As has become traditional in ETO’s December and New Year issue, editor Dale Bradford gazes into his crystal ball and predicts what the following 12 months might have in store for the adult sector…
* After its 2015 success with Motorhead, Lovehoney starts the year by bringing out another collection of vibes based on a band – the Official ABBA Collection. There are four vibes in the range and consumers are urged to buy the complete set as they are designed to buzz in harmony together.
“We’re not just plucking random names out of the air and putting them on sex toys,” explained Lovehoney’s Richard Longhurst. “There’s a lot of thought going into these concepts. Like Motorhead, ABBA is a seventies band that was never ‘in’ fashion at the time so it’s never gone out of it, and our research suggests there is a huge market for products which tap into this decade. People who were born in the sixties have an affinity with the seventies because that was their formative years, and subsequent generations have grown up with the iconic cultural reference points from the period. With the right products, the seventies can be a rich seam to mine.”
* Clive Gore finally retires after 45 years in the industry. Scala Playhouse charters a 747, which has been specially customised for entertaining, to hold Clive’s retirement party. At Clive’s request, the pilot takes the party on a complete lap of the world, stopping only for refuelling. As he gets off the plane, Clive says to ETO: “Now that’s what I call a send-off. I’m finally ready to retire after that. I’m looking forward to just putting my feet up now and watching aeroplanes.”
* After worldwide success with Womanizer, Orion announces another new pleasure product. The company said in a press release: “Our new Oops I Did It Again delivers multiple orgasms without touching the clitoris. Instead, the orgasm is triggered by a small nozzle in the head which blows a gentle stream of air onto the clitoris.”
* After a public row on social media with Ann Summers CEO Jacqueline Gold, over who wears the sexiest underwear, Theo Paphitis – the former owner of La Senza, star of Dragon’s Den, and current owner of the Boux Avenue lingerie boutiques – tweets: “It’s about time Jacqueline had some serious competition on the High Street. She’s had it all her own way for too long in the sexy shops sector. Moregasm? Snoregasm, more like!”
* Following its success with its Horny Hilary blow-up doll, Pipedream announces it is to release a Dickhead Donald model. “I didn’t actually want to do this,” sighed Pipedream CEO Nick Orlandino, “but with all the mainstream media coverage our Horny Hilary is getting we thought we should create this model in the interests of political balance.”
Inspired by presidential candidate Donald Trump, the Dickhead Donald doll uses real hay for its absurdly coiffured hair, through which a large penis protrudes. The wording on the box is too rude to repeat here.
* “We Buy Any Sex Shop,” announces a full page ad in the March issue of ETO. The ad continues: “Adult retailers! We want your shop and we’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse – call this number now and have your latest sets of accounts to hand. Complete confidentiality assured.”
* Lovehoney announces it is to launch a range of officially licensed Fawlty Towers vibes. “We’re taking the essence of the characters that people love and distilling them into a vibrator,” said Lovehoney’s Richard Longhurst. “The Basil has a random function, so it’s a bit unpredictable, and the Sybil has a solar powered backup battery, so it gives users a continuous drone of vibration without interruption.”
* After ‘Celebrity Come Dine With Me’, ‘Couples Come Dine With Me’, and ‘Come Dine With Me Abroad’, the producers of Channel 4’s long running TV series attempt to wring the last drop out of the flagging franchise by launching ‘Industry Come Dine With Me’, where leading figures from the same business sector eat in each other’s houses. To kick the new series off with maximum publicity, the first episode is to features the bosses of UK sex toy firms.
* Fledgling business We Buy Any Sex Shop announces that it has acquired the Pulse & Cocktails and Nice ‘n’ Naughty chains of adult stores. “They’re both brilliant businesses in their own right but combining the two and adding in our retail knowhow will create fantastic synergy,” said a spokesperson for We Buy Any Sex Shop.
* Donald Trump condemns Pipedream for creating the Dickhead Donald. “I’m far more handsome than that monstrosity,” he thunders. “And I haven’t got a dick growing out of my head – that accusation is completely unfounded.”
* The sex toy episode of ‘Industry Come Dine With Me’ includes Ian Marshall of Rocks-Off, Richie Bowles of Creative Conceptions, Tony Gonzalez of Net 1on1, Tim Hemming of ABS Holdings, and Mike Wallace of Darker Enterprises. The first four evenings go well but on Mike Wallace’s night Tim Hemming gets into an argument with the host.
“Bloody hell Mike,” Hemming says. “You’ve got this fabulous big house and you’re too mean to buy a bottle of wine for your guests. What kind of cheapskate serves tepid tap water at a dinner party? You’re not Scottish by any chance, are you?”
Visibly offended, Wallace counters: “Well maybe if I was as posh as you I’d be able to throw money around like it’s going out of fashion.”
Pushing around the food on his plate, Hemming says: “Me, posh? You’re having a laugh! I’ve never eaten such exotic fayre before. What do you call it? Moussaka?”
