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Cross Selling – The Easiest Retail Trick on the Planet

Monday, April 07, 2014 Text size: 

Ah retail. For many of you readers, you know that it’s a topic that’s near and dear to my heart. Always has been. I grew up on top of my father’s furniture store, started selling lemonade in the third grade at my father’s store’s sidewalk sale, sold gumballs from a defective gumball machine that would crank out two of them for every twist so I got a 200 percent return on my investment and resold them at a 200 percent markup. Worked in lots of retail environments: macramé jewelry I made and sold during my teens, blue jeans (where I could guess someone’s size by looking at them – I can’t do that in this business, though!), fine jewelry, cheese, men’s suits, cards and gifts, and lots of others. My two sisters are both retailers: one for an optical company and the other for a prestigious department store on Fifth Avenue. Yes, retail is in my blood.

Retailers know lots of tricks to encourage sales and I’m going to share some of them with you right here. Good ol’ brick-and-mortar stores need to stay on top of their game to keep bringing in the diñero to keep those buyers engaged and BUYING in your store.

Cross-selling is the art of combining several items into a purchase that the buyer might not have thought about putting together themselves. Let’s look at a few examples.

Perhaps you own a lingerie store. Think of why someone would buy lingerie… the ol’ “one thing leads to another” idea that when someone is wearing a daring, see-through teddy, well, most likely it’s going wind up on the floor and some hardcore hanky panky is sure to follow. But what would that take? Why not display some edible chocolate delights or even flavored lubes near the sheer onesies hanging near a counter? Or how about some non-black cock rings near easy-to-use cute clitoral vibes? And maybe some after-sex wipes just to make clean-up that much easier? Things can be on the milder side, especially if your store caters to a more “tasteful” clientele.

And what to do with all those women’s vibrators? There are plenty of “sub-divisions” in that category so let your imagination go wild here.

How about clitoral stimulation gel right next to the plethora of clitoral vibes? Might as well go all the way into Orgasm-land for those who love it on the outside.

Why should lubricants only be in the lubricant department? Certainly they can be in more departments than just one so put some of your best-selling lubes on shelves right next to those larger than life, realistic vibes. Instead of having your customer march to a different area of the store, they can pick up everything in one area. And what about adding batteries to that location, too? Sure, they might have some knocking around at home but most likely they’re in a drawer and they’ll need four instead of the three they’ll find in the bottom of that extra drawer in the kitchen. Easy upsell… oh, right. And cross-sell.

Let’s not forget books. Yes, books. Some stores have them and some don’t and there are plenty of titles out there that can be incredibly helpful when it comes to improving one’s knowledge of bettering their roll in the hay. Or taking it up the butt. Or knowing how to use sex toys. Or pegging. Or… the list goes on and on. Some books are a handy pocket-size and can easily be displayed next to the products they so carefully endorse. Who could pass up a book on pegging when they are buying their first strap-on to use on their guy? Easy cross sell and upsell. And oh, ya need lube with that, right?!

Speaking of taking it up the butt… just think of all the possibilities that lie with cross selling in the anal department. Lube. Vibes. Dildos. Butt plugs. Lube. Books. Did I mention lube? This is the perfect place to highlight those specifically blended lubes for unadulterated back door love. As we know, there are lots of them out there and this would be the perfect place to highlight them.

Let’s not forget about the guys, I mean, they still buy a bootyload of toys both for themselves and for their partners. But for those single guys, there are masturbators. And plenty of them.

So what gets guys off? Let me guess… pictures. Videos. A nice, tight… masturbator. So why not put a few best-selling DVDs next to those one-hand wonders with various lubes so a guy can sneak into a store, pick up a masturbator, lube and a DVD in one quick stop? And if you notice that guys are buying a particular photo book you have in stock, maybe put that title by the masturbators, too, because you never know what’s going to get them off. Recommend a lube next to those pocket pals and you’re sure to sell more.

By displaying products together that make sense, it shows that you think like your buyer and they’ll appreciate that. It will make them more engaged in your displays, your sharing of knowledge with your customers “This is a great anal lube to use with that toy you’re getting,” and make your store the destination you want it to be.

JOTB:

Who’s the most popular guy at a nudist camp on a Sunday morning?

The one that can carry two coffees and six donuts.

Why did the prostitute refuse to get her appendectomy sewn up?

So she could make money on the side.

Now back to thinking about all those cross selling possibilities...

Kim Airs is the founder of sexuality boutique GrandOpening.com. She is a consultant for all aspects of the adult toy industry: training, sales, marketing, etc. She loves her job!
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'Tis the (Adult) Toy Season

Tuesday, December 03, 2013 Text size: 

Okay, I gotta admit something. I'm sure by this point of reading my blog, you've figured out that I really like toys. A LOT. As in adult toys but I do admit that I have quite a few assorted non-adult toys lying around my house because they give me happiness to see them and I occasionally play with them, too.

Now we're upon the Christmas season where toys are bestowed upon youngsters with wild abandon - screw that January MasterCard bill! Parents flock to Toys R Us as if the apocalypse is going to break loose on December 25 and their kid has to have every toy on their wish list. But why do those kids have to have all the fun?

When I meet someone, especially someone who has dating, or, more appropriately, fucking on their mind, they jokingly say to me "I bet you have crates of sex toys" and I respond with a completely straight face "yes, I do." I DO have at least a dozen big Rubbermaid containers of adult toys stacked in my garage, so full they oftentimes threaten to pop off the lids. There's sex toys that are common, sex toys that are hard to find, sex toys that have been discontinued long ago, sex toys in their box, sex toys out of their box, sex toys that are my favorites that I keep saying I have to take out of the crates in the garage and deposit them into my bedroom chest of drawers so I can have them at the ready but using them in my garage is just so much more fun and nasty.

I just love toys, that's all I can say.

So why is it that when we get a toy as a kid, our faces light up, we jump up and down, we squeal in delight and think there's absolutely nothing else better in the world in that moment? When we get an adult toy in a store, many times people sheepishly walk in, make their purchase (praying to God that it's in an opaque bag that no one can see what they bought), and slink away in their car, feeling shameful and perhaps guilty that they bought something to use themselves or spring on their lover that night. Maybe the neighbors will think "Hey, what's 'a matter? Ya ain't getting any?" or that they need lubricant because they're not turned on enough. Maybe they feel guilty because they're buying something their girlfriend was too nervous to get or didn't want their name and address associated with buying something on the web. Maybe they just don't want to admit they like buying sex toys and would feel much more relieved if Toys R Us had an adult section, which actually would be a pretty good idea!

One of my fondest Christmas mornings was sharing it with a lover who decided to surprise me with an adult version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas." Unbeknownst to me, he had 12 unwrapped, battery-filled sex toys under the bed, and with each passing refrain of "On the Twelve Days of Christmas, my true love gave to me...." and voila! Another sex toy appeared! I anxiously tried each one as it was unveiled and I'm glad that I didn't keep stuffing them into myself as the refrains keep repeating themselves. It was one of the best grown up Christmases I ever had!

