The salesgirl looked distrustful as the reporter approached the shop. He obviously did not look like a potential customer. She must be used to seeing high-heeled ladies and opulent gentlemen walk briskly into the shop, asking for any of the favourite items on the shelves.
It is a shop for items but more like a pharmacy. The visitor entered the narrow but extended shop where more than a hundred assorted products seduce the eyes. On each side of the shop are narrow shelves where the products are exhibited in categories.
There are the sex handcuffs (also known as love cuffs), the sex toys with price tags ranging from N17,000 to N30, 000, the bondage kits, lubricants, seduction oils and the lingerie section. It is a ‘chemist’ for sex and those seeking to enhance their sexual life. Most of the products carry labels from china.
‘Do You Have a Vibrator?’
Pleasure Chest became famous after a viral CCTV footage showed one of its prominent customers, a Nigerian senator, assaulting a lady at the receptionist’s desk.
The reporter, who was doing an undercover investigation, requested to buy a ‘vibrator’ – a sex toy used for stimulating the female clitoris. The product was not on the shelf and the salesgirl put a call to ‘Madam’, the proprietor of the shop who rarely shows up.
“Hello ma, do we have vibrator?” asked the salesgirl.
“There are different types of vibrators,” she said after ending the conversation with her boss, adding “We have different types of vibrators, depending on the one you want”.
The girl, who said she was new at the shop, seemed timid about selling adult toys to unknown faces. She looked hesitant as she brought one type of vibrator after another for the reporter to choose from. Asked to explain how each toy functioned, she responded: “Na my madam sabi explain well well.”
Within 34 minutes that the reporter spent at Pleasure Chest located in the heart of Abuja’s popular business hub, Banex Plaza, in Wuse II, three persons visited the shop. Two of the visitors who met the reporter bargaining for one of the adult toys hurriedly left and signaled they would be back. The third customer, who is obviously a regular, walked in and ordered for one of the products on the shelves.
“Do you have pheromones?” asked the customer who dressed like a lawyer, while reaching for the product himself. “It is N6, 000 sir” the salesgirl responded.
A blog described Pheromones as chemical signals capable of attracting “an individual of the opposite sex”. They are believed to induce sexual arousal in individuals and said to be very potent and using them around the wrong people such as “your boss or your best friend’s husband” can trigger a sexual response.
The customer ended up picking a bottle of pheromone oil, while also inquiring about the price of one of the sex toys. Few moments after the customer stepped out, the “madam” who owns the place showed up.
“You know the thing is…If you’re not in the business, you won’t know the difference” she explained after the reporter complained the salesgirl could not properly explain the difference between a vibrator and a dildo and how the toys function.
“Dildo is the one that looks like the real thing (a fully erect penis) but doesn’t vibrate,” she said, adding that “but most people still call the vibrator a dildo. Then there are dildo-vibrators too.”
She took her time to explain how some of the adult toys function and which ones were preferred by clients based on ‘popular demand’.
She explained that the different toys help the users to derive sexual pleasure in different ways. The sex entrepreneur described her sex shop as “kingsway” – a slang that meant customers don’t negotiate the price of the products; they just pick the ones they want and pay for them.
“The products are very good and can last for years as long as you take care of them,” she said.
She further explained that regardless of which sex toy sells more, the clients have their preferences.
“It depends on people’s choice. What I like, she probably wouldn’t like,” she said when asked which sex toy sells more.
“Most people would prefer something that works just for the clitoris. Some would tell you they want something they can insert (into the vagina), that they don’t care about the clitoris or maybe they don’t even have clitoris (laughs).”
“Some would ask if you have any that has the two (serves both purposes),” she said.
She then pointed at a “clit stimulator” which doubles as a body massager and goes for N30, 000. The product represents the bestseller at the shop.
At Mahogany Store, located at Busy Mart Plaza Jabi, Abuja, the “rabbit vibrator” is more requested by clients. The toy has two points that simultaneously give clitoral and virginal pleasure.
The sex shop also has an online store which allows its customers to make orders via the website or WhatsApp.
