PRODUCT REVIEW: Shag, where sex meets art

Dark, sketchy, neon red lights, crushed black velvet, secret curtains, dildos, rubber, latex. These are a few adjectives that typically capture the atmosphere of most sex shops.

I’ve been to sex shops around the world and despite the cultural and language differences, one thing manages to traverse all barriers: the tackiness of it all.

The outdoor display signs are usually neon red, purple or pink, and there is at least one letter that’s not fully working so sex shop now reads “S X S op”. The display windows are filled with mannequins in latex dominatrix or nurse costumes or covered with all the different types of porn on offer.    

Sure it’s fun to go in with a gaggle of your girlfriends and have a giggle looking through the lacy underwear and vibrators.

But what if you’re alone? Or what if you’re a guy buying a dildo for your girlfriend? Or what if you have a burning question and are looking for a butt plug to spruce up your love life? You don’t necessarily want to be caught dead going in or out of one those joints.

Some people are as much embarrassed as afraid to go inside because sex shops simply look so shady. They always make you wonder whether there’s an illegal sex ring happening just behind that black curtain.

Sexy shop, not sex shop
Well, Samantha Bard, owner of Shag in Brooklyn, New York, has changed that.

Shag is not your typical sex shop. In fact, it’s not a sex shop at all. Bard says she likes to refer to it as a “sexy shop.”

Conveniently placed at the corner of Roebling and North 6th in the hipster neighborhood of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, Shag is a breath of fresh air compared to other sex shops.

With its bright sunny windows—sans red neon signage—one might mistake it for a cute little boutique. Inside, the walls are bright and white. It’s a classy and welcoming place.

Sexy art
Still, Shag stocks all your necessary items like vibrators, cock rings, dildos, racy lingerie, edible underwear, whips, and lubricants. Additionally, Shag also carries jewelry, decorative pillows, skin care products, sexy kitchen utensils (i.e. steal nipple-shaped placemats for hot pans), and plenty of batteries. 

Photo by JD

What is most enchanting is all the sexual art sprinkled throughout the store. It reminds me of the old woman’s house in the film “A Clockwork Orange” with all the phallic sculptures and colorful deviant art. (I secretely want that woman’s art collection!)

It may not come as a surprise that Bard was completing a master of fine arts (MFA) when she came up with the idea to open her own sex shop. Many of her art projects already dealt with sexuality, gender and intimacy. She says she was making life-size, life casts of genitalia, when finally it hit her—“I can make my own dildos!”  

Shag hosts monthly exhibit openings featuring new artists each month. The walls and glass counters display sensual paintings and prints. You can also get handmade seductive decorative mirrors and coasters.  

My absolute favorites were the Matryoshka-like penises, by Hally McGehean, featuring different shapes and sizes that stack onto each other like Russian nesting dolls. You can also get them featuring naked women or lingerie.

Photo by JD.

Photo by JD.

Love improvement
Shag also hosts events for singles and couples, such as massage workshops, rope bondage, female ejaculation and underwear-making parties.

Tonight they have a free workshop discussing sex for survivors of sexual as well as other forms of abuse.      

Another brilliant touch is the free sex book-exchange library they have. Donate a sex book and take one home for free!  It’s an affordable way to polish up on your technique.

Photo by JD.

I think it’s safe to say Shag is more than just a sexy shop, it’s a sex institute. Come in for a browse!

108 Roebling
Brooklyn, New York
(347) 721-3302

 – JD

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