Pleasure Chest Sex Shop Celebrates 40 Years with Adult Baby Jesus, Monkey Giving Condoms and 'Dancing With the Porn Stars'

Pole-dancing at the Pleasure Chest anniversary party
Pole-dancing at the Pleasure Chest anniversary party
Lina Lecaro

For more photos check out our slideshow, Nightranger: Gloryhole @ The Pleasure Chest (NSFW)

Forty years is a long time to be

excited about anything. Even sex. Yet here, in the sealed-off parking

lot next to the Pleasure Chest, it's less a 40th-anniversary party than

Upcoming Events

it is a bacchanalia for the venerably notorious West Hollywood sex-shop

landmark.

The essence of this celebration -- and, ultimately, the

Pleasure Chest itself -- is freedom. Free drinks, free feels to be

copped, and a free show within the furry, white walls of a makeshift

glory hole erected inside the store. Making things happen: It's the

American way. Sordid goings-on are revealed behind those walls in this

place, which caters to kinks of all kinds. It's a place where S&M

could just as easily mean salesmen and mechanics.

More pole-dancing
More pole-dancing
Lina Lecaro

Outside, a man with stilts duct-taped to his shoes easily cuts through the throng of

pornographers, modern primitives and the voyeuristically bemused. These

are people for whom the Pleasure Chest was intended: the rogue, the

renegade, the queer.

Event producer Lenora Claire, a noted bon

vivant with hair as red as the soul of an exploding star, trots up,

introducing me to a 6-foot-tall baby in an oversized, stained onesie.

His fetish is known as paraphilic infantilism. It's a fetish that has

led to a brisk business in making realistic latex infant masks that

cover the entire head. All those masks are sad babies, but such

one-dimensionalism is as insulting to kink as the missionary position.

The tears on the baby's face lend a brighter glow of realism to the

mask. It's just as quickly dimmed by the booze in the baby's bottle.

Paraphilic infantilism
Paraphilic infantilism
Lina Lecaro

Inside,

two women test a stripper pole set up in the front of the shop. There

is some question as to its structural integrity. Far be it from the

Pleasure Chest to be some place where someone could get hurt.

There's

a whipping nook running like a well-lubed machine in the back, and a

little monkey runs around outside in the crowd, wearing a funny suit and

offering condoms. I point him out to Claire. (This is what passes for

casual conversation at a sex shop.) She recognizes the monkey as he

perches proudly on a pile of prophylactics and quickly corrects me about

the gender. "She. Her name is Zuni." (Yes, it's always the women who

are the thoughtful ones. Even when you're entering into a sketchy ménage à trois in a cheap hotel somewhere in West Hollywood -- they always buy you condoms. Then they weep bitterly. Hello, ménage à un.)

More partying
More partying
Lina Lecaro

A

bus sits at the far end of the parking lot. Various hedonistic revelers

emerge from it in multiple states of unbecomingness. After the baby

wanders off -- apparently, his full name is Adult Baby Jesus -- Claire

whispers, "That's Matt Cornell. He's also eXtreme Elvis, one of my

all-time favorite performance artists."

Ever the peripatetic

producer, she adds, "I put together a 'sexual' circus for the Pleasure

Chest featuring Zuni, Cassidy Haley, the stilt walker, and Brianna

Belladonna, the foxy sword swallower."

The whipping nook
The whipping nook
Karen Jackson

Belladonna appears from out

of nowhere and proceeds to do her silverware-polishing thing. Unfazed,

Claire explains what happens on the bus: "I came up with the idea of

'Dancing With the Porn Stars' -- an obvious homage to Dancing With the Stars."

And

the stars are there, clouded in dark matter as they generally are:

pornographer and educator Nina Hartley; CyberSkin Voluptuous Pussy

mastermind April Flores; indie-queer music producer Sean Carnage; street

artist Buff Monster; and one of America's Next Top Transsexual Models

(always tops, never bottoms).

"If I had my way," Claire says, "we

would have made giant, mirrored testicles as disco balls. But there's

never enough time to fit in every idea."

The Pleasure Chest's wares
The Pleasure Chest's wares
Lina Lecaro

So why such affection for

a sex shop? "I first became aware of the Pleasure Chest as a kid in the

'80s, when my parents used to shop there," she says. "I remember

finding some naked lady pens in a bag that said 'Pleasure Chest.' I

started shopping there as a supergoth teen for bondage belts, and I

still shop there. It's the erotic epicenter of Los Angeles."

I

literally bump into owner Brian Robinson (free drinks are plentiful

here). "We've been successful for 40 years because we've supported our

community's sexual growth and exploration without judgment," he says.

"If it's worked for 40 years, we aren't going to change it now."

Pleasure Chest Sex Shop Celebrates 40 Years with Adult Baby Jesus, Monkey Giving Condoms and 'Dancing With the Porn Stars'
Lina Lecaro

Director

of business development and strategy Sarah Tomchesson -- yes, there is a

strategy to all this -- butts in gracefully, echoing the sentiment. "Our

work has always been driven by a belief that everyone has a fundamental

right to pursue sexual fulfillment."

As for achieving sexual fulfillment? That's another celebration entirely.

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