Al Bloom has been around the adult industry and back again, from distribution, to owning an adult video company, to working in the toy business with the major founders. In his 40 year career, he has witnessed, firsthand, the beginnings of the sex toy market, and has been a part of its growth. So, where is the business headed now?

Al Bloom has been around the adult industry and back again, from distribution, to owning an adult video company, to working in the toy business with the major founders. In his 40 year career, he has witnessed, firsthand, the beginnings of the sex toy market, and has been a part of its growth. So, where is the business headed now?

Interview with Director of Marketing at California Exotic Novelties, Al Bloom

August 3, 2010

From early in his life, Al Bloom was tied to the adult industry. Fresh out of college, Al started out working in adult video distribution then moved onto video production and even owned a few video production companies along the way including the largest film production company of its time, Caballero Home Video. After over two decades on the video side, Al made his way into the toy market; starting with Doc Johnson in the early through late 90’s, then moving onto his current job working as Director of Marketing for California Exotic Novelties. Working in marketing for California Exotics is a busy and exciting job; Al is always thinking about the next new thing.

The adult industry has suffered many legal attacks over the years, and Al has been involved with many of those cases and the fight to keep porn and sex toys legal. Al served on the Board of Directors of the Adult Film Association, Adult Video Association, and was instrumental in forming the Free Speech Coalition in 1992. Many of the first organizational meetings of the Free Speech Coalition actually took place in the offices of Al’s video company, Caballero. Later, in 2003, Al Bloom was honored with the Industry Founder’s Award by the FSC. Recently, at the 2009 FSC Awards, Al’s son, Aaron, gave the opening speech and credited his father’s legal battles and experiences for inspiring his career as an attorney.

For 40 years and counting, Al Bloom has been deeply involved in the adult industry and knows full well where it has been. What were the 70’s really like for toys and movies? How did the 80’s change the industry, with both new technology for sex toys and the VHS porn boom? Were the 90’s the biggest turning point for the industry’s growth, or was it more this last decade? And, of course, the obvious question: what’s next for adult toys? With the market so flush now, it’s hard for many to see the big picture, and understand what it took to get here, and most do not hav

  • Welcome!

    If your life was a movie, which movie would you say it is?

    Which Adult actor or actress has been the most influential in the world of adult toys? How so?

    Have you had a chance to work with any?

    Well, that's easy..."It's a Wonderful Life" I have been blessed to have basically avoided the corporate world for over 40 years, and that's ok by me! The few forays into mainstream entertainment was in the early 80's. I was in the adult film business (President Caballero Home Video), and was involved in the biggest explosion of home entertainment in the 20th century...the VCR. Our adult company owned many big budget adult movies we produced for a then thriving theatrical business. When the first BetaMax came along, we put a few titles on video, and the rest is history! The reason I bring this up, is that in the course of selling adult movies on video, it dawned on us that adult movies, watched in the privacy of one's own home, had multiple views...and what other entertainment segment shared that behavior? Cartoons and children's programming! I started working with major Hollywood studios, licensing rights to shows like Gumby, Transformers, and Strawberry Shortcake (under the Family Home Entertainment label). This all took place when the studios, like us, felt that home video was a passing fad, and people would still go to the theaters...we treated home video like a step child.

    My point...early on, after making many deals with some pretty major Hollywood producers, I had to make a choice...stick with adult, or go mainstream Hollywood. I chose adult, and it has been a choice that I have never regretted for a second. Some of the finest, most honorable people I have worked with over the years are in the adult business...so, it is a wonderful life! Smile

    As far as adult actors....hmmm, that's a little tougher. I have worked with all of the greatest names ever in adult, from Marilyn Chambers, to Seka, to Jamie Gillis, Ron Jeremy, Paul Thomas, John Leslie, to modern day stars like Gina Lynn, Tera Patrick and practically every other one who became a name. Some of the earliest toy endorsement deals that I recall were Christy Canyon, Julie Ashton, and Barbara Dare. Christy canyon truly believed in toys, and their place in a relationship. As her career progressed, and she did personal appearances, radio interviews, as well as work on the Playboy network, her promotion of sex toys led to more endorsement deals, which really started the toy business off in the adult stores in the 80's.

    Victoria (host): "It is fascinating to hear about the initial impressions of video tape as it was then. We're glad you stuck with adult!"

  • What seems to have been the biggest changes in the "toy" industry in the last few years?

    The biggest change is the total reversal of the demographic of the consumer base...from almost totally men in the 80's, to an overwhelming female audience today!
  • Toy materials have come a long way in recent years with the addition of silicone, glass, ceramic, ect...do you foresee even more materials being used in the sex toy industry in the future? If so, can you give us any ideas of what might be used or is in the process of being tried out in the manufacturing process?

    Hmmm...you are asking me to look in my crystal ball, and give away the company store Big smile

    From the earliest use of PVC hot melt, to today's silicone and elastomers (TPR and TPE) the adult industry has managed to stay on the cutting edge of the latest technologies available. Suffice it to say, we are constantly on the lookout for the best application to use the latest technology. Stay tuned!
  • What's your favorite part of your job?

    Good question! You know, I'm a 8 year cancer survivor, so every day for me is a blessing! To have a dream job as Marketing Director at California Exotic Novelties has also been something I relish. If I had to pick just one area, I would say creativity in an environment that nurtures free thought and honest opinions. Susan has created a culture at California Exotic Novelties that rewards, and honors free thinking and creativity. No comment is too small, and expressing one's ideas is welcome.

    Victoria (host): "I had no idea you were a cancer survivor - that even further deepens my admiration for you. And yes, a company's culture makes all the difference!"

  • What are you most proud of in your career? And obviously, why?

    My proudest achievement is as I look around the adult industry, there are so many people who worked for me, and with me, making the industry what it is today. There are key people throughout the industry who have weathered the test of time, and flourished. If I had a hand in teaching or nurturing any of them, I am most proud of that.
  • If there was one thing you would like to change or reform in the sex toy industry, what would it be?

    It has always been my philosophy that there is enough business out there for every company. I dislike some of the in-fighting, jealousy, and cruel words I read on some blogs and discussions. I would like to see a more unified industry.

    Victoria (host): "BRAVO! I could not agree more!"

  • In recent years the quality, materials, and even packaging of toys has been dramatically improved. Do you think that this will lead to them being viewed in a less taboo light and result in fewer legal battles?

    It already has. In my case, starting in 1970, I was arrested numerous times on a local level, State prosecutions, and 3 Federal Indictments against me personally, my employees, and my companies. I always tell people that if I had a nickle for every dollar spent on my legal fees over the years, I would be on an island somewhere sipping a cold one! The legal battles over the last 10-15 years of my 40 year career are nothing compared to what the early pioneers in this business endured. The reason? Women, in a nutshell! Women, who embraced the use of toys alone, or to enhance a relationship have literally dictated their wishes at the cash register. Manufacturers got the message...and women like Susan Colvin heard that message and ran with it, making California Exotic Novelties the powerhouse that it is today.

    Victoria (host): "What a great perspective! Hooray for women ;)"

  • Did you participate in the establishment of the Sexpert Reviewer Program? Got any anecdotes or fun stories about it?

    Yes, that was me and our PR firm's doing! The program has grown to an astounding monthly audience of 2.5 million views! The list of Sexperts is constantly changing and growing. I guess the funniest thing about the program is the lengths some people will go to just to get a free toy every month to try...like set up websites and basically be preaching to themselves with no followers...cracks me up!
  • I imagine that being involved in the sex industry while raising kids presented some unique parenting challenges. What were your biggest obstacles and how did you overcome them?

    Well, first of all, I am married to a very strong woman! Her Dad was in the business, so she totally was on board with the risks involved. She is also a retired teacher, so our children were raised knowing 100% what daddy did for a living...at the appropriate age when my wife knew they would understand...probably younger than we would have liked, but with all the negative press I received over the years, we felt they needed to understand so they could be prepared for school taunting.
    With my name in the paper, as well as the news, that was crucial to their well being.

    My son is now an Attorney with an Ivy League education, and my Daughter has an MBA and is a VP with a very prominent fashion industry giant. Both of my children have known what I do from a young age...I still remember them both sitting on the stairs in their pajamas as law enforcement was taking me out of my house in shackles...not a fond memory, but one that endures. I can only guess that their will to succeed, and overcome obstacles in their way, was somehow triggered by my fierce support of Free Speech and the First Amendment...something taken for granted today, but fought for over the years at great expense monetarily and emotionally.

