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What I've Learned from Working in a Gay Fetish Shop

Firstly, lesbians are the nicest customers. Secondly, the last people you'd imagine buying a particular item will, without question, always be the first ones to buy that item.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

I've spent several years working in a sex shop, and have come to realize that there are a few enduring truths to the job.

First, lesbians are the nicest customers. Without exception. Second, the last people you'd imagine buying a particular item will, without question, always be the first ones to buy that item. Tiny leather thongs bought by hugely overweight men, for example, or adult diapers snapped up by tall, hot, ripped biker men who you really, really wish didn't have a fetish for shitting themselves. Third-and finally-that you must accept that a large portion of your day will be spent fielding prank phone calls and voicemails.


Of course, there are plenty of other tribes regularly shuffling past my shop, so I thought I'd share some of them with you here.

I can now proudly add "expert at freeing old people from rubber suits" to my CV. Jealous? If so, get in touch and cover some of my shifts, because you're bound to eventually come across one of the many gentlemen who've apparently decided that the best way to spend their 70s is writhing around in a rubber diving suit.

Remember that Friends episode where Ross gets himself stuck in those leather trousers? Imagine that, but an entire body, from the loose, gangly neck all the way down to the yellowing toes. I've actually cut the same customer out of two different rubber suits, and it doesn't get any less gross.

This one's a real sore point for me, actually. There's one breed of customer that seems to believe that, because they've walked into a fetish store, they suddenly have a license to get their dicks out. The worst are those who come in shopping for cock rings, "forget" what size they need, and flop their chubbies out into their hand for you to judge.

"What do you think, dude?"

I think you need to put that baby mole rat away, dude. I don't want to see it again. Ever. (Important note: This type isn't to be confused with the guys who start jerking off nonchalantly while browsing the shelves; they're a whole different- fortunately rarer-genre of creep.)


These guys are our bread and butter. Popping in for some condoms, lube, and poppers on the way to the sauna of their choice (usually multiple times a week), it seems to be as normal an occurrence to them as, say, buying a pint of milk or stocking up on toilet paper. And good for them: There's nothing wrong with having sex with multiple partners in a public space.

A sub-genre of the sauna shoppers are the weekend walk-of-shamers-those who turn up on a Sunday morning with the kind of drained, graying face that says, "I've spent the past forty-eight hours injecting myself with mephedrone and trying to stay on top of all the cocks waving around my head."

Those guys make my weekend.

Some gentlemen enjoying their leather dog masks. Photo via Flickr user istolethetv

These are the guys going to a fetish-themed fancy dress party-or, in some cases, a Torture Garden-style event-for the first time. They'll tell you repeatedly that they're "not gay" and that their friend just invited them at the last minute. They'll also invariably have a roll of 20s stuffed in their pocket, which they'll use to pay for the most appalling outfit you could ever wear to a fetish club.

Believe me when I tell you that a dog mask, rubber Superman shorts, and a leather apron aren't going to make you any friends.

There's something about sex shops that makes certain people feel like they have to whisper. Granted, it's probably because most haven't seen gargantuan metal dildos before, but that doesn't mean they have to talk to you like they're cooing a baby to sleep. Look, you're here to enquire about the best size of plug to insert into your own anus; grow the fuck up and try to talk to me in a proper adult speaking voice.


I get it, fetish shops are funny-it's all got something to do with sex, and some of it's even shaped like genitals! But customers who duck into the shop purely to snicker at a pair of leather chaps can fuck themselves while wearing a pair.

This is definitely not something that happens in fetish stores. Photo via Flickr

There are customers who love the store so much that they'll come in and shop for upwards of two hours, like they're stuck in some kind of leather-lined labyrinth. It's some of these people who are scarred into my retina forever.

For example, I'll never be able to unsee the bricklayer in frilly panties who spent an entire afternoon trying on rubber. I've also witnessed customers shop for an hour, accidentally leave the stuff they've purchased in the shop, and then come back in to re-buy it, like they just can't tear themselves away.

Just to lay down an immediate disclaimer here: I am far from prudish. Obviously. I work in a fetish store. I'm very happy for everyone to do whatever they like as long as it's consensual.

But you know what? I really don't need to hear about the time you ruptured your asshole, or the moment you unplugged your butt and ruined the carpet. None of that is going to help me find you what you're looking for. Be specific. Make it easier for the both of us.

Mind you, when those specifics are questions like, "I want to get fisted but have my hands free-do you have any harnesses that can accommodate a plastic fist?" you do sometimes have to reconsider the professional choices you've made.

Follow Russell Dean Stone on Twitter.