Wednesday, 11 September 2019

HEAD AND TALES: Sex Shop Stories from an Ex (Top) Employee

Picture: @anomiedesigns
Forget small-talk and comments on the weather, imagine getting paid to deliver a customer service that promotes cock rings and nipple clamps! We interviewed a previous sex shop employee and ginger-haired sensual goddess, who also happens to be our best friend – Georgia Butler – who has given us inside stories, her views on sex and sex toys, and how they've changed since her employment. She doesn't disappoint...

What surprised you the most when working in a sex shop?

That everyone, and I mean everyone, is having sex. Your next-door neighbour who gardens topless and has a combover that flies up in the wind? Even he is doing it. 
Working in a sex shop, it is basically a requirement that you talk to the customers. Which makes complete sense. It is not a simple retail job; people are coming into the store to buy their most intimate items, and often do not know exactly what they are looking for. But let’s all be totally honest, how many of us would walk into a shop and ask a stranger which butt-plug they would recommend?
So, we have to initiate the conversation, after all, we are the sexperts. Many customers are intimidated by the idea of this, that while they silently browse the cock-ring aisle, an Ann Summers employee is lurking around the corner waiting for an opener.
Many customers would even apologise for talking about masturbation with me, as if I might be offended by their response to my question ‘do you prefer internal, or external stimulation?’ And it is awkward, I can understand that. But in the same way that a personal trainer might question your eating habits in order to maximise your *health gains, we are helping you chase some serious orgasm gains.
And as a result, us employee sexperts do not use metaphors or gestures or beat around the **bush, because frankly, it is a waste of both of our time and your money. We are trying to make sure you get the most bang for your buck.  
*Body neutrality makes me want to remind you that there is far more to health than weight-loss.
**You know.
What is the most interesting sex toy you sold?
Beyond a few of the toys which I can only describe as mesmerizing (see the thrusting rabbit, and the rechargeable rotating one – absolutely fascinating), what made the toys interesting was the context in which they were bought.
Sometimes it was a partner desperately trying to spice things up, or someone who wanted to understand their body a little better. But one scenario particularly comes to mind.
Two wealthy businessmen from the middle east came into the store and made a bee-line towards me. They wanted some help picking out the perfect toys to surprise their wives with. However, they had one very specific request: that the toys be small enough that they could be concealed subtly in a pocket or in the lining of a jacket. Of course, this might seem a little suspect, but the reality of the matter is that the two gentlemen were from Dubai, where sex toys are strictly prohibited. Thus, every trip they would smuggle vibrators and lube across the continent, into a country where to be caught could be catastrophic.
This shocked me. Truly. And it wasn’t because there are countries which do not allow sex toys – I like to think that I am educated enough to understand how and why that could happen. What shocked me, was that the sexual gratification these toys would provide was presumably worth the risk of getting caught.
The fact is that sexual satisfaction is a hell of a lot more important than most of us are willing to admit.
What sort of customers were you dealing with?
In a sex shop, you expect the clientele to be of a certain calibre. That is: young, female, and sexually explorative. But the reality of the matter is that the customers were a reasonably good representation of the populous. Male, female, gay, straight, polyamorous, transgender, young and old (and I really do mean old. I sold a vibrator to an 80-year-old woman once and I have never felt more sexually liberated in my life.)
The comfort levels of the customers also varied, and it probably comes as no surprise to hear that the regular customers, a few of whom were exotic dancers, were certainly the most sexually open.
After two shifts, I had already forgotten that ‘nipple clamp’ was a phrase that makes most women shudder, and don’t even get me started on clit clips. The reality is that exposure to anything makes you more comfortable. If you are scared of spiders, get yourself a pet spider. Or something of the sort…
Maybe if more of us walked around naked or got a little more comfortable with our genitals, instead of seeing them as this dirty little secret we keep in our pants, then going into an Ann Summers shop would seem less embarrassing.
Although, this being said: To the customers who fully undress on the shop floor – you really can’t do that. No, really. We have CCTV and the walls are glass and…
There’s a changing room in the back corner.

Would you advise people to visit a sex shop?
One thousand per cent. Sorry, that’s hyperbolic. Absofuckinglutely. Even if purely for the comedic value. The more we avoid the conversations the more ridiculous it gets. If we can all agree that everyone has sex, that everyone has genitals of some form or another and that everyone deserves to do exactly what they want with their bodies, then why do we shy away from it?
It seems to me, that alike how there is this illusion that women don’t poop or grow body hair, we are trying to maintain this ridiculous notion of privacy when really, we should be as brazen as dogs in a park. OK. Maybe not that brazen. But we certainly shouldn’t feel any more shame for buying a vibrator than we should for buying a chocolate bar. Endorphins are endorphins after all, there is no hierarchy of method to obtain them.
Do you still feel like there is taboo around using sex toys?
Unfortunately, yes. In wider society, there is still a sense that sex which is publicly discussed should be vanilla and anything ‘else’ should remain between the two people involved. But the problem arises when the taboo creeps its way into the relationship. There remains a dynamic in relationships – and this is not every relationship so do not panic – where any sort of sexual contact which isn’t with your partner triggers a certain amount of jealousy. Even with masturbation.
But ultimately this is due to the individual insecurity that you, alone, are not enough and that you, alone, are not sexually gratifying your partner; as well as the mass spread fear of sexual discussion. So, here it is. A public service announcement to all of you out there. And listen closely.
If your partner enjoys using toys individually or wants to incorporate them into your sex life it is NOT A NEGATIVE REFLECTION ON YOUR SEXUAL ABILITY OR PROWESS. Thank you.
What would you advise our readers from your experience? 
My only advice is a little general.
We are all a little too quick to judge others, and far too quick to worry that others are judging us. Be a try-sexual of life and not just in the bedroom. Don’t assume that you are weird, or that your kink is unrelatable and shameful. No matter what wonky three-legged-bird-shaped cookie you are, there is at least another million three-legged-bird-shaped ones out there too, and plenty even wonkier.
And, let’s be real, it is the weird ones we all love the most. So, embrace your kinks, your sense of humour and your most secret porn choice, and enjoy it. I wouldn’t change any of you, and you shouldn’t want to either.
We hope you enjoyed these naughty 'tales' from Georgia Butler's time working in one of the UK's leading sex shops as much as we did! Who knows, perhaps some of you have decided to invest in yourself a little and even buy your first (or not first) sex toy! Or, if you're not quite brave enough yet, we hope you're at least feeling a bit more damn sexy today. 

Love, George and Haze xx


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