I say let's take back the fun and pride in buying a toy that will make us feel good! If you work in an adult store, try sharing the enthusiasm like a kid on a candy high, letting the customer know that getting an adult toy they really want to have for themselves or wrap up and put under a tree is as good as it gets.

And don't forget to play! With your toys, with role playing, with sex. Play with your toys like kids do only this time, it'll a lot more fun and Mom doesn't need to pick up after you.

Happy holidaze and toy shopping!

And now, the Joke of the Blog?

Q. What's the difference between deer nuts and beer nuts?

A. Beer nuts are about $1.49 and deer nuts are under a buck.

Q. What were you before you were Mama's little baby?

A. Daddy's little squirt.

On the twelve days of Christmas... see ya on the next blog!

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You Want Lube With Dat?

Saturday, October 12, 2013 Text size: 

Lube. I love it. It’s the juice of nature, the stuff that makes you go on for a long time. The perfect addition to a good round o’ sex whether you’re by yourself or with others. It’s the glue that holds sexual encounters together while keeping you apart and it’s the perfect upsell product for your customers.

Yeah, upsell. Just about every purchase of a sex toy or other sex accoutrement should have some good ol’ lube on the receipt, too: every anal toy, every pack of condoms, every insertable gizmo, every toy that can be used on the outside, so basically, that means everything. Lube is like what tires are for cars… sure you can buy a car without tires but you won’t get very far driving it. Lube will let you slide on for many miles and hours of pleasure without that pesky burning sensation or testing the fragility of those rubbers you’ve been hanging on to beyond their expiration date.

Let’s look at lube, my favorite sex toy.

I’ll briefly go into the ingredients in lube right now ‘cuz it’s a great idea for another blog but I’m on a tear right now about upselling the stuff.

Water based lube has a variety of ingredients depending on what kind you buy. Typically, those ingredients include glycerin and water and a host of other things that your customer may or may not want in their lube such as parabens, propylene glycol, and others. There are organic lubes and natural lubes, both of which have subcategories like wearing the incredibly non-sexy FDA Organic symbol on its label (more on that in another blog). Natural is, well, whatever the company wants to say it is and if a consumer is more comfortable with wanting to purchase the lube that boasts “natural” on its label, then so be it.

Silicone based lube is another story. It has no water in it and is basically made up of three, long syllabled ingredients that are tricky to decipher. Basically, the chemical makeup of silicone lube is like little ball bearings that just roll on each other but don’t stick to one another. Or your skin. Or your toys. It has the qualities of an oil based lube but is latex (condom) compatible. But it’s oftentimes a bitch to wash off your hands especially when you have to use your fingers for things like putting in batteries, opening condom packets (thank god for teeth but that’s another thing), and a host of other in-the-moment sex tricks that you need agile (and un-siliconed) fingers for. Silicone lube is not my personal favorite but I know I’m significantly outnumbered because I know PLENTY of people who love it.

Then there’s the hybrid category which blends together the best qualities of silicone and water based lubricants in one handy bottle. It’s easy to wash off yet can stay pretty slippery at the same time. I like the hybrids, that’s for sure.

There’s a lot more to know about lubricants and like I said, I’ll get to that in another blog.

So, here are my suggestions for making the lube sale as easy as the McDonald’s clerk asking “You want fries wit dat?”

Have samples of lube where the customers can test them out first. I know a lot of you are thinking “yeah, but that’ll trash a bottle of lube for every one I open.” Yes, it does BUT I can guarantee that you’ll sell a lot more that way instead of having them sealed up so no one knows the difference between them. Besides which, a tester bottle will last a long time since only a couple of drops are used during testing.

Educate yourself about the properties of lube and the features and benefits of the different types. Gosh, I guess I better get crackin’ on that next blog just so you can. Stay tuned.

Have tissues readily available next to the testers so customers can wipe their digits after smearing lube over them and don’t forget to have a handy little trash can to put the used tissues in. A lot of general merchandise stores have handy little desktop trash cans you can easily fit on a shelf or table. And why not brand that little trash can with a sticker from your store on it? Hey, it could never hurt!

I’m sure you’ve tested lube yourself and do you remember how you did that? Most likely by putting a drop or two of it on the back of your hand and taking your opposite index finger and smearing it around to get an idea of how that lube will work. Well, guess what? I don’t know about you but when I use lube, it’s to cut down on friction when I’m doing my ins and outs and not when I’m massaging it on my body so a better way to accurately test it out is to do this…

First, have your customer make a fist with their thumb facing up. Squeeze a little lube into the middle of the fist – you won’t need that much. At this point, they’ll have no idea of what you’re doing. Then either have them point up with their other index finger or, if they’re there with a partner, have the partner hold THEIR index finger up. Guide their finger into the fist and before they realize what they’re doing, THEY’LL BE FUCKING THEIR FIST! Yes, THIS is the way lube is used and it will quickly determine if they like the slickness, the consistency, the feel, the (perhaps) stickiness, and all those other things that make a lube their soon-to-be favorite.

And everyone will laugh their asses off doing it.

At my bricks and mortar store, Grand Opening!, I’d always encourage a customer to buy a selection of lube packet samples of different brands that I’d put together in the store in a small, sealable plastic baggie. This would easily help the indecisive lube buyer have the opportunity to try out different lubes without having to invest in a whole bottle of something they might not actually like after buying it (never a good thing for the customer or the store). Ask your distributor what brands of lube offer this size which are typically referred to as "foils," "pillows" or sample sizes. Usually, you can get them by the gross (144) and the prices can be pretty reasonable.

The small packets can be put together with packets of water based lubes, silicone based or put together a combination of both. I would package 6 different kinds with a sticker from my store on it and charge a fair price to encourage its purchase. I also told my customer to make sure they remember which one they were testing at the time because it’s really easy to have 6 little squished packets on the nightstand and forget about which one they liked the most. These sample packets were also great for traveling.

Speaking of which, make sure your store offers small bottles of lubricant under the TSA approved 3 oz if your customer is planning on a getaway. When they are up at the counter buying something that they may have mentioned was for that weekend scoot outta town, suggest they buy some lube with the “ya want fries wit dat?” enthusiasm while mentioning to them that you have lube in TSA friendly bottles. They will get exactly what you mean with your suggestion and often buy it then and there.

I am always amazed that stores will market their lube in one section only when we all know it can be used for many different things. How about having an anal lube section in… wait for it… the anal toy department?! That’s a light bulb moment! Cross market your lubes throughout the store with an assortment near the toy area and especially near the clit toy area of your store. Having lube to let your toy slip and slide on the delicate skin of your clit will bring many hours of pleasurable sensation without that irritating clit burn. Ouch. 

If you happen to sell any kind of latex clothing, the kinkster customers will know that silicone lube not only helps getting into them more easily but also shines up latex really well. An easy opportunity to upsell in this department, too.

So there ya go. Selling lube should be one of the easiest things to do so stay well stocked, carry a wide variety, then let your customers slip into someone comfortable.

And I’ll get crackin’ on that next blog, too.

