Adult Toy, Retail Gear Up for Breast Cancer Month

COSTA MESA, Calif. — Pleasure party company Brown Bag Party is the latest member of the adult toy and retail industry to develop an awareness and fundraising campaign in honor of Breast Cancer Month.

Throughout October, Brown Bag Party will hand out more than 7,000 pink breast cancer awareness bracelets, distributing them in each of its customer’s orders, and sells a private-labeled One Touch For a Cure pink bullet vibe in honor of the Susan G. Komen organization.

For each sold, 50 cents is donated to the foundation, and company CEO Peter Palmiotto told XBIZ that making charitable contributions like this are essential for good business and promoting a positive reputation within adult and beyond.

“Not only does donating help important causes, but it builds our brand and advances our founding beliefs that we're in business to help others,” Palmiotto said. “It also helps erode some rather inaccurate portrayals of the adult industry. While our company doesn't distribute hardcore materials, we're definitely entrenched in the industry through association, and it's everyone's job to help promote the industry in a good light.”

California Exotic Novelties Founder Susan Colvin shares similar sentiments and told XBIZ that giving back should not only be an essential part of business, but also our personal lives.

“This philosophy should be of utmost importance to any business and their owners, but especially for adult businesses where the general conception by our detractors can be less than flattering,” she said.

CalExotics released the Papillon vibrator collection in May 2008 in conjunction with Living Beyond Breast Cancer, and developed promo tools and point-of-purchase displays to promote impulse purchase of the charitable vibrator. A portion of the proceeds is donated to the organization, and Director of Marketing Al Bloom said it remains a popular item on the home party circuit.

Ergonomic vibrator designer Natural Contours released a version of its Petite vibe to benefit breast cancer research and awareness. The Petite Pink Ribbon has been popular within the mainstream women’s health market, being sold in catalogues and sexual wellness websites.

Natural Contours Director of Marketing Candida Royalle told XBIZ that even though it was an easy sell — it’s nonphallic, and part of the profit is donated to breast cancer research — she encountered some difficulty placing the Petite Pink on mainstream “Pink” breast cancer sites.

“W were met with some resistance because many people were still afraid to associate breast cancer with a product designed for pleasure,” Royalle said. “But I felt all along that women absolutely needed a product that reminded them that they were still sexual beings even with having had breast cancer.”

One of the reasons Royalle was inspired to release this vibe was she knew what havoc breast cancer drugs can wreak on women, causing their hormone and libido levels to plummet. Offering a non-threatening and feminine vibrator is one way to help women stay stimulated and promote sexual health, in addition to personal health.

“I felt all along that women absolutely needed a product that reminded them that they were still sexual beings even with having had breast cancer,” Royalle said. “To be afraid of associating breast cancer with a sweet, discreet product such as ours is to completely deny one of the most difficult aspects of this disease for women, that of their sexual identity and ability to continue to function in a sexually healthy way.”

Both CalExotics’ Colvin and Brown Bag Party’s Palmiotto have been closely affected by cancer, which also inspired their foray into charitable product development.

Palmiotto said the company is working on future projects to benefit other charitable organizations that are close to home.

“As a company we'd like to expand further into charity-giving through programs like this one,” he said. “We currently have another corporate campaign with our Hearts Of Fire warming heart benefiting the ASPCA. The animals need money too, and we're happy to do that.”

Royalle also is inspired to develop a campaign to benefit animals — “It [could] be the 'Candida Royalle Protect the Pussies’ line,” she said — and can’t urge enough the importance of adult companies working to give back to the community and align themselves with charitable organizations.

“It's important that adult companies promote themselves as caring about health issues and helping out in any way possible,” she said. “Businesses related to sex or pleasure have long been portrayed in a negative light because of our culture’s long history of viewing sex and pleasure as something to be controlled, even denied.

“Taking part in health awareness and education and contributing a portion our revenues toward such an important issue as breast cancer can only help shed a more positive light on the adult industry.”