It didn’t take long after the mid-March announcement of a global pandemic for Noah Kloeze, worker/owner at Come As You Are Co-Operative (CAYA) to notice that orders were increasing.
“A lot of people have been reaching out seeking toys as part of their care practise,” Kloeze says.
Come As You Are Co-Operative (CAYA)—known for its LGBTQ2-friendly, anti-capitalist and feminist approach to sexual pleasure, health and education—was a longtime staple of indie sex shops in Toronto. It’s now online and based out of Prince Edward County, two and half hours east of the city.
One way that Kloeze says customers are caring for one another is by sending toys to friends and lovers. On CAYA’s website, there’s a feature that lets you leave instruction notes for your order—these days, customers are using the field to leave love and gift notes when they send toys to others. Before the pandemic, most people left friendly instruction notes on minor things, like how they’d like their toys delivered. “But once COVID-19 hit, we started getting these notes that said things like ‘I needed this last fucking week. Get it in the mail.’ And it’s an order for like a giant dildo and a giant bottle of lube,” he says, laughing. “So the urgency was just very clear in these gorgeous ways.”
Kloeze says one of the highlights of the increase in orders is seeing people ordering things that they wouldn’t otherwise, such as a book on rope bondage along with a length of rope, or more sensual items like cannabis-infused massage oils, sensual erotica and even sampler packs of lube. “Folks are taking time to actually learn about something that’s probably always been a desire of theirs, and now is a time where they have the opportunity to explore that desire and learn what their bodies actually like,” Kloeze says. “Seeing all these other ways in which ‘grind culture’ really affects our sex lives, folks are trickling into more of a body curiosity practise.”
While Kloeze sees this as a positive indication of society being more open to sex and pleasure— especially with the public health messages that solo sex is the safest sex to have right now—he is also reminded of the ways people gathered around sex and sexuality during HIV/AIDS global epidemic of the 1980s. “Part of my optimism is seeing so many folks now intuitively coming up with care practices that radical queer activists were doing during the HIV/AIDS [epidemic],” he says. “It’s these sort of lower risk but high reward pleasurable, sensual, erotic experiences with themselves or in safer dynamics with other people.”
Kloeze is wary about sharing “best-selling” toys, considering everyone’s bodies and needs differ greatly. He adds that while some toys, like magic wands, are popular, they might be too heavy for some and their lack of penetration might make them unsuitable for others. “That’s the crux of the best-seller paradigm: What might be the best choice for one person would literally be the worst choice for the next person,” he says.
However, there are some toys that both CAYA and its customers are loving. Here’s Kloeze describing a shortlist of well-loved toys that are CAYA-approved.
The Magic Wand has been a go-to for over 50 years—meaning that not only is it a sex toy relevant to us, but also to our parents (and our hopefully grandparents, too!). It’s a stellar sex toy for vibrating genitals and other erogenous zones. While there are other toys on the market with more “bells and whistles,” the Magic Wand has a simple but important mission: Delivering high quality, strong and rumbly sensations. There are a number of great attachments that can be added to this wand to expand its function. And it also does double-duty as a great back massager—a much-celebrated bonus during the pandemic.
We love everything about this sex toy! Though it’s marketed as a disposable masturbation sleeve, it’s so much more. It can be used for masturbating penises, but it also can be slipped over a hand for playing with other body parts. The tip can be cut off, and suddenly it’s an open-ended sleeve that’s a great add-on for blowjobs. It can be placed over other sex toys (like the Magic Wand!) to change up sensation. Hey, I wore one as a hat one day. Further, the packaging is non-presumptive and really neutral, meaning it’s a great gift idea—and also a great toy for travelling across borders. It’s inexpensive, so it’s a stellar choice for folks who are curious about toys but don’t want to put out a lot of cash.
If you’re looking for a steady date, the Uma is for you. This toy offers a range of vibration intensities and pulsations, with a rumbly, thuddy motor (think: Deep tissue massage). It’s got a curve that’s friendly for internal play, especially against body parts like the G-spot. It’s rechargeable, meaning it comes with a good warranty and long life. It’s really got a great range of sensation opportunities, and can be used either inside or outside the body—and we dig its smooth ergonomic style.
If there was a prize for “cult classic sex toy,” the Pure Wand would definitely be on the shortlist! This toy is made with stainless steel, which offers a unique “gliding” feel inside the body. Very smooth and very firm, this toy is much adored for it’s capacity to stimulate G-spots and prostates. I think every educational G-spot or prostate massage film ever produced has featured one of these toys! Perks of the Pure Wand’s design include the fact that there are two different ends, which means it’s a buffet of opportunity whether for solo playing or including others. The weight of stainless offers added momentum, and it looks pretty darn sexy!
There are actually four different toys in this series—and I’d add them all to this list if I could! Fuze is an indie company based here in Ontario with a long and creative history producing sex toys. We’ve never met a company that is more dedicated to producing ergonomic and body-friendly toys, with an eye to environmental responsibility. They take their work to heart! These plugs are fantastic because they have a smooth, tapered bulb—great for easing into the body—and a nice narrow base. This means the toy can easily be worn during other forms of play, even out on the town.