Thursday, September 29, 2005


Erotique, by Alessia Brio
ISBN 1-59426-548-8
October 2005

Mandy stands to inherit the family legacy – a famous Philadelphia adult toy store and museum called Erotique – but she first has to meet the terms of the will and spend the night. With the help of her best friend, Bruce, she soon discovers the exhibits are VERY educational and her feelings for Bruce run deeper than she realized.

Here's an excerpt:

“Welcome to Erotique,” Mandy greeted each customer at the door. “Enjoy your visit, and please let me know if you have any questions.” Her lingering fears about Vivian’s death adversely affecting business were laid to rest as the day progressed. A steady stream of women and men from all walks of life flowed through the shop from noon until she wearily flipped off the neon sign at midnight. She thanked the staff and shooed them out the door with firm instructions to get some well-deserved rest. Collapsing onto the sofa in the back office, she punched Bruce’s number on her cell phone.

“Hello, Wong?” she said when he finally answered. “I’d like two orders of kung po chicken and a six pack of Tsingtao delivered to Erotique. Big tip for prompt service.”

“Do you realize what time it is?” Bruce asked sleepily.

“Wuss! Get your ass over here. I need help restocking the store, and I’m starving. We were swamped all day. I haven’t eaten since breakfast, and that was just toast.”

“M’kay, but you owe me big time. Be there in thirty.”

Mandy moved around the shop, tidying the displays and taking mental inventory. She passed through the retail section and into the annex, which seemed so airy and spacious without the throng of patrons. Stars sparkled through the many sky lights. During the day, the sunlight effectively vanquished the hovering seediness that threatened to overrun anything sexual. Erotique would never allow something as natural and as pleasing as sex to be buried by dogma. The large placard on the wall above the cash register featured a quote by the famous neuropsychologist James W. Prescott: “Deprivation of physical affection in human relationships constitutes the single greatest source of violence in human societies.”

A Post-Gazette reporter who visited earlier spent a considerable amount of time browsing the exhibits and left with the promise of a glowing review, and it wouldn’t be the first. Vivian had built the fascinating collection from scratch over the last two decades, beginning with an odd-looking replica of the first known cock ring, circa 1200, crafted from a goat’s eyelids with the eyelashes still attached. From that point on, her vacations always centered around the search for more such “erotiques.”

She’d renamed the business when the museum opened in 1995, and it quickly became a tourist attraction. Half price admission with a minimum purchase in the shop certainly didn’t hurt sales, either. Customers spent hours in the museum, mesmerized by the eclectic artifacts, and often added to their earlier purchases before departing. The modern products sold well before the museum tour; the reproductions, after. Nothing was done to either squelch or fuel the rumors which occasionally surfaced about the annex being haunted. They simply added to the Erotique mystique.

A neighborhood coffee shop was contracted in 1998 to maintain a small refreshment area when one patron who’d spent the entire afternoon staring at a carved whalebone dildo collapsed. That soon grew into a café named Appetites with its own street entrance and a balcony overlooking the museum floor. The menu featured desserts with catchy names dripping with sexual innuendo. Folks traveled from all over the city for a creaming tart and stayed for a chassé through the annex.

Vibrator (1910 Germany)
The stringed music of “La Traviata” filled her mind and the seductively sweet aroma of oleander enveloped her. She gathered the heavy silks of her train and, with a surreptitious glance in either direction, stepped off the asphalt path into the shrubbery. He was there, waiting, and took her immediately into his arms.

“Were you observed?”

“Nein,” she whispered in a tongue never before spoken. “Bitte.”

He growled into her neck, a sinister sound that resonated between her legs. “Turn around and lift your skirts,” he said as he pulled the long metal phallus from his overcoat and spat upon it. “Quickly now.”

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