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Mayor Thomas Menino aims to halt sex toy giveaway on Boston's City Hall Plaza

Posted by Your Town  October 18, 2012 12:04 PM

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City Hall Plaza May 2012.jpg

(Jeremy C. Fox for

City Hall Plaza as photographed in May 2012. City officials hope to keep the area vibrator-free.

City officials are asking a sex toy manufacturer to scrap a proposed handout of vibrators on City Hall Plaza.

Michael Galvin, the city’s chief of property management, fired off a terse two-paragraph letter on Wednesday to a marketing firm representing Trojan Vibrations, which had inquired about putting a street team on the plaza to distribute vibrators as a promotion for the product.

As was first reported in the Boston Herald, Galvin’s letter acknowledged that the “public nature of the plaza affords you legal protection to distribute these products should you insist against our objections,” but said he considered the distribution “an inappropriate and irresponsible use for the plaza,” noting that many families and children pass through the plaza each day.

A spokeswoman for Mayor Thomas M. Menino said the city had not received a formal request from Trojan for a permit, only an inquiry that didn’t specify a date or a range of possible dates. She said the mayor’s office “would prefer them to find a location more suitable to the clientele they’re pitching these to.”

“Obviously the person who inquired is [from] a media company seeking publicity for their product, and they certainly got that,” said Dot Joyce, the mayor’s spokeswoman, “but the City of Boston is not interested in helping to promote their brand but rather in protecting the rights of our citizens to travel throughout our city without worry that their children may be bombarded with adult materials without their consent.”

A Trojan spokesman said Thursday that the company has been working with the city to explore “a multitude of locations” but hasn’t actually submitted a permit application for City Hall Plaza. Bruce Weiss, vice president of marketing for Trojan Sexual Health, said the company would not push the issue.

“We will continue to work in partnership with the City of Boston to find the right location to host the Trojan vibrator giveaway and are continuing to explore all options,” he said in an email. “We want this to be a pleasurable experience for everyone.”

In New York this past summer, city officials initially blocked a similar giveway, and then went forward with the event.

Weiss said Trojan was “pleased to work with the City of New York to make the Trojan Vibrations giveaway a huge success” and the company hopes to do the same in Boston.

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