VR Porn And Smart Toys Are On The Rise, But Tech Will Not Replace People, Says The Sales Manager Of A Sextech Company
The manager of the Japanese brand of erotic toys TENGA talks about trends in sextech, but also about where the adult industry is moving.
If problems persis, please contact administrator.
Technology will never completely replace people. But it can help them find out what they like in sex, says Barbora Gorčíková. "Everyone can think what they want, but I think sex toys are about more than just making people orgasm. I believe that they can really help people."
Barbora works for the Japanese company TENGA, which produces erotic toys. The company has two brands: Tenga is aimed at people with penises and Iroha at people with vulvas. The company prefers a gender-inclusive label in communication, as their products are also suitable, for example, for non-binary people or transgender people.
They create toys that, at first glance, look neutral and perhaps even "innocent", they do not look vulgar and can be used in couple sexual activity as well as in solo masturbation. "Traditional vibrators and dildos that look like genitals are tacky in my opinion. People are often ashamed of them, they don't have a good impression of them," she says in an interview for Refresher.
Barbora is responsible for establishing business contacts, but at the same time she presents products not only to clients' employees, but also to the general public, for example at festivals. She goes on several business trips a year, to which she – naturally – travels with a suitcase full of vibrators and masturbators.
Your role includes mainly work in the B2B sector, what are you responsible for as a manager at TENGA?
I have been working as a sales manager for more than a year and I mainly meet with retailers. These are brick-and-mortar sex shops, e-shops with goods for adults, but also pharmacies and mainstream stores focused on cosmetic and wellness products. The content of my work is establishing and maintaining relationships with clients, negotiating terms of cooperation, but also product presentations and product training for employees of those companies.
In addition, I had the opportunity to present TENGA at fairs, festivals and conferences.
You go to fairs and conferences, travel around Europe and talk to retailers, but also to creators of adult content and gadget manufacturers. What sextech trends await us in the coming years?
From my point of view, there is great potential to combine the sex business with increasingly advanced technologies. For example, VR (virtual reality) may be more prominent in pornography, through which we will be able to watch pornographic content or play erotic games.
There is also a growing connection between VR and erotic gadgets – what a person sees on the video happens simultaneously with the stimulation using the erotic gadget. He can feel, for example, the movements he is looking at.
Today, various applications also offer a connection with an erotic aid.
Yes, we can connect the device to the app and use it to control, for example, a vibrator. It can also be used remotely, for example during a video call with a partner. However, there is a big risk, brands have to pay close attention to security and ensure that, for example, sensitive content that people exchange with each other does not leak out of the app. An example is a notification if one of the parties takes a screenshot during a call.
How does the provision of sexual services gradually change with the development of technology?
For example, there is a brothel in Berlin where you can have sex with a robot with artificial intelligence. In Prague, there is Naughty Harbour, also a brothel, where they offer silicone dolls.
You answered my question. Are we in danger of losing the human and personal aspects of sexuality, with more and more technology in the sex business?
At first glance it looks like that, it has several factors. VR is coming to the fore outside of the sex business, birth rates are falling, and when technology mixes directly with an industry that can have an impact on reproductive health, it's fair to wonder how far it can go. For example, in England there has already been a campaign against sex robots because they are not sure if it is ethical.
In the future, will we have sex mainly with robots or with toys connected to an app?
No, I don't think so. We all long for the touch and closeness of another person. Some technology may bring us to orgasm, but it will not be the same experience as when we are with another person.
What about Onlyfans, which has gained a lot of popularity in recent years? Does that also predict a future trend?
Yes, portals like Onlyfans put monetization back in the hands of content creators, not third parties like porn sites. Voiyal also works on a similar principle, where creators monetize their voice directly.
The co-founder of Voiyalu told us that trends in technology and media always translate into pornography. Many industries are dealing with sustainability today, are erotic toy manufacturers also doing this?
Clearly. Since erotic aids are more and more in the field of wellness, people also care about whether the products are sustainable. Especially in Europe, people want to avoid disposable products, some brands already produce from sustainable or renewable materials.
It should be added that various aids are also popularized by celebrities today.
For example, Lily Allen, who has her Womanizer stimulator design, or Demi Lovato, who teamed up with the Bellesa brand and has her Demiwand. Cara Delevigne is the co-owner of the Lora DiCarlo erotic accessories brand. I think it will be interesting to observe exactly how these products are popularised by celebrities despite social media censoring these products.
Zobraziť tento príspevok na Instagrame
Is the vibrator the new perfume? Every celebrity has to be in at least one ad?
(laughs) It seems to me that this already is the case with women. But on the other hand, I live in my own bubble, I watch online what I'm interested in... Well, it's only good. Thanks to this, the growing generation has a much more open relationship with sexuality.
Is it an advantage or a disadvantage for you at work that you are a woman and you also present products intended for male masturbation?
That is completely normal in our industry, I have already met men who present products designed mainly for female masturbation.
I recently had a bit of a problem with it. I was in England doing product training for several stores of our customer. It was about gay shops, so I presented only TENGA products. I had enormous respect for it, I was afraid of what they would think of me. That some crazy woman is here to show them how to use penis products. (laughs) In the end it was fantastic, we laughed a lot and it was very natural. I think that because I cannot try TENGA products on myself, I can speak about them very objectively, which is an advantage.
