Just when you thought it was safe to focus on the issues in this historic election season, a chain of sex toy shops has joined retailers, restaurateurs and other businesses across the nation in the time-honored tradition of rewarding Americans who go to the polls.
Babeland, with stores in New York, Los Angeles and Seattle, is offering a pair of self-gratifying incentives for voters who present their registration cards, ballot stubs or “word of honor” that they voted next Tuesday.
The rewards are no-so-subtle reminders of this year’s campaign rhetoric. For men, it’s the “Maverick,” a "sleeve" for self-pleasuring. According to a press release, “He’s always there to lend a hand, he works for every man, and he bucks the status quo.” Women can choose the “Silver Bullet” mini-vibrator, which is “a magical solution to difficult problems” and “a great stress-reliever during these troubled economic times!” The promotion lasts through Nov. 11.
Babeland spokeswoman Pamela Doan told msnbc.com in an interview that the promotion is a first for the company, which she describes as “a sex-positive, women-friendly retailer for sex toys and accessories.”
Although the company is relying on press releases and bloggers to get the word out, “We’re expecting a good response,” Doan said. “Both of these toys are very popular. The Maverick retails for $20 and the Silver Bullet retails for $15. It’s a good reward.”
'Sex crosses party lines'
As to whether Babeland expects voters who take them up on the offer to lean one way or the other politically, Doan said, “Sex crosses party lines. … We’ve tried to make this into a nonpartisan reward because we welcome everyone. That’s our philosophy and our mission. We didn’t want to reward only Obama supporters. We have a lot of Republicans who shop at Babeland too.”
If the sex toys don’t float your vote, there are plenty of other less racy rewards to choose from in the afterglow of casting your ballot.
How about a free cup of Joe? Starbucks stores across the nation and Eat’n Park outlets in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia are among many U.S. restaurants offering complimentary coffee to anyone who presents a ballot stub or “I Voted” sticker.
Voters can get a beer on the house at Todd Conner’s pub in Baltimore’s historic Fells Point neighborhood.
Those with a sweet tooth can stop by participating Krispy Kreme or Ben & Jerry’s locations to receive special treats. Krispy Kreme will be handing out star-shaped doughnuts with red, white, and blue sprinkles, one each, to voters, while Ben & Jerry’s is serving up free scoops of ice cream to everyone who shows up on Election Day between 5 and 8 p.m., whether they voted or not.
But just as voters should weigh carefully the seemingly endless promises of politicians as they make their decisions at the ballot box, they should also read the fine print on Election Day rewards.
Take the offer extended to voters by Zov’s, a three-cafe chain in Southern California. “Show us your ‘I Voted’ sticker and enjoy a free slice of Zov’s All-American Apple Pie,” it says on its Web site.
To borrow from a past president, that all depends on what the definition of “free” is.
To score the pie, you must not only prove you voted, but also “buy any menu item, or order Zov’s family take-out dinner for 2 or 4.”