JOTB:

Here’s one for the October holiday…

Q. Why can’t witches have babies?

A. Because warlocks have hollow weens.

Q. What’s the difference between BEER NUTS and DEER NUTS?

A. Beer nuts are about $1.49 and deer nuts are under a buck.

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Humping Over the Summer Slump

Wednesday, August 07, 2013 Text size: 

Okay, so I know my blog is all about sex toys and this one is too. In fact, it’s especially for those brick-and-mortar types – which was my passion for 12 years of my life during my time at my award-winning store, Grand Opening! Twelve years of sticking the key in the door, hoping that customers will walk in and spend their hard-earned cash buying pleasure devices within the walls of my establishment. There were up and down days, weeks, and months including my favorite time of year: the summer. Everyone loves the summer – it’s time to get outside, enjoy barbeques, visit the oceans and the beaches, go on road trips, camping, flying to far-away destinations and basically be outside to enjoy the weather.

Perhaps you are like me… wondering what to do to get those buyers into your (hopefully) air conditioned store. The summer means most customers probably won’t go to your store so what can you do to avoid the traditional summer sales slump?

Oftentimes, the mere fact of where your store is located can impact your sales depending on if you rely on tourists or those plentiful college students. Or does it? Does advertising make a difference in the hotter months? Do you want your store to coast along on its post-Valentine’s and springtime sales? Or do you just assume that the summer will ALWAYS be slow? Here are stores that have this figured out and are able to anticipate and prepare for the lack of customers walking through the door in the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.

Guess what? Tourists Like Spending Money!

Let’s look at the devil-may-care attitude of tourists. If your store is located in a tourist destination, why not target those potential customers with advertising and specials? Sure, they might not become future in-store customers but after they visit, they may turn into your website’s newest consumers.

In many tourist areas, brochure racks are prevalent in every hotel in town. These are often run by companies whose customers design their own brochures and the company then places the brochure in the display. With a tastefully and well-designed brochure that has a “first time customer” coupon on it, out of town customers may make your store a destination stop where they’ll spend money like drunken sailors.

Hey, here’s a good one that won’t cost you much moola. Even if your store is not in a tourist location, why not have a special event for local hotel concierges? These important hospitality staffers are usually in charge of sending their guests to places off the beaten path to find a particular item, find a nice place to shop or enjoy a nice meal. Having an in-store event for local concierges (complete with a few giveaways) will allow the concierge to experience your store first-hand and recommend your business to spice up that vacation getaway or all-important honeymoon.

My pal, David Goldman, owns Skitzo Kitty in Palm Desert, California (in the Palm Springs area). David, a master at marketing, keeps customers coming back to his 1,300-square-foot store by continuously promoting the store throughout the summer. One would think the desert would be the last place that would draw tourists in the summer but David insists otherwise. “We used to have had peaks and valleys, now the valleys are a lot shallower and there are reasons for that. Stores go through a summer slump because they don’t expect it and they do nothing about it. We built our store on promotion and we continue to promote in the summer.”

Portland, Maine based Nomia Sexuality Boutique places its store information on free tourist maps, which draws strolling customers through its doors. Gina, Nomia’s founder and owner, shares a free resource for drawing in customers in the summer as well as year-round. In a word: Yelp. “When we ask visitors from out of town how they found out about us, they always say ‘Yelp’” Gina stated. “Between our positive reviews on Yelp and the tourist map, we don’t feel any summer sales slump at all even though Nomia is up on a second floor. Paying attention to customer service and your Yelp page is extremely important no matter what time of year it is.”

Sponsor Events in the Summer Months, especially Ladies Nights

Susan Craton, co-founder of Georgia’s Sexy Suz in Athens and the Entice store in Rome, found that holding Ladies Nights in each of their stores during the muggy months of July and August prove to drive sales throughout the summer and beyond. Susan shared, “We invite women who have never been in the store or that always have been too embarrassed to shop by themselves to come to Ladies Night with a group of friends. When they find out how pretty the store is and how knowledgeable the staff is, they always come back. We give them goodie bags, have door prizes, have refreshments and offer them a great time. It’s always a fun night whenever we hold Ladies Nights and in the summer, it really adds to the bottom line.”

Since Skitzo Kitty is located in the arid desert of the Palm Springs area, what better event is there to sponsor than a pool party? David Goldman continues “We sponsor a pool party at a major hotel and extend the Skitzo Kitty brand all over the place. Valerie Gordon, Skitzo Kitty’s fantastically energetic manager, organizes bikini-clad women wearing bathing suits and lingerie from the store. We give away lots of prizes and have a great time in the summer sun! It’s a win/win all the way around.” David makes it a point to sponsor an event every other month, yet another reason why his store barely feels a summer slump. “Events and branding are a year-round thing for us. We continue to grow no matter what time of year it is.” It’s all about promotions year-round, he insists.

Summer is the Perfect Time to Change Your Displays

Susan Craton from Sexy Suze and Entice, loves changing things up in her stores. “I never, ever like to keep the stores stagnant. I’m always moving stuff around and the summer is when I do the major moving around. Frequent customers come in and realize their favorite products are somewhere else. And guess what? By moving things around, they find things they have never seen before and we make yet another sale from something they probably would have otherwise missed.”

Jennifer Downey, of the eight-store chain Ambiance, located in Ohio, has even trademarked the term “Playcation” for those who like to stay at home and enhance their relationships. Ambiance’s Playcation theme is played up in their in-store displays which show the latest products that can be shared during the summer “we time.” Ambiance also makes it a point to change their displays during bachelorette season which takes place mostly during the spring and fall.

Crystal Lee, of Long Beach, California’s Phat Toys store, also changes her displays for the warmer summer months. “Most of our store is lingerie so in the summer, I tend to display thinner, more see through lingerie, cute chiffon pieces, and basically put less on the mannequins. People like to see that we also offer bathing suits so those definitely go into the windows, too.”

Nomia’s Gina, in Portland, Maine, takes it a step further. “We do displays featuring temperature play since it’s gonna get hot! We feature soy candles, our glass and steel toys, and we have fun with customer input and suggestions and tips, too.”

Hold Customer-Driven Contests on Facebook

Summer is a great time to launch store related contests to drive foot traffic into your store. Suze Craton frequently offers contests through their Facebook page but the readers must come into the store to actually enter. They announce the contest on Facebook which can be sexual health trivia, references to a sexy scene in a film, and many other questions that are easy to answer but the answers must be entered in their contest box in the store in order to win the prize.

“Holding contests like this is a free way to distribute extra inventory while bringing in new customers,” Susan claimed. “The customers like getting their names announced, too, although I always leave that up to them.”

Community Tie Ins – Ya Gotta Love Where You Are

How active is your store in community events? Paying back to the community leads to endless rewards to your bottom line.

David Goldman of Skitzo Kitty added “Too many people assume that they know something that they don’t know – that the community doesn’t welcome them but you don’t know until you go out there. We sponsor the community football team. We never say no to fundraisers. It keeps our brand front and center when people think of where they can purchase adult products and lingerie in a welcoming environment.”

Jennifer Downey of Ambiance has an extra-special tie in available to her. “We are located in Cleveland where the Rock ‘N Roll Museum is and we are promoting our stores to dovetail with their special retrospective on the Rolling Stones, which is appropriately called “Satisfaction.” We are going to have lots of visitors in town and are playing up many of the Stones songs including “Mother’s Little Helper” and others. The demographics for Stones fans who will be visiting the Museum are perfect for our store. It should be a great summer for us.”

