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Sex in a can: The making of Fleshlight

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Adult film actress Jenna Haze sits patiently at AEE during a molding of her mouth for the Fleshlight product line.
Photo: Deanna Rilling

Jenna Haze’s mouth is covered in white goo. A crowd of men are watching and there are cameras everywhere. Except, this time the porn starlet is wearing clothes. And this scene is not from one of her movies.

Fleshlight

A plaster mold of Haze's mouth is being created in front of an audience Friday at the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo. Hollywood special effects artist Tony Acosta Jr. is in charge of creating an impression of Haze's kisser while she tries not to laugh as she did during previous attempts.

Not only did fans of Haze gather to watch at the Fleshlight booth, but potential customers milled about, perusing a wall of flesh-colored bits-and-pieces molded to replicate the hoohas, derrières and DSL of their favorite adult film stars.

Fleshlight molding with Jenna Haze

With a case that resembles a large flashlight on the outside, it's what's inside that counts — and arouses customers. So... what is a Fleshlight exactly? The company describes the product as a "soft, pliable Real Feel Super Skin® masturbation sleeve... designed to replicate the sensation of penetrative sex."

Fleshlight owner and inventor Steve Shubin chats about how the product came to fruition and some of its special features.

Where did you come up for the idea for the Fleshlight?

Shubin: About 16 years ago, my wife got pregnant with twins. The doctor said, "No intercourse for nine months," and I said, "That's it. I'm making something for this." Then the bigger idea was, what about guys that will never get it, whether handicaps psychologically, physically, but then all of us other guys who never get enough anyway? So that's what really drove me to make it.

How did the process begin as far as finding and molding adult film actresses to be replicated for the products?

Initially, the family got together and we got a bunch of girlie magazines and we made stacks of the best-looking vaginas, the best-looking breasts, the best-looking butts — so we compiled a collage of the very best. We got people from the movie industry to help us sculpt it and create them. Then we transformed that into molds and put it all in the Fleshlight.

Tell us about the different products, lines, and looks?

We first went in to the hetero market with the mouth, vagina, the butt and then what we call the "Stealth." It's a non-descript look so that if a kid found it, they wouldn't know what it is, but it physically does the same thing, same sensation. We also came out with a FleshJack products for our gay clients... and a style specifically for them. Then we came out with Fleshlight Girls, which is a lot of the industry girls — girls that have a big Web presence in the adult world that the guys really love. ... We physically pull a mold off of their anatomy. We take a lot of pictures first because the molding process is very cold; it makes the skin retract. So we use the pictures to balance out the molding process so we know it's exactly them. We put their signature on it as well. So when you buy the product, you're getting the exact likeness of the girl.

A new product you have is the vampire mouth. How did that come about?

The vampire mouth has been a big hit. What it is is a beer can, a 24-ounce beer can, so it has a really cool label. ... Vampires are always in and people love the whole mystique about a vampire ... All of us guys like to do things in our imagination that we would never have an opportunity or the desire to do in real life. So it lets you fantasize and do some crazy stuff, but it's a really cool gag gift as well.

How has the product been received by customers?

We've sold over 2 1/2 million Fleshlights. ... It's very well received because guys — there's no woman designed that could keep up with our sex drive month after month after month. Then the other issue is, why should they have to? If we're civilized men, we'll take care of our business and you still have your relationship with the person that you love. It doesn't interfere, it just makes it better.

Guys think, "Oh, I would never use something like a toy" because a toy has a bad name because for decades, all the products were really garbage. They didn't work. They were fancy packaging, you got it home, you used something and it was just a mess, it was a bad product. This stuff is really good, I've used them hundreds of times. In a side-by-side test with your sweetheart or your mate, you can't tell the different. As a matter of fact, they're probably a little better only because there's no performance anxiety. When you're with the person that you love — or a one-night stand or anything — there's a lot of pressure to do it just right, to time everything perfectly. That takes a lot of relationship, a lot of trust and understanding. Fleshlight, you don't have any of that. You just have a fantasy, it facilitates what you're thinking, and it's perfect. It just gets you where you want to go.

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