Best of Silicon Valley 2001 - Readers' Picks

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[whitespace] Leather bikini
Bar Nun: Along with sex toys, videos and leather clothing, Leather Masters sells an array of costumes and props.

Readers' Choice:
Pleasure Principle

Best Sex Toys Store

Leather Masters
969 Park Ave., San Jose; 408.293.7660

TRYING TO decide between the Le Creuset sauté pan or a Calphalon crepe pan for a gift and need someone who knows their way around the kitchen? Go to Sur la Table. Torn between the Rabbit Pearl vibrator or adjustable-tension nipple clamps for a gift and need someone who knows their way around the bedroom? Head on over to Leather Masters, the readers' choice for best sex toys store.

Although its name may sound daunting to all but the most hard-core fetishist, Leather Masters is actually a clean, well-lit emporium of goodies and info for everyone from the sexual newbie to the leather-clad dominatrix.

Manager Tina Carroll has been with LM since February, but brings 16 years' experience in "the scene," as the bondage world is known, to her job.

Asked what makes LM a heavy hitter with Metro readers, Carroll explains: "Our emphasis is heavily on customer service. All of us [who work here] are extremely educated about sex and how to use the equipment safely."

That's a good thing, as Martha Stewart would say, because some of the equipment just won't be finding its way into the honeymoon trousseau anytime soon. Like the electrical torture instruments. Or the cock corsets (don't ask).

Leather Masters started out in 1989, according to Carroll, as just a couple of leashes and collars in a display case above a bar. Along with its retail store on Park Avenue and its online sales, Leather Masters has also recently opened another retail store in Allentown, Penn. Although it was originally geared to gay men, the business expanded its product line and marketing and now services women and hetero couples.

Like the aforementioned doyenne of domesticity, Carroll appears to be holding her own as the Silicon Valley's Doyenne of Dildoes.

"I've used many, many of them," says Carroll. "I have my personal favorites like the Hitachi Magic Wand--the Harley Davidson of vibrators--the Rabbit Habit and the Rabbit Pearl.

"A good quality one will run $80-$90. This is an investment," she sniffs.

What advice does she have for the Nervous Nellies who might be walking through her doors for the first time?

"They should not be afraid to talk about the most intimate details of their private life," Carroll says. "We try to push them towards what's going to make them the happiest." KL

Best of Silicon Valley 2001 Table of Contents

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From the October 18-24, 2001 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2001 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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