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Hundreds line up for free sex toys at South End giveaway

Posted by Jeremy C. Fox  December 3, 2012 06:56 PM

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Hundreds lined up outside the Cyclorama at the Boston Center for the Arts on Monday to get free vibrators from Trojan Vibrations.

The condom and sex-toy manufacturer hit a roadblock in October when it initially inquired about a holding a giveaway on City Hall Plaza. But the event in Boston’s South End seemed to go smoothly, despite lines that at one point snaked down Tremont Street and onto Clarendon Street.

“After today, Boston should be a happier place, with less honking, less pushing, less rudeness,” said Maureen Mansfield, who came to the giveaway with her husband.

“A friend called me, and he said he could not leave his day job, and he said I should stop by and pick this up,” Mansfield said, holding up her Trojan Pulse model. “[He said it] would be a great deal.”

The giveaway drew men and women of many ages and many backgrounds, though it was restricted to those 18 and up. Trojan representatives checked IDs at the door and again inside before handing over the free goods.

At the younger end of the spectrum was a running club made up of male Boston College students, who jogged down to the South End in T-shirts and running shorts. Eric Johnson, 19, said the young men were motivated by curiosity.

“We just heard about it on the radio, and we just wanted to see what it was all about,” Johnson said.

In mid-October, a marketing firm representing Trojan got an earful from city’s chief of property management after the company inquired about distributing vibrators on City Hall Plaza. Michael Galvin said in a letter that he considered the distribution “an inappropriate and irresponsible use for the plaza,” noting that many families and children pass through it each day.

Last week, a spokeswoman for Mayor Thomas M. Menino said the Cyclorama was an improvement, but she retained some reservations.

“We feel it’s a much better location than City Hall Plaza, but still are concerned slightly about young children,” said Dot Joyce, the mayor’s spokeswoman. “But [we] are confident that the BCA and the marketing company were able to address those types of issues.”

Veronique Le Melle, president and CEO of the Boston Center for the Arts, said last week that the giveaway would be conducted under tight security to keep out anyone under 18 and that she didn’t see a need for any controversy about using the Cyclorama.

“As far as we’re concerned, this is strictly a straight rental, like we’ve rented to other organizations, both for-profit and non-profit,” Le Melle said.

Trojan has previously distributed the free products in New York City, Washington D.C., and Chicago, the statement said.

In Manhattan last summer, city officials initially blocked a planned giveaway, saying Trojan didn’t have all the proper permits. But after securing the necessary paperwork, the company went on to hand out a reported 4,000 vibrators in the Meatpacking District.

In Boston, the long line seemed to indicate that many locals were comfortable taking the free devices home, and at least one recipient spied a familiar face in the crowd.

“I just saw that they were giving them out, and so I figured that I’d come by,” said Stan Marmysh, 26. “Actually, I ran into my roommate, who grabbed one.”

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