Everyone could use a good sex shop now and again. But how do you know whether a store deserves its reputation or your dollars? We at The Pitch are your secret shoppers.
8116 Hickman Mills Drive, 816-363-5366
At the corner of Hickman Mills Drive and Prospect, Naughty But Nice (formerly known as the Pleasure Chest) has the advantage of being near two cheap hotels. Making it even more convenient: It's open 24 hours. The shop caters mostly to the film enthusiast, with walls and shelves filled with DVDs and, in a somewhat folksy touch, VHS tapes. It loses points, though, for having a relatively limited selection of gay, bi and trans material, given the large number of movies it carries. There's also a video arcade that costs $3 to enter, and then as many quarters as your sticky fingers care to spend. And if you actually plan to have intercourse with a person, the folks at Naughty But Nice haven't forgotten you. The store carries a selection of the usual sex toys, though nothing too extensive, including a well-displayed product called "The Fist" that would be more accurately described as "The Forearm," which is exactly what you're picturing right now.
904 West 39th Street, 816-531-2722
Deborah's isn't a sex shop in the way the rest of these stores are sex shops. It doesn't sell hardcore movies, rows of plastic anuses and battery-powered two-headed dildos. The reason it makes the list: When you want to spend a few bucks on a better sex life, Deborah's can help you. Without making you feel icky. Deborah's not only carries the best selection of lingerie we saw (measured by quality and quantity) but it's also the only respectable locally owned store we know of that carries fetish gear — including leather suits, bondage equipment, how-to videos and fake boobs. Deborah's also won us over by supplying plus-size fetish gear, because big people deserve to feel sexy, too. The Web site is just icing on the cake, with its announcements of seminars, fetish nights, a fetish ball and private play parties once a month in Mistress Deborah's "Dungeon" for those deemed worthy of an invite. We kind of love Deborah's. We want you to love it, too.
4301 Rainbow, Kansas City, Kansas, 913-831-1775
Kansas City doesn't seem able to support a sex shop for women, despite some entrepreneurs' best efforts. Wink, a feminist sex shop, opened on 39th Street in September 2007 and has already gone. For now, we recommend that women visit Cirilla's, which formerly went by the much better name Priscilla's (but that's another story). This was the only shop we visited where the clerk — a bespectacled young woman — greeted us when we walked in. The few customers, also young women, chatted with one another while comparing lingerie and vibrators. Everything about the place projects fun, from the pop music on the speakers to the simple fact that it's well-lit, making it a breath of fresh air compared with the quiet feeling of shame you get in most adult stores. Also, unlike most of the shops on this list, Cirilla's stocks items that are mostly useful with a partner in mind. Sure, it has some naughty movies and magazines, but this store is focused on providing just about every sex toy you can imagine. We're including things like furry handcuffs under the sex-toy heading, by the way. We get the impression that a lot of the metro's dancers shop here, but that doesn't mean you have to be one to enjoy the place. It has multiple locations around the metro, so you should be able to find one relatively close to you — or far away, depending on the degree of anonymity you prefer.
8401 East Truman Road, 816-252-3370
Erotic City caters to more types of people than any other store we saw. Its DVD selection probably isn't as extensive as the one at Naughty But Nice, and its sex toy and novelty inventory isn't as complete or interesting as that at Cirilla's. Where Erotic City has chosen to excel is by collecting the most random merchandise we've seen under one roof. Need some synthetic urine? They've got you covered. How about a sword, some ninja weapons, throwing knives or mace? Check, check, check and check. They've even got a rifle to shoot people with little, nonlethal plastic pellets if that's what you want, plus two-liter bottles of various soft drinks. And just to make it a little more random, they also have a selection of men's and women's clothing. Not erotic clothing, not fetish gear, not lingerie — just some jeans and T-shirts and baseball caps. We don't understand a single thing about this store, and we don't think we want to. But if you need to buy some clothes, weapons, junk food and hardcore porno and you don't have a lot of time, this is where you should probably go.
7621 Troost, 816-361-9555
At first, it appears that this well-known record store serves all of your entertainment needs except for the adult ones. But head toward the back — as long as you've got the ID to prove you're of legal age, you'll be let into the store's Red Light District. This is split into two areas: One sells smoking accessories, including a hookah so tall, we're not sure we could fit it through The Pitch's front door; the other sells tools of the erotic arts. 7th Heaven carries the standard DVDs and lingerie, but its main draw, if you're in the market for something more interactive, is its wall of extremely random toys. We found a 5-foot bar with another bar running perpendicular to it, ending in a dildo, which we're still not sure how to use. And a Sex Stool with a slit cut out in the center so that you can be creative with your positions (the label said this one holds up to 300 pounds). And a few Liberator-style wedges like you'd see in the back of Rolling Stone. And one of those chairs with a penis in the seat. Most intriguing: the sex swing, which had been set up for the floor display and female customers seemed to enjoy jumping into, and the commemorative Barack Obama dildo with our president's smiling face as the head.