401 Counterculture Hangs Out with Mister Sister


An Interview with Devin Mayim-Daviau

I have been in my fair share of sex toy shops and porn stores in my 30 years on this planet. Some were amazing, some were terrifying and some I’d rather not discuss. Experiences will always vary when you choose to patronize the wonderful world of sleaze for sale.

On a recent beautiful morning, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Devioune Mayim-Daviau, the owner of Mister Sister Erotica, the popular local favorite erotic boutique in Fox Point. We sat on two chairs outside her storefront, her bulldog curled at her feet, enjoying the long awaited warmth of the New England spring sun. Devioune, Devin to her friends, invited me to sit with her and discuss just what it means to be a “Queer owned boutique that understands the need to not only celebrate the diversity of all sexualities and sexual expressions, but also to actively honor and cultivate them.”

Adam J Schirling: Tell me a bit about yourself. How did you end up running a high-end sex toy boutique on Wickenden Street?

Devin Mayim-Daviau: Well, prior to this store, I had two stores in Provincetown. I guess what originally got me into this was that there wasn’t really anything out there for women. There were probably, like, a dozen women-owned erotica stores across the United States and I think we have a different hit on sexuality. I really wanted a comfortable place for women to come and it surprised me how uncomfortable men are going to one of the big chains. So I wanted a place where gay people could go and it not be “gay friendly” and just be gay. I carry a lot of stuff geared toward our community, but also for heterosexuals, trans… That was the main reason though, because I personally couldn’t go somewhere and be comfortable.

AJS: What made you make the move from Provincetown to Providence?

DM: The economy, really. In Provincetown, you’ve got five months to make your money. The trickle down effect took a while to hit there, and the rent just kept going up. You see the writing on the wall eventually.

AJS: How was your reception on Wickenden Street when you first arrived?

DM: Ah, I loved it. I mean, immediately, folks up from all up, down, and across the street came over and introduced themselves. The shopkeepers here are really tight with each other and with the neighborhood.

AJS: Did you have any negative experiences?

DM: Just from one person and she’s no longer on the street.

AJS:  How do you feel about the modern day reception of erotica, considering how much more mainstream it is compared to the past?

DM: Everybody has sex, you know? I don’t think I’m seeing more customers, but people are much more willing to explore their sexuality now. There are gynecologists and sex therapists who send people to my stores and it’s really surprising. Sometimes there is a woman or a gentleman in their ’70s and they come here to get educated. It makes me feel like I’m giving back to my community. I think what really differentiates us is that none of us consider ourselves sales people. We want to help figure out what works for you, rather than sell you the next best thing. It’s a blessing to be able to help someone who’s never had an orgasm.

AJS: And how is business doing?

DM: It’s good. We have a great reputation. Five years in a row we’ve received the highest customer satisfaction rating online and two years ago, the best erotic boutique in the United States (independent) at the AVN Awards. I’m always asking how people hear about us and it’s either from word of mouth or they find us online.

AJS: People will always have misconceptions about different groups of people and different sexualities. One of the points of my column is to help dispel these. What would you want people to know about either you personally or as a business owner?

DM: I would think that the biggest misconception that people have is that you are a sex whore or something.

AJS: Just by being in the erotic industry?

DM: Yes, I’m actually fairly conservative in my private life. I get hit on a lot by women and sometimes men, though that’s rare. I think it’s worse for the gay men who work here. Everyone who works here is gay, which is nice for our community. It provides a sense of comfort to our customers.

AJS: In what ways are you active in the gay community in Providence?

DM: We are yearly sponsors of gay bingo, they raise funds monthly for AIDS and supporting families living with HIV. We do tons of donations for gay pride and auction baskets for fundraisers in the community. And if the students from Brown or RISD or wherever have fundraisers, we always help out.

