Free Shipping on Orders Over $75!

Pleasure Chest History

The Pleasure Chest started in 1971 in New York, at the height of the sexual revolution. Founders Duane Colglazier and Bill Rifkin started out selling waterbeds, but found unexpected success in selling erotic novelties like mood lighting, cock rings and handcuffs. They decided to turn the store into a full fledged sex shop.

The company’s first location, which opened in a 47” x 12’ long space in the West Village in 1971, challenged convention by refusing to block out the store windows with XXX, which was standard for any store with adult material. Founders Duane Colglazier and Bill Rifkin aimed to create a department store feel. “We treat our customers just as though they were walking into Gimbel’s to buy a table and chairs,” said Bill Rifkin in an interview in 1972. This simple principle continues to guide and set the Pleasure Chest apart today, now under the leadership of Duane’s nephew Brian Robinson.

Pleasure Chest’s bold embrace of sexuality, particularly alternative sexualities, as a healthy part of life has garnered loyal fans along the way such as Joan Jett, who has been quoted saying she bought her leather ringed belt from the Pleasure Chest’s Los Angeles store, and gave it to Sid Vicious. The belt can be seen in many photos of them from the 70s. Pleasure Chest even inspired Queen, whose 1978 song “Let Me Entertain You” contains the lyrics:

  • If you wanna see some action
  • We get nothing but the best
  • The S & M attraction
  • We got the Pleasure Chest

From the 70’s on, the Pleasure Chest has been at the center of our culture’s ongoing sexual revolution. Just as Deep Throat made its mark on the world of porn, the Pleasure Chest opened its first location. As the celebrations of sexual freedom of the 70s were tempered by the brutal reality of the AIDS epidemic in the 80s, Pleasure Chest faced its own heartbreak at losing many of its leaders to the disease. By the 90s, Pleasure Chest had become the go-to Hollywood spot for all things fetish, such as when the Pulp Fiction costume designers were looking to dress the famous Gimp character and rented the costume from the Pleasure Chest. In the late 1990s, when Sex and the City took the world by storm, no other store would do for their famous Rabbit episode.

For nearly five decades Pleasure Chest has continued to embrace sexuality in all it forms and has positioned inclusivity at the heart of all business decisions - from hiring practices and product selection to community engagement and design. As a result, the shopping experience continues to have extensive appeal. Pleasure Chest’s roots in the gay community have held even while also creating a safe space for straight couples to explore. Both the convenience-minded consumer, who can enjoy the ease of stocking a friend’s bachelorette party while upgrading their pleasure collection to the newest toy in one stop, and the luxury shopper, who is looking to indulge in one-of-a-kind pleasure objects, share a love for the Pleasure Chest.

Since 2008, PleasurEd has offered nearly 1500 free classes on topics ranging from oral sex tips and tricks to bondage as meditation and queering your sex to over 30,000 attendees and has trained 60 Pleasure Chest educators. By marrying a vibrant legacy, a mission of inclusivity and an unmatched adaptability to the growing and changing pleasure market, Pleasure Chest has persisted as the oldest sex-positive retailer in the country. With 5 locations in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago and a new e-commerce platform launching in 2017, Pleasure Chest is not only legendary after 45 years but also still evolving.