Drum roll baby….. this actually looks fantastic!
Having a month’s free rent is a godsend when you need to work at top speed to get a shop ready for business. Before we moved in, the shop had been a hydroponics store (haha) and there were little partitions everywhere and a low ceiling with cables running all over the place. The bones of the place were good though and we could see our vision unfolding.
I’m not much of an interior designer but I do like to pour over magazines and I’m a mad Pinterest fan. But Pinterest didn’t exist in 1998 and there were no types of stores like the one I was envisaging in existence. When I did speak to designers (who I couldn’t afford) they always came up with the same old story of red velvet, lots of cushions and draping fabrics. ‘No, that’s a French bordello’ I always thought. It’s not that simple to re-frame an age-old construct, even for a professional. How do I come up with an interior that’s not intimidating on a very small budget?
The only stores that were inspiring me back in the 90’s were the revamped (but soon to fail) George’s on Collins and the newly opened Husk store in Armadale. Both stores had a wonderfully original, creative flair and heralded the beginning, for me anyway, of shopping as an experience. Husk was a gift/clothing shop that served coffee in a divine Moroccan style garden and had a fire crackling in the store over Winter. Shopping for earrings and a new jacket had never been this much fun.
That’s what I wanted Passionfruit to be. An experience. Sex shops had always been the antithesis of fashionable, welcoming, fun and warm. I wanted a place where all of the senses were ignited. The ‘natural’ look was all the rage at the time and I decided that more than anything, the store should feel homey and comforting rather than glamorous or frou-frou and maybe alienating.
When, with the help of my partner, parents, brothers and sister, we gutted the shop and pulled out the fake ceiling (much to my dad’s insistence that it was ‘fine’), we uncovered a beautiful building with a 15 foot soaring, timber ceiling. The sisal carpet went in, stone shelving bolted to the wall, a beautiful iron and sandstone ‘toy table’ installed and stock merchandised.
Merchandising was something that I had never seen in traditional sex stores. After all, how can you merchandise ‘Beaver Eaters’ and ‘Ron Jeremy’ dildos? This was a problem I had been pondering for quite some time. There was actually no nice packaging in the entire industry in those days. You can’t have a nice store filled with ugly, pornographic blister packs so I had to repackage everything to streamline my merchandise.
All the packaging went in the bin and the toys put in our own satin bags and renamed. ‘Beaver Eater’ became ‘White Knight’, ‘Ron Jeremy Dildo’ became ‘Sensei’ and so on. We still get asked for ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ which was our name for the ‘Pussy and Arse Egg’. They have then stored in their own velvet lined drawers in the toy room and a wholly unique sex store was born
(It’s a bit mortifying now but at the time I thought it was pretty good)!
After four exhausting weeks of my partner finishing NEIS in Geelong, me running around managing a work site and moving house (we moved into the upstairs rooms to save money), it was finally time to open the door. I’d been up all night creating a window display but was ready for my first big day.
I unlocked the door, stood behind the counter and waited. And waited. And waited. After all that frantic activity, this was a huge disappointment. Nothing. We did get a few customers that day and I sold my first strap on harness! ‘What the hell am I doing?’ I thought. I still think that sometimes, especially when business isn’t going great guns, but the philosophy of the store as well as my mission have always been the same.
We did make $63.00!!
My mission at the time was
“To re-invent the sex shop – With fun, love and passion” and my philosophy is still on the website as it was written back then. From that first day in June 1998 it has been one hell of a ride and it has always been full of fun, love and passion.
PhilosophyIt was only after years of contemplation and lively discussion on the nature of sex and society that Passionfruit The Sensuality Shop finally opened its doors in June 1998. It began when I started to question why a foray into a sex shop or a desire to more openly explore sexuality made me feel so downright devious. If sex was so good, why were sex shops so bad? After all, sex is the most universal of acts, and most importantly, an act that in its purest form, is an expression of love. I began asking myself more questions and what I discovered and learned along the way shaped the principles and philosophy of PASSIONFRUIT.
Michelle Temminghoff founded Passionfruit in 1998
First and foremost, a healthy attitude to sex can only have positive effects. Physically, pleasure improves circulation and increases energy. The emotional effects include greater self-esteem, increased self-confidence, and a generally sharper mind. Spiritually, pleasure enhances appreciation of our blessings and contributes to a brighter outlook. When we feel positive about our sexuality and our selves in general, we can contribute to a more nourishing society.
