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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Hollywood Taps Good Vibrations' Antique Sex Toy Collection for Hysteria

Posted By on Thu, Sep 1, 2011 at 10:00 AM

Seriously old school -- the "Magnetic Massage" vibrator by Son-Chief Electronics Inc., circa 1930.
  • Seriously old school -- the "Magnetic Massage" vibrator by Son-Chief Electronics Inc., circa 1930.

It's fun to remember sometimes (all the time?) just how different San Francisco is from the rest of the world, a fact that moviemakers unsurprisingly utilize when it suits a new project.

This fall, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Hugh Dancy star in a quasi-indie film called Hysteria, a Victorian-era romantic comedy about the invention of the vibrator and its fascinating use in the treatment of a "disease" called hysteria. (It's shorthand for "Women feeling emotions is unnatural and should be socially shunned and treated.") A treatment for this condition? Orgasm.

In need of some inspiration and some images of vibrators that your great-grandmother may have used, the film crew turned its attention to San Francisco's friendly neighborhood sex toy store, Good Vibrations.

Since its founding in the 1970s by Joani Blank, the small chain of stores and mail-order service has maintained a collection of hundreds of vibrators, according to Good Vibrations staff sexologist Carol Queen.

"They range in age from the 1890s all the way through the early 1970s, many of them very much vibrators of their particular moment in historical time. You can really see the design of the 20th century go by when you look at the collection," Queen says.

The producers of Hysteria asked Good Vibrations for photos of items in its collection, which store spokesperson Camilla Lombard says will probably be featured somehow in the film's opening or closing credits.

Some of the oldest vibrators in the collection run not on electricity but by a hand crank -- "like an egg beater," Queen says.

"There's a crank handle on the side of an item that, when it's turned, causes the whole thing to shake very fast, which is essentially vibration," she says.

Good Vibes was good enough (sorry) to send along some photos from its collection.


The "Barker Universal" vibrator by James Barker Inc., circa 1904.


The "Chic Electric Vibrator" by Morris Struhl Inc., circa 1910.


The "Chic Glorifier" vibrator by Morris Struhl Inc., circa 1950. (We think this is reminiscent of this Star Wars droid, don't you?)


The "Fighter" vibrator, Model F-10H, by Teranishi Electric Works Ltd., circa 1970.


The "Gilbert" vibrator by A.C. Gilbert Co., circa 1933.


The "Type A" Hamilton Beach vibrator, circa 1902.


The "Miracle Ball Grip Massager" by Miracle Electric Co., circa 1950.


The "Shelton Deluxe-Wayne Vibrator" by Shelton Electric Co., circa 1906.

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Dean Schaffer


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