The branded sex toy business – Zhang Xiaoyu

The BBC recently published a story titled Opening a sex shop in China, glossed as such:

In China, sex is not a frequent topic of conversation, but one 23-year-old graduate in China is hoping to change that.

Ma Jiajia is not like other young entrepreneurs in the country.

Her foray into the world of business has involved opening a sex shop – a venture that comes with its own risks and rewards.

In February 2004, nearly ten years ago, Danwei published a story titled Emily Meng owns a sex shop. This is the first line:

The G Spot is owned and managed by a twenty something Chinese woman named Emily Meng.

So a twenty-something woman opening a sex toy store in Beijing is not exactly new. On the other hand, this is probably a first for China: On May 15, Chinese nude model Zhang Xiaoyu 张筱雨 announced to her 450,000 Weibo followers the launch of her branded simulation sex toy, somewhat obliquely titled the ‘Zhang Xiaoyu reverse mould device’ (张筱雨倒模名器). The device is a small-scale model of Zhang’s back, buttocks and thighs with a prominent vibrating simulation vagina, coming in a pack complete with lubricant and nude photographs of Zhang.

The product page on the official Zhang Xiaoyu website claims the device is the “only one in the world’ to offer a “4D new orgasm experience” that literally “surpasses reality”. The device is capable of simulating vaginal muscle contractions, boasts of its lifelike texture, and comes with a prerecorded soundtrack of Zhang’s moans and cries of pleasure, which will “shout you to a pleasurable penetration”. It declares itself to be the “most realistic sex experience in the world” and allows you to “have sex with Zhang Xiaoyu to your heart’s content”.

The device has an original retail price of 783 Yuan, but can generally be bought through licensed distributors for 580 Yuan. It has average reviews of five out of five stars from almost 200 evidently satisfied customers on online adult retailer Zhang’s website is definitely NSFW, but it is professional and informative, giving the impression of a highly organised and well-crafted business.

Even though adult merchandise branded under the names of Japanese sex stars has been available in China for many years, Zhang makes the claim that this is the first time a sex toy has been endorsed by a Mainland Chinese celebrity. Zhang claims to be “China’s top nude model” in a country where pornography (as opposed to erotica) is illegal. Born in Heilongjiang in 1985, she is a 2007 biological sciences graduate of Beihua University. She began her career in erotica by modelling for the “art photography” 摄影艺术 website in 2007. Her work there was so popular that by 2008 she was the most searched “beautiful girl” 美女 on Baidu, with her name attracting almost 800,000 hits per day.

Zhang’s website selling the new device boasts that she has “been the subject of fantasies by countless zhainan (宅男: men who stay at home all day on the Internet, usually without prospects or a female companion), making her the popular conception of a female goddess”. The main banner feature on her website shows her visiting an orphanage to teach calligraphy. Her website also prominently claims that the device is compliant with European Union production standards, and has a whole page dedicated to listing its authorised merchants, complete with a stern warning from Zhang’s lawyers insisting that any rights infringements will be prosecuted.

According to sources collated by a Danwei feature article on the 2012 Guangzhou Sexpo, the Chinese sex toy industry is worth over US$2billion, accounting for up to 80% of global sex toy manufacturing and supporting over 1,000 firms. There are an estimated 200,000 adult shops (成人用品店) around the country; the first one opened in Beijing’s Wangfujing shopping district in 1993.

Links and Sources
Zhang Xiaoyu Reverse Mould Device Official Website: 张筱雨倒模名器官方网, Weibo advertisement
BBC: Opening a Sex Shop in China
Danwei Media: Guys and Dolls – Scenes from the Guangzhou Sexpo, Emily Meng owns a sex shop, A Beijing sex shop makes a revolution, Sex shops and the Red Light Revolution
Baidu Encyclopedia (百度百科): Zhang Xiaoyu 张筱雨, Muzi Mei 木子美
Wikipedia: Zhang Xiaoyu, Muzi Mei
Global Times (环球时报): Sex made in China, Migrants hanker for happy ending
People’s Daily (人民日报): Nation becomes world’s biggest sex-toy producer
The Australian: China awakens to sexual revolution
Business Insider: The incredible story of China’s sexual revolution
CNN Opinion: China’s biggest problem? Too many men
Huffington Post: China’s body image shifts from cultural to sexual revolution

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