Oct
29

Bringing sex toys to Chileans

Illustration by Ivy Bradley

Illustration by Ivy Bradley

Here in the states, at-home sex toy parties have been around for decades — at least since the 1970s — and feminist sex shops have been in existence just as long. But in conservative Santiago, Chile, these are novel concepts.

Jane Morgan, a young woman from Missouri, is one driving force behind a recent shift in Chilean sexual culture. During her college years at Washington University, she spent a semester abroad studying Spanish in Santiago. After graduating, she settled there in an office job… but her business-oriented mind came up with a side gig: throwing private sex toy parties.

Morgan had noticed that none of her chilena friends owned vibrators. To help them, she ordered an array of sex toys from German manufacturer Fun Factory and invited folks into living rooms to see them in person. These parties, modeled after Tupperware parties popularized in America, quickly became her full-time job — bolstered in part by mentions in the press. One newspaper headline gleefully read, “Call now! Home delivery of erotic toys has arrived in Chile.”

Early on, Morgan realized something that everyone in the sex toy business knows: her job was more than just selling sex toys, it was about sex education. Women felt safe at her parties to talk about their sex lives. They shared details they had never told anyone before. To better help them, Morgan began taking human sexuality classes at Centro de la Sexualidad de Chile.

Then, in 2010, Morgan opened a brick-and-mortar sex shop. She called it Japi Jane. From the start, she refused to call vibrators by their traditional but problematic Spanish name: consoladores (“consolers”). Instead, she opted for a straightforward descriptor: juguetes para grandes (“adult toys”).

Her stores — of which there are now three — stock a range of items, from toys to lube to “artsy, hipster porn.”

“The biggest moment of pride in my life was when I overheard a girl talking on the street, and she said, ‘My boyfriend bought me a Japi Jane.’ Now, it’s not a consolador, it’s a Japi Jane. It’s like Kleenex.”

. . . “Before, people used to come in here really embarrassed, wearing sunglasses, asking for me to throw the box away and put what they bought in a dark plastic bag,” Jane explains. “Now, girls come with their friends, take a picture with their new vibrator and post it on Instagram. People are not scared anymore, and that’s huge.”

Now Morgan spends her time running her sex shops, appearing on radio and TV to normalize and dispel myths about sexuality, and conducting workshops for the curious folks of Chile. Unsurprisingly, the people have a lot of questions about sex — and Morgan is there with her vulva puppet to answer them all.

She credits her easygoing nature for her success. “People get less embarrassed with me,” she says, “because I’m a gringa, I talk funny, and I’m just like a regular person.”

Read the whole story at Narratively.

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