History of the vibrator

Alexis Madrigal had an exhaustive history of the vibrator in the Atlantic a couple months ago. There is a lot of information in here.

Everyone in the sex toy business whom I spoke with credits “Sex and the City” with profoundly changing the way Americans now talk about sex toys. The Rabbit Pearl became an overnight sensation — “Talk about product placement,” the vibrator’s manufacturer, Dan Martin of Vibratex, told me. With clean, well-lit stores like Good Vibrations and Babeland; the Tupperware-inspired, sex-toy house gatherings for women known as Pleasure Parties (“Where Every Day is Valentine’s Day”); and the Internet — which opened all kinds of new avenues for sexual adventure — women now had safe and discreet places to buy it. The Rabbit Pearl is still the top-selling sex toy, although the original from Vibratex has been knocked off so many times that “the rabbit” has become generic.

And then a couple months later, LA Magazine profiled Chad and Ron Braverman, the father-son team which runs Doc Johnson, the country’s biggest sex toy manufacturer. If you’re a porn star, getting a dildo made that looks like your junk isn’t worth as much as it used to be.

In the past a casting like Deen’s was worth serious money for a star. Doc Johnson molds few male performers, but when the actor Jeff Stryker was casted 20 years ago, his contract guaranteed a fee of $200,000 up front plus royalties. These days that figure is closer to $20,000—the market is saturated with performers—though there are ways to bump a fee.

History of the vibrator

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