A young woman chewed gum and stared into space as a burly man in leather tied her up with white nylon rope.
About ten people watched listlessly as he tied a series of increasingly elaborate knots. Eventually he pulled the rope attached to a wooden frame and hoisted her off the ground. Her long, dark brown hair swung downwards. A half-hearted smile briefly interrupted her gum chewing.
The crowd dispersed. There was no applause.
“You can be next!” announced another, older burly man in leather. In response, he got more blank stares. The crowd shuffled over to inspect a table of whips and riding crops.
Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to Sexapalooza Ottawa, a trade show for people who make a living convincing people to spend money on one of the only things in life that’s free. The spectacle you just witnessed took place in “the dungeon,” a red polyester tent so kinky and incriminating that two sandwich boards and an inflatable devil warn you in both official languages that there are to be Absolutely No Pictures. Who knows whose delicate sensibilities might be offended had images of that fully clothed brunette ended up on Facebook.
To be fair, it was 4 p.m. in Ottawa’s decaying Lansdowne Park, which isn’t normally the time and place for getting loose and crazy. Still, these people shelled out 20 bucks for the privilege of perusing the highest concentration of dildos per square foot in the city. You’d think someone could have mustered a “Take your top off!”
Alas, the only person who seemed interested in anyone taking his or her top off was the event’s M.C. A blonde woman dressed in a military uniform, she took to the microphone throughout the night to assure the crowd the only reason we weren’t all having a wild orgy right now was city regulations.
“It’s getting hot in here,” she whooped. “Maybe everybody should just take off all their clothes! Nope, sorry, regulations won’t let us do that.”
She was similarly reassuring as the crowd watched a half-asleep stripper called Misha Manx reveal nipples covered with black electrical tape. “Regulations don’t permit it here,” she apologized, “but come on down to the Playmate club!”
But no one looked like they were in the mood to stick dollar bills in ol’ Misha’s g-string. The yuppie-looking couples tended to keep their arms wrapped tightly around each other, as if to dispel any suspicion they might be there for reasons other than improving their healthy, heterosexual, monogamous sex lives. Women in their 20s stuck together in groups, making sure to giggle frequently so no one would think they were actually interested in pubic shavers or strap-on harnesses. And lone middle aged men kept their ball caps firmly over their eyes as they inspected porn DVDs with titles like Big Black Titties.
In fact, one of the few people who seemed to be enjoying himself was a man on stilts who kept flashing a pair of rubber boobs at anyone who looked his way. “Woo!” he yelled as he opened his vest for the hundredth time.
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