Brian Sloan makes some of the tackiest sex toys on the market, and he knows it. He also doesn’t care.
If you don’t know his name, you know him by his over-the-top products, equally innovative in both design and shock value. Sloan owns the company Very Intelligent E-Commerce, but what brought him into the internet’s limelight was the Autoblow, a robotic blowjob machine.
He may be the self-crowned king of the adult toy industry, but the path to the throne was anything but typical. After completing his law degree at Pennsylvania State University, he decided to ditch the bar exam in favor of a one-way ticket to China. He’s been living in Beijing for eight years, constantly re-imagining ways to change the way men buy sex products. And when he’s not doing that, he’s doing typical expat things—you know, like running the Pyongyang marathon in North Korea.
Last week, Sloan revealed his latest Frankenfuck toy: the 3Fap. In an infomercial-esq promo video on Indiegogo, we learn that the 3Fap is named for the trio of orifices in which you can stick your junk: a vagina, a mouth, and of course, a butthole. To find models willing to lend their unmentionables to the project, Sloan conducted a world-wide search for the most beautiful vagina. As of this interview, the 3Fap is more than halfway funded, which speaks to the mass appeal of these arguably off-putting machines.
We caught up with Brian about the history of jerking off, the method to his mad marketing, and the future of sex.
When was the moment you realized the world needed a blowjob machine?
I’d always had the idea that if someone would just take the concept and turn it into something appliance-like, then it could be a thing that every guy would want to own. This type of product, that’s a battery-powered automated stroker, has existed since the '80s; it's a classic product that’s always been so shitty.
What was so bad about the ones from the '80s?
They’re battery-powered, they don’t have enough power to actually power through the penis. They get stuck easily. They use motors that burn out easily, they were difficult or impossible to clean.
Do you think young men today will have a different experience masturbating than you did, and the rest of our generation did?
So when I was coming of age – coming of age – (he pauses to let the joke land) the kind of masturbation aids that were available you had to get from a sex shop, which was a very nasty place. And now most sex shops are actually not nasty. They’re kind of boutique-y. And they’ve created a bunch of things to help men get off, and aren’t something you’d look at and think is gross. So I think the future generation of young men will have these designer devices, and not dirty masturbation aids that they need to hide in their drawer.
Well, what about the AutoBlow or the 3Fap do you think is less shameful than what we had in the past? Because it's still a weird-looking novelty device.
I don’t think it’s about the device itself, I think it’s about the marketing. I’ve started the new way of marketing masturbation products to men. I was the first person to put my face on a male masturbation product and say “hey I’m making this product, and it’s OK to do that.” It’s the fact that it’s not some woman with big fake tits telling them they should use the product, it’s like another guy telling them it’s ok to use the product.
Okay, so we need to talk about the 'most beautiful vagina' contest. What gave you the idea?
The market and the existing products have vaginas and mouths and buttholes that are placed on top of sleeves. And those parts are always molded from porn stars, right? And there’s nothing wrong with being in porn films, but I think the genre of porn that’s become more popular on the Internet is amateur. People don’t necessarily want to see women who are paid to have sex for a living, they want to see, like, the video a naughty couple makes and then posts on the Internet. Because those are real people.
How did the contest work?
Turns out the only way to pick the winner is to do that democratically, and hold a vagina election. We programmed the website where men or women could rate the pictures of people's vaginas from 1-10 stars. And in the end, there were three million votes cast, and we only accepted two hundred entries. It just grew on its own, it seems that amateur vulva pictures are a popular draw for men.
So, you had your winners elected. How did you 3D scan them?
A guy came from a company, and he trained me how to do it. I just told them to go take off their pants and underwear and get onto the bed. And we had to experiment a little bit with the position of their legs. So we did three scans — we scanned their vaginas, and then I paid them a bonus to scan their anus and mouth, to acquire the rights to those scans too.
How much of a bonus did they get for scanning their buttholes?
Each woman’s contract gave a $500 bonus if we could scan and acquire the rights to their mouths and anuses. And they all accepted.
So how do you make the AutoBlow or 3Fap feel lifelike? Because clearly you're not scanning all up in there. What do you do to make the interior representative of the various holes it’s supposed to be mimicking?
