opinion

UPDATED! What's New and Exciting in the Sex Toy World and What's Up With the "Sold As a Novelty Only

Kim Airs

Well, what a crazy few weeks it's been here in Grand Opening!'s Sex Toy World! As you know, there were two back-to-back shows ("Can't we just all get along?") and the usual gossip between the two shows, none of which I'll go into here (or anywhere else for that matter). The two shows presented many different products: at ANE - anything from college team colored and packaged vibrators sold in a booth complete with a taligatin' electric powered hot dog griller (Sporty Vibe) to an electric zapping, vibrating, inflatable, internal, and the "don't forget we have to put a rabbit on it to sell" vibe (Cal Exotics) at ANME (aka "The Founders Show"). Parties were great at both places, attendance a little more at one than the other but I won't tell you which had what. As for location, for the ANE show, it was a little odd to be selling vibrators and dildos, masturbators and nipple clamps a few steps away from twirling juvenile ice skaters at the Pasadena Skate Center and I found myself tiptoeing daily into the rink after the show just to balance the smut and purity brainwaves in my overloaded cranium. I think that worked.

Now I could write about all the new things available at the show but for those of you who aren't that familiar with how these shows work, it's basically that they are the big Kahuna shows of the entire year and all of the companies race to have their products at least SHOWN at them but not necessarily have them in stock and available when you saunter into their booths. 

You know, it's funny, because I refer to the companies at the show as Manufacturers (and it's also included in the official name of The Founders Show, ANME - which is the Adult Novelty MANUFACTURERS Expo) but why is it that most of them say "Oh, we got our samples in from CHINA just in time for the show." Now wouldn't that make them more appropriately called the Adult Novelty IMPORTERS Show? That would then make them A-NIS and I guess no one wants to say that out loud in public, even in this business. 

And why are they constantly being called Novelties? 

Well, to tell you the truth, here's why (this is why I love to blog AND have ADD because I never know where my scribblings are going to go but I can tell ya that you'll always learn something)...

While I am not sure of the EXACT time and place they were starting to be called "novelties," I can sure guess (I'll update this blog when I get a definitive answer). 

HERE'S THE COOLEST UPDATE THAT I PROMISED!  Not sure if my wonderful readers have ever heard of this book, but there is a fascinating history of vibrators by the technology historian, Rachel Maines of Cornell University, who was kind enough to take the time and answer my inquiry about the history of the term "novelties" as it has to do with sex toys. The book is The Technology of Orgasm: “Hysteria,” the Vibrator and Women’s Sexual Satisfaction (Baltimore MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998) and if you're a sex toy geek like me, this book is already on your shelf. If not, get it and become the smartypants sextoy retailer you've always wanted to be.

Anyhoo, what she sent me is her deposition about vibrators that was used in Alabama's case against my pal Sherri Williams, where Alabama said it was illegal to sell sex toys and went after Sherri and her store. The case, if you're not aware, went all the way to the Supreme Court (yes, THAT Supreme Court) where the justices didn't want to touch ANYTHING about sex toys and vibrators and threw it back to the state to decide. I'm not sure where it stands right now but that's another blog.

So, you lucky readers, here's the link to her 44 page deposition which is incredibly interesting to read: Rachel Maines vibrator deposition. Download it, print it out and put this on the break table at the store where you work. You'll be amazed and thanks, Rachel, for your generosity.

Now back to your regularly scheduled blog....

I'd say they were called novelties in order to not call them vibrators and it was probably in the 50's. Again, just guessing... but why are they continued to be called "novelties"? Aren't novelties something you get at the end freezer case in the ice cream aisle in the supermarket? Aren't novelties something you hand out at a 3 year old's birthday party? Aren't they something you get when you order a MickeyD's Happy Meal? Hey! What a marketing idea for McDonald's!  An ADULT Happy Meal!  Get a free novelty when you eat your Happy Meal consisting of something you probably can't order at McDonald's!

Okay, back to that pesky novelty issue. Here's the answer you've been waiting for and another tidbit. Ya ready? Today they are called novelties in order to skirt FDA approval at the docks! Yep! FDA says if it's a "novelty only" then it's not meant for insertion and therefore doesn't need to be tested for purity and contents. "Gee, they're really NOVELTIES," the importers can say. "We don't need no schtinking FDA approval!" So that's the reason why, in the teeny tiny little print on the bottom of the box and bottles, it reads "Sold As A Novelty Only." I won't even go into the veil many companies hide behind when it comes to quality... don't get me started.

I will say, though, that one of my favorite companies, Vibratex, has NEVER sold a product that states its a novelty because they have always stood behind the quality of their Japanese made products. Yes, sometimes their shipments are held at customs but the tradeoff for quality is worth it for them. They also have the ol' reliable Hitachi Magic Wand in their ranks, too, which has NEVER been an adult novelty, just created for those "hard-to-reach-places" like the middle of your gams.

And what's up with another statement used on adult NOVELTY packaging? You know the one "Do not use on unexplained calf pain." Okay, now that's NOT about Uncle Billy's heifer in distress on the farm... noooo.... ya ready for this one, too? Here goes: all those vibrator manufacturers don't want you to use them on your calves in case you have an undiagnosed blood clot in your legs, in which case, a vibrator could dislodge it and it may wind up in your heart leading to a heart attack or up to your brain, leading to a stroke.  Pretty cool, huh? About the vibrators, I mean... not the strokes.

Okay, so back to the shows. I'll let you know when my favorite picks from the show become available to the market in the next few weeks and months, or, in other words, when my ship comes in loaded with sex toys from the major IMPORTERS. I'll meet you at the dock...

And this JOTB (joke of the blog) is a good one:

Once this kid goes to the pharmacist to buy condoms for the first time. The pharmacist asks "How many do you want?" The kid nervously responds "Um, a dollar's worth." The pharmacist rings it up and states "That's a dollar, ten." The kid asks "What's the ten cents for?" The pharmacist answers "It's for the tax." "Ooooh!" the kid says, "I wondered how you kept them on."

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