Thursday, February 26, 2015

Fifty Shady Shades of Shadiness

(Small children: Leave this blog. I know, you'd rather eat dirt than leave, but today
you'll just have to subsist on the memory of Tuesday's post. This is grownup talk.)

I was a henchman in the adult entertainment industry. I made henches.

You probably blinked when it happened.

Someone I know — why say who? — got the idea for an interactive sex toy. Marital aid, for you of a certain century. The idea grew into an empire, then fizzled before many (or any) products were sold. Or made. Or dreamed of.

Discreet, understated, mature …
Maybe some were sold, I'm not sure. You might have a valuable collectable if you own one, especially if unopened. Take it to the Antiques Roadshow and learn your fortune. If opened, ewww.

The initial idea — the only possible tangible product — was a shaving template kit (left). Yeah. Ewww.

See, you're four steps ahead of me already, realizing why this is interactive. Shaving shapes into the target body hair by yourself is impossible — probably — and melancholy.

I was the illustrator/graphic designer/copywriter for this fleeting empire. I blew the smoke and adjusted the mirrors.

The cat became the de facto mascot, though I worked on several logo iterations for what was supposed to be the parent company, Erotic Body Arts. It was to be a dot-com, all online.

Helping shepherd this project was really. Really. Fun.

I even began designing Web pages for this thing.

While it lasted.

The act of creation was completely unfettered goofiness. We didn't have to meet any sort of standard or cater to anyone's expectations. If we could make ourselves laugh while conjuring it — and maybe make loved ones cringe — we claimed success.

Most of the templates for the proposed shaving toy remained in our oversexed minds only. I think only the heart shape had been turned into an actual usable object.

Get it? Clever, huh? Huh?
Supposedly product testing was going on somewhere by somebody. I'm told this product worked, though I don't see how.

But the brains of this particular outfit didn't wait to bank on the initial product before dreaming up more stuff, none of which materialized.

The empire would have comprised a shaving kit for men (I'll spare you the unsubtle visuals), deluxe shaving kits that would have included electric shavers, body paint, (some) casual wear, (one kind of) underwear. I think the business model was to plumb consumer interest, then make the products. I'm not sure about the wisdom of such a model, never mind the legality.

Nonetheless, each product had an official number in the inaugural and final catalog. And each, you can see, had its own Web site. Or was going to, anyway. Probably.

Here's a little (coff! coff!) smoke. Lemme move this mirror a skosh.

I think the body paint could have worked. The templates seemed like fun. Nothing became of it, of course.

Even if made, most of the products seemed unworkable. This was all buildup, no follow-through. It was all packaging and presentation, a 21st Century Pet Rock™®. Take the shaving template instructions, for example:

The whole thing was designed on purpose to be wordy and unwieldy and ridiculous. The joke: That something so silly would require users to unfurl a big sheet of instructions to work something that really didn't need instructions.

The instructions themselves looked like this:

The joy of sex here is all in the mind, the reading of this schlock. Next to it was a chart for each template shape, a users' guide if you will, which looked like this (enjoy, particularly, the zeitgeist):

It was all. Just. So. Stupid.

Which is probably the point. Their value would have been their mere existence more than their utility. Buy for your partner, buy for a bridal shower. Have a laugh. Maybe try it. Doesn't work? Oh well, that was fun. Let the package gather dust in the nightstand behind the tissue box and the stack of Reader's Digest.

Erotic Body Arts gathered dust as well, or became dust. The monied interests — if any real skin was in the game to begin with — lost interest. It's all so much phantom cyberspace linking to nothing. Fun while it lasted.

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