Merchants of Passion

A Bay Area company moves the dildo into the national mainstream -- one housewife at a time

"Whether you're single and just want to meet your own needs, or you're dating and it's time to impress someone, or you're in a long-term relationship and just want to spice it up, we have something for everyone," Moestue intones.

For the next two hours, she leads the women through a sensual Candyland, starting with an array of potions and lotions -- including the company's best-selling Pure Satisfaction enhancement gel (a little dab will do you) -- that purport to be endowed with seductive powers. The women giggle as they're handed paper towels and instructed to choose an "edible arm," to which Moestue applies lickable powders, puddings, and creams formulated for southerly regions of the carnal landscape. She brings out self-hypnosis CDs (including a sexy-talking beach fantasy called Passion Up) for getting in the mood. She has a heart-shaped device that becomes a long-lasting "hot" massager once boiled in water and a spray that makes ordinary cotton sheets feel like silk.

But those are mere preliminaries.

Jan Moestue gave up an accounting career to become 
a sex-toy saleswoman: "There was no turning back."
Anthony Pidgeon
Jan Moestue gave up an accounting career to become a sex-toy saleswoman: "There was no turning back."
Rapt Attention: Between giggles and howls, women at 
one of Jan Moestue's Passion Parties get serious 
when the vibrators come out.
Anthony Pidgeon
Rapt Attention: Between giggles and howls, women at one of Jan Moestue's Passion Parties get serious when the vibrators come out.

After an hour Moestue declares that it is "time to show you some of the things that go buzz in the night." The room suddenly grows quiet as she picks up a robust piece of simulated manliness called the Pulsating Orbiter ("It doesn't just vibrate, it pulsates") and passes it around as the women ooh and aah. "It's one of the few toys I have that comes with batteries, so you don't have to stop at 7-Eleven on your way home," she says.

The Orbiter and another favorite, the Jack Rabbit (at $49 it's a downscale cousin of the Rabbit Pearl), aren't for everyone, she warns. "Men are either like, 'Yeah, bring on the toys,' or they're intimidated about being replaced. So if you think this is true of your man, I would advise you to start with something smaller." She holds up a tiny silver- colored clitoral stimulator that is reputed to have saved marriages (she doesn't say how) and whose shape gives it its name: the Bullet. "Hopefully, he's bigger than that," she says as the women erupt in laughter.

With churning motors and flashing lights, some of the vibrators sport more features than domestic cars. There are ones with dual speed controls and dual reversible rotation. They come with nubby ticklers, fluttering wings, feathers, and even rotating pearls. One model, dubbed Decadent Indulgence, features "eight levels of accelerating vibrations" and "three unique patterns of graduated rhythmic motion." The Jungle Jiggler is equipped with a little blue dolphin attachment at the tip that dips back and forth. "And it's waterproof!" Moestue enthuses.

Just when the women think they've seen everything, Moestue pulls out Gigi, a squishy pink silicone sleeve that might best be described as the most popular girl at the party. In essence, Gigi's job is to simulate an oral act not all women enjoy performing. "Here, stick your finger in this," she tells them, passing Gigi around. "I'm afraid my husband would like this better than he does me," cracks Wendy, amid hoots and howls.

Once the presentation is over, the women, who've kept track of the items they want to buy using order forms handed to them at the start of the evening, slip into the kitchen individually to sit down with Moestue. It's a Passion Parties tradition that orders be taken in private, lest any shy souls be intimidated. Moestue makes a habit of lugging enough merchandise to her parties so that customers can take home their goodies and eschew the mail.

Wendy, the most vocal attendee, is first to emerge from the kitchen toting a black shopping bag with the Passion Parties heart logo. "I didn't get a vibrator because I already have five at home," she chuckles. She has acquired other delights, however, including a jar of nipple nibblers, a strawberry-flavored edible lotion, plus erection rings for her husband.

The only guest to leave empty-handed is Cynthia. But it isn't her first Passion Party, and it apparently won't be her last. "Where else can you get with girlfriends and talk about this stuff?" she says. "It's been fun."

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