Venture beyond virgin territory: exploring local sex shops
Warning: This article contains explicit content. Read at your own discretion.
Remember the old-fashioned days, where anyone looking to buy a latex penis actually had to drive to a special store? Many of us should be able to recall futile childhood attempts to peer through the glass of one of those enticing neon-lit locations, while the adults in the car pretended not to notice the luminous breasts watching over drivers like the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg from The Great Gatsby.
Physical sex shop locations are few and far between nowadays. It’s hard to convince anyone that going to the store your grandmother always told you was for perverts is a superior experience to comfortably browsing online for all the masturbation sleeves and strap-ons your heart desires.
Yet the sex-positive movement has given sexuality an increasingly inclusive space in today’s culture. Sexually active or sexually curious students should embrace this movement by experiencing all the wonderful weirdness of a non-virtual sex shop, so we recommend these two adult stores near Rutgers for all sex shop virgins on campus.
321 U.S. 1, Edison
Anyone who has driven to Rutgers southbound along Route 1 has most likely seen this not-so-hidden gem and wondered what secrets lurk there. Fear not, for this Pennsylvania-based, female and LGBT-friendly chain has such a relaxed atmosphere it feels like shopping at a convenience store — if convenience stores specialized in products for your fun parts.
Upon entering, customers are greeted at the door by a flamboyantly adorned mannequin to reassure shoppers that dildos and blow-up dolls are awesome and not scary. The products are arranged to ease newbies into the experience, so there is no need to worry about the more kinky items jumping out and chasing you out the door.
The diverse range of merchandise starts at lingerie and spans across a landscape of lubes, bachelorette party supplies, games for couples, books, DVDs, magazines and toys for both the novice and the more advanced. The types of literature available range from the proverbial “50 Shades of Grey” to detailed handbooks for “pony play” enthusiasts. If you’re looking for something cheap and small to get you or a special friend off, the options are many, and the same goes for customers looking for the Rolls-Royce of pleasure objects.
Overall, Playtime Boutique does a pretty good job of overcoming the creepy highway adult store stigma inside and out. It’s private but accessible, promotes responsible sex and the staff and diversity of its products make sure not to exclude or shame anyone. For that, Playtime Boutique earns four stars.
NAUGHTY: A COUPLE’S BOUTIQUE
2540 US Highway 22 Ctr, Union
This shop is a little out of reach for Rutgers students without a means of transportation, and although Naughty is not quite as impressive as Playtime Boutique on a few levels, it’s worth the trip if you have the time.
Naughty has an upscale vibe on the inside with couches, elaborate merchandise displays and flat-screen TVs — but the warehouse-style space is very open, making the shopping experience feel a little less private. There are few reasons for men to bother coming in, as this store seems to cater mostly to women and there were not any obvious product displays designed for male pleasure. The employees in attendance were unwelcoming and made asking questions uncomfortable, but don’t decide not to pay a visit just yet.
This store specializes in costumes and lingerie, and the huge wall of quality shoes displayed on a stage makes it hard not to stick around for a while. Rows upon rows of clubwear and a plethora of fancy underpants, accessories and heels (pointy enough to be considered a weapon) make Naughty a great place to go for an adult costume more sophisticated than the typical Party City version of a female police officer. Naughty gives women the tools to feel sexy without ignorantly assuming sexy garments for women automatically equal a vulnerable, objectified variation of a man’s costume. (That means you, “sexy” construction worker).
In terms of sex toys, the selection is a pretty basic spectrum, starting at lube and pornography but stopping short at butt plugs and strap-ons. While it would have been nice to see a little more of the variety, the merchandise at Naughty is likely enough to satisfy the majority of customers that pass through. Also, the glass cases displaying sumptuous vibrators like diamond jewelry are enough to make a person want to fork over a paycheck.
Though lacking in a few areas, Naughty is an enjoyable place to shop and its offerings are a far cry from intimidating, making it a good first-time adult store experience. It deserves three stars.
This article originally appeared in print on September 5, 2014.