Gay Dollars Make Sense - Toys for Boys
Doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as smoothly as its hyper-political inspiration, perhaps, but with manufacturers in the adult novelty industry, it wields more power than an automatic weapon. As well it should.
“This year’s biggest goal,” says Leslie Schwartzer, U.S. director of sales and marketing for Rocks-Off Ltd., “is to get us branded in the gay market.” A new site is going live soon; hopefully within the next month. “We’re working on something specifically geared toward men. Right now, if you go to our site, it’s pink and purple and cutesy because we started out with the Rock Chick, which is a girl toy,” she explains. “You really have to separate those if you want to be respectful. The gay market is tired of girl-toy companies that are just throwing together a boy toy.”
The boys, however, already seem to appreciate Rocks-Off’s efforts. When Schwartzer hits the Gay Pride circuit, often co-branding with Fleshjack, the industry’s most visible personalities are very supportive.
“Guys like Johnny Hazzard and Cameron Marshall are wearing our ‘Are you a bad boy?’ shirts,” she laughs. “Adult film stars are using our products in movies, even though [they’re not penis replicas]. Our products look different than anything else. There are knock-offs, but they’re poorly done.”
Rocks-Off’s 2010 crop includes the Butt Boy (butt plug with a perineum massager), the Cheeky Boy (anal beads with a perineum massager) and the Big Boy, which is like its trademark Bad Boy — only bigger.
“It’s a weighty piece of silicone,” she laughs. “And that’s all about what customers request. The Bad Boy sells very well in the gay market, but then you have a certain man who says, ‘I want bigger.’ So, you go bigger.”
Peruse the magazines in the checkout line of any supermarket or ubiquitous retail chain and it quickly becomes apparent that we’re a nation of star fuckers, a notion that carries over into the bedroom. Replicas are hot sellers.
“Molded celebrity pieces are a way for fans to cherish their beloved porn stars even more,” says Miranda Lancaster, product development project manager for Topco Sales. “They can collect the pieces as a fan would figurines from their favorite movie or use them as a way of living out their fantasies.”
Topco’s newest offerings include molded pieces from gay porn mogul Michael Lucas and his top performers. “Celebrity pieces sell for different reasons,” says Lancaster, who adds that stars with a glamorous personality tend to do well because the products make them more accessible. “Michael Lucas, for example … wants his fans to know him and feel connected; he’s an open book.”
Topco’s Rascal line will be growing by seven inches, as well, with mainstream star-turned-porn actor Steven Daigle of “Big Brother” fame. Packaging will complement the cover of his Channel 1 video, “Steven Daigle XXXposed.” Marketing in this fashion “provides an easier upsell to both online and brick/mortar stores,” Lancaster explains. “You can either merchandise them together or cross-sell on the Web site.”
Doc Johnson’s biggest foray into the gay market, says Chad Braverman, the company’s director of product development and licensing, has been its partnership with Titan Men. “We’ve seen a lot of unique items come from that in the past year, the most unique being the castings of its superstars.” These include Francois, Dean Flint, Tony Buff and Marco Blaze.
“We’ve been bringing them on road shows with us and to all our customers, and it’s really exciting because it’s the first time that any of [Titan Men’s] stars has been available in a replication.” The company’s recent molding of performer David Anthony will be available in January, expanding the line.
Fleshjack’s original foray into the gay replica market was with the Visconti triplets, but, says Affiliate Manager Daniel Pacheco, consumers were hungry for new talent — and the idea of a contest was conceived. “It was completely dependent on the customers. We let them choose who the new models would be, something that has never, to my knowledge, been done in the sex toy industry.”
Fans went online and cast more than 20,000 votes. The top three contenders, Brent Corrigan, Brent Everett and Pierre Fitch, were selected. “The outcome was tremendous,” says Pacheco, “and the men committed a lot of their time and effort to becoming one of our ‘boys.’ And since it’s a complete replica of the anatomy, it’s pretty close to actually having intercourse with the model. Our product is perfect for men who masturbate while watching porn.”
MARKETING & CROSSOVER
“As we gather data from our regular focus groups, we are constantly amazed with the growing appetite for niche product lines,” says Al Bloom, director of marketing for California Exotic Novelties. “CalExotics has always placed a great emphasis on women’s and couple’s sexual wellness, but some might be surprised to see the open-minded approach we take to all sectors of the market. One of our mottos has always been ‘something for everyone.’”
Bloom says many of CalExotics’ products appeal to customers in the gay and lesbian community. “But with more and more information out there, we’re finding that many of the things we thought were strictly gay items have become cross-over products with significant roles in fantasy and role playing.”
Lady Calston is amid expansion of its Man Line, says President Larry Gayne. “It will include some very special products that simply aren’t out there.” They are, in fact, doubling the line. “Each new item clearly addresses a real need and enjoyment area for gay men. We’ve already received orders off enderings!”
Fleshjack’s Pacheco says marketing is decidedly different for a gay audience. “We have a committee that helps us shape our website. Ages range from 18 to 60 but they all agree on one thing: It should be erotic.” As a result, the company is transitioning its web presence into something that corresponds and showcases a variety of men.
TitanMen’s sublime “Toys are for boys. Tools are for men” tag line notwithstanding, Topco’s new Hardware products interpret the word quite literally. The line, crafted from molds of actual tools, is designed to deliver the kink of garage-sex fantasy without the safety risks.
“We noticed that a lot of customers shop for sex toys in unconventional places,” says Lancaster. “If the local adult store doesn’t have the leash consumers are looking for, they will head to the pet store. If the selection isn’t hardcore enough, they’ll head to the hardware store.”
Once the concept had been defined, Topco looked at mainstream tools that people were using as sex toys. “We made sure that each could be used in a multitude of ways … we selected TPR and silicone because they are two of the most popular and safest on the market.”
The line is expected to do very well in the gay marketplace – and the straight one. “We made sure that copy on this line targeted anyone with an orifice.