Vibrators on the stock exchange

Sex-toy firm has high hopes for Australian IPO.

Topics:

Add to the worldwide flurry of IPO filings a newcomer called the Sharon Austen Limited company, which has applied to be listed on the Australian Stock Exchange. What’s Sharon Austen Limited? It’s a porn business. Specifically, sex toys marketed to Australia and New Zealand.

These are not your garden-variety sex toys. These are German sex toys, lovingly handcrafted — or at least marketed relentlessly throughout Europe — by a big-shot porn company that is itself listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. Founded in 1945 by matriarchal battle-ax Beate Rotermund, the company is currently worth 693 million euros. That’s a lot of dildos.

So Sharon Austen is going public in Australia, asking citizens to come take part in an exciting new Internet business venture (and help place butt plugs into the hands of the lonely and deprived). According to their business prospectus, sent this month to potential shareholders by chairman John Mackenzie: “The proceeds of this initial public offer, together with funds remaining from an earlier private capital raising of $2.5 million completed in November 1999, will be used to establish the Company in the online retailing of erotic and sex products and services to customers in Australia and New Zealand. Traditional forms of retailing, including the establishment of stores in prominent locations, [are] also being considered.”

It continues: “The erotic and sex products and services market offers great opportunities. Beate Uhse AG has set high standards in the erotic market in Germany for over 50 years and has developed its presence to the current stage where 98 percent of all German adults today are aware of the name of the company and its business.”

Indeed, if you’re looking to distribute sex toys and other erotic goodies, Beate Uhse AG is definitely the way to go.

Headquartered in a six-sided building called the “Sexagon” in Flensburg, near the Danish border, Beate Uhse AG’s mail-order business offers more than 3,000 different sex aids, manuals and lingerie items. The company owns more than 50 Beate Uhse erotica shops, and collects royalties from more than 80 other franchised outlets throughout Europe. In addition, they operate half a dozen porn movie theaters and e-commerce operations and own an erotica museum in Berlin.



Founder Rotermund is a story in herself. Still kicking after 80 years, she deserves the success. She escaped the Russian occupation of Berlin in April 1945 by sticking her infant son in the cockpit of a Luftwaffe plane and flying into Flensberg. She made a meager living selling toys and shopping bags door-to-door, and after realizing how many customers were interested in birth control, put together a mail-order catalog to sell sex-advice manuals and contraceptives.

And now it’s time to grace the shores of Australia and New Zealand with vibrators. “We want to extend our role as the style leader in erotica,” Rotermund has said. “The erotic need is the same in all Western countries.”

The Sharon Austen prospectus reads like a winner on paper, and hopefully the company will take a hint from its erotica provider, and spice up the presentation a bit. When Beate Uhse AG recently filed for their IPO, the share certificates featured pictures of scantily clad women.

Jack Boulware is a writer in San Francisco and author of "San Francisco Bizarro" and "Sex American Style."

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Burger King Japan

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Burger King's black cheeseburger: Made with squid ink and bamboo charcoal, arguably a symbol of meat's destructive effect on the planet. Only available in Japan.

    Elite Daily/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    McDonald's Black Burger: Because the laws of competition say that once Burger King introduces a black cheeseburger, it's only a matter of time before McDonald's follows suit. You still don't have to eat it.

    Domino's

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Domino's Specialty Chicken: It's like regular pizza, except instead of a crust, there's fried chicken. The company's marketing officer calls it "one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had” -- brain power put to good use.

    Arby's/Facebook

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Arby's Meat Mountain: The viral off-menu product containing eight different types of meat that, on second read, was probably engineered by Arby's all along. Horrific, regardless.

    KFC

    2014's fast food atrocities

    KFC'S ZINGER DOUBLE DOWN KING: A sandwich made by adding a burger patty to the infamous chicken-instead-of-buns creation can only be described using all caps. NO BUN ALL MEAT. Only available in South Korea.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Waffle Taco: It took two years for Taco Bell to develop this waffle folded in the shape of a taco, the stand-out star of its new breakfast menu.

    Michele Parente/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger: Only attendees at the San Diego County Fair were given the opportunity to taste the official version of this donut-hamburger-heart attack combo. The rest of America has reasonable odds of not dropping dead tomorrow.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Quesarito: A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla inside an enigma. Quarantined to one store in Oklahoma City.

    Pizzagamechangers.com

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Boston Pizza's Pizza Cake: The people's choice winner of a Canadian pizza chain's contest whose real aim, we'd imagine, is to prove that there's no such thing as "too far." Currently in development.

    7-Eleven

    2014's fast food atrocities

    7-Eleven's Doritos Loaded: "For something decadent and artificial by design," wrote one impassioned reviewer, "it only tasted of the latter."

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>