There’s historically been a lot of shame around discussing pleasure. Specifically sexual pleasure. Which is strange, since 18–29 year-olds are reportedly having sex at least twice a week. And that doesn’t even include self-pleasure. So why the self-censoring? It could have something to do with branding.

Normalise this

That’s the thinking behind intimacy brand Normal Co, founded by Lucy Wark and Georgia Grace in 2021. It offers a range of sex aids and toys that are as aesthetically pleasing as they are physically satisfying. Wark says they’re products you’d be happy to “have in your house or [on] your bedside table.”

“At that time we felt that there was a gap in the market for a brand that looked really different from a lot of the traditional corny and horny, or ‘Chemist Warehouse meets PornHub’, kind of aesthetics of brands. So something that was really shame-free and looked beautiful.”

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“We’d seen some pretty wild toys designed over the past few years that don’t even work to stimulate an erogenous zone or a sensitive part of the body,” adds Grace. “We know the anatomy, we did a lot of research into it. We know what feels good for people, and we design toys around making the best tools to support people and having really good orgasms.”

They recently teamed up with reality TV star Abbie Chatfield on a butt plug package called Option A, and even devised a quiz for first-timers to find the exact toy to meet their needs. If you’re too impatient for that, go straight to the bestseller. “The Quinn is our click toy and it can work in two ways,” says Wark. “You can get air pulses that sort of feel like really good oral sex, and you can also experience vibrations. A lot of people say it helped them have their first clitoral orgasm.”

Happie days

A healthy sex life isn’t just about the end goal, either. It can also be about taking better care of your “end” both before and after sex. That’s the idea behind Melbourne-based brand Happie Holl, a post-sex and day-to-day care regimen of soothing balms for “butt ouchies”. If you were at the recent Midsumma festival, you might already be familiar with Happie Holl’s ingenious branding courtesy of the lilac-hued “putt butt”. “The number of butt jokes available is a copywriter’s dream,” says founder Marc Lyons. A brand consultant now known as the Butt Guru, Lyons launched Happie Holl after encountering less than stellar advice from his doctor when it came to practical information on anal care.

“I’d developed a chronic fissure with a long-term partner, which meant I couldn’t have the sex that I enjoyed … and that put a lot of strain on our relationship and made me feel unsexy.”

The advice from doctors – a headache-inducing gel and no sex for up to six months – offered little comfort. So Lyons found an open-minded pharmacist who was eager to take on something a “little left field”. To road test the product Lyons circulated samples of his after anal cooling cream and sore butt soothing balm among his friends. “Testing often involved hosting dinner parties … with a mix of guests who were queer, gay, trans, straight – just a real mix of people. Then, after a few wines, getting them to try the product.”

More surprising is how mainstream the topic of anal care and play has become – department store David Jones sells the brand online. “Not only is David Jones progressive enough to take on a brand like Happie Holl, but by doing so they’re really advocating for more progressive ideas around sex and helping dissolve stigma around butt play.”

Lube up

Breaking down stigma and creating safer products also motivated Kate Ingham to launch her own lubricant line, Tussle. “I wanted to build a community and a brand that helps us embrace our curiosities without shame,” says Ingham.

Despite an early setback (the pharmacist who formulated the original Wetstuff lubricant passed away during the research phase), Ingham found a chemist to create the exact product she wanted. “There’s so many chemicals in products you find on the shelf … I wanted to specifically curate products that were top-quality and medical-grade, and make lubricants that are natural and designed for your body.”

Ingham says that what’s inside is only half the story. Much like the Normal Co team, she wanted to create something you wouldn’t be ashamed of throwing into your shopping cart. Tussle looks more like a luxury body product than it does a lube. “The [average] packaging has so much shame associated with it! I certainly wouldn’t be proud walking out of a store with a neon-coloured phallic object,” she says.

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