Even if you’re not located near a special museum or in the center of town, think of sponsoring summer related events including a women’s softball team or adult pool time at the local pool. If there are bars in your area, they are also usually filled with thirsty drinkers at the end of a hot day and what better way to get the word out about your company but to hold events at those places as well? Get in touch with your adult products distributors to see if they have any swag you can give away to promote products at your store as many manufacturers have plenty available for free.

So now you know there’s no excuse to experience the dreaded summer sales slump. Get your store on track and give yourself time at the beach to soak up the sales you’ll be making while working on your summertime tan.

And for those of you in the online sales world, may as well spend the time developing your holiday landing page!

Okay, since you may be going to the movie theatre to watch one of those big summer blockbusters, here’s this installment of JOTB:

Once upon a time, there was a God who decided he wanted to come back to earth to experience the pleasure of sex with a woman. He came down one Saturday night and went to a popular singles bar. There he met a woman who took him to her apartment where they spent the night having non-stop sex.

In the morning, he decided to tell her who he was. He looked in her eyes and said “I’m Thor…”

She replied, “I’m thor, too, witth all that fucking we did!”

On that note… I’m off to the beach. Where’s my tanning butter?

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ANME Days 2 and 3: Never a Dull Moment!

Thursday, July 18, 2013 Text size: 

Okay, okay. Here's my excuse for my late post-ANME report: I was on my back for days after the end of ANME, not only recovering but testing out all the new toys. I know, I know, I'm late. I could use any excuse except that it was such a crazy good time, I needed a couple of days to recoup. Now it's back to the scribing for me!

So where we last left off, Day Two of ANME, Sunday, July 14, had me perusing the aisles of the main room, AKA "The Big Room" which houses the five founders of ANME: Nasstoys, CalEx, Pipedream, Doc Johnson, and Topco. Of course, there were many other companies represented in the room as well, most of them familiar.

Let's take a look at those Founders and what they had to offer...

Nasstoys continues its rise to the top with nicely shaped gizmos made of modern materials, complete with quiet motors and easy to use controls. They have increased their range of inflatable offerings which is a nice touch because well, we all know, one size does not fit all. What I particularly liked was an all silicone, vibrating and inflatable double dildo in a shape that makes sense for when the female wearers wanna stick it where the sun don't shine and open the window to let in a little air. As in the inflatable, penetrating, vibrating, penis-y shaped pleasure probe that sticks out of the front silicone panel that's attached to the smaller version of the same (sans inflatable) which is worn internally by the sticker-in-er. Follow me here? It's worth a look!

Next to them was the always impressive California Exotic Novelties booth, looking splendid in its virginal white dress with colorful accents. Oh! Right! I'm talking about sex toys! The booth was divided with the popular Jopen and Key lines towards the back and the ever-expanding Cal line and its many lines in the front. The Jopen line continues to grow with sexy new shapes and colors that are beautiful enough to display as an art piece without anyone knowing what they actually are. Key made my favorite Comet Wand into a vibrator without changing the dimensions or shape. I am now even more in love with Key. Cal continues to burst out with more careful rebranding and packaging of products and making things even more beautiful and clever.

Nestled next to Cal was the big, square-accented Pipedream booth which showed off their newest lines. They've rebranded many of their products into the Anal Fantasy Collection which is begging to make any anal fantasy a reality. The clean, crisp, packaging and the new products are sure to make anyone give up the rosebud for pleasurable butt play. Dildos, butt plugs and vibrators made of ceramic, made their debut with the sub-name "Pleasure Pottery." The vibrant colors and creative shapes are gonna appeal to a completely different buyer so get these as soon as they come out. There are more additions to the Fetish Fantasy line, natch, and a few fun novelties, too, including the adorable, wind-up Midget Man who reminds me of someone I know... wait... I'll remember in a minute.

Doc Johnson continued it's Made in America theme with, wait for it, some new and innovative shapes, which is always a challenge in this biz. Gosh, you'd think everything has already been done but no! I was most impressed with the beautiful, James Deen inspired "Black and Blue" fetish line that has him on the package in positions and looks that will make any woman envious. What a change from the throwback days when vibrators were packed in boxes with naked chicks on them! Thanks, Doc, for  making my day!

Rounding out the founders was Topco, in their wood-toned hideaway booth and their many offerings that focused on life sized sex dolls. They also showed many realistically shaped body part toys to stimulate, simulate, and amuse.

Be sure to stay on top of all of the new products from these manufacturers as they roll off the assembly line and into your stores.

More vendors included HydroMax made by BathMate, which is a hydraulic pump used with water for guys to enlarge their H2O'd members. The demo took place in a large tank which highlighted the different sizes and capacities of the pumps (That's the BathMate in the pix above). Sportsheets continues to celebrate their 20 year run with more products and wonderful displays and packaging. The folks at ScreamingO always crank out hysterical marketing show and tell by offering FREE MUSTACHE RIDES to release their new MustachiO vibrating mustache for, you guessed it, really fun mustache rides! And I LOVE the continuation of the ScreamingO name: MustachiO! Brilliant!

There were plenty of lube companies in the Big Room, all vying to make your life more slippery and slidey to let those innumerable sex toys do their job. Or just make plain ol' fucking easier!

Of course, you couldn't walk thru the lobby without seeing yet more manufacturers including the latest from OhMiBod. They showed their non-music-activated toys which is different than their usual line of high tech products. British company Rocks-Off brought their products from across the pond to to delight new and established buyers at ANME. Wet lubricants unveiled their new look which everyone enjoyed from this well-established line.

But wait! There's more! I told you there was a lot to report! It took me to Day three to check out the products in the smaller yet exciting exhibit room off the lobby (and closest to the bar!).

As always, the exhibit space off the main lobby always holds yet more surprises. Evolved and SystemJo take up the largest spaces and offer a wide range of exciting and new products. XR Brands showed off their two fucking machines - automated machines which do the job no matter what - and a variety of sort of medical looking packaging which will work well in more "straight" stores. NS Novelties rolled out a few newbie products including the one piece, silicone restraints with velcro being my wrist-up favorites. Available in bright pink and black, natch.

So that about sums up the show as quickly as I can. I know I left out a bunch of you, not intentionally by any means, there's just sooooo  much to report! Many of these products will soon make it to the distributors and retailers as well as arrive in my inbox for product testing. I'm lubed up and ready to go! I can hardly wait!

See ya on the next blog!

JOTB:

So once this guy asks his assistant to work late. "Sure," she agrees. Afterwards, he asks her to dinner and she agrees again. After dinner, she asks him to come back to her place then asks him to have sex with her. Of course, he agreed.

When they were finished, he turned to her and asked "Do you have any baby powder?" She had some and gave it to him and then he proceeded to rub some all over his hands. He said goodbye and went home.

When he got home, his wife was still awake, angrily asking her husband where he was. "Well," he replied, "I worked late with my assistant, asked her to dinner, we went to her place, we had sex, and now I'm back."

"Let me see your hands!" she demanded. She took one look and exclaimed "You're lying! You went bowling!"

