introduction
THE MAKING
OF A MARKET
Women-­run sex shops are the little pockets of sanity around
the country where women can go and get sex information . . .
and get their toys and vibrators. This is where feminism—
if there is such a thing—lives if you want to deal with sex.
Betty DodsSon
The seminar room at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas was
filled to capacity. Onstage sat six women. They were porn producers, sex-­ t oy
retailers, product buyers, and ceos, all of them respected industry leaders who
had been asked by the organizers of the 2008 Adult Entertainment Expo—the
largest adult entertainment showcase in the United States—to answer what
for many had become the million-­dollar question: “What do women want?”
As people in the audience listened intently and took notes, the panelists
outlined what they saw as the key ingredients to marketing sex toys and por-
nography to women. Women want products that are made well and look good,
and this includes packaging, said product buyer Alicia Relles. “Women are
willing to spend a little more money for something that is beautiful and works
well . . . and that will last a long time.” They also want information. “If you
have a flagging retail space,” Penthouse Media executive Kelly Holland told
the audience, “I’d start doing workshops.” Industry veteran Kim Airs agreed.
“Having an educational component benefits retail stores because it makes
your store a resource center, not just a store,” she emphasized.
The panel discussion illustrated a gravitational shift taking place in an indus-
try long dominated by men and viewed by many as antithetical to feminism.
The newly christened women’s market for sex toys and pornography had be-
come what many analysts considered the adult industry’s hottest growth mar-
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