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Playtime sex shop, Blue Town, enjoys sales spike thanks to Fifty Shades of Grey

By Andy Gray

Raunchy cinema blockbuster Fifty Shades of Grey has helped put the “whey-hey” into Islanders’ love lives.

Carl Rayner, who runs Playtime, an adult shop selling saucy toys and risqué films in Blue Town (where else), said products had been “flying off the shelves” since the explicit feature hit the screens earlier this month.

He said pleasure-seekers hoping to reenact Mr Grey’s sadomasochistic adventures had been pouring into his shop, helping boost sales of erotic appliances such as handcuffs, riding crops and...earphones.

Jazmin and Carl Rayner outside Playtime, Blue Town
Jazmin and Carl Rayner outside Playtime, Blue Town

Carl, 29, a former local government officer from Eastchurch, said takings were up by a quarter since the film’s release.

“The film’s been good for business,” he said. “Customers have been going straight to the bondage stuff, but blindfolds and anything to do with spanking in general is also going quite well.”

Fifty Shades became an instant bestseller when the novel was first released in 2011.

In total, the trilogy has shifted 100 million copies worldwide, and although the film has received mixed reviews at best, so far it’s taken almost $500 million at the cinemas.

Carl said customers in the their “20s and 30s” appeared to have been most inspired by the film, but others with a shade of grey themselves had also felt its effect.

The owners with some of the Dream Clothing range
The owners with some of the Dream Clothing range

He said: “An elderly man and woman came in the other day. They bought some DVDs as well as other equipment.

“She mentioned the film and asked about a lot of stuff and if I had any suggestions.

“But let’s face it, everyone has sex and the Victorian age passed a long time ago.”

Carl said the range of BDSM – bondage, dominance and sadomasochism – equipment on sale at Playtime comes in varying shades of “naughty”, from a Wartenberg Wheel – “with spikes which you can run up and down a partner’s skin”– to silk ropes, for “tieing up people nice and gently”.

He said sales of cuffs and the like had been good for the coffers, but the film wasn’t a true reflection of the BDSM “scene”. Having seen Fifty Shades with his wife Jazmin, he was disappointed to find it “didn’t portray a smart and submissive relationship, which is more about mutual pleasure”.

But he is impressed with the Island’s appetite for bedtime fun, which he discovered after relocating to Sheppey from Huddersfield.

Playtime, Blue Town
Playtime, Blue Town

He said: “Believe it or not, the scene on Sheppey is more swingers although some people are getting into bondage.

“People seem more open, more enlightened in certain areas.”

Playtime has been quietly going about its saucy business for almost 20 years. It’s about to undergo a refurbishment, which Carl hopes will make it “more couple friendly” and reduce the “seedy” element some people associate with such stores.

He’s also looking forward to Mr Grey’s red-hot return to the cinema in 2016.

“Hopefully, the sequel will bring another boost to business,” Carl said.

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