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ANME Day 1: In Tents Man, In Tents

Sunday, July 14, 2013 Text size: 

So yesterday, Saturday, July 13, was Day 1 at the biggest show in the sex toy world - ANME - the American Novelty Manufacturers Expo - aka The Founders Show (if you want more info about what ANME is all about, scroll down to my other blog... it's super interesting). It runs for 3 days and believe me, will keep you busy every moment of the day.

And what a show it is! There are three big exhibit spaces that are jam packed with products for every whim, desire, and fantasy. Since the show is three days, I gravitate towards doing one exhibit space a day. Between looking at products, pressing control buttons to test 'em out, having the all important sales teams at the booths show me the latest and greatest, and most of all, nonstop SCHMOOZING, it's about all I can handle. And throw in the yummy, complimentary lunch and nightly cocktail parties, it's all I can do to breathe and sleep. I love it!

So let me raise the tent wall and let you know what I did yesterday in the first of the three exhibit areas: the Exhibitor Tent.

I sauntered through the air conditioned tent to see the thirty eight booths and made sure to stop at nearly every one of them. There were new manufacturers there as the tent was recently added to increase the number of offerings at the show, which was a welcomed and stimulating change, giving buyers a fresh, new crop of vendors eager to add to your stock and inventory.

There were new lube companies looking to crack into the lucrative lubricant business. Tiger Lube and SLYD were the newer ones and Uberlube showed off their standard, clear glass bottled silicone lube to the eager buyers. Fun games were represented by the British company, Creative Conceptions, who lived up to their name by rolling out clever and stimulating games to keep relationships hot and frisky. Who thought board games could spice up relationships but these definitely would.

Tried and true Vibratex was thrilled to continue the re-launch of the trusty Magic Wand. Notice no word "Hitachi" here? Yep! It went bye bye even though the Magic Wand is sill made by the company. With it's beautiful blue trademark colors and crisp, clean packaging, the Magic Wand now sports up-to-date internal technology which makes the best even better. And if you already stock the best selling Magic Wand in your store, now's the time to refresh and restock it even more.

There were lots of newer companies being highlighted at ANME including Zolo masturbators (those with the clever ads), OMG Internationals, Impulse/Closet toys, Rapture BDSM equipment, E.L. Products, and lingerie companies, too.

Of the newer companies, Maia Toys added to their happy-go-lucky colored vibes and toys that are perfect when you want to brighten your day and inner thighs. Seductive shapes and easy to use controls are the highlight of this new toy line.

Masque Sexual Flavors brought their sensual display to promote their best selling product. Wanna know more about Masque? Just scroll down to my infamous product testing blog... they're yum and fun in one easy strip.

Perhaps the most unique and interesting booth was the Crave booth. The Crave is a simple to use, two pronged vibrator with strong separate motors at the tip of each extension which can be used to nuzzle around one's clit... if you're a woman! It's a fun, little vibe that packs a punch. But what made this booth so outstanding? They allowed us journalists to actually BUILD A VIBRATOR in the booth! Yep! A grown-up's version of Build-A-Bear! I couldn't be more thrilled with the opportunity to see one come to life right in front of my eyes, created with my own nimble fingers.

I was guided through the whole process while I picked out my silicone sleeve, plucked a motor unit, delicately lifted the small control button panel, and snagged the USB charger section out of the components bin. I was ready to go. I unscrewed the partially assembled piece, used locktite when I reassembled it, gingerly applied silicone glue to complete the waterproof seal, used a custom made vice on the table to really getitintight, did electrical testing on two of the sections to make sure they were assembled properly, and about 10 minutes later, I had my own Crave vibe that I put together myself! I'll tell ya... it gave me a whole new appreciation of tiny vibrators!

Okay, so needless to say, there's lots more booths here at this July's ANME that I need to cover with products to squeeze, test, turn on, taste, point at and enjoy. There's two more days of fun with two more exhibition spaces to cover so stay tuned for the next updates!

I love my job.

No blog is complete without a JOTB so here it is:

Since I've been looking at dildos, vibrators and other assorted sex toys all day, here it is...

What's 12" long and white?

NOTHING.

See ya tomorrow with a report from the Big Room at ANME.

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DONG & FLESH: Two Words in the Biz I Could Do Without

Friday, June 21, 2013 Text size: 

You know, I’ve been in this industry over 20 years having owned Grand Opening! and before that, starting out as a sex toy aficionado ever since I was old enough to walk into a porn store. In those decades, I’ve seen so many changes and have been excited by all of them. The relatively recent evolution of sex toys is pretty amazing: remote controlled vibes; round, marble shaped vibes that once cost $250 to buy are now slung around as keychains; tiny, pinky-sized vibrators that pack a punch; sizes, shapes and colors that were once unfathomable, and so many more. I love ‘em all.

But there’s two words that are still hanging around in the sex toy nomenclature that are throwbacks to the bad ol’ good ol’ days of those sticky-floored, cigar smoking sales clerks selling singularly colored toys that could only do one thing.

Here they are:  DONG and FLESH.

Ask any harness-strappin’ lesbian what she calls her toy and it ain’t “DONG.” It’s called a dildo which is a word that has been used for a long time. In fact, the term “dildo” has been around for centuries and I’m good with that.

But that word “dong” is the one that really gets me going. According to Wikipedia, the word “dong” falls into three categories: “Asian languages,” “People,” and “Other Meanings" including, wait for it… the easternmost village in India; a pornographic actor; feces or excrement; a language game where words are spelled out and consonants have the syllable -ong added on the end; a creature in the nonsense poem of Edward Lear: “The Dong with a Luminous Nose;’” a home run in baseball; a hot dog or German sausage; Dong Open Air (which is a heavy metal festival in Germany named after the Dong hill); and to top it all off, Dong is also a neighborhood division in Korea. If Psy recorded “Dong Style” instead of “Gangham Style” which also references a section in Korea, who knows what the adult industry would have done with that!

So thinking about the somewhat interchangeable terms “dildo” and “dong,” when I go for the gusto and want to fill my inner thighs, I don’t reach for a “dong,” I reach for a dildo. When a partner wants me to stick one into their willing body, they don’t breathe heavy and say “Fuck me with that DONG.” They gasp, “Shove that dildo in harder!” (or actually, they just scream “fuck me harder” and since my gender technically restricts me to only using my fingers and tongue, I ALWAYS reach for a dildo to pack it in their moist channels of desire).

So isn’t it time we retire the term “dong” from our adult industry sex toy terms, packaging, and signage? I mean, if you were to hold one up and show it to someone and ask what they’d call it, I’d bet my hard earned cash that they would say “George,” whoops! I mean, they’d call it a “dildo,” NOT a “dong.” If you were to ask your grandfather or even GREAT grandfather, they’d probably respond “I’d call that me in my younger years…” or they MIGHT call it a “dong.”

For internet shits and giggles, try looking up the word “dildo” in Google images and you’ll see the reflection of many products we’re all familiar with. Look up the word “dong” in Google images and you’ll come up with the visages of hundreds of Asian men and soon realize that the word “dong” is no longer used to describe a sex toy. Unless of course, the aforementioned Mr. Dong HAS a dong or IS a dong…

Besides which, if you get a nick in your toy would that make it a “ding dong”?