    Victoria (host): "Sending such a strong message and setting the example early in their lives surely did inspire them! I think this likely strengthened your family's bond too. You sound like a very proud father, and you should be! :)"

  • What are your next goals or what do you still want to achieve in your life?

    In the short term, and in business, we are launching a new luxury brand that will basically set a new benchmark for the Industry. Our new Vanity, distributed by a whole new company called JOPEN, will launch in October. 12 items that possess features we could only dream of a few years back will make this line a huge success.

    In the long term, my expectation is for many more years of creative efforts at California Exotic Novelties. I feel at 63 I am just getting warmed up!
  • Are you single? /wink /wink

    Big smile

    Celebrating our 40th Anniversary this coming December...2 weeks in Italy!

    Victoria (host): "Happy anniversary to you both!"

  • I know that you stated that free thinking and creativity is honored at California Exotic Novelties but has their ever been
    an idea that perhaps some were a little hesitant about? Is there anything that the company refuses to do?

    We have no hard and fast rules, except good taste, and respect for other human beings! Other companies have done parodies, and other non-flattering items to grab attention (and sales)...we are not built like that.
  • I just love the look of the new Vanity by JOPEN line. Thanks again for your input.

    So my question is how hard is it to design and produce a toy like those that will only draw a limited market? (high end) As much as I want one I think that a lot of people just can not afford them.

    You know, I always think that, but then when I'm at the BMW dealer, I am standing in a line 5 wide and deep! There is a buyer at every price point, and many will "stretch" their budget to get what they think is the best. Vanity is the best, and once it is held and turned on, people won't really understand the cost...let me tell you, these are worth every penny. And while it isn't like taking a car loan for 5 years to get what you want, people will do with one less essential a month to own one of these! I have seen the competition, and they have had their day in the sun!

    Vanity is so special that we created a whole new company, JOPEN. There will be more technology breakthroughs in this line, Vanity is just the beginning. In a joint effort with Power Bullet(r), this line was designed for easy use, easy travel, and ultimate power. Once people touch these, they will find the money. When we priced these, we didn't even average in R&D...we want them to hit the market at a price point that is still within reach. We want to build the JOPEN brand, so our development costs are being absorbed. That's how much we believe that the experts in the toy business are not sitting idly by, and letting new start-ups eat away our market share...sounds like fighting words, but every time I look at what we have accomplished, I am a proud papa.

    Victoria (host): "Get Al talking about Jopen, and you'll see his fire ignite ;) - well said, these are quite impressive new toys!"

  • What product are you most proud of that you have promoted?

    If we are talking current, about toys, it would have to be the Vanity line...ads will start hitting in September, online and in print media. I believe there will be mainstream coverage.
  • Can we expect to see porn in 3-D? It seems to be all the rage!

    I hope not! It was too much in hi-def if you ask me. Most studios have pulled back a bit from blu-ray, and I suspect 3-D will be tried, but my guess is it will not be something for everyone...do you really want to see it coming at you...well, on the screen anyway Smile
  • What's California Exotics' next move in toys? Any big changes in scenery coming up? I want the inside scoop!

    Sorry, but I am sworn to secrecy!
  • I see in your bio that your son has credited your legal battles and persistence as his inspiration for becoming an attorney. Obviously, your "way of life" and the way you have "made a living" are applauded by some and questioned/attacked by others. How did you, as a father, deal with the negative attention you received? Were your children aware of your job?

    From the time that my wife and I felt they were old enough to understand, they knew what I did for a living. Every time there was publicity that could possibly impact them, we held a family meeting to discuss what it meant. Believe me, it was sometimes difficult at younger ages...my kids are only 18 months apart, so I believe one was 6 and the other 4 1/2 when my wife and I first explained that Daddy is a good man, but some people don't understand what he does for as living. We always explained about freedom of choice, and generality rather than specifics until they were much older and could understand...but, they were always told, and when they were younger, they knew to tell us if anyone said anything to them, child or adult, about my profession. My wife and I would handle it from there.
  • What is the most important life-lesson that you've learned since working in the adult industry?

    Be true to your beliefs, no matter what the cost.

    Victoria (host): "Inspiring, indeed!"

  • kck kck 1 user seconded this question.

    Can you elaborate as to how the adult industry is protected by the First Amendment? I'm intrigued by the legal behind-the-scenes aspect of this!

    I could hardly begin to answer this question if I started now and kept writing the rest of my life. let's just capsulize the First Amendment as one of the basic tenants of a free society...the right to express an opinion, no matter how much others disagree...let's exclude yelling fire in a theater, and understand that a free society cannot exist without this freedom. Our Government, over the years, has narrowed the test for obscenity down to "community standards" and the basic miller test:

    The Miller test was developed in the 1973 case Miller v. California.[2] It has three parts:

    * Whether "the average person, applying contemporary community standards", would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest,

    * Whether the work depicts/describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by applicable state law,

    * Whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.[3]

    The work is considered obscene only if all three conditions are satisfied.

    This test has stood the test of time, and only in certain instances has a work been shown to lack all 3 prongs of this test, and that would be child pornography which is thankfully legislated against!

    Now, in regards to toys, several States have enacted what are called "device laws" which simply put, allows prosecutions against a sex toy. Thankfully it's only a couple, and most have been overturned on constitutional grounds.
  • ~LaUr3n~ ~LaUr3n~ 1 user seconded this question.

    How did you get into the business in the first place? 40 years is a long time! Was there ever a time that you wanted to do something else?

    Interesting story...got a minute? I graduated from Kent State University in June 1970...I'm sure you know that sad and tragic story. I was there, and will never forget what I saw in the name of justice...a group of kids listening to a speaker, and an untrained National Guard with live ammunition over reacting. I tried the corporate world after graduation. I have a marketing degree. Something was missing, something to be passionate about...when my father-in-law took a job managing a large chain of adult bookstores managed from Cleveland, Ohio, I was intrigued with all the "cloak-and-dagger" stories he told about run-ins with the law, and the excitement of a new and exciting market just emerging in 1970. When he mentioned one night that the company (Sovereign news/Reuben Sturman) was looking for a Salesman for a magazine distributorship he just bought in Chicago, I was intrigued. I was making $105.00 a week at a department store as an Assistant Cosmetics Buyer...working 60-70 hours a week, and wearing a suit and tie. I went for an interview with a guy who to this day is one of my best friends...he offered me $300.00 a week and a car! I took that job, and never looked back

    Victoria (host): "It's true that this industry has its appeal - it is fluid, and unpredictable, and expects creativity from those who chose it. While it is a business, its not "corporate" in the traditional sense. I am so glad you made the smart move!"

  • From what I've seen on the Eden forums you're always quick and more than willing to answer any questions that consumers may have about California Exotics and their products. That being said, do you think it's important for a company to be easily accessible and involved with it's customers and their feedback?

    You bet! It is very important to respond, and quickly. We are in the midst of upgrading our website, and response mechanism for consumers with questions.
  • There are so many innovative sex toys out there, when you see something new do you ever wish you would have thought of it? Do you ever use other company's products as inspiration or a jumping point to make something better?

    Our attitude is "more power to them" if someone beats us to the punch...you can't own the world! We do our best to stay on course with our innovations, and don't look back

    Victoria (host): "As Henry Ford said: “The competitor to be feared is one who never bothers about you at all, but goes on making his own business better all the time.”
    And I could not agree more."

  • How does one come up with a "new" sex toy or feature on a toy? What kind of research is done? How do you decide "ok yea this one's a winner let's add this to the product line up?

    It's a group effort, and Susan has assembled a great team that works together, gathering input from many sources in the field, and focusing the information to product development. It's a many staged process, and patience in and for the process is what makes a new item exciting.
  • Jamerson Jamerson

    How do you get started in sex toys, for instance I have a few ideas for male and female toys that have grown over time experimenting with them, so how do you go from idea to conception. Do you take on ideas/concepts from the 'public', how do you advertise for positions (ie I've never seen a position as sex toy technologist advertised on Monster.com).

    Well, you will never see an ad like that ever for a position here. We just sell another type of "widget" but the people we recruit are top notch in their chosen field. Most everyone here has a minimum Bachelor's degree, and many have advanced Graduate degrees. We advertise jobs for the position, but 90% of the candidates we interview have googled us long before they are filling out an application. If the "business" does not agree with them, they never show up for the interview. I must say, since I do most of the recruitment, over 90% show up!

