Local Landmarks: Erotique

This year marks eight years since Erotique opened in downtown Bozeman. Previously, Erotique was known as Miss Kitty’s Adult Store. Between the two, a sex store has resided in Bozeman for 33 years this year.

Miss Kitty’s was opened in 1981 to much outrage, because at the time sex wasn’t quite so openly presented and discussed as it is now. Despite the uproar, it survived and come 1984, Billy McWilliams started working a part time job there. Just three years later in 1987 he became manager. He stayed in that position for 20 years and once Miss Kitty’s shut down, McWilliams took over and renamed the store Erotique in 2007.

McWilliams had couples in mind when he created Erotique. He got rid of the porn viewing booths and gave the store a makeover. Erotique has a friendly and welcoming atmosphere now. It is a non-judgmental environment where shame and embarrassment do not exist. While Miss Kitty’s was a male-centric shop, Erotique is a more female-and-couple friendly store.

Erotique is even better than online shopping, though that might seem easier. The physical store setting of Erotique gives you something that online shopping never could. An actual store setting allows you to see what you want in real life with real dimensions, not just some flat image on a computer screen. Shopping in the store allows a feeling that online never will. Moreover someone is in the store to help and give you advice if necessary.

The store has a wide range of products for everyone, from bachelor and bachelorette party favors to whips and handcuffs. The store’s biggest selection of products is, of course, dildos and vibrators for anyone out there who need a little self-lovin’. They also carry a fairly diverse assortment of lingerie, and have a BDSM section. This section is filled with fun and safe items like fuzzy handcuffs, ball gags, riding crops, bondage rope and lubricants. Erotique offers the basic water and silicone based lubes as well as lubricants made with vegan and organic ingredients.

McWilliams said cultural acceptance of sex has come so far in the community after all these years that the stigma associated with it has significantly dropped. He stated that having both Erotique and Miss Kitty’s in town has contributed to the building of the community. It has allowed the public to open itself up to acceptance and being open about sex and sexual things. McWilliams believes that part of this acceptance comes from the access we now have to porn and sexual images online and on TV. He said we have more porn and sexualized images now than in the whole of humankind’s history.

Unfortunately, though there is more acceptance, sex is still suffocated by a shame and fear based culture. As easy as it is to access things associated with sex or sex itself, it is still shrouded in shame, making things difficult for those who are confused or want information. This culture makes people unwilling to ask questions, which is why we then have kids who think that they got pregnant via a hot tub grinding session and people who think you can get STD’s from holding hands or kissing. Erotique exists in part to help promote knowledge and healthier attitudes towards sex.

McWilliams said “orgasms are truth. They are the most honest feeling a person can have. That shouldn’t be shamed. You have to like yourself. That’s the key to life. It is freeing to be yourself and like yourself; to refuse to live in the box society wants to put you in.”