Carnival of Desire
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For commerce or pleasure, redemption or entertainment—an exploration of the ways sex figures in the lives of some Chicagoans
THE THINGS HE CARRIED
Into the night by bike, pedaling erotic merchandise
Delivering sex toys “wouldn’t be as cool if I was some dude driving around in a truck,” says Anthony Mikrut.
The Big Party
Carnival of Desire
In black cycling pants and Bozo red bicycle shoes, the Kinky Llama appears whenever and wherever Chicago libidos are in need. On this night, a blustery Friday in early April, the call comes from an address in Humboldt Park, where four people require silk rope hogtie, bachelorette party caution tape, vibrating boy shorts, and sensual hot wax—stat! And so, atop a rebuilt Schwinn Traveler and under cover of darkness, the Kinky Llama pedals swiftly across the city to make sure that the four libidos are needy no more—the specified boudoir accouterments neatly packed in a waterproof messenger bag slung across his shoulder.
Behold the latest in the evolution of consumer acceptance of sex toys—home delivery. As others have done with pizza, flowers, and singing telegrams, the Kinky Llama (given name, Anthony Mikrut; age, 34) will bring what you purchase from his adult website (kinkyllama.com) directly to your doorstep on any day, at any time, complete with a promise of express delivery in about an hour. As one satisfied customer, a Kinky Llama regular, puts it: “No one else provides this kind of service. I’ve told all of my friends, so that if in the heat of the moment they need anything, they’ll know where to go.” Mikrut explains, “Because I make deliveries by bike, it’s become cool. It wouldn’t be as cool if I was some dude driving around in a truck.” Plus: “You’ve got to do what you’re good at and what makes you happy.” Not so long ago, he sold ink and automotive paint (by car, not bike); this did not make him as happy.
In three years as the Kinky Llama, Mikrut has made about 700 express deliveries—business typically peaks on Friday and Saturday nights and any randy holiday. To wit, the number of miles he biked this past Valentine’s Day: more than 120. “Valentine’s Day is my Christmas,” he says. But because a man can pedal only so far in one hour’s time with a bag of giant plastic phalluses strapped to his back—“An order of dildos can be heavy,” he says—Mikrut limits his express delivery zone to north of Cermak, south of Irving Park, and east of Pulaski to Lake Shore Drive. For discreet cover when confronted by inquisitive doormen, he often will pose as a Jimmy John’s sandwich delivery guy, maintaining that his bag is filled with footlong, um, subs. (For supplemental income, he manages Village Cycle Center, cycling being his other preferred pastime.)
At the Kinky Llama headquarters in West Town (a.k.a. his apartment), you will find one plush llama marionette, 26 bicycles, and four makeshift cinder-block shelves of lubricants of various viscosities. Additional adult goods housed on the premises: the Fleshlight (“The #1 selling male sex toy in the world,” the box brags); vibrating rubber duckies (batteries included!); bondage gear (whips, collars, ball gags, oh my!); and bedroom standards such as condoms and lingerie.
On occasion, he plucks certain items from his warehouse (a.k.a. his spare bedroom) and visits local bars, where he nonchalantly gives small vibrators (discount card attached) to all females present. They are never left behind. “’Bye, Tony! Thanks for the vibrators!” the two 20-something bartenders at the Old Town Pub call out happily as he leaves. And then, louder still, their gratitude now audible to all: “’BYE, TONY! THANKS FOR THE VIBRATORS!” He laughs and says, “Every time I deliver a toy, everybody is always smiling.”
Photograph: Joe C. Moreno