    As far as ideas from the public...that's a whole other topic. We seldom take ideas from the public as it presents a huge intellectual property problem for us. If someone has a great idea, and they take it patent stage, I am more inclined to "have a look" as I know they are protected as well as us...but, absent the patent, most ideas are just that, ideas...it needs to be more developed with drawings, specs, schematics, and a non-disclosure agreement signed before we will even look.
  • Having seen it all, what is your biggest "turn-off"? Your biggest temptation?

    Biggest turn off? Some of the people in the adult industry who have made some big money, and act like they walk on water. Biggest temptation...to act like one of my biggest turnoffs! Early on in my career, I was making a lot of money quickly. I would trip over my Porsche in the garage as I headed to my Mercedes or BMW...I look back and realize that my family, thankfully, snapped me out of that path quickly!
  • You must have quite a collection of movies and things related to the adult industry. What item is the most valuable? The most rare? The most meaningful to you?

    Mostly it's the awards and recognition from my peers that I value most. Free Speech "Good Guy" Award, Free Speech Coalition Founders Award, and Adult Video News Hall of Fame...these are proudly displayed in my office. As far as memorabilia, I have donated most of it over the years to the Sex Museum in LA and Las Vegas. I have a few wierd things in a box in my garage...the first adult Atari games, some old Swedish Erotica 8mm film catalogs, and the first Swedish Erotica video catalog...oh, I have lots of clippings from my interviews over the years with magazines, newspapers, etc...don't ask me why I keep these, I guess it's tough to let go of a piece of the past.

    Victoria (host): "It's human to be nostalgic - and to keep objects that remind you of milestones in your life is great! What an interesting collection you must have!"

  • Wizrdchic Wizrdchic

    What is the craziest fad/toy that you have witness in all the years you have been in the adult industry?

    Right after President Clinton was outed by Monica Lewinski, a friend of mine brought out a Monica cigar with a penis head...that was pretty funny, and ballsy. Hmmm...there must be more, I just can't recall right now.
  • Where you open with you children about what your job was? About what age did you tell them?

    Always...read one of my earlier posts. My wife and I always made sure our children knew as much as we could tell them in an age=appropriate way.
  • Would love you hear how your "birds and the bees" talk went over Big smile

    If you are referring to my kids, the wife handled that! I think she was afraid of what I would tell them!
  • How long has the Jopen Vanity line been in the works and how did it get started?

    About a year from start to release in October. We laid out a plan to capture a big piece of the "luxury" brand market by one-upping every feature the competition was using...if they use 1 motor, we use 2 Power Bullet motors...if they use 2, we add 3. Most of the Vanity products vibrate at both ends...there is no plastic handle, each piece is a uni-body silicone...100% usable from either motorized end.

    Victoria (host): "It's all in the details - and the end-result looks fabulous!"

  • What exactly is the Jopen Vanity line, and what products does it include? Did you enjoy producing them?

    Go to www.calexotics.com and you will find Vanity by JOPEN...12 spectacular items! Check them out. Yes, it's been a blast, but I won't rest until floor displays are produced an placed in high-end retail stores and featured online.
  • What is the most favorite line of expertise that you have, and have created?

    Marketing is my background, and what I enjoy most. I have created many marketing campaigns over the years, and some are my most enduring memeories.
  • Hi Al!

    I'm a big sucker for adult movies of the 80's. Seems like there must a ton of forgotten masterpieces out there that no one has any access to. Ever consider establishing a museum for adult video - sort of like the Museum of Film and Television in Los Angeles? I hate to think of that giant back catalog of cheesy-yet-incredible soundtracks going to waste and never being heard of again . . .

    Fortunately, there are a lot of collectors around who trade and collect the older stuff. My ex-partner in the video business has a huge catalog of pre-video movies, going back to the early 1900's. www.bluevanities.com It's a blast from the WAY past. I have donated just about everything to various sex museums already.
  • In your opinion, what separates California Exotics from other manufacturers?

    In a nutshell, woman! I am just a token man around here...only kidding, we are an equal opportunity employer! The truth is, everything we do has a "woman's touch"...and that would be Susan and Jackie (White). These two woman are the reason CalExotics is where it is today. I could be the best Marketing guy in the world, but if the overall product line did not stand up to scrutiny, it wouldn't matter.

    Victoria (host): "We feel th4e same way about how products are presented! A woman's touch and perspective is crucial!"

  • Typically, women enjoy making love while many men enjoy having sex (not all men) and women like to cuddle after, where men like to go about there business. I notice with porn movies there isn't any happy in between either. Porn really shows no emotional attachment (which is obviously engaging to the audience) BUT it would be a nice happy medium if there could be REAL movies portraying a real hot and steamy love affair with two people or even three. It would be a real interest factor to many women if you could make movies similar to those of "LIFETIME" shows and have a porn spin off to them. Have you or has anyone in the industry thought of this before? More and More women want to take an interest in porn but perhaps captivating the "LOVE" is an essential part of the entire LOVE MAKING for many couples and can assist perhaps in the bonding of couples to some level.

    Not really my area of expertise...I left that world in 1993. But, before I left, I was as disappointed with porn as much as I believe a lot of people are. One of the last movies I put my name to was "Night Trips" which AVN named the best adult movie ever made. No talking, the men were basically props, and all the focus was on beautiful images of women enjoying sex...beautiful music and images. The only line of movies with a woman's perspective that made money commercially was Candida Royale...she broke new ground, and created a whole new audience for erotica, rather than porn.
  • I noticed that you began your career in the industry fresh out of college - lucky you! I think people can only wish that they can be wisked into an industry and career that they love. What challenges have you had to overcome in the industry? Was there any point in your career that you may have wanted to change your career path?

    Never thought of leaving the business, now at 63 I am still engaged daily, and can't imagine doing anything else. Even when I was faced with possible jail time, I was so engaged in the fight, that I never thought of leaving. When you are passionate about something, you tend to ignore the details, and focus on the bigger picture.

    Victoria (host): "The big picture is what keeps us going :)"

  • What new changes have you discovered over the past five years in retrospect to the internet and the porn industry? Has the internet hindered the industry or has it opened new doors?

    Like all technologies that have been utilized by the adult industry, the internet is something new. Never before have we been able to reach so many so quickly. If one fears this new technology, as many brick and mortar stores do, and don't learn to utilize its power to drive sales to you, they are doomed. This has been a learning experience for me as an "old-timer" in this business, but now that I embrace it, I have shown others how to use it to their benefit, and not be fearful of it. Smart retailers are utilizing a website with specials, door busters, gift with purchase, and many other techniques to get people through the door. When I started the Sexperts program at CalExotics, we were shooting for a reach of 100,000 viewers a month. Today, we have over 100 Sexperts around the world, and we are consistently selling huge numbers on the items that or Sexperts blog about. Our reach is now 2.5 million unique views per month, and this from an old guy just learning his way around the new technologies! Imagine what the future holds?
  • In your opinion what have been the top "3" selling toys from California Exotic?

    That's easy...the Original Jack Rabbit, Decadent Indulgence, and the Venus Butterfly
  • What has been the most difficut process in breaking into Mainstream society with the Adult Toy Market

    Getting past the first line of rejection...the buyers in the big box retailers afraid to ruffle feathers or take chances. candidly, they will all tell you that they know what a huge chunk of retail sales they are losing by not expanding their selection of adult toys, but publicly they will agree with the right that it's all porn, and should be abolished!
  • When you first got into the adult industry, was it "just a job", or did you always see yourself as having a lifelong career there?

    It was never just a job, not in 40 years...if fact, the first few years really cemented my place in the industry after being arrested several times, and faced with jail time...made me mad, and more of a fighter.
  • What is the creative process like on a high-end line such as Vanity?

    Endless hours, endless meetings, and perseverance to get exactly what we wanted.
  • First let me say thank you for taking time out of your life to answer all our questions!. Being 26 I have always enjoyed a great verity in the toy industry Winking, I know it always hasn't been this way. Having been in the business from pretty much the beginning you have seen a lot of changes, at what point did you set back and say "wow we have really come a long way"?, and what inspired this reflexion?.

