Willy Wonka’s Dream Factory
by Vivien Whyte (she/her)
Viv and Frances have been friends for a long time - from crying together on the floors of Shads to surviving a year of living together, they’ve been through a lot. Despite their adventures, there was one more thing they had yet to explore and Debate’s sex issue gave them the perfect opportunity. Visit an adult store….
For one reason or another, neither of us had ever stepped foot inside one. But we both had become increasingly curious about what lies behind those window displays filled with harness-clad mannequins.
Walking in to the soundtrack of Harry Styles’ latest album, we immediately bypassed the lingerie to marvel at the extensive lube collection. Shelves and shelves, from massive 2L bottles to lil travel-sized 5mL pouches. Caramel. Tiramisu. Piña Colada. Crème Brûlée. What a menu! Definitely could've given Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory a run for its money.
Suddenly, a voice pipes up behind us, “Don’t go near the mint and chocolate, it’s awful!” We quickly end up in a fruitful conversation about the pros and cons of each flavour and are enlighted about their many uses. The top things we learnt are as follows:
1. Mojito is by far the best flavour
2. The cherry and strawberry flavours taste really artificial
3. Mint and chocolate tastes ass
4. You can use the JO Cocktail lubes in… you guessed it… cocktails. There are actual recipes on their website for those wanting to try
5. The Sizzle Lips massage oil range is not only great for sensual massages but goes great on top of ice cream and (in the case of salted caramel) porridge. This is straight from their personal experience
NB These are all the objective opinions of one anonymous shop-goer. Debate Magazine will not be held liable for any errors of judgement or any consequences that may arise from their use. We encourage readers to conduct their own research and analysis before making any decisions based on the information presented here.
Lube flavours were only the start of our educational journey. Walking around, we noticed signs of fetish and kink communities we had never heard of. And learnt something new about the anatomy of a penis: namely that you can insert beads and lengthy inserts into the tip. These are called urethral toys - which was explained to us when the helpful cashier noted our obvious looks of confusion as we held up the long kebab stick-looking things to the light and tried to discern their use. (Quote Viv: “I don’t think ours can do that - right? **more desperation** right!?”)
Taking the plunge and going into the unknown depths of the adult store was an experience, to say the least. We were blown away by the different colours, sizes and uses of…well.. everything and anything. Double-ended dildos, glow in the dark dicks (Quote Sam: “the best kind”), sexy playing cards, nipple electrocuters, candy garters - you want it, they got it. But we also quickly became aware of things that were making us uncomfortable. And I’m not talking about the “Fuck A Duck”. Yes, a 14 inch tall, blow-up, minion-yellow duck that proudly advertises its “one fowl play love hole” feature. Not to mention that the duck on the packaging stares at you through soulless eyes which have definitely seen more than any rubber duck should ever see. But that’s enough about the world’s dirtiest bath toy. (Quote Frances, “honestly surprised there was only a duck”) What stuck with us the most were things like the unbalanced ratio of women sex dolls to men. The undeniable greater effort to make vaginas rather than dicks fleshy and human-like. Signs of racial fetishisation. The obviously outdated branding and vocabulary used for pornos, especially those involving transgender characters.
The deeper we went, the more we found ourselves trying to balance the line between respecting people's kinks and condemning genuinely disgusting branding. For example, although we respect someone's decision to buy a fleshlight, the fact that there are “hey 19” (a.k.a 19-year-old) or “Tight Tanya” varieties reflects the disturbingly pedophilic hypersexualisation of young girls and infantilisation of adult women. Noting the excess amounts of toys given female names, a sour taste was left in our mouths as we pondered the harmful effects patriarchy has on women's bodies, which can be so easily objectified, altered, cut and marketed for male pleasure. Thousand-dollar moulds of (female) porn stars' vaginas, which came with a DVD to play along with, were also questionable and further opened a conversation about how people may learn about consensual, respectful sex through lifeless women/ dolls (practically just holes) you can do anything to. (Quote: “I like to think that none of my partners has ever considered me just a hole”)
In contrast to traversing the more disturbing items on display (some having been tucked away in a secret alcove near the back), we had great fun ignoring the “please don’t hit each other with the whips/paddles” sign and looking at the variety of vibrators available. From little bullets that could fit in your purse, to massive purple things which came with propeller-like attachments. Towards the end of our investigation, we ended up chatting with the cashier and asked them about their best sellers. For people with vaginas apparently it’s the LELO Soraya (but of course they recommended us the $400 vibrator). However, they went on to explain that there’s just so much variety in what people like that it’s really hard to say.
The longer we stayed the more we felt like we were in a haze. Probably not helped by the 20 ft dildos and various toys named “Clive”, “Celia”, and “Nymph” juxtaposed by NZ’s Top 40 Pop Hits playing on the radio. Walking out of that haze, we were left with much to ponder. But, overall, our little excursion was fun and a good opportunity to consider how different toys can aid in making us feel sexy and fulfilled. Although an adult shop might not be somewhere you want to bump into an old high school teacher - it’s definitely not somewhere to feel squeamish or embarrassed about. So, if you’re keen to go for the first time here’s all I have to say - keep an open mind and perhaps bring a friend you know won’t mind spending half an hour looking at different types of lube with you.