Playing with sex toys

A vibrator. Some of us may treat it like a best friend while others may reject it entirely — but we all know what it’s for. Use it with a partner or use it when you’re lonely. Use it just because it’s Tuesday night. But take it apart and what else can you do with it?

On Thursday February 12 creativity will be the guiding force during the “Hack a Sex Toy” portion of Telus Spark’s Valentine-inspired Adults Only Night. Little Shop of Pleasures owner Don Wilhelm and staff are bringing in both working and defunct vibrators from the Macleod Trail adult store for visitors to take apart and then reassemble using the components in a new way. The idea is based on the science centre’s regular hacking program in which people make new things out of disassembled toys.

Whether you create a new sex toy or something as different as a magic wand this particular segment of the night will give participants the opportunity to play and experience things they usually wouldn’t otherwise says Kathryn Blair public programmer at Telus Spark. The Little Shop of Pleasures has done similar events at Telus Spark in recent years and Blair says the overall reactions from visitors were positive. “They were apprehensive but then the smiles on their faces and the giggles were just amazing to see” she says.

Anything goes on this night according to Wilhelm. “It’s limited by your imagination. As I like to say in the store it’s an art not a science.”

The theme for February’s Adults Only Night is “Love vs. Hate” and the activities explore the different ways that people love — both the lighter and darker sides so you may learn something new about the person you came with.

In keeping with the theme Little Shop of Pleasures will also invite people to play with toys representing pleasure pain and everything in between — from feathers stimulators and sensory lotions to floggers and an electro-static wand.

“You’re checking it out learning about what other people like and are doing it in this really unique [environment] where you can be open to learning about those things” says Blair. “You get to see things that you might not get to see on a day-to-day basis… but it’s cool to see that it exists and to think about how different we all are.”

Wilhelm says he enjoys interacting with people at public events and having open discussions about often taboo subjects such as sexual desires and fetishes.

Since the Fifty Shades of Grey series took over sexual pop culture he adds it’s given people permission to embrace personal desires they’d otherwise shy away from. He says that while many people still act like grade-school kids about sex our society appears to be “growing up a little bit.”

“One of the things that really makes life worth living is getting pleasure and sharing pleasure” says Wilhelm. He argues sex is the barometer of a relationship and “soothes the pain that love causes.”

But if your pain is too fresh to soothe you might want to indulge your fantasy of tearing someone’s heart out — or tearing it apart anyway.

One of the Adults Only Night activities will be a live heart dissection. “Maybe you love it maybe you hate it. It’s kind of a way of looking at love in a very concrete way — a little bit less romantic” says Blair.

Couples can also participate in research and get relationship advice from the Love Lab a research group led by Dr. Susan D. Boon of the University of Calgary’s department of psychology. A panel of matchmakers writers and researchers will be giving talks on love and hate at scheduled times throughout the night and the Calgary Sexual Health Centre will be on hand to offer information and advice.

Amidst the activities visitors can purchase drinks while listening to the Love vs. Hate-playlist by DJ Grrreh.

Adults Only Night: Love vs. Hate runs Thursday February 12 at Telus Spark.