Thursday, July 17, 2008

Selling It: In-Home Sex Toy Parties

In the last 25 years or so, in-home sex toy parties have gained popularity. Created as an alternative way for women to have access to sex aids and toys, a number of companies – big and small -have sprung up. We caught up with local consultant Marcey Goldstein and health educators Brandy Reeves and Erin Lapham from Pure Romance, a national sex toy party company, to find out more.

Where’s the Party?

We asked the representatives of Pure Romance why they believed these in-home parties were so popular. As Marcey said, “In-home parties are an alternative to buying sex toys in a retail store, through a catalog or online. [F]or most women [sex toys] are part of a relationship – either with a partner or themselves.”

Brandy and Erin agreed, and added that the parties provide comfort and safety. They said, “[These parties] empower women to discuss [sex] in a safe environment where they feel comfortable to ask their most personal questions.  There are not many opportunities where women feel completely at ease asking questions and learning about their bodies; we have found over the years that many women do not feel comfortable asking their health care providers about some of their issues and experiences.  Having a mixed gender environment may not allow women the chance to learn and have fun in a completely relaxed manner.”

Jennifer, who attended a local party added, “I find most sex toy shops to be a bit intimidating and male-focused, so I feel more comfortable learning about various products and questioning the host than I would in an actual store.”

Party Atmosphere

Marcey described the parties she hosts. “As a consultant, I do what I can to make the party fun. I start out by playing a couple of games to loosen up the guests. After the games, I demonstrate the creams and lotions, and the women get to try them on their hands and arms. Then I bring out the toys and explain how and why each type is used. After the demonstration, I have the women come one at a time into a private ordering room. The atmosphere allows women to talk with each other more openly (if they choose) about sexuality and pleasure, and validates female sexuality in a way that is not always present in the larger society.”

Most consultants arrange for a private room at the party to take orders. The Pure Romance staff said that this is when party-goers will ask more personal questions, such as how to orgasm, erectile dysfunction, and low desire.

Consultant Ed

The training the consultant receives is a crucial component of any good in-home party. As health educators, Brandy and Erin provide Pure Romance consultants around the nation with education and consultation to help them in their role. As they said, “By providing them with the education and resources they need, we are essentially training lay health advisors to provide women with the information they need to impact their sexual health.” Because the level of education varies widely, it might be important to ask a consultant about their training specifically in sexual health. But remember: personal experience and opinions are just that – personal – and therefore, different for everyone. As Erin & Brandy said “…we are all unique; everyone has different opinions and experiences when it comes to sexuality and intimacy.  The most important thing is to find what feels good and is right for them.”

Do You Buy It?

So toys, lubes, and other sex aids are great, but are they necessary for a good sex life? Brandy and Erin said, “There are many intimacy enhancing products available and we want to help people choose the product that is going to be best for them.” Marcey concurred, “I feel sex toys can add an extra dimension to sex…[they can] add a little sparkle to what may have become routine.”

Ultimately, sex shops and in-home parties have to make a profit to succeed. Products can help enhance our sex lives, alone or with partners, but they are not the key to good sex itself; that is within each of us, when we embrace our own sexuality, desires, and limits and respect these in our partners.

A huge thank you to Marcey, Erin and Brandy for their willingness to be interviewed for our column. Find out more about Pure Romance at http://www.pureromance.com/. Stay tuned next week as Doin’ It Well gets on the couch to talk about sex therapy.

Sex 411: Know What You Want

If you’re thinking of hosting a sex toy party, here are some good questions to ask beforehand:

  • What kind of education do consultants receive about sex and sexuality?
  • What education do consultants provide to partygoers about the products and sexuality?
  • Does the company address sexuality for everyone? (LGBT folks, people with disabilities, etc.)
  • Do they provide additional (local?) resources for further information on sexuality?

Kim and Ross are awaiting fan mail. Send some to them at buzzdoinitwell (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Posted by Jo Sanger & Ross Wantland in 13:36:55
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