    Actually it was an AH Ha moment back in the late 70's...up until then, adult toys were sold in adult bookstores only. Locked in a showcase, the only way you could by a vibrator was to ask the "toothless clerk" to get it for you! When one of the major toy makers decided to shrink wrap toys on a card, and hang it on the wall of a store for self-service, that is when I knew we would make it...people could buy discreetly, and didn't need to ask anyone. It was after that when you started to see woman coming in the stores. That was the start of something big!
  • Cal Exotics is known for being innovative. How hard is it to keep information from getting out before you're ready for it to be released?

    It's really pretty simple...we kill squealers..TEE HEE!!! It has never been a problem, everyone here is a professional, and since we all share in the company's good fortune at the end of the year, it would be the height of foolishness to leak information.

    Victoria (host): "That silliness made me laugh! It's very cute that you have such a sense of humor. It is the same for us - we all invest in the progress and keep a lid on it until it's time for the release. I think it actually strengthens the bond of the team when you have something exciting in development."

  • What is the best advice you were ever given, and who gave it to you?

    My first boss in 1970 when I came into the business...the advice, "Save Money"
  • As someone intrigued by the possibility of working in the adult industry, I'm curious, how does one get their foot in the door? Do you have to know the right people? Is it a matter of experience in the field? Are you required to have a certain type/level of education?

    I don't know how other people recruit in our industry, but depending on the level person we are looking for, we use conventional recruiting platforms like head hunters, newspaper/yahoo jobs, Craig's list, etc. Actually, we prefer people who "don't know anybody" as our experience has been best with people coming in from outside the industry.
  • What's your 'secret recipe' for success?

    Do what you say, and say what you mean

    Victoria (host): "I grew up hearing that same phrase ;)"

  • Name one thing you dislike about yourself that you've struggled with changing. It could be a habit, an attitude, a behavior, etc.

    I tend to hold emotions inside myself...but the older I get, the more I realize that you don't do anyone any good by not saying what's on your mind. I have always had the habit of trying to "protect" people in the workplace, and I fight that urge now...if someone digs themselves into a hole, I am not the guy with the ladder...I used to be that guy, but it didn't help in most instances if someone is not up to performing their job.
  • What is the most backhanded compliment you've ever received?

    When I was working at another company, my boss took me out to lunch after my first 90 days on the job. he asked me if I was happy with the job and the company...I said yes, and he didn't say anything else. After a few moments, I asked him if he was happy with me and my performance...his reply< "If I wasn't, you would have heard about it." I guess that was a compliment?

    Victoria (host): "What an awesome question, first of all! And what a tough-love style boss, damn! Personally, I like to hear about when I am doing a good job - it helps me to know what works in my boss's eyes. Just hearing the criticism, but never the praise really sucks! Thank you for sharing this one :)"

  • Do you enjoy competition, friendly or otherwise? Is there a person, or company, that you've competed with on a regular basis? Do you feel it helped you strive to do/create/be better? Do you welcome the competition?

    I'm not going to name-names, but yes, this industry is very competitive, and getting more so every year. I enjoy the competition, and relish the victories. Competition is a good thing, it keeps me on my toes!
  • If you were a fortune cookie, what would you say?

    Eat me

    Victoria (host): "Oh, Al!"

  • What do you appreciate most in product reviews (besides honesty)?

    Information that is useful to the end user
  • What's one luxury you couldn't live without?

    Hmmm...a fast car, for sure!
  • What do you love most about your career?

    That it has paid for the education of my children, and helped them become leaders in their chosen fields.

    Victoria (host): "It is very heartwarming to hear over and over how your family is clearly the most important thing in your life, and that you see how your work has benefited them. Thank you for being so candid with us!"

  • What reasons, if any, could ever convince you to leave the adult industry?

    If I wasn't enjoying it and someone told me it was showing in my work
  • What kind of music do you enjoy? Do you play any instruments? If not, what type of musician would you imagine yourself being?

    Wow, good question. I'm a James Taylor fan, and I do pick away on an old Epiphone
  • What do you think the next major advancement will be in adult toys?

    Hmmm...that's a tough one to answer without telling tales. Sorry
  • MuffysPinguLove MuffysPinguLove 1 user seconded this question.

    If you weren't currently working for California Exotics what would you be doing?

    Probably selling oranges at the freeway entrance...seriously, I would probably be consulting. I can't see me working anywhere else. Susan is my friend, and we are a good fit.
  • MuffysPinguLove MuffysPinguLove 1 user seconded this question.

    What's the greatest challenge you've ever experienced working in the industry?

    Organizing a fragmented industry to convey one message of freedom of choice. That's why I helped found the Free Speech Coalition...it's a work in progress.

    Victoria (host): "A unified vision is something we all hope for. At least, I hope so!"

  • El-Jaro El-Jaro 1 user seconded this question.

    When was the last time you looked at something related to your work that completely took you off guard?

    Can't recall anything, but if you mean repulsed by something, yes, some of the extreme porn movies on the market today take me off gurad that people actually want to watch...to each his/her own!
  • kck kck 1 user seconded this question.

    Al, thanks for responding to my questions--and with such great answers!

    You've mentioned several times that women are changing the demographic, that more women are getting involved in the adult industry (through both career work or consumerism). What, would you say, is the cause of this increased participation? Is it sexual autonomy, changing social standards, or perhaps something else?

    Evolution...and I have seen it first hand from day 1. The only women in the business when I started were the bookkeepers.
    Now, women are in positions of power, and it happened slowly over time. I think sexual mores have changed drastically over the last 30 years, and the stigmas have been greatly erased for people getting in the adult business.
  • kck kck 1 user seconded this question.

    You've been in the adult industry for a while (congrats on a wonderfully productive career!). At least at the beginning, it seems the industry was largely dominated by men. So, it was male interpretations of sex and sexuality that shaped toys and film (the "male gaze," if you will). Since women have become more active in the industry, have you seen a change in these representations? Specifically, have portrayals of women changed at all?

    You know, on the adult movie side, not so much. But on the toy side, it has been dramatic. While we still have an "adult bookstore" market to cater to, we still do a few packages with women and couples pictured on the package...the wall competition is brutal, so we need to stake a claim. But the bulk of our work, especially with higher end products is more emotional packaging that invokes a mood, rather than a lustful urge Smile

    Victoria (host): "People notice packaging far more today than they have before - emotional connection and relatability is key."

  • madamerkf madamerkf 1 user seconded this question.

    Can you describe to me your own "perfect adult movie scene"? Who would be your co-star? What would be the background story? The type of music? The locale? Have fun with this...I won't tell!

    Silly girl...it would be my wife, on a beach in Kauai, with James Taylor playing on the iPod. Sorry, what did you expect, the truth?
  • Judy Cole Judy Cole 1 user seconded this question.

    If you were a sex toy, which one would you be?

    A Vanity Vr9....just think of the possibilities!
  • The Giveaway Diva The Giveaway Diva 1 user seconded this question.

    What was the craziest thing that you saw and are allowed to share?

    I have to wait a few more years to answer that...several people need to die first
  • NightNight NightNight 1 user seconded this question.

    From what I've seen, the Vanity line is all vibrating toys. Are there, or could there be, any plans for a strapless strap-on? Would it have to vibrate to belong to the Vanity line? I'd really like to see more strapless strap-ons in the market Smile

    Not in the plans for Vanity...but we have a new Love Rider coming out soon. It's a Silicone strapless strap-on.
  • How does your extended family feel about your profession?

    Everyone in our family and circle of friends know what I do for a living...always have. It was never a secret. I'm sure some acquaintances over the years didn't want to cozy up to us, but hey, that's what makes America great!
  • Have you accomplished all that you've set out to do in your career thus far? Do you have any goals that you have yet to accomplish and if so, how do you plan to accomplish them?

    Listen, every day is a new challenge. Besides Marketing, I handle investment strategies for the company, all trademark and patent work, advertising, new product development, key account liaison, trade show coordination, any legal work needed, and just about anything else I am asked to do. Every day presents a new set of challenges.

    As far as my personal goals, I am in a good place right now. Just trying to set a retirement strategy, but not for quite some time!
  • A lot of parents are very protective of their children and what they are exposed to. Do you feel that parents are too closed minded? Do you think that the new generation of parents will raise their children with more open minds to explore things such as pornography and sex more freely and openly?

