My first impressionable contact with a sex shop wasn’t actually a visit. It was more of a daily scoping out. Wait! I'm not addicted and back then I was well under age.
When you’re eight years old and a sex shop opens directly in front of your house, how can you not scope it out? Of course I did! We used to live in a kind of laneway, so from the front of my house I could see the back of the sex shop. The interesting thing about it is that in this area of the city (and here we are talking about my hometown in the north of Brazil) is mainly houses, with only a few bars and shops around, so you can imagine that everyone in the neighbourhood was shocked to have a sex shop so close to them. Even more interesting is the fact the owners lived above the store, and the grandma was the one behind the counter, surrounded by 18+ D̶V̶D̶s̶ ̶ VHS (aka porn).
I've never officially been to that one, and I'm not sure if it’s still there, but it did make me very curious indeed. I was dying to know what was hiding inside that store. I could only see a few film covers and just enough to notice they weren't your 'normal' kind of movie. Many years later I would finally find out what else they were hiding...
Fast forward to early 2000s, a very cool and stylish store opened in the city when I was about 16 or so. It was clearly geared towards women and couples. The front window was alluring, with that feeling of something naughty and sex positive at the same time, at least that was my impression as a teenager. It’s hard to remember it clearly, but being underage when I first entered that space with a few girlfriends who were also under 18 felt really exciting! So many different shapes, colours, sizes (some were HUUUUUUUGE!). I don't remember the specific toys that I saw on that trip, but I imagine that back then they were mainly realistic, skin-coloured dildos and flimsy battery operated vibrators made of toxic materials. Lots of cheap lingerie, sexy costumes (wanna play doctor?), some silly dice games and the forever popular handcuffs and blindfolds, as well as cooling/warming 'massage' lotions.
While I can't remember much about the products, I do remember that we were laughing the whole time. No one asked for our IDs, even though we were clearly too young to be there. We left without buying anything, of course. I still think of it as a cool shop, and I believe this first experience, combined with the neighbourhood sex shop of my childhood, contributed a lot to viewing such a space as something exciting to be explored. Heck, if a grandma is behind the counter of an adult store, it must also be normal, right?
Unfortunately, not all experiences are as positive as my early memories of sex shops. There are plenty of stores out there that aren't women-friendly, full of degrading porn and toxic toys on display, along with not-so-helpful attendants. This is one of the reasons we started MissX and MisterX. If you can’t find a healthy, truly sex-positive and woman-friendly sex shop in your neighbourhood, you ought to at least be able to find it easily online.
On the other hand, there are also some awesome shops popping up across the globe, and we hope in the future they will be the rule, not the exception. The Redhead Bedhead is on a mission to save the world from mediocre sex and she is going (again!) on a superhero sex shop tour around the USA, visiting companies that, like us, are doing a pretty damn good job. To do that, she needs our help. We only wish she could also come to Australia...
The journey from my first visit to a sex shop to owning one myself has been a long one, but that’s another story for another time.