I’m not asking for sympathy here. You don’t choose the profession of dildography if you want to be taken seriously. In fact, dildography chose me, or more precisely, I stole the title of dildographer from the 1971 movie Is There Sex After Death? One of the characters in the film is a professor of dildography who spends his days luxuriating in a penis-filled office, brushing giant feathers over nubile, half-naked young women. When I saw this movie at age 17, I decided that this was my calling. Some people are called to the priesthood, but I was called to be a sex toy scholar. Like a child who watches a Disney movie and decides that she wants to become a princess, I was disheartened to learn that there is no direct path to dildo studies, no degree program, no support group, nothing. So, logically, I majored in English in my undergraduate years at the University of Florida and wrote a paper on the marketing of sex toys, all the while dreaming of my life as a dildographer. I then went to the University of Texas-Austin to get a master’s in advertising and began a side job selling sex toys for in-home sales company Passion Parties. To this day, I feel guilt for convincing a bride to buy a butt plug to bring on her honeymoon, by claiming that “Most men think butt plugs are normal. All men would be happy to use one on their honeymoon.”
Side note: Selling sex toys was illegal in Texas in 2005 when I worked for Passion Parties. My mother was terrified that I would be arrested. As long as you claimed you were selling “massagers” that were “for novelty use only,” you could get away with selling vibrators. It was the Comstock Act all over again.
I wrote my master’s thesis on the marketing of sex toys, but it wasn’t until I went to the University of Wisconsin that I realized I wanted to study their history . No comprehensive history of sex toys exists, so that’s the topic of my dissertation. For the next nine months, I’m on a fellowship with the sole goal of uncovering this understudied layer of American history. This blog is going to be dedicated to my most interesting historical findings, as well as sex toy reviews of contemporary products. I’m also developing a timeline of sex toys in American popular culture, which I’m hoping readers can help me cobble together.