Coco and a Good Vibes staff member
It's noon on a Sunday morning in the Financial District, and a surgically-enhanced blonde woman wants to talk about dildos.
You might know Coco Austin from her reality TV show, Ice Loves Coco, which ran on E! from 2011 to 2013. Or you might know her from her marriage to rapper and actor Ice-T. Or maybe you're just a fan of her Playboy spread. But she came to the underground location of Good Vibrations on another quest entirely: To sell sex toys.
A crowd of fans had gathered an hour before Coco's scheduled appearance, shuffling down the stairs from Kearny Street inside the store, where items like the Fluttering Butterfly, the Hide and Play Lipstick Silicone Vibe, and the Love Ring Finger Massager are all waiting to greet them. I mill about, wondering if Ice-T is coming along too. At last, Coco makes her entrance, entering through an unnoticed backdoor to do a round of interviews with the media and then press the flesh with her fans and customers.
“You know how New York has fashion seasons? Well in the toy world, we have seasons too,” says Coco. On display is her first "seasonal" collection, “things you can conceal in your purse," which includes those Hide and Play Lipstick Vibes and Love Rings, which Coco says she hopes will be a conversation starter when seen adorning a finger.
The model/entrepreneur/D-list celebrity/whatever is in town as a dildo Johnny Appleseed of sorts, tagging along on the tour bus with hubby Ice-T and his metal/rap band Body Count on their American tour. She's doing a tour of her own, introducing America's sex shops to Coco Licous, a line of sex toys made by CalExotics that feature her likeness on the packaging and were made with her input. It's no far reach for her. "Being a Playboy model at 18, I felt like I was a part of the business already," she says. (She also has a workout app, line of clothing, and eyewear. Obviously.)
Coco figures that a line of sex toys was natural extension of her personal brand. Which is another way to say, the woman knows her market. “I took the top-selling stuff and stuff that I personally like and reinvented it in a Coco way," she says. "Basically I made it how I would like it." Those tweaks include soft tips on formerly hard dildos, and an entire line of what she calls "girly" products in either pink or black.
Like the basis of many questionable decisions, the seeds for CocoLicious were planted in Las Vegas. A year ago, Coco was performing in a stage show at the Planet Hollywood there when Coco was contacted by Susan Colven of CalExotics. Turns out that when she was a child in Albuquerque, Coco—then going by her real name, Nicole—was friends with Colven's nephew. “She even had a picture of us. I was twelve years old, little Nicole with dark hair.” Susan sent Coco a box of toys and Coco delved into the research: “Ice and I did our little homework. It was fun.”
It was fun, but what's it doing at Good Vibes? Not to put too fine a point on it, but the local chain is a little more known for catering to strong, cerebral women than blinged out girly girls. I wonder something like that out loud to the staff, but they politely disagree. “Coco offers really nice products at that affordable price," says Good Vibration's purchasing manager, Coyote Days. "They are ideal for people who are looking for products that are affordable or are just looking for her,” adds Days. “I love the juxtaposition."
It's a fair point. And I'm not immune to her charms. Reader, as you'll see above, I took a selfie with Coco, after which she handed me a silvery necklace with her name blinged out in rhinestones. And with that, I head back to the street upstairs. Behind me, I hear a group of men and women popping champagne corks.