Plug Me, Jesus
Tristan is on vacation, so here's a freaky flashback from 2001.
When I was eight years old, my devout grandmother gave me and my cousins the same gift for Easter: four shiny gold crosses dangling from four delicate chains for her four Catholic girls. Make that three. I proudly announced over our turkey dinner that I didn't believe in God, and I refused to wear my shimmering crucifix charm. I didn't know what I was talking about exactly; I just knew that religion, especially the Catholicism both my parents were raised with, made me suspicious. My grandmother thought my rejection was blasphemous.
Gram, God rest her soul, probably wouldn't approve of my current run-ins with religion, which, somehow, always involve sex. Like plenty of ex-Catholics, I'm guilty of shouting the name of the Supreme Being I supposedly don't believe in during a rockin' orgasm. I've also got a secret fantasy of deflowering young Hasidic men. And yes, I can jerk off to Britney wearing her Catholic-school uniform.
Yet when I stumbled on the website for a start-up sex toy company called Divine Interventions (divine-interventions.com), I was sure I'd finally seen the light. Photos of the company's productssilicone dildos and butt plugs modeled after religious figuresaccompany irreverent text: "This boy can make a rock wet, a bush burn, and get the entire Pharaoh's army in hot pursuit! If you've been wandering in the wilderness too long, Moses is the man to lead you to the promised land." These are no cheap novelties either; they are impeccably designed, deliciously detailed, and oh so naughty. Picture a soothing blue phallic Virgin Mary with balls.
Based (where else?) in Northern California, Divine Interventions is the brainchild of two thirtysomething friends: English-born Nigel Ramsbottom, who does legal work by day, and ex-Virginian Erik Core, a musician. Nigel brings the heterosexual perspective to their world of Deity Dildos "R" Us: "He's the only person I know who's not a sexual deviant," says Erik. "I'm open to trying new things," Nigel responds. As for Erik's proclivities: "I'd say I'm gay, and so would all the guys I sleep with," he says. Erik has studied many different kinds of spirituality and is a very religious man. What religion, he won't exactly say, referring to it as "a form of metaphysics."
But he was late for our April Fools' Day interview because he was at church. On the other hand, Nigel is the atheist in the family.
So what spirit possessed these two guys to go into business together turning religious figures into sex toys? Erik plays the straight man when it comes to their mission: "I have a lot of friends who work in religious organizations, from Buddhists to Catholics, and the response from everyone has been wonderful. People enjoy the concept. They think it's very liberating, freeing, and healing." Nigel sees the lighter side of their work: "The possibilities are endless for this genre of action figures. And no one else has done it. In the end, it's humorous, but we also take it very seriously. This country is a little too uptight about sex and religion. Now we have the baby-Jesus butt plug to loosen us up." I personally put the young Lord and Savior up my ass and found the experience quite redeeming.
Nigel and Erik secured funding for their spiritual journey from private investors and their own plastic. (Nigel: "Thank the Lord for credit cards.") They teamed up with a "crazy Frenchman sculptor" who designs the immaculate conceptions. After experimenting with different materials, they decided silicone was the best and began production. When the website went up, they told a few friends to check it out, and much to their surprise, the site got more than 20,000 hits in its first week. The most devout visitors forked over cash for a pious penis. Although Nigel and Erik can't say how many holy cocks they've sold"We're not the best accountants in the world"they have orders backed up.
Their bestselling item is a silicone replica of Jesus on the cross (the Jackhammer Jesus). It's Nigel's favorite: "Maybe because it's so sacrilegious. I love the way it looks. I haven't tested any yet, though. Erik's the in-house tester." While Erik does love the crucifixion dong on the basis of pure pleasure, he also adores Buddha's Delight, "because he looks so good on my mantel with my Buddha statues and icons." My girlfriend immediately fell to her knees for Buddha, a creamy pale-green creation with a rounded bald head, a cherubic cheeky grin, and folds of flesh that rub in all the right places. Her cunt never was so Zen as it was after Buddha had been there. She'll never be able to look at another Buddha statue without grinning from ear to ear.
Picture a soothing blue phallic Virgin Mary with balls.
One curious retail phenomenon that Nigel and Erik have discovered: They ship more divining rods to Texas, by a margin of three or four to one, than to any other state in the union. They won't reveal if the Lord cast in silicone was shipped to the governor's mansion in 2000, but there's still time for Dubya to order Mary for Laura for Mother's Day.
And they are just getting started; they've got more sacred sex toys in development, including the diving nun ("she'll dive into any hole"), the hand of God and the fist of fury, a Buddha butt plug, and anal rosary beads. In addition to experimenting with glow-in-the-dark and glitter silicone, Nigel and Erik want to make David and Goliath, Disco Mary, and the Devil and Jesus double dong. I told them I want more Jewish ones. "We have Moses," says Erik. And he can part my pink sea anytime.
I've noticed there are some religions not represented among the dildos (which, by the way, they have trademarked). Is there any faith they won't tackle? "No Muslim figures. We've had a number of requests for them; however, we cherish our lives," explains Erik, who's also exploring a pagan creation. "I'd like to do a group Hindu dildo," he adds. Nigel interrupts with his veto: "I've already been told not to go there. But I would like to make some latex Mormon underwear." I asked the duo if they have been targeted by any religious groups for blasphemy. "Not yet, thank God," says Erik. "I don't think we could have kept up with the orders if we had been." And what about L. Ron Hubbard, father of Scientology? "Hmmm. We could do Travolta. That would be cool." I don't think even my grandmother could object to a sacred John Travolta dildo.
Please visit puckerup.com
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.