The reporter chatted with the proprietor of the shop via the messaging app and pretended to be a housewife that needed to “spice up” her sex life.
“I want to try it for the first time,” the reporter said.
“Maybe I can recommend something if I knew what kind of pleasure you enjoy,” the lady responded. She further asked, “clitoral or vagina?”
But the reporter who pretended to be a novice about sex toys asked to be enlightened on dildos and vibrators, and which adult toys sell more.
“That would be the rabbit (vibrator), but I want you to use your preference” she said, describing the rabbit vibrator as the go-to option for advanced users. “These are rabbit vibrators; they have two points that simultaneously do both (give clitoral and virginal pleasure).”
The vendor however identified the “bullet vibrator” which costs N3, 000 as another adult toy that is in hot demand among Nigerian women because “It is a beginner’s toy”.
“When you feel comfortable, you can buy more advanced toys,” the vendor added.
She explained that most first time Nigerian sex toy users opt for the bullet vibrators in order to “get used to the way toys feel” before deciding on which one to invest money in.
“It’s a beginner’s toy and about the cheapest,” she said, adding that first timers start with it “because they don’t want to waste money until they know they like it. That’s why we always have them in stock for curious cats.”
The lady seemed savvy and familiar with the peculiar sex problems of women who constitute her major clientele.
“Do you enjoy sex? Do you get dry? Do you cum often?” she asked. When the reporter responded in the affirmative, she recommended use of lubes or drinking of more water to address issues pertaining to dryness, but added, “But if you suspect low libido, one supplement you can use to improve that is Maca.”
“Combining Maca pills to boost your libido and lubes to excite and wet that area, will do the trick,” warning that, “The only side effect may be getting pregnant.”
“You can get any sex toy you want in order to learn how to please yourself and maybe add spice to your time with your husband,” said the vendor.
“But you can use this as a wand on the clitoris,” she said, referring to one of the toys that looked like chili pepper.
Other toys in the closet: Penis Rings (also known as Cock Rings), Butt Plugs, Male Masturbators, G-spot Vibrator, Male Sex Delay Sprays, Pussy Stroker, 3D Realistic Male Masturbators, were some of the toys found on the shelves of the sex shops visited by the reporter. The prices of these products ranged from N5, 000 to N55, 000
A Red-Light Business
There is obviously some secrecy to the business the same way prostitution is done in the country.
Our investigation showed that patrons of sex shops are less comfortable talking about sex toys or admitting that they own one. Likewise, the vendors are keen about protecting the identity of their clients. Some vendors were not willing to speak once they knew the reporter was out to extract information from them.
The reporter’s attempt to speak to the sales representatives at another adult toy shop located in Gwarimpa, Abuja, yielded little success after the reporter was introduced as an academic researcher.
The salespersons at Erocraves were only willing to disclose that they offer consulting and therapeutic services. They however declined to speak further on questions beyond that.
Erocraves, which has its head office in Alapere, Lagos State, had just opened the Gwarimpa branch recently. The business claims on its website to have “millions of satisfied customers” and promises “discreet” delivery of the toys to its potential clients.
How Sex Shops Started In Nigeria
The first sex shop in Nigeria was founded in 2010 by a sex therapist, Mrs. Iheoma Obibi. She is the proprietor of Intimate Pleasures; a shop located in Lagos and has an online store.
In an interview she granted AWP Network in 2014, the sex therapist spoke on why and how she entered the business.
“The inspiration for my business came after I attended a breakout session organized by Life Coach, Esther Passaris, at the African Feminist Forum in Kampala, Uganda (2010).
“At the time, I had a growing customer base but did not know how to take the business idea to the next level. Passaris got me to identify obstacles preventing me from implementing my goals. The limitation of course, was in my mind – I was afraid and extremely fearful of operating out of my comfort zone,” she said.
Other vendors have since ventured into the business. They include KiliMall, Justerotics, Konga, Jumia, among others.In a 2018 research published in MarketWatch, however, Egypt and South Africa were ranked the leading markets for sex toys in Africa. But South Africa is believed to have the largest users of adult toys in Africa.