DONG – let’s get that word outta here.

Okay, so the other term is what Crayola Crayons discontinued way back in, WHAT?! NINETEEN SIXTY TWO?!? In response to the Civil Rights Movement, the folks at Crayola cleverly changed the crayon color called “Flesh” to “Peach” to reflect the many range of tones of the human skin. So why is the adult industry taking more than 50 years to change our color designation? I mean, we have toys in many skin tones available yet still refer to that common tan color as “Flesh.”

To my knowledge, no manufacturers have been picketed by NAACP (which STILL stands for National Association for the Advancement of COLORED PEOPLE so I guess we can get a pass on that one) or any other civil rights organizations that I can think of, to change the descriptive color of “black” to “African American” so there’s really nothing to fear in that department. The reason why these civil rights organizations don’t picket might be because the adult products industry isn’t that important. But think how many of these DONGS, I mean, DILDOS we sell every day, month, and year. My guess is that it surpasses the number of men, women, and children in the US at any given moment but that’s another blog. Changing the color designation of adult toys would be simple to do: simply call them “tan.” We call others brown and black and there are still companies that refer to creamy coffee colored toys as “Mulatto” which I’m not sure is considered a somewhat derogatory term at this point or not. I’ll have to try the word on someone and see what their reaction is and my guess is that they probably won’t know what the hell I’m talking about. I think the more accepted terms these days is “bi-racial” – hey, anytime “bi” is referenced in ANYTHING always scores in my book.

And I’m not bringing these two terms up to tentpole my PC muscle, I mean, my Political Correctness flag, but to let our beloved (and major) manufacturers know it’s about time to update the descriptions of our most popular sex toys. On the eve of our biggest trade show of the year, ANME, maybe it’s time to announce those subtle yet remarkable changes. I’m sure I wouldn’t be the only one to notice and to celebrate. Hell, I’ll even go out and buy a new, tan colored dildo to use on my politically correct and always happy snatch. I can hardly wait!

And now for your regularly scheduled JOTB:

Once, two guys went to a diner for lunch and the waitress took their order. The first guy says “I’ll have a hamburger.” The second guy says “I’ll have a hot dog.”

Moments later, the waitress walks by with her hands under her armpits. Curious, the guys ask why she’s doing that. “I’m doing this to defrost the hamburger,” she replies.

The second guy looks at her and says “Cancel my hot dog order.”

Okay! On to my next blog!  See ya soon!

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Sextoys Go Mainstream

Friday, May 10, 2013 Text size: 

Look over your shoulder. The sextoys are coming! The sextoys are coming! Many of us in the adult industry already know that several kinds of toys have made their way into bricks and mortar general merchandise stores such as CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens, and the ever-conservative Walmart. Yep, Walmart.

Industry giants Durex and Trojan have penetrated the mainstream market by placing their toys in the condoms and lubricants section of the stores – I mean, where else would they put them? They aren’t by the front counter… yet. Sometimes, they cleverly hide in the “massagers” area – the place where one can easily erase those aches and pains with a Tylenol and a vibrator. The mainstreamed products range from vibrating cock rings, the original cross-over product that created a stir when introduced into drug stores a decade ago, to real, live action VIBRATORS that make no pretense as to what they really are. Their discreet packaging is what slides them easily into those stores.

I was at a Walgreens recently and gulped when I saw the mainstay Pocket Rocket, complete with interchangeable heads, being pawned off as a massager. And of course, the price was waaay lower than what a typical adult store would need to charge to cover their overhead. I wondered how many elderly women would go back to their hubbies and say “Look what I got at Walgreens, honey! It’s for pain relief for my arthritic knuckles!”

I really feel that the mainstreaming of toys is both good and bad for the adult industry. Here’s why…

It’s bad because people don’t have to feel obligated to visit their local adult store to buy a vibrator. When checking out at Walmart, they can simply add it to their purchase. “That’ll be tissues, a bottle of Minute Maid, a new T shirt, a Transformers toy, tampons, and oh, a Trojan vibrator and the total of your order is…” with the check out clerk barely noticing what’s in the shopping cart. Vamoose pesky embarrassment!

So then you have suburban housewife, or even RURAL housewife, discovering the joys of using her new found toy. “Gee, I only read about these things in Redbook,” might cross her mind. “I think I like this.”

And that’s where we come in. Once Ms. Suburbia finds she likes the sensation of her new found pleasure, it can often open the door to more purchases of bigger, faster, harder, more kinds of toys. And lubricants. And body treats. And lingerie. And DVDs. And sex ed instruction books. The list can go on and on. It’s up to us to continue her education (and hopefully her partner’s if that’s the case) to let her know buying these things is okay. She’s an automatic upsell as the overwhelming majority of toys sold in the mainstream are pretty straightforward, well, straight, vibrators.

But I’m still concerned. It’s like my own little secret of where to buy these things has been mass merchandised and all the special attributes I’ve learned about each and every gizmo will be out there for everyone to know. But isn’t that why we do this anyway? To preach the gospel to the public of why we love these unique and always-changing toys? To share our enthusiasm and educate those hard to reach customers so they can reach those “hard to reach places”? I guess so.

So let’s embrace our mass merchandisers in the sex toy department, knowing that the next purchase for these women will be in our stores and from our websites, where we can provide so much more information than the clerk sporting the blue smock. 

See ya on the next blog!

JOTB (joke of the blog, that is!)

Once a guy went to his doctor and said “Doc, my dick is orange!”

“Really?” the doctor replied. “Let me see.”

Sure enough, the guy had an orange dick. “Hmmmm,” said the doctor. “Do you live under high power lines?” he questioned the man.

“No,” he answered.

“Do you work at a nuclear power plant?” the doctor continued.

“No,” the man answered. “In fact, I’m not working right now.”

“Oh!,” the doctor responded. “Then what do you do all day?”

“Not much,” shrugged the man. “Sit around, watch porno, eat Cheeze Doodles…”

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Glycerin is NOT a Sugar! The Sticky Situation of Glycerin in Lubes

Tuesday, March 19, 2013 Text size: 

Okay, I know I might get crucified for this blog. For the majority of my 20 years in this wacky business since opening Grand Opening!, I, and most likely you, have been preaching from the pulpit that glycerin is a sugar and should be avoided in lubricants. Well, my friends, time for a little hard core science to prove to you that glycerin is NOT a sugar! Hang with me on this one: it will change your mind and thinking, too.

Many people have the belief that glycerin, a major ingredient in many lubricants, can cause or exacerbate yeast infections. This simply is not true. The popular belief is that yeast feeds on sugar, and that’s what glycerin is. But here’s the truth: Glycerin in and of itself is NOT a sugar but a sugar ALCOHOL and does NOT contain the components of a sugar that actively feed yeast or other bacteria. Again, it is a sugar alcohol and has the chemical make up similar to both of those.

You know, I don’t throw italics in my blogs that often so you know when I do, I really want you to pay attention.

