My first encounter with sex toys was watching an episode of Sex and the City (Who can forget Charlotte’s “rabbit” intervention?). Sure, it was a pretty one-sided presentation and it may have perpetuated a few stereotypes, but at the time, having the WASP-iest member of the group singing her bubblegum-pink vibrator’s high praises felt mighty progressive. I’ve since learned that the realm of sex toys is crazy expansive and I know nary about it. So in honor of Valentine’s Day, I got the scoop on sex toys in Philly by chatting separately with our very own sex shop masterminds: Susan Mannino of Pleasure Chest and Khara Cartagena of The Velvet Lily (ed. note: our pick for Best of Philly!).
First, who's buying sex toys?
Mannino and Cartagena agree it runs the gamut: gay, straight, twenty-somethings to 70-year-olds, singles, couples and all socioeconomic groups. As Mannino puts it, “Our average customer fits a mindset; most everyone wants to improve their sexual life and level of intimacy.”
What’s the sex toy scene like in Philly?
SM: "Philadelphians are a very sexy bunch. [They] may be more quiet about it, but they are definitely busy, no-nonsense, high achievers!"
KC: "Still conservative but starting to open up."
Okay, we have to ask: what’s your top-selling sex toy?
About that rabbit…
Watch this video. The informative vibrator-centic guide from the ladies at Refinery29 and New York City's Babeland gives an objective breakdown—including types for internal use, external use, and for a variety of stimulation. It’s like a cooler version of your high school sex-ed class.
And if you are in the market for a “rabbit,” you’re not alone. According to this infographic, it’s still the most popular vibrator on the market. Here's the rundown: It’s a vibrating and rotating sex toy usually made in the shape of a phallus with a clitoral stimulator attached to the shaft. (And I hereby win for the most sex terms ever used in one sentence.)
…Ahem, and butt plugs?
Looking to emulate Jennifer Lawrence? This guide provides tons of handy (gah, the puns!) tips for using butt plugs. These are things you want to know: what shapes to use for your rectum, the right kind of lubricant, and what men need to know (answer: prostate stimulation).
Has 50 Shade of Grey's had an influence?
SM: "The 50 Shades of Grey series has made all soft bondage very popular—like the ties, paddles, blindfolds, gags, ticklers, Ben Wa balls and anal plugs."
KC: "Absolutely. Although the book has some incorrect information that we would not promote, it helps people express their fantasies and communicate better with their lovers."
Read this infographic for the statistical influence on the sex industry. It's pretty damn impressive.
Still not sure what you want?
Sex toy shopping is something we recommend doing in person ("It's not like buying a toaster," says Mannino). Cartagena says, "The shopper can turn on the vibes, feel the textures, and make an educated decision. Also, we support the customer in any manufacturer defects and even process warranties as a courtesy."
And you can stifle any post-shopping embarrassment: All purchases at The Velvet Lily come packaged in discreet black bags (Ya know, so you can shop for your "friend"). Both boutiques' staffs have been trained to make recommendations based on experience and interest.
The Velvet Lily also hosts workshops. Don’t freak out; they’re all conducted by sex professionals who possess masters degrees.
Start a petition for this. Just kidding (sort of).