(Note: This story appears in the September 2021 issue of ED Magazine)

Dino Palmiotto and the entertainers at his club are all beneficiaries of the adult boutique he opened up next door.

Dino Palmiotto darted around the Nordstrom-bought furniture and professionally designed dungeon, expertly fulfilling his role as host at the grand opening of his Exposé Boutique in San Diego, adjoining his existing gentlemen’s club (Exposé).

Between the handshakes, double-checking event details and welcoming in new customers and old friends, he barely found a moment for himself.

“I’m not going to lie to you, I choked up a couple of times just to see the staff and how much fun they were having,” says Palmiotto of the grand opening on June 19. “It was just different. I mean, it was nothing that I could ever have expected. I’ve done a lot of grand openings and opened a lot of businesses, but it was very different.

“We slammed it out of the park,” he adds, pointing out that he wasn’t sure the store would materialize once the COVID pandemic hit. “The biggest complaint of the night is I didn’t have enough parking, and I just doubled my parking lot!”

Ad promoting Exposé’s Grand Opening featuring Angela Sommers.

Angela Sommers, who claimed the 2017 Entertainer of the Year at the ED’s Awards, calls Exposé her home club and was on-hand for the grand opening.

“Dino really went all out for his employees and all the customers and friends who came to celebrate the opening,” she says. “The selection of toys, clothes and accessories is amazing. Compared to a busy night at the club, the (grand opening’s) atmosphere was similar, only a lot more women and couples.”

Despite Exposé Boutique’s rousing success, Palmiotto admits he was in unchartered territory. Sure, adult stores are a dime a dozen. But Exposé Boutique isn’t striving to be “another adult store.”

Rather, Palmiotto’s desire is for Exposé Boutique to become a high-end establishment for adult pleasure seekers to find products, but also talk about their own lifestyles, get recommendations, embrace their sexuality.

“The world’s changing. It’s 2021, let’s give these people a safe place to go,” says Palmiotto. “They now have a safe place to meet up and talk about their sexuality versus going to Starbucks and feeling like they can’t take their time or compare floggers in the open.”

Not even two months after that grand opening, Exposé is already seeing varied clientele sift through its doors.

This has been a dream of mine for the past 20 years. I call it the business of making people happy. I wanted to see my dream through, I gave it all I had.
— Dino Palmiotto

“Customers are just coming in off the street,” Palmiotto says. “The response has already been overwhelming. Ladies come in and say ‘This is the Nordstrom of adult stores.’ There’s a huge clothing selection. There’s a huge shoe collection. It’s just not sleazy. It’s a nice, clean store.”

In addition to the plethora of adult inventory, Palmiotto says Exposé carries the most “Pleaser Shoes” in San Diego — a boon to the dancers in his club next door.

“It’s very convenient,” says Sommers, who adds she has “most definitely” taken advantage of Exposé Boutique and its selection of shoes, cosmetics, personal items, etc. “The girls are ecstatic and there isn’t really anything like that in our area. We are forced to get everything online or have to go downtown. Though convenient, shopping online has its negatives, especially when it comes to intimate clothing, toys and accessories.”

Dungeon at Exposé Boutique.

And then there’s, in Sommers’s words, the “beautifully done” dungeon.

Palmiotto enlisted the help of friend and master designer Downtown Willy, who has been making furniture for the past 40-plus years, for the construction of the dungeon in the store — complete with bars.

“Why not own a real piece of custom dungeon equipment instead of mass-produced crap,” Palmiotto said.

While BDSM isn’t the store’s sole focus, Palmiotto has revealed plans for classes, as part of the overall welcoming ambiance he wants the store to give off.

“The classes are real classes, not some hokey pokey person that says they know how to tie a knot,” Palmiotto says. “These are actual professionals in the industry. I want a real Dom (dominant in a dominant/submissive relationship) giving a class on spanking and whipping and teaching people the safety of the industry versus what they see on a TV show or some Hollywood production.”

Already, Palmiotto is hard at work on the second and third phases of his store before the grand opening’s confetti has been swept up.

He is working on a patio/bistro area that will boost the social interaction he’s aiming for that will incorporate food from the club’s impeccable restaurant. He’s already had customers request the patio for weddings and other such type events. The third phase is the online presence that would invoke a small social media platform as well as normal retail operation.

Through all this, Palmiotto hasn’t lost sight of his club and sees the boutique and club as acting in harmony.

“The entertainers are now getting top quality products at a good price and they feel like real entertainers,” he says. “It really is the store next door, so that sets the tempo.”

Sommers has already noticed an uptick in women sifting in to the club from the boutique.

“I see more curious women coming in to the club to peek, and more often,” she says. “And I like it a lot.”

For Palmiotto, Exposé Boutique represents a culmination of his six years in the Marine Corps., running operations and logistics.

I’m not going to lie to you, I choked up a couple of times just to see the staff and how much fun they were having … We slammed it out of the park. — Dino Palmiotto on the Exposé grand opening

“It’s ironic, I’m stocking shelves of whips and other stuff versus components we need for the field and Marine Corps.,” he says. He’s subsequently incorporated what he learned to advance his store, fully automating it so the inventory requests on Monday are shipped out and by Wednesday, the store is automating replenishments.

“I’ve taken a lot of what I’ve learned in the military world and the civilian world and brought it into the exotic store world,” he says. “I believe in computers and automation and efficiency. I’ve pretty much automated the entire process.”

Whether it’s aesthetic or automated, Palmiotto has left no stone unturned when it comes to Exposé Boutique. To hear him describe the store, its environs, its product selection, its clientele, its potential — is to hear a man realizing his dreams in real time.

“This has been a lot of work. This is not something you pop up and ‘Boom, it’s done,’ and it starts making money,” he says. For someone who has worked 20-hour days making sure everything is just right, the grand opening is simply the beginning.

“This has been a dream of mine for the past 20 years,” he beams. “I call it the business of making people happy. I wanted to see my dream through, I gave it all I had.”

EXPO deal 1