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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Selling Sexuality

    Selling Sexuality

    This isn’t your typical shopping adventure.

    Rows of multi-colored lubricants. A selection of naughty books with titles like “”The Guide to Getting It On.”” Body paint that glows under a black light. A pink rabbit-shaped vibrator.

    More than a dozen adult-themed local businesses lace Tucson’s streets. Even though each store is obviously a lucrative venture – both Hydra and Fascinations have been in business for decades – many customers scurry into the cracks when the subject of sexual toys and sexuality arises.

    Most adult-oriented sex shops have back entrances and are devoid of any windows to ensure a private shopping experience. Sex shops follow a strict confidentiality code, similar to a client-lawyer privilege, promising that names and contact information will not be released under any circumstances. Some stores go so far as to assure customers that credit card statements will display generic store numbers instead of the name of a business.

    So what’s the big fuss about?

    “”Even just talking about sex makes people uncomfortable and being in that environment takes people into a realm that’s not in most people’s comfort circle,”” said Cameron Moore, an East Asian studies senior.

    “”You don’t talk about it unless you’re in a really close knit group of friends, but it’s commonly known that you do engage in those things.””

    Carly, a UA student who prefers to be referred to by her first name, said she is comfortable with sex toys but still feels a little on edge when she enters a sex shop.

    “”I’m probably not afraid of going to sex shops or using sex toys because I walked in on my mom using her vibrator once,”” she said. “”I thought she was watching ‘Oprah’ so I just walked into her room and caught her using it.””

    But the taboo that surrounds discussion of sexuality keeps many people in the dark about the range of products, games, lingerie or other uncommon accessories that can make sex more pleasurable. Sex shops provide a very specific genre of products that appeal to adults with varying levels and desires on the kink spectrum.

    “”I think no matter how exciting a person is in bed, there’s always a need for something new to bring into the equation,”” Moore said. “”I think that’s just human.””

    One toy that could bridge the gap between popular culture and the sexual underground is the OhMiBod, a vibrator that plugs into the user’s iPod and vibrates to the rhythm of the music.

    Sheryl Attig, a teaching assistant for a human sexuality course, said many people associate sex shops with a certain stereotype.

    “”The stereotypes that people have are that you’re a pervert if you go there,”” Attig said. “”It just shows that our culture is a little more shy about talking about sexuality than maybe European cultures.””

    Carly draws a parallel between people’s attitudes toward sex and attitudes portrayed by Hollywood.

    “”The people who are cheating always get punished in the movies,”” she said. “”Sex always equals something that you get laughed at or you get punished for. I feel like people think they shouldn’t go into sex shops because they might get laughed at or people will look down on them.””

    Beth Payne, a day shift manager at Fascinations, said what may be kinky for some is actually already commonplace to others.

    “”A lot of people assume that they’re the only one looking for a particular thing, but they’ll come in and see an entire shelf full of toys devoted to that activity,”” said Payne, who has worked for Fascinations on and off for two years. “”Not that much is uncommon.””

    Payne said Fascinations is one of the only adult stores that is female and couples-centered, which increases business during the Valentine’s Day holiday.

    If you haven’t ever been into a sex shop, you can use today as an excuse to blend in with the holiday rush and experience something new and different.

    “”I’m always afraid I’m going to run into my professor or maybe even my dad,”” Carly said. “”So sometimes I get worried about that, but they’re not as awkward as going to church for me.””

    Hydra Leather & More is at 145 E. Congress St. Fascinations Sensual Shoppes is at 3656 E. Speedway Blvd.

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