Okay, back to science. According to Wikipedia, Glycerol (or glycerineglycerin) is a simple polyol compound. It is a colorless, odorless, viscous liquid that is widely used in pharmaceutical formulations. Glycerol has three hydroxyl groups that are responsible for its solubility in water and its hygroscopic nature. The glycerol backbone is central to all lipids known as triglycerides. Glycerol is sweet-tasting and of low toxicity and click on the link here if you want to read a lot of chemical compounding mumbo-jumbo about the actual make up of glycerin and polyols. Ah, chemistry… see, you shouldn’t have slept through it in high school.

Glycerin is constantly being confused with sugar because it has a sweet taste and because it is used as a sweetener in many different low-carb and dietary foods. During metabolization, which is what the body does to break down food in its digestive system, glycerin can be converted to glucose by the LIVER. HOWEVER, glycerin cannot be converted to glucose in the vagina because the last time I checked, my liver was not attached to my vagina in any way, shape, or form! For yeast to thrive, they need a sugar such as glucose, NOT an alcohol as glycerin is. Keep following me here…

So that’s basically what is going on. DIGESTED glycerin WILL change into a sugar in the body when it’s digested through the system so that’s why someone who is diabetic, for example, needs to be careful with their glycerin intake. But when you’re gonna smear lube around your girly bits, toys, or on his giblets, before and during your ins and outs, you have NOTHING to worry about. Glycerin based lube will NOT go through the metabolization process and will NOT turn into that pesky sugar everyone falsely blames on reoccurring yeast infections.

But let’s step back a moment to look at what a yeast infection is… sure, it could be the scourge of your local baker when a yeast infection churns its way into the sourdough, but when it comes to women, this is what it is and this is what it does:

First of all, yeast infections don’t happen as often as you’d think! The vagina is an incredibly complex eco-system, a place where heaven and earth come together, a place of mystery and power, a deep, dark pleasure cave that can topple governments… I’m getting ahead of myself and romanticizing vaginas. Glad I own one.

Back to science: Vaginal yeast infections are caused by Candida albicans, which are, in extremely small amounts, usually part of a woman’s vaginal makeup (VAGINAL MAKEUP! There’s a market for that, I’m sure!) and inside the honey walls o’ pleasure, there’s also a few bacteria hanging around for good measure, too. Like a bad weed, sometimes the yeast can go galloping through your vag faster than Paul Revere shouting “The yeasties are coming! The yeasties are coming!” And the culprits can be things like a change in the in the vaginal environment such as injury (that can be caused by not using enough lube! Yep!), sexual transmission, HIV, douching, underwear, what you EAT, drugs, birth control pills (or other hormonal imbalances) and additional common causes. For example, taking oft-prescribed antibiotics can kill off bacteria but antibiotics may also kill off the cells in the vagina that normally keep the balance between bacteria and yeast at bay so when the bacteria’s away, the yeast will play. Whew!

What kind of panties are you wearing, little girl with the yeast infection? Those sexy satiny ones are probably not the best choice and even when they look smokin’ hot, your crotch definitely begs for cotton which breathes a lot more. Yep, cotton. Yeasties love vaginas as much as heat seeking body missles do so try to keep your snatch happy and just moist enough to keep the walls from sticking to each other. Gosh! What a delicate balancing act we have!

But wait! There’s more! Deodorant soaps will zap your natural moisture (and naturally occurring bacteria) as will commercially available douches. Speaking of which, a woman’s vag scent is an exotic blend of juices that is to be pleasured and enjoyed, not masked with “Summer Daisy Field” scent, no matter what they say.

I feel another blog coming on… so I’ll get back to the sugar/yeast infection thing.

Blast panels are tests where labs inoculate molecules such as glycerin with bacteria and yeast and it is often shown in these tests that glycerin and glycerin based lubes have a reverse effect on yeast almost to an anti-microbial classification. Yep, you read right. The OPPOSITE effect! Glycerin has to be bonded to several other molecules to become a complete sugar capable of feeding yeast which is what happens when you DIGEST glycerin and not introduce it into the tender cavity known as a vagina.

Okay, here’s another example of what I’m sayin’.  Glad you’ve made it this far with all this hard science. There won’t be a quiz and I’ll give you an A when you’re done reading.

Many OTC (over the counter) yeast infection remedies and even homeopathic ones contain the inactive ingredient of glycerin to keep them slippery when sliding in for medicinal use. Glycerin in these products allow the medicine to be evenly dispersed within the vagina and if glycerin CAUSES yeast infections, do you really think it would be an ingredient in these products? Go figure.

We have a lot of work to do to undo the belief that glycerin is a sugar, so I am relying on each and every one of you to go out there and tell your friends, co-workers, and especially customers, that they have nothing to worry about in the glycerin/yeast infection department. You have hard, undeniable science behind you to support you so get the story straight and use more lube!  

And now for the JOTBs (I know I forgot them last time and since you've read this far down, you deserve a few of them)...

Once a woman was checking out at her neighborhood supermarket and found herself with a handsome young man bagging her groceries. He offered to take her groceries to her car and while they were in the parking lot, she leaned over and whispered in his ear “I have an itchy pussy…” He looked at her and replied “I’m sorry Ma’am. You’ll have to point it out. All those small Japanese cars look the same.”

*****

Once there were three old women sitting on a park bench when they were approached by a male flasher. He exposed himself and the first woman looked at it and had a stroke. The second woman looked at it and had a stroke, too. The third woman looked at it and refused to touch it.

****

Once there was a newly married couple that were going to undress each other for the first time on their wedding night. As the groom took off his socks, his bride noticed his toes were all curled up. “Agh!” she cried. “Polio!” “No,” he responded, “TOE-lio.”

Then he dropped his pants and there were red spots all around his knees. “MEASLES!” she cried. “No,” he returned. “KNEE-sles.”

Then it came time to take off his underwear and she took one look and said, “I know. SMALL COX.”

On that note... happy science and see ya again soon!

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Kegels for Fun and Profit

Friday, February 22, 2013 Text size: 

All during high school, I spent four years toiling away in the Ocean County (NJ) Public Library’s technical processing department, checking in books on zillions of topics. Many of the themes for non-fiction kids books would be “Blah, Blah, Blah for Fun and Profit” and they’d explain different hobbies and such that would not only be fun to do, but would make money for you, too.

With this blog, I’m now officially writing “Kegel Exercises for Fun and Profit.”

Yeah, yeah, I know you’re thinking “Oh, another ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’” article and why, yes, it sort of is, but it’s also a guide for you so if you can’t tell a Kegel from a kugel, this blog is for you!

If you want to just get to the “good” parts about Ben Wa Balls for kegel pleasure in  FSoG, just flip to page 362 to read the, ahem, stellar writing… “He holds out his hand, and in his palm are two shiny silver balls linked with a thick black thread … Inside me! I gasp, and all the muscles deep in my belly clench. My inner goddess is doing the dance of the seven veils … Oh my … It’s a curious feeling. Once they’re inside me, I can’t really feel them—but then again I know they’re there … Oh my … I may have to keep these. They make me needy, needy for sex.”

Okay, okay… now I know a lot of you are probably thinking “How could those little silver (or gold) balls turn this FSoG character, a 20 something, nervous college student, into a raving slut, never mind want to do the dance of the seven veils inside her quivering quim?”