After our chat, Devin gave me a tour of her wonderful store and we discussed the ins and outs, no pun intended, of the vast assortment of toys and clothing for almost any and all sexual identification, fetish and appetite. She happily greets customers as they come in, quick to put them at ease and ensure them she is there for all their questions. I purchased a wonderful book of erotic photography from local artist Greg Easton, said goodbye to Devin and headed back into the midday bustle of the street. My last glimpse through the front windows saw Devin happily perched behind the counter, surrounded by products made for the sole purpose of increasing someone’s happiness, and customers looking to make their sex lives just that much happier. We are living in dark times; open and free sexuality is one of the last redeeming features of humanity. We should value this industry of happiness, and the merchants of happiness like Devin who strive to make Rhode Island a place where more people are getting their rocks off in more wonderful ways.

Happily Unmarried

No one likes to think about it on their wedding day, but the fact remains that not every couple who dives happily into marriage will wish to remain married till death do they part. The tragedy of divorce is made more complex for same sex couples who cross state borders to make their vows or move away from a state where same sex marriage is legal to one where it isn’t. The recent DOMA decision will likely have lawmakers scrambling to make some laws consistent at a federal level, but for the moment, the rights given to a same-sex couple in one state will not follow them to another.

There is a couple in Rhode Island who will soon have the dubious distinction of being involved in one of the first, if not the first, same-sex divorces in our state. The couple lived in Massachusetts and was married there before moving to Rhode Island and becoming not so blissfully wed, but they were stuck. Their state of residence didn’t recognize their marriage, and therefore, was unable to dissolve something that didn’t exist. On August 1, when same-sex couples in Rhode Island can finally be legally wed, this couple hopes that they’ll finally be able to divorce.


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For the Couple Who Has Everything

Many same sex couples finally allowed to marry in Rhode Island have been together and sharing a household for years. They have love, romance, the long-awaited right to marry, and lots and lots of stuff. What’s a wedding guest in search of a meaningful gift for the happy couple to do? We have a few ideas.

Instead of going the traditional registry route, couples could ask for donations to a favorite charity or set up a fund for a dream vacation. If money feels too impersonal, a piece of art designed specifically for the brides and grooms would be a meaningful gift. A local company like Craftopia would surely be able to point clueless wedding guests in the right direction. Or what about a series of classes – the gift of time spent together? The more adventurous couple could choose a registry of, ahem, marital aids through a company like Athena or
naughtier guests could surprise the pair with something picked up from a stop at Mister Sister. And if none of these ideas strike your fancy, you could always take out a congratulatory ad in Motif magazine!

So if you’re invited to the wedding of a couple who already has 12 place settings and a KitchenAid that matches their décor, fear not. The possibilities aren’t exhausted – they’re limitless!

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Supreme Court Rules on Same-Sex Marriage

By Jeffrey Folker

In two decisions handed down by the Supreme Court of the United States, supporters of equal rights for same-sex and non-traditional marriage scored a key victory on Wednesday, June 26.  The decisions, both split 5-4, mark a great expansion of rights for same-sex couples.

Photo by NPR

        The first decision of the morning came in the United States v. Windsor, with Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagen in the majority.  United States v. Windsor centered on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), signed into law by President Bill Clinton in September of 1996, states “No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship,” and later “the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.”[1] In writing for the majority, Justice Kennedy declared DOMA to be unconstitutional in that it violates the Fifth Amendment (“no person shall…be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law”).

        Immediately after the ruling on the Defense of Marriage act came the court’s decision in Hollingsworth v. Perry, where the court ruled that California’s Proposition 8 had no standing in court.  Prop. 8, as it has come to be known, reads as follows: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” By throwing the case out on procedural grounds rather than declaring it to be unconstitutional, the court missed an opportunity to issue a definitive ruling on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage.  At the same time, throwing the case out allows the ruling of the lower courts to stand (which struck down Prop. 8 for violating the equal protection clause).

        While the two decisions mark an immediate win for supporters of same-sex marriage, only time will tell the lasting impact.  For now, let’s celebrate.



