Inside the ANE Luxury Booth

LAS VEGAS—The 2013 AVN Novelty Expo, which runs January 16-18 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, marked the return of the ANE Luxury Boutique, a concept that debuted at the last ANE in September 2012. The space draws high-end exhibitors together in boutique space that’s situated away from the hubbub of the Fan Fest.

The strictly B2B space was home to several veteran ANE exhibitors. Booty Parlor, a stylish brand of body products that is sold in many resort hotels (including the Hard Rock), occupied a centrally located space. The company’s main objective for this show: getting out the word on items that make great gifts for Valentine’s Day—and also Mother’s Day, which retailers may overlook.

“We have our romantic rendezvous love kit, which is a bathroom to bedroom exprerience. I know on Mother's Day sometimes mothers don’t do a whole thing—maybe a really luxurious drawn bath and a massage would be something that a mom might need. It’s a $30 price point, TSA-approved for travel. We have other kits—a massage candle, even, to set the mood. You can put it in the bath, you can use it as a body oil, for the ambiance, or you can use it as solid perfume. It’s a really versatile product.”

The Bath Kitten would also be a winner: a white chocolate and macadamia nut body wash and a bath mitt with a little something extra—a purring vibrator which can be used for massage.

Next door was the System JO space, decorated with bold red and white graphics and marketing materials. Buyers were dropping by to survey the company’s full line of lubricants, stimulating gels and other personal body care products, including its Dona By JO line.

As with Booty Parlor, it’s a line that dovetails naturally with the “luxury” concept. Lacy, decorative boxes and delicious scents make it a perfect fit for any high-end boutique.

“The whole Dona line itself is designed to be a ritual,” said a company representative. “The whole idea is you choose a product from each step and you go though each step: Relax, Cleanse, Nourish, Illuminate and Engage.”

The products available in each step are quite varied, and each item is suitable as a romantic gift. The Relax series includes massage candles, bath salts, and various other bath treatments. The Cleanse items are foams, gels and body washes and skin polishers. Nourish products moisturize the skin, and the Illuminate assortment includes a linen spray, shimmer spray and lip balm. Finally, Engage offers massage oil, body drizzle, perfume gel and rose petals.

The newest item in the Dona line are a series of gift sets. “It’s a new SKU for us. What we’ve done with this is make it an easy gift set or starter set. It has products from each step and it takes the consumer through the ritual in one gift set.” she said. “The fragrances in the line can be layered but the gift packs focus on one scent. And then there’s also an info card on the whole line.”

New SKUs were, of course, the topic of conversation in the room. BodiSpa, based in Montreal, exhibited in September at the AVN Novelty Expo held at the Rio, debuting the Almighty Massager, which applies heat as well as vibration to aching back muscles, and the Fifty Shades of Play kit, designed as an introduction to BDSM toys. Both of those items were on exhibit in BodiSpa’s booth, in addition to the newly unveiled Nobü line—a vibrator with heat sensors that are heat activated, causing it to vibrate at the touch of the hand, and to escalate as the heat rises.

“This is our brand-new line,” said BodiSpa’s Alain Elmaleh. “It has the features no one else has. We are really aiming for the next generation of toys. More elaborate, more sophisticated, cleaner package, less sexual innuendo, no naked women. It’s almost like an iPod box. We don’t even put in text anymore…we just use icons to tell what the item has for features.

The way it’s built, it’s filled with temperature sensors. When you turn it on, it has all the different programs, as man other vibrators on th emarket. As you click, you have 10 progrmas. If I stay pressed, it’s going to stop. Now it’s on temperature sensitvive mode, if you stroke it, the vibrations will intensify because the sensors will feel that it’s getting hot … It’s from the temperature, not the touch.

It has a motor in the back, so you can use the back and the front. The charger is magnetic and plugs into a USB port. They are shpping mid-February.

Cucci Condoms offers a light-hearted approach to the luxury concept. Created by three Jersey boys in their 20s, the product grew from a gag. “This guy had jokingly made a Louis Vuitton condom and was selling it for, like, $65 on the internet. It was fake, but we took the idea and made it real,” said Evan Bell, the company’s COO.

“We’re going after the youth—16 to 22—who want to wear designer everything. You know, everybody wants Gucci and Louis and Burberry. And we’re trying to make safe sex cool.”

Bell points out the four varieties in the condom line: regular, fruit flavored, jumbo and studded.

Added Carlos Ortega, the vice president of sales, “We also have Tushay toilet paper and Loui lighters.”

Bell explained, “This is a three-ply toilet paper, cashmere extract infused.”

Launched together with another partner, CEO Dan Trocki, about six months ago, the three men are already doing sales online and in regional adult stores. “We have hit pretty much every state back east,” Ortega said, explaining that now they are looking for a distributor.

Stephan of Sexy Battery is also in the market to expand geographically. Based in Paris, he was in the Luxury Boutique displaying his line of stylish batteries designed for adult stores.

“We made this different kind of battery that you could find for vibrator and sex toys. It’s a really great quality product,” he said, noting that its quality is comparable to Duracell.

“It’s working good—people like it because of the design. Because when they buy a vibrator, it’s a part of the gift. For every shop we have a display like this, for free,” he said, gesturing at an attractive countertop POP unit.

“We work in the battery business for 12 years,” Stephan said. “We saw that nobody else was doing this in the market.”

According to Stephan, Sexy Battery is carried by Eldorado Trading and Komar in the United States.

Other exhibitors in the Luxury Boutique also traveled from afar to promote their high-end pleasure products.

Karianne Ronning and Line Iren Andersen, co-founders of Laid, came from Oslo, Norway, with an assortment of elegantly crafted silicone cock rings, dildos and a brand-new vibrator. In addition to silicone, their booth also featured a real eye-catcher: dildos carved from stone.