“I beg to differ – I know you’ve eaten moussaka before because you’ve bragged about having it in one of those fancy restaurants where you have to book in advance,” says Wallace, rising to his feet and pointing angrily at Tim. “And you’ve become very posh over the last few years. Look at you – your idea of dressing for dinner these days is wearing a powdered wig and painting on a beauty spot.”
Hemming responds: “Oh that’s rich, coming from the grandest man in the industry. The man who wears a salmon pink kilt with a mink sporran. When I asked where your downstairs toilet was, you told me it was next to the bloody gift shop.”
* Lovehoney announces it is to launch a range of officially licensed Steptoe and Son vibes. “We think these products will appeal to everyone from hipsters to grungers,” said Lovehoney’s Richard Longhurst. “Did you know the series was voted 15th in a 2004 BBC poll to find Britain’s Best Sitcom? As with our Official Fawlty Towers Collection, the vibes’ mechanical personalities accurately reflect the source material, so the Harold is aspirational with one or two superficial affectations and the Albert can best be described as a dirty old man.”
* We Buy Any Sex Shop announces it has bought the London branches of Harmony and Soho Original Bookshops. “For the time being, every store under our umbrella will retain its own identity but we’re currently considering how the whole can be stronger than the parts and become a dominant player in the UK retail landscape,” said a spokesperson for the company. “Things are really taking off now.”
* Donald Trump is so cross with Pipedream that he puts a bounty on the head of every Dickhead Donald doll. He promises to pay his supporters $20 for each one they destroy. All they have to do is email him a picture of them alongside the wrecked doll and their reward will be paid straight into their PayPal account.
* The ETO Show opens its doors but Mike Wallace is late arriving at the Darker Enterprises stand. “My car broke down,” he explains to his colleagues. “My 1972 Mini Clubman is usually pretty reliable but my clutch has gone. Of course, if I was as posh as that Tim Hemming I’d be able to buy something newer.”
Also at the show, Tim Hemming is refused entry by the venue security team. “They said I was dressed like a hobo,” Tim said to Kate, after borrowing a mobile phone to call her. “If only I could afford to dress as grand as that Scottish dandy, Mike Wallace.”
* Orion uses the ETO Show to launch its new Baby One More Time. The firm said in a press release: “Our new Baby One More Time delivers multiple orgasms without touching the clitoris. Instead, the orgasm is triggered by a small speaker in the head of the device, which plays a recording of the sound of someone whistling.”
* Following rumours of disappointing sales for its Official Steptoe and Son Collection, Lovehoney announces that it has shelved plans to produce an On The Buses range of vibes. “It’s a global business and we’re a global company,” said Lovehoney’s Richard Longhurst. “Our mistake was to think local – but we’re rectifying that with our next launch. Watch this space!”
* We Buy Any Sex Shop announces it has added a dozen more retailers to its portfolio, including Saints & Sinners, Scandals, and Clonezone. “We’re always looking to acquire other successful retail businesses that can add value to the group,” said a company spokesperson.
* Demand for Pipedream’s Dickhead Donald increases due to the publicity Trump’s ‘Destroy the doll’ campaign is receiving in the mainstream media.
* We Buy Any Sex Shop announces it has added another ten stores to its portfolio, including Erotica Belle, La Boudoir Boutique, and Lovecraft. “We’re cruising ahead with our plans,” said a company spokesperson.
* Due to mass production economies of scale, Pipedream is able to reduce the retail price of the Dickhead Donald doll to just $10, allowing everyone who destroys one to double their money – and thus causing sales to multiply exponentially.
* Topco introduces new in-store POS for its Farrah Abraham range of products. The lifesize model of the reality TV star – best known in the UK for her explosive rows with other contestants on Celebrity Big Brother – uses state-of-the-art technology to address customers who walk by a display of her branded products without making a purchase. “What’s the matter, can’t you afford me?” the POS sneers. “Or do you think you’re too good for me? Is that it? Hey, I’m talking to you…”
* Lovehoney announces the launch of the Official Happy Days Collection of vibes. “Come on, you remember Happy Days,” Lovehoney’s Richard Longhurst prompts the assembled media at the launch. “Sing with me… Sunday, Monday, Happy Days! Tuesday, Wednesday, Happy Days! Thursday, Friday, Happy Days! The weekend comes, my cycle hums, ready to race to you…”
* We Buy Any Sex Shop announces it has added a further nine stores to the group, including Prowler, Taboo, and Easy Tiger. “We’re ahead of schedule and we’re continuing to pick up speed,” said a company spokesperson.
* The US economy enjoys a boom, through so many people cashing in on the Dickhead Donald ‘double your money’ phenomenon, and Trump’s popularity soars throughout the country.
* Doxy Massager unveils its latest product – the Doxy Cricket Bat. “It seems people want more power from their wand massagers, and bigger might indeed be better,” Doxy’s William Garland told ETO. “And for the record, yes, this is considerably bigger than Pipedream’s Mega Massager.”
