At the Gizzmotic Lounge in Fort Wayne, Indiana, a roadside billboard advertises: "Trucker's Rate. Cable TV. Coin Laundry."
On a Friday night this spring, the billboard didn't mention "Ben Wa Balls," "Old Man Condoms," or "Pina Colada Nipple Drops," but those items were available within too.
It was slumber party night.
Melody Gordon, the local rep for Slumber Parties, Inc., was hosting a kinky klatch, and more than 75 Fort Wayne women had packed the Gizzmotic to inspect her offerings.
Gordon's inventory didn't include stuff like black leather masks and long whips. But even Dennis Rodman might have been intrigued by the anal beads, a "string of pearls" to stimulate the prostate ($9 for small, $10 for large).
Gordon stood in front of a fireplace at the center of the dimly lit lounge and softly described some of her products. She says she always begins a party by talking about creams and lotions, then follows with the bedroom accessories. Her best-selling cream is Between the Sheets ($8.50), which makes cotton sheets feel like satin.
"And Lickety Stiff is very popular," she said. "You massage it into a male genital and it gives them heat. Like women have heat." Lickety Stiff comes in cherry, lime, and vanilla at $10 for six ounces.
The party wound down with gift and novelty items like the Old Man Condom, a tiny prophylactic. Most of the women at the bar held the unbreakable toys gently, and gingerly passed them around the room in a circle.
"I always tell my clients about each product," Gordon said later in a businesslike tone. "I tell them what it does for them and what it does for him. The most time consumed is getting the order made. A lot of people want to talk about their personal life."
A slumber party can last as long as three hours. When this one was over, dozens of women approached the bar to buy accessories from Gordon, forming a long line that snaked around the room.
"This is not like Chicago, where there's shops," she says. "Maybe there's a couple here, but women don't go to shops in Fort Wayne. Even when they're with their man, they're uncomfortable. I thought about getting my own shop, but if I did that it would be impersonal. I like things on a personal basis. I give my opinion to my clients, and they abide by it because they know I know what I'm talking about."
A Fort Wayne native, Gordon once worked in a factory that made in-ground swimming pools. She's taken Dale Carnegie courses and has sold lingerie and yes, Tupperware. Two summers ago she and a friend discovered Slumber Parties, based in Milford, Ohio, and Gordon had a new job.
She usually holds her women-only parties in private homes on weekends, though occasionally she'll schedule one in a public forum like the Gizzmotic. A bartender asked her to host this one, and she says it's likely she'll do it again sometime this summer. She did take Mother's Day off to spend time with her three sons and granddaughter. But she generally works year-round, and she's already booked solid through midsummer.
After the party Gordon loaded up the backseat of her 1986 Grand Am for her next gig, in Antwerp, Ohio, 45 minutes away. She packed away the flavored lubricants, the lotions, and the Precious Gem Collection ($42), a box filled with a seven-inch vibrator, oil, and a menacing-looking giant silver bullet. "I know what it's for," Gordon said as she shyly glanced at the bullet in the gift box. "But I don't know if I can tell you." I found out later--it's for "internal vaginal stimulation."
There are close to 200 items on the Slumber Parties order form. I asked Gordon to pick one that was guaranteed to work. "Ex.T.Cee," she said, lickety-split. "It heightens a woman's orgasm, it makes them more intense. It's gonna help her, anyway." An ounce of strawberries-and-cream or cream de menthe Ex.T.Cee sells for $7.50.
The slumber party is really just a Tupperware party for sex toys. After all, it's important to keep a relationship fresh, too.
"It gives me the sense I'm doing some good for somebody," says Gordon. "And it is enhancing their sex life. Everybody needs that."
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Melody Gordon, left/ dislpay photos by Lloyd DeGrane.