#ThrowbackThursday: Hitachi Magic Wand, 1968

Magic Wand packaging, pre- and post-rebranding (Engadget)

Magic Wand packaging, pre- and post-rebranding (Engadget)

This post was originally published on February 5, 2015.

On April 25, 1968, Japanese company Hitachi listed its Magic Wand for business in the U.S with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Originally advertised as a massager in the 1970s, it quickly gained a new (and arguably larger) reputation as a powerful vibrator.

Sex educator Betty Dodson was the first person to recommend it, using the device in her classes on female masturbation. For women uneasy about going to a sex shop to purchase a toy, the Magic Wand filled a previously-unknown niche: Dodson got hers in the small appliance section at Macy’s.

It looks almost orthopedic, with a “tennis-ball-size” head sitting at the end of the white plastic shaft. (And it’s almost as long as the model’s forearm on the old packaging.) The Magic Wand has two speeds: low (5K vibrations per minute) and high (6K vibrations per minute). It weighs 1+ pound, and measures 12 inches. But nationally-known sex shop Good Vibrations reports that the Magic Wand has been one of their best-sellers since 1977.

In 2013, Hitachi rebranded the massager, as they were uneasy as being unofficially branded a covert sex toy. (I guess it took them 46 years to catch on?) Hitachi’s name doesn’t feature on the new packaging, but it doesn’t obscure what everyone knows: The Cadillac of vibrators is inside.

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Dell Williams, Influential Sex Shop Entrepreneur, Has Died

Sex shop founder/entrepreneur Dell Williams (Refinery29)

Sex shop founder/entrepreneur Dell Williams (Refinery29)

Sad news from last week: Dell Williams, founder of the first woman-friendly sex shop Eve’s Garden, died at the age of 92.

Her origin story begins in the early ’70s, when she decided to purchase a Hitachi Magic Wand, “the Rolls-Royce of vibrators” after attending famed sex educator Betty Dodson’s “Body/Sex Workshop.” (Dodson was a huge proponent of the Magic Wand.) When Williams attempted to buy the device at a New York City Macy’s, she was shamed by a younger male sales associate.

She reported her lightbulb moment as follows:

Someone really ought to open up a store where a woman can buy one of these things without some kid asking her what she’s going to do with it.

This experience led Williams to build Eve’s Garden from her kitchen table, pursuing it as a side-hustle while working a 9-to-5 as an advertising executive. She was working on this at an interesting time: Discussions about female sexuality were beginning to bubble up, contrasting with the point that sex shops were run by, and catered pretty exclusively to men.

She showed an aptitude for entrepreneurship, as the thriving mail-order business (founded in 1974) grew into a storefront, and later went online. The site sells condoms, sex toys, and books, including Williams’ biography “Revolution in the Garden.”

Williams quickly became one of the go-to women to comment on sexuality changes amidst the larger society. In 1973, she organized a conference on women’s sexuality that received a lot of attention, and was consulted on sexual matters ranging from how to up the passion during Valentine’s Day to Britney Spears’ own ode to female masturbation “Touch of My Hand.”

But perhaps Williams was destined to go into the sex industry: Legend has it she was named for journalist Floyd Dell, who was an ardent supporter for Margaret Sanger’s work.

Williams started something that (thankfully) continues to thrive to this day: the woman-friendly sex shop, where women can go in and explore without fear of being shamed or side-eyed.

Above all, she knew the power of a sexually healthy and knowledgable woman (and how scared the rest of the world is of her). For her dedication in her biography, she wrote:

It has long been my unassailable belief that orgasmic women can change the world.  By this I mean that a woman who is unfettered sexually is unfettered politically, socially, economically and she is unstoppable.

 

Thursday Trends: Technology in Sex Toys

Crave's Vesper vibrator (Fast CoDesign)

Crave’s Vesper vibrator (Fast CoDesign)

Legend has it Cleopatra may have been one of the first women to use a vibrator. (In her case, it was a calabash filled with buzzing bees.) The legendary queen/sex toy early adopter clearly knew she needed some extra stimulation, and the simple invention paved the way for a future industry.

