Forbidden Fruit: Exit, Chased by the Bare

Austin's favorite naughty business closes Downtown location

Forbidden Fruit CEO Lynn Raridon is closing the store's Downtown location.
Forbidden Fruit CEO Lynn Raridon is closing the store's Downtown location. (Photo by John Anderson)

Forbidden Fruit is pulling out too soon? Well, no, the longtime erotic boutique at 512 Neches is in fact vacating its original Down­town premises – where it's been snugly ensconced for 30 years – but "too soon" is a misnomer, even though the store's final day is Sunday, Aug. 28.

"We've seen a dramatic shift in customer base away from this location, with more of our patrons shopping at our North Loop store," says Lynn Raridon, the emporium's CEO. "Our lease was up for renewal this year ... and we've decided to focus all our energy on making our North Loop shop the über-Fruit while we continue to scout for a new second location."

Über-Fruit? Now there's something that sounds like a sex toy, all right – but let's not get distracted.

Forbidden Fruit's seen a lot in the past three decades of bringing better living through sexual enhancement to the citizens of this randy town: the presidential stylings of Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Obama; the revitalization of the Sixth Street corridor toward its current incarnation as entertainment destination and shot-bar heaven for college-aged debaucherites; the birth and flourishing of the very alt-weekly you're currently reading, in which the annual "Best of Austin" Readers Poll has voted the shop its favorite naughty business 13 times. Thirty years, in which only recently has it been possible for people in this oft-repressive Lone Star State to purchase dildos qua dildos (rather than as "educational devices") without fear of criminal prosecution.

Dildos, yes, even vibrating dildos with especially pliant flanges and rotating ... but let's not get distracted.

The main Forbidden Fruit shop in the trendy North Loop neighborhood is being expanded by 300 square feet and redecorated with a "vintage meets boudoir" ambience, with a reopening celebration set for Saturday, Sept. 24, to coincide with the 13th annual North Loop Strip Block Party. By that time, the Neches venue will have vamoosed, with the resultant vacuum filled by an expansion of Aaron's Rock & Roll emporium. By that time, the Downtown complement of sex toys, fetish gear, and accoutrements of leather, latex, silk, and satin will have been relocated – lock, stock, and ball-gag – to an area voted on by its customers and friends. (By you, if you wish, at the store's website:

Right now, they're still in the process of leaving. "Well, I bought the building back in 1995, so I won't be totally removed from the street," says Raridon. "I'll still be involved with the Sixth Street Property Owners' Association and the Downtown Austin Association. It's bittersweet to leave, though, to say goodbye to the camaraderie, the neighbors I'm gonna miss seeing on a daily basis. But what I'm gonna miss the most is, actually, what I miss already: In 30 years I've seen the area change in so many ways. It used to have a different kind of energy when there were more live music venues down there and we didn't have all the homeless services clotted a block away from the shop. It used to be more vibrant, and people used to come down and spend money, supporting everything that was happening on the street. But, ah, times change."

Times do change, and you can be there to help ring this particular change of the cultural bell. The Downtown shop is having a closing party on Saturday, Aug. 27, from 9pm to midnight. "We'll have beer and wine for folks over 21," says Raridon, "a chance for everyone to say farewell. But we're not putting anything on sale – it's just a celebration for people to come through and look at the shop one last time."

Indeed, one last time to look at the tubes of enhanced lubricants and Hitachi Magic Wands and those thick latex gloves with the ribbed index finger and that strategically placed ... but let's not get distracted.

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Forbidden Fruit, Lynn Raridon

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