When you say that you presented the products, what do we mean by that? Will you unpack them and show how they are used on an artificial penis?
We have a demo kit that looks very sophisticated, it's nothing vulgar. Since we have a wide range of products, some are disposable, some are multi-use and so on, I show them the differences and functionality of each one.
As part of your job, you also attend various events focused on the sex business. We also met at one of these, during the pornography festival in Vienna. What are the general public's reactions to your products?
It was at the festival in Vienna that I met many people who had an open attitude towards sexuality. Some of them even knew TENGA. For me, it was beneficial in that I could see how people react to our products. But let's face it, this was a pretty alternative-oriented group of people who were sexually open and not afraid to talk about it.
On a slightly different note, I also participated in the Erofest in Prague, which was aimed at the end customer. That was very interesting for me, because there I also met groups with different sexual preferences, with different "kinks", so I also learned something.
Last month I was again at the XBIZ conference in Berlin, where it was only aimed at people who create adult content. There were many porn actors and actresses, people from Onlyfans or Voiyal.
Did you meet someone that our readers may have heard of?
There were people who work in Brazzers such as Danny D and Dick Bush, but also Inka Winter, director of films for producer Erika Lust. They talked about their work, their perspective on pornography, how marketing for adult content is done. It was a fascinating experience, because not everyone has such an opportunity.
Was there anyone whose work you follow?
There were well-known actors. (laughs) But I notice it more now, in retrospect, so when I look at something, I realize that aha, this girl in Berlin was explaining what kind of photos she puts on Instagram so that her account won't be deleted.
What does it look like when you come to present vibrators or masturbators to a chain of drugstores? Do they take it well?
Of course, it makes a big difference whether I'm talking to someone from a sex shop or a more mainstream store. With the mainstream, it's more of a challenge to communicate the benefits of them listing our products. But I think my communication style is serious enough that I am able to talk about it naturally and at the same time not give space to others to stigmatise or condemn it.
It did happen to me, that they didn't want our products out of principle, that is, because they generally don't want to sell products for adults. Another reason for rejection may be that their target group of customers is not looking for such goods, therefore it is not worth it for them to include it.
You have attended many events and often go on business trips. Is there a moment will you never forget?
I always carry all the products in my hand luggage, since they operate on batteries, so I have them with me. And very often it happens to me that they take my suitcase aside during inspection and look at everything I have in there. On one trip, the gentleman checking my luggage pulled one of our vibrating masturbators out of my suitcase and asked me what it was. So I told him and he timidly put it back. (smile)
You studied international business, was it your interest in business that brought you to the sextech industry?
In my bachelor's year, in addition to school and an unpaid internship, I was looking for a paid part-time job. Coincidentally, I found a position as a saleswoman in the Intimity Boutique in Prague. It is a sex shop with a wonderful concept, they are mainly focused on people with vulvas and sell very nice things.
There I got excited about all the brands that were on offer because they were completely different. Traditional vibrators and dildos that look like genitals are tacky in my opinion. People are often ashamed of them, they don't have a good impression of them. But these brands were about something else.
During that part-time job, I knew that if I was going to work in international trade after school, it would only be for one of those brands.
Did your parents or loved ones know about your interest in sexting?
Almost no one knew about my work in the boutique, except for my friends from Prague. They came to visit me there on weekends and I told them about the products. From the family, only my mother and grandmother knew about it.
From the beginning, I saw the potential in this area, I saw what liberation these brands bring. But at first I didn't have the courage to talk about it publicly like I can today.
Has it ever happened to you that one of your loved ones came to you after a while with the fact that after talking to you, they changed their mind about erotic toys or the sex business?
Definitely, and that's what I'm most proud of. I really enjoy talking to people about it, and I think I've created a bubble of people around me who are more open to talking about sexuality. And at the same time, they see me as a safe place, they know that they can talk to me about it. So it often happens that people come to tell me things that they wouldn't tell anyone else. I have already recommended several erotic toys, for example, as Christmas gifts.
The idea that the use of erotic toys is less valuable than sex with a person still persists in society. What do you think?
I think that is wrong. Everyone can think what they want, but to me sex toys are about more than just making people orgasm. I believe that they can really help people.
Erotic toys are very effective for a person to get to know their body, to know what they like. This is especially helpful in relationships between women and men, because women's sexuality is much more complex than men's, and women are often shy about communicating their needs.
In recent years, there has been an increase in films and series in which foreground human sexuality. The characters deal with it with respect, with curiosity and in depth. Since you work within the European market, do you feel that attitudes towards this topic have changed thanks to pop culture?
Definitely yes. We all watch Sex Education. (laughs) What I would have given if this series had been available when I was the age of the characters.
We see sexuality and orgasm as such becoming part of the self-love and wellness trend. It's great that it's getting the spotlight. Today, erotic aids toys can be bought in pharmacies, drugstores or e-shops with wellness and beauty products. I think we are on the right track.
Sex toys are part of the wider sex industry, which is still taboo, so these cultural changes may change that. So sex as a topic is at the forefront, but there is still censorship from above: we can't even write the word sex on Instagram, we write it as s€x, and that's a problem for the whole industry. Without such self-censorship, we can't even spread educational content related to sexuality.
If problems persis, please contact administrator.