FRIDAY NIGHT. THREE GIRLS. ALL OF THEM VIRGINS, SEX SHOP VIRGINS AT LEAST.
Nervous, scared, apprehensive, they needed some liquid courage before embarking on this erotic adventure. Procrastinating, they head out for a pre-sex shop dinner in Ponsonby in an attempt to fake classiness.
FIRST GIRL: A self-confessed prude. Let’s call her Prue. In a steady relationship with a sensible guy, this girl’s fetishes only involve white dresses and diamonds on her left hand.
SECOND GIRL: Liberty has recently acquired a sexual liberality. With her latest conquest waiting for a 2 am call, this girl thought maybe it was time to branch out.
THIRD GIRL: The ultimate single party girl, Sindy is up for a laugh, she’s the one who makes outrageous suggestions but won’t necessarily follow through.
DESTINATION: D.VICE 27 Ponsonby Rd.
A mutual friend tells the girls D.VICE is as classy as a sex shop is ever going to get. So they slink down Ponsonby Rd, attempting to remain incognito, only to find the door locked and lights out. Classy, in this case, must mean customers only require sex toys during normal working hours.
Where to next
DESTINATION: Karangahape, A.K.A “K” Rd.
Notions of classiness abandoned, and the wine taking effect, they pluck up the courage to venture into Auckland’s most notoriously seedy part of town. The walk is short but long enough to regret their choice of outfits. Trench coats and high heels were not the smartest attire for a street known for its prostitutes. A few metres into the strip and Prue, the prude, spies a local. “Look, there’s one,” she exclaims in a loud, not so subtle, whisper.
The girls approach a set of lights and spot a row of shops – this must be what they are looking for. Half dressed mannequins sporting French maid outfits and round, wide-mouthed, expressions line the windows. The short pause at the lights, complete with a wolf whistle, is enough to bring back their nerves. They feel the staring eyes of judgement from cars passing by, convinced the drivers must know what they are up to. There is plenty of choice in this part of town: The Pleasure Chest, Kinks Adult Shop or Eroxx. Eroxx is a recognisable name – they advertise on the radio. Surely something that plays on The Edge can’t be too bad? They decide to go for the mainstream.
The girls approach a set of lights and spot a row of shops – this must be what they are looking for. Half dressed mannequins sporting French maid outfits and round, wide mouthed, expressions line the windows.
“You first,” says Prue, pushing Sindy through the door. Feigning braveness, she takes the awkward first few steps in and the doorbell alerts the staff member to new customers. “Hey guys,” Mr Red Shirt says, drawing out the last word as he sees who his latest visitors are. “Can I help you with anything?”
Then Liberty remembers her manners on behalf of the group. “No, we’re just browsing thanks.”
Sindy can barely contain her laughter and ventures into the depths of the store, trying to put as much distance between her and the counter as possible. Prue starts hyperventilating. “At least we’re the only ones in here,” she says.
Alas, she spoke too soon. A skinny white male – the kind you’d see on Police Ten 7 – walks into the store and heads to the “back room” with purpose, past the naughty videos. Prue grabs Liberty’s arm and makes a face “did you see the room full of porn with the private theatre?”
Sindy fakes nonchalance and pretends to look at the so-called “sexy” lingerie. Prue discovers the hen’s night games and party favours, which are less intimidating. She repeatedly tells the other girls that “if they have chocolate shaped penises, this must not be a very dodgy shop at all”. It’s more to convince herself than the other two.
Prue turns around in horror to see Sindy losing her false, calm exterior. “What the fuck is that?” she exclaims. “Shhhhhh!” says Liberty. “They’re anal beads.”
Sindy is disgusted, she’s heard the odd rumour, but close up realisation is another matter altogether. Later that evening, over another bottle of wine, she describes the experience as her “eyes being violated”.
“They were only a couple of centimetres away from my face” she whispers in recollection.
Right next to the beads is a wide and colourful array of dildos and vibrators of every shape and size. Sindy quickly finds The Rabbit, made famous from Sex And The City. The Rabbit is joined by its animal kingdom friends The Dolphin and The Beaver. Liberty scans the rows, checking prices – she finds they are surprisingly expensive.
Prue is unknowingly looking in the male section. She wonders aloud how any girl could possibly enjoy the larger sized instruments. Her thoughts are interrupted by Sindy’s joyful exclamation: “This one is pretty! It’s got sparkles!”
A little bedazzling and instantly the shop transforms into something enjoyable. More like a trip to the mall on a Saturday afternoon. The girls spend a considerable amount of time trying to find the prettiest and most decorated toys.
“I just wish they wouldn’t make some of them so lifelike, veins and all,” whispers Prue.
“This brand,” he says, gesturing at a row of well packaged vibrators, “is like a Ferrari. It makes these others like a Ford or Holden.”
A couple walks into the store and the first man is nowhere to be seen. Prue, with no attempt to hide her disgust, reminds the other girls he is in the private theatre room. The couple is after-party pills, of the “legal” variety, and spend a good amount of time talking to Mr Red Shirt about what the best highs are. Another couple walks in. They look surprisingly respectable, the kind of people you’d sit next to in a cafe. They browse the store uninhibited and carefree.
Meanwhile, in the dildo aisle, the girls have spotted the blow up sexual organs and dolls. This is too much for poor Prue. Hand over her face, she heads back to look at the comparatively innocent penis-shaped straws and ice trays.
The sex shop virgins have been browsing for about 20 minutes now. Mr Red Shirt has no customers to deal with and sneaks up on them. “Can I help you with anything ladies?”
Liberty issues the standard reply: “No thanks, we’re just browsing.”
He doesn’t get the hint or doesn’t want to. “I’ve been working here for eight years while I’ve been studying,” he continues. “I know a lot about all the products.”
He sees the girls facing the vibrators and takes this as an opportunity to share his knowledge.
“This brand,” he says, gesturing at a row of well-packaged vibrators, “is like a Ferrari. It makes these others like a Ford or Holden.”
Horrified, Prue silently pleads for him to leave it at that. Sindy is still trying to grasp the difference between the makes of cars so she can apply the metaphor to the task at hand.
“Now these,” he continues, oblivious to their distress, “are for men,” pointing to a row of intimidating, foreign looking objects. “These are butt plugs. Men put them up their… you know where.”
“Oh God,” says Prue, not so quietly. The girls force smiles and thank Mr Red Shirt for his help. All of them are trying to string together a plausible explanation as to why they are in a sex shop on a Friday night.
Hens party? Funny 21st birthday gift?
No one can get the words out.
Mr Red Shirt walks back to the counter. “If you need any more help, just sing out.”
“Let’s get out of here,” Prue says. She comes up with a subtle plan of action. “We’ll take one more look at the chocolate body paint and then leave.”
The plan goes well and Mr Red Shirt cheerily farewells them with a wave as they rush out of the store making neither a purchase nor eye contact. Sindy stops in the doorway in front of a mannequin dressed as a saucy pirate. “Didn’t someone wear this to your birthday party Liberty?”
Hasty to put some distance between themselves and the scene of the crime, the girls walk briskly along K Rd. Sindy spies The Den and suggests they have a quick look. Prue keeps walking and won’t stop to even discuss the possibility. Liberty has no interest in a second shop visit. She has come to the conclusion that sex toys are really quite exciting, but next time, she’ll order her goodies online.