Norwich’s beautiful side streets and lanes are famous for their independent, interesting shops, but one of the more titillating and lesser known amongst them is ‘Sin Sins Boutique of Love’ on St Benedict’s street. Located between the Platform 12 bar and Norwich Art Supplies, it blends in perfectly as a steady part of the high street. It’s cosy interior almost does the same: wooden floorboards, fairy lights, and shabby-chic dressers and shelves. It’s like the way your primary school friend’s mum redecorated her living room to bring some class and style back into her child-riddled life – but instead of a ‘live laugh love’ poster, drink coasters and a TV remote, every surface is covered in sex toys. There are Kama Sutra books on the shelves, dildos elegantly lined up, and pretty bowls full of nipple clamps. ‘Boutique of Love’ indeed: Sin Sins is a purveyor of filth, a den of harlotry and decadence!
But in keeping with Norwich’s charming, ‘fine city’ status, the couple that runs Sin Sins – the purveyors of filth in question – are frequently delightful, laid back and accommodating. They answer questions, show you around, and tell you anecdotes. Once I was told, clutching my pearls appropriately, that a couple that day had come in to buy a sex swing; upon being offered to have it wrapped, they declined, stating that they wanted to carry it down the street for everyone to see. By God!
With the friendly, casual atmosphere, this is no dodgy sex shop on the corner. That’s a wonderful thing the good ol’ sexual revolution has given us: should you so wish, you can nip to Sin Sins and nab whatever sex toy’s on your mind. For yourself, your partner, your friend’s birthday. It’s sex as something fun, normalised and open to experimentation, all without losing its verve and thrill.
We all know vibrators have, to an extent, been having their bit of a moment in the sun – it’s common for women to own a vibrator, and you can even buy them in Boots Pharmacy, never mind in Sin Sins or an Ann Summers. That being said, nothing can ever be perfect, especially where women’s sexuality is concerned. This year, Lora DiCarlo’s Ose robotic vibrator – having previously won an innovation award and having patents pending for ‘robotics, biomimicry, and engineering feats’ (BBC) – was disqualified from the 2019 CES, an international technology show, with claims that the CTA had the right to disqualify entries deemed ‘immoral, obscene, indecent, profane’. But then you learn that in 2018, the CES showcased Harmony, the infamous RealDoll sex robot. At CES 2017, there was a room dedicated to ‘Naughty America VR’, a virtual reality porn system. CES happily caters to the technological titillation of the cis heterosexual man, whilst denying a platform to a women’s sex toy, no matter how innovative it may be.
Sin Sins, meanwhile, stands in stark contrast to this hypocrisy. Bursting with sex toys suited for whatever genitalia you may possess, Sin Sins says that pleasure is for everyone, no matter their gender, experience and inclination. A far cry from the phallocentrism of sexy-CES.
So head on over with your partner. Head on over with your pals. A part of being an adult is having to buy your own sex toys. Although, many friends have shared with me that you can buy handcuffs for a fraction of a price from Beaujangles, a fancy dress shop three minutes away. Other than that, it’s worth it.