Provincial Pleasures

Here  is another Sex Shop interview –  I asked the lady why she,opened a sex shop,she told me that it was because she  liked sex . What better reason to open a sex shop?

After ten years of stacking shelves in a small town supermarket, Corinne Launoy was bored, so she opened a Love Store, what the French call « une boutique coquine ». For the past three years, Corine (or Coco) has been catering for the pleasures and fantasies of the citizens of Bourges. I went along to meet Corinne at her shop “Coco Charnelle” to chat about love in a small town.

Why did you open a love store in a small provincial town like Bourges?

I had always wanted my own shop, but I didn’t know what to sell. Someone told me to sell something I like. I like sex, so I opened a love store. This may be a small town, but all human life is here, and I’m making a good living, which proves there is a need for this kind of business. People in the provinces have sex lives too.

Were people shocked when they found a love store opening in their street?

If anything, people were mildly amused. Before opening, I held a meeting with the local residents. I explained that this was a love store and not a sex shop. No one objected, so I went ahead.

Loves stores and sex shops. What is the difference?

Sex shops are quite seedy affairs, hidden away from public view. They cater for a predominantly male clientele. They sell pornographic reviews or rent out DVDs in the same vein. Most sex shops also have « cabins » where individual clients can watch films and satisfy their desires. I don’t sell on the spot satisfaction. You won’t find any pornographic materiel in the shop.  A love store sells those items that allow couples or individuals to live out their sexual desires in private. In client terms I get as many women as men.  I get a lot of couples. In age terms my clients range from 18 to 70. I think the basic difference is that a sex shop is somewhere you might feel ashamed or even afraid to go. A love store is somewhere to come without fear or foreboding. Clients of all ages, and orientations can walk in and out of here like any other shop.

All the same, you’re selling sex toys and lingerie in a very prominent and bourgeois downtown shopping street. Isn’t this just all a bit shocking?

Well, you won’t find anything shocking in my window displays, no more shocking than a lingerie shop, and quite honestly, I don’t think sex toys are shocking. The modern vibrator (vibromasseur in French) has been around in one form or another since the Stone Age. The very reputable,  « Redoute » have been selling vibrators on their catalogue for over 30 years, though they call them « personal massage aids »

Tell me a little more about your clients. You said they range from 18 to 70! 

There is no age for sex; it concerns everyone at any age. Desire doesn’t suddenly stop when you start drawing your pension. The 60 to 70 age group are very sexually aware. This is the generation that lived through the sexual revolution of the Sixties. They were the first generation in France to get the Pill. I get my fair share of « respectable seniors » crossing the threshold. I would say though, that quite a few of my older clients are women. Perhaps their husbands are inactive for medical reasons or they have just « lost their appetite ». Women tend nurture their desires for longer than men, hence it is quite common to get ladies in their early sixties buying sex toys for individual use.

What about the youngsters?

What surprised me most when I opened was the amount of 18 to 25 year-old girls actually coming in for sexual advice.  Girls used to talk about their sexuality with their mothers: their first period, their first boyfriend, the first time … it was a bit like a confessional. Nowadays though, girls live out  their sexual evolution via the Internet. The information is all there and there is no room for imagination. Sex has become trivialised. So, I get young ladies coming in for advice on what to do and how to do it.

Do you get many married couples as customers?

I get plenty of, married couples mostly in the 30 to 50 age group, in search of something to spice up sex and enhance their mutual pleasure. I also get many gay couples. There is a sizeable gay community in Bourges. Mostly older gay couples in long-term relationships that have weathered and survived the ravages of Aids. I would just say that these clients have a penchant for « dressing up », as do quite a few heterosexual couples actually.

I get the feeling that what started out, as a business has now become a service.

In terms of advice, I definitely provide a service, there again that is the role of all shopkeepers, to advise their clients. I always draw a parallel with food. We all need to eat. Butchers and bakers provide bodily nourishment, I help nourish desire.

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