The Rubber Rose

Yeah, we were in San Diego last week.  For some number of hours less than 48.  But still, good times.  We got to sleep in on a freakin’ weekday for the first time in, I don’t know, my memory’s bad these days for lack of sleep, but I think it was something like 790 days or 1137600 minutes, give or take an hour or so.  You know, since the baby was born.

So that was nice.  And we did a lot of walking around.  And we got to go to Trader Joes.  $250 worth of Trader Joe’s exclusives (both dry goods and bottled) and $75 to ship it all home and it was worth every. freaking. penny.  We won’t be near a Trader Joe’s until (maybe) March.  Maybe longer.  I really wish they’d open one here.

But.  But the best part of the trip was our side jaunt to a little store called The Rubber Rose.

Because The Rubber Rose might just be a bit more than some of my readers want to know, I’m putting the rest of this post below the fold… (seriously, family? co-workers? neighbors?  seriously, think before you click, I take no responsibility for any emotional scarring you recieve from what you read past the link, you have only yourself to blame if you click the more link)


Ok, backstory.  When Klove and I were thinner, we got frustrated with how long the staps on our dildo harness were, and so we cut them and burned the edges.  We thought we were so clever.

Fast forward to now, when we really could use some longer straps. 

So, we decided that we needed a new harness.  One that was easy to put on and take off so as to lessen the impact of “gearing up” on the mood, so to speak.  And we wanted one that was a bit sexier and more comfortable than those too-tight black ribbed straps.  We’ve been looking in Salt Lake for a good option, but frankly, the “adult” stores that we have in Salt Lake are really lacking in quality product.  It sure seems like around these here parts, strap-on play is considered as kinky and “out there” as, I don’t know, anal fisting*.  Almost everything we came across was cheaply made and more about looks and the titillation of the idea than actual performance and comfort. 

So, we thought that our trip to San Diego would be a great time to get ourselves a little something.  Cause it was California!  Everything goes in California!  So there would HAVE to be a decent shop in San Diego.

And we weren’t disappointed.  After some internet searching, I came across a review for The Rubber Rose and decided that we were definitely going to be checking the Rubber Rose out.

We were so glad that we did.

The Rubber Rose is a sexuality boutique, community space, and art gallery.  The doors are big and inviting, and the space inside manages to be both edgy-sexy AND cozy.  Spacious AND intimate.  There walls are not crowded with collagen-enhanced pouting/grimacing porn stars gracing product boxes or porn jackets or magazine covers.  There aren’t shelves of boobie-shaped pasta or dick-shaped suckers. The display is restrained, though still light-hearted and fun, and all the merchandise is top quality. “Boutique” is actually the perfect word for this store. This isn’t a joke or novelty shop.  Instead, racks of vintage or vintage-style lingerie line the walls, soft upholstered benches sit on polished concrete floors.  Shelves of different lubricants surround a sink for patrons to wash their hands. Silicone dildos line one counter and a corner cupboard, steel and blown-glass toys, beautifully lit, fill glass cabinets.  And harnesses, beautiful harnesses have a whole section to themselves.

We were looking at the harnesses, picking up first this one and then that one (the leather ones were out where you could touch them, the fabric ones had displays out of their boxes) and debating their relative merits, when the woman working the counter accompanied two female patrons over to the display of silicone dildos and began speaking to them about a toy that I have good reason to be VERY familiar with. After a few moments I couldn’t help it, I had to turn around and join the conversation: what I liked about the toy, what positions didn’t work so well, a couple of tricks we discovered…

It’s just that kind of place. I like to talk about sex, and I like to speak frankly of toys and techniques and such, but I have a strong aversion to talking to people in stores. In short, I’m not normally the kind of person who will offer comments and thoughts about your possible purchase. I’m not going to sidle up to you in the store and join a discussion between you and the grocer about persimmons, per se. But the feeling in this boutique is of such helpful friendliness, sexy community, that it felt completely appropriate to speak to strangers about such things as kegels and accidentally using too much lube.

After the two women left, Lea, who turned out to be one of the proprietors, was more than happy to help us pick out a harness. She asked us what we were looking for, what we weren’t happy with about our last harness, and went over the pros and cons of the different styles on display. She even helped me try one on (over my clothes) showing me how easy it was to adjust for fit and how comfortable it was to wear, and how you could shift the harness to make sure the dildo was putting pressure on your clit. All of this with such an open, friendly, talkative manner that I felt like we were new best friends by the time I stepped out of the harness.

Klove and I stuck around for a little while longer, asking questions about some of the more unfamiliar toys that they were selling and just chatting with our new best friend before paying for our purchases. As a final touch, Lea threw a fistful of FAA-compliant lube pillows into the beautifully hand decorated paper bag (with coordinating tissue paper) that she placed our purchases in.

