You’ve seen them all over – Beijing’s ‘adult health’ stores dot almost every street, dishing out dildos with a smile and blow-up dolls with nary a blush from helpful and ever-earnest staff. The surge in popularity of the local sex shop has even inspired a light-hearted comedy, Red Light Revolution,
which follows a down-on-his-luck Beijinger who cashes in on the craze for coitus by opening his own nooky shop bringing opprobrium and delight in equal measure.
Amid the blue-and-white signs that announce the bog-standard store, a number of more upmarket purveyors of pervy paraphernalia can supply pleasures of the flesh you probably weren’t aware even existed. Your Time Out writer takes to the streets to find his own steamy revolution.
X Juse is a very conspicuous sex shop just west of the numerous hotpot restaurants of Guijie. I say ‘conspicuous’ because the window display features a dummy sporting a ball gag. Inside, the smell of the shop floor is rather funky, probably from the sheer amount of plastic on the shelves. A phalanx of blow-up dolls regarding me in open-mouthed shock from one wall testify to this.
‘Hello sir, would you like some masturbation equipment?’ The manager greeting me in my native tongue was commendable enough to override the embarrassment of having being pegged as an obvious wanker. I introduced myself as a member of the press, with a Time Out business card no less, but I have a feeling this canny salesman was used to such excuses. He continued to pitch to me a selection of very cheap and tacky masturbation equipment.
’Bating equipment aside, this store can provide those with an actual living partner the wherewithal for basic non-reproductive copulation. The smell is offputting, however, so it’s not somewhere to take your partner in the run-up to a romantic Valentine’s Day.
Many of Beijing’s adult stores have a strong online presence. Perhaps the furtive glow of your own computer’s screen is the ideal way to browse products that will overwhelmingly be used a capella. Entity’s comprehensive range is ready to fill any niche in the market. Though China now produces some 70 per cent of the world’s sex toys, it is interesting to note that the most chic shops tend to boast a large quantity of imported goods. The market leaders appear to be Japan, America, Germany and the UK, conjuring up an image of a global village of switched-on citizens all masturbating like safari-park chimps.
A visit to the Haidian outlet of this store was an exercise in customer care. The manager proved willing to spend a good 20 minutes with - blazing hypocrisy aside - someone it’s hard not to describe as a dirty old man, explaining everything from usage to the guarantee policy of a ‘Geisha’ sex toy. During the wait for this sticky customer to toddle off, something caught my eye. Pride of place on the ‘for men’ shelf was taken up by the imposing form of the now legendary Fleshlight. In case you are unfamiliar with this innovation, the Fleshlight was a real game-changer in the traditionally niche male sex toy market, having sold more than 4 million units (thanks to its silky smooth patented Super Skin), and is available here for an eyebrow-raising 720RMB. Price-sensitive customers will be tempted to pick up an economy sized bottle of lubricant to help pinch the pennies and not the private parts.
The Shuangjing branch of Entity is larger and run by the company’s founder, so is definitely worth a visit for anyone who requires the best in shop-floor expertise. Products from their website
can be delivered by courier with numerous payment methods including cash on delivery for orders over 80RMB.
Mobile phone technology has made incredible strides within the last decade leading many people to plonk down their latest 3,000RMB mobile phone on a bar’s table with pride. What they probably won’t show off to their friends are the equally incredible fruits of the post-Fleshlight high-tech sex-toy revolution.
At the risk of stereotyping Japan as an onanist’s utopia, the advances the land of the rising sun have made in the land of the rising… pretty much anything, are so mind-boggling that a visit to Sweet Toys, a shop stocked almost exclusively with Japanese products, may well leave you wondering what on Earth it is you are even looking at. If you have an erogenous zone that cannot be vibrated, lubricated or illumined by the equipment on these shelves you should probably apply for entry within the pages of Ripley’s Believe it or Not. Dildos range in size from a wand resembling ET’s probing finger to a monstrous piece of equipment that could double as a traffic cone. Condoms come in flavours that Willy Wonka himself never dreamed of. Their sex dolls so accurately replicate a real human being that… oh wait, their sex dolls all look like anime characters.
Cheap thrills are not on offer at this sexual supermarket however as their top doll comes with a price tag of over 5,000RMB and is so realistic that, like a real woman, will probably require her own taxi seat to get her home.
Pull up the hood on your flasher mac as things are about to get hardcore. A large black-and-white poster of Marilyn Monroe beguiling passersby might suggest a sophisticated product range inside Tiaoqing (Sentiment), but the emphasis is firmly on S&M. Its collection includes whips, chains, body-piercing jewellery and some horrifying metal prods whose purpose I couldn’t bring myself to ask the owner – our conversation about who buys poppers (200RMB a bottle) had been awkward enough. In fact, the boss is the most mild-mannered and friendly shopkeeper I’ve ever met in Beijing. So much so that I could almost believe his claim that the suspiciously low-priced Cialis was genuine. The dichotomy of dildonics – for men, toys are ultra-realistic; for women, they tend to resemble mutant alien cacti – is on show with a select choice of imported equipment.
If you’re seeking a leather costume for a Halloween at the yearly Yen Fetish Party or a shiny new set of handcuffs then Sentiment is surely the perfect spot.