What’s your favorite adult boutique? This week I’ll be presenting Top 5 lists for my 2nd annual awards, starting with this list of my picks for the best sex shops in the United States. Please fire away in the comments section below to spotlight your local favorites I may have missed.
1. Babeland. The ladies behind this four-store chain with shops in Seattle and New York have been steadfast supporters this year, sending me products to review and shouting my articles around on Twitter and the like. It’s good to be loved by such expert lovers! This year Babeland founders Claire Cavanah and Rachel Venning also published Moregasm: Babeland’s Guide to Mind-Blowing Sex, which will appear in my Top 5 Sexy Books list later this week. My #1 recommendation at Babeland.com for couples looking to heat up their sex lives is the Babeland Body Massage Candle. After having my partner rub hot shea butter-infused oil all over my body, I’ve developed a Pavlovian response to the mere scent of my Cedar Fig candle, which Babeland sent me as part of their Eco-Sexy Kit for my Earth Day-themed Sustainably Sexy series. Hot!
2. Smitten Kitten. The brick-and-mortar sex shop I frequented most in 2010 was the new Smitten Kitten boutique in Denver, the second branch of the business founded in Minneapolis in 2003 with an emphasis on body-safe materials and sex positivity (the Smitten Kitten women are also behind the Coalition Against Toxic Toys), and they’ve got a great website, too. Smitten Kitten has the best-curated selection of How-To Books and How-To DVDs I’ve ever seen, for couples looking to explore together and individuals looking for some instruction to step up their game. I love Smitten Kitten most for its kinky “crafternoon” workshops: Earlier this month the Denver shop taught the local bike hipster scene (it’s a big scene) how to make floggers out of bicycle innertubes, the better to beat each other silly after a long ride, and last week I interviewed Smitten Kitten’s Allycks Would for Denver’s Westword before stopping by her Xmas Pastie-Making Party (I made some sparkly snowflake pasties to sex up my ritual snow dance, now that my partner has me hooked on snowboarding). For those of you who missed it, you can still shop Charlotte Harlot’s handmade pasties collection for Smitten Kitten. Another fun handmade gift from Smitten Kitten is the String Along Thong. Remember that Weezer song, “If you want to destroy my sweater, hold this thread as I walk away”? Same concept. My #1 recommendation at SmittenKittenOnline.com is the Pure Wand G-Spot and Prostate Massager by Njoy (great for girls and boys!), a stainless steel “heirloom quality” dildo (you know, in case you want to pass it down through the generations) that weighs more than one and a half pounds and feels… substantial. So sexy they were used as trophies at the 2010 Feminist Porn Awards!
3. Good Vibrations. After 33 years as a pioneer in the “pleasure product” business, Good Vibrations is headed for the Hall of Fame next month at the 2011 AVN Awards. Good Vibes now has four stores, in San Francisco and Boston, and one of the most comprehensive websites of any adult retailer. They also recently got into the Sexy Films biz with their new HeartCore Films, PleasureEd, and Reel Queer video lines under the Good Releasing imprint, and cleaned up at the 5th annual Feminist Porn Awards. Good Vibes hosted a sexy film fest of its own in 2010, sponsoring the 5th annual IXFF Indie Erotic Film Festival. Since Good Vibrations is the oldest shop on this list, I’m going retro with my #1 recommendation at GoodVibes.com: After reviewing dozens of other vibrators for this column over the last two years, the classic 1970s-era Hitachi Magic Wand is still my all-time favorite.
4. Stockroom. When every other sex shop strikes you as a bit vanilla, it’s time to check out JT’s Stockroom in Los Angeles, specialists in bondage and fetish gear and sure to shock no matter how kinky you think you may be (no, literally… the Stockroom has a full line of electro-sex stimulators. Ouch!). Stockroom won the Outstanding Boutique award at the 2010 O Awards, and also has more toys for boys than any of the other shops on this list. The selection definitely skews towards those who like it rough: This is the place to indulge your dominant or submissive side (or both). My #1 recomendation at Stockroom.com for couples new to BDSM? Start with the Japanese Clover Clamps, nipple clamps that get slightly tighter when tugged at, to get a sense of what pulls your chain. Also, be sure to check out this week’s SeXmas sale!
5. Coco de Mer. When I want to ooh and ah over gorgeous sexy stuff I can’t afford (a girl’s got to fantasize about something, right?), I always end up at Coco-De-Mer.com, the online presence for the chain of high-end sex shops in London, New York, and Los Angeles. The collection here is full of the most exquisite lingerie and corsets, designer sex toys, silk and leather bondage gear, erotic jewelry, sex art and erotic photography, erotic accessories and apothecary potions, and everything you need to fully appoint your den of sin in style. Where else can you buy an antique Indian “gilt-wooden phallus covered with 2,500 cultured pearls of all sizes” or a first edition of Pierre Loiys’ Poemes Erotiques Inedit? Exactly. If you’re looking to wrap your presents up tight this year, pick up a 5 meter length of silky Japanese bondage rope and a copy of Midori’s Seductive Art of Japanese Bondage. My #1 recommendation at Coco-De-Mer.com? Anything from the lingerie collection, which outsexes any other selection I’ve ever seen in a single shop. Maybe start with these Secret Society Stockings by Marlies Dekkers? Hint, hint.
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