Wading through a sea of vibrating gloves and leather paddles

If there’s one thing that makes people more uncomfortable than talking about sex, it’s talking about sex toys. Although we’re well into the 21st century, and decades past the sexual revolution, sex still has not been able to shake its reputation as something dirty, and is still gets most people squeamish when brought up as a topic of dinner conversation. Throw anything plastic or leather into the mix, and you’ll send some people running to the hills.

I’d like to think of myself as an open-minded individual who’s comfortable with her sexuality, but the reality is that sex is still a topic that never fails at making me a little uneasy. That being said, when my friends invited me to go the Taboo: Naughty but Nice show at the Convention Centre Feb. 4 — which describes itself as having “everything from your heart’s desires to inconceivable delights”
but is really just a trade show with sex toys and porn — I couldn’t wait to go.
I’ll admit that got sufficiently socially lubricated before going to the show, and might have let my imagination get carried away. I was expecting a dark room full of half naked strangers waving glow in the dark dildos in my face. The reality was that the show was surprisingly tame.

I wandered away from my friends and over to a table selling glass sex toys, where the salesman was very persistent that I buy one, grabbing my hand and “testing” it out on my palm. I don’t remember saying it was OK to touch me, but this didn’t seem like the place where you had to ask.

Needless to say, I didn’t buy one and instead got distracted by the rows of whips and paddles at the table next to the glass dildos. There I found a woman trying out an assortment of paddles on a leather-clad man. “They’re super durable,” he pointed out to her. I kept wandering.

While some of the products seemed ridiculous (candy underwear anyone?), some of them seemed downright practical. One table sold an entire line of products for sex in the shower, including handles and foot grips. I’ve never had the opportunity to try this, but I imagine these products would probably come in handy.

Awkwardly interspersed with the vibrators and porn videos were salespeople hawking purses and glitter makeup. Some products seemed pretty out of place in a show aimed at helping people’s sex lives, with salespeople proclaiming that vibrating gloves were the “it” item of the season — which, by the way, were amazing. I could not complain when one salesgirl insisted on massaging my neck and back with the handy little gloves, though at $60 each was still a tough sale for me.

I actually didn’t end up buying anything, though one my friends managed to grab an autographed topless photo of porn star Monique Alexander (I have no idea who that is either). Classy.

Instead of a new vibrator, I left the show with the question of what it is that makes people so uncomfortable about what goes on in the bedroom, because in the end, there really wasn’t anything “taboo” about the show at all.