[1]H.R. 3396 (104th): Defense of Marriage Act

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Pride Nightime Illuminated Parade: A Colorful Night for All

By Erin Kayata

Traffic was at almost a standstill as pedestrians in neon colors and vendors selling colorful balloons mulled through the streets. Businesses toted rainbow flags in their windows and doorways. The State House was a beacon, lighting a bright rainbow along the skyline. It was clear: Providence Pride’s Nighttime Illuminated Parade had arrived.

Cars decorated with Christmas lights rolled down the street, while the local YMCA danced their way through with a sign declaring that “Everyone is welcome”. A float featuring a giant wedding cake helped represent this year’s Pride theme of “Love Forward”, that everyone should be free to love whomever they choose.

“We love the fact that Providence opens itself to the gay community,” say Beth Parys of Holland, Massachusetts, who was there to see her daughter march with the local Y. Many groups showed their support by marching in the parade, including the Lesbian and Gay Big Apple Corps and the Providence Roller Derby, all of whom wore rainbow colored gear.

Many of the groups in the parade tossed freebies to the crowd. Viewers of the parade sported Mardi Gras beads that marchers threw to them. Pink whistles, candy, as well as condoms encouraging safe sex made their way through the crowd.

As the parade wound down, the crowd began to disperse and quiet down. However, even as the sights of Pride began to fade away, people only needed to look to the rainbow flags, and the lights of the State House to be reminded that even after Pride is over,support of the gay community remains strong in Rhode Island.

RI Pride Celebrates 37th Anniversary

denmark-gay-marriage_webreadyOn Saturday, June 15, Rhode Island’s LGBT community held their 37th annual Pride celebration in Providence. The day featured sunny skies, lots of heat and passionate performances from several local entertainers.

This year’s theme, “Love Forward,” signifies the freedom for people to love whom they want. The recent passage of marriage equality legislation in the Ocean State, as well as in Delaware and Minnesota, are proof of a society moving forward and becoming inclusive of same-sex couples.

Thousands of people flooded the streets of Providence to cheer on the marchers and floats featured in the Nighttime Illuminated Parade (see video).

Parade Grand Marshals were State Rep. Frank Ferri (D-Warwick) and his husband Tony Caparco, who have been together for over 31 years and have been married for the last seven. Ferri has been a leader in the fight for marriage equality and was a former co-chair of Marriage Equality Rhode Island (MERI). The other Grand Marshal was attorney Mary Bonauto of Boston-based Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD). Bonauto represented same-sex couples in Massachusetts, which paved the way for gay marriage to become legal in that state.

Many of the floats at this year’s parade featured wedding themes. Popular drag queen Sabrina Blaze wore a wedding cake hat topped with two grooms, which delighted the onlookers.

P-FLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), the Providence Gay Men’s Chorus, and Youth Pride, Inc. (YPI) were among the organizations participating in the parade.

This year’s festival was held for the third year in a row on South Water Street, alongside the Providence River. In past years the event was held at Station Park, across from the State House.

Belle Pellegrino, a veteran of the first RI Pride celebration in 1976, reflected on how Pride has changed through the years.

“I think I can safely speak for the ’76’ers’ when I say we are so awed to see the growth in what we began and are humbled to have been a part of this all,” Pellegrino said. “Knowing we were able to help start RI off on this journey to equality is a memory we will carry with us always.”

This year’s headliner was Thea Austin, lead singer of the pop group Snap.

Pride also featured special performances by Alexis Mateo from RuPaul’s Drag Race, Jackie Collins, Nova Starr, Ursula and the Glitterati, the Imperial Court of RI, and the Becky Chase Band. Emcees included Miss Kitty Litter, Jacqueline DiMera, Vi’Let, Ellen Moschetto, Haley Star, and Genesis.

Vendors manned booths all along South Water Street selling Pride merchandise, including clothing, jewelry and other trinkets.

AIDS Care Ocean State, AIDS Project Rhode Island, and Human Rights Campaign all were on hand to gather support for their services.

The festivities continued well into the night, with block parties and special events being held all over the city.

See video