Great Sex & Relationships

A Sex Toy Shop Excursion Down Lover’s Lane

I’m pretty excited for Jo Ellen, the Redhead Bedhead, who’s getting ready to embark on the west coast leg of The Superhero Sex Shop Tour this fall. One of the aims of the Superhero Sex Shop Tour is normalizing the sex toy shop experience.

While she doesn’t have to convince me that there a lot of awesome female-friendly sex toy shops, there’s still that nagging stigma that they’re seedy places to shop.

Actually, the seedy factor was more of the norm about 28 years ago when I visited a sex toy shop for the first time.

I was 20 and on my honeymoon in Toronto with my ex, and of course we wanted to do some of the kinky things that newlyweds should do.
We were perusing the local alternative weekly magazine looking for things to do and places to go when my ex spotted an ad for a sex toy shop.

“Maybe we could find some edible undies or crotchless panties,” he suggested.

Even though edible undies and crotchless panties are lame and cliché today, but in 1985 and they were considered pretty racy. Usually they were sold through small ads in the back sections of magazines like Cosmo. Aside from peep show parlors that dotted the highways in the outskirts of BFE, the kinds of stores you’d find these kinds of things were far and few in between, and they weren’t in the most fashionable parts of town. At that time, it would be another six months until Victoria’s Secret started making inroads to take over the most prominent spots in every mall in the US.

Not the same sex toy shop I visited in 1985, but it had the same seedy vibe.

This shop definitely wasn’t in one of Toronto’s most fashionable shopping districts. It wasn’t even anywhere near W. Queen Street where anything goes. The building and the sign in the front of the shop looked as if they hadn’t been cleaned or updated in at least 15 years. The fluorescent lights from inside cast a garish glow through the dirty windows. If it wasn’t for the window display that showcased a lot of intimating looking BDSM gear, it could have been easily mistaken or a bail bonds office.

My ex kept his distance from the front door the shop. I could tell that he had second thoughts about going in.

“Oh, come on,” I said. “We came all the way out here to this place. Let’s go in.”

The inside of the store was about as ugly and uninviting as the outside of the building. It did nothing to make things like big black dildos something you’d want to take home to have fun. They looked freakish and cheap.

So did the store’s only employee, a young, skinny guy who wore the post-punk uniform of the day — spiky hair, a Sex Pistols T-shirt, skinny jeans and Doc Martens boots. He kept an eye on the customers with a disaffected stare. He looked too busy being bored to be bothered to help customers.

I finally found the panties. I just wanted to pay for them and get the hell out. My ex wanted to get out faster than I.

We went back to the hotel and I put the panties on for him. I didn’t feel sexy wearing them. I felt cheap and disgusting because … well … they were cheap and disgusting. Even my ex didn’t have the time of his life going down on me. Then again, he was rather uptight about sex to begin with. I never wore them again.

Interior of a Lover’s Lane store.

I didn’t go back to a sex toy shop for another 11 years. That time wasn’t for my ex and it was a totally different experience. It was a Lover’s Lane shop by my house.

The young woman who helped me was very helpful and made me feel very comfortable. Maybe a little too comfortable. I bought a lot more than I had planned. And I liked that it was — and still is — oriented to women.

As much as Lover’s Lane has become my favorite go-to place for sex toys, I really think it can use a makeover to take it out of the 1990’s. If I could open my own sex toy shop, I’d give it more of a boudoir feeling and carry better quality BDSM gear and more upscale lingerie, clothing and shoes.

I’m sure there’s a store like that somewhere.