Lions Den was the first, and only adult business I noticed advertised along the highway along my entire drive through Iowa. I’ve passed various Lions Den franchises countless times over the years, and always been slightly wary of the small, isolated, windowless grey buildings, located in the middle of nowhere. Especially with the name, “Lions Den”, I always assumed what awaited me inside was poorly lit, slightly grimy, hoards of gawking dudes.

WOW was I ever pleasantly surprised! As soon as I walked in, my senses were assaulted in a very pleasant way- it smelled like something floral and incense-ey, it was brightly lit with low shelving so there were no surprises about who was around the corner when you turned it. Immediately to my right upon entering was a large display of PRIDE-themed items: rainbow boas, wristbands, tee shirts, etc. Given how ubiquitous the rainbow is now, there was no doubt that this was a clear move meant to display queer inclusivity. Advertisements for a leather bear meetup by the counter confirmed this. Two pleasant women at the counter greeted me and asked for my ID, and I was so busy being amazed at the really approachable first experience of the store, they had to ask me twice before I processed what they were saying.

LINGERIE: After being ID’d, I wandered the store for a while, naturally being drawn to the frilly, neon-colored half of the store featuring lingerie of a variety of styles, price points, and body types. Indeed, Batman panties were displayed next to classic lace, a row over from vinyl outfits of a variety of styles and multiple racks of options specifically designed to flatter a plus side figure. There was a small sign explaining the conversion of mens sizes to women’s sizing, suggesting they are also cross-dresser friendly.

SEX TOYS: The toy selection was vast, mostly mid-price point options. I noticed there were some options that weren’t medical grade silicone, but at least half the dildos were body safe, which seemed like a step in the right direction. Butt plugs were sandwiched in the porn section, between cock rings and fleshlights, product placement suggesting a desire to normalize anal play for conventionally masculine audiences. They had about a billion brands of lube, and I was pleased to see a broad variety of silicone based or glycerin-free water based lubes. My only complaint with this section was that they did carry several lines of anal numbing cream (no! pain tells you something is wrong and you need more lube/warmup! don’t numb your butt!) and vaginal tighteners (just use kegal balls if this is your goal! don’t shove chemicals up there that aren’t prescribed or lube!).

PORNOS: I browsed the porn section and it was all pretty predictable porn. The lesbian porn section looked like a lot of “lesbian-esque” porn- i.e. actresses with long nails, owch. They had a decent kink section (as in, any kink section). I asked if they had any queer porn like Crash Pad, and the woman at the counter took down the name of that series to suggest it to the manager after letting me know they didn’t have any of that porn.

MISC: The novelty section was all predictably cheesy, and made up just a small shelf of the store. It wasn’t a focus. I did take some serious issue with the “Horny Hillary” doll, which included her having a penis, which carries a host of misogynistic and transphobic implications. They also had a blow up doll of Donald Trump, which focused on his fuckable- well you can imagine- so I guess whenever you mix politics and sex toys it’s just a Bad Scene.

OVERALL: Overall I was really remarkably surprised with this experience. I’ll visit another Lions Den or two to see if it’s a general business move, or that particular franchise was just awesome. I left with about $40 of clearance merchandise, because I couldn’t resist sexy catgirl costume, discounted thigh high fishnets, or vinyl goodies. Once I actually stay in one place for longer than a few hours to sleep, I’ll get some pics up?

– Mags