Whole Foods Cherry Creek
She's gazing intently at the nutrition label on a box of Melba Rounds. She's slender, with short hair, and wears her pants rolled up around her calves like she doesn't even care. If she were at a Safeway, she'd be the most beautiful girl in the store -- hell, in the zip code -- but at Whole Foods in Cherry Creek, she's just one of the many beautiful people. Wait! Look at that guy standing near the olive bar shaking an Odwalla. His forearms are so muscular -- a rock climber, perhaps? He grips a basket that contains organic grapes, Tom's of Maine toothpaste and goat cheese. Over there, by the juice bar, the gal with the long brown hair; the tall guy in the checkout must be a vegan. And Terra Chips are on sale! That is so hot.
The Apple Store
The inhabitants of the Apple Store -- a Mac user's Zion -- are just as sexy as those shoppers at Whole Foods across the street, but here there's a good chance that they're hot and smart. Maybe it's just their proximity to the Apple "geniuses" -- those geeks-in-a-good-way trouble-shooting Powerbooks in the back of the store -- that makes them seem so. Whatever, it's working. Want a graphic designer in Diesel jeans and Puma zip-ups? Go hang with the serious hardware. Love high school students with sticker-covered iBooks and wise-beyond-their-years looks? Visit the iPods. Everyday Mac lovers? They're at the back of the store wearing the smug looks on their faces; they always knew Apple would rise again.
Owners and life partners Louise Knapp and Spider Kornblith have womanned Word Is Out for nearly twelve years, and at their place, you find obscure books on any famous or semi-famous woman, from H.D. to H. Clinton. The sunny shop also carries music, jewelry, T-shirts and posters by feminist artists, LBGT pride paraphernalia, and libby/pro-peace bumperstickers. There's even a personal shopper on staff to assist with those gift-giving dilemmas: Reggie, the very butch female toy poodle. Word to your mother.

BEST PLACE TO BUY THE BOOK BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN

Relatively Wilde

Relatively Wilde Bookstore
Category Six was a Denver institution for more than twenty years, and now the bookseller is ready to start on its next twenty as Relatively Wilde, renamed in honor of Oscar Wilde by life partners Ron Metz and Marc Crouch. Bringing in their quilts, crocheted hearth rugs, Roman busts and two dogs, Bob and Tucker, Metz and Crouch gave the shop a homey makeover that makes it feel welcoming for everyone from lesbian grandmas to old sweater queens. They're also packing in more literary and women's titles, so Relatively Wilde is the perfect place to grab a copy of Annie Proulx's Brokeback Mountain. Go Wilde.

BEST PLACE TO RENT BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN AND BAREBACKING MOUNTAIN

Videotique

Videotique
Videotique celebrated its twentieth anniversary last year, and the independent renter is still going strong. The compact shop may be shoehorned into a tiny strip-mall corridor, but it's also packed wall-to-wall with more than 10,000 rentals. Though LBGT titles are the house specialty, you'll find everything from art-house cinema to big-budget Hollywood fluff. And the "black-book" section of adult films for all genders and orientations is quite impressive.
Carlos Larranaga is a master tailor and designer who's been creating hot custom leather garments for the LBGT/BDSM community for 35 years. He first fashioned his cutting-edge kinky couture at storied San Francisco leather shop Image, then moved his material to Denver in 1997, where he's been hard at the 5helm ever since. Whether you're a fierce leather-contest competitor who needs a spiked chest harness or just an old cowpoke looking to get back in the saddle again, call Larranaga. But be sure to call him "Sir"!
Denver's newest sex-toy store also happens to be its classiest. The husband-and-wife team of Elizabeth Hauptman and Pete Yribia opened the bodacious boutique last April to give this town some sex-positive vibes. Modeled after the feminist sex shops Good Vibrations in San Francisco and Toys in Babeland in Seattle and New York, Hysteria sells high-quality erotic toys, books, videos and gifts in a clean, beautiful, woman- and queer-friendly space. From buttery-soft leather and sparkly vinyl harnesses to safe-yet-sexy silicone, glass and metal dildos and vibrators, Hysteria has the toys to make everyone feel like Wonder Woman or Superman. Even Freud would approve -- and he'd probably recommend the German-made Fun Factory Flexi Felix silicone beads, in baby blue, for those with anal tendencies.
Plastic Chapel
The Peter Pan syndrome has been in full force in Denver since last fall, when Dea Webb and David Wendt opened Plastic Chapel, their closet-sized toy store for adults. Come in for the urban vinyl figures normally found by collectors at Kidrobot stores, and stay for the always-changing inventory of knife-wielding, smoking, scowling skateboard-art aliens; Dalek's must-have Space Monkeys and Fire Cats; and Frank Kozik's nasty, butt-chewing Smorkin' Labbits. Prices range from under ten dollars to sky-high, but what's a few bucks when a new Gorillaz or In Crowd figure hits the shelves? Think of it as a 3-D resurrection of the long-lost comic-book collection your mom threw out years ago.
First came Gifts for Yule, an absolutely yummy holiday gift show that's run for several seasons at the Denver Turnverein, bringing cool stuff -- folk art, vintage linens, pottery, lotions, jewelry and clothing new and old, antiques and all kinds of whimsical what-have-yous -- together under one roof. And this year, show founder Samantha Robinson introduced Spring Fling, a new temporary-shopping Valhalla. Sure to be a fab fair in its own right, the Fling offers one more reason to come on down: You don't have to feel guilty about shopping for yourself when you should be buying holiday gifts. Sweet.
Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom
There's only one place in town where you can barter with hippies for handmade crafts, partake in drink specials, listen to spaced-out music and enjoy homemade chocolate-chip cookies on a leisurely weekend afternoon: Conscious Creations, the flea market/ art bazaar that takes place at Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom from 2 to 5 p.m. the second Sunday of each month. The market's also a family affair, notes organizer Kaewyn, self-proclaimed Minion of Groove, Goddess of Goodness and daughter of the chocolate-chip cookie-maker. "It's a great way for us to get together with our kids and share our art," she says. So what are you waiting for? Round up the crew, head down to that hippie haven in Five Points, Cervantes', and get your groove on.

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