Private Party 

Drinking Liberally demonstrates against sex-toy bans

A lot of crazy stuff happens in Midtown, but Sunday night marked the first time anyone played ring toss with a strap-on dildo in the back room of Neil's.

As part of "Loving Liberally" -- an event hosted by the Democratic club Drinking Liberally -- people tossed rings on the dildo horseshoe-style for the chance to win a free vibrator.

The free party, organized in protest of legislation banning the sale of sex toys in Southern states, drew a crowd of about 50. In Tennessee, a bill to ban the sale of toys recently died in committee, but similar legislation was passed in Mississippi and upheld by that state's Supreme Court. A law was also recently passed in Alabama banning the sale of sex toys.

"We thought if something this stupid was happening, more people should know about it," said Drinking Liberally founder Sarah Rutledge. "We thought this would be a fun way to draw people's attention to what was happening."

After the ring toss, adult novelty merchandiser Beth Climie (or Beth Climb-On-Me as she calls herself) takes the stage. On display behind her is a row of vibrating plastic penises, tongues, and other contraptions.

Climie sells toys for For Girls Only, a Bartlett-based business that started four years ago. Representatives usually host parties in private homes for bachelorette or divorce parties, and Climie says this is her first public party.

After showing off some of her tamer wares -- creams and lotions -- she brings out the big guns, sort of. The first dildo Climie introduces is the Bullet, a tiny, egg-shaped vibrator.

"In Bartlett, we have to call these sinus headache relievers," she says.

Then come the larger-than-life plastic penises, like the massive Chocolate Dream and the gargantuan Vanilla Dream. No word on what they call these in Bartlett.

She demonstrates each item and then passes them around. Some simply vibrate. Others rotate. A few even gyrate.

As the products circle the room, the audience giggles. While these parties are usually reserved for women, the crowd at Neil's is about half male. Rutledge says any guy who causes problems will be kicked out, but the men seem to be on their best behavior.

One man even buys 20 raffle tickets at the door for a chance to win the Rabbit vibrator, a $115 contraption with multiple settings and a rabbit-shaped "tickler" made famous by an episode of Sex in the City.

"If I don't come home with one of those, my wife will kill me," he says.

After Climie's presentation, the raffle tickets are drawn, but the man doesn't win. Instead, the Rabbit goes to a woman who runs screaming to the stage.

A line forms where people can order products behind a board that reads "Hey, this is private!" and about 30 minutes after Climie's presentation is over, the line shows no signs of shrinking as more and more people muster up the courage to order a plastic penis in public. Free love might be a thing of the past, but despite legislative efforts, toys are still here to stay.

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