“It is what people think it is,” said a sales assistant at one store on Oxford Street in Sydney.
“You’re spending your day selling dildos and vibrators to people, and yeah you’ve got your dirty mole men coming in to buy DVDs, and the not so dirty ones as well,” she told Business Insider.
“I don’t care what people think. I stopped caring a long time ago. I’m quite happy to tell people what I do — I’m honestly earning a wage why should I be embarrassed about that?”
It is hard to give an exact figure on how many sex stores there are in Australia, as each state has different classification laws depending on exactly what products outlets provide.
But they are a common sight in red light districts across the world, many with blacked-out windows and the obligatory triple-X sign.
And often they have discreet rear entrance for a reason: A lot of people might want what they sell – but they don’t want to be seen buying it.
“There are the people who have never been in a [sex] shop before who can’t stop giggling as they wander through. And I have seen people trying to drag people up the stairs and them running back out of the shop as soon as their friends let them go.
“We do have regulars come in who I know by name who have their certain video likes and certain things they are after. You do get to know that after a while. Mostly though it’s just randoms,” she said.
“It’s fun, it’s Oxford Street. It’s a great, eclectic mix of people and you see them all coming in here, from the drag queens to the transgendered to the cute little gay boys and the straights.”
The owner of Risqué Adult Boutique on Darlinghurst Road in Kings Cross said despite earning a degree in Egyptology, she had always wanted to work in a sex store, “Because I thought it was cool and fun.”
“People are happy to shop. They come in and they have fun – they are not in a bad mood. It’s a great job, I love it,” she said.
In the nine years since she started the store, she said she had never had a bad reaction after telling someone what she did for a living.
“Australian people are very open-minded. I am not ashamed to say I work in a sex shop. There are lots of parties in Sydney, people like to dress up.”
Another worker, a man at a store in Paddington, said the slower pace of trade had its perks.
“It’s the best way to get paid to do something and then do something else.”
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