Keep in mind that this book is fiction but truth be told, the benefits of doing Kegels certainly is fact.

To better understand the renewed interest in women’s anatomy and why they’ve recently become so popular, let’s look at what Kegels are in the first place.

First described in 1948 by Dr. Arnold Kegel (of course!), Kegel exercises consist of tightening and releasing the pelvic floor muscle group consisting primarily of the puboccocygeus muscle, otherwise known as the PC muscle or “pelvic sling.” This group of muscles is responsible for holding your guts up in your body cavity as well as keeping the flow of urine nice and smooth.  Kegel exercises were first “prescribed” for post-childbirth tightening and especially for the treatment of urinary incontinence, and as a non-surgical treatment for “genital relaxation.” One of the major benefits of performing Kegels is that the PC muscle surrounds the vagina so in essence, a nice, well toned PC muscle translates into nice, tighter honey walls of pleasure.

How Ben Wa balls play into the Kegel exercise routine is this: let’s say you want to tone your upper arms. You could do arm lifts or pull ups with your fists which may strengthen your muscles but it would take lots of reps to get to that point. If you were to use weights during the exercise process, the added weight for resistance would make for a more effective workout for your upper arms. Sort of the same holds true with using Ben Wa balls during Kegel exercises. Having two small balls inserted vaginally gives a woman something to grip around, never mind squeeze together in order to stay inside. Legend has it that Geishas would insert the balls and go about their daily duties, like rocking in a chair so the balls would gently roll around inside her increasingly stimulated vagina.

Whether or not that’s true, some women swear by the insertion of balls in their vajjs, either when they are separate or attached together on a cord.  The larger, heavier balls that are attached by a cord, rubber or even a silicone thread, are commonly referred to as “DuoTone Balls” – most likely because they contain a small metal marble in the center of the (usually) plastic egg or ball and usually have a removal cord of nylon or silicone at the base. It’s always a challenge to play the first few bars of “La Cucaracha” with these internal maracas but it’s been known to happen.  

Okay, back to Ben Wa balls. Who would have thought that the small, ½ inch wide metal balls, once relegated to the dusty discount bins of adult retail shops because no one knew what they were or how they worked, would become as popular as they are today? Most of the times, they were just two little golden balls in a crystal box with a fake velvet lining without instructions for their use, which were usually written in poorly translated Chinese.

But not anymore. Middle-aged women are buying them in order to experience the pleasure the fictional character experiences throughout the book. The Ben Wa balls that Christian Grey so eloquently inserts into the waiting Anastasia have single-handedly has caused the latest craze in sex toys. For many years, the very famous Rabbit Pearl by Vibratex, immortalized through the exposure in “Sex and The City” television series, held the mantel. Then, in part because of the rabbit’s external stimulation, women were suddenly in touch with their clitorises and knew where they were at any given time. Perhaps coincidentally, women’s G spots became the new corps celeb: the internal area of the vagina that the spinning pearls of the Rabbit so easily stimulated.  Everyone in the industry clambered to make the best and most celebrated G spot toy on the planet and continue to do so today.

But now the G spot craze seems to be in the rear view mirror and women are shifting their attention to performing Kegel exercises in order to please their partners, be it in a BDSM relationship or for just plain ol’ better sex.

So now there are tons of variations of Ben Wa Balls and DuoTone Balls as companies race to capitalize on the FSoG Bn Wa craze. Personally, I think this is a GOOD thing as doing Kegels is a healthy thing to do for one’s body, FSoG be damned!

There’s glass ones, metal ones, silicone encased ones, virtually something for any woman out there who wants to strengthen her inner workings to compliment her outer workings. There’s even dildos and vibrators created specially for internal, PC muscle enhancement, that will contribute to pleasure when she decides to go for the burn… okay, maybe not the burn but you know what I mean.

While the standard of Ben Wa Balls has been those two, marble-sized metal balls that, once out of the body, look like they could be part of Junior’s playtoys, female customers’ demands for something sexy and artful have made several toy companies develop variations that ain’t your Granny’s Ben Wa balls.

New Sensations’ NS Novelties proudly brings us the combination of art and function with their lovely, artistic, “you can leave ‘em out on the dining room table” Crystal Premium Eggs which, yes, since you asked, ARE egg shaped, making them the perfect gift for Mommy’s Easter Basket! They are available in many colors and weights, too, so you can change them up to match your outfits. I’ve tried these before and they are really pleasant to use.

Expanding on the DuoTone Balls theme, enter Icon Brands Ultimate Kegel Kit, Jopen’s award winning Vanity Intensity, Posh Silicone balls from California Exotic Novelties, LELO’s Luna Beads, the early creation Smart Balls from Fun Factory and EVI, the latest Kegel creation from Aneros, the folks who’ve created the first, anatomically correct butt plug. These companies and many others realized they could fill the gap for toys that could not only provide pleasure but create it themselves.

These companies have created weighted, marble-enclosed balls that are often coated in silicone or reside in a stretchy, silicone sleeve that allows one to change the weight of the balls with different ones that are in the kit. This is definitely one of the most intriguing advancements in DuoTone land as it lets the user/wearer get pleasure AND exercise in one, easy package. I have a few of these and they’re REALLY nice!

Jopen offers the Intensity, an inflating, vibrating, electro-stim g spot and Kegel exercise toy released prior to the FSoG craze. I wish they would have used the Intensity in FSoG because it doubles as an electro stim toy, too… play hard, I say!

Icon Brands have throws their balls in the wind with the new “Ultimate Kegel Kit” containing a three ball collection, customized by inserting into a silicone sleeve. The instructions on the box advise one to complete their 6 step/6 weeks program by gently increasing the weight of the plastic balls (complete with a marble on the inside) in the silicone sleeves to build strength, again playing with the “increase weight/increased strength” thought of exercise in general. LELO’s Luna Beads has a similar approach, offering somewhat smaller beads sliding into silicone sleeves for a customized Kegel workout.  These two kits go way beyond the tacky, fake velvet-lined crystal boxes of the original Ben Wa balls.

Fun Factory’s Smartballs is generally regarded as the original type of silicone covered pleasure balls and they were honored with a mention on TMZ about their sales increase of SmartBalls because of FsoG.

As for toys made specifically for Kegels without moving parts or marbles that circulate within them, Aneros’ EVI silicone coated and anatomically correct EVI was created to be a sex toy that one vaginally holds in place by grasping the neck of the toy with the ever-increasingly strong PC muscle. The pleasing shape of EVI with a bulbous head and slender neck can be worn throughout the day, constantly reminding the wearer to do her exercises for future sexual pleasure.

Okay, so here’s something that you want to try, ladies… insert Ben Wa Balls or Duotone Balls before going to bed to do relaxing Kegel exercises. Then go to sleep with them inside and I’ll bet you that you’ll have the most crazy, erotic dreams because of them, too. Trust me on this one – it happens to me all the time.

So thanks to Dr. Arnold Kegel, E.L. James, author of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” and clever Kegel exerciser manufacturers, adult product retailers and the women of the world will never be the same. Time to hit the pleasure gym for Kegel exercises!

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