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Ottawa’s sultry underbelly

Anytime I’m traveling and I mention that I’m a sex therapist from Ottawa I brace myself for the inevitable comments. I have heard the quip that “people from Ottawa don’t have sex” more times than I can count.

The truth is that those of us who call the Nation’s Capital home are far more sexually diverse than it appears on the surface. For example, it turns out that Ottawa has the highest number of burlesque performers per capita than anyplace in North America according to the burlesque directory. Rockalilly burlesque performer Rhapsody Blue says “that with eight active burlesque troops, Ottawa ranks first for our population”. I think that people in Ottawa appear to be buttoned down by day. But when civil servants and lobbyists let their hair down, they are often much less prudish than the rest of the country imagines they are. “Ottawa audiences line up to see glitter, boobs, legs and pasties” she says. Burlesque is sometimes referred to as “feminist stripping”, or “the art of the tease. And “the majority (80%) of the audiences attending burlesque shows are women”, says Kicky Laroux another longtime burlesque performer. Burlesque classes are filled with woman who want to learn how to burlesque dance for their partners privately, finally deal with their body image issues or what Rhapsody calls, “shake their jiggly bits in public.”

Ottawa also has a very active fetish community. Called munches or sloshes, there are weekly gatherings to discuss any and all kinks at restaurants around the city. Ottawa residents can be a kinky lot. Think 50 Shades of Grey only in real life. Psychologically it appears that if you make decisions all day, you tend to be quite sexually submissive. So in a full city of politicians, diplomats, and defense contractors who must behave like grownups during the day, many of these power individuals want to be kneeling before black boots by night. While the Washington DC Dominatrix population is larger, Ottawa more than holds its own in the number of women that will role-play with you for money.

We also have our fair share of couples exploring what is commonly called “The Lifestyle” in and around town. The term swinging may be outdated, but the number of people interested in exploring it is significant and on the rise. While indicating your desire to play by leaving your garage door halfway up is an urban myth, exploring sex with your significant other in non-monogamous ways is one of the most common questions I get these days as a sex therapist. Lifestyle play is most popular with a well-educated, affluent and cosmopolitan population and Ottawa definitely fits that description. Trying to discuss enhancing your intimate relationship by including other people without stepping into minefields is a growing area of sex therapy in our city. There are three active places in the area where couples meet (one opened recently in October) and the murmurs about frequent house parties linger about town if you know where to listen.
Finally, there is the amazing number of $125 fines given out every year by the NCC for having outdoor sex in one of the area’s green spaces. Ottawa has lots of people who are caught making out by the river on their lunch hours. While I encourage getting outside to frolic, I don’t suggest doing it where there are people walking around. NCC spokesman Jean Wolff said, “while the land is accessible to everyone, some people abuse the privilege.”
So next time you get a smirk and comment from your Torontocentric friends about “how Ottawa is the place where the streets roll up at 7 pm”, you can tell them with some authority that Ottawa is simply discreetly sexy.