You suddenly find yourself in need of, say, a nurse costume, a vibrating egg or an oral-sex instructional video -- what's a girl to do? Sure, there's the Internet, and the sleazy adult boutiques, but those options weren't cutting it for Millie Gregor, 23, of Point Breeze and Jajean Morgan, 34, of Squirrel Hill. In February, the two opened The Candy Shop, a female- and couple-friendly mini-boutique, separated by a curtain from The Chocolate Moose, the Squirrel Hill sweet spot where both have worked for the past few years. Recently, they've also hosted sex-positive events, including a "Sexy Soiree," held at ModernFormations last month.
Why did you open The Candy Shop inside ... a candy shop?
MORGAN: We both felt that there was a void in Pittsburgh for something that was geared towards us. Typically, there's the image of the creepy old trench-coat man or the over-intrusive woman who wants to show you how to use stuff. So we were thinking we want something that's more accessible to our demographic. And we thought the fusion with the chocolate, the chocolate being an aphrodisiac, and our sex stuff was a nice blend.
What about the Sexy Soiree events?
MORGAN: Our events are a way to highlight our small, alternative business, but we also like to pull in other local businesses and local artists. We had Phat Man Dee at one of our events, we've had belly-dancers, and we fuse it with decadent chocolate, and then we have our adult toys. Good fun! We're trying to create a cool date night.
GREGOR: A lot of people think it's going to be like a big swinger party! [Laughs.] The event's just a night of decadence in so many ways, it's completely sexy, but lighthearted and fun. Alluring, more than invasive or over the top. We want everybody to be able to come and feel comfortable, so we don't want to overstep on anyone -- that's when it starts being less sexy.
MORGAN: But it's not for everyone -- it's for people who are progressive and open-minded.
How is it more positive for women?
GREGOR: Well, a lot of the "back rooms" around the city and in general are male-dominated -- it's geared and seen through a guy's perception. This is just more female-centric. Everything that we sell, it's what we like. We're giving it our stamp of approval, right down to the packaging.
MORGAN: We're filtering everything through our eyes and what we like, and what we want to see that we don't really see outside of maybe the McKnight Road, big mega-mart -- that kind of intrusive environment is off-putting to us. Nothing's triple-X. It's all just fun, lighthearted, couple and female-friendly sexual enhancers, adult toys, whatever you want to call them.
You operate out of the Chocolate Moose; do people want to see food and vibrators in close proximity?
MORGAN: For people who don't know it's there, it takes a minute to get comfortable with that idea, but most people get the fusion right away. But we're not eating in the room, or rubbing chocolate all over ourselves!
How is what you're doing different from Girls' Night In events?
MORGAN: It's different because they do home parties; it's also focused on providing lots of information, it's an educational tool. We have a little bit of that, but mostly we're just providing the decadent environment. We don't want to come to your house!
GREGOR: We don't give the whole spiel about everything that we have -- we just provide it, and people come and browse and peruse, and then we can offer insight if they have specific questions.
What's the most surprising thing about opening a sex shop?
MORGAN: I'm surprised that we haven't been greeted with a ton of controversy. We're in Squirrel Hill, and in my mind, it's the perfect setting, because it's a progressive neighborhood and we're doing something progressive. But in other people's minds, it's not necessarily like that. Teeny bits of controversy in the beginning, but people have received it really well.
What question are you asked most often?
MORGAN: "Do you carry glass vibrators?" That's what people ask us all the time!
GREGOR: "Is it candy?"
MORGAN: That's the No. 1 question, mine was probably No. 2. A lot of people think that they're going in to see chocolate penises, or chocolate boobs or whatever. But that's dispelled when they walk in. "Ooh, that's better! I don't want a chocolate penis after all!'
Is there stuff for men as well?
MORGAN: There's a few things geared towards men, but like we said, we don't want it to be off-putting towards women, because we feel like there is plenty of stuff out there that's geared towards men.
GREGOR: And plenty of ways that men can access it. Women, there's more of a stigma attached, a taboo.