From Goop vibrations to 24K magic - the meteoric rise of the humble sex toy
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Remember when sex toys were hidden under three layers of clothes in your underwear drawer only to be taken out when you were absolutely sure you’d have a few precious moments to yourself?
Their obvious phallic shapes made them virtually impossible to go out in public with them. We’ve all heard the horror stories: “Buzzing sound in woman’s luggage turns out to be vibrator” or “sex toy’s electric shocks leaves more than a sizzle in the bedroom.” These are the cautionary tales that stopped us from adding them to our reckless abandonment lists, so they never went further than our bedrooms.
Fast-forward a few years and these gizmos come in all shapes and sizes - from discreet handbag-friendly contraptions to ergonomically designed toys that fit in the palm of your hand. Those cringe inducing awkward conversations about “hey, what’s that in your bag?” are no longer an issue, and there’s only so many times you can respond with “it’s a novelty lighter”.
Instead, thanks to a generation of sex positive millennials and couples finally prioritising the Big O, sex toys are finding their place in every bedroom, car and bag throughout the world.
The industry is a multi-billion dollar sector that continues to grow.
According to Globenewswire.com, the US was estimated at $7.1-billion in the year 2020. The country currently accounts for a 28.92% share in the global market. China, the world second largest economy, is forecast to reach an estimated market size of $6.6-billion in the year 2027.
And contributing to that industry are celebrity-endorsed deals like Lily Allen’s collaboration with adult brand Womanizer to create her very own vibrator, the Liberty.
Another celeb who’s taken her brand to new heights is Gwyneth Paltrow. As soon as the Goop founder released her ‘ultimate intimate massager’, it sold out within 24 hours.
Call it the Goop effect or wanting to have a vibrator that looks like an ice cream cone, whatever it is, Paltrow struck gold with her branded vibrator and catapulted her image from peddler of pseudo-science to the Funkmaster Flex of sex toys.
As a gift to her loyal customers, Goop released a guide to their “five best selling” vibrators available on their website - from a “classic bullet” to a “tricked-out rabbit-shaped one.”
According to Goop, the top picks are the ones their loyal readers love the most, and obviously Paltrow’s very own intimate massager made it to the top spot.
Surprisingly, for a brand that peddles products out of reach of the normal person, their most expensive vibrator was the Womanizer Premium valued at $199 (about R2 700), with the cheapest being the Billionaire Vibrator By Smile Makers $60 (R850). Goop’s own Double-Sided Wand Vibrator retails for R1 300.
But as they say, not all sex toys are created equally.
Express Digest curated a list of what they thought was the world’s most expensive sex toys. According to the website, Swedish luxury intimate lifestyle brand LELO’s 5th Anniversary Collection is valued at £7,199 (about R143 000).
The suitcase housing 12 “electrifying elegant pleasure objects” is limited edition and set in pink and 18K rose gold. Unfortunately, only 200 have been made.
So, what does this pleasure chest contain? For those who want to explore their kink side, there’s a leather blindfold and leather Kie Eye Mask, handcuffs and a feather teaser.
The case also contains a Jarlsgatan Flogger with suede tassels for delivering “light punishment” and Ben Wa Balls.
Other products include an Ax Multi-Massager hat which vibrates internally and externally at the same time and a dual-action massager with eight different vibrating settings, Express Digest reported.
And if you thought that was hard to digest, LELO is maker of one of the world’s most expensive vibrators - the Inez - a 24-karat gold plated model costing more than R219 000.