‘Harder, more extreme,’ The Crypt helps keep the kink in Capitol Hill

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Manager Shawn Allen Hall is ready to serve (Images: CHS)

Manager Shawn Allen Hall is ready to serve (Images: CHS)

Seattle Pride celebrates the inspiring progress our city and nation have made in furthering LGBTQ rights. It’s also a time when an already sex-charged Capitol Hill turns things up a notch. Before, during, after — The Crypt serves as one of its top purveyors of kink.

Since opening here in the 1980s, The Crypt has served as the adult’s adult store on Capitol Hill. With items to induce electric shocks and rods to be inserted in the most shocking of places, products at The Crypt can really stretch the meaning of the word “toy.”

“We’re definitely harder, more extreme than other stores,” said manager Shawn Allen Hall, not far from the gagged mannequin hanging from a sex swing that greets customers at the front door. On the other hand, the seen-it-all staff are anything but hard and extreme. “We just want to make sure you feel as comfortable as possible,” Hall said.

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IMG_0153For this year’s Pride celebration, The Crypt is setting up ring and ball tosses outside their shop. Yes, it will be as naughty as it sounds. Hall said the store will also be hiring window dancers and staff will be walking around handing out free goodies throughout the weekend.

The first Crypt opened in San Diego in 1977 to meet the needs of the city’s BDSM community, but the Seattle shop became the flagship store after opening in the 1980s. Originally on Union and then Broadway, The Crypt made its move to 11th and Pine in 2007, replacing The Vogue nightclub. In addition to Seattle, The Crypt has five other locations in California and Colorado.

Hall, who has been with The Crypt for four years, is more than happy to guide customers through purchasing their first “big toy,” but he said it’s actually Crypt’s clothing and apparel that sets the shop apart. The Crypt offers an extensive collection of heels and corsets especially designed for men and Hall said the shop’s workers are well versed in the art of corset fitting.

Despite the strength of online commerce in its particular segment of the sales world, The Crypt is part of a small community of sex-focused, brick and mortar retailers operating on Capitol Hill. Just up Pine, CHS advertiser Doghouse Leathers celebrated its eighth anniversary in November. On Broadway, the Seattle outlet of the Castle Megastore chain decided to stay put. Meanwhile, Babeland, a sex toy shop of a completely different ilk, celebrated 20 sex-positive years of business in 2013.

The Crypt, too, has been a pillar of Capitol Hill’s gay party scene, another sign of the “gayborhood.” In recent years, some have bemoaned a perceived watering-down of the Hill’s LGBTQ culture. The Crypt has rolled with the changes.

“We’ve definitely become more diverse,” Hall said, adding that the store is catering to more straight customers than years past.

It seems entirely possible that Pride could eventually go the same way. Gay and straight 20-somethings wearing dildo necklaces and sipping rainbow coladas may one day wonder how this whole Pride thing even started. And maybe that’s what victory looks like.

But no matter what the future holds for Capitol Hill Pride, we’re positive its revelers will still be looking for new ways to discover pleasure. Hopefully The Crypt will be there to show them how to find it.

The Crypt Capitol Hill is located at 1516 11th Ave. You can learn more at thecryptstore.com.

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