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NZ Sex Shops History

There’s no other human activity that affects our lives, our history, and our society more than sex does.

According to the Maori people, sex should have been embraced, and statues of gods with visible penises were widespread. However, when the missionaries travelled to New Zealand, they cut all of the penises off as it was considered to be a a sinful symbol.

The Maoris didn’t view sex as something that was sinful, but rather as something that should be celebrated. It was such an honoured activity that they were known to have had as many partners as they wanted. Therefore, we at Cinder are sometimes jealous of the Maori’s lifestyle (and we hold no shame or guilt about it).

Since when were Kiwis such puritans? Back in the 60s, everybody was about free love and sex! In 1978, under the Massage Parlors Act, brothels were allowed to operate under the guise that they were actually massage parlors.

The TV series ‘Passion in Paradise’, which thoroughly discussed the history of sex in New Zealand, was aired on TVNZ at 9:30pm and finished about half an hour later. It was then moved to show at midnight. We’re still not welcome to the concept of free sex in our modern society. Yes, we can have it in the backroom, paid or unpaid, but talking about it on live television is still such a taboo concept.

So how is this shame translated into the modern sex-toy industry?

Take this sex shop in Whanganui, for example. It’s known as ‘Pleasure Dome’, and it was shut down not too long ago.

Customers who wanted to enter the shop had to do so through the back door. As the owner of Pleasure Dome once said, “Whanganui is a small town and discretion is needed, especially for older women and men”. Not only did the residents feel shame when they visited the store, but nearby buildings also wanted to see Pleasure Dome gone.

Going back in time, we can see that a sex shop in Paraparaumu Beach (44 Te Roto Drive) known as ‘The Cage’ also closed down as a result of a low clientele volume.

The population of Kapiti at the time was around 50,000 people, and with such a small amount of potential customers, it wasn't sustainable enough for a sex shop to survive.

The former owner of the store was a man known as Wayne Anderson, and he shared his two cents on the matter: “Being a conservative area, people didn't want to be seen at The Cage”. The Cage had another sex store in Wellington, at 111 Vivian Street, but that was eventually closed down as well. Now, it's been a Ban Mai Thai Cafe/Thai Tara Restaurant for many years.

In 2003, the Prostitution Reform Act passed, which allowed escort agencies and brothels to come out of the shadows. In 2012, the book ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ boosted sales of BDSM toys, and some researchers suggested that it promoted unhealthy behaviors in girls.

Nonetheless, many sex toys became mainstream items as a result of the book’s running success.

It's here, that we can see a noteable shift from male-based customers to a female and male-based market (today, there's a 50-50 split between the two). One of the consequences of women entering the market was a decrease in the shame that men felt when they purchased these kinds of products. From something that your mother warns you about, to toys she’ll try herself (and might even recommend to you).

That explains why adult toy stores are considered to be legitimate businesses in big cities, whereas in older towns, people still feel ashamed to visit them.

In addition, we can see how the market is moving towards eCommerce sites, which decreases the need for physical, brick and mortar stores. Sex toys will become so common, that it won’t be long before people are showing off their latest models of adult toys. It almost happened 10 years ago in NZ, when a woman purchased an 18k gold vibrator, but it seems this hasn’t taken off just yet.

We wrote an article about Peaches and Cream in the online world, which is a good example for a business in this hot industry.

In conclusion, within the next 50 years or so, we’ll most likely have any futuristic sex toy imaginable, and we are going to love them and give them more spaces under our beds. Or, we might not even need any sex toys - we can use sophisticated AR machines to stimulate our senses. But we know one thing for sure – it’s certainly not going to be boring.

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