The History of the Magic Wand
When one talks about magic wands, the first thing you’d think about would be Harry Potter and magic. However, for most female adults, the first thing that comes to mind is one of the most iconic vibrators worldwide.
Colloquially called ‘The Hitachi Magic Wand’ , this sex toy played an important role in the sex-positive movement in the ’70s.
Late 60’s: Origins of the Wand
Popular Japanese electronics brand Hitachi initially invented the Magic Wand to alleviate sore muscles. For the longest time, the toy was even called The Hitachi. In fact, on the 20th of May 1968, Hitachi had filed a trademark for the term ‘Magic Wand’.
Initially, the Magic Wand had a black head, very different from the iconic off-white often associated with it. The body of the toy was a bright pink which seemed to appeal to many female users. The Magic Wand was also re-packaged as ‘The Workout’ during the early-to-mid ’70s as it switched to a softer head.
Late 60’s to the early ’70s: Masturbation Workshops and Magic Wand
Renowned sex educator Betty Dodson had been teaching her famous Bodysex workshops in New York City since the late 60s. The workshops focused entirely on teaching women the proper way to masturbate. Dodson was a very vocal advocate for the use of vibrators among women. That was ever since her lover introduced her to an electric vibrator, which was originally a scalp massager.
Dodson had originally used a vibrator from Oster and the Panabrator but eventually felt that the Hitachi was the best.
Even though Dodson is credited for popularising the Magic Wand, she never received any compensation for her endorsement. Dodson even said that “it was really shitty of [Hitachi] to not acknowledge my efforts and give me a percentage.”
Dodson emphasizes that her endorsement was never about money, but she added that she would have liked the acknowledgment.
1970: Dell Williams
In her memoir, Dell Williams recounts her experience meeting Dodson at a yoga retreat in 1970. Williams, knew of Dodson’s masturbation workshops and contemplated for months before getting the courage to sign up for one of them.
It was at these workshops that she was introduced to the Hitachi Magic Wand. However, it was a humiliating experience at a Macy’s which changed the way the Magic Wand was seen.
In 1973, Dell Williams allegedly went to Macy’s to buy a Magic Wand after hearing about it in one of Dodson’s workshops. However, the salesman creepily asked her what she planned on using the Magic Wand for, leading Williams to be driven by this experience and funding Eve’s Garden, the first major feminist sex toy store, in 1974.
Eve’s Garden was initially set up as a mail-order company out of William’s apartment in New York City, but she later ended up setting up shop in an office suite of a high-rise building in downtown Manhattan where the store has been ever since.
Late 70’s: Joani Blank and Good Vibrations
In 1976, sex educator Joani Blank published her book guiding women on the use of vibrators. The Hitachi Magic Wand was featured prominently on the cover of the book, associating it more with the world of vibrators.
It was said that the Magic Wand looked much more like a household appliance compared to a sex toy. That’s why it was clever of Blank to use it on the cover, as it was less likely to be seen as a problem.
In 1977, Blank proceeded to open her first Good Vibrations store in San Francisco and began selling the Magic Wand. Blank sought to do the same as Dell Williams did in San Francisco.
In the early days of business, Blank would buy Magic Wands in bulk at a discount from San Francisco’s Japantown, reselling them for a small profit of $2 per vibrator. This proved to be fruitful as Good Vibrations opened many more outlets throughout the West Coast.
1992: Hitachi Recognises the Magic of the Wand
Hitachi had never recognized the use of their product as a vibrator before the year 1992. However, when Good Vibrations sought to plan a party celebrating 15 years in the business, Hitachi employees chipped in money to fund Magic Wand-shaped chocolate molds for the party. This was the only evidence of Hitachi acknowledging the NSFW use of their Magic Wand.
1999: No More Magic!
The distribution of Magic Wands was handled by an American company also handling the distribution of several small Hitachi appliances. When the previous American company stopped paying their bills, Hitachi stopped selling to them, leading to a lack of Magic Wands in the market.
2000: Vibratex saves the day
Upon the lack of Magic Wands, Vibratex attempted to get in touch with Hitachi to see if they could take over as their distributor in America.
Although unsuccessful at first, Vibratex offered to pay upfront for a cargo container of surplus Magic Wands. Seeing Vibratex succeed in selling them, Hitachi decided to just make a deal with Vibratex.
2001 & 2002: Sex and The City
In Season 4, the popular show Sex and the City showed one of the characters trying to “find” her lost orgasm with a Magic Wand. Meanwhile, Season 5 showed Samantha trying to return a vibrator to a store as it failed to get her off. What follows is a very iconic scene where Samantha embarrassed the confused salesman explaining the real reason women were buying neck massagers.
This scene proved particularly iconic, as it was nearly 30 years after Dell William’s encounter with the creepy salesman at Macy’s.
2012: Hitachi says Bye-Bye
In 2012, Vibratex was contacted by Hitachi saying that they were going to stop the production of the Magic Wand as they had discovered how it was being sold in the United States.
Knowing what a loss this would be, Vibratex asked Hitachi if they could sell the Wand without using the Hitachi name, and Hitachi agreed.
2013: New Name, Same Product
The massager changed the name after eight months of marketing, branding, and re-designing, to become the ’Magic Wand Original’. The toy got a new name, and improvements to the components, circuitry, and head to increase its durability. This was the first major update to the technology of the Magic Wand since 2000.
In 2015, Vibratex finally released a rechargeable version of the product. The reason it took so long was due to the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ nature of their relationship with Hitachi. However, with Hitachi finally acknowledging the use of the Wand, it made it easier to ask for technological upgrades.
2022: The Magic Wand Today
Both the Magic Wand and the Magic Wand Rechargeable have proven to be extremely popular among women. In fact, these products occupy more than 75% of Vibratex’s total sales.
With it being part of the sex-positive feminist movement, it is no wonder that the Magic Wand is so popular among women.
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