This weekend saw the opening of a new boutique in suburban Prague’s Westfield Chodov mall. Not exactly newsworthy unless, of course, you consider what’s for sale: a Czech-made vibrator that is both an erotic toy and a work of art.
The Whoop.de.doo began life as the master’s thesis of its creator, then Czech design student Anna Marešová. It quickly garnered significant buzz, winning the 2011 National Prize for Student Design. In 2016 it won an International Red Dot Award. The boutique, according to Marešová, represents an “experiment” that literally brings the act of shopping for sex aids into the open.
Marešová’s collection also includes Venus Balls, designed to increase circulation and sensitivity in the pelvic floor. This year as part of its ongoing focus on women’s health, the brand will release a reusable menstrual cup. A vibrating egg that can be used for both vaginal and clitoral stimulation is currently in development. The entire line was created with input from gynecologists and sexologists.
While Marešová believes that people have always been open to her project, she says her erotic toys have gained wider acceptance since debuting in 2013. “It’s much better now than five to seven years ago. People are still shy about this topic but more than anything they are just really curious about how it works.”
Anyone who’s feeling a bit bashful about purchasing a sex toy at the mall, across from the C&A and near the Fruittissimo, will have nowhere to hide in this tiny glass shopfront, and Marešová sees that as a good thing. “I think communication is important. It’s very important to talk about this because it’s not just about the toys it’s about healing and health.”
The history of the vibrator in Czechoslovakia differs from that of the Western tradition where it was originally marketed as a medical tool for both men and women.
“I think you had to buy them on the black market,” says Marešová. “The Czech Republic was influenced by German taste, especially after the Velvet Revolution when there were so many products coming here, poor quality, cheap products, ugly and awful. This is what made erotic toys taboo. You wanted to hide them.”
Marešová’s choice of materials are what make her product unique — encased in silicone, flexible and smooth to the touch the Whoop.de.doo might remind you of a vibrating Brâncuși sculpture. Rechargeable, waterproof, and featuring three motors for calibrating hand-held thrills, it also carries an art-gallery price tag.
Marešová responds: “I wanted to have different prices but I developed everything in the Czech Republic and produced everything here and couldn’t make it cheaper. If I make it cheaper I can’t achieve the same results or control the production. I think it’s worth it.”
The price still hasn’t stopped her from racking up thousands of customers to date, a wide demographic ranging from mothers recovering from childbirth and an older generation of Czech women.
“I am very surprised that we have not only young customers but also women over sixty who use the Venus Balls to address incontinence and strengthen pelvic muscles,” says Marešová.
She hopes the new pop-up boutique, open through December 31, will, if not exactly make the Whoop.de.doo a household name, possibly create the exposure needed to attract an investor. “I want people to ask not ‘Do you have an erotic toy?’ but do you have a Whoop.de.doo?” she says.