Now Serving Caffeine, Snacks -- and Sex! -- at the Koken

I could use a cup of coffee about now.
I could use a cup of coffee about now.
Just in time for Naughti Gras, St. Louis' premier erotic-art show, a sexy new coffee shop is opening inside the Koken Art FactoryShameless Grounds (2650 Sidney Street; 314-773-9900) aims to be welcoming and accepting toward people on all ends of the sexual spectrum while feeding the universal need for a coffee buzz and a sandwich.

The brainchild of husband and wife Andy and Michelle Mueller, the shop and its staff of about a dozen, offers a seasonal assortment of soups, sandwiches and salads -- with vegan and vegetarian options aplenty -- and a full espresso bar with coffee by Chauvin.

What sets apart the Grounds is, of course, the "Shameless" aspect. The Muellers have taken cues from spaces like Wicked Grounds in San Francisco, where you might see a collared slave drinking latte from a bowl on the floor. Shameless Grounds won't go quite that far. (This is, after all, St. Louis.)

"People want to talk about sex without worrying about who is behind them," says Michelle Mueller. And not just missionary-with-the-lights-out sex. Think fetish karaoke or poly-parenting discussion groups.

"We wanted to have a space where everyone is welcome," Andy Mueller puts in.

The biggest section of the shop is meant to accessible to all, regardless of age. There's also a stage for bands. The walls will have sensual art by local painters and photographers. And the Muellers hope group feel welcome to meet there.

And then there's a room in the middle of the space, with a door and an eighteen-and-up policy. That's where you'll find explicit art and the coffeeshop's lending library, which features everything from classics like Peter Mayle's excellent illustrated birds-and-bees tome "Where Did I Come From?" to gay erotica to bondage manuals.

It's important to the Muellers that the two spaces be distinct, and that anyone, be they kid or suburban soccer mom, feel comfortable in the main space.

"Sensual versus explicit," Andy Mueller says. "Sensuality is perfectly welcome in the open space. Anything explicit needs to be in the eighteen-and-over room. We're not a play space, we're a gathering space."

Shameless Grounds has an exchange agreement with Washington University's Alternative Lifestyles Association, where the shop will occasionally swap out their titles for new ones. They're also seeking donations of any literature with a pro-sex bent. Patrons can borrow any titles they like for a week.

The shop is open seven days a week, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. (open till midnight on Friday and Saturday.)
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