A few “nice” sex shops in the capital

Photographs by Ashley Fraser


Wicked Wanda's likes to play with the less subtle side of sexuality

Ottawans are flocking to sex shops after the release of the novel everyone read, but no one will admit to having read. Style investigates the craze.

There are two undeniable facts about 50 Shades of Grey, by best selling fan-fiction writer, EL James.

Fact one: It is an appallingly written submission fantasy that uses “Oh my” 79 times and “murmur” 68 times in the first book alone, according to a book blogger who counted.

Fact two: It has the women of Ottawa flocking to adult toy stores hunting for ben-wa balls, whips and handcuffs like never before. But is there more to stuffing stockings at Ottawa’s naughty toy stores than that?

As Christian Grey would say: Yes. There. Is. We visited three to investigate.


Wicked Wanda’s

What it’s about: Wicked Wanda’s tickles the overt side of sexuality. At the entrance is a full-sized papier-mâché vixen in a red dress surrounded by walls of lingerie, hosiery and fabulous steel-boned corsets ($149.99 to $299.99). There’s original erotic art for sale on the walls, but the focus du jour is BDSM. “That book,” says clerk Portia Young, referring to 50 Shades, “is a trend like anything else. But hopefully, people will move beyond it to learn about consensual, safe BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, Sadism, Masochism) relationships. We want everyone (to feel) comfortable here, whether they’re beginners or advanced, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual community (LGBT), straight or polygamous couples.”

The atmosphere: Informative and expert.

Bestsellers: Liberator Bedroom Adventure Gear, including g-spot cuffs and restraints ($29.99 to $229.99 for the famous Hitachi Axis Sex Pillow); leather crops and whips ($39.99 to $199).

Recommended: On the Edge: A Manual for SM Play by Trevor Jacques ($29.99).

Where: 328 Bank St., 613-820-6032, www.wickedwandas.ca.


Venus Envy

Venus Envy was originally created as a haven for sexually curious women. Today the focus is on making a wider range of customers comfortable.

What it’s about: Originally developed as a haven for sexually curious women, Venus Envy has expanded its repertoire to appeal to couples, LGBT and those looking for non-judgmental information. The store has everything: a vast range of bed and bath products, shelves stuffed with books on feminism, race, power disparities, kink, gender and safe BDSM techniques. It has an array of feminine hygiene and contraceptive products, erotic fiction, porn, how-to sex DVDs, kids’ books such as the classic Free to Be You and Me, lubricants, sex toys, restraints, dildo harnesses and games.

The atmosphere: Hip, low-key and welcoming.

Bestsellers: We-Vibe 3 ($149.95); We-Vibe Touch ($99.95); We-Vibe Tango ($79.95); Half Way Creations’ suede flogger ($59.99); Aslan Leather suspension restraints, ($130).

Recommended: Erotic fiction such as the Sleeping Beauty trilogy ($58.50) by renowned novelist Anne Rice; Cabaret Desire (DVD; $34.95).

Where: 320 Lisgar St., 613-789-4646, www.venusenvy.ca.


Erotic Massage is but one of the titles available at Venus Envy, a shop originally created as a haven for sexually curious women.

Adult Fun Superstore

What it’s about: Designed to look like a European marketplace with its second-level balconies and faux-stone floor, AFS is bright and airy with young but knowledgeable staff who work under pseudonyms. The funny part of sex — because it is ridiculous at times — shows in the bachelorette party paraphernalia and porn section, with an entire wall devoted to Zack and Miri Make A Porno-type parodies about Star Trek, Twilight, The Brady Bunch and The Simpsons. The store also offers a huge selection of toys, lingerie, lubes, dolls, BDSM items and even shoes.

The atmosphere: Staff members know their stuff.

Bestsellers: OhMiBod vibes connect music on any personal listening device to your private bits and your ears ($95 to $211); BodiSpa “magic wand” type massaging body vibrators that run hot or cold ($211.99).

Recommended: Pandora sex toy parties catering to every taste, including a 50 Shades version that explores and explains what Christian was on about.

Where: 1565 St. Laurent Blvd.; 613-741-7200; www.adultfun.ca

Connect with Julie Beun |life@ottawacitizen.com