There are downsides to buying fetish gear and sex toys online. You often can’t even see pictures of the products in use on Amazon.
“In our store, there’s no censorship,” says Bite The Fruit‘s Russwin Francisco. “As long as you’re 18 or older, you can come in and we can talk sex. And we can show you pictures.”
A former business instructor, Francisco spent a decade working at The Leather Rack before taking over the Connecticut Avenue store in 2012. He eventually rechristened the venue Bite The Fruit in reference to Adam and Eve, and as a kind of tribute to Eve’s action in expanding carnal knowledge and experience. The name change has helped Francisco expand the store’s customer base from almost exclusively gay leathermen to a 70/30 mix, that also included straight women and straight couples.
“Bite The Fruit caters to everyone,” he says. “The idea is that, if you are just curious, or shy, or maybe even conservative, you’ll feel comfortable enough here, because there is absolutely no judgment about who you are and where you are, where you’re from and what you’re looking for.”
Bite The Fruit carries a wide variety of sex toys for both men and women. And said toys have come a long way from their clunky, cumbersome, battery-powered, hard rubber days. “We have a new wave of high-end, modern-looking vibrators,” Francisco says. “They’re made with fantastic silicone-type materials that are USB-chargeable and waterproof. They’re very powerful and very discreet, more durable and not that expensive.”
Even with the changes in customer makeup and advances in toy technology, the gay male staples of lubes, condoms and video head cleaners are still very much the heart of the business — and that’s true of leather and the leather community, too. “We still participate in silent auctions and fundraisers,” Francisco says, “and are still doing the same exact things in terms of what we used to do as The Leather Rack in the leather community.”
And Bite The Fruit will soon revive another Leather Rack tradition: producing original leather goods, from armbands to harnesses. They’re also bringing back the ability to make simple alterations to leather gear — just another way Bite The Fruit is working to get that right fetish fit for its customers.
Bite The Fruit is at 1723 Connecticut Ave. NW. Hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 11 a.m. to midnight, Fridays and Saturdays; and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays. Call 202-299-0440 or visit bitethefruit.com.
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