You could not find anyone who knows more about sex toys than Phuong Ly, who has been operating Joy Toyz – a woman-run and woman-owned, sex-positive toy store on St. Laurent – since 2008. When speaking with customers or presenting workshops, she explains the various pros and cons of each toy and educates her audience about anatomy and pleasure. She may suggest specific toys or materials based on preferences, price range, and experience, for anyone from the first time toy-buyer to seasoned user. Looking around the store, it’s surprising how non-threatening and friendly the space is, with its pink door and wall of demonstrators. The toys are also colourful – pink, blue, and red – and include dildos, vibrators, and bullets. None of the items seem intimidating or overwhelming.
All the merchandise sold in the store has to meet Ly’s quality guidelines. Most sex toys in Canada are categorized as “novelty” items, which means that they aren’t monitored by any federal medical or health approval board. The usual materials that go into sex toys can have harmful effects on the body, such as phthalates, often found in jelly toys to make the plastic softer. All toys offered at Joy Toyz are phthalate-free, and materials that are easy to clean, like hard plastic and silicone, are encouraged.
Ly’s aim for the store is to provide a safe and discrete place for women to feel comfortable talking about sex toys and sexuality without feeling ashamed or embarrassed. She sees this issue come up in her home parties, where women don’t seem to feel they can experience themselves sexually outside of activity with their partner. She encourages women to own their sexuality and give themselves permission to feel pleasure. Pleasure, she explains, is about exploring. “Don’t have a goal, just find what feels good, relax and be in the moment. Enjoy yourself and have a good time. There is no time limit to having a good orgasm.”
To learn more about Joy Toyz, visit joytoyz.ca, or drop by the store at 4200 St. Laurent, Room 415. You can also check them out during PGSS Love/Sex week on February 11, when Ly will be presenting a Beginner’s Guide to Sex Toys at 8 p.m. in the Thomson House Ballroom. Anyone interested, singles and couples alike, is welcome to attend.