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A Brief History of the Magic Wand

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Once upon a time, there was the famous Magic Wand (aka Hitachi Magic Wand). Perhaps you've heard of it? The iconic white a blue "back massager" gracing the shelves of every sex toy store worth it's salt? Maybe you're even a proud owner? Possibly you've just heard your girlfriends talking about it?

Folks stroll into my shop asking what the most popular sex toy is. Basically, it depends on a combination of the intended use, personal needs and preferences, and budget. That said, the Magic Wand Original is one of the all time best selling corded vibrators!

Okay, so what is it? Why is it so popular?

The original model (and those that many are most familiar with) is a one foot long, 1.2 pound, mains powered vibrator with a large 2.5 inch rubberized head and flexible neck. I refer to it as an industrial strength vibrator, but if you want to get technical, there are two intensities—5,000 and 6,000 RPMs respectively. It's what I refer to as "really high" and "even higher". The recent upgrade has a larger span of four intensities (2,700; 3,800; 5,400; 6,300 RPMs), plus four pulsing modes, a silicone head, and it's rechargeable (cordless)! Because it was not originally intended for sexual use, it is not waterproof and can heat up if used for longer than 25 minutes (the upgrade has automatic shut-off to prevent over-heating).

The Hitachi Magic Wand was patented as a personal massager in 1968, and thanks partly to artist, sex educator, and "the mother of female masturbation" Betty Dodson, it became an instant sensation. She regularly used this device in demonstrations and instructional classes to coach women in self-pleasuring techniques. Her classes, known as Bodysex workshops, developed in the '60s and eventually included 15 naked women, in the supine position, using a Hitachi Magic Wand to simultaneously masturbate to orgasm. One of Dodson's students—Dell Williams—was so inspired by the Magic Wand's effectiveness as a tool to break through sexual self-barriers, that she opened up the first feminist sex toy store in the United States—Eve's Garden. (Jellywink Boutique is modeled after such.)

A combination of mutual intimacy and genital self-love were an aspect of Dodson's workshops that became known as the Betty Dodson method which was the centerpiece of a clinical study conducted by Pia Struck and Søren Ventegodt published in the September 2008 issue of The Scientific World JournalClinical Holistic Medicine: Teaching Orgasm for Females with Chronic Anorgasmia using the Betty Dodson Method.

Participants of this study included 500 self-selected women from the ages of 18 to 88 (mean age 35) experiencing chronic anorgasmia spanning an average of 12 years. Anorgasmia is a term that is used to describe the inability or difficulty of achieving orgasm despite sexual arousal. There is no single cause and can be either biological or situational. Out of this group of participants, 25 percent had never experienced an orgasm.

As a result of three five-hour group therapy sessions that involved multiple methods ultimately including the Hitachi Magic Wand, 93 percent experienced an orgasm during therapy as witnessed by a therapist, and 7 percent did not (out of the 7 percent, some of those reported having orgasms later-though not verified). The results did not vary between those who had experienced an orgasm before or those who had not, and none experienced any adverse effects.

This study was more nuanced than just the use of one device and involved things like role-playing with male/female energies, intimate body contact, creating a non-judgmental space of mutual vulnerability, visual "confrontation" of ones own nudity, equating masturbation with self-love, group therapy, etc. That said, it was the Magic Wand that induced the actual orgasms.

Here's the study's glowing endorsement: "The clitoral vibrator chosen for the treatment was a Hitachi Magic Wand, which has a very large head designed for efficient transference of vibrations to the vulva and clitoral region without causing soreness or irritation of the tissue. It can be used for an extended length of time compared to other vibrators, which is important when treating anorgasmic women with delayed orgasmic response. From a psychodynamic perspective, we find it interesting to note that bodily pleasure seems to be even more strongly repressed than emotional pain, and many layers of shame and unpleasant feelings must often be confronted before the female patient reaches the plateau of orgasm. This process needs prolonged sexual stimulation combined with therapeutic processing of emerging negative feelings and emotions, which is made possible by the specific design of this vibrator."

Compared to the newer, sexier sex toys on the market now, the Magic Wand may seem large and unwieldy. This is precisely what makes it such a versatile device. The long handle provides better ease of use for bigger bodied individuals and convenient reach during partnered sex. The length and the weight make it more conducive to secure it between cushions or on a pillow for hands-free use—again, great for partnered sex or for those with restricted mobility. Various people have credited the Magic Wand for either their first orgasms, for multiple orgasms, for orgasms achieved within 60 seconds, for the perfect arousal inducing foreplay, and so on. Basically, it's popular for a reason.

In 2013 Hitachi got a bit nervous about having their brand name associated with sex toys (not sure why it took them over four decades to get nervous that!) and so ceased production. Sex toy distributor, Vibratex, persuaded them to continue production but without the name Hitachi printed on the device. Thus, it is now The Magic Wand Original. And that is the story of the Magic Wand.

Ally Booker is a pleasure activist passionate about educating herself and others sexuality, communication, creating and respecting boundaries and destigmatization. You can often find her at her Tucson shop, Jellywink Boutique, 418 E. 7th St.


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