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D Vice Sex

James Ellingham




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Let’s talk about sex(toys) baby
Sex toys. Normally, when a conversation veers towards this topic, a kind of awkward silence ensues. Indeed, when writing about this topic, a kind of mental stagnation can be forgiven.
Thank heavens for the existence of d.vice, then. This funky sex toy shop breaks away from the traditional mould of sex toy shops – so to speak. Actually, their carefully moulded toys and devices are all about providing you, me and the person sitting next to you with an enhanced sexual experience – well, so the people at d.vice say.
The story of d.vice is one of sex toy parties, night classes and a rebellion against lilac dildos. Salient was lucky enough to catch up with one of d.vice’s founders, Emma Lyon, to have a chat and get some advice about d.vice and the whole sex toy business. I also wanted to discuss her personal journey (hate that phrase, but it just seemed apt), as she and her business associates progressed their way along the hard world of the sex industry.
After exchanging initial pleasantries, I asked Lyon how she got involved in the sex toy business. Her reply was every bit as dark and brooding as I expected – and included a threesome. Some may say it was the ultimate reply. “Three off us all had the idea to set up a sex toy company. Part of that was through personal desire to have access to really good quality toys and finding those available in New Zealand. I was particularly interested in silicon dildos because, at the time, there weren’t any available in New Zealand.” Wonder what they were made out of, then?
Just to prove to Lyon that I had done my research, I plucked from the d.vice website (www.dvice.co.nz) a quote about how the founders of d.vice had undertaken a desperate worldwide search for quality toys that were not lilac. Apparently, they do not like lilac. I wanted to know why this was. Lyon seems to think there is a “limit to their aesthetic”.
In a cunning move, she then turned the tables on me and asked, “Have you seen our range of silicon dildos?” I could feel my nose growing as I replied, “I have, yes.” Lyon made the comment that the marble colours were pretty wild, to which I emphatically agreed, smiling and nodding.
Then things began to really heat up. Lyon exploded on a dramatic monologue about her beginnings as a humble dildo moulder. “Lots of people wanted dildos that were black, or black and red. Also the aesthetic, like on a kind of sculptural level were, you know, umm…kinda beautiful. So [business partner] Wendy and I rocked off to night class where people made moulds to make concrete fish for their garden. We were just discretely experimenting with dido moulds in the corner.” Eventually though, with the help of Weta Workshop’s Richard Taylor and Tanya, d.vice’s dildo moulds began to take shape.
D.vice now has five stores – one in Wellington, two in Auckland, one in Melbourne and one in Palmerston North. They begun as a catalogue and inter-web based business. Lyon described the life of a sex toy roadie travelling around to sex toy parties.
“I used to load my suitcase up to go on the big road trip, doing the parties along the way.” Intrigued, I discovered that these sex toy parties are actually a little like the adult version of having a magician at a child’s sixth birthday party. Firstly there is a demonstration of how the toys work, and then a table is set up so people can privately and discreetly purchase items they desire.
Lyon then spoke of the d.vice ethos, “Our focus is to make really good quality sex toys really accessible. People can come and shop for them in a comfortable way, and ask exactly ‘what do I do with that, and is it going to be painful if I use that for anal play?’” I asked for advice on easing anal pain. “We talk about using lubricant and allowing muscles to relax,” Lyon said.I bet you do.
On a serious note, I asked Lyon if the majority of d.vice’s customers encounter embarrassment when they first enter the store. Lyon agreed they did. “Our culture doesn’t encourage open talking about sex and sexuality and we’re all expected to be sexual experts. People expect teenagers to be total sexual experts.” They do too. No wonder so many teenagers are troubled these days. I then decided to show off my knowledge of sex toys. “What are the most popular toys, still dildos?” I casually asked. “No, vibrators,” Lyon fired back. Feeling deflated, as one does, I then enquired as to what the most expensive item at d.vice is. Lyon did not tell me but in a mini-infomercial informed me that they have “just started to sell a range of German designed and manufactured toys called Fun Factory. They do a really amazing rechargeable vibrator.” For some reason, I imagined Lyon saying that in a Hutt accent. Anyway, these vibrators have “like a phone charger, but it’s actually a little stand”. Like, awesome! My phone vibrates when it rings.
Now for the four letter word: porn. Well, it had to be mentioned. Porn is the one thing that d.vice does not stock. This, Lyon says, is “a point of difference – a lot of people have said to me that they feel much more comfortable coming in.” Decent stuff. Well, perhaps not. “The main reason we don’t stock porn is the quality of porn available. Most of it is cheaply produced.” Good point. That settles that, then.
Lyon and I then casually chatted about harnesses, as you do, before discussing d.vice’s customer base. “It’s really broad. That’s one of the appeals of d.vice – we don’t look like an old seedy sex shop and we’re much more welcoming.” These observations were beautifully rounded out by the unrhyming couplet, which Emma informs me is the d.vice catch phrase: ‘quality sex gear for adventurous everyday people’. At that point, I decided to test these claims and watch the d.vice Wellington store for a while, to see how many adventurous everyday people went there (as compared to bald old men). It then dawned on me that such an experiment had stalkerish aspects. I decided against doing a survey, as I had to go to class. So I left Lyon to experiment with moulds.
If you want some nice sounding advice about a sexual device at d.vice, the place to go is the store on the corner of Willis and Dixon Street – or as Lyon says, “on the corner of Willy and Dicks.” Pop in there one day – you’re sure to find something that wets your whistle.