How the Bay Area Pioneered Sex Positivity

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Walking into Feelmore Adult Gallery on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland feels like walking into an art gallery. The fixtures are bright and elegant; the walls are covered in a lush patterned wallpaper; and tasteful nudes hang just above rows of vibrators and lube. It’s this last part that might cause a double take—that is, if you aren’t from the Bay Area and don’t expect sex toys to be in such a clean, well-lit display.

Nenna Joiner is the owner and founder of Feelmore, which she opened in 2010 in downtown Oakland. Joiner opened Feelmore for two reasons: she dreamt of it in the mid-90s — literally — and she wanted to answer a need in her community. She explained that California’s tendency to be more accepting of progressive behaviors and attitudes has helped foster her store’s growth.

“I think people are open to experiencing cutting-edge things, and I think sex stores are that,” said Joiner. “In Oakland, specifically, I was the first to open a progressive store. Oakland has traditionally been a blue-collar town where small businesses make up a larger percentage…People are looking to the small business to create this landscape and this culture around not just product but around neighborhood.”

Between offering events like prison letter-writing projects, comedy shows, financial-responsibility workshops and art performances, Joiner has combined her passion for her community with her passion for sex positivity.

 

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