Although we might feel confident about sexuality within ourselves, our outward expression of it has become distorted. Religion, modern culture and censorship have all played a part in this distortion. Christianity taught us to separate body from soul, to deprive our bodies of pleasure. Abstinence was pure and sex considered a tool for reproduction only. When we’re taught to divorce sex from emotion and soul, we separate it from love also. The result is a corrupted expression of our natural sexual self.
This separation of sex and self has become evident in the way it is portrayed in the media and the marketplace. Sex has become a commodity – a thing outside of ourselves – used to creatively sell cars and ice-creams, but never for the purpose of sex in its own right. Selling vibrators, condoms or lubricants is a no-no. Traditional sex shops perfectly reflect this disparity of sex and soul. They rarely market sexuality in a way that hints of emotion, intellect, humor or love.
For many women and those who identify as women, the disabled, the senior, the shy and the queer (just to name a few), the overwhelming expanse of explicit videos and magazines is confronting and non-arousing. If walking into a sex shop inhibits our sexuality rather than expanding it, then the effects can only be negative. Diminishing our capacity for pleasure, love and well-being ensures a less vibrant, compassionate and inquisitive society.
We’re so used to seeing sex objectified that we don’t really expect anything more of our adult stores. We haven’t openly embraced the creative force that is inherent in sexuality or expressed it in a marketable way. When we do object to the darker or more shallow expressions of sexuality, we seek to censor and ban, resulting in a further distortion of truth. Porno’s fine, its just not all there is.
Passionfruit The Sensuality Shop has grown from a need to understand the nature of sex in our culture and a desire to express it more truthfully. I wanted a shop that would have me feeling so delicious that the thought of trying new things would be exciting rather than devious. I wanted a sex shop that would uplift, inspire and assure me. When we feel confident within ourselves, we become a part of a greater whole.
These thoughts underlie the purpose and direction of Passionfruit and have become the basis of our philosophy.
“Our mission is to reinvent the sex shop and enrich our sexual culture with fun, love and passion”
One day when one of my most outrageous friends lamented about having to go into “one of THOSE shops” to get herself a new vibrator, I thought, “Well if she can’t go into one, what hope have the rest of us girls got”?
I began talking to more and more women and found an overwhelming interest in sexual and sensual products but an underwhelming response to the shops that sold them. What an odd society we must be, I thought, if we can use sex to sell everything from cars to ice-creams, but when it comes to selling sex itself, we put up black windows, flash neon lights and get relegated to the Industrial Zone!
I was getting depressed and thinking of moving to Brazil. But the more I thought about it, the more my anger and passion rose. I felt it was about time we all – men, women, trans, queer, gay, straight, young, old, abled, disabled – ALL OF US – celebrated our sensual and sexual selves in a more succulent, wild, passionate and natural way.
About UsPassionfruit The Sensuality Shop embraces sensuality, empowering and connecting us to our most intimate, creative and sensual selves. Our Sensuality Boutique offers a luxurious range of products to enhance sexuality within a beautiful and positive environment.
We offer professional and discreet service where your care, health and well being are our priority. All our personal products are of the highest quality and we endeavour to stock only a certified organic, allergy free range. At Passionfruit, you can shop in a boutique environment with a select and extensive collection of quality and range to browse.
Passionfruit’s premium selection includes lingerie and hosiery for the boudoir, catering to all shapes from the most petite to the most voluptuous. Luxury labels include Hopeless Lingerie, Bordelle, Something Wicked, La Fille d’O, SJLingerie, Marlies Dekkers, KissKill, Fraulein Kink, Only Hearts, Mimi Holliday, Ludique, Creepyyeha, Erica M NYC, Chromat and Vex Latex.
Our BDSM accessories include the finest silk and velvet blindfolds as well as the most decadent leather paddles and floggers. Passionfruit’s lubricants, oils, body chocolates and powders are of the most divine certified quality because we aim to treat our customers to the very best.
We stock a carefully selected range of adult toys including JimmyJane, Fun Factory, JeJoue, L’Amourose, We-Vibe, NJoy, Tenga and Tantus. Our products are chosen to help all of us connect, bond and elevate our lives and relationships.
At Passionfruit, we work within our community. We support and work with sexual health services, health professionals and related community groups around Melbourne. Your health, well being and and the quality of your relationships with yourself and others are our priority. We can provide you with the right information, whether it is regarding sexuality, health, workshops or services.