Introduced in 2011 in the United States, the stone D.1 dildo was only available at Babeland but should be more widely distributed starting next month. The pieces are made from Norwegian blue larvikite. “That’s our national rock,” pleasure explained. “It’s a beautiful piece to look at but it’s highly functional. As a rock it’s not too heavy—you can work with it.  It follows the design of this [the D.1]. Every one is handmade so they won’t be the same. It has a great G-spot stimulation going on. As with this product [the D.1], it’s a little twisted in its shape and the head is asymmetrical. So the whole idea is, you just go in and you press and you twist—there’s no static in and out; whether you’re using it alone or with a partner you don’t have to think about what you’re doing—it just goes where it needs to go.”

The P.2 and P.3 cock rings and D.1 dildo have been available through Entrenue for a few years, and now Laid has some completely different items.

“The most fun product coming up is probably these,” Ronning said, gesturing to four small balls about the size of marbles (two shooters and two regular marbles). “Two are steel and two are magnetic, and the idea is that they’re small. … You insert them in a straight line, and then inside they come together to form a pyramid shape to squeeze around. You try to move them, and eventually you get them in a straight line.”

Even more of a departure for the small company, however, is the addition of a vibrating toy. “Finally, we are also coming with a vibrator,” Ronning said. “This is probably one of the most versatile clitoral vibrators out there. And that is largely because of the design.”

It’s certainly a unique design, resembling a small cock ring more than a traditional massager. “The true versatility comes from the shape,” Ronning said. “When you’re exploring and you find an angle, the intensity will vary just from moving it. You can use every part of it any way you want.”

On the other side of the hall, another European exhibitor can be found. The makers of Wake-up Vibe hail from the Netherlands, and they’ve come up with a brand-new function in the vibrator market.

“We launched the Wake-up Vibe two months ago in Europe. It was successful so far,” commercial director Chris Bakker said. “It has an alarm function so we can set a time … The vibrator, you put it in the pants during the night and tomorrow morning you will be woken up gently, and you wake up with a smile.”

The massager curves gently over the vulva and comes in three subdued colors (rose, lavender and sleek black). “You can use it as a manual vibrator anytime,” Bakker pointed out. “Just press it once and it starts to vibrate—motor is here—and you can switch from function and press it again and it goes off.”

The item is rechargeable as well. “It comes with four different plugs so we can sell it worldwide—all four are in here—and it comes with a blindfold and a storage pouch.” At present, Entrenue is carrying the Wake-Up Vibe; other distribution deals may lie ahead in the near future.

Distibutions deals are, of course, a major goal for exhibitors. ANE regular Nikki Yates of CB-X talked about how her company boosted sales for their cock cage, the CB-6000, once they decided to broaden their sales efforts.

“We used to have Stockroom and Extreme Restraints for years and years. And when we made the switch to start moving into brick-and-mortar stores we started doing these shows, probably four years ago. And thanks to these shows we’ve been picking up other distributors.”

At this show, Yates said, “We’ve been steady. I always have a good show with AVN. Any shows we do, we do well in and I think our product is just different enough … We also don’t sell at the shows that much. I do take a couple of orders here and there, but for the most part the shows are a great place for me to reconnect with our customers and show them what we have up and coming.”

Speaking of that, there is something new from CB-X: the evocatively named Points of Intrigue. “What they are is an add-on product to our current cages and these are being shipping the first week in February,” Yates said, demonstrating how the crescent shapes with raised points slide into place on the cock ring and add sensation for the wearer. They are partly designed for customers who have a tendency to slip out of the cock cage. “For those guys who are kind of just looking for something to hold it in place, the short point is good for that. It’s not super pointy … but it works to hold it in place and keep it in the cage,” Yates said. “For our fetish customer we have longer points and those are for guys who want to feel every erection they get and these are made so that they can use a longer spacer they can use two [Points of Intrigue] and make it super pointy.

“We used to have these on our first model that we came out with and they were always super popular. We’ve never come out with them for the CB-6000 and the U-ring design, and the customers have been clamoring for them for years now. These are finally going to hit the market.”

Another exhibitor with fiercely loyal customers is njoy. Company founder Greg DeLong, creator of the classic Eleven and Pure Wand steel pleasure objects, is a regular at AVN Novelty Shows. Like Yates, he draws energy from the social interaction.

Asked if he was tired from setting up the booth, Delong shrugged. “Now I’m fried on show. But it’s a good thing. It always happens—it doesn’t matter. Particularly here at your show, I meet people who are just interesting, and I end up talking from the minute I walk in here in the morning until the minute I crawl out. And then I keep on talking all night.”

Surrounded by his shiny creations, Delong enthused about the day. “I get so much energy from the people who show up, particularly here. It’s just a great mix of random people. It’s not about selling our products. Sure there are a lot of people who want to sell stuff. I don’t really care. I really don’t. I mean, I do. Of course. But it’s meeting new people that gives me so much energy. It’ll last me a long time, into the spring, of just the usual drudgery of running a company of any kind. Anyway, that’s what I always get. It’s exhausting but it’s energizing.”

Delong recalled one of the day’s many interactions. “So today I’ve met a women who’s a reporter for Silicon Valley tech stuff … and really seemed to know nothing about the so-called novelty business.” He pauses. “We don’t make novelties—that word is just fundamentally useless in what we do, and the better companies around.”

Delong didn’t further elaborate on his conversation with the reporter, but having had the pleasure of talking with the voluble sex toy designer, we can only imagine that at the end of her conversation she went away with much more insight into the pleasure product industry. And the end, Delong remarked, “She said that I made her day; I just made her happy.”