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Portland shows love for sex toys

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On the Scene
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
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Hot on the heels of our September cover story spotlighting Oregon's thriving legal sex business, Trojan, the 90+ year-old condom brand, hosted an event in Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square yesterday to give away thousands of its relatively new line of vibrators.

By 10 A.M., an hour before the event opened, before Trojan Vibrations had even set up their "Pleasure Carts," a line of 50 or so eager women and men had formed to get the goods. Once it got started, hundreds more swelled toward two carts stocked with two models of vibrator, the Tri-Phoria, retailing for $40, and the $30 Pulse. The crowd was not shy, smiling for photos in front of a Trojan-branded backdrop, some shouting with excitement upon receiving their free vibrator.

Sex toys are becoming an ever-bigger business that household-name brands like Trojan are bringing into the local drug and grocery stores, so reluctant consumers no longer need venture to specialized sex shops. According to the tour's Facebook page, the City of Roses is the 13th city visited by the pleasure carts, which debuted in New York City last summer and are designed to mimic hot-dog stands. Vibrator recipients only have to prove they're over 18, and provide name, email and phone numbers that Trojan will no doubt harvest for future marketing campaigns. Yet it's still remarkable the giveaway involves a product that can be re-used hundreds (if not thousands) of times, provided one has fresh batteries. Before Portland, Trojan Vibrations had already given away more than 47,000.

The brand is betting on promising statistics. According to a 2008 study by Indiana University's Center for Sexual Health Promotion (and funded by Church & Dwight Co., maker of Trojan products), 53% of American women and 45% of American men have used a vibrator. And 93% of those women said their partner liked that they used one; 80% said they used it with their partners. Per the study, most participants "agreed with positive statements about women’s vibrator use, indicating an openness and acceptance of it among American women and men."

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Trojan's VP of Marketing, Bruce Weiss, said in a release, “We’re always looking for ways to bring vibrators into the mainstream by fostering an open dialogue about sexual health and creating unique moments that get people ‘buzzing’ about sex and pleasure."

It appeared the goal of bringing vibrators out of the bedroom into Portland's downtown living room was welcomed, refuting the notion that sex toys ought to be a taboo subject or limited to solo experiences. No one seemed shocked or offended as citizens demonstrated openness to sex toys as a topic and a pleasure tool for both women and men, as well as in their intimate relationships.

In total, Trojan handed out more than 8,000 vibrators to over 4,000 Portlanders. However, after the initial spurt of excitement at the opening of the carts, the lines shrunk considerably through the heat of the day; what's more, supplies lasted to the designated end of the day: 6 P.M. It was as if the event had climaxed prematurely and then taken on the ho-hum vibe of an actual hot-dog stand. You want relish with that?


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Research editor Brandon Sawyer digs heaps of data about privately-held and public companies, economics and industries, and extracts relevant articles, graphs and lists, including the 100 Best Companies, Nonprofits and Green Companies to Work For in Oregon.

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