Wicked Wanda and the Barbie-and-Ken Bondage Scene

 
by Peter Berton

Wicked Wanda’s Adult Emporium (wickedwandas.ca) is a downtown Ottawa sex store. Besides offering an extensive range of sex toys, Wicked Wanda’s stirred up some dust last Christmas, by featuring a window display featuring Barbie and Ken dolls in graphic bondage play!

See: Toronto Sun   Ottawa Citizen
Clearly, anyone with this amount of wit and imagination is worth talking to. So Sex Life Canada contacted Wanda, to get to know her a lot better.

SLC: Please tell us about yourself, and how you ended up opening Wicked Wanda’s

Wanda: I have been a single parent for many years, raising three very well-adjusted girls. That in itself is likely my largest achievement.

I began my career in real estate in 1991, specializing in the last 10 years in commercial sales and leasing. I had the amazing luck to work with a highly successful company, Primecorp commercial, here in Ottawa. I learned from some of the most competent people in Canada about business and strategic planning.

During this time, I handled a lot of franchise companies in their expansion requirements.

In 2003, I decided to invest with a partner in the purchase of the Couples Romance Store chain. This was to be a retirement plan. Freedom 45 was my plan!

After several years the partnership wasn't working, so I kept one shop on Richmond Road and closed the remaining stores, deciding that I could create one flagship store and concentrate on web sales.

The shop was doing well and I was just getting on my feet when my shop was part of a plaza that was hit by arson from another unit, thus taking out the entire building.

A long story of struggle, but I had a call from a realtor friend who said his client had a great space on bank street and if I’d like it. Knowing Bank Street was beginning a long construction project, I truly worried, but I felt if I could make it past that time, I’d have a great shop.

Thankfully we JUST pulled through.

SLC: Tell us about what makes Wicked Wanda’s special:

Wanda: My shop has all the regular toys found in most good stores, but we also have a specialty in regards to varied fetishes found in society. Having had a lot of exposure to outside the box living, I felt it important to offer people a place where they know whatever they carry with them is not shameful and they are not alone.

We manufacture our own leather items and customize them as well. Our shop can order custom items for people and the products are delivered to the store. We also shop for some of our customers.

Also offered in the shop is a totally vegan tattoo studio run by Crystal Balser. She is known for her character Frank’n’Beans, a local drag king who performs with other kings including my manager Melissa Lockhart, who performs as Randy Marshall.

We have amazing staff who are all into alternative lifestyles. My media relations person is Julia Winston who hosts varied workshops for the store as well.

My shop is special! From the moment you walk in and are greeted with intelligent and knowledgeable staff.

SLC: You seem happy; clearly you are doing what you want to do.

Wanda: Getting into this business was something I’d thought of for many years. My first trip into a sex shop was uncomfortable, to say the least, and I thought there would be an opportunity for someone to do this business with some finesse.

I just decided I wanted to work in an environment that was happy most of the time and where I could find joy through my work. I was under huge pressure in real estate and was simply tired.

SLC: What is the story about your bondage Christmas display?

Wanda: Well, I have a client of the shop who has a fetish for making doll displays so I asked her to set up a Christmas display using 50 Shades of Grey. That was her art installation, period.

One person complained, but I refused to take the display down.

It was a tad cheeky, so we installed black paper across the bottom of the window to keep young eyes off. Apparently it wasn't enough and perhaps the media needed something fun, so it went viral. It was in the Huffington Post, all our local papers, morning show, Toronto talk radio....like madness!

The lady continues to harass us with calls the following month complaining our male blow-up doll in the window appeared to be a child being beaten. I've contacted my lawyer and the police regarding her apparent madness, but I thank her for the media frenzy as I’d never be able to afford such advertising!

SLC: So what are your future plans?

Wanda: I'm now 45 and continue to practice some real estate on occasion. My manufacturer has expanded this year into wholesale where we will resell our best leather, wood and corsets to other retailers.

I have no plans to open more stores, but I do plan to brand our best products and hope to see them in the best shops in Canada. We've began in Quebec with solid results. My youngest daughter Madelaine is on board now and we've a great team running Wicked Wholesale.

We’re excited to see this year’s growth!