Arts & Culture Maplewood South Orange Towns

What’s With All the Sex in the Suburbs? South Orange Author Debuts ‘Objects of Desire’

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Several weeks ago, Village Green ran an interview with Maplewood-based author V.C. Chickering about her naughty-behavior-in-the-‘burbs book Nookietown (read the interview here).

Now, we’re hearing from another local author on the self-same subject of sex.

South Orange resident Rita Catinella Orrell is the author of the new book Objects of Desire, about the “incredible advancements” in the design approach and marketing of erotic products — yes, sex toys and accessories — in the past decade.

From the release by Schiffer Publishing, Ltd.:

“The world of erotic product design is revealed in this curated showcase of more than 100 beautifully crafted objects and the creative minds behind them.”

“The cheaply made, sometimes even toxic novelty products once relegated to shelves in seedy XXX shops now find themselves greatly outnumbered by sleek designs made from proven or still-emerging technologies—teledildonics, app-controlled devices, and 3D-printed designs, for example—created through the same R&D processes used for high-end consumer products. These high-tech pieces are accompanied by handcrafted objects in leather, wood, and precious metals and stones that are presented and marketed like pieces of fine art.”

Orrell has been writing about product design for more 20 years. While products editor at Architectural Record magazine, she contributed to many award-winning issues, including those in 2003 that earned it a National Magazine Award for General Excellence. She has an MA in Creative Writing from CUNY Queens College and curates two design blogs, designythings.com and architects-toybox.com. A native of Queens, NY, Orrell lives in South Orange with her husband and two children.

We asked Orrell a few questions about her enticing new title.

Village Green: What’s with Maplewood/South Orange authors writing about sex? Is there something about the suburbs that brings out the sexy?

Rita Catinella Orrell: As much as I’d like to share that we have a secret “Sex Writers Club” that meets every other Tuesday at the Village Diner, I don’t think that there is anything particular to suburban life that lends itself to writing about sex. I think that there are just so many writers in South Orange and Maplewood that the subject is going to statistically come up as a book topic more often than in other places in the country.

Can you talk a little bit about Maplewood and South Orange as a center for people in the arts? (So many authors here…) Do you feel like you are part of a vibrant creative community in Maplewood/South Orange?

Absolutely, and it was one of the reasons we moved here (in addition to the easy commute and access to edible bagels). We have friends and neighbors who are Broadway actors and musicians, television producers, children’s book writers, painters, etc. I was wearing a shirt the other day that I bought at a Broadway show, and another parent asked me if I worked on the set. Where else do folks assume something like that? It’s fantastic. In addition to my design writing, I am also working on several children’s book manuscripts. Without having to look too hard, I have found a critique group of local children’s book writers who are incredibly supportive.

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I’m guessing you never wrote about products like this [sex toys] for Architectural Record? Or am I wrong?

No, that was strictly building products like expansion joints and glazed curtainwall, I’m afraid! But I did cover a vibrator collection on my design blog designythings.com, which was what kicked off this entire project. I noticed this collection of vibrators by Yves Béhar, the same designer behind the new SodaStream design and Jawbone headset, to name a few familiar products he’s worked on. The fact that he was designing sex toys suggested to me that something really revolutionary was happening in the industry, and it was.

You’re an award winning magazine and product design author. Did you worry that you wouldn’t be taken as seriously writing about sex toys? 

I was never really worried about being taken seriously in the design world, as they tend to understand that everything must be designed, but that didn’t mean that I was automatically comfortable talking about the project with everyone. I felt I had to do a lot of explaining, but for the most part, folks were receptive and interested. We tried to present the product design in an open-minded, impartial, and inclusive fashion, which I think really helped explain our approach was serious and sophisticated and not lewd or crass.

My biggest concern was breaking into the sex toy world and getting folks who didn’t know me at all to return my emails. As I got to know the sex bloggers, manufacturers, and other industry insiders, I ended up becoming more confident talking about the project with others outside of the industry. It helped that I worked with the fantastic book designer Jason Scuderi who helped us show companies the vision we had for the book even before it was finished.

Will we see you soon reading and signing books at Words Bookstore?

Our book launch will be on Thursday, March 31 from 7:00-9:00 p.m. at Babeland at 43 Mercer Street in New York City. We will have refreshments, giveaways, and free samples for guests. We hope to have a local event later this year – we’d love it if Words wanted to host us!

For more information on Objects of Desire: A Showcase of Modern Erotic Products and the Creative Minds Behind Them, text by Rita Catinella Orrell and design by Jason Scuderi, visit the authors’ website: www.objectsofdesirebook.com.

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