Paladin of clitorises (and famous vibrators): interview with Gia Balestra
You may have noticed that it I rarely write about sex toys on ayzad.com. Sure, from time to time I enjoy presenting the weirdest ones in my Don’t buy it! series, but I am generally more interested in different aspects than a mundane review, such as their design. Some trends however are so striking you can’t ignore them, especially since they aren’t limited to the rest of the world anymore, and reached Europe too.
I am talking about the Magic Wand, which you probably have heard about already at least because every woman who used it becomes a rabid evangelist. Men less so, not really due to competitivity (fear of being substituted by a sex toy is idiotic, and to overcome it you just learn to do things that no vibrator will ever be able to) but because it’s ugly as hell, looks like a blender and it has a frankly fearsome power if you picture it applied to genitals. And yet.
Yet the Magic Wand is unanimously considered the best vibrator in the world, so much it is widely imitated and even counterfeited… but all of the ladies I spoke with confirm the original remains unparalleled. So I set down to research it, and I discovered a much more interesting story than I expected.
Created in 1968 in Japan by Hitachi as an actual massaging device, it was characterized from the beginning by the soft “head” and the power cord, which allows the use of a largely more powerful motor than those normally used in sex toys. Two years after the launch already the designers realized that the success of their product had something strange to it: either Japanese citizens were extraordinarily good at getting sprains and dislocations, or the item was being used for different purposes than the intended one. Identifying them wasn’t hard, so much that the power was quickly further increased, the head made more pleasant to the touch… and incongruous pictures of very, very happy girls began to appear on the box.
The new advertising claim became an even more improbable «light as a feather’s touch!», the shape changed slightly to remove any sharp edge and in 1975 the United States also got invaded by that ambiguous object, now featuring a two-speed motor with the ungodly power of 24 watts. If you think that most regular vibrators won’t reach over 1 watt you can easily understand the enthusiasm of the many housewives who, until then, customarily sat on their washing machines during the spin cycle “to hold it still, or it will bother the neighbors”. The federal commission for electrical devices safety also got wind of it, imposing some power reduction in the ‘90s.
The funniest part of the whole story however is Hitachi’s embarrassment in admitting they also produced a sex toy. As a matter of fact, the company never officially recognized that use for its product: when the media began remarking its reticence, it simply removed the Hitachi brand from the box in 1998, and in 2013 it eventually sold patent and rights to its American distributor Vibratex – which is why today the toy is just called ‘Magic Wand Original’ officially.
The sole problem of this little wonder was, at least until a short time ago, how it was only sold overseas. Sure, you could have one sent over from the United States, but to use it you’d need a plug adapter and a power transformer… so it isn’t strange if around here it remained a mistery for most. At least, until somebody had the obvious idea of producing a licensed version modified for the European power grid and calling it, unsurprisingly, Europe Magic Wand.
The vibrator is identical to its USA counterpart, with a few minor changes that make it even better. First among them is a longer cord that allows to use it in a marginally less awkward way; the speed control has now more levels in order to make it pleasant even to those without an armored clitoris… and the “ball” is of a more easily washable silicone than the original. Is everything perfect, then. Well, not exactly.
Fact is, all Magic Wands produced after the patent was sold mount a less powerful motor (15 watts, which are sufficient to mix concrete anyway) and are slightly more fragile than the old Hitachis, which had been conceived under a Prussian heavy industry logic – to wit: it is normal that 45-year old models are still smoothly running today. Unless you use them as baseball bats, however, they should last for years without particular issues.
Of course as soon as I had one on hand I opened it to see what the secret of the most famous vibrator in the world was all about – and the answer was predictably clear. There are in fact three secrets: an especially heavy “head” offering enough inertia to amplify its 6,000 vibes per minute; a flexible neck to insulate the handle from the vibrations, and a fan preventing motor overheating, hence allowing it to run at faster speeds. Exactly those elements that somehow most of the clones available online skimp on, making them less efficient and safe.
However, as I immersed myself in my mad scientist’s experiments and researched the toy sale network, I noticed a known name among the Italian distributors. Or, more precisely, a name I had already heard in other places connected with female pleasure. So, skipping from clit to clit, the following interview was born
Hi Gia, and thank you for the availability. Shall we begin with your introduction?
I was born in Milano in 1960 and grew up in the lush Venetian countryside. I studied gemology and I am a designer by trade. And a traveller, almost vegan.
Is it just my imagination, or we did meet in Berlin years ago?
