Among the many things Americans should celebrate today -- the strength of our democracy, the chance to change the spiraling trajectory of our country, new leadership -- here is one that may have slipped past your radar: Babeland is giving away free sex toys to people who vote.
That's right: Free! Sex! Toys! Which could only mean one thing: I had to go there.
Babeland, for those who don't yet know, is a fantastic Seattle-based sex store (formerly known as Toys in Babeland) designed to be woman-friendly. That means lots of pink, vibrators that look like jelly candy and a remarkable dearth of giant black leather anal rammers. It's girlie, in a word, and because I am "girlie" (in a word) it is my favoritest sex store in the world, one of the only spots where I can pick up the anal beads and not feel an overpowering urge to wash my hands with lye.
I live less than two blocks away from the Brooklyn Babeland, where I arrived at 1:30 this afternoon to find the store empty except for a friendly saleswoman and an elderly couple of approximately 60, asking about double dildos.
"You want your free vibrator?" asked the woman, whose name turns out to be Mary Hoffer. She handed me a neatly wrapped gift bag with a silver bullet vibrator inside.
"How many of these have you given out today?" I asked.
Mary checked her clicker by the register -- "46," she said. Not bad for a Tuesday. They'd opened at noon.
"There's been so much anxiety about this election," says Babeland P.R. manager Pamela Doan, when I call her on the phone. "This is a fun and friendly way to celebrate, and it has a clever twist."
That twist, in case you hadn't guessed, has to do with the (ahem) bipartisan sex toys being handed out: For men, there is the Maverick (yes, that's the product's real name!), a rubbery blue penis sleeve designed for self-pleasuring and described on the Web site like this: "The cushy, soft elastomer sleeve fits snugly on virtually anyone, while nubby tendrils lining the inside stroke every inch of your cock." (Retail value: $20.) For women, there is the silver bullet, a wire-and-battery-operated vibrator that I've never particularly been crazy about but that some women swear by. (Retail value: $13.) All you have to do is say that you voted, and you get one. If they run out, they'll give you a rain check. How's that for spreading the wealth?
"The response has been overwhelming," says Doan. The Soho store opened at 11 a.m., and within one hour had given away 50 sex toys. "It's like a party in there right now," she said. Doan's in box has been flooded with requests from other states (Babeland is located only in New York and Seattle). "People are sending me pictures of their ballots, asking if they can get free sex toys, too."
Who can blame them? People like their sex toys! And by the way, in a sign of change, Babeland has yet to receive any blow-back or complaints about its giveaway, but has, instead, received generous national press alongside other chain stores handing out free stuff, like Starbucks and Krispy Kreme.
Back inside the store, Bon Jovi's "I Would Die for You" is pumping through the speakers as a woman waltzes in, picks up her free vibrator and leaves. "How about that?" she asks as she passes, swinging the gift bag by her side. "What better way to bring in a new era?"