Now, things have become a little more complex (and thankfully bee-less). Some sex toys have become more high-tech, and take advantage of opportunities within that field. Clearly, when technology enters the bedroom, fun follows.

Below are just a sampling of what tech looks like…in bed:

We Vibe:

The couples’ vibrator We-Vibe 4 Plus makes use of an app designed to maximize each users’ experience. It can used during sex, stimulating both partners. But it can also be used at a distance, with one wearing and the other controlling via the complementary app. The controller can choose the sensations, which the other partner then receives.

Lelo:

Sometimes you just want oral. Enter the Ora 2, which simulates cunnilingus via a rotating hub that stimulates the clitoris.

Crave:

One central component of technology is that it must look good (thank you Steve Jobs for making this commonplace). Sleek is generally the operative term. Crave’s Vesper is a wearable, thin vibrator the consumer can wear around her neck (and only use externally). Creators of the Vesper made sure the product is as elegant to wear as it is useful.

 

…And into the future:

Una:

This company doesn’t yet have a product on the market. But their goal is to sell a “smart” vibrator that learns from what the user likes. It’ll be interesting to see how this one takes shape.

 

As technology continues to evolve, it’ll be interesting to witness how sex toys incorporate the new tech into existing and new toys. Who knows? We could soon see something that looks straight out of “The Jetsons.”

 

#ThrowbackThursday: Hitachi Magic Wand, 1968

Magic Wand packaging, pre- and post-rebranding (Engadget)

Magic Wand packaging, pre- and post-rebranding (Engadget)

On April 25, 1968, Japanese company Hitachi listed its Magic Wand for business in the U.S with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Originally advertised as a massager in the 1970s, it quickly gained a new (and arguably larger) reputation as a powerful vibrator.

Sex educator Betty Dodson was the first person to recommend it, using the device in her classes on female masturbation. For women uneasy about going to a sex shop to purchase a toy, the Magic Wand filled a previously-unknown niche: Dodson got hers in the small appliance section at Macy’s.

It looks almost orthopedic, with a “tennis-ball-size” head sitting at the end of the white plastic shaft. (And it’s almost as long as the model’s forearm on the old packaging.) The Magic Wand has two speeds: low (5K vibrations per minute) and high (6K vibrations per minute). It weighs 1+ pound, and measures 12 inches. But nationally-known sex shop Good Vibrations reports that the Magic Wand has been one of their best-sellers since 1977.

In 2013, Hitachi rebranded the massager, as they were uneasy as being unofficially branded a covert sex toy. (I guess it took them 46 years to catch on?) Hitachi’s name doesn’t feature on the new packaging, but it doesn’t obscure what everyone knows: The Cadillac of vibrators is inside.

How Many People Use Vibrators?

Rabbit vibrators

Rabbit vibrators

You might think this is a no-brainer, that everyone uses one. Sure, it might be common in your circle of friends, if you’re pretty open about it. But what exactly are the hard stats on vibrator use?

A 2008 study shows that 53% of women have used a vibrator at some point in their lives. The study surveyed 2K+ women ages 18-60.

The study also found that 45% of men have used a vibrator at least once, out of a sample of 1K+ men within the same age range. However, the study does not mention whether the vibrators were used with or without a partner, and what age ranges within the larger set reported the most vibrator use. (This was true for the womens’ results as well.)

These results show that while most men may not be up for using vibrators to please their partners, there are some that exist out there.

 

#ThrowbackThursday: Vintage Vibrators

1928 Polar Cub Vibrator

1928 Polar Cub Vibrator

The first vibrator was invented in 1734 in France (shocker). No word on who first used it, but my money’s on someone in Louis XV’s court, and was probably pretty blinged out.

In honor of its birth 280 years ago, here’s one from almost 200 years later: a 1928 Polar Cub vibrator from The Antique Vibrator Museum.