We might have brushed at the Kit Kat Club, where I cut my MicroBondage dresses! The Kit Kat is my favorite venue in Berlin, and I love its bizarre, intoxicated yet so very polite carnival atmosphere.
These dresses seem like the perfect answer for those who keep complaining about “not having anything right” to attend fetish/BDSM parties… I wonder when will they understand that a bit of creativity can solve everything! However, how did you invent them, and how do you create them?
The first MicroBondage prototypes, also known as The Pornopinks, were born during my lazy afternoons on the Palolem beach in Goa, India. They were an instant success, since the very first dresses I cut there. So much that when the request increased I had to go buying the special cotton they use in Tiripur, in the Indian region of Tamil Nadu where it is woven. I dressed half of alternative Berlin with these outfits!
Yet, today your main business is importing the Europe Magic Wand to Italy, right? I am very curious to learn how did you come to this decision… but especially how did you make a reality. How do you become a sex toys importer and distributor?
In my case it all began with the success of my short film Clitorissima, which won the Exceptional Creative Vision Award at the New York Cinekink Film Festival. That gave me the courage to send the video to Amok Marketing Sa, the Danish company producing the Europe Magic Wand, and to ask to become their Italian agent. I got a positive answer within 12 hours, and today I am very honored to represent such a legendary sex toy.
In fact, along with the rabbit and the Sybian, the Magic Wand is considered one of the best sex toys ever pretty much by everyone. Out of curiosity: how do you promote the product, and how many have been sold in Italy so far?
I actually began just a few weeks ago and I am still in the setup phase. Let’s say I am my own agency and I am seeing how word of mouth is paramount in these things. This is why I am trying to get in touch with powerful, refined and sexually positive female figures, who can suggest to all the women who already own a vacuum cleaner and a microwave oven to treat themselves to the Rolls Royce of vibrators too.
The official policy is not to reveal exact figures, but I can say that compared to North Europe, the units sold here in Italy are predictably much, much less.
Your justified interest for female pleasure is also the basis of the Clitorissima project you mentioned earlier, which I stumbled upon seeing your online photos where you are walking around with a giant clitoris strapped to your back like a backpack. But what is it, exactly?
Clitorissima is the result of roughly 16 years of independent research on female sexuality, which began with my mother educating me with the false narrative that minors cannot have orgasms because their body isn’t “adult”. I didn’t question this lie until I was 40… then the truth popped up without warning. Now I am like those cult escapees: I am obsessed and pissed about the information I didn’t get and the brainwashing performed by the Catholic Church…
How can it be possible that, with all their saunas and young lovers, the gay priests in Rome have more sexual entertainment options than Italian women, who are still struggling to accept the concept of buying a vibrator? Talking about figures, a man in Italy has an army of 50,000 sex workers of both genders a click away, while women don’t even know their own body. This is pure madness. This sexual ignorance is unacceptable in 2016: women must wake up!
Watching your documentary I was struck by some surprising statements, such as those by women who “discovered they had a clitoris” only at a very advanced age. Which are the most curious stories you met during your interviews?
Before going off to interview strangers about clitoral awareness I wanted to begin with all the women in my own family, including my mother and my aunt. The latter told me she became aware of her clitoris at 40, after she had two children!
One of the ladies I interviewed said hers arrived when she opened a kitchen drawer and hit herself there… Another one yet recalled she used a fresh apricot on her vulva as lubricant. More recently, a girl told me that when she masturbated at the age of 7/8 she was convinced she had invented the orgasm, because nobody had told her anything so she thought she was the only one in the world to feel those sensations!
By the way: how many people did you interview? I understand it is still an open project, right?
In Berlin I interviewed about 150 clitoris owners. I would like the Clitorissima project to become global, like a Clitoris Epiphany, but at the moment I can only promote it via guerrilla marketing. Next year I’ll have the funds to get serious, and I’d like to continue the project with 150 more interviews all over the world. This is something I decided to dedicate the whole rest of my life, and given that I have 30-40 more years before me there is lots to do!
Today Clitorissima is on every social media; every single day I send out email messages and letters to the female journalists writing about sexuality, yet I never got a single reply from Italy. The fault is in the wall we have in our heads, which we can however breach with information. I am confident: this is a simple and easily understandable project, that doesn’t involve special machinery nor costs.
How can a reader watch the complete edition of Clitorissima?
The current version of the video is about 15 minutes long. They could start with the trailer, which is easy to find online. Then they can watch it in the streamed rentable version, and of course at the festivals it keeps entering.