Turns out you can make a party out of lovin’
The young women stream into a house in a college neighborhood and flop onto couches or the floor around a footstool hosting spinach dip and brie. A blender whirs in the kitchen, making margaritas.
Some giggle nervously, eyeing a closed, cutely decorated box on a small folding table that holds some innocuous-looking lotions and racy playing cards.
Waiting for the margaritas to kick in, consultant Becky Monmouth expertly breaks the ice. The Passion Parties philosophy is about women feeling comfortable with their sexuality—and using products from flavored lotions to sex toys to enhance their experiences, be they alone or with a mate.
“Laugh, giggle, throw dildos around—whatever you want,” says Monmouth, a 22-year-old Chico State University accounting major. “I take Visa, MasterCard and Discover.
“The only rule is, if it’s not on a Popsicle stick, don’t eat it.”
Monmouth’s delivery is confident, smooth and infused with humor. A Passion Parties consultant since May, she knows her product and she knows her audience.
Only instead of accounts payable and receivable, she’s talking about orgasms, “the wet spot” and masturbation sleeves. And the products she’s peddling aren’t just good, they’re “clit-o-rific.”
And, like the Pampered Chef rep who knows her pizza stone, Monmouth says, “I’ve tried most of them.”
Passion Parties have been compared to Tupperware or Mary Kay parties, getting mainstream press with coverage focusing on the sensual creams, oils and tamer bedroom “toys.” (Somehow, dildos don’t make the cut on 20/20.) Another of the handful of Passion Parties reps in the Chico area recently bought flier space in the Chico Chamber of Commerce mailer—way mainstream.
Passion Parties, Inc. was started in 1994 and is now led by Patricia Davis, who is in her 60s, married 43 years and espouses a philosophy of “women helping women.” Based in Las Vegas, the company boasts some 9,000 consultants nationwide.
The approach is more romance than raunch, targeting college girls, soccer moms and desperate-to-get-off housewives who wouldn’t be caught dead in an x-rated shop. The crass-free catalog refers discreetly to “C-rings,” but everyone knows what the “c” stands for.
That said, the recent Chico event is casually referred to as “the dildo party.”
Girls scrutinize catalogs as the hostess snaps pictures with a digital camera, warning guests: “Remember, everything is subject to MySpace.”
“The Bathing Buddy—that looks fun.”
“What about the Escalating Elephant?”
“I’m not into the Maxi Bullet—that’s kinda scary.”
“I have to get the love swing, girls.”
("I really want someone to buy the Chocolate Thriller,” Monmouth confesses. “It’s big, black and veiny. It’s a huge dildo.")
She’s held parties for all ages of women, including mom-daughter pairs who arrive embarrassed and leave toting brown paper bags. (All orders are placed and filled in private, at the end of the party.)
“The people who are the most shocked end up buying the most,” she says.
Monmouth starts by demonstrating the tamer products, first passing around what looks like a heart-shaped, plastic bag; a “Jelly Heart” massager that heats up thanks to a chemical reaction.
Then, the girls take turns applying various lotions and non-staining scented and flavored oils (Monmouth suggests having an “edible” and a “non-edible” arm). One lotion turns into a powder to combat chaffing. Others heat up. Another glows in the dark. One, which intrigues several of the girls, claims to desensitize the back of the throat and subdue the gag reflex.
Then it’s on to the pheromones, and more Popsicle sticks.
“I want you to smell yourself and smell your neighbor. Everyone smells different,” says Monmouth, a phrase unlikely to be uttered at any Tupperware party. “Don’t go into a place where you don’t want to meet men wearing this—it’s a sex attractant.”
“Shut up—that’s so cool,” says a guest.
After a short tour of lubricants and condoms ($7.50 for 10 flavored rubbers), Monmouth invites the girls to try out “passion gels” that create a heated sensation on the nipples, clitoris or penis.
Some reach down their shirts, tentatively applying the gel with one finger.
Monmouth invites the guests to take turns visiting the bathroom, where she’s placed a tube of the gel. “Come back and you’ll be kind of squirming around.”
At $39.50, Monmouth says, “we figured it out and it’s, like, 3 cents an orgasm.” A bargain at twice the price.
The sensations are a little much for some.
One girl sounds a little worried: “My nipples are on fire but I can’t feel my clit.”
Finally, the margaritas having taken effect, Monmouth opens the “toy box” and lifts out a fantastic array of multicolored, vibrating dildos. They jiggle merrily as the girls look on, wide-eyed. One goes off by itself, and Monmouth has to grab it and turn it off. Another lights up like a storefront at Christmastime. This is where Monmouth takes it up a notch.
“These are great beginner vibes,” she says, holding up a couple of harmless-looking pink and purple, slightly curved phalluses.
“Try it on the tip of your nose” she says of one, which includes an appendage to stimulate the clitoris.
Passion Parties also markets objects that, in a seemingly impossible feat, slip over the penis and look like a nubby teething ring. In a return to the 1970s-era of self-pleasure, there are also Ben Wa balls to insert in the vagina for fun on the go. There’s even a special adult toy cleanser.
The biggest laugh-getter is a vibrating tongue. “The best thing is, it doesn’t stop until you do,” Monmouth asserts.
Clit-O-Patra, with its rotating head and eight speeds, has a cousin: Pharoh’s Secret, whose “secret” has a little something to do with the back door.
Monmouth’s personal favorite is the Jelly Osaki, which she recently brought along on a trip with Chico State business students.
“When I traveled all the way to India, I took this bad boy with me. I said, ‘Customs can take anything they want. If they take my Jelly Osaki, it’s over.'”
For Monmouth, working her way through college, it all adds up.
She was first invited to a Passion Party last year. “I really didn’t think about it from a business standpoint until I hosted my own party,” she says. “I thought, whoa, you can make that much money selling sex toys and going to parties? Sign me up.”
Since her start in May Monmouth has become a top seller, grossing an average of $700 per party. She gets 40 percent of that, so with four to six parties a month she’s easily clearing $800 a month before taxes—enough to help keep a student afloat. Her mom thinks it’s cool, while her dad and stepdad would rather not think about it.
“From a personal sense, I just think it’s awesome,” says Monmouth, who has never felt nervous about public speaking nor sexual topics. “Passion Parties empower women sexually and financially.
“This is going on my résumé.”