Dildo Storage and Quality-of-Life Orgasms at Good Vibrations' Headquarters
|A typical Good Vibrations cubicle.|
For over three decades Good Vibrations has been a Bay Area pillar of sex positivity. With three chic, welcoming local stores - one on Valencia, one on Polk, and another out in Berkeley - these days Good Vibes it synonymous with helpful health info and community involvement. Talking about this beloved company also conjures up images of sleek, stylized dildos, high-end butt plugs, and beautifully displayed vibrators.
Maybe that's what makes it so strange to walk into Good Vibrations' headquarters. Based out of an unassuming, unmarked industrial spot in SOMA, the Good Vibes offices sit on top of a first-floor warehouse full of sex toys. As I began my tour early last week, Marketing Director Steven Duncan lead me through the rows upon rows of cardboard boxes: unassuming from far away, despite being filled with thousands of condoms, scores of romantic gift sets, and enough tubes and bottles to lube up all of San Francisco.
|Who wouldn't want to be a sex toy acquisition manager?|
Upstairs the Good Vibrations offices look just like any other too - at first glance. Pay attention to the details and you'll spot the bright pink vibe with the pink fluffy tale perched like a trophy on top of a filing cabinet, or the poster featuring Good Vibes cooperate staff members dressed up as naughty pirates to advertise the release of a high-budget porn flick. Like the stores themselves, the atmosphere here is friendly, laidback, and well-lit. At her desk, one employee organizes free events (like next Friday's talk on multi-orgasmic sex) while down the hall customer service representatives field questions on everything from merchandise to basic human anatomy.
|The ultimate frilly vibrator.|
Legend Carol Queen, who also heads the Center for Sex and Culture, and Sr. Director of Merchandising Jonathan Plotzker join us in the conference room to talk about what it's like to work behind the scenes at Good Vibrations. With 30 people currently here at the SOMA office and potential plans afoot for opening a new store, things look good for the company despite the recession. Good Vibes' success reaches beyond their shops though, says Queen. Because of their influence on the industry, they can foster erotica by encouraging small publishing presses, or push manufacturers to make higher-quality sex toys.
|Inside the Good Vibrations warehouse.|
As for life here in the offices -- one story up from the mother load of adult entertainment products -- Duncan says walking in the first day on the job and spotting a dildo on a coworkers desk can be jarring. "Eventually its just a product," he admits. "You'd be amazed how mundane this work can be." It's the customers who keep the Good Vibrations staff on their toes. "We get everyone," says Queen, "from regulars coming in for condoms to old women who tell us they want to buy a vibrator before they die." While Good Vibes may never put the "trench coat stores" out of business - those road-side supermarts of blow-up dolls and discount porn - the staff here seems confident they fill a very different role. They're part of the community, as Queen puts it, "making the world better one orgasm at a time."
|The Good Vibes staff pose as pirates to promote porn.|