Intrepid Varsity reporter Brookes Merritt recently found himself invited to observe an adult-novelty party for women. Hot, bothered, and gleefully embarrassed, he joined a throng of excited Edmonton women for an eye-opening night behind a curtain of privacy. Here is his tale.

When fifteen women stay in on a Saturday night, and gossip over red wine-it’s called a girl’s night. When one of them brings a suitcase full of dildos and vibrators-it’s called a sex toy party.

Rachael M. didn’t know what to expect when she offered to host one.

“I’d never even heard of a sex toy party before. An acquaintance offered to set it up if I could get some girlfriends together. I thought it might be interesting,” she said.

The premise is simple; it’s a Tupperware party with sex toys. A representative is invited to the hosts’ home, and shows a variety of toys. At the end of the evening, guests are able to purchase whatever they wish, by privately selecting their desired toys, and scurrying away with a bag of goodies.

Back in Rachael’s den, the women relaxed on the couches while the evening’s emcee-Lisa from Spice It Up Novelties, addressed the group.

“I’m going to begin by showing you some lotions and massage oils,” she said. A few excited titters from the group were barely audible over groans from other women eager to get on with it.

The party presented the expected menu; beginning with appetizers like Nipple Nibbler-a flavoured arousal lubricant, Liquid Virgin-a lotion designed to plump up the labia and tighten the vagina; and Female Response-a cream intended to sensitize and engorge the clitoris (a sample of which was discreetly placed in the bathroom for the ladies to try). Foreplay toys like feather ticklers, soft hand-cuffs, and anal lube followed.

“I thought the erotic dice were kind of cute,” said Jenna, as 24-year-old elementary teacher, referring to a pair of dice that prompt lovers to engage in a variety of activities throughout the home.

The main course consisted of large silicone and latex toys for both vaginal and anal use.

The ladies took a short break after a few final dismal showings: penis and boob-shaped pasta, nudie playing cards, and scarlet red penis lipstick among them.

Lisa then passed around a variety of bigger toys, including a shocking array of latex dildos, vibrators, and vibrating clit-ticklers called “bullets.”

Nancy, a 23-year old university student expressed her interest almost immediately.

“I can’t say I’ve ever used one of those,” she said as Lisa pulled out the Beaver Twister, an elaborate battery operated dildo with swirling beads about the shaft, a tip that moves in small circles, and a bullet coated in soft silicone to stimulate the clitoris-an excellent penile substitute.

The party concluded with private sales, in which the women met with Lisa to make their purchases.

“This part is usually pretty secretive,” she explained. “I’ve set up a display room upstairs where you can inspect the toys more closely and make your choices.”

The women entered the room quickly and quietly, sometimes alone, sometimes in pairs. Each exited with a discreet brown paper bag, and departed with few words.

“I’ve been to a few of these,” said one older woman. “The younger girls are sometimes less interested in touching and inspecting the toys than the older ladies like me.”

Lisa explained why so many women enjoy the party. “The allure of the parties is their social nature,” she said. “They foster a more comfortable environment for women to buy toys than in sex shops.”

Jose Vicente is the owner of Seductions Love Boutique on Yonge Street. He maintains that the popularity of sex shops on the rise, and that women frequent his store just as often as men.

“Slowly but surely, business has been getting better since we first opened our doors here five years ago,” he said.

Vicente also owns a boutique in Montreal.

“It’s surprising. In Montreal our clientele is mostly men, I’d say about 70 percent, but over here it’s about fifty-fifty,” he said.

With Valentine’s Day just a few days away, Seductions is busy. Most of the customer are female, and Vicente knows exactly what they want.

“Everyone loves the Fuzuoku 9000,” he said. The “intimate massager” is a tiny vibrator with a latex tip that slips over the fingertip. Dr. Sue Johanson has lauded it as the best-valued sex toy on the market on The Sunday Night Sex Show. It’s Seductions’ best seller, among men and women.

But for Vicente’s money, and for anywhere between $100-200 of yours, the toy to be had by all women is a dildo like Lisa’s Beaver Twister. Some other types are the Techno Rabbit, and the Passionate Dolphin-named for the shape of the silicone or latex sleeve that covers the clit-tickling bullet.

“They’re the best toys on the market,” Vicente said. “They give three different kinds of stimulation-inside, on the lips, and on the clit. A regular vibrator only gives one sensation.”

To the untrained eye they look positively monstrous.

“If men could only be born with one of these for a penis,” Vicente imagines wishfully, “women wouldn’t need their toys anymore.”

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