From doling out advice to scandalous situations, employees of local adult stores have just about seen and heard it all, and for the most part, they handle it all with the utmost professionalism.
"We try to answer as many questions as frankly as we can," Mandy Kimrey, manager at Just for Pleasure 2, says. "We are here to educate, as well as sell products, because there IS a wrong way to use most sex toys. No one wants to end up on an episode of Sex Sent me to the ER!"
However, for as honest as people tend to get, there are lines to be drawn. "People trust us with their most intimate sexual and relationship issues," Kimrey says. "Many people do not have friends with whom they can discuss their curiosities, kinks or issues without ridicule; but there are lines you shouldn't cross, even with the folks at your local sex shop."
We talked with people who work at various adult stores in the area — The RedDoor, Adam & Eve, Just for Pleasure — and asked them to share their favorite stories from the sex shop. Here's what they said:
"No, we can't get poop, animal or incest porn. Its illegal, and... just EW! Stop asking."
"Just because we work here doesn't mean that we have personally tried every toy in the store, and we are under no obligation to divulge our personal favorite item. Sure, I'll tell you my favorite lube, and I'll definitely tell you what the best-selling vibes are, but please stop asking, 'What do YOU use at home?' That's just creepy."
"'But which one is the BEST male enhancement pill?' If you take ONE thing away from this, it's that I, as a female, cannot field test male enhancement pills. All I can do is tell you which ones are stronger, which ones are milder and which ones sell the best. Its up to you to do your own trial-and-error at home."
"Phone calls. Needless to say, we get a LOT of strange phone calls. It's usually pretty obvious when we're dealing with kids, or someone's just trying to get some free phone sex while they masturbate... but now and then, we fall for it."
"We have repeat caller, like the 'birthday boy.' He called the first time a couple of years ago, and asked me to set aside two strap-on harnesses, and two dildo attachments because it was his birthday. Supposedly, his girlfriend had plans to indulge his fantasy of having two women to pleasure him with strap-ons in a hotel room. She wanted him to have to pick up the implements, but he was nervous about shopping for said items. It is fairly typical for customers with few sexual outlets to try and keep talking long after we have the relevant info, and boy, did he keep talking! I politely let him know that I did not need the specifics of their plans, but would be more than glad to set aside the items he requested, so I could have a few options at the counter when he arrived, and he could make a choice without having to be seen perusing the 'wall of dicks.' Well, he never showed up. What thrill he got from knowing that I picked out sex toys he never intended to purchase is beyond me, but he still calls about 2-3 times a year, from different numbers but always the same story. Sorry, dude. If the girlfriend ever actually decides to make good on your birthday promise, you'll have to come pick them out yourself!"
"Part of working in any part of the adult industry is that you can't be judgemental about peoples' proclivities. We give advice on anal toys to straight men, bondage tips and safety precautions to newbie kinksters, and fashion advice for cross-dressers and trans-folks. One gentleman wanted to purchase his first piece of women's lingerie. I helped him pick out a few pieces, suggesting padded cups, to make his figure look more girlish and since there weren't any other customers at the time, he wanted to try them on (not the underwear, of course). He went in the dressing room with three little dresses and after I showed him how to fix the clasps, a gaggle of girls came in, all loud and trying to buy bachelorette stuff. The store phone rang — it was the guy in the dressing room. 'I don't want them to see me coming out of here with this lingerie!' So, I hung up, went to the dressing room and acted like he worked here. 'When you get all the lingerie hung back up, I need you to come to the back and break down boxes!'"
"We do sometimes get people who bring in their kids. At this location we don't have age restrictions, so they can bring them in because there's nothing obscene on the sales floor. We had this one lady bring her daughter in at the Concord store once. She was about 13- or 14 –years-old. So, she brings her in and then later screams across the store 'Where do you keep your anal beads?' You know, it's one thing when they're 2 months old but another thing when they're 13- or 14-years-old."
"The other day there was a gentleman who was in here and his kid, who was about 12-years-old, was in the car and got tired of waiting for him and came in. When he came running in to get his dad, you just couldn't get his dad out of here fast enough. The kid made it like three steps into the store and his dad was just running across the store. That was pretty good."
"One of my favorite stories is when I had this female pastor in here one day. She's an amazing woman and we were just talking and having a good time and she was gay and needed a strap-on, so we were looking at different things and she was standing there with this jet-black vibrating strap-on. There was a woman in the fitting room at the time. All of a sudden, the woman walks out and there's a very awkward 'Hey!' and the pastor throws the vibrator at me, like 'Take it, take it' and come to find out they worked together at church and had just been in a lunch meeting together. She had to take a few moments to compose herself. She was like 'I'm a pastor and I'm obviously gay and people in my congregation know and I've run into people before, but never in a situation like this.'"
