opinion

High Jinks, High Profits

Ariana Rodriguez
From childhood people learn they can rely on jokes and various types of shenanigans to put a smile on their faces. On the retail front, gag items ranging from G-rated classic rubber chickens, snapping gum and squirting products to poop and T-shirts with offensive images or slogans, have long been commonplace fixtures at gift shops — sometimes even constituting their own specialty store.

In the adult retail market place, manufacturers also have the opportunity to blur the line between adult gag gift and indisputable sex device. With everchanging cultural trends toward eroticism, the opportunity to poke fun at society grows and several adult novelty manufacturers and retailers are benefiting from offering such products.

Castle Megastore’s Jennifer Vizcaya told XBIZ that the adult gag gifts product category is one that will continue to be successful because of the vast variety it encompasses.

“It just keeps evolving and moving with pop culture trends,” Vizcaya said. “Novelties are very popular and are a must-have since they help create ambience and draw the customer in.”

Pipedream Products has been a worldwide top manufacturer of adult gag gifts for the last two decades. The company carries the Beatin’ Barack wind-up masturbating doll and the Celebrity Series of blow-up dolls modeled after celebrities including Lady Gaga, Beyonce and Lindsay Lohan.

In March, Tiger Woods took legal action against Pipedream Products, demanding the company stop selling its line of Tiger sex toys, which included an inflatable Tiger love doll and giant condoms, among other items. At that time, since the line of products was already sold out, Pipedream Products COO Nick Orlandino told XBIZ the company would comply “out of courtesy.”

“We try to get as close to [crossing] that line as possible and yes, now and then we do cross it,” Orlandino said. “When we do, we have to deal with it accordingly.

“The amount of publicity we get on a gag item like our Super Star Series of celebrity parody love dolls is amazing. We can never afford to get that type of PR without controversial products like this.”

Citing the lighter mood humorous adult items creates in a store; Vizcaya said that after a good laugh, shoppers feel more relaxed. Nevertheless, Vizcaya said Castle Megastore’s lighthearted items still have a bit of edge to them.

“Many of the products in the novelty category deal with the same thing as the ‘harder’ items — sex, it is just a humorous or playful approach,” she said.

Many people will seek a funny prop to garner more attention from others. Hott Products President Chris Post told XBIZ about the range of opportunities to be in the spotlight offered through company’s array of humorous sex-related products.

“Imagine you’re at a bar or night club and all of sudden you see ‘nice tits’ in gigantic glowing letters projected onto the wall,” Post said, referring to a laser pointer with changeable stencils that project various mature messages. “Everyone gets a big laugh and you’re having a good time. I’ve even had people offer to buy the laser pointer off me on the spot!”

Hott Products also carries the Happy Hands Bra — a plastic bra shaped liked two hands each cupping a breast, and the Bone-A-Phone, a penis-shaped telephone that rings in the sound of an orgasm.

A bachelorette party is one situation in particular in which embarrassing a woman with sexual imagery in public is encouraged, and the suppliers of such props are reaping profits.

“If a group of girls show up to the club all sucking on these large, glowing penis-shaped pops, all eyes will be on them,” Post said.

For such occasions, Hott Products offers more than the standard party supplies such as tableware and banners. Post said the range of bachelorette offerings includes cake molds, and edibles such as the Lickie Dickie Light-up Pops.

“Bachelorette/bachelor party items have emerged as their own distinct and stand alone businesses,” Vizcaya said.

Adult board games also are growing in popularity whether they’re catering to bachelor/bachelorette parties or meant for sexual foreplay.

Don Northrop is the creator of Uncle Don’s Exotic Interludes, an adult board game featuring wizards and other fantasy components. The elaborate game features 100 “his” playing cards and 100 “hers.”

Northrop said the game could include up to eight participants that ad lib their way through a risqué adventure.

“You can be as rough as you want to be depending on who’s playing,” Northrop said. “It’s one of those games where the more you put into it, the more you get out of it.”

Uncle Don’s Exotic Interludes has planned Bondage, Lesbian and Gay versions of the game to cater to all tastes.

According to Northrop, the board game is most popular among swingers; however, by broadening its scope, he said he hopes the hand-painted art and its presentation will appeal to consumers.

“It’s definitely more than your average strip poker game,” he said.

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