There are still numerous myths and legends surrounding the topic of sexuality, even in our modern, enlightened times. To clear this jungle of half-truths and I-don’t-knows, the student organisation of the University of California Los Angeles mounts an annual event called “Sextravaganza.” Here, the students can learn about sexuality, partnership, and sexual health. This year, The Screaming O was also invited to the event, and not only did the team provide information on how sex toys can improve one’s intimate life; they also handed out products so the students could test them. We interviewed Gideon Perez, Marketing Manager of The Screaming O, who explained why his company participated in “Sextravaganza” and why many American students don’t know enough about sexuality.
The Screaming O took part in UCLA’s Sextravaganza event. What kind of event was this and what can you tell us about the hosts?
Gideon Perez: Each year, the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) residential life team puts on this unique sexual health, wellness and awareness programme and opens it to the school’s 12,000 on-campus residents. It introduces students to resources, topics, and activities related to healthy sexuality and relationships. To help facilitate a fun conversation, Screaming O introduced students to our brand’s lab-tested body-safe sex toys with free samples and expert advice from Los Angeles-based certified sex educator Anne Hodder.
How was the turnout of visitors and how did they react to the presentation of Screaming O?
It was an amazing turnout; hundreds of students flooded the event hall and were captivated by all of the different activities and interactive events that were going on. Screaming O was the only sex toy manufacturer at the event, so we were able to connect with students in a unique way by incorporating sexuality education with free sex toy samples. Some students seemed speechless at first glance of our Vibrating Ring and FingO Tips mini fingertip vibes but as soon as we started explaining how they work, students’ eyes and smiles widened. And when we offered a free sample to take home, the students were incredibly gracious and excited to try them.
Why are such events needed? Shouldn’t somebody who is enrolled at a university have knowledge about sexual health and relationships?
The United States’ education system dramatically lacks fundamental education regarding sex, sexuality, relationships, and other pertinent topics, which leaves it up to parents or guardians to do the job. And many either don’t feel comfortable or are completely unequipped – they didn’t receive accurate sexual health education, either, and often only have their own personal experiences to rely on! There also is no federal mandate regarding how sexuality is taught in schools (if at all), which means there are no regulations regarding whether or not that information must be medically accurate. As a result, we have generations of people – university students included – who lack basic knowledge about their anatomy, reproductive health, and how to have and maintain healthy relationships. That’s why educational events like UCLA’s Sextravaganza are so important: They provide fun and safe opportunities to talk about sex without stigma, fear, or judgment. They help facilitate open and honest conversations about important sexual health topics while providing accurate and unbiased sex education, all in a unique and entertaining environment. And it was an honour to have been invited.
What exactly awaited the students at the Screaming O booth?
We had a table stocked with free samples of our FingO Tips disposable mini fingertip vibes, award-winning Screaming O Vibrating Rings, and sample packs of our L-arginine-based Climax Cream. Certified sex educator Anne Hodder was on hand to explain to students how each product works on different parts of the body, which was incredibly useful because many students seemed dumbfounded at first glance. Many students later revealed that they’d never used or purchased a sex toy before – but they wanted to – so all they needed was a little how-to information. From there, many students continued the conversation and asked other sexual health questions that came to mind, and we were happy that they took advantage of the opportunity to get answers from a certified sex educator!
Was there a topic in which the students showed particular interest?
The students seemed most curious and excited to learn about the Vibrating Ring and FingO Tips, which they liked for their compact and easy-to-hide sizes, as well as the fact that they were disposable. The Vibrating Ring inspired the most curiosity because of all the ways it can be enjoyed; students were surprised to learn that it is not a cock ring because its super-stretchy ring offers no constriction – which is signature for a cock ring. We showed them how the Vibrating Ring can be enjoyed by couples of all sexual orientations and gender identities and they really appreciated learning that it can even be used as a finger vibrator, too.
You conducted a survey during the event. Can you tell us a bit about your findings?
We took a brief survey of attendees to get a peek into their sex toy shopping habits. It wasn’t a scientific survey, by any means, but it was an effective way to see what this particular set of people’s sex toy habits look like. College students are a unique group; they’re usually cash-strapped and living (and loving) on budgets, and much of their college experience includes sexual exploration in one form or another. Though 70% of those surveyed had never bought a sex toy before, a solid majority of students who had purchased a sex toy in the past had spent less than $20, which reinforces our belief that newb sex toy shoppers are most likely to spend less money on their first purchases. And beginner sex toy users deserve access to quality, body-safe products they can afford, which is something that Screaming O specialises in.
So 70% of the attendees have never bought a sex toy before. Which measures would you propose to the industry as a whole to get this number down a bit?
This number simply showed us that there’s an important segment of the market that has yet to dive into the wonderful world of sex toys, and what better way to target this demographic than to provide products – and prices – that appeal to their unique needs? That’s what Screaming O specialises in and we look forward to future opportunities to spread our fun and friendly message among college-age people.
When compared with other industries, the opportunities for companies in the erotic industry to get in touch with new customers are still limited. Does that make events like the Sextravaganza all the more important?
Events like Sextravaganza are most important because of their ability to provide accurate and unbiased sexual health information to the masses while helping to alleviate some of the stigma and embarrassment that these topics carry. They can also be valuable for companies looking to connect with new and potential consumers, but that’s not the ultimate goal.