Walking through Sunset Park, there is an abundance of sex shops, their LED-laden window displays featuring mannequins in lingerie and promises of girls. Inside it is a sea of dusty jewel cases containing a great variety of sex videos organized by fetish, including genres that seem likely illegal or at least morally questionable. These are adult stores, exiled from Times Square in the Giuliani era and sprouted again across the East River and under the Gowanus Expressway. Their selections of toys tend to be impressive and affordable, but for those looking for a less skeezy sex toy shopping experience at a business that has more sex-positive undertones instead of pornos playing in jack-off booths in the back, Brooklyn has a number of options.
You’ll be paying a premium for the quality, for informed employees who won’t ogle female-bodied patrons and for an experience that makes it worth not hiding behind the internet to buy your ball gags. These spots are of course commercial businesses, but they’ve got ideologies in addition to trying to churn a profit, and it shows. Did we forget a store? Let us know in the comments.
557 5th Ave., Park Slope
“An educated pleasure shop,” Please opened in 2015 and could be confused by the nearsighted for any other general interest tchotchke shop. Among the masturbation sleeves and cock rings are upscale lubricants which look more like designer shampoos than lube and children’s books about girl power. The energy is more holistic wellbeing than sexy. It’s the kind of sex shop you could accidentally walk into with your mother and it wouldn’t be awkward.
462 Bergen St., Park Slope
One of a four-store chain just sold by its founders to Bay Area sex company Good Vibrations, the Park Slope Babeland is bright and cheery with a whole rainbow of vibrators and dildos as well as some bondage options. Babeland makes it’s own brand name massage oils and candles (think blatantly sexual Lush products), has gift cards and peppy employees happy to non-sexually fondle a vibrator for you and discuss its benefits.
108 Roebling St., Williamsburg
Shag identifies as a sex shop, but it’s more of a sexy stuff shop. There is an impressive selection of obliquely sexual offerings – vibrating rubber ducks, embroidered tulle masks, aphrodisiac lollipops, candy cock rings – as well as sex shop staples like dildos, vibrators and butt plugs. There’s also a wide variety of sex-relevant merch, like erotic greeting cards, costumes, “erotic art” and jewelry from local designers. Shag’s worth a visit even if you’re abstinent.
130 Grand St., Williamsburg
Oo la la. Narcisse goes beyond normalizing sex toys with a boutique feel accomplished through a clean layout and spiffy presentation. This shop feels more like a sexy lingerie store that also happens to have a large collection of butt toys, harnesses and clamps. There are pasties galore as well as typical bachelorette party gear, bridal lingerie and loungewear. This spot is for those willing to spend a pretty penny or two for thong brands with French-sounding names and nickel-free bare bondage hogties.
226 Knickerbocker Ave., Bushwick
An intersectional-feminist queer space and zine/sex shop inside La Blanquita Laundromat, Troll Hole is one of a kind. The shelves are stocked with erotic zines and feminist anthologies in addition to affordable vibrators, glow-in-the-dark lube and bondage. There are free tampons and pads, a shop dog and a streamer-lined entrance. The hole in the wall’s founders plan on growing their shop into a collective community and host sex-positive education events.
What a Gyrl Wants
519 East 46th St., East Flatbush
Located in a “sexually non-affluent neighborhood”, according to the site’s own description, it’s true that East Flatbush is a sex shop, especially sex positive sex shop, desert, although so are many neighborhoods. Founded in 2012 by a mother and daughter, the spot sports kinky and classic sex toys, as well as novelty items like a lubricant launcher and giant penis piñata. The layout and toys aren’t as high end as the Park Slope and W’burg boutiques offer, but then neither are the prices.