Two women break barriers in not-so-average house parties, with toys
by Kailan Kalina
Seven women are gathered in their hostess’s living room on a Friday evening. The drinks are poured, and they’re eager for a night in with the girls. But right now they’re playing a game. Imagine a version of “hot potato.” Instead of using their necks, the women pass the item to the left between their legs—only using their legs. This group of friends is made up of Pilates fanatics, so the maneuvering of limbs and pelvic muscles is not lost on them.
The item they’re passing is made of silicone, it’s double-headed, and it’s a toy. A special adult toy, one that might work in tandem with their skills in contorting their bodies—and may come in handy later.
Tami Dean is instigator of the erotic fun tonight. She has brought other products of similar nature, as well as bath & beauty items. She and her pal and business partner Christy Ruse are the masterminds behind Covet Parties, a company providing “private, upscale events for in-home sales of romance-enhancing products,” or in regular language, purse parties with dildos and lube.
Though Ruse is not in attendance at this particular party, she says when the two women work a party together, their presentation has the vibe of two DJs on a morning show, feeding off of each other and urging giggles and full-force cackling from the party guests.
“At the beginning of every party I introduce myself as ‘Tami Dean, the Sausage Queen, out of Eugene.’ You have to put the pauses in there so they can catch up!” Dean says.
This sense of humor helps combat the awkwardness and uncomfortable tension that can arise with the topics of sex and the human body. Dean says she’s so hilarious she’ll have guests shooting drinks out of their noses in shock.
“Sometimes our games get someone running to the bathroom or to grab their asthma inhaler,” says Dean.
But not every woman is comfortable with playing such games. Covet takes this into consideration by offering hostesses a choice among Plan A, B or C for the structure of their party. Plans A and C are for women; however, those who want games incorporated into their evening will opt for Plan C. Plan B is designed only for couples and games are not played.
Mary Jensen has been a faithful client of Dean’s since her previous job with Pure Romance, one of the biggest providers of woman-to-women selling services of intimacy enhancers in the United States. She couldn’t imagine going through anyone else for parties of this kind. Jensen and her friend co-hosted a Plan C party together with a Halloween theme at the end of October.
“Tami is so much fun that honestly, she could host a bologna party and I would probably attend that too!” says Jensen.
Dean’s personality may be key in what keeps clients like Jensen coming back for more. But when Dean or whichever consultant is running a party explains the purpose of their company, she says, that usually eases the guests’ awkwardness.
“We’re trying to enlighten and give knowledge. Once you know what stuff is, you’ll know what’s right for you. I don’t have to sell you anything,” Dean says.
Dean’s demonstration continues from her slightly naughty self-identification to explaining the functions and features of their products, what Covet is all about, her place in the company and why she decided to launch it last May. The guests listen as they pass around samples of the best-selling items, smelling and tasting bath and beauty items. Though it is a company policy not to pass around any toys, a couple women were eager to get closer look at a vibrator—but of course without the benefit of testing it out.
Sure the intent was to deliver adult products to those looking to spice up their love lives without disturbing them. The two started out with an abundance of products, but their health standards started to get in the way. What they found made Dean and Tami cringe with disgust.
“We started with one product that was full of petroleum, so we went to go find something to replace it, and that had mineral oil. We didn’t want that either,” Dean says. “Our entire line went down to almost nothing because everything had those ingredients.”
They say that customers are their number one priority, and the Covet team refuses to sell what they deem as unhealthy items. They would rather have a smaller selection of items that are good for their customers and going to work.
“There are so many things our there that are so bad for you and they’re being sold constantly,” says Dean. “The U.S. does not put any guidelines on what is sold. They’re allowed in the country as long as they’re labeled a novelty, like a toy.” According to an article in The Daily Beast, sex aids have become more available in the United States. For example, some lubricants and even “electronic massagers” that were only obtainable through magazines are now being sold in drug stores.
Now, all of their products are organic and contain no parabins, mineral oils and preservatives. After Dean explains this to the women this evening, every one of them shells out some money for one of these healthy lubricants. Throughout the remainder of the evening the guests are invited into a separate ordering room one-by-one to get hands-on with the products and make purchases. At the end of the night, Dean is satisfied to come away with a couple hundred dollars in personal profit, but the compliments she received have her even more giddy.
“One of the party guests came into the room and we were talking about specialty products. She informed me that she was a gynecologist, and she goes, ‘I love your company, I love your products and you guys are changing the face and landscape of this business.’ And now, we’re meeting next week to talk about her maybe signing on with us,” Dean says.
Covet Parties is also LGBT friendly. Any and all are welcome, regardless of orientation, and their product choices reflect this. Dean says that she has had several parties where transgender women or female couples have attended.
“The great thing about Covet is it really isn’t gender specific,” says Jensen. “It’s just toys made for adults to have fun.”
Both women recruit others to help them with the business, including a silent partner, who is humble and always insists anonymity. She edits catalogues and any print ads, and contributes with an open-mindedness and black-and-white manner of business. Dean and Ruse are glad to have several consultants with different skills, including Micky Wagner, their ultra-persuasive recruiter, and Michelle Lyons, who Dean says will have a woman booking a party in the blink of an eye.
“I’m just taking in different girls and making them the pillars of our foundation,” Dean says. “They’re helping build it, and it’s going to help them in their own business too.”
Dean compares the development of Covet to other companies selling products in-home and has hope that interest in her own company will grow as people are exposed to it.
“We kind of look at it like if you knew how big Mary Kay was going to get, would you have wanted to be the very first consultant in your area – the answer would be yes,” she says. “You see a very slick, organized company because they started with baby steps.”
Covet was launched on barely $200 and continues to thrive on small chunks of money here and there, sometimes pulled from their personal budgets made in their jobs at Dean’s resale store “Little Black Dress.” But the struggle is all a part of the process. Now, as the business continues to grow, Ruse calculates that they run an average of 3-5 parties per consultant each week and drive up to two hours away from the Eugene area to lead one. They hope to start recruiting consultants from across the country and eventually work towards a warehouse and office close to home.
“It has been a push,” Dean says. “It’s squeaking but we’re rolling, and each day it goes a little faster.”
The Dangers of Sexual Aids
In an article from Psychology today, fertility/sex educator Pamela Madsen discusses the dangers of one of the types of chemicals that are often found in adult novelty items. She highlights Phthalates in particular, which include different types of chemical rubber softeners, and have been said to be a carcinogen by the FDA in the United States. They are used in the production of plastics and are also an ingredient of items like nail polish, paint and adhesives. The possible ramifications of using sexual aids with these ingredients could be obstruction of infant genital development or sperm production.
Andrea Neblett reported for Quality Health on research that was conducted on Phthalates, revealing that they contribute to half the weight of the sex toys that contain them, which were seven out of the eight they tested. This data was published in The Greenpeace-TNO report. Disturbingly, the government gives products such as these the title of “novelties,” therefore the business of sex toy manufacturing can regulate itself with no agency to stop it.
To avoid harmful materials and elements such as Phthalates, it is recommended that people only use toys that are made of hard plastic, glass, stainless steel and acrylic.