Adieu to The Noose! Another Kinky Sex Shop Shutters in Chelsea

doonan thenoose3v Adieu to The Noose! Another Kinky Sex Shop Shutters in ChelseaFarewell ball gags. Bye-bye butt plugs. Au revoir latex underwear. Summer is not the only thing that came screeching to a halt last weekend. On Friday, August 31, one of Manhattan’s best-loved fetish-community landmarks closed its cash register for the very last time. I’m talking about The Noose, a chic little boutique serving kink-lovers at 261 West 19th Street for the past quarter of a century.

Back in the 1970’s, when I first came to New York, there were lots of stores like The Noose. The retail community—my community—responded to countercultural notions of sexual liberation with style and creativity. And these little owner-operated supersexy emporiums always had such great names, Ah-Men and The Marquis De Suede being two that stick in the memory.

In mid-August, back when I first clocked the sign announcing the imminent closing of The Noose, I plunged into a lake of nostalgia and speculation. Though not part of this particular sexual sect—my idea of a fantasy date has always been a 1960’s picnic on the beach à la Tab Hunter—I felt a wave of sadness. I could not shake the notion that the closing of The Noose signified the passing of an era. Why had black leather slings and porno-pumps suddenly lost their frisson? Is it possible that, in our increasingly painful 21st-century world, people no longer feel compelled to spank each other’s bot-bots and extinguish cigarettes on each other’s salient features?

A quick glance at the September fashion mags and one is tempted to conclude the very opposite: This season kinky imagery is totally BACK! Everywhere you look there are gals in studded black leather and buckled corsets (see Burberry) or whip-wielding harpies in metal chastity belts (see Dolce & Gabbana).

Is it possible that the mainstreaming of the sadomasochistic aesthetic killed The Noose?

There was only one way to get to the heart of the matter. Scoop Doonan would simply have to take a field trip and do some penetrating and probing reporting. Last week, clutching a steno pad and Sharpie, I buzzed my way into The Noose. The petite and murky interior—the air was thick with the odor of leather and latex—was packed with bargain hunters, none of whom looked like Tab Hunter and many of whom looked like refugees from a Hogarth engraving.

“I’m here from The New York Observer,” I chirped, addressing the bloke behind the counter, adding, “I want to write about the closing of this important New York landmark.”

“There’s nothing to say,” he replied, staring contemptuously at my Gucci safari jacket, floral-print Paul Smith shirt, Prada cotton boating slacks and slip-on espadrilles. “We’re closing on August 31st. The end.”

I was gobsmacked. This was the first time in my life I had ever met anyone who turned his/her nose up at a bit of press. Accustomed as he is to the sound-bite flinging, press-hungry fashion world, your reporter found himself at a loss. Maybe it would help build a rapport if I purchased an item or two. I began to rummage: A massive rubber butt-plug would make a lovely minimalist doorstop, but I was worried that the dog might chew on it. The black latex tank tops had a certain je ne sais quoi, but were strictly off limits for Scoop: As a devotee of Carole Jackson’s Color Me Beautiful system and a swatch-carrying “Autumn,” the darkest I can go is chocolate brown.

Ah! Finally! The perfect decorative accessory: oversize Ben Wa balls, two for ten dollars. These shiny chrome orbs would add a whiff of Tom Ford—i.e., flashy masculine glamour—to our coffee table.

“Did your customers lose interest in kinky sex?” I asked the sales associate while he double-bagged my balls.

“No.”