A whip hangs from a slab of brown bark, its tassels pointing toward the floor, at Missoula's new sexual health collaborative, Birds & Bees. It's just one example of how this business is a little different.
"It's a workout facility for your sexuality," says Lindsey Doe, a clinically trained sexologist, of her East Broadway office overlooking the Clark Fork River.
A giant stuffed pink vulva with sparkly satin lips sits in another room slated for support groups and workshops on intimacy, fellatio and even celibacy.
"We want to have things for people who don't want to have sex, and for people who want to have outrageous sex," says Birds & Bees Manager Rachel Wanderscheid.
Doe says it's easy to get mixed up in a culture that sends confusing messages about sex. The collaborative aims to provide a safe space to explore that culture, offering counseling as well as sex toys for sale. Sample items: body friendly wooden dildos shellacked and sanded for safety, and locally made harnesses.
As one wanders through the collaborative, a black high-heeled shoe shines atop a bookshelf next to a stack of handkerchiefs. The handkerchiefs are used for a "hanky code," which signals, depending on color and pocket selection, one's sexual taste. For instance, light blue in the right back pocket implies the person is an expert in oral sex, says Doe.
On Wednesdays, the collaborative will host "Hump Date with Dr. Doe." Cuddling, aphrodisiacs and intimacy are all slated for discussion.
Birds & Bees will also offer a men's talk group, a book-lending library and "sex-positive" massage therapy, which doesn't include actual sex.
"They don't have to worry about having an erection in a session," Doe explains.
Birds & Bees officially launches with a Sept. 24 open house, and Doe's hoping the collaborative will enlighten more than a few locals.
"Most people don't even realize that [sex] could be better," she says, "or it could be different."