* We Buy Any Sex Shop announces it has bought the Simply Pleasure chain of stores. Former owner Tim Hemming said: “If the shops had been able to provide me with a lifestyle as grand as Mike Wallace enjoys, maybe I would have kept hold of them.”
* Pipedream unveils its Super Mega Massager, which is several inches larger than Doxy’s Cricket Bat.
* CalExotics announces it is developing a new version of its ultra-realistic Super Model doll. “The Super Model Resentful Wife is so lifelike that it asks the user if he’s put the bins out and done the washing up before it will have sex with him,” said a CalExotics spokesperson. “If the doll’s speech recognition unit thinks he’s lying, the vagina’s self-locking mechanism is activated and only the sound of a vacuum cleaner being put around the house for five minutes will open it again.”
* One of the most talked about product launches at eroFame is the new I’m A Slave 4 U from Orion, which is claimed to deliver multiple orgasms without touching the clitoris. “Instead, the orgasm is triggered by a series of small holes in the head of the device,” an Orion spokesperson said. “These release the scent of a builder washing his sweaty genitals with carbolic soap.”
* Also launched at eroFame, the Doxy Telegraph Pole. “If I’ve got one thing to say to my competitors, it’s this – don’t bring a knife to a gunfight,” said a bullish William Garland on the Doxy stand.
Unfortunately the eroFame hall has to be evacuated after the Telegraph Pole prototype is turned on and its vibrations shatter windows and cause cracks to appear in the floor. “It might need a bit of fine tuning, but Girl On The Net is going to love this,” enthused Garland from the safety of the hall’s exclusion zone.
* We Buy Any Sex Shop acquires the Private Shops chain. While selling copies of The Big Issue at Romford railway station, Mike Wallace declined to discuss the sale, saying only: “Have you ever wondered why ABS do so well with posh sex toys? I hadn’t put two and two together before now but it’s because Tim himself is so posh. He probably sells them to all his posh mates when he’s on the golf course.”
* Orion decides to withdraw from sale its Womanizer, Oops I Did It Again, Baby One More Time, and I’m A Slave 4 U products after receiving a strongly worded letter from a US firm of lawyers. “Someone snitched on us,” said an Orion spokesperson in a press briefing. “And now they are asking us to pay to be an official Britney Spears licensee. We haven’t got that sort of money, we’re not Lovehoney. Actually, thinking about it, I bet it was them who grassed us up – that’s off the record, obviously.”
When this accusation was later put to him, Lovehoney’s Richard Longhurst was shocked and appalled: “I’m shocked and appalled,” he said. “That’s an outrageous accusation. If they thought they had legal issues before, they ain’t seen nothing yet. Neal, summon m’learned friends…”
* Ann Summers CEO Jacqueline Gold uses an interview with ETO to launch an impassioned plea to the trade: “Our business is being hit by We Buy Any Sex Shop,” she says. “They have become so big that they’re snapping up all the best Christmas deals. We are left with the scraps. I never thought Theo Paphitis would go to these lengths, just to settle a grudge.”
* Donald Trump is sworn in as the 58th President of the United States of America. During his inauguration speech, British Prime Minister David Cameron sidles up to the guest of honour, Pipedream CEO Nick Orlandino, and says: “Do you think there might be some mileage in a doll of me which twerks? You see, I’ve had this slogan I’ve been wanting to use for years – Labour isn’t twerking…”
Orlandino shakes his head, fires up his iPad and shows Cameron the artwork for the next inflatable doll Pipedream has scheduled for release – Spoon Faced Etonian Twat. “It doesn’t twerk but it comes with a free blow-up pig’s head,” Orlandino explains.
* Following protracted discussions, Orion and Lovehoney settle their differences: “It was all a misunderstanding,” they say in a joint statement. To demonstrate the amicable relationship the two companies now enjoy, they decide to stage a goodwill football match on Christmas Day. Both companies are keen to emphasise that the game is just a friendly and the result is of no consequence.
During the match, Lovehoney’s recently recruited warehouse supervisor Wayne Rooney gives them an early lead but Orion’s experienced sales and marketing manager Bastian Schweinsteiger levels the match in the second half. After a goalless extra time, Orion wins on penalties.
* ETO is granted an exclusive interview with the CEO of We Buy Any Sex Shop at its headquarters close to Heathrow Airport. As editor Dale Bradford is shown into the magnificent boardroom, which boasts a panoramic window overlooking the main runway, sat waiting for him is Clive Gore.
“I was expecting Theo Paphitis,” gasps an astonished Bradford.
“Yes, I’m sure you were,” Clive replies. “Him having that row with Ann Summers was very timely as it allowed me to come in ‘under the radar’ so to speak. It turned out that I wasn’t ready to retire after all, Dale. I tried it for a couple of weeks but I got bored. For 2017, I’m thinking of going online too – have you got Bondara’s number handy?”