    In many respects, I would hope that would be the case, but if you listen to what's going on politically these days, I think the far right is as strong as ever, and their beliefs are passed to their children. Yes, things are better than in decades past, but you just need to watch Fox News for a week to understand that free thinkers have a long way to go to sway a whole lot of people out there!
  • Do you feel that the ruling that Prop 8 is unconstitutional will help the sex community become more accepted as well as marriage of gay couples? Or do you feel that there will still be negativity towards both communities and ideas?

    I think we are in for a long ride on this one...all the way to the Supreme Court, and I worry that the present makeup of the court will not agree with the decision...they may just kick it back to the States, and that's back to square one. My son is very involved on a pro bono basis here in California, so I am very close to this issue. As far as I'm concerned, Prop 8 was a violation of civil rights, and the promoters of Prop 8 are a bunch of bigots whose hatred is heard every time they march or attend a rally. For every step forward, there is a step back, but eventually things will change. The negativity towards the gay community has been festering for centuries, so to expect it to go away with one Judge's ruling is a stretch.
  • How many new toys do California Exotic put out each year?

    Approximately 350 on the branded side, and another 200 or so on our private label side...items we produce for home party companies, mail order companies, and large web operations.
  • Has your job ever caused issues with your wife? How about your kids?

    No "issues", just concern. Until my kids were in college, they didn't really understand my adamant position on Free Speech, to the point of risking my freedom. Once they were in college, they began to understand in a much broader sense who I was, and what I stood for. My family has been nothing but supportive.
  • theoldesthighlander theoldesthighlander

    what would be the best clitorial toy for a woman that has had a hysterectomy that she could use with her partner?

    Any of our couple's toys would be good...ones that vibrate promote very close contact during intercourse, and added support for the man. We focus in clitoral stimulation, so looking through our over 3000 items, there is something for everyone. Take a look at the details either at our site www.calexotics.com or at edenfantasys.com...both sites give a lot of good information.
  • Sera Sera 1 user seconded this question.

    How did you get started in the adult industry? Has it been a pleasurable experience?

    If you read near the beginning, I told the whole story. It has been a very rewarding and, I guess you could call it pleasurable? Fulfilling is the word I would use.
  • kck kck 1 user seconded this question.

    What did you do to get the "Good Guy Award"? Smile

    Well, it is a little more than a popularity contest, that's for sure. I guess it goes back to my days in the video business where I made many lasting friendships through the business. People always knew that they could come to me for help or advice, so the award was a way for the industry to say "thank you."
  • onehotmomma onehotmomma 1 user seconded this question.

    What is the biggest difference in toys and movies from the 70's to today? Is there any toy that hasn't lost its popularity?

    Well, on both levels it would be technology. In movies, the hi tech equipment today is a far cry from the 16mm and 35mm film we used to shoot on. Editing is so much faster in video, and replication of DVD's is so much more cost effective and efficient than the old video duplication labs we had back in the day. As far as toys, its not just much better materials, but miniaturization has allowed us to utilize the latest IC chips and efficient RoHs motors to make some very special features and functions. In the 70's, a 7" and 10" single speed ivory vibrator was about it until around '75...then we at least saw some changes...a black 7" and 10" single speed vibratorBig smile
  • B8trDude B8trDude 1 user seconded this question.

    What is your favorite toy? Winking

    That's like asking a Dad which child he like best! I really have a special connection to most everything, so please, don't make me choose!
  • victoria99 victoria99 1 user seconded this question.

    I've always taken an interest in the field of porn / sex toys and have wanted to be a distributor of sex toys and porn movies. I'd LOVE and I mean I'd LOVE to begin a journey on-line selling these items. It's been a life long dream of mine since I was in my beginning stages of college and the internet was something new to most. I'm thirty-nine currently. How can I be an online distributor and am I able to sell hard core porn online and how can I insure that I'm reaching out to the Legal Age Group? Thanks in Advance if you are able to answer.

    You really need to talk to one of our Distributors, or an Attorney who specializes in adult businesses....your question is very complex, and impossible for me to answer here. Look in AVN or XBiz magazines online...you will find articles written by some really great legal minds, any of which you could contact if you are serious.
  • Splendwhore Splendwhore 1 user seconded this question.

    Working in the industry as long as you have, I imagine you've met & befriended many people. Who inspired you the most? Who did you idolize or respect? Were there any figures that really stood out to you, even if they went unnoticed by others?

    Good question. I would say Reuben Sturman for his tenacity in establishing adult retailing in the US from the late 60's well into the late 80's (Sovereign New, Cleveland, Ohio), Larry Flynt, as a freedom fighter and staunch support of the First Amendment, Ron Braverman, a friend and the owner of Doc Johnson for pioneering the business, and Susan Colvin as the first woman to take on the boy's club, and change the entire face of the toy industry.

    Victoria (host): "That's a serious list there!"

  • Splendwhore Splendwhore 1 user seconded this question.

    I've heard that for most things in life, it's not about asking questions, but about asking the right questions. When in the planning stages of a product, how do you determine what features, design, properties, or even colors will best appeal to one, or multiple, demographics?

    Well, many long meetings and discussions that's for sure...then consultations with engineering to see if it can be done, and finally to our Focus Groups who help us tremendously in the final decision making process. We get to a working prototype sometimes, and find out that we were off the mark...other companies would look at the costs to get to that point, and go forward anyway with a "bad" product. That's what I love about Susan and CalExotics...the attitude is always "nothing ventured, nothing gained." We have scrapped many items if we felt they didn't stand up to final scrutiny.
  • deltalima deltalima 1 user seconded this question.

    What was your biggest motivator to fight the legal issues of porn and sex toys?

    I guess witnessing the awful events of May 4, 1970 at Kent State University. I was never a radical, but that day triggered something deep in my soul that has carried me in this business for 40 years, and will motivate me long after I leave the industry. Standing up for our basic rights is something that I will take to the grave.
  • Just Jen Just Jen 1 user seconded this question.

    If you could switch gender for a day/week would you? What all would you want to experiance?

    No thanks....although it's an intriguing question!. Maybe just long enough to find a guy, get his Platinum AMEX, and go on a shopping spree...oh, shit, I just described being my wife Smile
  • Just Jen Just Jen 1 user seconded this question.

    If you had to pick a song that described you, what song would it be and why?

    "I Did it My Way"....besides being my favorite Sinatra tune, it describes my life!
  • theoldesthighlander theoldesthighlander 1 user seconded this question.

    how do you help a woman reach her level 10 orgasm when she has had a hysterectomy and has a hard time staying lubricated.........need a real toy that does the job quickly when the lubrication cant hold up from taking such a long time........so the question is what is the baddest toy on the market that will get any girl off clit wise fast???????

    Well, my friend Dr. Laura Berman calls our Aphrodite Massager "the sure thing." Personally, our new Couture inspire is the most powerful compact massager I have personally ever felt....with a good lube, you are good to go!
  • Carrie Ann Carrie Ann 2 users seconded this question.

    Al, you are so friendly and open with us here on Eden. How do you make time in your day and stay so cheerful???? You're a busy man, no doubt. What's your absolute favorite part of your job now? And what's your favorite thing of all the things you've done?

    I love to write and teach, which is what I spend most of my time doing. My experiences, good or bad, help me guide the people I work with as much as possible, and writing is my passion. I probably spend 75% of my day at the computer. Anything you see in print, in catalogs, our site, or in the trades has my mark on it. That's day-to-day stuff.

    The most enjoyable thing I ever did in business was helping to found the Free Speech Coalition. I signed the charter back in 1991, and the organization still operates today with a great Director, Diane Duke. Her background with Planned Parenthood gives our industry a strong voice on issues that affect us all. I encourage everyone to join. www.freespeechcoalition.com
  • What was the craziest place an idea for a new product came from?

    The back of a wet cocktail napkin...someone gave me an idea, I was bombed at the time, wrote it on a napkin which I found in my pocket the next day. The item was "Good Head".
  • PassionQT PassionQT 2 users seconded this question.

    Since the adult sex industry is often seen negatively, is California Exotics doing anything positive in the community, such as such as promoting sex education, AIDS awareness, giving to charitable causes etc..?

    If you ever visit us, our lobby is covered with plaques from all the charities we sponsor. One that we spend the most on is Living Beyond Breast Cancer, a charitable organization that helps women regain their self image after sugery and treatment. www.lbbc.org WE are launching a whole new initiative for Breast Cancer Awareness Month...so the answer is an overwhelming, yes!
  • MuffysPinguLove MuffysPinguLove 2 users seconded this question.

