Truth In Advertising

This comic is a completely true story, except it was less Josh yelling at a Brookstone employee and more me and my wife making fun of all the vibrators masquerading as “personal massagers” on their shelves.

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If you start on the left side of the “massager” section, you see some plausibly legitimate, semi-medical devices. There are some big, sturdy pieces of machinery with multiple rubberized contact points contoured to the shape of the human spine. As you move to the right, it’s like the evolutionary chart of the vibrator. They get smaller and more cylindrical, lower power (more buzzing and less percussing), more ergonomically shaped for one handed use and more focused on stimulating a specific, conspicuously vagina-sized area. The packaging also shows less and less people making the “OUCH! My back hurts!” face and more of the “I’m having a glass of red wine, taking a hot bath, then laying a towel down over my good sheets,” face.

Of course, if you look at it from right to left it just seems like ladies are demanding more and more cumbersome and industrial erotic implements. It’s like the tiny ones on the right are for humans and the multi-pronged jill-hammers on the left are for bears and rhinos and to aid in the collection of bull semen.

In reality, people have been using personal massagers to get themselves off since their inception and some clever marketing person just decided to start designing them towards their actual use rather than their intended purpose. Still, the cheeky box art, exploding with innuendo is rather amusing.

Speaking of bang-machines, have you seen the trailer for Hysteria? It looks pretty great as far as lady-gasm based films go.

COMMENTERS: What’s the silliest “this is totally a vibrator” item you have ever seen in a store? When’s the last time you saw a product advertised as one thing that was CERTAINLY supposed to be used as another thing? Are “massagers” the only industry that does this? Why can’t we just sell vibrators on regular store shelves next to the tupperware? People need to keep their leftovers from spoiling and they need to get off.

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86 Comments

  1. You're not seriously asking if massagers is the only industry that does this. I mean, you are aware of all of the "tobacco" products, sold in record stores – for some reason – for the purposes of smoking "tobacco."

    When was the last time you saw someone smoke tobacco through a bong?
    And while I'm at it, why hasn't anyone made a vibrating bong-dong?!

    Reply
    • Google "beaver bong" (nsfw) If you didn't already guess.

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      • Wow, talk about hot boxing.

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    • At a festival a while back I saw a stall selling gas mask bongs as fancy dress. Saw some guys using them that night, when they took the mask off they looked like theyd been pepper sprayed.
      http://www.grasscity.com/us_en/gas-mask-bong-seal

      Reply
    • A local radio station recently had a DJ promoting "Pete's Smoke Shop." I thought, "Okay, that's probably not a head shop–more like a tobacconist." Then he said, "Steve and Don will be there tomorrow from five to eight giving glass blowing demonstrations." ….OH.

      Reply
    • yea……. but marijuana is illegal, unless you live in a place where sex toys are illegal a vibrator should be called a vibrator……..

      Reply
      • Sadly, sex toys ARE illegal in Alabama so better to have a marketing strategy that lets you sell them everywhere.

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  2. I had a situation once where I saw something that was clearly a vibrator and then found out that while I was correct, it was being used for a medical purpose and not as a hoohah doodad. A buddy of mine screwed up his hand and had to do all sorts of physical therapy to get it back to normal, and he wouldn't tell me what one of the exercises was. Turns out he had to take a vibrator (one of the classy, eggshell white, only vaguely phallic ones) and massage his wrist and hand. Turns out the tip was supposed to make it focus the vibration on the injured spot. He had to go buy it at the local sex toy store…

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    • "No, really it's for my hand, I got a doctor's note and everything."

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    • I'm a secretary at an acute rehab hospital. Imagine my giggles the first time I was asked to order one for use by the therapists.

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  3. What about "massaging" shower heads, they should just call them fuck sprinklers. Imagine the male equivalent, kind of horrifying.

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  4. The N64 rumble pack. At least now we know that that middle prong on the controller was designed for.

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    • The Wii controller comes with a silicone "skin", and it can vibrate too. You just have to find the right move in the right game…

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      • Or, get a Bluetooth dongle for your PC and a little free program called GlovePIE (which among other things lets you control your mouse pointer with a wiimote, if you can be arsed to program it to do such). One of the basic pre-built code banks for it is a four-step variable force feedback simulator.

        Another one makes it blink like a Cylon.

        (If you're clever, you can make them both work at the same time.)

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  5. Electric Toothbrushes. Either end would probably be enjoyable.

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  6. I recall that there was some hubbub over the Harry Potter Nimbus 2000 toy that vibrated.

