It might have something to do with the fact that masturbation is still viewed as the poorer, more unattractive cousin of sex. While people go to great lengths in the pursuit of sex, having a wank is something we do when we’re bored, tired, horny – and happen to have a spare 10 minutes.
We don’t actually appreciate it for the enriching and pleasurable act it can be. Therefore, something – like a sex toy – that could possibly add a new element to that act, is also viewed through this less than desirable prism.
But sex toys shouldn’t be shamed or stigmatised more than any other sex act that we do, either by ourselves or with others. Sex should be a guilt-free, pleasurable activity.
At least that’s what the founder of one of Australia’s biggest online sex toy retailers, Chris from Sex Toys 24/7, believes. I recently spoke with Chris to shed some more light, and possibly serve to de-stigmatise, sex toys and the role they can play in our sex lives.
Little Gay Blog – Thanks for your time Chris. When you tell people you run a sex store (one of the biggest sex stores in Australia, no less), what sort of reaction are you met with?
Chris – Yeah, so initially my friends were completely giggly and into finding out about what I did, what I sold the most of, and “what is the weirdest toy you sell?”. That was initially. Now that we’ve been in business for about 7 years, those giggles and focus have turned from titillation and intrigue to general run of the mill questions – “how’s work?”.
Of course new people I say it to are generally very interested, and ask those same kinds of questions. People often think that we must be always turned on, and masturbating all of the shop, and warehouse – lol – not something that happens, let me quell that thought immediately.
We’re a professional company, and staff, and honestly once you get over the first month of handling all manner of interesting toys you really just end up seeing them as widgets – they could be anything and it really doesn’t register now.
Of course we sometimes wonder, “how on Earth are they going to use this” but it’s a fleeting thought, as we’re onto the next order pretty quickly. So yeah, nowadays the reaction is less about titillation and more about “it’s just work”. I hope that makes sense!
Totally. How did you get into the ‘sex store business’ and what insights has it given you into sex and sexuality?
So initially I worked with large corporates at a digital agency attached to Ogilvy. While working there I was mainly in the online marketing space, and I setup a business with a friend on the side selling ugg boots. It got quite popular and I sold my half of that business.
Once I’d sold it, I was looking for a new opportunity and from my research adult toys we’re looking like they had high demand, and there was an opportunity to break into the market as a sex-positive company, with a broad range at great prices.
In terms of insights – honestly being in this industry just makes me realise that every single person is completely different – they like very different things – that’s in terms of sexuality, and what turns them on. We have people of all ages and sexes and it’s really important to keep an open mind to what people might like when recommending toys or talking with them.
I’ve learnt of the 7 years that sex is a primal urge, and regardless of education or learnings what we like our intimate enjoyment to be like is very, very different. The 70 year old lady from the nursing home might want her vibrator to be a rabbit, or the gay guy who wants the tunnel butt plug, or the guy who’s got erection problems and needs some advice on cock rings – varied, massively!
Everyone (I think) enjoys orgasms, we just try to make them a bit better, more intense, more enjoyable.
There still seems to be a sense of shame, or perhaps fear of being judged, when it comes to people freely admitting that they do things like masturbate or use sex toys. Do you think that’s still the case, and are you getting a sense of people’s attitudes about these things changing?
Yes, definitely. Toys are simply that, toys. They are not degrading, and not porn.
We take a very dim view of porn as it can be seen as degrading. We’re all about being sex-positive, and taking the view that we’re here to help people have a bit more fun in a safe, fun and happy environment.
Attitudes are changing but Australia is 10-15 years behind the UK, and is way more conservative and still seems to hold onto the religious angle of sex – that’s its bad. The fact is sex fun, if it weren’t fun there wouldn’t be anywhere near as many of us on the planet.
Our goal is to make sex more fun, and toys just add that extra edge. To us sex is something to be celebrated, and if toys break down those barriers a bit then that’s great – just don’t lump us in with porn, because adult toys are VERY different.
What are the three most popular sex toys gay guys buy?
Very good question, and also very tricky to answer – everyone is different BUT I’d say the Perfect Fit range of toys is really popular with gay guys, as are the Rocks-Off range, Tom of Finland and Sax Leather (sorry that’s four!).
The Tunnel Plug by Perfect Fit is great, the Wild Boy by Rocks-Off is awesome, and the entire Tom of Finland range is really hard to pass up, the Sax Leather range if you’re into a BDSM or leather!
And lastly, your sex shop – Sex Toys 24/7 – supports a number of charities, including LGBT charities. Why did you decide to do this?
It’s really important for us to help others in need.
After taking a customer call to buy some toys, I’m not sure how we got onto it but they kind of told me their life story and I decided this was an area in which we could really help. We’ve helped a number of call in lines for LGBT – those kinds of calls need to answered and the people on the lines are clearly in desperate need of help, just someone to talk with, to be there as an independent ear.
We’ve also helped prostate cancer organisations for the same exact reasons – person calls in wanting help in maintaining erections after surgery, and we then try to find cock rings that suit their needs – again, another charity group that needs support and help.