The women who started The Rubber Rose got their inspiration from Good Vibes and other feminist sex-positive sex stores, and I must say, they do a beautiful job. I actually felt sad as I left thinking about how if we lived in San Diego I’d be a regular visitor there — not necessarily to buy things (though I would) but also just to be there in that space and to get to know Lea better. Does that sound creepy? I don’t mean it to sound creepy. It’s just that she was so cool and friendly that I think it would be neat to go out for drinks with her.

But I’m betting that a lot of their customers feel that way. Like I said, it’s just that kind of place so it figures that the women who made it must be that kind of people.

Yesterday I needed to stop by an adult store to buy some lubricant (we didn’t buy any at The Rubber Rose and we’d like to save the pillows for flying) and I was struck yet again with that curious sense of loss for The Rubber Rose and other such friendly places. There simply is nothing like that in Salt Lake (that I know of: if you know of some place please leave it in the comments). The place I went was nice enough, but all the lubes and the testers were behind the counter so I had to have a salesperson standing there getting me one after another as I looked for the perfect one. I was assailed on all sides by a plethora of cheap, tacky merchandise that taken in total make a humorless joke of sex. I made my one purchase and left, thinking about how such a store is meant to titillate and overwhelm, but not really to educate or empower.

What I’m saying is that I’d really like to open a store like Good Vibrations or The Rubber Rose here in Salt Lake. Complete with all the community work, art shows, open mics, and community functions.

Of course, I have no idea how to go about doing such a thing. I have no retail experience, no business degree. My education is in the humanities and my work experience is with non-profits and the govt. But this idea has taken hold of me almost as strong as my spice tins has…

Wouldn’t it be great?

Oh, and if you’re ever in San Diego (or, heck, if you live there) stop by The Rubber Rose. Tell them a chick in Salt Lake who’s thrilled with her harness purchase sent you.

*now, if you’re into anal fisting, I don’t want to alienate you or anything.  I’m just saying that most people probably aren’t going to be taking a fist up the ass any time soon.  Certainly fewer people are into anal fisting than are into strap-on play.


9 thoughts on “The Rubber Rose

  1. wow – that was certainly um, more about you than I knew before… 😉

    You should totally try to come visit NYC again, and we’ll take you to toys in babeland – you can visit them at

    GREAT gals – lesbian owned and operated.

    ’nuff said.

  2. YAY for sex-toy stores! There’s the same lack here in VA; I get my fix when I go up north to Babeland. I’ve also entertained the fantasy of opening a great, friendly, sex-positive toy store here, but I’m missing the whole business side of things, too. Plus, the pre-school teacher/sex toy store owner combo sounds fine to me, but probably not so great to DSS.
    There’s pictures of a very fun vibe party at my house a couple years ago on my flickr.

  3. We have friends who just opened such a shop in Baltimore ( and it just so totally rocks. You should check out their site. It’s funny cause in DC the leatherdaddies have a great place but they scoff at lesbos like us when we go in there. Seriously they loose money cause they are downright rude if you aren’t dressed in leather and at least one of you appears to have a penis.

    Anyway I’m glad you found such a place, we had a similar lovely experience at Toys in babeland in Seattle and it was just fab. The right equipment just makes everything go so much smoother… 😉

  4. Annoyingly enough, here in Austin (v. v. liberal if you’ve never hear) the selection of sex stores is very limited.

    I hear you on the ‘annoyed with harness’ bit. Fil and I are extremely annoyed with ours. Fil is rather small and every harness we’ve seen assumes all “real” lesbians are enormous women because they don’t adjust to fit, they’re just … one size. XXL or something. The one we have now is a pain as I have to wind the strap in the back around the elastic waist band so that it goes UP Fil’s butt. Uncomfortable and frustrating since it slips.

    So I’m wondering. What did you get? Is it mass produced or limited to the San Diego area? Could you recommend anything that might be accessible?

    (It’s always nice to stumble across blunt honesty about sexual topics. Sometimes I feel such discussion is taboo by the way it is all hushhush online)

  5. Jenny, have you tried Night Dreams in Bethesda? It’s a lot like what Chicory described here. We’ve had great service all-around, and they’ve been equally wonderful to our best friend (male) wanting to try on the high boots. That being said, I’m checking out the Baltimore store next time I’m up there!

  6. Thanks for the recommendation! Being in a college town, our sex stores are pretty “joke-ish”, too. Glad you found what you were looking for! 🙂

  7. that store sounds amazing. next time i’m in sd i am going to find that place. and i think that’s a great idea to start your own store. if you feel a passion for it, go for it.

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