    From what I've read of your bio and answers you've been a part of the industry since the beginning. What do you think was the most profound change you've witnessed in adult entertainment?

    The internet, for sure. It has changed the entire landscape of the industry...and, it helped us reach more end users then we ever were able to with brick and mortar stores.

    Victoria (host): "I completely agree!!!"

  • El-Jaro El-Jaro 2 users seconded this question.

    What kind of charitable works have you done in your career? Which are you most proud of?

    Personally, my wife and I support The Blind Children's Learning Center in Orange County California, and my wife is on the volunteer board of our local hospital. CalExotics gives to multiple charities, and in a very significant way.
  • TitsMcScandal TitsMcScandal 2 users seconded this question.

    Are you a brand loyalist and only use CalExotics products?

    Yes, but what I use, with whom, and when is personal Smile

    Victoria (host): "Al, you are quite modest :)"

  • anders anders 2 users seconded this question.

    It is my very strong belief that everyone needs a cause to fight and live for. From your interview and the questions you've already answered, I gather that you are a very passionate man. I would like to know, though, what your cause is. Is it freedom of speech? The right to legal sex toys and videos? Or is it something else entirely?

    You summed it up...I am passionate about protecting and defending the First Amendment...not just for our products and those of the video industry, but also television, radio, and the printed word. Adult products is only one section of my beliefs.
  • Profane Profane 2 users seconded this question.

    I'm an engineering student, so I sometimes have the urge to take apart my toys (especially the well-made ones) just to see how much effort goes into creating all the different moving parts. Now, if I weren't so attached to them, I'd do it. Winking So, my question is, where do you find the talent to create those inner workings? Do they come out of the woodwork or do you have to work at it?

    And since my geeky self has always been curious about how a toy comes into being...which comes first, the idea of the toy (all the bits and style), or is it a desire for a toy with a specific purpose? How long does it take for a toy to go from idea to on the shelf?

    Actually, they start with sketches from our Designers...then a clay model is made. It goes back-and-forth many times as we decide on a final shape and function we are trying to capture. From the final clay model, a hand made mold is created, and we start getting various materials samples, as well as colors (we always specify color)....while all this si going on, our Engineers are deciding on how to power the unit, and making schematics for production. It all comes together near the end as hand samples, which, once approved, triggers production molds, and we are off and running!
  • FFXPrincess FFXPrincess 2 users seconded this question.

    Why did you pick Eden Fantasys?

    Actually, they picked us Smile...as the premier web operators in the world, Eden Fantasys has partnered with us as a reliable source, with a strong reputation for quality and customer service.

    Victoria (host): "Well.. WOW, thank you for that compliment!!! And we picked well, huh? :)"

  • P'Gell P'Gell 2 users seconded this question.

    I'm always interested in the strange things that do catch on and things that were though to work, but simply didn't catch on or sell.

    Would you tell us, what toy in particular is Cal Exotics greatest Win and which one (if you don't mind) was it's greatest Fail?

    Tough question....I would say our greatest win was establishing the brand as a leader with a strong woman who started the business on a shoestring, took on a male dominated playing field, and won by creating the largest and most successful company of its type in the world. Our biggest loss...can't think of any, and that's a good thing! We have had products that outlive their usefulness with newer technology replacing it, but every item we have ever created had a life, but maybe not the legs for the long haul.
  • Splendwhore Splendwhore 2 users seconded this question.

    Are there any other endeavors you've been tempted to pursue? Either on the side while maintaining your current career, or solo?

    I started writing a book several years back, and hope to finish it over the next couple of years...it's a lot of true stories about me, the adult industry in the beginning, my legal woes, and where the business is today. Some really interesting stories...do you think it will have an audience?

    Victoria (host): "It will definitely have an audience! Please please finish that book!"

  • El-Jaro El-Jaro 3 users seconded this question.

    With America's puritanical mindset and desire for a larger business base, how long do you think it will be until one or the other wins out?

    How has international business helped the industry? Is there a particular country (other than the US) that really embraced adult novelty products more than the others?

    Excellent question! Quite simply, if in all this time, we have not been able to shed the bonds of our puritanical heritage, I'm not sure when that will ever happen. It is better, much better, and the information super highway through the internet has been a huge help...but we all know that around election time, pornography becomes the great whipping boy once again!

    One country that I can point to as embracing the adult business is Australia. I have visited there many times, and not being shackled by the puritans has made the industry fun and well represented. In fact, back in 1984 they actually legalized adult hardcore movies on video for home use...I flew down there and appeared on Good Morning Australia as it was big news. A week later, their government repealed the law....never quite learned if my appearance had anything to do with that, but I suspect it would have happened anyway!
  • TitsMcScandal TitsMcScandal 3 users seconded this question.

    What is your least favorite part of your job?

    I do all the hiring, at least the initial interview to test whether I feel someone will "fit" in our culture. I dislike it that I always seem to have more well qualified applicants than jobs. I wish I could hire them all!
  • SexYnCute Couple SexYnCute Couple 3 users seconded this question.

    What inspired you to make the jack rabbit. It is one of my favorite toys. What was the inspiration and the design concept to make a powerful toy?

    Actually, it already existed as a toy in Japan. The design is not original, but the addition of rotating beads, two-tone finish, and multi-speed power pack was added. It spawned a whole new acceptance once it made an appearance in Sex and the City. The original design was a dildo with the "bunny" positioned for clitoral contact.

    Victoria (host): "The rabbit is certainly an industry icon!"

  • Miss Naughty Kitty Miss Naughty Kitty 3 users seconded this question.

    What is your personal Favorite sex toy to use?

    Again with the personal questions....I have a few favorites which I will not go on the record naming, since my endorsement would likely shock people!
  • TechyDad TechyDad 3 users seconded this question.

    I know that the adult video industry hasn't quite taken to high def (for understandable reasons), but how do you think they'll take to video on demand technologies like Netflix. I know there are video on demand adult movie channels and websites where you can subscribe to watch adult movies, but do you think one company will arise, ala Netflix, that will let consumers watch movies from various studios streamed to their computer or to their TV?

    Lodge Net or one of the other big hotel on demand companies have the catalog of products, the expertise, and the money to do it. I don't see any one of the present studios pulling something so grand off.
  • B8trDude B8trDude 3 users seconded this question.

    As a man, if you had to get just one sex toy, what would it be?

    Just one? Yikes...probably a vibrating pump.
  • yourpartygal yourpartygal 4 users seconded this question.

    What would be your best advice for the average someone who would like to pursue a career in the toy designing industry? What steps would you suggest taking?

    Very tough field to break into. Most of the actual designers we use are overseas working at the factories we contract with. Our Art Director sends them our ideas, shapes, etc. and they embellish on it. If you have some interesting shapes/designs, let me know. We often pay people a fee for those if worthwhile.
  • ~LaUr3n~ ~LaUr3n~ 4 users seconded this question.

    Having a background in Criminal Law, I have a question out of curiosity. What is the most ridiculous or outlandish claim that you had to face/fight in terms of adult porn and sex toys legality?

    Seems I can't answer a question without giving away a chapter in my book! In a nutshell, I had just started working in the industry back in 1970. I would load my car (1970 Chevy Impala...the biggest trunk at the time) with magazines and racy paperback books. I was based in Chicago. One week, I would drive all through Illinois and sell what I took to newsstands and bookstores until I ran out, then I would continue on with samples and take orders. I would then go out to Indiana the following week and repeat the process. I drove between 1200 and 1500 miles every week!

    On one of my trips, I stopped and made a sale to a small drug store/newsstand in Kankakee Illinois. After we finalized the sale, and I collected payment, I got in my car to head out of town. Suddenly, there was a blur of lights and sirens, and I was ordered out of the car, handcuffed, and thrown in a squad car. My car keys were taken, and as we drove off, I saw my car being loaded on a flatbed truck.

    When we arrived at the police station, I was walked inside and placed in one of 4 holding cells...each of which were empty, and mine was the only one without a bed, or place to sit except the floor. I sat there for a good hour before anyone came back. It was a young cop in uniform, who told me to follow him as he had to take a picture and finger print me...I asked for a phone call, to which he replied "when we get to it." I then asked what I was being held for (up until now, nobody told me anything) and again, he said "when we get to it."

