This bicoastal chain has made masturbation and prop-aided sex mainstream, with workshops, classes and even a monthly “Babeland Brunch,” featuring free coffee, muffins and sex talk. Babeland’s brightly lit Brooklyn location includes a diaper-changing table and aisles wide enough for strollers. For prudes still shy in spite of the store’s überfriendly staff and mid- to upper-class clientele, it offers private shopping by appointment—or delivery within three hours for $30. 94 Rivington St at Ludlow St (212-375-1701, babeland.com) • 43 Mercer St between Broome and Grand Sts (212-966-2120) • 462 Bergen St between Flatbush and Fifth Aves, Park Slope, Brooklyn (718-638-3820)
This boutique caters to rubber fetishists, dominatrices and anyone who loves to get all tied up. Headquartered in Amsterdam, The 1,300-square-foot Manhattan branch of this Amsterdam-based company is a cornucopia of impeccably constructed rubber lingerie, bodysuits, pants, collars, whips, masks—even leather-suspension body bags. Such high quality doesn’t come cheap, though: A standard rubber harness with external dildo starts at $185. Expect an intimidating atmosphere if you’re uninitiated, and heaven on earth if you are. 144 Orchard St at Rivington St (212-466-0814, demask.com)
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(Originally published in Time Out New York, June 29, 2009)