'Gloryhole' Bash Proves the Pleasure Chest Still Looks Good at 42
WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — The 2013 Gloryhole anniversary bash thrown last night by The Pleasure Chest in West Hollywood attracted throngs of revelers unified in their diversity and dedication to free sexual expression.
There was no single vibe: guests cavorted, smiling, corset-to-corset, in vinyl, leather, latex and every kind of gender configuration.
“Getting such a large group of open-minded people together like this is really fabulous,” Lenora Claire, one of event’s hosts, told XBIZ. “Anytime there’s a bunch of like-minded, sexy individuals, I’m way into it.”
Flame-haired Claire, whose face has become almost synonymous with the party, said she helped produce the first Gloryhole three years ago, which was thrown to celebrate the company’s 40th anniversary. The event was so popular that it became an annual to-do.
“Forty years is a really big deal. Sex stores just don’t stick around that long,” Pleasure Chest E-Commerce Manager Lillian Behrendt said.
“It’s really a celebration of our roots,” said Sarah Tomchesson, who is Pleasure Chest’s director of business development. “We were the first retailers to take the big X’s off the windows and say ‘adult retail is shame free.’ This is a celebration of the marriage of sex positivity and the total liberation of the 70s."
Last night The Pleasure Chest hardly looked like a store at all — the spacious merchandise floor and parking lot were converted into a red carpet exhibition space littered with some of L.A.’s most prominent “sexual glitterati,” including Nina Hartley, April Flores, Jiz Lee, Allison Moon and Damon Holzum. Drinks flowed freely (literally) from the hosted bar. Alcohol could be mitigated by fare from The Greasy Weiner hot dog truck.
Guests peered into the event’s signature exhibition space, the “gloryhole” (i.e., a windowless, doorless furry, white room with holes for limited viewing) to see an ever-shifting erotic show that included strap-on sex and even some circus roleplay.
For sexual educator Reid Mihalko, the collective gawking is more than a cheap thrill: “the Gloryhole event is so important to me because it gives people permission not to have to be ashamed for looking and being curious and asking questions.” Mihalko received his first public flogging last night as part of a performance piece with Hartley and Charlie Knox.
“There’s a lot of shame in our culture, around the male gaze especially, so this is also kind of a fun ice breaker where the whole point is to look and to have fun and be titillated as a community.”
The event was co-hosted by Luke Nero and Andrés Rigal. Sweet Beats provided frozen treats and tunes.
The Pleasure Chest recently opened a new location in New York’s Upper East Side that features a dedicated workshop space. The first Pleasure Chest store opened in the West Village in 1971.