I received a query at the end of February from a freelance reporter for the Portland, OR-based Willamette Week. The writer, Rachel Monahan, claimed to be on deadline for a long feature story about a sex toy salesperson — !!!

That sounded like a profile I’d definitely want to read, and Rachel was curious about “the trends with the porn industry’s decline and the sex toys’ industry rise.” (lots of assumptions there)

Since she was on deadline, I made sure to prepare some prompt comments for her. Unfortunately though, Rachel’s story seemed to disappear, but since I took the time to answer her questions, I thought I’d share them.

Still really want to read that profile. A sex toy salesperson? A modern day Fuller Brush Man, I bet!

Sex Toy Salesperson

(pictured: Google knows the Fuller Brush Man)


Rachel Monahan/WW: [M]y question: What do you make of that trend, [the porn industry’s decline and the sex toys’ industry rise]? What’s the best numbers to illustrate the decline of porn? And the rise of sex toys?

DrCT: Re sales stats, there are no available rigorous numbers available re shifting trends in sex toys and/or adult content production (or even general demographic captures describing various labor aspects of the adult entertainment industry). Any figure you read touting XX billions of dollars, etc etc was fabricated at its inception and is dated now.

If you want hard numbers on sales, you would have to contact a manufacturer/producer or retailer directly and request their sales figures. This would not give you any insights re the rest of the industry though.

But your general observation – that porn content is declining and sex toys booming – is not inaccurate. You can see this in shifts in the community that have occurred over the past 3 – 5 years in particular.

Porn is declining for a number of reasons: proliferation of Internet piracy and consumers flocking to tube sites populated with stolen content are one reason. Related, sustained stigma about sex from wider society – regarding everything from dismissing sex work as *not* being real work (it is) to judgment and shame surrounding sex practice in individual lives – continues to marginalize workers in adult content production. Put simply, there is a complex synergistic social relationship existing between porn and society that is contributing to the decline we see occurring in conventional professional adult content production.

But sex toys have gone through a major boom in recent years, due largely to a rebranding in terms of health and wellness, a sharpened focus on women consumers, and a groundswell of sex educators and experts working to change the conversation about adult novelties and their positive role in sexual wellbeing.

Sex Toy Salesperson 1

(pictured: Google knows the Fuller Brush Man)

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