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Get Your Ass to the Sex Shop

In this day and age, going to a sex shop is like a right of passage. Sex toys go back centuries and centuries but nothing quite like what we have today. It’s not like the old sleazy scenes in movies where adult films are sold on VHS tapes in some hole-in-the-wall place or out of the back of the truck. Just like how much porn is readily available at the tip of our fingers instead of an old stack of Playboys under the bed, the world of ethically exploring our sexualities has become just another thing to add on the grocery list. These days you can walk into your nearest CVS or Walmart and buy small lubes and bullet vibrators whereas my first choice just a few years ago was one of those five-dollar massage robots you get as stocking stuffers. Back then there were few and far between choices in the sexual health aisle. One side started with pads and ended down on the other end with condoms. Now you can find more than a handful of lubes, contraceptives, and a variation of toys. So, if you’re just getting started in the world of sexual self-help and exploration, try your local convenience store before jumping into the deep end.

If you need discreetness and even more accessibility then look no further than the very thing you’re using now. The internet…not your phone… Although your phone can come in handy for certain toys or viewing pleasures later on. The first toy I ever bought is still my old faithful to this day. I got my trusty steed online at Adam and Eve because there’s always a first purchase coupon, it was cheap, and if somehow my parents saw the charge on our joint debit card then it shouldn’t arise any unholy suspicion. Gone were the days of my Walmart joint massager with the dawn of my new multi-setting prized possession. (Pro-tip: get battery-powered when available so you can just pop in new batteries and get back to business. But for traveling keep a chargeable toy so you don’t have to throw out batteries and buy new ones when going through airports and international trips.) Next, I tried LoveHoney because they always have student discounts, and what could be better than that. Luckily, Target online has come in handy in a rush a few times and there’s always the age-old classics Hot Topic or Spencer’s that can also be a disguised purchase if you buy a squishmallow while you’re at it.

When the time comes and you’re ready to embark on the journey into a sex shop, it will certainly be rewarding and well worth the wait. You can find everything under the sun if you look in the right place. I actually didn’t plan on going to one my first time. After years of driving passed Lovers Lane signs and wondering when I’d finally wander into one, I stumble into a Pleasure Chest instead. There was a Sex Fest at my school one year (Pre-COVID and NOT an orgy) where tons of groups hosted tables to share information about different kinds of elements of sex and practicing it safely. I entered a raffle and a week later to my surprise won a $200 vibrator. Certainly not something in my budget or priorities but who am I to turn down a free gift of any kind? So off I ventured to pick it up and while I was there it was like being Alice in a wonderful Sexland. The shop attendants were kind and many shops host classes and events to help people learn. Unfortunately, during the pandemic, these sexual sanctuaries weren’t deemed essential businesses, but many still survived. Some like Hustler’s and The Alley also sell dancers' gear and other apparel. Early to Bed is a great Chicago classic with a website for those looking for a community beyond the toys. Without a fail, however, wherever you go you should be able to find a Lover’s Playground before resorting to gas station desperation.

But if all else fails just do what everyone else does these days and try TikTok. That’s how I found The Water Slyde. Thanks to the terrifyingly personalized algorithm, it should be easy to find something you like. There’s certainly something for everyone. Whatever you do, do something because you have to start somewhere sooner rather than later.


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