Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Dildo Storage and Quality-of-Life Orgasms at Good Vibrations' Headquarters

Posted By on Wed, Jan 28, 2009 at 12:17 PM

A typical Good Vibrations cubicle.
  • A typical Good Vibrations cubicle.
By Bonnie Ruberg


For over three decades Good Vibrations has been a Bay Area

pillar of sex positivity. With three chic, welcoming local stores - one on

Valencia, one on Polk, and another out in Berkeley - these days Good Vibes it

synonymous with helpful health info and community involvement. Talking about

this beloved company also conjures up images of sleek, stylized dildos,

high-end butt plugs, and beautifully displayed vibrators.

Maybe that's what makes it so strange to walk into Good

Vibrations' headquarters. Based out of an unassuming, unmarked industrial spot

in SOMA, the Good Vibes offices sit on top of a first-floor warehouse full of

sex toys. As I began my tour early last week, Marketing Director Steven Duncan

lead me through the rows upon rows of cardboard boxes: unassuming from far

away, despite being filled with thousands of condoms, scores of romantic gift

sets, and enough tubes and bottles to lube up all of San Francisco.

Who wouldn't want to be a sex toy acquisition manager?
  • Who wouldn't want to be a sex toy acquisition manager?

Upstairs the Good Vibrations offices look just like any other too - at first glance. Pay attention to the details and you'll spot the bright pink vibe with the pink fluffy tale perched like a trophy on top of a filing cabinet, or the poster featuring Good Vibes cooperate staff members dressed up as naughty pirates to advertise the release of a high-budget porn flick. Like the stores themselves, the atmosphere here is friendly, laidback, and well-lit. At her desk, one employee organizes free events (like next Friday's talk on multi-orgasmic sex) while down the hall customer service representatives field questions on everything from merchandise to basic human anatomy.

The ultimate frilly vibrator.
  • The ultimate frilly vibrator.

Legend Carol Queen, who also heads the Center for Sex and Culture, and Sr. Director of Merchandising Jonathan Plotzker join us in the conference room to talk about what it's like to work behind the scenes at Good Vibrations. With 30 people currently here at the SOMA office and potential plans afoot for opening a new store, things look good for the company despite the recession. Good Vibes' success reaches beyond their shops though, says Queen. Because of their influence on the industry, they can foster erotica by encouraging small publishing presses, or push manufacturers to make higher-quality sex toys.

Inside the Good Vibrations warehouse.
  • Inside the Good Vibrations warehouse.

As for life here in the offices -- one story up from the mother load of adult entertainment products -- Duncan says walking in the first day on the job and spotting a dildo on a coworkers desk can be jarring. "Eventually its just a product," he admits. "You'd be amazed how mundane this work can be." It's the customers who keep the Good Vibrations staff on their toes. "We get everyone," says Queen, "from regulars coming in for condoms to old women who tell us they want to buy a vibrator before they die." While Good Vibes may never put the "trench coat stores" out of business - those road-side supermarts of blow-up dolls and discount porn - the staff here seems confident they fill a very different role. They're part of the community, as Queen puts it, "making the world better one orgasm at a time."

The Good Vibes staff pose as pirates to promote porn.
  • The Good Vibes staff pose as pirates to promote porn.

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , , , ,

About The Author

Bonnie Ruberg

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook

Slideshows

  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"