Shopping for a new negligee, Beijing resident Ha Li is looking for something that is, as she puts it, "as easy to take off as to put on".
Filling such needs is getting easier for Chinese like Ha, 23, who browses an array of vibrators, bondage gear, and other assorted goods like "Go Deep Oral Sex Mints" in a new Beijing sex shop.
Stores selling sex paraphernalia seem to be on every block in many parts of Beijing, catering to what experts say is a swelling sexual revolution led by a growing middle class, particularly the younger generation.
"It is very attractive to younger people," said Ha, a repeat customer at the shop, Boutique De L'Amour.
"These kinds of shops help to lead you to new things. They raise the consciousness of sex and keep up with changing needs. Being more open is a very positive thing," she said.
While prostitution has made a conspicuous comeback in China from the puritan days of radical communist rule, open personal expressions of sexuality remain modest compared to the West.
But the atmosphere has loosened after 30 years of exposure to the outside world, said Li Yinhe, a well-known commentator on sexual issues.
Despite government efforts to rein in Web porn, the sexual frontiers are being pushed by a more adventurous generation of mostly urban young people, she said.
"China's youth is at the forefront of this. Youths today have grown up in the Internet age and have been exposed to new things as never before, which has had a huge impact," Li said.
In a reflection of the changing attitudes, the Ministry of Education in December called for sex education to begin as early as primary school, amid fears about AIDS and unwanted pregnancies as more young people experiment with sex.
"Previously this sort of information was for high school students only, and teachers would pass over those pages in the textbook and leave them to read on their own," Xinhua news agency said in a recent report.
State media have said that Beijing and Shanghai each have more than 2,000 sex-related shops -- many of which call themselves 'adult health" stores -- catering to increasingly discerning shoppers like Ha.
"In Beijing, good quality sex products have only begun to come out in the past year," said Ha, an aspiring painter.
"The demand is big and the consciousness of sex is steadily growing."
Yang Zi, 25, opened Boutique L'Amour last month to tap this market.
While the vast majority of Beijing's sex shops are tiny cramped collections of cheap and low-quality Chinese-made goods, Yang pushes the envelop both on price and raciness with her mostly imported products.
In the front window stands a mannequin in a leather bondage bikini. Nearby, a 5,000-yuan (730-dollar) harness used for upright intercourse hangs suspended from the ceiling with accompanying stirrups.
Other sex toys range in price from 200 yuan up to a princely 7,000 yuan.
Splattered red paint covers the floor like blood stains, while a loft upstairs features a bed on which sex paraphernalia is displayed.
China's new prosperity is allowing people to think more about sex, Yang said, quoting a Chinese adage that translates as "Only once you have enough to eat and warm clothes to wear can you satisfy sexual desires".
Most of her customers are women unfulfilled in bed, said Yang, who often fields follow-up calls by customers confused by what they bought.
"It doesn't matter which country you live in, every one needs it (sexual pleasure). It is an extension of life, the essence of living," said Yang, who perches on four-inch heels and sports a nose ring.
Yet, she said, deep-seated conservatism about sex endures in China.
It took some convincing to get city authorities to approve the Chinese name of her shop, Ao Tu -- two characters which resemble the female and male sexual organs.
And Yang still hasn't found the courage to tell her parents back home in the northwestern province of Gansu about her business venture.
"They are very conservative and I don't want them to worry needlessly about me. They might think I have gone bad," she said.
PChinese Woman Boiled Man's Head in Soup Hoping to Treat Daughter's Psychiatric Problems 63-year-old Masseur Sentenced to Ten-and-a-half Years In Jail For Sexual Assaults M