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California and the West | MIKE DOWNEY

The Eros Device--Taking the D-y-s- Out of Dysfunction

May 05, 2000|MIKE DOWNEY

A friend of mine--a woman--phoned Wednesday to ask if I had happened to see what the federal Food and Drug Administration had just approved.

"A new food?" I asked, excitedly.

"A new drug!" I was told.

Now it was my friend who sounded excited, and I told her so.

"Funny you should mention that," she said. "Because that's the whole point."

For on this day, May 3, 2000--a day that will live in intimacy--the FDA gave the government's seal of approval (Good Housekeeping's may come later) to a contraption that is designed to increase sexual excitement for women.

Leave it to a Clinton administration agency to come up with this one.

A government-approved remedy for female sexual dysfunction. Stop the presses. If it works out, I can see this becoming even more popular than the George Foreman Fat-Free Grilling Machine.


Back on April 10, 1998, the prescription drug Viagra went on sale to a needy general public for the first time.

More powerful than a locomotive and as speedy as an Alka-Seltzer, this stimulating little pill seemed to transform overnight from the most bizarre, I-wouldn't-be-caught-dead-buying-this product since the Chia Pet to the biggest thing since double-stuffed Oreo cookies.

Men took to Viagra as if it were a hot new convertible out of Detroit. Women began buying Viagra for men for holidays, the way they once bought us electric power tools and socks. I am willing to bet that the FBI staged raids on hundreds of women criminals in their hide-outs, confiscating counterfeit Viagra prescriptions.

It quickly became America's panacea. We saw the dawning of an entire Viagran Generation, led by Mr. Renewed Potency himself, Sen. Bob Dole.

Dole was a surprise. I could have imagined old Bob becoming a pitchman for any number of notions and nostrums following his defeat by Bill Clinton in the 1996 presidential election--Grecian Formula, Grape Nuts, maybe that mattress that folds in the middle so you can sit straight up while you're reading in bed--but this? A sexual enhancement aid? I couldn't have been more amazed if you'd told me Dole was the new spokesman for Harley-Davidson.

Viagra from the start was a hot commodity, but Dole gave it respectability. He gave it his imprimatur the same way the late John Houseman once did to the Smith-Barney investment firm. Only instead of the ad slogan Houseman popularized--"We do it the old-fashioned way"--here was Bob Dole, recommending a new-fashioned way.

Ah, progress.

I can't wait to see which celebrity will be the first to endorse this new product.

Manufactured by a Minnesota company, it is known as "The Eros Device"--a magnificently flamboyant name (which was also, if I'm not mistaken, Fabio's nickname when he went to high school).

A newly marketed item called the Eros Device wouldn't ordinarily get much publicity in the mainstream press. Let's face it, an Eros Device sounds like merchandise that somebody would mail you in a plain brown wrapper.

Eros himself was the god of love, the son of Aphrodite. I have no actual proof, but I'm pretty sure he was also my grandfather's second cousin.

Anyway, what this device does, much like Viagra, is stimulate blood flow. But what this device is, not at all like Viagra, is a hand-held soft cup connected by a tube to a tiny vacuum. This is not a pill. Think of it more as a helpful household gadget.


It strikes me that one of the reasons the FDA is being so open-minded in formally approving the Eros Device--for prescription purchase and ultimate mass consumption--must be that it is the equal-opportunity potency enhancer. Up to now, a woman's sexual dysfunction has been pretty much ignored. You know, as if there's no such thing.

I see this as the equivalent of Bob Dole's counterparts getting equal time.

Available right away but only with a doctor's consent, the Eros Device will set women back $359. (Where do they come up with these numbers? Not $350, not $399.99--three fifty-nine?) Sorry, but I can't tell you if there's a satisfaction-or-your-money-back guarantee.

This is a small step for women, but a giant leap for womankind. It was terribly unfair for men to have an FDA-approved potency product that left women without a product of their own. I foresee the Eros Device as a major success, endorsed by many former senators.


Mike Downey's column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Write to him at Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053. E-mail:

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