With the release of Hysteria, a major Hollywood film starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and Rupert Everett in a Victorian-era romantic comedy set around the creation of the vibrator, the history of vibrators is getting quite a buzz, and the images of antique vibrators in the credits are from Good Vibrations’ own collection.
“It’s about vibrators and women’s orgasms, and I don’t think people really do talk about it very much, and I do think it does still make us flushed and uncomfortable,” Gyllenhaal said at the recent Toronto premiere.
Good Vibrations, the pioneering San Francisco-based company that takes pride in providing accurate information on sexuality and toys for grown-ups, is proud to assist in the conversation with its new Antique Vibrator Museum planned in San Francisco. Good Vibrations’ antique vibrator collection has been spread out on display for the last 34 years at its five retail stores inCalifornia andMassachusetts, and they are excited to consolidate them into one comprehensive exhibit.
The film and the exhibit are an excellent opportunity to get people talking—and thinking. Good Vibrations Staff Sexologist and Museum Curator Dr. Carol Queen explained, “We are delighted to showcase our collection in a dynamic, historic, and entertaining display at ourPolk Streetretail location. The new exhibit will contextualize the vibrators’ role in society and highlight how our attitudes around sex and female pleasure have evolved. It really gives us an appreciation for how far both society and technology have come, and it’s poetic to house the exhibit in the original female-friendly adult retail store.”
In addition to providing vibrator images to Hysteria, Good Vibrations also provided historical context and antique vibrators to the Berkeley Rep’s production of In the Next Room: The Vibrator Play. The period drama, which has since toured the country, also uses the invention of the vibrator as a catalyst for the story.
Good Vibrations Antique Vibrator Museum
The electric vibrator had its inception in 1869 with the invention of a steam-powered massager, patented by an American doctor. This device was designed as a medical tool for treating what was called “hysteria,” or “female disorders.” Within 20 years a British doctor followed up with a more portable battery-operated model; by 1900, dozens of styles of electric vibrators, just like those in our exhibit, were available to the discriminating medical professional.
Good Vibrations’ founder, Joani Blank collected antique vibrators for more than 20 years. The largest collection of her treasures is now displayed at the Good Vibrations Polk Street store, with smaller collections in other San Francisco, Berkeley, and Brookline stores and images online. The vibes in that collection date from the late 1800s up through the 1970s and can be seen at AntiqueVibratorMuseum.com along with an extensive history of their development and marketing. The fully realized museum is slated to be completed inSan Francisco on Nov. 15.