Soccer moms aren’t the only ones indulging themselves with the best-selling “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Sex toy sales are mounting as more couples add titillating accessories to their nightstand repertoires.
Sarah Sloane, store manager at The Pleasure Chest, 3436 N. Lincoln Ave., has noticed an increasingly large client base she rarely encountered prior to the explosion of “Fifty-Shades:” men and couples.
“Initially, it was females coming in for products,” Sloane said. “But then we started having a lot of gentlemen coming in, saying, ‘My wife has been all over me for the last three weeks, and whatever I can get that will help keep that going is great.’”
There has also been a surge in couples who’ve been together 10–15 years venturing into the shops in search of toys, Sloane said.
“I think particularly for women who are in their 50s and 60s, talking about their sexual fantasies might not have been something that they were really comfortable with and were brought up with the idea that they had no right to do with their partner,” Sloane said. “This book has been, in a lot of ways, something that has given them that recognition.”
Women aged 25–50, are now coming into the store specifically seeking two items: anal plugs and vaginal balls, both of which are used in the book, Sloane said.
She said vaginal balls, also called Ben Wa Balls, are used to strengthen vaginal muscles for increased tightness and pleasure during sex. They also function as a toy for increasing sexual pleasure. The smooth, plastic balls are weighted for vaginal exercise and typically have a string attachment for retrieval, according to a Ben Wa Balls website.
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An anal plug is a toy that is inserted into the butt and left there, normally during masturbation or sex with a partner, according to LadyGasm.com.
“We had a period of time where it was almost impossible to get vaginal balls because everybody was selling out of them,” Sloane said. “We at one point had 48 of them coming in, and we were selling out within three days. We had waiting lists on vaginal balls for probably two months until we were able to keep up with the demand.”
Fun Factory, the Los Angeles-based company that produces Smartballs, a brand of vaginal balls, experienced a 300 percent increase in sales last year, according to its website.
Sloane said many manufacturers and wholesalers have produced their own “Fifty Shades of Grey” kits featuring items from the book in packages marketed as “Shades of Grey,” “Sex Kitten 5-Piece Love Bond Kit” and “Dare Me Pleasure Kit.”
“Everybody is coming out with these little kits,” Sloane said. “A basic kit will have the grey silk tie, vaginal balls, small flogger, a butt plug and other basics.” Simpler sets can be purchased for $30, which include a blindfold and fuzzy handcuffs. High-end kits can cost upwards of $130, Sloane said.
“We decided to have specific workshops relating to the ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ books,” Deysach said. “One workshop was an introduction to kinks where there were roughly 70–80 people.”
Early to Bed will host an intermediate bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism-intensive workshop in April with a professional dominatrix to answer questions and provide ideas to help customers further their sexual education, Deysach said.
The series, dubbed “mommy porn,” has also inspired sex shops to carry products targeted toward men, like bondage equipment and riding crops, something Sloane said was previously taboo.“I don’t think there is going to be anything that will hit the market quite like ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ did,” Sloane said.
Article originally published in The Columbia Chronicle.
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