    Now in the office area, he took my picture with me holding a number placard, and told me to follow him for fingerprints. It was while I was getting the prints taken that this young uniform said to me "did you even go to school?" It took me by such surprise that I said "what?" His reply..."anyone selling kiddie porn I figure never had an education." It was at that moment that I understood completely what I was up against, and I had better hold my tongue.

    About an hour later, they came and took me from my cell again, and said I get one phone call, and it had to be collect. I called my wife, who called my boss, who called our Lawyer, Paul Ross.

    Paul Ross was a legendary criminal Attorney in Chicago. He was near retirement age, but as I later found out, his career in defending the First Amendment made him somewhat the celebrity at that time. He drove down, posted bail, and I met him for the first time in court where a judge approved bail and I was free to go...the charge was indecency, and sale of obscene materials. Before we drove out of town, Paul asked me to point out where I parked my car near the store when I was dealing with the owner. He looked around, didn't write anything down, and said "ok kid, let's go."

    Fast forward about a year. Many motions filed, we were seated in a courtroom in Kankakee for my trial...to be heard by a Judge without a jury...Paul waived my right to a trial by jury...and I soon learned why.

    The first witness was the arresting Officer, a guy I never saw before. He took the stand, was sworn in, and proceeded to tell his story of how he "observed me selling obscene magazines" from my car, parked in front of the newsstand. Once he finished, it was Paul's turn to question him. Paul brought a poster board up before the stand, and set it on an easel..it was a diagram of the street, the store, and my car. He asked the Officer to once again, point out where my car was parked, and..."where were you Officer while you were observing Mr. Bloom?" The cop got down from his seat. came to the board, and pointed to a spot around the corner on the cross street...and said "I was right here."

    It was at that moment that I learned why Paul Ross was so good at what he did! He asked the Officer to take his seat and asked, "when was the last time you had your eyes examined," at which time the Prosecutor objected. The Judge asked Mr. Ross where he was going with that line of questioning, at which Paul replied with a flourish of his hand, "your Honor, may it please the court...I am about to prove that this Officer most certainly must have extraordinary eyesight , because if his testimony was accurate as to his position when he "observed" Mr. Bloom, his car, and the shop owner, then he must have X-Ray vision..."your Honor, there is a building on that corner, and to see Mr. Bloom, the Officer had to be looking directly through bricks and mortar!" There was dead silence in the courtroom, and it seemed to me like an eternity before anyone spoke.

    The Judge, an older gentleman, peered over his reading glasses at Mr. Ross, then the Officer, and then at the Prosecutor...he said, "Mr. Ross, it is an honor to have you in my courtroom today. I have heard of your prowess for many years in the great city of Chicago, and I am most pleased to meet you today. Mr. Prosecutor, do you have anything further to say regarding the Officer's testimony?" The Prosecutor was glaring at the Officer still seated on the stand...he replied "no, your Honor. The Judge then dropped his gavel and said "Mr. Bloom, we are so sorry to have put you through all of this...case dismissed." I was stunned, and my first reaction was to jump with joy...seeing my reaction, Paul put his hand on my shoulder, and quickly said to the Judge..."there is a matter of an impounded vehicle, and my client would like that returned along with the contents." The Judge said, "so orderd." And that was that.

    Paul drove me to the impound lot, and my car was returned...all the merchandise was gone, and the car had over 3000 miles driven on it since it was taken. In all of my arrests after that, it was all about defending the First Amendment, but in that moment in 1971, I understood what a game of cat-and-mouse this business was, and to what lengths people would go to stifle free expression.

    This is a true story...a moment in time that set my course for the rest of my life. Few people can understand my reasoning, but to me, it was clear.

    Victoria (host): "What a crazy story of corruption! I am so glad you overcame it!"

  • This isn't a question, but a response in regards to your answer of a previous question of mine in which you stated you were writing a book.

    "I started writing a book several years back, and hope to finish it over the next couple of years...it's a lot of true stories about me, the adult industry in the beginning, my legal woes, and where the business is today. Some really interesting stories...do you think it will have an audience?"

    Absolutely!! I'd definitely love to read about your exploits in the industry. I'm sure a lot of people would enjoy that. I'll be looking forward to it, when you decide to publish. Smile

    Read my last post for a small preview...true story.
  • Sammi Sammi 5 users seconded this question.

    What toy were you most surprised to see be successful, and why?

    Nothing surprises me...does that mean I'm jaded?

    Victoria (host): "It means you've really lived life, and have paid attention all along! At least, that's what i tell myself ;)"

  • In 10 years, where do you see the company being and what do you anticipate your role will be? Will you keep continuing until you don't like it or do you plan to leave while "it's good"?

    I see the company on a path to long term success, and there is no reason that won't continue. California Exotic Novelties is a well run, and well financed business that will continue to innovate and produce products that cover all the price point markets. In other word, something for everyone! For me, well I will keep at it until I don't enjoy it anymore, but right now, I'm having a ball!
  • What do you feel about new technology being integrated with toys now? Is is ruining a pleasurable activity or innovating it?

    Definitely enhancing it. There are still plenty of consumers who stick with the tried and true, but new entrants in the sex toy market are looking for hi tech products to move to the next level of pleasure

    Victoria (host): "Agreed - the evolution of technology has been a wonderful thing for us!"

  • Okay, you've got me convinced that men need more than one toy. Now I'm curious as to how you cum up with ideas for new toys. Do you have an R & D department or are they created from customer suggestion? Of course, your product testers must have a lot of fun too!

    We do have several R&D departments...one Stateside, and 4 others at factories we use around the world. Between them, and our Focus groups, we come up with some pretty creative stuff!
  • There are now quite a large number of rechargeable style toys on the market, do you think this will be the way of the future as opposed to batteries?

    WE are counting on it! Our new Vanity by LOPEN line is 100% rechargeable using hi-end lithium ion technology. To create the awesome power of these items required more than just alkaline batteries. Rechargeables, once a bust for us, is finally getting a new look from consumers,

    Victoria (host): "I personally feel very thankful that the industry is avidly embracing rechargeable battery options!"

  • What do you think are the greatest ground breaking adult toys within each decade of your career?

    70's saw the first multi-speed vibrators...using a rheostat in the base,
    80's saw the expansion of carded product proliferating the stores for self-service.
    90's saw the firsts of remote control, multi-function, waterproof, and life-like materials
    2000-2010 saw solar powered twice...once as a bust out, then again in 2010 as a success story. Also, the use of silicone, TPR, and TPE at a much greater use...phthalate free became our marching orders.
  • I read in one of your questions that you're working on a book. I was wondering what your creative process is like? Has working for a sex toy company and being around constant product development influenced your process or changed the way you approach your writing?

    P.S. I hope that you finish your book soon, because it sounds like it would be a very interesting read. Also, thank you for taking the time to answer all our questions Smile

    Thank you. The book encompasses my many roles in the adult industry starting in 1970...from distribution, to retail, to 8mm film, to Video, to Toys. I have pretty much touched and worked in every aspect of the business. And now, I have been concentrating on the new web technologies to round out my resume as "cief cook and bottle washer!"
  • VieuxCarre VieuxCarre 1 user seconded this question.

    Do you think that the advancements in technology is going to affect the porn industry? Will porn producers start making DVD's and Blu-Ray discs that are compatible to the new 3-D televisions that will be produced in the near future?

    I was recently a guest on an industry panel that addressed this very issue. I was surprised to hear from some of the top studio heads that hi definition did not take off and soar as they expected. The concensus was that too explicit was not erotic...and their sales reflected it. I am sure 3D will have its chance, but ultimately the viewers will decide if they want or need to see such rich close-up detail.
  • VieuxCarre VieuxCarre 1 user seconded this question.

    Did you ever consider becoming and adult film star yourself while you worked in the industry?

    Never for one second! As Forest Gump said...that's all I have to say about that!

    Victoria (host): "Hahaha, and you saw it firsthand! I love the candid responses here!"

  • Love Buzz Love Buzz 1 user seconded this question.

    Over the years what do you think is the one technological advance that has had the greatest impact on the sex toy industry?

    Rabbit style stimulators with multiple function. That is what built a company like California Exotic Novelties, and represents the biggest category we sell.
  • Love Buzz Love Buzz 1 user seconded this question.

