt text

To the side of the convention hall is The Dungeon, where women in thongs are tied onto elaborate contraptions and brought to orgasm through complicated and I daresay dangerous means. Just outside, Lady Victoria demonstrates a vacuum-sealed, sensation-heightening bed, though the demonstration goes awry when the test subject begins yelping and wriggling with panic for release. I’m not so sure that having an orgasm is worth this much effort.

• • •

I used to wonder how the rather simple act of putting one’s penis into a partner’s vagina could sustain and justify an entire convention. Now I realize that the Sex Show is more about contrasting attitudes than a mere physical act. Serious seminars on a plethora of sex-related topics are held in makeshift auditoriums on the sidelines, while the main stage, where the biggest crowds gather, is more like sex vaudeville, where beefcake strippers alternate with amateur pole-dancers and professional acrobats.

“Who can give me the best fake orgasm?!” yells the emcee to a whooping crowd. He rushes over to an impossibly attractive brunette woman at the side of the stage. “Come on, baby! Give me your best fake orgasm!”

“Ooooh baby!” she moans into the microphone. “Uhn….Uh….UH….UUUH…yeee-EEEEAAAHHH! …uuuuuhhhhnnnn….”

“Alright, that’s a nice orgasm!” the emcee hoots. “The guys in the audience are all like, ‘Uh…do I cheer?’” He spots another woman in the audience at the front of the stage.

“Oh, baby…. Yeah….yeah, baby… Oh my God…Oh my GOD….UUUU-HHH… Oh, baby….”

“Short and sweet!” he says, clapping heartily. “Short and sweet!” Another woman raises her hand. “Alright, let’s have one more! Give us your best fake orgasm!”

She inhales, be-fore letting out a blood-curdling shriek: “Uuuh-AAAAAAAHHHHH!!!”

The crowd goes wild. “That was re-e-e-ally short!” says the emcee. “I wouldn’t want any of that.”

• • •

More than anything, the Sex Show is a veritable goldmine of porn. From expensive Blu-Ray releases to grubby two-for-$5 bins filled with titles like Black Poles Filling White Holes and Stretchin’ the Brown Hole Is Our Goal, you can barely walk five feet before being assaulted by another extreme close-up of anal penetration.

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Good For Her, the venerable Toronto women’s sex store, is here selling “female friendly porn.” “It’s where women get their fair share of the pleasure,” says storeowner Carlyle Jansen. “Where you don’t have the long, up-close genital shots, you see more faces and bodies during orgasm, you see more authentic female pleasure rather than fake female pleasure. It can show a diversity of bodies, a diversity of people of colour, people of size, and people of different ages without fetishizing them.”

Representing more traditional fare is porn star Maxine X, here representing her Maxine X Productions website (BoundToCum.com, FYI). I find her at her booth, holding a whip and wearing a bustier that struggles mightily but ultimately fails to conceal her areola.

“It says on your sign that you’re Canada’s top fetish porn star. This might be a weird question, but…what do you specialize in?”

“Bondage and forced orgasm!” she says, grinning widely. “So, basically it’s like bondage ’til you come. There’s a lot of toys. It’s a lot of… like, for example—” she points to a DVD box. “See, here she’s, like, tied up, and say if I’m the dog I would make her come, and she’s tied up, and… and there’s a lot of squirting, that’s my next specialty. And I have a lot of Asian stuff, squirting, bondage, but I also have a couple of boy-girl films.”

“What do you think is your best work?” I ask, acutely aware that she is being double-penetrated on the TV monitor.

“Well, I definitely love my fetish and bondage stuff, right? But my favourites are the squirting stuff. I lo-o-ove to squirt.” She points to a DVD called Hurtin’ for a Squirtin’. “This is Jada Fire, she’s a big squirter and a big porn star in the U.S., and I shot this in L.A. with her, and we both squirted and stuff.”

She happily poses with me for a picture. In the picture she is wearing her sultriest facial expression while holding her whip against my body. Meanwhile, I’m all-to-clearly staring at her protruding breast. I’m in way over my head.

All photos by Tom Cardoso