All you can really do is play with the texture on the inside. There are products that for example, heat up, to body temperature. I would love to offer such a feature, but unfortunately the market isn’t willing to pay for it, although they all want it. They want a product that’s still relatively inexpensive. So in the price range I’m working in, say below $130 or something, heat is not a realistic option.
I have a theory, the urban legend that everybody says they know a guy who knows a guy who can suck his own dick. Do you think the AutoBlow in some way speaks to that fantasy?
Look, the joke, guys say like, “if I could suck my own dick, I’d be home right now.” They wouldn’t leave the house.You can give yourself a handjob, but there is that idea that a blowjob is something totally reserved for another person. But the fact that there is a machine that’s automatic, it at least replicates the feeling of someone doing something to you. And that’s actually psychologically a different feeling, so I think that’s why guys…yeah they’re kind of blowing themselves, but not in the way they wanted to, exactly.
It seems like a lot of your efforts have been successful so far, and you’ve cut costs because right now you’re web-based only, so, why are you still crowdfunding for your sex toys?
Crowdfunding is a relatively new concept, and there’s the idea that people only turn to crowdfunding when they must have the funds from that method in order to create their object. But I think that crowdfunding is not only for people who need money, but for people who want to introduce their product to the public in a novel way.
What would you say to people who imply that you’ve ripped off the general concept of a Fleshlight?
I would say, not that I’ve ripped off the Fleshlight, but that I’ve innovated on the concept. That Fleshlight was only one of many companies that innovated on the same concept. It’s like, did IBM rip off a company before it that made computers? No, they’re both making computers, but they’re finding different ways to solve the same mathematical equations quickly.
Do you ever worry that some of what you’ve designed might be too strange or off-putting in its appearance for people to use in a wide-scale way?
I only look at my sales number. The sales obviously are millions of dollars per year for all our brands together, but it’s also been that way prior to introducing this product. But this product did grow the business by a multiple.
Do you think you’ll ever do this kind of guerilla Internet marketing for a sex toy marketed primarily for a woman?
That’s a good question. I tried it with my campaign for Slap Happy. Basically I channeled Billy Mays, you know the Oxyclean guy? I tried to channel Billy Mays and the Shamwow guy and put them into myself, to do this ridiculous infomercial thing. And my reward was only selling $16,000 of vibrators. So my way of selling didn’t work like it did for men.
I can’t help but notice in your most recent Indiegogo video, you have a woman going down on you throughout a large portion of it. What's with that?
My girlfriend was helping me film the video, and then the camera was on and she came over and started giving me a blowjob. And as she was doing it I was joking and started reading the lines. We didn’t think of it because the video took a few hours to film and we were just joking. Then when I looked at the clip to cut it up and I sent it to the guy who puts it together, I told them “See how it looks. Leave the person with their head in it.” And they did and I showed it to her like, “this is actually pretty good.”
So that is an actual blowjob? A real life blowjob given by your real life girlfriend on film?
Yeah it was.
Do you consider yourself a feminist?
Do I consider myself a feminist? There are so many definitions of feminism, that I don’t know what it is to…. I don’t know how to answer this.
Reading from the dictionary: "The advocacy of women’s rights, on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men."
Who would be against that?
You'd be surprised. So If you could add a fourth orifice and make it a four-fap, what would it be?
It would be a foot. I would put a foot there, and I would put a hole in the foot, so you can fuck the foot.
Foot fetishes are the number one fetish. That should make sense from the market perspective. I’m actually planning on making a sleeve, and the top is just a foot and there’s just a hole in the foot and you can fuck the toe part or the heel part, or if you’re a middle foot guy.
Last question: if jerking off was good enough for Jesus, why wasn't it good enough for you?
If jerking off was good enough for Jesus?! Jesus Christ?
You got it.
Was he a frequent masturbator?
One can assume.
What you really mean is, if people are naturally able to jerk off, why should I give them ridiculous implements to assist them?
Yes, that is the subtext of the question.
Because, people are always trying to simplify their lives. Like you could ask me, people don’t have wings, so why should we have airplanes to fly us out of the country? No one knows why we’re on the earth, we’re just here, there’s nothing we can do about it, so we might as well make the best of it. And I think for a lot of people, making the best of it includes a healthy amount of masturbation. So I’m just helping to make their time here a little better.