In an effort to learn the joys of shagging in the great outdoors, The Sex Detective checks out Oasis Aqua Lounge.
One of the advantages of being a sex writer is that people start to loan you much more interesting books to read. Currently, I’m working my way through a second-hand copy of Michelle Pauli’s The Outdoor Kama Sutra, which was lent to me by a zealously organized friend who extends her belief in research and book learning as far as her sex life.
It was a well-timed loan. With Toronto sweltering under a long, hot summer, now would seem to be the perfect opportunity to explore the possibilities of al fresco friskiness. Indeed, a quick flick through the pages of Pauli’s work reveals many reasons to take it outside: Apparently, among other things, you can expect sex that’s both sensual and wild, a renewed connection with your “primeval passions,” and lovemaking that the author describes as “earthy.”
Personally, I worry that earthiness could all too easily lead to soreness, but it is hard to deny the appeal of sex under the stars and a cooling breeze on your skin. However, making that a reality in a crowded city like Toronto is a tricky business. My Kama Sutra falls way short in this regard: Pauli’s list of acceptable sex locations include a cornfield, a mossy bank, and—stay with me here—a big pile of leaves. Even her suggested baby step of having sex under a blanket on your balcony comes to grief courtesy of Toronto’s glass-obsessed condo builders. Of the 45 per cent of Torontonians who claim to have had sex in a public space (according to 2009 survey), my guess is most of them did it in a nightclub washroom (or in a canoe at the cottage, because, you know, Canadian skills and all).
Perhaps that’s why weekend afternoons at Oasis Aqua Lounge are packed affairs. Oasis, a sex club at Carlton and Mutual streets, boasts a large clothing-optional poolside patio on which you can drink, smoke, and get your fill of outdoor sex. On a typical Sunday afternoon, you’ll find an eclectic mix of young women sunbathing nude while couples and groups go at it in the pool or on the loungers scattered about.
Oasis owner Toni Johnson says that part of the appeal of her sexy patio is the breaking of taboos. “The vast majority of society is brainwashed into believing that sex needs to be indoors, doors shut, blinds closed, and done quietly,” she says. “To have the option to do it under the sky with others watching—if that’s what you choose—at night in the moonlight, it’s a very freeing feeling. Once you’ve done it, it’s hard to go back to indoor sex because it’s so lovely.”
Although the patio is on the first floor and is surrounded by a high fence, there are high buildings not too far off, including a Ramada hotel. I ask whether they have any problems with curtains twitching from afar. “Occasionally, we have people look over,” says Johnson. “They wave, and we wave back.”
Given its downtown location, the Oasis patio is surprisingly tranquil, but it does lack the requisite earthiness of a true outdoor experience. Depending on who you ask or which online forums you consult, suitable spaces for out-of-bounds sex in the GTA include Scarborough Bluffs, High Park, and a secluded bush on Toronto Island. Seasoned outdoors types say it’s best to wear clothes that are easy to get on and off, in case a quick getaway is needed. If you’re busted by the police, you risk all sorts of gross indecency charges, but that’s the chance you take.
Gay men have a few additional options for outdoor activities, in the form of cruising grounds that still do brisk business despite the advent of services like Grindr which allow users to scout for hook-ups without leaving their couches. Steven Maynard, a lecturer on the history of sexuality at Queen’s University, says that cruising grounds like those at Queen’s Park and Cherry Beach initially sprung up back when there were no gay bars in Toronto.
Because of gay culture’s close relationship with public sex, Maynard believes gay people are often more comfortable discussing it than their straight counterparts. “The French philosopher Michel Foucault once said that gay public sex—our greater ease about it—should be gay culture’s gift to straight people.”
Oasis Aqua Lounge, 231 Mutual St., 416-599-7665, oasisaqualounge.com.