Ever since the Pleasure Chest opened its doors in 1971, people have been shopping for sex toys and sharing their sex lives with the shame-free adult store. Now, the Pleasure Chest has launched Sex is Back, their website devoted to sharing “unembellished stories from across the sexual spectrum.” We sat down with Kristen Tribby, Director of Creative Development and Strategy, to talk about bringing sex back.
What does it mean sex is back? Where did it go?
Sex didn’t go anywhere, but it is coming out of the closet. We are seeing an openness in our society with sexuality: from marriage equality to 50 Shades of Grey, there’s a lot more being discussed in public forums than there used to be. We think that’s great, but still, a lot of what’s said about sex and sexuality is sensationalized, politicized, or generalized. With this project, we wanted to bring unembellished stories of people’s actual sex lives into the conversation.
On the site Sex is Back, you ask people to fill in the blank, in the sentence Sex is ____, is there a most common answer?
The search functionality on our website is designed to get people thinking about what sex is. Sex is kinky, sex is liberating, sex is challenging, sex is fucking funny. Sex is a lot of things to a lot of people, and every definition is a valid one.
Kristen, you bring up capturing real sexuality. What is real sexuality?
Every day, through popular media and even mainstream porn, we are bombarded with a stereotype of what sex looks like. Anything beyond that definition is either not represented, vilified or made fun of. Real sexuality is best told through the first person and is best defined by the individual.
How does mass media and culture define sexuality, and what’s right, or wrong, with that?
Mass media’s version of who is sexual is one specific type of person: young, beautiful, straight, heteronormative, able bodied, thin, white, cisgender. Having just one image of who gets to have sex, or be seen as sexy, sets everyone up for failure.
What makes the Pleasure Chest different than other sex stores?
We have the most diverse customer base and product selection in our industry. We’re actually the oldest sex toy store in the country, and we were the first that didn’t black out our windows and put an XXX on the door, as other adult stores did. It’s always been important to us that The Pleasure Chest be a shame-free environment. We’re also really proud of our education program. We offer free workshops every week on topics ranging from oral sex techniques to strap-on play, taught by our staff and by respected sex educators from around the country.
It seems the launch of New York’s second Pleasure Chest store has really Inspired change for the pleasure chest. How is it changing?
Our new store takes our education program to the next level by offering a private event and workshop space for free to the public. We believe that everyone should have access to free education. Also, all of our boutiques have an upscale and sexy feel but our new store is particularly chic. The upper east side is famously elegant, and the store embodies that elegance.
What’s the funniest story you’ve heard so far?
All of them are so good, but one of my favorites is Alyssa and Lanae on golden showers. I love the feel of it: two friends talking about real sex and laughing about funny first times.
The most endearing?
I love Alicia and Ian’s video on French kissing. It really demonstrates how important it is to bring laughter into your relationship, especially around sex. Their love and comfort with each other are really palpable.
What have you learned about sex, since interviewing people for Sex is Back?
I learned how important a shared Google calendar is to organize a busy sex life. Almost every poly person gave this as a tip.
What do you hope people take away from the site?
Our hope is that people see themselves reflected in the videos and feel inspired to explore their sexuality in ways that are authentic to them.
We congratulate the Pleasure Chest on the opening of their new store on the Upper East Side, if your lucky enough to live in NYC or visiting, go check it out here.
Now it’s your turn to tell us, what does sex is back mean to you?