Dildos Of Shame

Fifty years ago, Edward R. Murrow made television history with his "Fields of Shame" investigative report on the plight of the migrant farm worker.

Now Luke Ford looks at the plight of the migrant dildo worker in Chatsworth and her chance at the American dream.

I went deep under cover at Topco to produce the closest, most intimate, most shocking view of the production of sex toys by hardy Hispanic workers for pudgy middle-class Caucasians. You will never experience a blow-up doll in the same way again. This article is The Jungle for the 21st Century.

By the time you've finished reading, you're guaranteed to be as happy as an illegal Mexican immigrant with her first CA driver's license.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003. 9:45AM.

I run across the six lanes of De Soto Blvd in Chatsworth and charge into the Topco parking lot. On the second story of 9401 De Soto, on the balcony in the sun, I spot Jennifer Gorman, Topco's PR gal, and Scott Tucker, Topco president.

I wave at them. They ignore me and talk to each other. I keep waving.

"Hi, it's Luke," I yell.

They give me polite but apprehensive smiles.

I walk into the sales wing. The pretty Latina receptionist phones Jennifer to fetch me from the lobby. The lady asks for my car keys and in exchange gives me a guest badge. I was told yesterday not to wear open-toe shoes in case a dildo falls on my toe and breaks it.

Jen walks into the lobby. She's wearing a black dress with a plunging blue collar that offers a few square inches of sneak previews of her hidden treasures ("fitted black number with an open collared neck" says Jen). Her feet are bare on top, with heels underneath ("low strappy sandals" says Jen). She's blonde, about 30 years old, with an oval shaped face and medium length hair. She's intense, hyper and [a quality Jen won't allow me to mention so she doesn't get teased about it endlessly, guys, you can't tease girls like you can other guys], with a type A personality.

She takes me upstairs where we run into Scott. He explains that he thought I was a hobo and that they had too many of them hanging around already and they didn't need anymore, which is why he didn't wave back.

Scott seems like a Bible-believing-fundamentalist-speaking-in-tongues-Southern-Baptist who runs a dildo company. He's dressed in a suit and tie and has a marine's haircut.

Tucker says he's read an article or two of mine.

I bet he's going to read this one.

Scott disappears into the conference room for a meeting. His father Marty, the founder of the company, is there from China. Marty, dressed colorfully and casually (he's married to a Chinese girl in her twenties), looks like a much wilder guy than Scott. He must think, while looking at his son, "Where did I go wrong?"

Jen takes me into her office. While she gets changed into her tennis shoes), I look out her balcony at the Memphis of the West.

Topco has 450 manual labor employees (it appears to me that 449 of them are Mexican and the other is a Caucasian who feels like a loser) and 50 administrators who are all white.

All the white employees work on the top floor in offices and all the Mexicans stay on the bottom floor in the three-football field-sized-warehouse.

You could make a cool sitcom about this place called "Upstairs, Downstairs." Have the white president of the company fall in love with an illegal Mexican dildo maker. (Well, that has happened at Topco.)

All jokes aside, it is moral that Topco employs Mexicans to screw the tops on lubricant bottles rather than employ Chinese slave labor like all the other sex toy companies (but Doc Johnson).

Jen takes me to places I've never been before - like the sex toy showroom. There's a swing. She got into it, wearing a skirt, on her first visit to the company, before she even filled out an application. It might be some kind of job requirement for white women at Topco? She's a good fit for the place, though I'm not sure what's going to happen to her after this article comes out.

I'm about to ask her to get into the swing again so I can take photos, but subdued by my lithium medication, I decide discretion is the better part of valor.

Jen leads me downstairs. She pushes through a door marked in red "Emergency Exit Only - Alarm Will Sound." Then she puts her hand on some detector and takes me into the warehouse. Fat blow-up dolls are the first things to catch my attention. Then there are the hundreds of Mexicans, the most I've seen in one place since I went to Home Depot.

We wander the aisles, avoiding the onrushing forklifts. Stacks of sex toys loom precariously above us. One of those big boxes falls and we're history - killed by a dildo.

I'm instructed by Jen to make Topco sound nice.

She hunts down some cool gifts for me that I can give away to my lady friends - vibrators that come in containers that appear to carry lipstick and nail polish. Man, with these, I will turn into a real lothario.

Most of the Topco administrators seem so square, I doubt they ever use their own products. At least I hope not. I really don't want that picture in my mind.

I make some insinuating comments to Jen about vibrators but she gently and sensuously brushes them aside.

If you looked in most of the Topco offices, you'd never know it was a sex company.

There are several Tuckers in the top administrative positions.

All the Topco employees I meet are nice. Nothing I write should be misconstrued so as to put them or their fine God-fearing company in a bad light.

Rest assured, that when you diddle with a Topco dildo, you're diddling righteously.

I believe the above paragraph contains a pull quote that will appear in the next Topco catalogue, if there's any justice in this world.

Could you truly have a satisfying orgasm if you knew that your vibrator was made by a woman paid a few cups of rice a day?

Notes on method: I walked around Topco with the lovely publicist Jennifer, with the blessing of its gracious president Scott, and then afterwards I went home and wrote things I thought were funny but they thought were crap.