“I’m sort of a compulsive educator,” says artist, filmmaker and academic Loree Erickson. “I want to make smart, thoughtful images of disability and sex. I don’t just want to reinforce mainstream notions of disability or sex.”
Erickson is the mastermind behind Reclaiming The Gaze, a benefit for Toronto’s first accessible sex party, Acsexxxable. Presented in partnership with cooperative sex shop Come As You Are, the event will feature performances and films that celebrate the sexiness of disabled people and the ways that able-bodied folks often overlook their desires and desirability.
“Everyone wants to be their best friend, but nobody wants to date them,” says Erickson, who gets around in a wheelchair. “I want to be seen as this awesome person that makes you think about the world around you, but I also want to be this hot sexy person that you want to get down with.”
Among the entertainment for the night will be two of Erickson’s short films, Want and Sexy. “They deal explicitly with sex and disability,” says Erickson, “and when I say explicitly, I mean explicitly.”
In addition to the upcoming benefit, Erickson also has an exhibit of photographs up at Come As You Are titled Revealing Femmegimp.
“One of the series is called The Only Thing Stairs Are Good For,” says Erickson, “playing on the notions of access and forcing people to notice the inaccessible landscape that’s around them.
“It came out of doing a documentary on sex and disability and being the background model for the doc. [The filmmakers] decided they wanted me to go around and show off the inaccessible world…. Go up to flights of stairs and look really sad.
“But that’s not actually what people with disabilities do in their life…. I don’t spend my life looking for stairs unless I’m looking for a fun place to get it on.”