The Big Issue : Edition 562
THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU 18–31 MAY 2018 13 OUT OF INTEREST, gentle reader, when was the last time you went into a sex shop? If you’re of a certain demographic, say late twenties/early thirties, which is to say up to the wazoo with weddings and organising bucks/hens nights, the answer is probably “On the weekend, sunshine, where else would I buy a jumbo pack of novelty penis straws?” Which is a fair point. Ditto anything revolving or inflatable, designed to embarrass the groom when he wakes up manacled to it. Ditto manacles. Particularly furry pink ones. On the whole, though, they’re not generally places you go to unironically. Without giggling. I don’t know what the bricks and mortar stores look like around your way, but in my hood there’s a definite flavour of cheap rubber nurse outfit in the window, and once you go through the door, waaay too much information. It’s why the first visit to an “adult” shop is such a rite of passage, maybe involving a few Bacardi Breezers, because once you’re in, kapow, it’s a visual assault of butt plugs, rubber ladies and rainbow walls of vibrators, all lit like a 7-Eleven. No-one needs their intimate supplements displayed and lit like the meat aisle at Coles. The intention, no doubt, is to give a shame- free impression of legitimacy. Normalcy. There’s nothing weird or clandestine here! All good, healthy, consensual, commercial fun! Take a trolley and stock up on our heated glitter lube! It’s on special round the corner from the bondage kits and ball sack piñatas*! Which is all well and good, and thumbs up to any sex-positive environment, but it’s not exactly erotic, is it? It’s an onslaught and often borderline juvenile, not a seduction. Where’s the frigging nuance? Sexuality’s kind of personal, actually. Private. Secret squirrel (which would be a fantastic name for a vibrator). And if you’re with the same partner for more than 10 minutes, it’s about connection rather than sport. Whether you’ve been married for 20 years, or you’re menopausal, or you’re maybe inhibited, or just plain ignorant, » Fiona Scott-Norman (@FScottNorman) is a writer, comedian and, erm... tour guide. FIONA X Marks the Shop “Sexuality’s kind of personal, actually. Private. Secret squirrel (which would be a fantastic name for a vibrator).” a sex shop can feel more like a smorgasbord of tack rather than an invitation to explore your jam. Or Vegemite. #nojudgement. Certainly, a lot of folk wouldn’t be seen dead in an “adult” store. It takes something to walk into one, some braggadocio. Which is not optimum, because, let’s face it, most people are clueless about shagging and libido. About what lies beyond instinct and mechanics. It’s easy to get stuck at the “Ikea” stage (insert tab B into slot A), and not realise that what you really need to get into – extending the furniture metaphor – is French polishing, tongue-and-groove, or Danish mid-60s teak sideboards. I recently attended a Tantric massage workshop, which is an area of erotic exploration I’ve steadfastly ignored because Sting was reputedly into it, and at the time he was popularly considered to be a pompous and sanctimonious git. The tragedy is that in the same Q magazine interview where Sting implied that he could last for hours, Bob Geldof admitted that he was a “three-minute man”. The take home here is to choose your role models wisely. It’s so easy to shut down our curiosity. Much more comfortable than following it whole-heartedly. That’s why it’s so important to make sex shops...sexy. Encouraging. I got the information for the Tantra workshop from my local femme-focused erotica store (named after a very sensual tropical fruit), which is, finally, a whole other ballgame. Properly adult. Not a ball sack piñata in sight. It’s a sensory treat, lit like a boudoir, and full of gorgeous apparel and appliances that beg to be touched. A friend in her fifties has asked me to take her, because she’s too shy to go alone. I’m going to do a call out. Get a posse. Because life is too short for bad sex shops. *Actually a thing. Lord help us.