I was more nervous than I knew I’d be. I’m always a little nervous, but I was particularly restless that Saturday. This would be my last sex toy party for the foreseeable future. I put in my notice to quit my contract with my sex toy party company several weeks prior.
My last sex toy party was a bachelorette party, my least favorite kind. However, for nearly a year that’s all I did. The company I worked with had promised shopping party leads, but never delivered. That’s one big reason I wanted out. The party was also over an hour away from my home. In the time I contracted under this last company, I never did a single one in my home city. Each one had been an exhausting drive for a nervous person that fears being on the road too much.
I planned a short and sweet demonstration, only showing 10 products. I wanted in and out. There was some promise of purchasing, but I didn’t get my hopes up.
I walked up to the house, an apparent AirBnB, to find 6 thin 20-somethings waiting outside. The bride, in a cream-colored dress, greeted me warmly. Her crew of little black dresses on similar frames and hair styles was broken into two groups. Her sister, who was taking selfies with half the other group down the street in a neighboring flower bed, had the key. Woo girls.
A few handshakes and fist bumps (“knucks”) later, I was inside. The guests changed out of their little black dresses into t-shirts and yoga pants while I set up. The bride stayed in her comfortable dress to help me plug in my HDMI cable with iPad adapter into the TV to put up my slide show. Taking a hint from the contractor who installed our flooring, it’s now my policy not to touch other people’s electronics. If something went horribly awry, I could be sued for the cost of a TV, so I ask a responsible party to do the plugging and unplugging.
The bride, who was also the hostess, dutifully gathered everyone around in a timely fashion. That was about it for her crowd control attempts, but it was appreciated. If we start late, the contract my company developed charged a $50 fee for every half hour for late starts. This was to prevent incidents where representatives were left waiting for more than an hour before the host let them start, dragging the night on, and leading to rushed and flustered presentations. That’s only happened to me a few times in my time as a sex toy party rep, and I’m glad for the policy.
Rather than call this a sex toy party, we called bachelorette parties “special event workshops” to justify the upfront cost of having us there. That guaranteed that if no sales were made, representatives were still compensated for our time. Free party companies rely entirely on sales, which turns what could otherwise be a fun educational experience into a high-pressure sales presentation. I never liked that, or the chance of working without getting paid. That was a big reason for leaving Passion Parties. Bachelorette parties are still quite a bit of crowd control and emotional labor, and I’ve still liked doing them less than shopping parties, because my joy is in directly helping individuals. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy presenting to an audience, but it’s just more fun for me to connect and help people get open, vulnerable, and honest. It brings me joy to help people understand there is no normal, and they are not broken.
They sat in awe as they learned the true size and power of the clitoris. They marveled at the deep rumbly vibrations of the vibrators I brought. They giggled at the thought of phone app-controlled sex toys. They applied flavored nipple cream to their nipples under their shirts.
The workshop went as I expected – lots of interruptions and stories. “Guys! You want to hear a really embarrassing story about a sex toy?” But eventually, we got to a place I love to go. They began to ask if they are normal.
“Is queefing normal? It happens all the time to me and it’s embarrassing.”
“My husband wants me to finger his butt and milk his prostate. I don’t want to. What do I do?”
“Is a guy gay if he wants things in his butt?”
“I have a friend who lost her virginity to her husband and she’s never had an orgasm. She thinks masturbation is a sin. How can I help her?”
“I’ve never used a sex toy. Am I weird?”
“Is it normal to need lube?”
I let them verbally process, allowing them to reassure each other that there is no normal. I reassured them every body is different, but many of their concerns were so often typical. Patiently, I answered all their questions, which had nothing to do with products at all. As a group, we reached a place where I love operating as a sex educator. It was an unexpected boon at a bachelorette party, where typically I am ignored by most guests in favor of whatever shots were being poured.
A bridesmaid and the bride placed orders, and at the 80-minute mark I walked out the door – 10 minutes early.
I left without my HDMI cable and iPad adapter. But that’s alright. I won’t need them anymore.