While a lot of people buy their secret nasties on the internet these days, there’s still a place in our collective queer hearts for the ol’ brick and mortar dildo emporium.

Sydney’s best sex shop, according to yours truly, is Max Black (formerly known as Maxxx Black; guess they’ve fancied up now). It’s the Apple of the sex shop world, with a staff that is personable and well-equipped to deal with all types of everything. They walk around with an encyclopaedic knowledge of every product on the shelves. Shopping there feels positive, like you’re adding some good to the world. It feels fancy, but in a way that manages to avoid snobbery. Most importantly, I never leave that place with a desire to hotfoot back to my house and run an acid bath.

I have on many occasions visited multiple sex shops throughout our fair city. I have on many occasions wished I hadn’t.

I’m not going to divulge any sex-on-premises antics or the like – just good old-fashioned consumerism.

In that spirit, here are some… standouts from my time wandering around Oxford Street.

The Toolshed

Ah yes, your personal silicone kingdom nestled within the armpit of one of the city’s gayest neighbourhoods. After walking past this place 10,000 times thinking it was a sad nightclub, I was taken there by a friend because he wanted to buy a care package in anticipation of his boyfriend’s return from overseas.

We perused the shelves like teenaged morons, giggling at everything. The smell of plastic was strong enough to make me feel like somebody was slowly enveloping my face in shrink-wrap the deeper I ventured in. I wouldn’t want most of these products anywhere near my body. A $17 phthalate-filled insertable made from melted alien plastic just ain’t my jam.

The guy behind the counter was pretty nice. His handsomeness startled me – I couldn’t take my eyes off him. I guess this contributed to the alarm I felt when he opened his mouth. He spoke vulgarly and at one volume: foghorn. My friend asked him how to use a Tenga product and the bloke went, “JUST SQUIRT SOME LUBE IN THIS LITTLE CUNT, STUFF YOUR DICK IN IT AND PULL. THERE YA GO.”

I could appreciate the no-nonsense approach, I guess.

The Pleasure Lounge

I think the sleazier places hold a special place in my heart. I find myself wanting to peel back the layers of filth to get cosy with the real scum underneath. Sometimes I just want to stand in a place full of “mould your own pussy and ass” kits and feel it erode my yuppy-leaning sensibilities into a more authentic self.

I’m kidding; it was just seedy and a little shabby.

The Pleasure Lounge doesn’t have the plastic superstore smell of The Toolshed, but I did find a dead rat in there.
It could have its charms, but I don’t think I would have been able to dislodge the memory of the bloated rat corpse had I purchased anything from the store and taken it home to use. RIP.

Adult World

Unimaginative name aside, this place is like the Kmart of sex shops. It has everything. The staff are friendly for the most part, and the products cater to a huge variety of persons, which is great to see – and it’s clean, but not too clean.

Visiting Adult World was my Goldilocks moment on Oxford Street. I didn’t feel overwhelmed by the sleaze, and I didn’t feel underwhelmed by the products on offer – it was just right.

I think I’d probably go back to Adult World. I had a lot of fun looking around and the sheer volume of random playthings they had on offer was admirable. It wasn’t a case of having a barrel at the front of the store full of three-dollar penis-shaped squirt guns or a hundred different types of feathered handcuffs, but rather, it seemed like an attempt to accommodate all sexual tastes, and that’s a winner in my book. ■