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Home / Articles / Special Issues / Sex Issue /  The missionary position
. . . .
Tuesday, Feb 12, 2013

The missionary position

A latent Mormon’s foray into the world of strange and inexplicable sex toys

By Ryan Bradford
sex-ryan The Rubber Rose’s ticklers, including the SETI in the center
- Photo by Ryan Bradford

A Mormon walks into a sex shop. 

It sounds like the set-up to a bawdy comedy, or a joke where the punch line is inevitably "The Missionary Position!" 

Ha. Ha.

The joke repeats itself in my head. It serves as a soothing thought to address the awkwardness of the situation at hand: I've been assigned to seek out strange, obscure or inexplicable sex toys and report my findings back to CityBeat headquarters. Standing outside Mankind—Hillcrest's esteemed sex shop (3425 Fifth Ave.)—I realize this task is a ruse. Anyone with a search engine and the filters turned off could write this from the safety of their bedroom. I'm sure my editor just wants to make me squirm. 

Technically, I am a Mormon—non-practicing, but I was still baptized into it. I wouldn't consider myself a prude—being married to a Planned Parenthood employee ensures a healthy amount of sex talk in our household—but there are times when my inner Latter-Day Sainthood rears its righteous head. Especially when I think about the fuck saw

"I hear there's this thing called the 'fuck saw,'" said music editor Peter Holslin at last week's editorial meeting. "Be sure to ask about it." He described a jackhammer with a dildo at the end. He emphasized the motion by jabbing his arm back and forth: uhuhuhuh. 

I push the thought away. 

Please let there be no saw. No way. Nu-uhuhuhuh. 

Steve Bernier, Mankind's manager, greets me with a friendly smile and a handshake. He takes me upstairs. Eyes forward, deep breaths. Ignore the poster for anal bleaching. I can do this.

He leads me to a glass case and removes a black metal bar that looks like it was used to recently clobber a cartoon character—the soft rise in the middle is rounded like the crown of your head.

"This," he says, "is The Humbler." 

He shows me the picture of what it does. There is nothing cartoonish about it. To explain the specifics of how it works would pretty much be like spoiling the endings to all the Hellraiser movies. 

Before today, if youíd asked me how many things you could do to your balls, I'd say, "Two, maybe," but during the next 15 minutes, Bernier runs through a Bubba Gump-like list of all the toys used to crush, stretch, clamp and sauté your fellas. 

Then we look at the cum-stoppers, with their pins that go inside your urethra. Future review of the audio recording will reveal an audible squeak when I gasp: "Oh!" 

Bernier, insistent of his preference for pleasure over pain, moves on to the prostate stimulators, which look like cursive Ts turned upside-down and claim to give users a hands-free orgasm.

"Their main thing is that these were developed by doctors for prostate health," Bernier says. "Sometimes straight males get hung up on the whole anal-thing." But, he adds, regular stimulation to the prostate increases blood flow, which keeps the prostate from becoming "old and gross."

Mormon practices may seem Puritanical—no drinking, no smoking, no caffeine—but I was taught that they were originally established to promote good physical health above anything else. And discovering the health benefits of these prostate massagers feels like the epiphany needed to satisfy my inner piety. Suddenly, I'm comfortable, beaming like a 19-year-old missionary, talking about hands-free orgasm. 

If an emphasis on physical health is my ticket to a freakier-deakier sex world, then Downtown's The Rubber Rose (917 E St., therubberrose.com) has me covered.

"The adult industry is a pretty toxic industry," says owner Lea Caughlan. "Both visually, from beauty ideals and stuff like that, but it's also literally toxic. Ninety-eight percent of the toys are made with jelly-rubber, which is porous, so as you use it, it can hold bacteria in it."

With its brightly colored table models, design-minded layout and smooth R&B music, The Rubber Rose is uniquely inviting. Compared with the ball-crushers, Caughlan's light-hearted demeanor and health-minded inventory instantly puts me at ease. A chandelier made of gold- and black-painted dildos hangs from the ceiling. The homemade ingenuity of it reminds me of the crafts I used to make in Sunday-school primary.

"The other issue," Caughlan continues, "is that [jelly-rubber] off-gasses chemical softeners that are toxic. All that stuff is slowly being eliminated from plastics that are used by humans, but the adult industry is a 'novelty' industry, which means that they escape all those regulations." Every item sold at The Rubber Rose is made of silicone, a "cutting edge" quality among sex shops, she says.

She lets me feel the silicone on the SETI, a soft blue, satellite-shaped anal tickler that I find downright adorable. 

"Searching for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence," Caughlan says, explaining the acronym. "It's so nerdy that it makes it so awesome."

She laughs. I laugh. No way I'm going to ask about the fuck saw here. Technically, I don't think I'm even allowed to say that word.


Write to ryanb@sdcitybeat.com or follow him on Twitter at @theryanbradford




 
 
 
 
 
 
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