The social circuit in suburbia includes a number of sales parties: for housewares, jewelry — and sex toys. Another in a series of old blog posts I’m re-publishing in honor of my 9/10’s of a decade writing SoCal Mom. This one is from February, 2009. It has been slightly revised.

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We’d been talking about having a Girls Night Out for a while, so the Evite from my friend (she asks that I call her “Roxy”) was not a surprise.

The occasion was:


A wild and wicked evening with friends!!! You are invited to bring a friend along- please let me know if you will be doing so! Drinks, Nibbles and entertainment provided. The Love Boutique will be here.


I guess this is the time I have to come out and confess that I am something of a prude. Oh, I was young and single once (in the 1970’s! and ’80’s), so I wasn’t always a Victorian.

And I’d been to one of these parties before: Thirty years ago, while still in college, my younger sister was a rep for one of the first companies selling sex toys and related products via the party plan. My mom volunteered to be her first hostess, and of course, I was invited. It was a command performance.

And it was weird. There was my kid sister, standing in the middle of our living room, passing around dildos and vibrators to my mom and her pals — all of whom were hooting and hollering and giggling over the wares. And over on the other side of the room, I sat with a couple of my friends, feeling creeped out about the whole thing.

“When you’re our age, you’ll understand,” laughed my mother’s friend Stella, who used to push me in my baby carriage. Shudder.

That experience was horrifying. But what’s more horrifying is that I am now 10 years older than my mom and her friends were back then. And I DO understand.

However, this is one area where I prefer to be private. It probably doesn’t help that I’m married to a Brit, who has very definite ideas about what is appropriate and what is not in polite company.

My girlfriends are not the type of people you’d describe as “polite company.” They’re fun. And this event had all the markings of an evening that would be fun…

…for everyone but Monica, the hapless young woman who came to Roxy’s suburban home to sell sex toys to a group of mommys, teachers and Brownie leaders.

Roxy is a terrific hostess. True to her word, there were plenty of yummy “nibbly bits” … and alcohol, which was something of a double-edged sword. I do the same thing when I’m hosting a sales party. Likkering up your guests loosens their purse strings. It also loosens them up in other ways, too.

The party got off to a raucous start when one of Roxy’s friends brought her a novelty store gift she’d purchased especially for the occasion: penis-shaped drinking straws, which were plopped into each of our cocktails, resulting in lots of cell phone snapshots and dirty giggling from the guests.

The phallus motif was carried on by Monica, who handed out pencils w/similarly shaped erasers.

For young Monica, it was all downhill from there, because my friends and I behaved much as my mom’s generation did in 1979. Monica estimated that her presentation would take about 40 minutes. An hour and a half later, she was begging us all to settle down because she wanted to go home.

Some of the merchandise was pretty benign: products you find every day at the supermarket: shaving cream, bubble bath, shower gel. Even some of the more intimate items are advertised routinely on television: like K-Y’s new line of lubricants — which was a hot item at last year’s Johnson & Johnson Camp Baby conference. (Monica tried to make a case for why her company’s products were superior.)

Some of the products were exactly the same as the ones my sister showed back in 1979 (notably, the Kama Sutra flavored powder with feather applicator – the packaging is even the same).

Then we got into “the good stuff’: The “Crystal Wand,” described by Monica as a “tool that penetrates your G-spot” (I dunno – the word “penetrate” sounded a bit inaccurate to me). BenWa balls. The “Vaginal Work Out Egg.” The Magic Sleeve. The Rabbit. The Dolphin. (All I can tell you is that I can never look at these innocent-seeming animals in the same way again.)

Throughout the presentation, Monica peppered us with little quiz questions for points (the one with the most would get a free prize). At the beginning, they were easy: 50 points if you’ve ever taken a bubble bath. 200 points if you ever lit a candle in the bathroom for your bath. 200 points if you ever made love in a body of water.

When we got to the toy part of the presentation, Monica told us to give ourselves 200 points for every toy we owned. This was the end of the quiz for me – I don’t have any.

But another of the guests announced that she collects them. This is the one who brought us the interesting cocktail straws. It turns out that she — and the two co-workers she brought to the party — works behind in the scenes in the porn industry. In fact, all three women once worked in front of the cameras.

Now, I’ve always heard that the San Fernando Valley is the pornography capital of the world, and I’ve been vaguely aware that people I meet through school and kids’ activities might be a part of that — but this was the first time I ever met anyone who was a part of it and talked about it. It turned out that these ladies were a lot more expert about the products than Monica was, and the conversation grew into a lively discussion of the merits of one item over another. These women had informed opinions — which I would listen to, if I was in the market for any of it.

But I’m not. I really studied the order form, trying to figure out what I was willing to drop some money on… and was relieved when Roxy told me she didn’t expect everyone to buy: this was just an opportunity for a Girls Night Out.

It had been fun. And not a bit creepy — aside from the fact that my mom’s friend Stella was right. Now, I understand.


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