In 1982, a concept was born: shopping from the convenience of your home. With the launch of the Home Shopping Network that year, people could call in to not just order items they saw on the television, but even engage with the salespeople about what they liked and didn’t like about the products, or even how excited they were to buy them. Because this was before the Internet, it was a genius idea at the time. If you can avoid the hustle and bustle of the mall, especially around the holiday season, by tuning into the Home Shopping Network, you could save yourself a whole boatload of hassle.
Now, almost 40 years later, Evine is getting in on this home shopping convenience with its second season of their show Evine After Dark. But instead of selling clothes, jewelry, and products for the home, Evine After Dark sells something even better: sex toys. Evine is the first-ever home shopping network with a show for sex-related items. And it’s about time.
During each episode, Evine Host Kimberly Wells, and Sex and Relationship Expert Jen Elmquist, give the lowdown on each toy that’s available for sale, as well as answer questions from viewers. All the items can be purchased during the segment or afterward on Evine.com/AfterDark.
But the real question is, if home-shopping has been around since the early 1980s, why did it take so long to include sex toys? And, more importantly, who are the geniuses behind such a ground-breaking concept? Women, of course.
“I have had the pleasure of having wonderful strong mentors, teachers and friends that are women that are very comfortable with who they are and their sexuality,” Chief Marketing Officer of Evine After Dark, Nicole Ostoya, tells Bustle. “I had a place to talk frankly about information, share ideas, products, fears, new adventures… I had a tribe to fill this natural need to explore my thoughts. Not everyone has that support system or a place to go and we wanted to create a safe, inclusive place where women could buy the products they wanted to experiment with in the comfort and privacy of their own home.”
But it’s not only about experimentation and privacy, but about sexual empowerment, too. “The thing I love about hosting EAD is the sense of self-empowerment and kick ass-ery the show has instilled not only within me, but for so many others crossing multiple generations!” Wells tells Bustle. “I’m a very strong and confident woman, yet I often struggle with personal insecurities and self-esteem issues like many women do. But through this open medium of talking, sharing, and validating the language of personal growth, happiness, sexual health, and wellness, along with educating and guiding our viewers on a journey they might not have thought there was access to, I truly feel like I have found my purpose after 20 years in this [business]. It’s been incredibly exhilarating to receive such praise from our viewers for going down this unchartered path in such a classy, sophisticated, and fun way.”
Here's How The Audience Is Responding
Although there are many positives to come out of this, especially as word spreads and Evine After Dark's audience grows, there was still an initial fear of how the audience would respond. While we may have come a long way in embracing women’s sexuality, it’s still a taboo subject for some and, of course, when you put yourself out there on a platform for the masses to consume, as a home shopping network does, you’re opening yourself up to a backlash. However, Ostoya and team have been lucky in this regard.
“To our delight there was almost no negative feedback," says Ostoya, "and instead a flood of letters and calls thanking us for being brave enough to put this on and how much they loved the information we were providing.” Perhaps this is a sign that the times really are a-changing.
The Importance Of Being Inclusive
While the show is hosted by two cis women, Evine After Dark aims to be inclusive. In a world where there are so many sexuality identities and gender has finally been recognized as being fluid, Ostoya, Wells, and Elmquist, plan to make sure their conversation during each segment doesn’t exclude anyone.
“From the very first show we did back in September, EAD has made it a mission to be totally inclusive of all ages, genders and sexual partner preferences,” says Wells. “We welcome and openly discuss how each product can be utilized for personal pleasure or couples togetherness, no matter what that looks like for you!” She says a single mom of a transgender teen thanked the women for tackling taboo subjects with such openness.
“One of the goals of my book, Relationship Reset, that matched the initiative of EAD was the importance of being inclusive and open, creating an opportunity for all people and couples to feel accepted and supported,” Elmquist tells Bustle.
As Ostoya says, “Love is love is love is love is love and we welcome everyone.”
How They Help The Audience Feel Comfortable
While the women aim to approach every segment and sex toy in an open and honest way, when it comes to taboos, everyone is different. According to Ostoya, the Baby Boomers currently make up the largest part of the EAD audience.
“Most [Baby Boomers] did not have access to even the most basic information on sexual aids or information on different sexual desires," says Ostoya. “Our first two seasons are about getting our audience comfortable with exploring their own thoughts and needs. Our number one selling massager simulates oral sex, which to some of our customers would have been seen as taboo while they were growing up and we are now giving them a way to experience this.”
That's why their open and honest approach is so important. “From a clinical background, sexual taboos are best approached openly and honestly with accurate information, sensitivity, and correct language,” says Elmquist. “Evine After Dark does an excellent job of creating an environment of knowledgeable and comfortable dialogue that accomplishes these goals.”
Although each episode focuses on specific new products, depending on the theme of the month, ultimately, the women want to create an environment where the conversation is free-flowing, but also educational and extremely sex-positive, with no topics being off limits.
“There is nothing salacious or lewd about feeling loved and cared for in the most intimate of ways,” says Wells. “So no, there are no topics we won’t eventually cover. But out of respect for our viewers, we will gain their trust and confidence slowly so that they feel 100 percent comfortable with the path we are on.”
What's In Store For The Future Of Evine After Dark
Now that they're in their second season, which premiered in January, the women have important goals for EAD. “I want Evine After Dark to become the number one trusted place for women to gather, ask questions, and ultimately find the best of the best sexual health products period,” says Ostoya.
Both Wells and Elmquist agree. “I’d love to see an entire entertaining and educational based network focused on happiness and our sexual health and wellness," Wells says. "There is so much to talk about and we are literally just scratching the surface with the great products we’ve offered so far.”
Elmquist adds that EAD shares a sex-positive message. “My ultimate goal with EAD is to be a resource, voice, and presence of comfort, education, and empowerment for the Evine viewer,” says Elmquist, “sharing a message of sex positivity for all individuals and couples.”
Here's where and when you can watch Evine After Dark in your area.