    Just today I have read a review on a blog by a california Exotics 'sexpert' in which the writer claims the product wasn't made out of the 100% silicone that it's packaging claims. As an important member of the California Exotics team how important to you is it that you create quality toys from high quality body safe materials? (sorry if my question sounds rude or inflammatory as that isn't my intention)

    I've heard this also, mostly from the silicone mongers. They came up with some "fire test"...we don't quite understand what setting a dildo on fire proves...there are all different grades of silicone, so to test any of them by lighting them of fire proves nothing. If a package says silicone, then it is. In the early days of producing phthalate free products, several factories tried to pass off TPR and TPE as silicone. Thankfully we had that mess sorted out 2 years ago, and I know everything we sell that says silicone on the packaging is just that.
  • Dusk Dusk 1 user seconded this question.

    With more sex-positive campaigns arising and the transition from the adult video and toy industry from underground to more readily available, what kind of positive and negative effects do you think the change is having on the world's youth? I'm also wondering if you are working on anything currently to accentuate this positive effects and continue to make sex education and positivity more available.

    Education is the cornerstone of CalExotics, and it flows from the top. Susan Colvin holds two advanced degrees, a masters in communication, and an MBA. She encourages all employees to further their education,,,and she pays for them to go. We take what we know, and spend time in stores, in distributorships, and at web operators working with staff to teach as much as possible about our products, their features, and selling points. This has been Susan's mission since starting CalExotics back in 1994.

    Victoria (host): "What a wonderful and holistic approach to team-building and modeling leadership for staff!"

  • Carrie Ann Carrie Ann 1 user seconded this question.

    I have to ask...

    After so long in the adult industry, does your wife ever get jealous? I'd say now she probably reaps the benetifs - heh! - but how about back when you were doing so much in the adult film industry? Was it hard, being married and so involved in it all? Hard for her? How about you?

    She is not the jealous type. We are celebrating our 40th anniversary this year...if I was to accuse her of any kind of jealousy, it would have been the very business itself that kept me away on projects and traveling around the world.
  • B8trDude B8trDude 1 user seconded this question.

    According to reviews on this (and other) sites for Cal Exotic's Jack Master, the packaging for this masturbating apparently states that it was "just voted #1 masturbator by the American Pumpers Association."

    Could you tell us something about the "American Pumpers Association?" Is Cal Exotics affiliated with them? How many "members" voted on the Jack Master? What other products were also considered by the "pumpers" in the vote?
    Winking

    It's a small group of pump users who contacted us several years back. They are pretty much underground, but when we have a new pump, we send it to them and get feedback from them. I attended one of their meetings several years back, and they are legit...but, not at all interested in making a splash in the market. It took several years before they would even agree to endorse products.
  • Victoria Victoria 1 user seconded this question.

    What have you thought of the questions in this interview? Did you expect it to go the many directions it went in? How does it feel to have the most active Community Interview in Eden's history thus far?? (124 questions and counting, oh my goodness!)

    I found it very thought provoking, intelligent, and a direct reflection of where the business has evolved to.

    Victoria (host): "Well, thank you on behalf of our entire community! You have been an incredible sport in answering all of these questions and sharing so much with us!"

  • ToyTimeTim ToyTimeTim 1 user seconded this question.

    Really great of you to give so much of your time and input. It is really amazing all the questions you have answered. Thanks

    Any thing in the works for guys along the JOPEN path?

    I'm working on a floor display fixture for high-end retailers to show off the first 12 items in this awesome line.
  • Carrie Ann Carrie Ann 2 users seconded this question.

    What do you do on your down time? Golfer, reader?

    Golf, yes. I live on a golf course. I read basically the paper ever day cover to cover, and online news, chats, and blogs. I used to be an avid reader of books, but I am shot with all the online stuff I do every day...and, I spend lots of time with my 8 year old twin grandsons.

    Victoria (host): "We had no idea you are an avid golfer! And it is so sweet to hear that you are a grandpop and spend time with the kids. Family makes it all worth it!"

  • Magician Magician 3 users seconded this question.

    How would you imagine your job would be like in a different time in history? For example, If you were marketing a new machine sex toy during the industrial revolution, what kind of challenges would you expect to encounter and what do you think may have been easier?

    I had all the legal challenges I could handle in the 1970's...no thanks on times before that! People went to jail for what we freely do today. I was just happy to have my roots in a business that was just emerging as a business in 1970. The challenge, to this day, is avoiding legal hassles. Did everyone know that many States have "device laws" on their books, and regularly prosecute for selling toys in their state? It still goes on...Alabama and Mississippi are particularly onerous, as is Utah.
  • Carrie Ann Carrie Ann 3 users seconded this question.

    How do you feel about negative product reviews? I know I've been round and round with people on this and, on one hand, fully realize they're necessary to weed out the bad from the good but have issues with "how" they're often done. How has this worked out for the Sexpert program? Do you guys give any advice regarding what folks should do and how you'd like to see it handled when a product is poo?

    We relish the free thinking, good or bad. I learned long ago that bad press is better than no press...so, the items we send to our 100+ Sexperts have been selling out, a phenomenon never before happening at CalExotics. We don't censor reviews, nor do we release anyone from the program for a bad review. It keeps us on our toes, but it also spreads the word.

    Victoria (host): "and coming from us, you know we totally agree! Let them share their experiences and give all the details - there is much to be learned!"

  • Victoria Victoria 4 users seconded this question.

    We have a tradition around here... would you be so kind?, and finish this sentence: "Sex is.."

    ...wonderful, wonderous, and the cornerstone of a happy and fulfilled life.
  • Madeira Madeira 8 users seconded this question.

    If you could magically invent a technology to improve sex toys what would it be and why? (E.G.: A magical new material that stays warm, a superior toy for simulating the experience of oral sex for women, etc)

    Let's go with the warm material...a conundrum for many years. With all of the life-like materials today, the feel of warm flesh tops the list of "how to do it?" We have experimented over the years with little or no success, We've tried in hot water, microwave, and inner heating elements...nothing holds the heat for any length of time, so it's frustrating.

Forum

Recent discussions Posts Last post Category
Favorite Interview Questions? 2 08/18/2010 Personal Experiences
best 1 10/31/2010 Vibrators
this job 4 10/23/2011 Vibrators
Making a Living the buzzy way. 5 04/03/2012 Doc Johnson
Best advice for buying sex furniture? 1 03/17/2013 Sex Furniture

About Director of Marketing at California Exotic Novelties, Al Bloom

Company: Cal Exotics
Occupation: Director of Marketing
Achievements: Joel Warner "Good Guy" award, 1989 - Adult Video Association; “Industry Founder's Award" 2003 - Free Speech Coalition; inducted into the Adult Video News Hall of Fame - January 2009
Current Project: Launching new luxury brand label Vanity by Jopen...Jopen is a new company that is being used as a platform to move products into the mainstream marketplace.
Statement: Over my 40 years so far in the adult industry, it has been an honor and privilege to be in this industry.
Publications: Bound to Succeed 5/2010 Erotic Trade Only (UK), Talking Heads 6/2010 XBiz Premier, Reader's Lives 7/2010 Erotic Trade Only (UK), Everything Big Started out Small 2/2010 Erotic Trade Only (UK)
Education: BBA Marketing Kent State University 1970, Advanced Legal Studies USC School of Law
Age: 63
Editor’s note: What an awesome opportunity, to get perspective from Al Bloom who has nearly seen it and done it all!

Host

Victoria

Victoria knows sex toys & adult products, their ardent lovers & makers. She's Eden's Marketing Director, helps wrangle the community, does outreach, and manages the company's social media. She also raises kids, reads a lot, loves music and kitties, writes a bit and snuggles with the Yeti.

Recent interviews

  • July 11, 2012 Fred Petrenko: "EdenFantasys Celebrates 10 Years of Sexy Innovation! " Read full interview
  • January 24, 2012 Sex Educator and Author, Ducky Doolittle: "Ducky Doolittle, an Author, Speaker, Educator, and Activist, has spent the last 23 years being on the forefront of sexual education. Why did she decide to become a sex educator? How did she come up with the title and content for her book? What does she plan on doing next?" Read full interview
  • November 15, 2011 Editor and Author, Delilah Devlin: "Delilah Devlin, an editor and author, has tried multiples careers in her life before finding her calling in writing erotica. What brought her into writing and editing erotica? Where does she get her inspiration for her writing? What's the hardest part about being a full-time writer? " Read full interview
All interviews