Tony Gosgnach
The Interim

Attendance at a recent, annual Toronto exhibition of all things sexual is reported to have been down significantly, and activism by concerned local Christians is being credited with playing a role in that development.

Under new ownership, the Fifth Annual Everything to Do With Sex Show took place on the grounds of the Canadian National Exhibition Oct. 28-31. It featured a number of risqué and controversial events, including seminars on sex toys, leather, sensual games, flogging, bondage/domination/sado-masochism, masturbation and multiple orgasms. There were also opportunities to meet “favourite adult film stars” and participate in “The Dungeon” – “a window into the world of fetish, kink and everything naughty … complete with spanking benches, St. Andrew’s cross and more.”

Mainstream sponsors of the most recent event included the Toronto Sun newspaper, Pizza Pizza and radio stations Q-107 and CFNY.

Activists associated with the Mississauga-based PALM (Pray Always Mississauga) organization monitored the show before and after it was staged. They got in touch with the general manager and CEO of Exhibition Place to ensure that no activities taking place at the show contravened Canadian law and that police would be present to keep a surveillance on what was going on.

Last year, the activists were successful in persuading Mississauga firefighters to cease their involvement with the show after some firefighters took part in a strip tease. This past year, PALM activists found out early that the show was being advertised without age restrictions on attendance. This was corrected after it was brought to the attention of CNE officials. They’ve also been pressuring Pizza Pizza to reconsider its involvement with the event.

In the end, overall attendance is reported to have been 45,000 – about 5,000-10,000 down from last year, when the event was held at the Skydome. As well, exhibitors numbered less than a hundred, compared to 350 least year, and mainstream media coverage in the wake of the event was sparse or non-existent.

“Last year, Labatt’s sponsored it and they pulled out,” said Bruce Fligg of PALM. “A lot of the big sponsors from last year didn’t come back. It didn’t have the media draw.”

CNE official Dianne Young offered PALM the assurance that the 2004 event took place “without incidence of concern.” She added that, as promised, it was monitored and attended by members of the Toronto police service.

“What really sells these shows is what they can get away with,” observed Fligg. “I thought, if we can keep a lid on it and turn it into a straight show with a side party, people would think, ‘I can go to other places and have a wilder time’ … We go at it low-key and target just certain things.”