Brenda Kerber knows a thing or two about good sex. The owner of the Traveling Tickle Trunk, she’s been educating people about healthy sexuality since 1999. As you can imagine, the gig goes with answering a few questions many women are too shy to even bring up to their girlfriends.
“The two main questions we get are, ‘am I normal?’ and ‘I can’t seem to (fill in the blank with whatever sex activity is supposed to be the best – have an orgasm during penetration, have a g-spot orgasm, make my partner come from a blowjob, what’s wrong with me?’” says Brenda.
When the innovator first busted into the sex toy business in Edmonton, Canada, she was doing home parties for another company. A full time social worker in sexual health education, she thought teaching people about sex toys would be a fun, casual job – however, she quickly learned how important it was. The company she was working with wasn’t the least bit interested in health or safety, training her on how to sell its toys but not what they were made of, how to properly use them or how to wash them. As Brenda began to educate herself on these details, she learned that many of the toys she was selling contained toxic chemicals or were made of materials that were almost impossible to clean. Because she had no control over what she sold, she quit the company and looked for a home party company that sold safe, quality products. When she couldn’t find one, she started her own home business: The Traveling Tickle Trunk.
“My home party business grew rather quickly and started to take on a life of its own,” says Brenda. “Because of my background in social work, I knew a lot of social workers, educators and health care professionals who were referring their clients to me and asking me to do presentations on toy safety. Eventually, it came to the point where in order to really meet the needs of the people who were coming to me there needed to be a store. So finally, in February of 2009, the Traveling Tickle Trunk opened its doors on Whyte Avenue.”
Since then, Brenda’s shop has been the only sex positive toy store in Edmonton, as well as a favourite online shop. But it’s so much more than simply a place to pick up safe sex toys. Brenda’s team offers workshops right in your home and partners with local sex positive groups such as OUTReach, ISMUSS, the Pride Centre and HIV Edmonton. Aside from selling educational DVDs, books and games, The Traveling Tickle Trunk offers information on various aspects of sexuality itself – from how to talk to your partner about what you want to how to try bondage for the first time.
“People are looking for honest, straight-forward information about sex and they don’t know where to get it,” says Brenda. “There are a lot of amazing resources in our city, but most people think they have to have a problem in order to go to places like Options for Sexual Health or the STI Clinic, so they go to the sex shop instead. I want the Tickle Trunk to be able to give people what they need, so we collect and distribute information on a variety of sexual health resources in the city.”
One of the things Brenda’s adamant about people knowing is that there isn’t a right or a wrong way to have sex. All parts of our anatomy are connected, there are millions of ways to experience pleasure from all of them. Brenda is firm in her belief that we need to stop compartmentalizing types of pleasure and just experience it in ways that are natural to us. The experience of sex is unique to each person, and what works for some may not work for others. The challenge is not being able to enjoy what other people say you should, but finding and loving the things you do enjoy.
The Traveling Tickle Trunk prides itself on selling a diverse range of toys to help its customers fulfill their sexual needs – from starter vibrators to BDSM gear – which can be hard to find in Edmonton. Because Edmonton has such a conservative reputation, many would be surprised to know that it has a large, diverse and really cool kink community.
“Many people told me that I would have a difficult time keeping a sex shop afloat in such a city – I have not found this to be the case,” says Brenda. “Edmonton is actually an awesome little bastion of sex-positivity, queerness, and kinky-ness.”
Find out more information about the Traveling Tickle Trunk here.