Adult Trade Show Newbies

MiddlesexMD began with a business plan I wrote for my Masters in Medical Management program at Carnegie Mellon University. Its essential proposition — offering women over 40 the information, advice, and products they need to sustain good sexual health as they age — is all there in my original paper.

Taking a business from paper to reality takes a lot of work, and skill, and putting in hours doing things you might not have ever pictured yourself doing. But in this life, a woman’s got to do what she’s got to do to get it all done. Right?

I was lucky enough to find the right business partner, a woman I like and respect who has impressive business credentials, is reaching midlife herself, and understands the need for better information for women of our generation.

So when she suggested, early in our business planning, that we head to a trade show for sex products, both to shop for appropriate products for menopausal women, and to learn about the industry, I took a deep breath, and swallowed hard. She knew it was the right thing to do, and I knew she knew what she was talking about.

So off we went to the AVN Novelty Expo in Los Angeles.  Three days of product and toy makers hoping to entice buyers from all of the big sex stores and distributors. Thousands of people familiar with the trade and the spectacle and the atmosphere of the Los Angeles sexpo… Plus the two of us: A gynecologist from the Midwest and her friend, the corporate exec.

We stayed close to each other as we breezed past the signs suggesting we had to be over 18 to enter the show. And, you know how it is, waiting for your eyes to adjust when you’ve walked into harsh lighting after being in a low-lit room? At first you blink a lot, but before long you can make out where you are?

I suppose going to this show for the first time was a bit like that. We spent the morning blinking, remembering to breathe, feeling a bit jumpy. But after a while, our agenda kicked in.

What surprised us more than anything was the prevalence of really poor quality products made of questionable materials, with no warranty, yet made to be used inside the body. As a doctor, that’s a little hard to see.

But among all the thorns there were really great products too, ones designed with health and durability and a great experience in mind. And products with smart, dedicated people standing behind them. We  found all of those that we could.

By the afternoon it was easy for us to cruise down those aisles and aisles of multi-colored, throbbing, bobbing, moist, flavored, leather-covered, studded, and hinged things, to find the exact products and people we needed to meet.

-- A guy who developed an organic line of glycerin-free and paraben-free lubricants because his wife was allergic to everything on the market.

-- The woman from the UK whose target market was menopausal women, her products developed to function exactly as we need them to.

-- Companies whose sexual aids are designed by thoughtful designers, in beautiful, tactile materials. These aren't toys. They're objects so lovely and well-made anyone would want to own them.

My partner was right. We did need to see that show. We learned what we needed to know and found what we needed for the store faster than we could have sitting at home with our search engines.

We have pulled together a really nice collection of products, spanning price ranges and functions. We'll be able to show you the results of our shopping expedition in April, when the site is ready. Meantime we'd love to hear your questions, advice, and experiences in finding and using the products that work for you.

3 Responses


July 06, 2015

I appreciate your attention to safety and construction of these toys. I’m glad you attended the expo on behalf of all of us.

Joan Price
Joan Price

July 06, 2015

I hope you’ll tell us more aobut the “beautiful, tactile” products.

Can you also warn us away from the harmful ones?

I look forward to reading more!

Joan Price

Author of Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty

Join us — we’re talking about ageless sexuality at


July 06, 2015

The trick is to find the right product that works for you, but also one that is the right bang for the buck. My first experience was with Emotional Bliss. I spent a fair chuck of change on the Womolia. I was eager to try the product once it arrived, however toys of this caliber have to charge for a few days before you can use them. The Womolia turned out to be extraordinary. Even pre-peri, I’d never experienced results such as those achieved with Womolia. So it was disappointing when, after a month with little use, the vibrator died. I sent it back and got another one for free, and had the same experience. Still, that line of toys is technically fantastic. And perhaps the glitches have been fixed? I swear by the G-Twist or G-Swirl by Fun Factory. It hits all the right spots for the over-40 set and the quality and longevity of the product is exceptional. I’m looking forward to see what products you have chosen to stock and sell!

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