Let’s talk about sex toys, baby.
Let’s just get this out of the way: everybody thinks about sex. Some people want to have it. Some people have it all the time. There are people who don’t understand it. Other people talk about it, joke about it, cry over it.
Some people try to be creative about it. Positions. Locations. Music. Partners. Props.
This last bit, that’s where things can get really funny.
You could probably use stuff you find around the house. A large bandanna for a blindfold. A soft scarf to tie down wrists. A large wooden spoon—preferably worn smooth—to paddle a delectable bottom.
That might be enough for some people. But, of course, I’m a curious bunny, and I want to know what else is out there. So, what do I do?
I walk into a sex shop.
The first time
Okay, I’ll confess: it’s not my first time.
My first time was in Las Vegas, of all places. My companions were browsing some tech store and I got bored, so I wandered off. Of course, I found a sex shop, and I walked in.
It was a tiny place, every available space crammed with… I don’t even know what they were. Obviously, there were dildos. There were balls of different sizes, attached to strings and chains. There were things with straps. There were probably whips. Costumes. Maybe feathers, I don’t know. All sorts of things. Everything crowded together, busy, with no rhyme or reason to their arrangement.
The lady at the counter was busy doing who knows what and offered no help. I was too confused to ask anyway, and what would I ask? “What’s this? What’s that? Uhm, how does that work?” to be followed by “People like that??”
Yeah, I don’t think she would have appreciated that.
What does this button do?
Porn makes me laugh. I like erotica and hentai. I perform comedic erotica with my friends. I think I mostly have a positive outlook towards sexuality.
But I haven’t walked into a sex shop again since Las Vegas. Until now.
Ilya is a bright and cheerful store. The shelves look like something out of Ikea: blond wood, white railings. To be honest, it looks more like an Apple store than a sex shop. The products are arranged neatly on the shelves, properly labeled, prices visible so you don’t have to ask. You can just browse quietly, and it’s just like looking at the latest phones and tablets.
And, unlike that lady in Las Vegas, the staff here does approach you—slowly, quietly, so as not to startle you—to ask if you need help.
It was like the floodgates had opened. All the questions I had ever wanted to ask, all the things I had ever wanted to know, every stupid question I have ever thought of, I finally had permission to ask and someone would answer.
“What’s this? What’s that? Uhm, how does that work?” (But not “People like that?” because hey, you like what you like, and for as long as you’re not hurting yourself or anyone else, no judgment.)
Sex and ice cream
My Las Vegas experience—well, experiences like it—is pretty much the reason why Ilya was born. Says founder AJ Osmeña, “We saw how bad the prevailing stigma was with sex and sex toys. We tried looking for a sex toy shop that would be a fun and light experience to visit, especially for first time visitors like us but we just couldn’t find any that suited our liking. So, we decided to open our own!”
The website and shop were launched online in 2016, and the physical shop opened in 2017.
Teacher’s Village in Quezon City has become a hub of all sorts of new, quirky, woke, curious, sustainable, all-the-good-adjectives businesses, in addition to being home to teachers, artists, musicians, families of all sizes, non-profit organizations, and schools. It makes perfect sense to have a sex shop in the middle of all that, since Ilya happily promotes positive sexuality and sexual health: basically, normalizing sex, shooing away the stigma around enjoying sex and sex play.
And they sell ice cream in the shop. Because what else could be more enticing than dessert?
Choose your gadget
It’s like looking for a new phone. You have needs and wants, must-haves and nice-to-haves, battery requirements, app requirements, color preferences.
And really, a lot of these things have similar specs. Some of them are Bluetooth and wifi-enabled. And that one comes (pun intended!) with an app.
That may be where the similarities end. These toys vibrate at different speeds and with different patterns. Some are designed for insertion. Some are designed for specific body parts. Some of them are single-use only (Sorry, environment! But sexual health and hygiene are important!). There are gels to make things smoother, with different flavors and scents and sensations, and there are things with ridges and textures that tease.
As with any product line, some models sell better than others. At Ilya, where a large percentage of the customer base is female, Tickler is a popular brand. And if you’re new to the whole idea, these models don’t look scary at all!
If you’re willing to spend a little more, Svakom offers an interesting range. I have a friend who swears by the Amy. The Keri can be used for internal and external stimulation. And I must admit, the Trysta looks really intriguing.
And, in case you were wondering, there are toys designed for men too. Men like to go for the Flip Zero Black and the Svakom Hedy, both designed to wrap you up and take you through their ridges and textures and orbs to a joyful end.
And couples, even those in long-distance relationships, could benefit from the We-Vibe Sync and the Sliquid lubricant. Because the couple that plays together, well, you know.
Really, there’s something for everybody, no matter their relationship status, age, gender identity, profession. And there should be no shame either. I mean, what’s wrong with trying out new ways to have safe, consensual fun, by yourself, with someone new, or with your partner?
There’s probably a toy out there that will tickle your fancy, and anything else you want stimulated. Don’t be afraid to look for it! Now excuse me, I’ve got a catalogue of toys to explore.
Writer, editor, geek, Regina Layug Rosero has always been a storyteller. These days, she hopes to tells stories that will make the world a better place.