I recently had the opportunity to visit Lola Montez, which is a fantastic boutique catering to the sensual, sexual and fun needs of women, men and couples, but its focus is very much on providing an up-market, high quality experience for its customers with a strong bias to what women would typically prefer from the shopping experience. It is thus the ideal place for me. The company describes itself as ‘the ultimate sensuality boutique with naughty things for nice girls’, which is pretty much how it feels as a customer. It is therefore focused mainly on the needs of women, but a full range of products catering to all genders and sexualities is on offer. Lola Montez is owned and run by the lovely Sharon Gordon. She is friendly, funny, engaging, helpful, accepting and very customer oriented. Sharon and I have had a relationship on Facebook for over a year now. I ‘liked’ her Lola Montez Facebook Page and we have interacted online ever since.
As part of their marketing Lola Montez sent me a discount voucher on my birthday. This was a very nice touch and I decided to show my support by spending some money with them. This however presented me with a problem. I am always very aware of the risk of making people think I have acted under false pretenses when I am out dressed. I would hate people to think that I have willfully deceived them, played them for a fool etc add financial transactions to this and you run the risk of acting fraudulently. My friend (I think I can call her a friend, even though we have never met) Kirsty explored this problem in a very insightful blog recently. Also, I have a preference for people who know me as Daniella to only know me as Daniella and not to know the male me and vice versa. I am not sure why this is. It is not out of some sense of shame, maybe it is just vanity? I therefore contacted Sharon to remind her that I am trans, that my legal name is not the same as my name on Facebook etc just to be sure as I did not want her to think I had somehow conned her into giving me a discount that I did not deserve. She very kindly replied that she knew exactly who I was (and that she was an avid follower of my various online activities, which was nice to know), knew all of this about me etc but still wanted to offer me the discount voucher. This is a great example of good customer service (customer relationship marketing in current parlance I believe).
Sadly, due to time constraints and some recent developments at home, I was unable to find a time when I would be able to visit en femme, so I went en homme. I was disappointed as Sharon knows the feminine me, but it was impossible to achieve. I therefore had no choice but to arrive in drab. I was rather nervous about this but hey a girl has got to do what a girl has got to do. I arrived at the shop on a Friday afternoon and drove into the parking area outside just after two other people were leaving the premises. The shop was therefore empty. This suited me just fine. I walked in and noticed that the desk was empty. The bell had gone off announcing my arrival so I knew Sharon would be down shortly. I therefore had some time to look around on my own. This was actually quite good as I had time to acclimatise.
Lola Montez has an extensive range of products. There are some very cute costumes (that could be worn in the bedroom or even to a club) as well as a very nice range of hosiery and lingerie on offer that may be of interest to women as well as crossdressers. There is a wide variety of beauty and sensuality products, including massage oils, lubricants, body mists, and other pamper and hygiene products such as lotions and soaps with the shave and bikini balm being the stand out products for me.
There are of course also the normal sex toys (for women, men and couples), vibrators, rings, balls, and so on that you would expect in a sex shop. I noted that they were all of ‘moderate’ size. None of the 10″ monster dildos that you sometimes get in sex shops. In other words sex toys that are actually pleasurable to use. What a novel concept! Although I am sure Sharon could rustle up a 10″ double dong for you if that is your thing. There is also a good range of board and party games as well as fun ‘survival’ kits for couples in the event of power failures. Some educational media is also on offer but there were no racks of pornographic dvds on offer, meaning that there was more space for sexy products. I approve. A good business move too considering the demise of the dvd industry globally.
Crucially for me everything is presented in a very sensual and respectful way. It is in no way sleazy or scary. Crucially, there are no viewing booths (as is common in many sex shops in South Africa) and as such you can feel safe and comfortable at all times. This is not to say that people using sex shops with viewing booths are unsavoury or suspect, but I am concerned how I may be responded to if I were in such a place en femme when someone was in there and his ‘blood was up’ so to speak. I have heard of women shop assistants being harassed in such establishments and this is frankly a complication I can do without, so I choose not to risk it.
When Sharon arrived in the shop she asked me if she could help me. I replied that she probably knows me as Daniella. There was a moment of confusion and then the penny dropped. She was very sweet and paid me a few welcome compliments. She was very surprised at how different I looked as a male. This is very heartening. To all of the closeted cases out there. You really are highly unlikely to be recognised when out en femme. This was just another confirmation of this for me. Of course someone who knows you very well may be able to put two and two together if they are given sufficient time and cause but I suspect in the majority of cases you will simply not be recognised out of context.
We then had a very interesting chat about me being trans, how the relationship with my wife worked, some of my thoughts on relationships and being trans and also a bit of a discussion about feminism and male privilege. I mentioned my belief that a few more men should experience the world as a woman so that they can realise just how pervasive male privilege is and also to get an understanding of how scary the world can be for women. It was nice to hear how Sharon has dealt with males (I cannot bring myself to call them ‘men’) who have threatened her simply because she had the temerity to be a woman who owned her own shop in the sex industry. Some of the realities she has faced match up with some of my fears and it was good to hear that she has faced these realities and been able to survive.
Lola Montez also offers a range of additional services including party entertainment, ladies’ nights and information sharing at events. Sharon is extremely knowledgeable about her products and made the experience very enjoyable for me. She was accepting of me and made me feel very comfortable and welcome in the shop. What was also very impressive is that the item I wanted was not in stock so I paid for it there and then and the following business day she personally delivered it to me. Amazing service! I have no hesitation in recommending Lola Montez. Lola Montez is open to the public Monday to Friday from 10 am until 5 pm and on Saturdays from 9 am until 2 pm and their address is 90 West Road North, Morningside, Sandton, Johannesburg, South Africa. I realise this may be something of a commute for some of my readers so I would suggest you look at the website which offers an excellent mail order service. The site is of course open whenever your browser is open.