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    • Yep. Something to the tune of "I bought it for my eight-year-old but my teen enjoys playing with it too, apparently! Although we seem to go through a lot of batteries."

      And the award for least aware mother goes to…

      Reply
    • Great googily-moogily…that is so wrong….

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      • Wow to the "user reviews" there! Not to be missed.

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        • The "Tags associated with" is also worth reading. 😀

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    • I love that they just come out and call it a "Masturbator". Maybe I haven't spent enough time looking at the marketing of sex-toys, but I can't recall seeing such a literal title on one any time in recent memory…

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    • I totally have this vibrator. A friend bought it for me as a gag gift, but I don't really use it (not very powerful).

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    • OMFG hilarious!!

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  7. Josh is totally going to kill that guy with a vibrator. What a way to go…stabbed through the eye with a vibrator…

    Reply
    • I think there was a gay pr0n/horror movie where that happened…I don't remember the title.

      Reply
      • Vibrate me to Hell

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    • @ bipolarbear

      I love that you assume Josh is gonna stab the dude in the eye with that. That salesman is gonna suffer the death of a thousand prostate massages.

      Reply
  8. Online Brookstone does refer to them as "Intimate Massagers" and says they will be discreet in their delivery. It doesn't appear they are trying to be secretive. At least online.

    Well, actually, it says they will be discrete in their delivery. They might mean by that if you order more than one, they will be delivered separately. (Discrete – individually separate and distinct.) Sigh. So few companies realize how much they need a copyeditor.

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  9. Beat me to the N64 rumble pack – but how about the Wii Remote? Or overclocked vibrating mobile phones 😀

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  10. REZ for the PS2 came with a vibrating pack that pulsed in time with the action on the screen. It was certainly used for other things as well. Link NSFW.
    http://www.gamegirladvance.com/2002/10/sex-in-gam

    Then there was the Harry Potter vibrating broom as well. The little girls liked it a little bit too much.

    Reply
  11. I'm trying to think of where I saw it, but it was one of those traveling massaging mats you could put on your desk chair/etc.

    Sounds innocent sure, but there were…uh "zones" that could be activated independently for massaging a specific area. You can guess where the zones where located.

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  12. Please Hijinks…please add a random button. The comic is A grade, the content is witty, you have a fancy b******, and I was so enthralled I read the entire thing in a day. But a random button just makes it nice and easy for a quick refreshing laugh :)

    Reply
  13. I prefer hoohah doodaddies myself.

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  14. I like that you brought back Brookstone Guy, quality good sir, quality!

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  15. In most cases, stores that use "massager" are trying to be discreet about it, but in some areas, they can't be sold as sex toys.

    I know it was like that in Texas for a while, might still be. Instead of dildos, stores sold "education models" supposedly for use in teaching safe sex. There was also a law that you could own them for personal use, but only up to six. More than that and it was considered that you had intent to sell sex toys. The law was weird though (hey, it's Texas, and I can say that as a native), because you couldn't call a dildo a dildo, but you could sell "non-realistic" dildos and vibrators, plus butt plugs were OK, because there wasn't a law against putting a sex toy up your butt.

    There've actually been cases where people doing the modern day version of a Tupperware party by selling racy stuff (though actually quite tame compared to what you can buy online) from a catalog intended for such parties have been arrested in their own homes because the police found out and went undercover to bust the illegal activity. Prositution and other crime can be running rampant, but let's assign an officer to invesgate those awful people who are helping women get off for fun.

    Reply
    • "Prostitution"?

      As in "those awful people who are helping men (and women) get off for fun"?

      Reply
    • In some areas of the south Dildos used to be sold as "Novelty Cake Toppers"…

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      • Now that's a reason to have a birthday party !

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  16. It's times like these I think of how the vibrator was created… Victorian doctors thought practically any ailment a woman had was "hysteria," so the doctor would help "relieve" their hysteria… but their arms got tired after doing this a few hours a day for dozens of patients, so they created a machine to do the work for them. TRUE STORY.

    Reply
    • A story so true that I linked to the movie about it in the post! :)

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    • Makes me wonder how different history would've played out if chicks weren't so weird about "flicking the bean" back then.

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      • Weirdly enough, the "treatments" for "hysteria" were not thought of as having anything to do with sexuality. No one really considered "hysteria" to be anything other than a medical condition with a medical treatment. All the doctors and their patients knew was that there were certain symptoms (lethargy, depression, physical weakness, etc) attributed to this mysterious condition, thought to be caused by the uterus strangling the brain. The symptoms which were "cured" by…well, vigorous massage of the lady parts.

