There are a bunch of NSFW photos ahead.
For this edition of First-Person Shooter we handed off two cameras to Zoë Ligon, the owner of a sex toy shop based in Detroit called Spectrum Boutique who is also a contributor to VICE. Starting her career in 2013 at a Manhattan sex shop, Zoë learned about "work ethic, society, and business" while also doing the whole college thing. She now uses the skills she learned in NYC to promote positivity in sex education, on top of "slingin' dills [hip slang for dildos] in Detroit."
Recently, Zoë attended the Sexual Health Expo (SHE) in Brooklyn, where she snapped some pics of futuristic dildos made out of pure crystal chakra stones and an incredibly large display of candles shaped like penises. After the expo she made her commute back to Detroit and gave us a photo tour of her sex toy show room. Here's what else she told us about her day.
VICE: Why brought you to this convention?
Zoë Ligon: I try to attend as many conventions as possible. I see them as "continuing education," in a sense. I'm currently en route to yet another conference, as a matter of fact! Besides the fact that I get to learn more about the world of human sexuality, I also really appreciate the networking component of these events. The sex ed community is fairly small, and also quite vulnerable due to society's sex negativity. Knowing other people in the industry helps us all have each other's backs, and also gives us the opportunity to collaborate.
What was your day like on the day you went to the sex convention in Brooklyn?
I woke up around 10 AM and got dressed immediately. The Sexual Health Expo started at noon in Greenpoint, and since I was in Bushwick and had my car with me, I drove there to save extra time. Even though I was one of the first people there, I waited in an extremely long line where I befriended two women who were very chatty and very amped up for this event. As soon as we got inside, it was a bit of a frenzy because they were giving away swag bags to the first attendees. I made a beeline to visit my friends Bunny from Sybian, and Vanessa from Chakrubs—both of whom were tabling at the expo. I was already overwhelmed by the amount of humans and vibrators, so I sought refuge at their booths.
I cautiously explored the other tables, and found many frighteningly shitty sex toys for sale but also a few unexpected new products that got me really excited, like the Eva, a hands-free vibrator that can be worn during penetrative sex, as well as a device that can disinfect ALL hard materials—even porous materials (a DREAM for a sexual health nerd like me!). I promptly ordered both of these products to stock in my shop.
What else impressed you at the event?
As the day went on I listened to several different speakers, but I had my own personal fan-girl moment when I saw Tristan Taormino, a sex-positive author, porn director, and general sex ed superstar.
What was the weirdest thing you saw at the convention?
There was a very obnoxious man operating a gigantic vibrator outfitted like a horse that you could sit on as he operated it. I think that shit is pretty tacky in a convention setting, but it was pretty amusing to hear it periodically turn on as shrieks echoed throughout the space.
I see some stones in some of your convention pictures. What are they?
Yes! Aren't they fucking gorgeous? They are Chakrubs—dildos carved out of various gemstones. A lot of folks like to buy them for their healing properties, but aside from that they're also fantastic sex toys. Hard materials are ideal for stimulating the G-spot and prostate, and materials like stone also retain warm and cold temperatures quite well, which some people like to incorporate into play. I still can't get over how beautiful they are, and I've been selling them for almost a year now!
What's the weirdest dildo you've ever seen?
It's really hard for me to find something "weird," especially in the realm of sex toys, but I saw a dildo over the summer that was sculpted to look like an amputee's leg. Hey, everyone likes different stuff.
Visit Spectrum's website to learn more about the sex toy company. See more photos Zoë took below.