I have a firm rule that I don’t attend friends’ parties where they’re trying to sell me something. Tupperware, makeup, jewelry, cute cooking accessories… nope. But I just may bend that rule if someone invites me to a Pure Romance party because what’s for sale is sex toys… oh, wait, romance.
RoRo Devine has the Pure Romance franchise in Charleston and she describes what a party is like (and, spoiler alert, you’ll need to send any male or kiddy ears out of the house):
“I come into your home and do a really fun and hilarious presentation for women only. We sell anything from lotions and lingerie, to anything that has to do with love and relationships, spicing up your bedroom a little bit,” Devine says.
Lest you think Pure Romance is some fly-by-night, the company has been in business for almost 25 years and Devine says the company cleared about $200 million this year. Devine’s franchise in Charleston sold $100,000 in product last year.
The 1.5-hour parties are free. The products range from “little games” at $15 to the spotlight collection of sex toys with touches of real gold for $200. The hostess—and she has to be older than 18—provides the snacks and beverages but she gets a free product based on what her guests purchase, as well as a discount in the catalogue.
After the talk, Devine goes into a separate room so that your friends don’t have to see what you decide to buy, and your purchases are packaged in a nondescript black bag.
“Your friends won’t know what you bought unless you tell them,” Devine says.
There is no “typical” hostess.
“Nurses and teachers are probably my best customers,” Devine says. “They love us. But I’ve done parties with college students, soccer moms, ministers’ wives. Here’s the thing. We empower women. The most important and rewarding thing for me is working on that woman who is having a hard time talking to her partner.
I provide a safe environment for women to talk about what is important. You don’t want to go into the creepy adult toy store where people are watching what you’re buying. Women talk to each other about the things that are really important to us. We talk about intimacy.
Eighty-five percent of what I sell is about teaching women how to talk to their partners about what they want and want they need. We’re not just going out there and saying, ‘Here’s how you use this sex toy’.”
The most popular items are massage creams, as well as creams to shave more intimate parts without creating painful ingrown hairs. Lubrication is a big topic.
“Vaginal dryness is a serious problem for women, whether it’s hormonal, from chemo or radiation, or from taking any kind of antibiotics or antidepressants. It can be bad for you; you can get small tears that can create an infection,” Devine says. “We teach women how to use the right lubricants. Not all lubricants can be used with toys. If you get the wrong lubricant with a silicone toy, there’s a chemical reaction and the toy can literally melt in your vagina.”
If there’s anything women are afraid to discuss in the freewheeling Pure Romance party, it’s “backdoor sex,” Devine says.
“It’s still a bit taboo,” she says. “But we almost always touch on it because I don’t want to see anyone getting hurt. Women are doing what their partners want most of the time and their partners are learning from porn. That’s not reality. Experimenting is wonderful, but we want to be sure you’re being safe about it.”
Devine says the most rewarding thing is to get phone calls from customers who were at first reluctant to attend a party.
“I get phone calls saying, ‘We’re like teenagers again.” I tell them, the lingerie is not for him, it’s for you. It changes how you feel about yourself immediately.”