May 21, 2013

The Once-Forbidden Fruits of Eden

Toys 1 Comment

The names Adam and Eve conjure all manner of Judeo-Christian imagery, none of which particularly arousing — with the exception, perhaps, of the idea popularized by Augustine of the apple as a metaphor for sex. It’s somewhat surprising, then, that Adam & Eve should be one of the largest names in porn and sex toys. The story starts in 1971, when Phil Harvey joined up with the physician Tim Black after returning from a trip to India, where he realized how important family planning is, especially in developing nations. Together, they founded Adam & Eve, a mail-order catalog that enabled the public to acquire contraceptives without a doctor. Their long-term goal was that the venture would enable them to fund family-planning programs in developing nations.

In doing this, Harvey and Black took a stand against the increasingly weakened Comstock laws, which made it illegal to send anything deemed “obscene” in the mail — including contraceptive devices and information. In 1986, thirty-some armed agents raided Adam & Eve’s offices in North Carolina, and Harvey spent the next six years defending himself against the ensuing obscenity charges — a battle he finally won in 1992.

The chance Harvey and Black took paid off despite the troubles along the way and today the company is a major studio and distributor of sex toys. Continuing our tour of the world’s sex toys, we got in touch to talk about what’s flying off their digital shelves. This is what we learned:

The ultimate best-seller is the Wet Wabbit Vibrator ($49.95) — a waterproof upgrade to the Rabbit, which was popularized by the 90s HBO show Sex and the City. The Wet wabbit is followed closely (in fourth place) by the Wild G-Spot Vibrator ($69.95), a biomorphic redesign of the rabbit concept, specifically made to raget the G-spot while stimulating the clitoris.

The second hottest item is a couple’s toy, the Adam & Eve Couple’s Enhancer Ring ($29.95), a dual ring set-up for both the cock and balls for longer, harder erections that includes a raised knob with a bullet to stimulate a partner’s clitoris during penetration. Another great couple’s find is Pirates ($19.95), one of the best-selling adult films of our time.

Third up is the Adam & Eve Easy Anal lube ($9.95), a lubricating formula that employs the often-used local anesthetic benzocaine (7.5 percent) to reduce pain. Also in the realm of anal sex is the Crystal Jellies Anal Starter ($12.95), which at number six, a five-inch insertable, one-inch wide dildo to explore anal stimulation.

In the realm of best-sellers for men, you have the A&E Beginner’s Power Pump ($19.95), which uses suction to stimulate blood flow into the penis as the fifth best-selling item in the store. The Super Head Honcho Masturbator ($27.95), a six-inch, open-ended masturbating sleeve that makes clean-up a breeze, ranks seventh. At position number eleven is the Adam & Eve Delay Spray ($9.95), a 7.5 percent lidocaine (another local anesthetic) solution that can be sprayed to delay ejaculation.

At number eight, you have the Hitachi-like Adam & Eve Magic Massager ($54.95), which plugs into the wall for a session as long as you need it to go. In tenth place is the Blue Dolphin Vibrator ($19.95), a ribbed, six inch-long waterproof vibrator. Last but not least is the A&E Blue Swirl Glass 4-Way ‘G’ ($34.95), a testament to the rising popularity of glass in the realm of sex toys. And why not? Glass is non-porous and you can heat it up or chill it for a variety of different sensations.

But the best of the top sellers has to be the Clone-A-Willy Kit ($44.95), a do-it-yourself way to immortalize that boner so very near and dear to your heart.

Surprisingly, given how the company started, there weren’t any condoms among the top ten best-sellers. But then, it’s been 27 years since the raid of 1986 and over 40 since the first catalog was mailed. A company has to learn to evolve with the times.

“We were all struck by how much and how little things have changed,” reads the Adam & Eve site commemorating its history. “The lingerie models have much better hair today, and sex toys don’t look like ugly blobs of plastic anymore. We even noticed a few products that we still sell today; they just cost more because of inflation.”

Header image by Ashley Webb.


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