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Come as you are: queering sex for everyone.

COME AS YOU ARE (CAYA) is worker owned and operated co-op by Sarah Forbes-Roberts, gill lamon, Holly Hirst, and Cory Silverberg. Shannon Bell met Sarah and Cory for a dinner interview in Toronto's Kensington Market.

Shannon Bell: CAYA is known as a queer sex store. What is it that makes it a queer sex store?

Sarah Forbes-Roberts: I think it is because we don't define anything for our customers. When someone walks in the door we don't tell them what kind of sex they should be having. We allow the space for people to explore their sexuality and be whatever it is. Maybe what it is today is going to change tomorrow. Maybe they are in relationship with a man today and tomorrow maybe they will be in a non-monogamous relationship with people of different genders. We believe that sexuality and gender are fluid.

Cory Silverberg: At some point in all our lives, we have identified as queer in some way. I am not sure that is queer in a very specific political way. Sometimes it is queer in an old fashion way as something is not right and it probably has to do with sex or gender.

I think of all the owners as variant in one way or another. The store is a co-op. CAYA started in 1997. We have at website,, and sell all across Canada.

SB: I have always thought CAYA was a queer sex store because you carry diverse sexual merchandize and you run diverse workshops from anal training, to s&m, to rope bondage, to my workshop on female ejaculation, to orgasm workshops, to how give oral pleasure. There is a very mixed crowd at the workshops: some people are queer, some are bi, some straight ...

SFR: We create an inclusive space. We don't assume anything. For some people, coming into the store broadens their horizon because we have all the different books and workshops on different topics. This is our queer activism. People see the Buck Angel DVDs on the shelf. Buck presents as very macho, masculine man and on the cover of his movies he has a vagina. Buck's trademark is "The man with a pussy."


CS: When I think of the word queer in relation to what we do at CAYA, I think of it more as a verb than a noun. I like the idea that we are just fucking up sex and queering sex for everyone.

Sarah and I have both have worked at different times as the video buyer. When you do this, you watch so much porn. For every 500 straight porn movies that are made in a year, one interesting one is made. The interesting alternative porn or queer porn is scarce.

SB: You vet it.

CS: We vet everything in the store. In terms of porn it is mostly for racist, misogynistic comments.

SFR: As the porn watcher, you actually fast-forward though the sex scenes and listen to the talking.

CS: gill is the toy buyer. For every five toys gill tests, two or three of them work for us. We share the toy-testing duties. For porn it's more like for every fifteen movies you watch, one might be good.

SFR: In the dominant industry so many of the sex scenes are the same: first there is a little cunnilingus, then there is a blow job, then vaginal sex for half a minute, anal sex for three minutes, a couple of position changes, and then the money shot.

We created an explicitness five flame rating system: one flame is very mild, five flames is the most explicit which might include some rough play.



SB: Do you consciously fuck politically? Because, I consciously fuck politically. I only fuck people's whose intellectual positions I agree with.


CS: When you say "fuck politically" the first thing I think about is the kind of sexual activities one engages it. But you are also talking about choosing your partner.


SB: For me knowledge is really erotic. So for me, the smarter you are, the more knowledge you have about what I don't know, and the more weird stuff you have done and done in the public realm, I will find you really hot.


SFR: I think it is how you have sex more so than who you have sex with. For me this is what queer sex is. No matter who you have sex with it is a political act because you are having the kind of sex you want to have. It is not about the body you have, there is no predetermined way to have sex based on your biological body. You can do whatever you want, you can try on different genders, strap-on a dildo, it is not about hetero normative penis-vagina penetration in a certain order or way. There are all kinds of orifices. Everybody has them.

SB: Hot. You get five flames.

CS: There are two phrases; "fucking politically" and "political fucking." My personal experience of fucking politically is exactly what Sarah said. The person I fuck is a bio woman and I am a bio man, but on any given day that may not be the way we identify. Fucking politically is about intent, intent to push a personal boundary.


SFR: The public act includes queer writings, queer films, and queer sex stores, queer spaces where people can explore publicly, whether what is explored is public sex or public sex conversations.


SB: Speaking of queering as fucking things up, messing with what is taken as a norm, can I come by CAYA and shoot images of the store blindfolded?

CS: Absolutely.

SFR: Can I shoot you shooting blindfolded?

SB: Totally yes.

(Permission was granted, resulting in these images.)
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Article Details
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Author:Bell, Shannon
Publication:Canadian Dimension
Article Type:Interview
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Jul 1, 2009
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