Summers in Toronto are filled with every kind of show, festival, art crawl, exhibit, and exhibition you can imagine. In fact, coming to Toronto in the summer is like hitting the motherlode of outdoor activity. Then, November comes — that dreary, wet, gray month – and everyone packs it in and goes a) home and b) inside.
This year, though, we had an unusually cool Summer and, naturally, an unusually warm Fall. I’m practically dying of heatstroke in my now-that-it’s-fall-the-A/C-is-off-and-sweltering condo, although the warmth means fewer days I’m required to wear my down feather coat in which I look fiercely hot1. But I digress. What does this have to do with Toronto’s activities? I don’t really know — my funny is out for a smoke break tonight, but my point is that I had an awesome weekend that can be summed up in four short words: photography, food, wine, and sex2. What could be better than that, you ask? Well, for me, not much. Not much at all.
The Royal Ontario Museum has an exhibit of Vanity Fair portraits and photographs from 1913-2008 which I could hardly wait to see. Relentless in my own personal quest for documentation, not to mention a 14-year subscriber to the mag, meant that a trip to brush up against photos taken by Annie Liebowitz, Edward Steichen, Helmut Newton, Nan Goldin, Cecil Beaton and Man Ray <swoon> was a requirement. And were there photographs! Indeed! Seeing the stars in photos doesn’t really do it for me — I find them infinitely uninteresting. The photo that sticks out in my mind turned out to be a small portrait of Claus von Bülow, who infamously posed for the Vanity Fair photos mere days after he was accused of attempting to kill his wife, Sonny. Von Bülow was ultimately acquitted on all charges and Sonny lived in a permanent vegetative state for 28 years until her death. The film “Reversal of Fortune” eventually told the story of the von Bülow family and is one that has always fascinated me. Also, because, being a 14-year subscriber means that I’d already seen many of the photos they exhibited, so I was kinda b-o-r-e-d3. A trip to Hemingways for drinks and appys followed and a lovely evening was had by all.
The monolithic Gourmet Food and Wine Expo rolled into Toronto this week, which usually means two things: I’ll be tipsy the majority of the weekend and will inevitably spill red wine on,and ruin, a perfectly good silk blouse. Good news, though — neither of those things happened this year! Yay me! Rather than going three nights in a row this year, I refrained and attended only on Saturday night to help my friend Angela Aiello of iYellow Wine Group fame. Ange happened to be on a press trip to Chile (yes, she leads a tough life, doesn’t she?!) and therefore needed lots and lots of help to ensure that iYellow got the mad props it deserved during the show. Props, indeed! The show was packed — literally — and ended up selling out. I tasted quite a bit of good food (lobster! thai shrimp!), wine (madeira! riesling! icewine!), olive oils (can’t remember the names!), but my favourite food/drinkstuff was a “mini ice cream cone”: think ice cream cone lined with a hard chocolate shell, filled with a (very strong) french vanilla liqueur and topped with chocolate whipped cream. Zomg. It was sinful. The party itself was basically controlled chaos and you could hardly move without stepping on the 4″ heel of the whorishly dressed well-dressed girl in front of you. In fact, when I gracefully departed around 10pm, things were just getting into full swing. The Gourmet Food and Wine Expo was a definite “see and be seen” scene. And one that should *not* be missed.
That takes care of photography, food and wine. And now, the sex. (Warning: parental units, the squirmish, and/or the +60 set, you may want to skip this part altogether) Ahem. The Everything To Do With Sex show is apparently as Canadian an institution as maple syrup, roaming moose and igloo-living. There may be shows like this in the States, but shows like this in Houston, TX, there are not. Therefore, being the consummate Canadian tourist, I felt like it was something I could not miss during my time in Toronto. Also, because what else does a Texas girl do on a Sunday in November?
I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I arrived, but was surprised to see *every* kind of person there — young, old, gay, straight, preppy, goth, fat, thin, tall, short. There were the typical vendors you’d expect to see at a show about being intimate, like masseuses, photographers, hair straighteners, body painters, tattoo artists4, and the ubiquitous firefighter’s calendar (!!!). Then, of course, there werer those unexpected vendors such as Cowboys of the Caribbean, Straptease, the Sexerciseme Ball, and Orgasmatron. I saw things that angelic Texas girls like me could only imagine (and then some) including, but not limited to, penis-shaped ice cube trays, chocolate-dipped penises5, things that vibrate in time with songs on your iPod (incidentally called “iBod”), and other varied and assorted accoutrements, at which time I decided that the motto of the show should be ”come one, come all6“!
Photography wasn’t allowed, although I can assure you that as soon as the fashion show began, cameras were whipped out at breakneck speed. Always playing by the rules, I, of course, took only one photo inside (and only after I asked permission), so I have nothing to show you other than the chocolate-dipped privates.
Needless to say, my weekend was filled with food, wine, friends, and debauchery. My prior method of operation has always been “fear and loathing” of November; after this weekend o’fun, however, it has officially changed to ”bring it on, baby”!
1 By which I mean the Stay-Puf Marshmellow Girl. Yes, I know it’s an image you can’t get out of your heads, but try to restrain yourselves, gentlemen.
2 Not what you think!
3 But not from the company. Lisa, you rock as a ROM date!
4 Called the “Nude Buddha Tattoo Studio”, natch, and where people were actually getting tattoos. If I was planning to get a tattoo, I don’t think I’d wait for the portable booth set-up at the Everything To Do With Sex show to get it. But maybe that’s just me.
5 Made out of strawberries and bananas – clever, if you ask me.
6 But is actually “Admit it. You’re Curious”.