Slogging through uni, I wanted a cushy retail job and fingernails that didn’t reek of Jagermeister and Red Bull at the end of a shift. At the time, these all seemed like logical
reasons to take a position at my local adult store in North Brisbane. I pictured it being like an ‘adults only’ version of Clerks, chilling at the front desk and occasionally ringing
through the occasional porn flick or dildo. Easy, right?
The two years I spent behind the desk at ‘Frisky Business’ was one of the most challenging student jobs I’d ever had. And as it turns out, the skills I developed while peddling porn and discussing orgasms are now a great advantage to my more conventional career in management. For anyone contemplating life in the wonderful world of adult retail, here are four key skills you will develop.
1. You’ll be able to talk to anyone about anything
I mean literally, anything. Picture this: you’re standing beside a wall stocked with an artillery of vibrators and dildos. Your customer, an older woman, is holding a
purple jelly rocket that’s covered with lumps and soft spikes. You point to the little ball at the base, which looks like a little sputnik. “It’s a clitoral stimulator,” you explain
as you switch it on and show her the different cycles, from a light pulse to a full industrial-washing machine strength churn. You suggest she tests out the strength of the motor
by touching the tip of the vibrator to the tip of her nose. When she does this, her eyes pop out, as though on stalks.
As an adult store worker, conversations get real personal, real quick. Some people will seek out your expertise like you’re the fairy godmother of sex. (No kidding, once I had
a man call up to ask me how many guys in Brisbane had eight-inch penises). With shyer clients, there’s a fair bit of work to do between the “Hi, how are you today?” and “Can you orgasm from penetration?” It all comes down to empathy; making people feel safe when they are in the store and empowered to buy what they need to do the job. In business: Chatting with a stranger about how they like to climax is truly the apex of the awkward
conversations, and once you’ve got them down pat, you’ll have a set of impenetrable nerves. Job interviews, key presentations, client networking events, performance reviews. And if there’s one thing that works even better for pre-presentation nerves than picturing everyone in the room naked, it’s picturing a wall of silicone vaginas
2. You’ll be able to sell anything with confidence
You’ll be ringing through sales of weird porn, ball-gags, swings and nipple clamps all day long, but show the faintest tremor of a smile and you can kiss goodbye the sale, or at least the chance to up-sell, no, value add latex-free condoms, silicone lubricant or non-alkaline
batteries. After a few short months of selling kinky stuff with a straight face, your comfort zone will disappear over the horizon, and that is when you can truly sell anything.
One of my biggest sales was from a quiet man who came in looking for a masturbatory aid and ended up buying a $500 life-sized vibrating ass simply because I took it out
of the box, laid it on the counter, and let him beat it for a while with the back of his hand.
In business: No points for guessing how this little skill-nugget translates. In the office, I like to use what I secretly refer to as the ‘rubber-ass’ technique when
pitching a new idea or process to a manager or stakeholder. I show her an example of the process, the spreadsheet or the idea in use, let her test drive, slap it around a little.
Furthermore, when you come from a sales environment where a rejected item is literally a biohazard, you’ll only sell what you know is the best solution, every time.
3. You’ll know the right time to lend a shoulder
In sex retail, you’re not just a salesperson and an everyday, run-of-the-mill orgasm champion. You are also a sex therapist and relationship counsellor. Among the
empowered singles and frisky couples was always the odd lone ranger looking for something to cure deeper marital issues. I remember listening to a miserable customer
talk about how his wife didn’t want to have sex with him anymore, while he nervously fidgeted with a bright yellow cock-ring shaped like a rubber duck. Rather than the
‘buzzy bath friend’, he left with a card for Relationships Australia. In business: It’s just like I always say; a stranger in need isn’t always a sad man with a cock-ring. It’s important to
remember that performance issues can be a result of a much deeper problem, and business needs should always be laid aside in times of personal crisis. Also, when you
lay your hand on somebody’s shoulder in a business environment, they’re less likely to take it the wrong way.
4. You’ll realize the glorious power of ‘No’
Working in an adult store isn’t just all sexual empowerment and cackling bachelorettes. Occasionally, some lecherous shit will go down and when it does, you might be the only
staff member on duty in a store with a back entrance and no windows. You’ve got to act quickly. The good news is, creepy men are normally harmless and dropping a good,
solid ‘no’, will generally send them on their way. “Can I try on that fleshlight?” No. “Can you show me what these tassels look like on…?” No. “So… *big wink* are you a…?”No, no, Lord Jesus, NO!
One particularly memorable example was when a man in a button-down shirt approached the register, holding a balloon he had untied from the foldout sign outside the store. He was stroking it firmly, his fingertips shuddering down the rubber, and started to tell me a thing or two about what he liked to do with balloons as a tent rose in his pants. This took a little more than a ‘no’ – I ended up negotiating with him to leave the store if I gave him a
fresh bag of balloons. When I threw in the balloon pump, he eagerly agreed never to come back. In business: Once you’ve dropped a few solid ‘no’s’ in the faces of creepy customers, guess what – you’re well on your way to becoming a successful performance manager! Somehow pushing back on extra work, or giving Joe from Customer Service a warning about his temper issues won’t seem quite so terrifying.
So there you go, folks. Sell sex. Sex teaches you things about people you will never find in an expensive Harvard Business subscription. Sometimes I miss my days of awkward conversations, sweaty and embarrassed customers, and even throwing out creeps. I miss learning about people from the world of anal beads and plugs and fake vaginas. And most of all, I kinda miss the noble purpose of providing people with access to the most
incredible orgasms of their lives without so much as having to lay a finger on them. There’s no job satisfaction quite like it.