Mainstream Sex Shopping
It is fair to assume that your request would be greeted with stunned silence, wild laughter or an unsettling combination of both.
But if you pointed your web browser to Amazon.com, the world's largest online retailer of books, music and DVDs, you can purchase the latest J.K. Rowling door stop and browse through a selection of 4,316 sexual enhancement products and 25,849 adult toys and games — and we're not talking about the latest edition of a Nude Twister board game.
While it's well known that telephone companies, cable operators and hotel chains are profiting from adult product, few people are aware of the sheer bounty of X-rated material available not only on Amazon but at online auctioneer eBay and popular web portal Yahoo.
Filtered Search Results
Amazon carefully filters its search results to remove adult products. A filtered search for the keyword "vibrator," for instance, returns seven relevant items under the umbrella of Health and Personal Care products, including the best-selling Rabbit Pearl Vibrator. But remove the filter and the results could make a seasoned dominatrix blush.
Aside from an array of softcore DVDs — including 37 Jenna Jameson titles — and a stunning number of erotic photo-journalism books, Amazon breaks its adult product down into three categories: Sensual Delights, Sexual Enhancers and Adult Toys and Games.
Amazon's Sexual Enhancers include vibrators, orgasm enhancers, anal plugs, oral strapons and even a Sunrise Adams Pocket Pussy. Swedish Erotica sells 303 products through Amazon. Doc Johnson also is well-represented with 237 items. California Exotic Novelties clocks in with 69 products.
Sensual Delights returns 1,613 results at Amazon, including a Bedside Orgy Adult Kit, clitoral gel, massagers, edible undies and a vast selection of lubes and sensual massage oils.
Powerhouse web portal Yahoo is even more explicit than Amazon in its adult offerings. A simple search in the Yahoo Shopping Directory for the keywords "adult personals" returns 92 website listings. The returns are broken down into three purely sexual categories: BDSM; Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals; and Swinging. A random sampling of the sites Yahoo features include 123orgy.com, America's Kinky Personals, Threesome Finder and Scatlover Personals.
The keyword search for "sex" in the Yahoo Shopping and Services directory returns a mind-boggling series of categories including Adult Galleries (4,997 links), Adult Video and DVD (739), Sex Toys and Adult Products (1,120) and Fetish and Fantasy Wear (114).
The Adult Galleries listing in the Yahoo Shopping Directory offers links to sites for Double Penetration (5), Midgets (11), Shemale (59), Gangbangs (13), Girl on Girl (161), Amputees (5) and one link for Unusual Insertions.
The rules and regulations governing the sale of "sexually oriented material" on eBay are five pages long and explicit in detail. Materials adult in nature "or otherwise not appropriate for minors" may only be sold on eBay's Mature Audiences area. "Members may have noticed that a number of cities segregate stores selling sexually oriented materials to certain parts of the community," eBay notes of the Mature Audiences area in its rules and regulations.
Mature Audience Users
EBay Mature Audiences users are expected to follow "all applicable laws relating to the sale of pornographic material." In defining inappropriate material, eBay appears to adhere to the fetishes most often prosecuted by the Justice Department under the Miller Standard: bestiality, rape sex, incest, or sex with graphic violence or degradation. In the Mature Audiences area, eBay also will not permit "hidden camera videos and amateur videos containing adult sexual activity."
If an eBay user manages to get a listing approved in the Mature Audience section, he or she must be very careful how the product is described because eBay does not allow "any extraneous use of profane terms in the title or description when it is not part of a product title."
Material containing nudity is generally not permitted on eBay's main site, but there are exceptions.
With regard to artwork, nudity is permitted "to the extent it is part of a piece of art that may be considered fine art — such as certain paintings, carvings, figurines and other similar materials." In other words, Michelangelo's David is permitted, but a plaster cast of your own penis will be moved to the Mature Audiences area.