        Of course we can look back at the whole situation nowadays and say, "Well damn, these 'hysterical' women just needed to get laid instead of being barely touched and/or periodically raped by their husbands."

        Final note: There is an excellent play dealing with this topic called "In the Next Room; or, The Vibrator Play" by Sarah Ruhl. I highly recommend it.

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      • Well-to-do, religious people might have been weird about masturbation, but poor people of all stripes have pretty much always been comfortable with sexuality. It's all we've got, man. It's all we've got. <sobs>

        Well… maybe except for Catholics.

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  17. Tickle Me Elmo. My parents got it for me when I was 14 or so, a White Elephant xmas gift. That bastard got me off when I was hitting puberty.

    Aside from that, I remember *really* liking riding my aunt's horses as a kid. not just the horse's movement, but the horn of the saddle rubbed something rather pleasantly. And you thought little girls were all sugar and spice.

    Can we have a mention of the Shake Weight?

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  18. I guess sitting on a washing machine set to full spin just isn't good enough for some people.

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    • not everyone has their own washer. and I'd imagine it's a bit awkward going to the laundry mat for that….
      (also, pricy, those quarters add up)

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  19. I'd just like to say that "multi-pronged jill-hammer" is a turn of phrase that needs to see more use.

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    • I concur. Joel, you have a way with words.

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  20. I have to call BS on the second panel.
    Since it's been well documented that Josh doesn't know what the lady bits looks like, how could he possibly identify the quotation marks as winking vaginas?

    I remember these little fingertip vibrating doodads they sold on TV for a while, completely straight faced and sincere that they were for giving yourself and others a better back message/sooth muscle aches/etc. After a while, they disappeared from TV, fast forward a year or so and another brand is advertising(on late night TV this time) the identical product, now specifically for the only use it could possibly be good for.

    Reply
    • I'm sure Josh had ordinary sex ed like everyone else. Oh, wait, i forgot, we don't do that in Texas schools anymore. Might give the little tykes ideas.

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      • Not to worry. A few rounds of US Football and those ideas will knocked right back out again.

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    • Josh thinks vaginas look like quotation marks. Duh.

      Should I expect my No-Prize to come Priority Mail or UPS?

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    • Someone probably explained it to him after he was confused by Torchwood: Miracle Day.

      Oh wait, we all were.

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    • I remember those finger things my mom had a set

      oh god oh god mental scaring

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  21. Awesome post, Joel, but you should have written: The packaging also shows "fewer and fewer people" making the…..

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    • But he is not referring to the quantity of people rather the likelihood that they are behaving a certain way

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  22. I remember a friend of mine went to "Consumers Distributing" to buy a back massager for his mother back in the 80's when we were in high school. The store was sort of like mail order, you looked through a catalogue, gave them the item number,and then they brought your order from the back. This was the quintessential pointy white "wand" that would even be in tv commercials where the model would run it down her arm.
    Anyways when he looked at the package, he realized what it was, turned bright red but still paid for it, and then threw it in the garbage.

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  23. Since it leads to a larger variety of vibes in increasingly more convenient places, I'm willing to overlook the ruse.

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  24. the Hello Kitty Neck Massager it fooled no one

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  25. My favourite was a vibrating rubber duck that was sold as a waterproof personal massager. In fairness with that one I think the "ruse" ended abruptly when you discovered it was called "I Rub My Duckie".

    At which point I just *had* to buy one for my girlfriend.

    Reply
  26. This ruse may occur less here in the UK, where I have been to many a joke or gadget toy shop that just have quite blatant "adult" products out on the shelves without any disguise (or maybe its just where I've been shopping…)
    I remember a fuss about a phone app called something like "Pussy Cat" that simply kept the phone vibrating non-stop, supposedly "to mimic the purring of a real cat", wholesome family fun that couldn't possible be used for anything else…

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  27. One of the ladies in my office was hosting a Tupperware party and invited all the other women from the office to attend. The only other guy in the office expressed interest and was invited also. (Me, not so much.)

    Fifteen minutes into the party my colleague was disappointed to discover that the Tupperware was genuine Tupperware, and not battery-operated super-happy-fun-time "tupperware".

    He spent the remaining three hours of the party trying not to reveal his disappointment.

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  28. Fixating on "winking vaginas" for the rest of the day.

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    • So…a normal Tuesday then?

