At one end of the living room, a table holds bottles of soda, bowls of salsa and chips, and a platter of veggies. But the real focus of attention is a display of tubes and jars. They might be confused with ordinary moisturizers and cosmetics if it weren't for their labels: This is a "Passion Party," part of a growing trend: As hostess, year-old Rebecca will receive 10 percent of tonight's sales.
Forty percent will go to Kristen, a year-old blonde with a nose stud and a T-shirt that spells out her larger role: As in a good sensual session, "We'll start mild," Kristen promises, "and get progressively more wild. The demos are "Sex Toys ," Kristen explains later. Guests at most parties, she reports, aren't accustomed to talking about sex and would never shop at an adult toy store.
Shanna of Highgate has worked at Good Stuff, the Burlington adult toy store that used to be based in St. Rebecca volunteers that she needs a new riding crop, since hers broke at a recent fetish party. The topic comes up when Kristen pulls her own crop from her rear pocket. Kristen's stick schtick is designed to normalize a product that might make some guests uneasy.
That's not an issue with this crowd. Kristen, undeterred, explains that she'll be passing around sample lotions for the women to try on their arms.
To help them avoid confusing edibles and nonedibles, she recommends a mnemonic: The next product is Passion Powder White Chocolate, which comes with its own feather-tickler applicator and lets you "bring edibles into the bedroom without the mess," Kristen says.
Tell your partner you've placed the powder on five parts of your body, and there won't be any sex until he licks them all off. Then only apply it to four places. The guests nod knowingly. It's a startlingly specific image in a script that so far has featured only euphemisms and innuendos. Like every other aspect of tonight's program, Kristen's word choice aims to ease her audience into the hard stuff.
She introduces her next product, an edible gel called D'Lickious, with a warning: As we talk about vaginas, we'll now talk about penises. If you have a penis in your life, you have a second job. I mean a blow job. It's called a blow job because it's not fun," she continues. You'd rather be watching 'Grey's Anatomy. But reflecting on it later, Kristen argues, "It's not meant to be a slam on oral sex. It's to get people to laugh. When she reaches the vibrator portion of the evening, she lists three reasons why a woman should have one: Rebecca also endorses DIY satisfaction.
She was eager to host tonight's party, she says, because "I believe in being sexually independent and open. Before she became a Passion Party consultant, she'd never attended a sex-toy party, much less held a sex toy in her hand. After their daughter was born, she realized she wanted to stay home with her baby, not return to her office job. But they couldn't survive on her husband's bank-teller salary. That's when she happened to see a TV show in which two women attended a sex toy party.
Surfing the Web, Kristen stumbled on Passion Parties. Before she got into the business, Kristen wasn't a big fan of home sales parties. Now she's a convert. Private homes are the perfect place to buy sex toys, she asserts.
As she boasts on the "My Success" section of her website - http: That puts her ahead of 98 percent of Passion Parties consultants. Besides making profits from parties she facilitates, Kristen sponsors and trains other consultants. She earns 5 percent of their sales - and of sales made by any consultants her trainees sponsor. Most Passion Parties personnel aren't as successful. Kristen says she works 30 hours a week, splitting her time between training recruits and doing parties - two or three a week, mostly in northwestern Vermont and Charleston, South Carolina, where she has family.
Vermont women generally "giggle a lot less" than their sisters in South Carolina, Kirsten notes. Women here also tend to ask more questions, but "They're not asking, 'Where is my clitoris? The Bullet is primarily a clitoral stimulator; Kristen notes that 70 percent of women need such stimulation to achieve orgasm.
The Honey Bunny vibrator, with its clear silicone case, works simultaneously on the clitoris and the vagina. The soft plastic Adventure Arouser is worn on a belt for secret, hands-free stimulation - at a club?
The women pass the gadgets around, testing the switches and touching the buzzing parts to their hands and faces. Then Kristen pulls out the impressive, anatomically correct Jelly Cliterrific, "for women who enjoy girth and deeper penetration. But, unlike other vibrators, it moves up and down, Kristen notes.
Kristen rewards her with a swat of the crop. When the presentation is over, Sally gets a free tube of lubricant. While the women fill in their order forms, the conversation turns from toys to actual penises. Only 17 percent of products sold at Passion Parties are shaped like a penis, according to Kristen. Her own best sellers include a masturbation sleeve for men; a gel that promises to "wake up the nerve endings on your clitoris"; and the Lilac Elephant - a squishy ring that slides over a penis.
Its trunk tickles the clitoris while the little legs nuzzle the labia. For all their tough talk, tonight's guests order products that are on the tame side: Kristen goes out to her car and returns with red shopping bags filled with goodies.
With a job like this, is it hard to draw the line between work and play? She acknowledges that "I have felt more empowered in the bedroom. But on the other hand, it's my job.
What's more important is the financial success.