I’m not talking a bawdy house or dirty movie cinema here. I’m talking one of those shops that couples can visit and buy toys/lingere/costumes to spice up their sex life.
I was skyping with a friend from home a while back, and the subject of sex shops came up. When asked what a Taiwanese sex shop was like, I realized that I had no answer (this not being my top priority in a land where it’s hard for me to order food), but as I was the sole ambassador here, I felt it my duty to find out.
I’d been to sex shops (Stag shop) occasionally back home. They offer your standard selection of sex toys, dildos, costumes, movies, condoms, ointments, gels etc etc. After committing to find one here, I was excited to see what the mysterious East would offer up. I mentioned this “research project” to my gf, and surprisingly she was up for it (generally being typically Taiwanese shy around sexuality if it’s on public display).
So we found a shop of interest and went there at around 8:30 pm on a Saturday evening. Turns out, it was a pretty awkward and weird experience.
The shop was empty of customers. There was a lady sitting behind the counter. Owing to the overly large “NO PHOTOGRAPHY” sign, my camera stayed in my pocket. It was pretty small, and like everywhere in Taiwan, cameras were mounted, canvassing the entire area.
The merchandise so far was pretty standard – movies, toys, costumes, penis pumps, etc. etc. Nothing too different – the only thing being Mandarin everywhere instead of English. I was pretty disappointed because I was hoping for some sort of bad ass, out of this world, Bruce Lee-type thing-a-ma-jig product, but all was quite normal.
This was a treat for my gf though. She had never been into one of these shops before, so she was wide-eyed, looking at all the things on display – at least the trip was eye-opening for one of us, so far.
Then the first weird thing happened. As we rounded a corner and got a better view of the place I saw a kid sitting near the dildo section, playing with a teddy bear. He would have been around 7 years old. When he saw me, I got the blank, unsmiling stare that Taiwanese kids usually give strangers. And then, since we were something new, he just kept staring at us. I found it a little awkward and my gf was totally weirded out – which I can understand. I mean, come on – a kid staring at you when you are trying to find that perfect sexy outfit – in a sex shop? Kind of a mood killer…right?
With the kid staring at us, the lady behind the counter now started zoning in too. We pretended to ignore the kid (but really, ultra aware of his innocent little eyes judging the hell out of us) and started looking at the condom/gel section. My gf picked up a product to get a better look, and the silence was shattered by the counter woman’s voice telling us what it was. This continued with every product. She would stare, and loudly comment on what that product is for – as if the descriptions on the box weren’t sufficient. I was tempted to pick up a giant dildo and wave it at her questioningly, but the intense embarrassment of my gf stopped me.
At this point, my gf wanted to leave because it was getting quite embarassing for her. While I was ok, I did find the whole situation pretty weird and out of place for a sex shop. Figured I’d leave the dissection for later, we quickly left. As we were walking out, we spotted the woman walk over to the products that we had handled. I stopped for a second to see what she would do. Apparently we hadn’t put the products down how she wanted and they had to be moved a millimeter to be just right. Must be a feng shui thing – to maintain the sexual harmony of the shop…or something.
Anyway, I found the whole situation very weird and awkward. First off, why is there a kid in a sex shop? I’m sure the woman must have SOME family to leave the kid with? or even a friend? I can’t see customers being comfortable walking around looking for dildos and seeing the kid. Also, there must be some laws that prevent minors (even if it’s the owner’s kid) from being in a sex shop…right?
Then there are the twin embarassments of the woman’s following gaze and constant explanations. You would imagine in a place like this, couples would be given their privacy to browse and choose what they want in peace, but it seems that this woman hadn’t attended Sex Shop Customer Service 101. Did she think we were going to steal something? Did she think we couldn’t read? (well I can’t but it was obvious that my gf could).
Combine these things together, and I can’t see how anyone would want to stay more than 5 mins in that place. Add to this the natural shyness Taiwanese feel around sex, and cut that time down to 1 minute. Let alone the kid, the intrusiveness of the woman was totally bizzarre. I’m guessing this is a one-off incident – I can’t imagine other, similar places creating such awkward environments for shoppers, but my curiousity is now piqued. In the name of research, I have no choice, but to examine more sex shops in Taiwan. Stay tuned.