Sometimes, a little anticipation goes a long way. I had been glued to the Erotic Arts and Crafts Fair website for the past couple weeks, swooning over the promise of handmade goodies that would celebrate all things sexy. On Saturday, I got the chance to sample the wares in person. In conjunction with the Gladstone Hotel, Come As You Are had arranged a day-long event that promised top-quality erotic arts and crafts, and a chance to support local artists.
There was a laid-back vibe that started just inside the door, where Wendy Ding was selling her saucy (sometimes literally) prints, postcards, and stickers. Ding’s artwork is bright and cheerful pin-ups inspired by food: one image featured a candy-apple girl perched atop the sweet treat, another starred a lady lounging in a hot dog bun. They were cheeky examples of what an erotic arts and crafts fair can offer, and brought a whole new meaning to the word “yummy.” Other illustration artists included Sam Abel’s Saucy Nudles, featuring ladies of all shapes and sizes in her black-and-white drawings, and Nicole DeCaria, who presented a portfolio full of nerd-tastic famous “couples” – my favourites were Gollum longing for his precious ring, and Mario and Princess Peach sharing a loving moment.
Come As You Are had a small selection of unusual toys, including Nob Essence‘s gorgeous handmade wooden dildos and colourful handmade bondage rope. They passed out pamphlets like “Slippery When Wet: Know Your Lube” and chatted with browsers and other vendors. They sponsored many of the raffle prizes, staffed the door, and were generally charming and knowledgeable salespeople. I was actually surprised at the dearth of vendors selling sex toys of any stripe – not only was there nary a plushy penis to be found, CAYA was the only vendor that had stocked up on actual bedroom merchandise.
But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t plenty to look at. Local wordsmith John Pressick sold erotica next to Add Love & Stir’s sensual edible treats (chocolate covered strawberry, anyone?). Sex on a Stitch displayed gorgeous, tactile pasties that ran the gamut from cheerfully blinged with stars, to fuzzy pompom nipple covers, to crocheted faux-nipples featuring the occasional piercing. Bitchcraft‘s panties were silkscreened with naughty images like handcuffs and tattoo-inspired art. Ben Stirling’s fetish propaganda posters were some of my favourites of the day – my only complaint is those Soviet-inspired images deserve a poster-sized option.
There was a lot of queer- and kink-friendly images on display, and the unexpected star of the show was the natural-look lady; at least two of the fifteen or so vendors swooned over big-boned women as objects of sexy desire. My only complaint? The EACF needs more: more vendors, more merchandise diversity, more space. It would be great to see more pornographers, a fiber artist or two, and at least a couple more booths that specialized in sex toys.
After a quick bite to eat, we headed back for the EACF Cabaret. While this was the EACF’s sixth year, 2012 was their first crack at offering a night of burlesque entertainment. The cabaret featured lots of local talent, ranging from amateur to professional, coquettish to outlandish. Emcee Annanda was hilarious, and game for anything (including a romp on the pole – more on that later).
Betty Quirk led the night with a leopard-printed vintage tease that showcased her tassel-twirling skills. Secretary got a fairly straightforward bondage-inspired set, and The Nightmare Before Christmas was genderqueered by Barely Legal Leelando, who rocked heels so high they made my ankles hurt just looking at him. Lin and Mikey from Brass Vixens gave an acrobatic, and quite frankly, terrifying display of erotic athleticism that involved shimmying up a pole – they brought their own – and flexing muscles that usually only appear in fireman’s calendars.
Dr. Tease probably took the prize for Most Unusual Strip Tease, since his was done in reverse. He came onstage in a fig leaf, and as Pearl Jam’s “Evolution” roared, he strutted his way through getting dressed. A wiggle of his now-clothed bum brought a cheer from the crowd, and I could see at least one lady fanning herself as he tied his necktie. It was a clever reminder of what makes burlesque performance sexy: the chance to see what’s usually hidden. When he flashed the bright-red lining of his suit jacket near the end of his performance, it echoed a burlesque dancer’s coy flash of her panties
The evening closed with a DJ set, but not before Annanda took a quick – and very public lesson – in pole dancing from Brass Vixens. The crowd laughed and clapped as she spun and twirled, narrating each step and giggling as she hit her mark. It’s the kind of support that comes naturally to the DIY crafters who came out this weekend, and their energy is infectious and inspiring. I can’t wait to see next year’s roster of tush-wigglers, porn writers and vagina sculptors.