Back to the Future: A Time Traveler’s Guide to Sex Shops

Mark Espinosa

I woke up this morning and discovered a time machine in my backyard. It was powered by silicone lubricant and made a weird sort of “buzzing” sound whenever it landed at its designated temporal destination. With the entirely of humanity laid out before me, I found myself struggling to determine where I should travel to first. As I stared at a dildo resting between my keyboard and my morning coffee, I found myself curious about the history of our industry. With my newfound time traveling abilities, I no longer had to speculate about the early days of sex shops, I could actually go visit one for myself! So, I packed up a small lunch and set out on an adventure through time! First stop, New York City, 1974!

This was definitely not the “Disney friendly” New York City I had become accustomed to in recent years. This NYC was energetic and wild. Graffiti covered everything. Phone booths as far as the eye could see. (Surprisingly, the fashion was almost identical to current-day San Francisco.) I also noticed that this was a city ready for change. I quietly began asking around where a gentleman, such as myself, could procure “intimate bedroom items for me and my partner?” I was mostly met with looks of disgust and shock. While a few people did suggest I try the local Macy’s, the majority of people suggested I travel on down to 42nd street. As I turned onto the infamous thoroughfare, I was immediately inundated with an overwhelming abundance of electric sexuality. Signs boasting “peep shows” and “live nude girls” turned the night into day. I was overwhelmed and had no idea where to begin.

With the continued advocacy of the sex toy industry and retailers, the stigma around sexuality is clearly beginning to disappear.

While some sexuality items could be found between the phone booth sized peepshows and coin-operated live performances, 42nd street proved to be a less than hospitable environment for the wayward time traveler looking for informed sexuality conversations. I was told that I should try a shop on the other side of town called Eve’s Garden. Having grown up knowing only Good Vibration’s “sex positive, clean and educated staff” environment, Eve’s Garden felt more of what I was use to. Sexuality wasn’t considered shameful or dirty – at least, not within the walls of this shop. The rest of the country was a different story.

While I smiled at the (now extinct) product designs, materials and outdated packaging, I couldn’t help but be utterly impressed with how far our industry (and society) had come in the past 40 years. It’s impressive to think that two sex-positive shops on either coast, would eventually pave the way for hundreds more around the world. As I stood there, holding a contraption that could vibrate a small hole through a wall, I couldn’t help but wonder what the sex shops of the future would look like?

I jumped into my time machine and set out to San Francisco in the year 2054. After searching for a long while, I was surprised by how difficult it was to find a sex shop in this future San Francisco. It wasn’t until I decided to ask a stranger for help, that I was told (with much enthusiasm) that the buildings I thought were hospitals or clinics were actually the closest equivalent to what could be called a sex shop. As I entered one such location, I was completely blown away by how casual the environment was, but also, by how clinical it seemed.

Aside from being a storefront, the sex shop of the future seemed to also doubled as some sort of medical clinic that provided non-judgmental healthcare to all who required it. I was told that a “complete medical work up” could be provided to help ensure all products purchased would positively interact with my body’s chemistry. Sexuality was openly discussed and plainly displayed for the world to see. Sexuality wasn’t stigmatized or seen as shameful. It wasn’t tucked away. It was a world where basic human rights, education and proven science were valued more than profit and misguided propaganda.. The sexuality of the future was so bright, that I had to wear shades.

The ramifications of messing with the space-time continuum aside, lets seriously consider if this truly is the direction our industry is going? What the world has now, that it didn’t have 40 years ago, is a little thing called “the Internet.” With human rights campaigns and rally cries for improved educational programs so easily transmitted around the world, it’s safe to say that our present-day society has the ability to spread awareness, to educate and be educated unlike any that has come before it. With websites ranging from Reddit to Youtube, WebMD to Wikipedia, our present-day youth (and adults) are able to research a wide array of educational topics from the comfort of their own homes.

With media outlets transmitting our struggles and wrongful persecutions into the homes of millions of people, I have to believe that positive change will continue to come. With the continued advocacy of the sex toy industry and retailers, the stigma around sexuality is clearly beginning to disappear. Considering how far we’ve come in the past 40 years, isn’t it safe to assume that it’s only going to get so much more better in the next 40?

PS. We still didn’t have flying cars.

As National Sales Manager of Pleasure Works Wholesale, Mark Espinosa believes that as the industry progresses alongside communications technology, it’s important that we always remember that we get to say that we “give people orgasms for a living!” So, why not have a little fun in the process?