Can you tell me about PASSIONAL Boutique and Sexploratorium? Who, would you say, is your targeted market?
“Well, since the topic is sex, and PASSIONAL Boutique sells only clothing, I would say that our targeted market is people of all sizes and orientations who want to express their inner sexy. PASSIONAL sells many products that you can simply not find anywhere else in our geographic area from steel-boned corsets, to kilts, to latex clothing.
Our other store (upstairs from PASSIONAL), is Sexploratorium (each store used to be in separate buildings, but moved into two different floors of the same building two years ago and maintain separate websites and social media networks). Our target market is people of all genders and orientations who wish to discover pleasure in its many forms in a health focused, safe and supportive environment.”
Some people are not comfortable talking about sex. Do you encounter customers that are shy about being in your store?
“We do encounter shy customers in both stores. In PASSIONAL Boutique, many hard-to size people do not believe that we will have styles that will fit their bodies or their chosen gender expressions. For example, PASSIONAL sells sizes XS-8XL and advertise this wherever we advertise. But we receive visitors daily who comment that “there won’t be anything here that will fit me” because that has been their experience in other stores, such as lingerie stores and clothing boutiques. PASSIONAL is mostly a clothing boutique but we do specialize in corsets and do feature an intimates department in both our menswear and womens wear sections. So PASSIONAL sales associates are constantly reassuring folks who walk in, unfamiliar with our brand, that we do have items that are likely to fit them and that even if we don’t we can have certain styles made-to-measure for a special-ordered custom fit for clothing that will flatter their body shape and fit comfortably.
We also attempt to advertise this fact by featuring photos in-store and online of models who have diverse backgrounds, body shapes and gender expressions, so it helps us to point to some of our signage and say, “See?”
In Sexploratorium, we encounter a range of reactions from embarrassed giggling and shyness to shock and amazement that some items we sell even exist! We only sell body-safe, guaranteed, quality sexuality products, many of which are medically recommended, and so some folks who are looking for “gag gifts” are surprised when we send them down the street to Condom Kingdom for novelties. There has been a recent surge of interest in our fetish and BDSM department in recent years which has also provided us with an opportunity to help people discover and experience some of those products and learn about related practices in an educational, non-judgmental and safe environment.”
Why do you think it’s important for people to be open about sex?
“It is scientifically proven that sexual enjoyment depends upon confidence (which we help people build and explore in PASSIONAL and Sexploratorium) and that sexual pleasure provides stress relief and leads to a happier life. Shame and lack of education about our bodies in general and about sex in particular leads to all kinds of problems that affect life and happiness beyond the bedroom, from unplanned pregnancy to compulsive, self-destructive or risky behavior that can lead to potential infections and stress.
So, for people who are anywhere on the spectrum of human behavior around sex, sexuality and gender expression or identity to have a space where they can be honest about their needs, is the reason that myself and my staff have committed to creating this public retail space. Whether or not an individual’s needs even include sexual contact (some people are asexual or solo sexual by choice), knowing or learning what types of pleasure, intimacy and connection, confidence or self-experience they desire it’s a crucial part of mental and physical health and wellness. If partners, families and even doctors encouraged people to learn and talk about sexuality, body image and health more openly, the world would be a more pleasurable place for humans to reside.”
Is there anything else that you feel is important for people to know?
“We are really proud of Sexploratorium’s Passion 101 Sex Education Workshops which happen in our 3rd floor community room every week. Adults over the age of 18 can learn tips and techniques from experts in an educational and entertaining environment (which include) skills for improved sexual pleasure, relationships, fetish, fantasy and more.
Also a note about retail etiquette: We attempt to make both stores a safe space for people of all colors, body types, genders, identities and orientations. We serve people of many religions, political leanings, careers and backgrounds. We will ask people to leave if they cannot treat our staff, merchandise and customers with respect. This does not mean that giggling is forbidden or that we don’t have a sense of humor, but it does mean that pointing and laughing at products, loud abusive behavior and other potentially triggering behaviors are not tolerated in our store and we will ask violators to calm down and be respectful or to leave if they prove unable to do so. We do have a reputation for taking ourselves seriously, but it is important for us to approach misbehavior seriously so that all shoppers have a safe space to get vital information and make informed decisions about what they want or need.”
If you’d like to visit PASSIONAL or Sexploratorium, either in person or virtually, here is where they can be found.
317 South St
Philadelphia, PA 19147
317 South St, 2nd Fl
Philadelphia, PA 19147