Welcome to the sex shop
Visiting a sex shop for the first time can be a scary experience. No matter your age, nationality or sexual preferences, it’s normal to feel a little intimidated when you take your first step into a place that’s packed with whips, chains and various devices to stimulate every part of your body. If you’re lucky enough to live in a large, metropolitan city such as Amsterdam, Berlin or London, sex shops can be quite easy to find. However for those living in more rural or conservative areas, internet shopping can feel like the only way to get your hands on a new sex toy or the latest piece of kit. We chatted to the manager of Amsterdam’s Mister B store to talk sex toys, first times and why shopping for gear online just isn’t the same.
Danny is exactly the kind of welcoming, open-minded guy anyone experiencing a sex shop for the first time would want to meet. And he has some good advice for anyone anxious to visit the store for the first time too. “Come and have a look – we don’t bite. We want to educate our clients in what they can do. We give bondage and whipping demos, and I try to explain the electro stuff because you can go from soft to really hard with it.”
The electro stuff Danny has in mind is one of the latest additions to the store’s extensive collection. The Neon Wand is a device that lets users stimulate themselves with an electric current. It can be used anywhere on the body – but as you might expect, the most common place is the ass. “Anything above the ass doesn’t feel good,” Danny says, “but the electro stuff is more popular these days.” For more sensitive guys, the wand can be set to a low setting that creates a warm, fuzzy sensation when you grip it with your hand. For more hardcore users, it can be turned up to give strong, painful electric shocks. It can even be set to be used by a couple, meaning that shocks can be passed between two people every time they touch.
Mister B is full of items that even dedicated fetishists might struggle to imagine. From spanking pads embedded with tiny pins to masks designed to channel piss straight into a guy’s mouth, there really is something for everyone. But of course, some items are more popular than others. “One of our biggest sales is harnesses. Gas masks sell a lot and sounding (inserting rods into the tip of the penis) is getting big too. What we notice in Amsterdam is an increase in people buying leather. People want leather trousers, play gear – and people are buying leather shirts again. Rubber and latex is also seeing an increase – we now have a neon collection so it’s more vibrant and colourful too.”
One of the biggest increases Danny has noticed on the fetish scene is the interest in puppy play. “I’ve worked in London and there the puppy thing is really big,” he says. “A few weeks ago we had Fetish Week and I decided to make a puppy play area and it was a massive success. We put mats down and the puppies could play with balls and there were handlers giving them instructions – it’s quite interesting. The good thing about the puppy scene is it’s a younger crowd. Like for instance, if I walk into a leather bar, I’m nearly always the youngest. And the puppy scene is a more friendly fetish too.”
One of the most extreme items for sale in Mister B is the Vac Rack. Designed for those into intensive latex play, the Vac Rack is essentially a latex sack held in place by PVC tubes. It’s attached to a vacuum cleaner once the guy is inside which then removes all the air from the sack, holding you tightly in place. Thankfully, a breathing tube is provided to keep anyone from suffocating. As well as this, if you have a few hundred euros spare, you can buy your very own fucking machine. From the picture above, it’s probably fairly clear how it works.
The latest additions to the fetish scene seem to be getting increasingly extreme. I wonder whether this is due to our changing tastes or just our increasingly liberal society that enables us to explore our sexual desires more freely. “I think people are getting past shame,” Danny says, “and starting to get information about [fetish play] from movies. I do think 50 Shades of Grey contributed to a more open way of seeing BDSM and seeing sex in general.We’ve noticed people want to spend more money on their sex life too. And the good thing is it’s a whole range of people – even people you wouldn’t expect.”
What’s surprising is that it isn’t just gay men shopping at Mister B. More women are buying toys for their boyfriends and straight guys are experimenting more with ass play. In fact, Danny tells me it’s the straight guys who buy the biggest dildos. Overall, it seems as though more and more people are exploring sex shops to find exciting ways to spice up their sex lives. Of course, most people don’t buy the more extreme items, but every sex store will also cater to beginners and people just looking for something new. Danny recommends ‘circuit wear’ for guys who don’t necessarily want to try toys. This can be swimwear, t-shirts, underwear and daywear – perfect for clubs, but also fine to wear outside too. As Danny says, “It’s stuff that says ‘I’m sexual but I don’t want to dress in leather all the time.'”
With online shopping so popular nowadays, it might seem surprising that sex shops are not only surviving, but actually thriving. In fact, Danny says online shopping has boosted his sales after people found the gear they bought online was poor quality. “People often come back to us because what they bought online was an ugly fit and they want something good. Every time I buy something rubber or leather online it arrives and I think ‘What the fuck is that?’ That’s why I’m confident people will come to the store.”
Whether you’re a newbie or an experienced fetish enthusiast, sex shops offer something that you just can’t find online. They’re personal, stocked with good quality products and staffed by people who know what they’re talking about. So even if stepping into a sex shop for the first time can be a little scary – you’ll surely find it’s worth the jump.
See more from Mister B on their website.