"We once had a gentleman come in because he needed new dildos because he melted his. He would wrap the dildos in heating pads to get them warm and apparently he forgot about them, so they melted. I can't even imagine the smell of all that rubbery material. He then proceeded to try to pick me up as we were ringing him up."
"We do have high heels and girls try them on all the time. Sometimes their friends have to help them. One time, we heard a girl scream from across the store, 'Man down, man down!' and then the poor girl fell over. She'd gotten them on and then tried to take a step and it was just bad news after that. She took down a whole display, but she was ok."
"People are inherently lazy, so they seem to like anything that does everything. People are always looking for something that does all the work for them. There's one toy [the squeal] that can stimulate oral sex for women and it spins and there are like a million little tongues going around in a circle. We had a tester of one of them and one of my employees was playing with it and had it under her chin and all of a sudden her skin got caught. She was fine but she had something that looked like a hickey or something underneath her chin afterwards. I don't think I ever sold one after that, just thinking what it could do to some poor woman if it could do that to your chin. It's another novelty toy that's a great idea in theory."
"It amazes me that really big toys sell — sometimes for a prank, sometimes not. We used to have a toy called 'The Superstar.' It's a 17-inch toy and we used to play baseball with it during our downtime because you get a lull on the weekends when everybody is out to eat and stuff like that. But after everybody is done with dinner and drinks you're going to get hit full force. In a shop like this, you can always find balls and make bases around the store."
"We once had a guy that had beef with one of our mannequins in the store window. He was walking down the street and apparently she did something to him that he wasn't happy with because he stood out there for a good five minutes yelling at her. We just stood in here and watched."
"Sometimes you'll see things come through the store and you're like 'What? There's no way people use that.' That's always funny. My favorite request is for the toy called "The Accommodator." It's a chin strap-on, so essentially it's a dildo that sticks off your chin. We sell those here and are currently sold out. It's perfect, especially at Christmas time for the naughty Santa kind of joke gifts and stuff like that. It's one of those bestselling items that's so bizarre. It's a great idea in theory, but the thought of someone coming at you with that: How do you not just bust out laughing?"
"They make this male masturbator called 'The Tango Cup' and it's supposed to be a one or two time use thing because it's disposable. Novelty items are final, so once they leave the store, we don't want them back. This man had clearly used this and his wife tried to return it the next day. We told her 'You can't return this' and she started throwing a fit and said he didn't like it. But they never cleaned out the cup and so we were like 'Clearly he liked it.' It was so gross. We were like 'Please get this off the counter and go throw it in the dumpster in the parking lot. I wondered what would make her think that was ok. But sometimes we get other people who say they were using things and it broke and we're like 'Ok, sorry. It was working fine when you left.' If they openly admit they were using it, why would I ever take it back?"
"We do have a lot of people that we try to convince them that they're one size and then they'll buy something in another size that they aren't and then they'll bring it back. We're pretty lenient with lingerie — if it looks like it hasn't been wore and stuff like that. Anything with a crotch or teddy or panties or stuff like that, don't even think about returning it. But for the most part, it's novelty and non-refundable items that people try to return."
"There's one guy who likes packer-style dongs. People who are transitioning from female to male use them if they want to have something on their person to make them feel more masculine. He likes to suck them, he says. He'll buy these things in bulk. I think he's eating them. I don't know what he's doing, but he keeps buying them, so where are they all going? Unless he's making art with them, which would be awesome."
"I used to go to this popular church in south Charlotte and one of the choir members from the church came in to the shop. She came in and she was looking and was very timid and I asked if I could help her find anything. She started whispering, 'Well, this is my first time here and me and my husband have a babysitter for the girls, so we're going to have sex,' and then she just became inaudible she was whispering so low. I could not even hear her at all. I was like, 'First off, You said husband so it's all good, that's one less thing for you to worry about. The one cool thing is that God created sex, right?' So I helped her and she was like, 'You look so familiar to me, how do I know you?' and I said, 'You're in the choir at my church' and she immediately turned so pale in the face and started breathing heavy but then she just said, 'It's OK, you're right, he's my husband, we're together. This is all good' and I said, 'Yeah, and even if you weren't that would be fine too.' She started walking around the store and kind of gasping at things, and then she saw the throat-numbing spray (which is used to help curb the user's gag reflex) and she said, 'Could this hurt you?' I said, 'Not really unless you're drinking it. Or the person can get overzealous because they know you're using it but all you have to say is 'Oh, -op' (as in saying 'Stop' with your mouthful). She did buy the spray."
"I get requests from people that want me to be their dominatrix. Like, I don't even know you, I'm not doing that. I've had a guy offer me $1,000 to take a shit on him. I was like, 'Ummmm...nope.'"
*Thanks to all of the employees who shared their naughty stories with us; and to all of the customers who unknowingly participated in the tales that were shared.