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“Magic Mike XXL” opens in theaters this week across the country. When the sequel was confirmed last year, it invoked memories of hot men, ridiculous dialogue, and petty theft.
It was late fall 2012, and the first film had just come out on DVD. My sister Lisa and her roommate Liv decided to host a viewing party at their apartment in Northeast Philadelphia. She blanket-invited a group of our friends in their mid-20s on Facebook. More than 15 women RSVP’d “yes.”
Due to the overwhelming interest and burgeoning guest list, Lisa decided to make the event more than a girls’ movie night with chips, dip and Pinterest cocktails. She thought it would be fun to up the ante, and co-branded the event as a sex toy/viewing party.
It would be the third sex toy party I’d ever attended. Sometimes referred to as “passion parties,” I went to my first one senior year of college in 2009. I drove to a friend’s house in Northwest Philly, where her friend Amanda was our hostess for the night.
After drinks and light snacks, we jumped into party games. One woman led the group in Sex ABCs, racking up points in between screams of “Clit!” and “Hand Job!” Then, Amanda distributed pamphlets to the room full of 20 tipsy women.
She took us through the various items, while I shyly flipped through the pages, listened to the ladies trade product reviews, and sipped my Coke and rum. When it was decision time, we walked downstairs and made our purchases discreetly in the basement.
It was Amanda’s “I’m going to become an elementary school teacher and want to shed this side business” sale. I made off with strawberry-flavored lube and a pocket vibrator for less than 25 bucks.
Three years later, and a couple of months before my sister’s event, my best friend hosted a party. More than 30 ladies poured into a second-story duplex and drank boxed wine. The consultant was wild, the guests were raucous, and the party was a ton of fun. (You make fast friends when you’re in a cramped space touching elbows with strangers and passing around vibes disguised as mascara and lipstick tubes.)
When Lisa decided to host her own sex toy party six months later, she reached out to her female co-workers for suggestions.
It’s estimated there are tens of thousands of consultants in the United States, and there are several well-known companies in the industry.
One colleague had recently attended a SexyTyme party (not the real name). She referred my sister, who called the company and booked a representative for her upcoming get-together.
The party took place on a Saturday in November. Friends started filing in around 6:30 p.m. The plan was to have the sex toy party portion in the evening, and then watch the movie afterward.
Angel was the name of our SexyTyme consultant. She was scheduled to arrive at the apartment at 7 p.m.
In retrospect, three things were amiss from the beginning:
1. She arrived late. Angel showed up 30 minutes past the scheduled time following a round of phone tag. When she arrived, she gave us a big smile and blamed bad directions, and we didn’t question her. (In fact, we probably apologized she had such a hard time finding the place.)
2. She had next to no products. Angel had a small sampling of products on hand that included lip balms, love lotions, and one or two pocket vibrators complete with busted batteries. For a sex toy party, she came up short on goods of the cock-shaped variety.
3. No one could get ANYTHING that night. This was the first sex toy party I attended where no one left the event with a purchased item. We were told everything would have to be ordered and delivered to us at a later date.
While she lacked in toys, Angel distracted us with games and prizes. We played passion party standards like Sex ABCs and learned new gems, like hot potato with a dildo, where you would hold it between your legs and transport it to the person next to you using only your leg muscles. When the music stopped, the female holding it was out. (Side note, I won! #HumbleBrag)
Friends continued to stop by throughout the night, excited to escape the cold and in need of a laidback night in. With drink in hand, guests found a spot on whatever couch, chair, or ottoman they could, and joined the party.
After everyone loosened up and had a couple of drinks, Angel distributed catalogs and talked about different products. She handed out some packaged items and dead BOBs (battery-operated boyfriends). From there, partygoers went into Liv’s bedroom one-by-one where Angel was collecting orders. I was working two part time jobs at the time, but wanted to be a good guest; I ordered lip balm and lube for less than $20 and handed over the money. Another friend paid in cash too. And as aforementioned, no one got any merchandise they bought that night.
Angel left around 9 p.m. She said she was on her way to another party in the area, which seemed late, but we didn’t ask questions. We put on “Magic Mike” and finished out the night.
A week passed. No one received her order from the party.
It was into December now — maybe shipping was delayed because of the holiday season? We waited a couple more days.
My sister then sent a group message to the 10 of us who placed orders. Because Facebook never forgets, I was able to pull it up:
Hey Girls!Liv and I wanted to give you the official update from our sex toy party…
A couple of days after we placed the orders, Angel called me to follow up. Apparently Liv’s items weren’t covered by our “hostess discount,” so Angel needed her to pick out new items for free. About a week later, Liv contacted Angel and let her know she wanted to drop the order altogether. Angel didn’t respond. A couple of days later we still hadn’t heard from Angel or received a package, so I emailed her to follow up…no response. We decided to take further action as a result.
Liv got in touch with the corporate headquarters, SexyTyme, and I contacted the woman who referred me to Angel. At first, everyone was really cooperative and helping us get products/answers. Unfortunately, that was short-lived. Liv and I are so sorry that we have to put everyone in this situation, but we don’t know the status of our orders.
Since most of us were charged, it may be in your best interest to dispute the charges or cancel your cards if you feel it necessary. Please monitor any credit/debit card info that you gave that night because it is becoming more and more likely that we were scammed.
We are really sorry, but will provide more information when we get it.
Thanks,Lisa & Liv
The Facebook thread was active for hours afterward. Angel’s full name was on display on our gift receipts, so we Googled and found her Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram profiles, all public. You could scroll through her profile photos on Facebook, most of which featured her and her children with loving captions written underneath.
The group sent new information to each other daily. One by one, the ladies cancelled their debit cards and disputed the credit card charges.
One friend filed a police report, and a few others made complaints to SexyTyme, which still listed Angel as a consultant on their website. (They told us she left that past May and didn’t seem too bothered that a former employee was using their name to pilfer unsuspecting partygoers).
My friend and I who paid in cash were out of luck, and we declined to file our own reports. Thankfully, everyone who paid with a card and disputed the charge successfully received her money back. As far as we know, Angel made off with about 60 bucks and got off the hook, legally speaking.
My sister and her roommate were obviously mortified by the ordeal, but no one harbored any resentment. The situation bonded all those involved, as only a bizarre scenario like that could. I watched the original “Magic Mike” this past weekend with two friends/party attendees, and told them about my nostalgic essay.
“The time we were scammed?!” they asked, mixed with equal parts laughter and lingering disbelief. I thought back to Angel during the second party game — watching us scream as we excitedly passed around a limp dick while she controlled a stereo dial, and the ridiculousness of the moment.
I’ll be a little older, a little wiser at the next sex toy party I attend. Thankfully, my love of hot, sweaty men on the big screen never waned during this time.
I was in attendance Wednesday night for the midnight showing of “Magic Mike XXL” to cheer on Channing Tatum and crew. It’s the best therapy I can think of, really.