Have you ever wondered what it's like to work in a sex shop? One lucky woman for Glamour magazine was invited to spend two days working at Pleasure Chest, the famed New York sex shop — and she says her experience was totally different than what she expected.
Candice Jalili said that she expected her time at Pleasure Chest to be a funny, lighthearted experience that would arm her with a couple great sex toys and tips, and that would be that. However, when she learned that she'd undergo a two-hour crash course training program, training her in not only customer service but also as a sex specialist, she knew working as a sex shop employee was going to be more than she bargained for.
Jalili says she learned a lot from her two days at the Pleasure Chest — check them out ahead.
One of the biggest lessons Jalili learned was that sex shops are full of diverse types of people — even those you'd never expect to set foot in a NSFW store.
"I found myself actively stopping my brow from furrowing in confusion as the middle-aged woman in a Lilly Pulitzer dress and a cross necklace came to ask where the spreader bars and paddles were located. And when the fratty-looking guy in the button down and a backward cap casually dropped over a thousand dollars on Fleshlights, it took all the might in me to suppress the urge to burst into nervous giggles."
Jalili learned that condoms aren't all the same — in fact, they can each serve different purposes. For example, a fellow sex shop employee told her that Skyn condoms are best for a one-night stand, thanks to being latex-free.
"In addition to feeling nice, they also happen to be latex-free — great for anyone, even those not having one-night stands, because it does away with that gross latex smell (and taste)," she wrote.
"But the reason this brand is particularly great for one-night stands is because latex is a pretty common allergy, so keeping them around would potentially spare you an emergency trip to the hospital with a dude whose last name you don’t actually know."
When Jalili asked Pleasure Chest employees about their best-selling products, they immediately answered with toys featured on the iconic HBO series Sex and the City.
"[One employee Kaitlin] responded that the most popular toy by far is the Magic Wand. If you check out the product and see that it looks familiar, it might be because you’ve seen it before, in an episode of Sex and the City. Yep, it’s the 'neck massager' Samantha returns to Sharper Image in season five," she wrote.
After another employee told Jalili that the store's second most popular item is the Jimmyjane Rabbit vibrator Charlotte used in season one, she remarked that it's actually not as it should be that a show from the '90s is still driving sex toy sales.
"Considering the Rabbit episode first aired in 1998 that may seem like quite the legacy, but it’s not really that surprising," she wrote. "After all, what mainstream show has covered sex toys in as frank and honest a way since?"
Jalili even said that a Sex and the City tour begins at the sex shop, filling the store with browsing tourists at 11:30 a.m.
Jalili recounted stories her coworkers told her of times where they act as the "cheapest therapists in the world." One coworker once spotted a timid couple wandering the store aimlessly. When he approached them, they politely shook him off. Later, he found them again in the lubrication section.
“The wife actually shooed the husband away,” Brandon told Jalili, who wrote: "She confessed to Brandon that she had been experiencing vaginal dryness which, in his words, is 'something bodies naturally do.' But 'she said it [had resulted in] so much shame about her body and she felt so embarrassed by it.'"
After Brandon helped the struggling couple find a lube perfect for them, he "noticed they both were smiling, tears in their eyes. 'I could tell that, in that moment, all that shame that I felt from them when they first came in was gone.'"
Not only do some customers experience sexual revolutions at Pleasure Chest, but employees often do as well. One co-worker told Jalili that growing up, his definition of sex was grim — his mother had been raped, so that tragic experience is what he associated sex with.
As an adult, he found himself in an abusive relationship, and his controlling partner forbade him from applying to Pleasure Chest. After the break-up, the first thing her co-worker did was apply for a job there, and now he says it was the start of his real sex life.
"It finally gave him a sense of control over his own sexuality. Plus, training to become a sex specialist and watching people leave the store genuinely excited about their own sex lives showed him, for the first time, that sex could be a good thing," Jalili wrote.
"It was the start of my actual sex life,” he told Jalili. “It was the first time I was able to view sex as pleasurable.”
Jalili mentioned that spending a day in a sex shop reminded her that love is all around. Just ask "the middle-aged lesbian couple I caught making out between whispered 'I love you’s' in the bondage section. Or the young, 20-something couple casually discussing where they were going to go for dinner later as they perused the butt plug section hand-in-hand. Or the older married European couple who bought three new vibrators amidst flirtatious giggles because…well, why not?"
"Sometimes...working at the Pleasure Chest inspired me to take charge of my own sexuality," Jalili wrote. "Other times — like in the case of my coworker with the traumatic past — it gave me a bittersweet sense of hope. And occasionally — like in the cases I mentioned — it even restored my faith in love."
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