Toronto Through the Eyes of Josey Vogels

Women want to be her. Men want to be with her. Yet, for someone who's been hailed as Canada's first lady of the sex column, It Girl Josey Vogels is amazingly down-to-earth.

"I just won a wicked pair of boots on eBay!" she gushes when prompted for some recent news. Uhhh, come again?

Though Vogels has certainly earned her bragging rights in Canada's media landscape, she hasn't let it get to her head. There's no hint of gloating about "My Messy Bedroom" and "Dating Girl", the two nationally syndicated columns she pens weekly. Nor any trace of smugness regarding her radio appearances on The Edge. Over the course of our interview, she barely mentions her column on toronto.com, her regular contributions to xyyz.ca, or her coast-to-coast campus tours. In fact, while most others use interviews to detail their accomplishments in the public eye--love me! validate me!--Vogels breezes over the biggest of them in one quick breath: "TVandradioprojectsintheworks,plusacoupleofnewbookprojects."

Attention-hungry media wench she certainly is not. Still, the media does love to lavish her with attention. They can't get enough. And it's easy to see why: Vogels is the woman for women.

She holds the title of Canada's top masturbator. She proudly identifies as being "foreskin-positive," and feels no shame in discussing her affinity for going tinkle in the shower. It's this kind of boldly silly-sultry attitude--not to mention the sex columnist gig--that has many dubbing her Canada's Carrie Bradshaw. Not bad, for a girl from the blink-and-you'll-miss-it village of Newtonville, Ontario.

At the age of 18, with a severe case of small-town blues, Vogels abandoned her family's dairy farm for the allure of big city livin' in Toronto. School--Concordia, to be precise--led her to Montreal, where she stayed for 11 years. In 2000, Vogels decided she was done with La Belle Province and found herself back in Toronto. Today, she's happily settled in Parkdale.

"Parkdale felt most like Montreal to me: eclectic, full of artists and characters," she explains. "It keeps me grounded, most of my friends live here and I love being by the water."

After six years in the 'hood, Vogels was eager to share her P-dale (and beyond) haunts with blogTO.


Josey Vogels on Toronto

My favourite place...

...for breakfast: When hungover, a stroll over to Harry's Char-Broil & Dining Lounge (160 Springhurst, 416.532.2908) on Springhurst south of King for a cheap, greasy breakfast and a hair-of-the-dog glass of house draft. If I'm feeling more adventurous, the breakfast at Tibet Kitchen (1544 Queen W, 416.913.8726) is awesome. The curried chickpea and potato with grilled flatbreads are amazing. Great little back patio.

...for lunch or dinner: Thai Spring Roll (1512 Queen West, 416.532.2877) is delicious for lunch or dinner (as you can see, I like to stay in the hood). And still, one of my fave classic dinner spots in Toronto is steak-frites at Le Select Bistro (432 Wellington, 416.596.6405). I miss their old location at Queen and Spadina, but the new locale on Wellington is great too.

...for drinks: If someone else is buying, I love a classic Manhattan at the rooftop bar at the Hyatt (4 Avenue, 416.924.5471). Otherwise, vodka martinis just about anywhere works for me. I'm also a fan of a good dive and I love the Intersteer on Ronces (316 Roncesvalles, 416.588.4705)--sadly, it's moving into a new space so it won't have that same 40s film noir dingy vibe--cold beer on the patio of the Casa Mendoza (2161 Lakeshore W, 416.259.3756) or a pint at the downstairs bar at the Imperial Pub (54 Dundas E, 416.977.4667).

...for dancing: I've never been one for danceclubs, but last time I went out and had a good time dancing was at the Social (1100 Queen W, 416.532.4474).

...to unwind: The pool at Sunnyside. The bike path in the summer. Our cottage. Any patio with friends and a cold beer or a nice dry martini.

...to get inspired: Our cottage, the bike path--either biking, running or walking it--or High Park.

Everyone should know about: If you haven't been, go to Good For Her (175 Harbord, 416.588.0900) or Come As You Are (701 Queen W, 416.504.7934). Both sex shops are fantastic and the owners and staff make sex and shopping for sex toys fun, educational and uplifting.

Biggest pet peeve about Toronto: We've destroyed the waterfront... you have to practically risk life to walk there and the "waterfront" bike path stops before you get to the main part of it so you suddenly have to ride in heavy traffic. [Also,] we like to follow the rules too much.

An ideal day in Toronto would consist of: Sleeping in. Champagne and OJ. Late Tibetan breakfast with friends. Riding bikes to the waterfront and taking the ferry over the island and renting four-seater bikes to ride around for the afternoon. Riding home along the bike path and over to Casa Mendoza for sunset cocktails on the patio looking out on the city skyline from the west end. Dinner and a nice bottle of wine either at home or at Le Select. For dessert, hitting a strip club. I like the House of Lancaster (1215 Bloor W, 416.534.2385)--just sleazy enough but mostly nice, down-to-earth dancers--with my husband and then home to, uhm, work off a little steam together.

Finish the sentence "Toronto is..."
fun in all the right places, as long as you know where those right places are.

Josey Vogels' "My Messy Bedroom" and "Dating Girl" are published in various newspapers nationwide. You can also read her columns at xyyz.ca and toronto.com. Vogels can also be heard at 9am every Wednesday on the Dean Blundell Show on The Edge 102.1. And, this Saturday, October 14, Vogels will be presiding over Darryl's Hard Liquor and Porn Awards (at Bloor Cinema) as a judge.

[Photo credit: Daniel Parker]

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