By Allie Pape
They may have been marketed as "personal massagers" for most of their existence, but vibrators have been around in one form or another since the 1800s. In fact, the new film Hysteria, which debuts next month, will tell the story of Dr. Mortimer Granville (Hugh Dancy), the scientist who invented the vibrator in the name of promoting women's emotional health. (Doctors of the era supposedly found this technique to be not only unsexy, but onerously difficult, which is particularly sad when you have a patient who looks like co-star Maggie Gyllenhaal.) When the producers of Hysteria needed a few authentic 1800s vibrators for the production, they turned to none other than the Bay Area's own Good Vibrations, long known for being one of the nation's leading lights in female-friendly intimate gear. Good Vibrations has long maintained a collection of ladies' devices from throughout the ages, but they've recently decided to go all the way, opening SF's very own Antique Vibrator Museum.
Housed in the company's Polk Street store, the Vibrator Museum is a glorious tour through American industrial history, from 1906-era pneumatic vibrators to the faux-weight-loss devices of the 1950s and 1960s (whose real uses were discovered by upstart copywriter Peggy Olsen in a first-season episode of "Mad Men"). Even the Hitachi Magic Wand, the gold standard of modern vibrators, began its life as a euphemistic "massage device." On Thursday night, Good Vibrations will host an opening party with sexologist Dr. Carol Queen, who'll take interested parties on a guided tour of the museum's collection. If the fact that your great-grandma may have very well owned a vibe is news to you, consider stopping by to learn about the history and marketing of this little invention. Be sure to get there early, as this party's getting plenty of buzz! (Sorry, we couldn't help ourselves.)
Good Vibrations Antique Vibrator Museum Opening Party: Thursday, April 12, 6-8 pm, at Good Vibrations, 1620 Polk St. (at Sacramento St.), (415) 345-0400.