Monday, February 14, 2022

Flashback 2010: Kinky Llama delivers on the double

     In October, I visited Andersonville's Early to Bed sex device store to celebrate their 20th anniversary—they sent a press release, and I figured it was a chance to peek into a world that doesn't get into the paper much. While was checking to see if "dildo" is the sort of word than can run in a family newspaper, I stumbled upon this, and thought it might serve as a Valentine’s Day diversion while I'm in Colorado. It was back when the column covered a page, and I have left in the sub-headings.

Anthony Mikrut with his custom-made Gary Fisher bike
 with studded tires. (Sun-Times photo by Al Podgorski)
OPENING SHOT . . .  
     Valentine's Day gifts can be a puzzlement to us long-married folk. Candy is out—diets— anything expensive roils the budget; anything cheap, well, is cheap. Though this year I blundered upon a novel romantic gift source that, frankly, would never cross my mind in a million years. But I'm getting ahead of the tale.
     Male homosexuality was made a crime in Great Britain while lesbianism wasn't, the story goes, because Queen Victoria objected to the lesbian clauses in the law, announcing that ladies simply do not do that kind of thing.
     Too good to be true, but the tale nicely serves as an image of sexual naivete, and came to mind the moment I heard of the Kinky Llama.
     Not because the Kinky Llama is an online purveyor of sexual devices—dildos, vibrators, gags, that kind of thing. I realize people buy that stuff.
     But what threw me is that, for a mere $5 fee, Kinky Llama's owner, Anthony Mikrut, will bicycle over to your Chicago home, apartment or office, any time of the day or night, and deliver your new sex toy. Business is jumping—Tuesday, he rode 35 miles in all that snow, making deliveries. Ninety-eight percent of his delivery customers are women.
     "No!" I said, incredulous. "Do women really DO that?"
     "Oh yes," said Terri Miller, a Kinky Llama customer. "It happens. You're in a situation. You're looking for something, like lube. Something is necessary in the middle of the night."

RESTRAINTS, GAGS, INFLATABLE SHEEP

     And these people in these situations . . . they're hookers, right?
     "He has clients who are in the sex industry," said Miller, 36, who sells telecommunications equipment. "Bachelorette parties—there are a lot of reasons why."
     Some are in need of condoms. Others keep odd hours.
     What threw me was the middle-of-the night immediacy; would not one improvise rather than go online and order up material?
     "Say you lost your handcuff key," said Miller. "And you realize it after the fact. You can order up handcuff keys and have the Kinky Llama deliver them to your partner."
     The need must be out there.
     "My business tripled last year from the year before," said Mikrut, 34, who started the Kinky Llama in 2006.
     He does have a day job—a manager at Village Cycle Center on Wells. That one detail convinced me this is real. After all, $5 isn't enough for you or I to hop on our bikes, but for a bicycle fanatic, it's plenty.
     I could see where "Kinky" is from, but "Llama"? Are llamas known for . . . ?
     "It's my nickname," said Mikrut, explaining it's from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," where a llama figures in the credits. "My family called me 'Llama,' everybody calls me 'Llama.' "
     OK Llama . . . so what exactly are we talking about here? What's a big seller?
     "A lot of rabbits," he says.
     Such as the Waterproof Jack Rabbit, $52.99 in pink or purple.
     "I delivered a rabbit to a couple making out in a car," said Mikrut. "I showed up to make the delivery, and no one was there. I was leaving, and people in a car said, 'Wait, wait, that's for us.' She tipped me 30 bucks."
     And those rabbits, they're, umm, effective devices, are they?
     "It's insertable. It vibrates, it turns," said Miller. "It . . . does all kinds of crazy things."
     A good gift for one's Valentine?
     "She might like it," said Miller. "You might eliminate the need for yourself."
     Well that's the rub, isn't it? It seems a lose-lose proposition (at least for the guy) -- either the gift is rejected as an obscene joke, or it's welcomed, and used, making certain people moot who do not want to be moot.
     What shocked me was the ease with which Kinky Llama customers discuss this.
     "I heard about it; I ordered some things delivered," said Becky Welbes. "There're all kinds of things to choose from. The one I bought was to be used by myself, but could probably also be used by a partner."
     And the one-hour delivery?
     "You're like, 'I don't really feel like going to the store right now,' " she said. "It was, like, 12:30 and I didn't feel like going outside. I thought: 'I could use something' and didn't really want to go to Walgreens at 3 in the morning."
     This struck me as contrary to the dictum that a lady should see her name in the paper three times, when she is born, when she marries and when she passes on.
     "With the younger generation people are a lot more proactive and open-minded about sex toys and all that," said Welbes, 24. "The younger generation grew up with it; people are a lot more accepting of sex as being part of pop culture. I don't think people are as bashful."
     That they aren't. Mikrut says that yes, customers do inquire about, ah, product demonstrations.
     "I've been invited in a couple times," he said. "But I don't go. It could be bad. I try not to mix the two together. I don't want to ruin a customer either."
     He expects to ride 150 miles Sunday on his black custom-made bike sporting carbide studded tires. The Web site, if you need to be told, is kinkyllama.com.

TODAY'S CHUCKLE . . .

     I'm not sure if this is actually funny, but I laughed, and the guy in my office laughed, and my wife laughed when I told her, so if you don't, you're outvoted, three to one.
     REPORTER: So, what are you going to do for Valentine's Day?
     COLUMNIST: Stay married.
       —originally published in the Sun-Times, Feb. 12, 2010.

1 comment:

  1. Happy Valentine’s Day! Met my husband 40 years ago today. But we don’t give gifts, just cards. And not just because it appears the Kinky Llama has closed.

    ReplyDelete

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