      Reply
  29. The "massager" market does this for the same reason that you can buy "decorative vases" that look an awful lot like bongs – it's illegal to sell the actual product so they pretend it's something else (it's just that selling vibrators is only illegal in some states – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_toy#Legal_issues

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  30. My mom loves those things. I mean, the ACTUAL back massagers and using them for their labeled purpose. The problem is, she always gets the gigantic knob-ish looking ones and leaves them casually strewn about her house. I distinctly recall sitting down on the couch, feeling something uncomfortable poking me in the ass, reaching down and pulling out a gigantic Roter-Rooter type deal.

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    • You forgot to add the word "allegedly using them for their labeled purpose".

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  31. The most hilarious one, that I've seen, was on a home shopping channel. I couldn't sleep and nothing is more boring and sleep inducing than home shopping tv.

    Anyway, there was this 'massaging pillow', which had a compartment in the side with a detachable, battery powered 'vibration unit'. So you could remove it to wash the pillow or use it to massage cramped muscles. They almost got me with that ruse, if it wasn't for the medical cream colored 'vibration unit' that for some reason was exactly shaped like a vibrator, with narrow tip and everything..you can't explaint that!

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  32. When’s the last time you saw a product advertised as one thing that was CERTAINLY supposed to be used as another thing? Are “massagers” the only industry that does this?

    Q-Tips have a warning on every box NOT to put them in your ear. They give examples of use for "Q-tips® cotton swabs are great to use on minor cuts and bruises". Bruises? Wha-? Do I rub it or-?? You know that They know that the majority of people buy q-tips to clean their ears, but they can say "but look at all of these other uses! We warned them not to use it in their ears. We can't be held responsible if they puncture their eardrums."

    (BTW: Love my Don't Be a Space Dick sketch in my UFE:AE)

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  33. Sonic Screwdriver? There's a reason Companions stick it out through thick and thin.

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    • My god, how has that thought never crossed my mind before?
      and WHY isn't there a Sonic Screwdriver themed HooHah Doodad?

      I'm a guy with no use for one, but just knowing it existed would make me so happy (especially if it made the sound while vibrating).

      Reply
      • I know at least half a dozen Doctor Who fangirls who would be ALL OVER that. It needs to happen.

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  34. There used to be (and maybe still is) a toy marketed for LITTLE kids called the "bumble ball" which was a vibrating toy with spiky lookin' things on it. This was marketed as a toy for TODDLERS. It was pretty clearly "My Very First Vibrator" to anyone who ever really looked at the thing but I guess the deal was that you turned it on, set it loose and it moved so quickly that toddlers would have fun chasing it… .http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bumble_Ball

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  35. There was just a show at a local theatre called the Vibrator Play (essentially "Hysteria" for the stage), and the theatre had a Hall of Vibrators. You got to see the evolution of the vibrator from its inception up to the current day. I was really hoping at the far end would be a little cylindrical dinosaur wiping his face and saying something quippy like, "Eh, it's a living!"

    Reply
    • I saw that play! Totally awesome. The long, messy process of the female orgasm has never been so brilliantly done as it was onstage with two hundred people watching and laughing nervously. (Also: The Chattanooga vibrator, for the prostates of those lucky few "hysterical" men. Awww yeeeah.)

      And yeah, the early vibrators were downright scary, especially when you consider that electrical appliances were still in their infancy and were actually quite dangerous to use. There was no "home model" for several decades because of the risk of a loose wire inside the device causing electrocution. Yeesh.

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    • You mean they did not have an example from The Flintstones TV series?

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      • No! It was such a let-down.

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    • Saw that play as well. Not badly done, overall. I somehow missed the hall of vibrators though!

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  36. Anyone ever heard of the "Hitachi Magic Wand"? It's over a foot long (or around 35 cm for the rest of the world), with one large bulb at the end. It has 2 speeds, plugs into the wall, and it's sold by WALMART (check their website, it's there), recommended ages 55-64 for females…
    It got recommended to me purely for "off the label" usage, and I think most of them are not sold to people over 55 looking for back muscle massage

    Reply
  37. On a serious note, the best (genuine use) back massager I got was one of the impact massagers from Brookstone. Looks like an electric T-bone. Best. Massager. Ever.
    It just happens that it stay plugged in to the same outlet as the Hitachi Wand 😉

    Reply
  38. Ever heard of a “Squiggle Wiggle Writer”? Nuff said.

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  39. They are UNIVERSAL massaging devices! Leave the company alone! *starts weeping*

    Reply

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