Tag: Erotic Arts and Crafts Fair

Sexy Queen

The Valentine’s Day sillies are upon us once more. As a singleton who’s never really experienced the “romantic” connotations of the Hallmark Holiday, I take the whole thing in stride and tend to draw associations instead with the sticky-sweet days of childhood. Heart-shaped cookies and finger-staining candies, along with cut-outs and tacky cards -that’s Valentine’s Day to me.

There’s a tremendous pressure on female singletons, particularly in North America, where V-Day is taken quite seriously. (That, incidentally, is culturally interesting; I don’t recall the same kind of pressure when I lived in Dublin and London, but then, back then I romanticized everything, turning every day into a kind of maudlin V-Day fest, complete with sappy poetry, long dresses, and plenty of chest-heaving for so-close-so-far Byronic, tortured-artist-lovers. Oh, youth…) Year-round Valentine pressure is everywhere in popular culture: witness the phenomenons of Bridget Jones, Sex And the City, and any number of treacly pop hits.

Lastnight’s episode of 30 Rock featured a defensive Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) trying to find someone to give her a ride post an impending dental surgery. The snag? The surgery fell on Valentine’s Day. In the great tradition of ladies who doth protest too much, the indefatigable Liz huffed and puffed about in hilarious, if equally sad, fashion, loudly proclaiming her independence. Only later, deep in the throes of whirling post-surgery hallucinations, did she acknowledge that she wanted to be loved. It got me thinking: do women need Valentine’s Day to assert their desire for love and acceptance? Following that, do men need the pressure of what V-Day represents to show these things? It all feels deeply unfair -and stupid.

The Toronto-based Erotic Arts and Crafts Fair blends like childlike whimsy with a decidedly adult ethos. As its name implies, the fair is a celebration of sex, but not in that tawdry, vulgar way as paraded around so many so-called “professional” conferences. The fair, on since 2007 and founded by members of the excellent Come As You Are, is Canada‚Äôs only craft fair dedicated to romantic, sexual, and erotic expression, and features a variety of crafts -not just rude knitwear and dildos (though they’re presented too, if you’re interested). Books, buttons, jewellery, corsets, slippers and one cleverly-named change-purse feature as well.

Along with being a fun way of celebrating sexuality, the fair also serves as a great way of connecting people -including many single women, who come in nervous and sometimes shy, and leave, laughing. There’s no pressure for coupledom, and the whimsical, fun feel of the fair imbues a kind of fun, carnival-esque atmosphere. Also, the event nicely builds community through the sharing of artistic ability, something vitally important in the Queen Street West area (which is rapidly becoming a bourgeois hipster haven, eeek). If you’re in the neighbourhood tomorrow (February 13th), pop in the Gladstone Hotel anytime between 12 and 8pm. Single or coupled, I guarantee you’ll walk out with a smile.

You Can Go With This…

Busy times.

The past two weeks alone, I’ve interviewed a variety of neat and interesting people (on radio morning show Take 5 in Toronto) about a myriad of topics: Erin Karpluk spoke to me about the CBC TV show she’s on (Being Erica), Emm Gryner chatted about her new album Goddess, Rounder Records co-founder Bill Nowlin talked about his company’s five-time Grammy-nominated album Raising Sand, and George Stroumboulopoulos spoke with me about One Million Acts of Green. I also did an on-camera interview with Garry Marshall about the newly-opened Happy Days musical (I’ll put a link up as soon as the video’s ready, so be patient!), which was very exciting.

Regular readers to this blog will also know I interviewed actor David Jansen about the collectively-created theatre piece Ubuntu, as well as director Simon Rice about Toronto-based Praxis Theatre Company’s adaptation of Albert Camus’ Stranger. Next week, expect chats with director/actor/playwright Andrew Moodie, actor Kevin Hanchard, and Sarah Forbes-Roberts, co-owner of Toronto sex shop Come As You Are (Sarah’s the woman behind next weekend’s Erotic Arts and Crafts Fair -perfect timing for Valentine’s Day, methinks…).

Anyway, some of you will have noticed my moving away from theatre writing and reporting. There’s a reason -and it has everything to do with my inherent curiosity about the world around me. I’m branching out to explore stories that run the gamut from environmental-meets-social media (like One Million Acts of Green) to pop culture (ie -television, film, and music) to the just plain fun (like Ms. Forbes-Roberts and her fantastic fair). So in the coming days and weeks, expect to read more about my thoughts on all this stuff, and less on the performing arts. I still love ’em (deeply -I saw the COC production of Fidelio today, in fact -beautiful) but I love a lot of other things, too. The topics I pursue still have a distinctly arts-and-culture bent, as befits my own interests, but this feels like a natural progression in terms of range and breadth.

Play” doesn’t just refer to what happens in theatres; the term also encompasses what we do in childhood, the very thing we forget moving into adulthood. It’s also the thing we all want to re-embrace, and what artists -of any discipline do (bravely) embrace. If the “play” really is “the thing,” to quote Hamlet, then Play Anon is about just that -playing, in a lot of different areas, free from the shackles of “should.”

As someone once told me (speaking about themselves) many years ago, “I may not be the smartest person in the world, but I am one of the most curious.” That describes me too. Here’s to a new day, and a new Play Anon.

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