Last night, I went to a highly aroused Valentine’s party at the Pleasure Chest, on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The party was celebrating the 20th anniversary of Fun Factory, an innovative sex toy company that I have to thank for many of my recent orgasms. I wore my new favorite outfit—a leopard print skirt with a pink puffy top and my festive heart handbag. My inspo was “Elle Woods at a sex toy party” (however some guy at the event told me I reminded him of Heidi Montag… sigh).
Party goers were greeted by hot go-go dancers in the store’s display windows. Inside, we were served various aphrodisiac hors d’oeuvres and wine (aka my preferred aphrodisiac) while being given instructional talks about sex toy. So basically, a sexpert would hand you a farm-to-table beef taco and champagne and then be like “are you aware of the transcendental pleasures of this environmentally friendly buttplug?” Sort of a strange combination… but def strange in a good way.
You may remember the Pleasure Chest as the store where Miranda takes Carrie and Charlotte to buy the “rabbit” vibrator, after which Charlotte becomes addicted to it… (as side the whole world, basically). But beyond that iconic pop culture moment, the Pleasure Chest is definitely worth a visit. For one, they give totally FREE sex-ed workshops! Every Wednesday! (But actually, for V-day, they have now workshops every single day.) They have everything from feminine-dominance classes, to advanced rope bondage courses. But apparently their most popular class is the blow-job workshop. Makes sense. At the party, I had a chance to talk to the store’s manager, Victor Tobar, who told me, “The focus of our programs is to offer pleasure-based sex-positive education, which pushes back against the sex-negative abstinence-only sex-ed that most of us get in school.”
But besides offering free degrees in deep-throating, what makes the Pleasure Chest special is that it’s very inclusive, and just a really chill vibe. Like, you know how a lot of times when you go into a sex store it’s like in a basement, and is sort of creepy? Well this store isn’t like that—it’s way chic. Also, a lot of sex shops tend to focus primarily on female sexuality, but PC is very inclusive of all genders and sexual orientations. “The Pleasure Chest is everyone’s sex shop,” said Tobar. “We get our neighbors here on the Upper East Side coming in, who are sometimes straight couples in their 80s; we have young LGBT folks coming from downtown; we get beginners who have never been to a sex store before, and pros who have been in the BDSM scene for decades, so it’s a super diverse mix of customers.” Plus, the store is an NYC sex-scene staple. The store’s original location (which still exists) opened in the West Village in 1971.
Fun Factory—the sex toy company that the party was in honor of—also has a really cool history. It was founded 20 years ago by two engineers, Dirk Bauer and Michael Pahl, after their lesbian friend told them that the sex toys on the market for women were tragic, basically. “Fun Factory were really pioneers in the sex industry,” said Kristen Tribby (director of marketing and education at Fun Factory) at last night’s party. “They were the first to make a rechargeable waterproof toy, and also the first to make sex toys out of medical grade silicone. Other companies do this now too, but we’re still the only company where the material is regulated. In Germany, where our factory is, sex toys are considered a health product, so it’s a regulated industry. Everything else on the market comes from China and isn’t regulated at all, which is why a lot of sex toys say ‘for novelty use only.’”
I was told by multiple people (Tribby included) that the most exciting new toy in the store was the Bi Stronic Fusion, which is special because it basically thrusts in and out of your vaj, but it also has an extended arm that vibrates to stimulate your clit at the same time. Sounds future. Currently, I’m a single bisexual and using the Miss Bi.
Me and Zhana!
Obviously, the archangel of sex positivity, Zhana Vrangalova, was at the party. (You know Zhana, who does the Ask a Sex Researcher column for Slutever.) In between caressing the abs of the topless bartender in the main image, she was broadcasting the party live on her periscope channel. When I asked Zhana why she loved Pleasure Chest, she told me, “It’s just the most beautiful, sexy, classy sex store ever. Often, the first few times people go into a sex store it’s this dingey, sketchy place that makes you feel gross or awkward. But the Pleasure Chest is the opposite of that. I want to live here.”
And lastly, here’s a not-totally-readable flyer with all the upcoming free sex-ed workshops at Pleasure Chest! Or you can just go to their website :)
This post was brought to you in Partnership with Pleasure Chest <3