Staten Island Advance, Sensuality Sells

The popularity of Fantasia Home Parties has soared and Staten Island women are in on the fun.


statenislandsextoypartyAs the sun slipped over the horizon on a recent Wednesday evening, a group of girlfriends came out to play poolside in Charleston. No one dipped in the water. There was no splashing. In fact, the pool was really quite incidental to the women’s purpose.

The setting sang of sensuality. Platters of cut fruit and a smorgasbord of cookies, chips, dips and chocolate-covered tidbits graced the scene. Silky-smooth Mudslides were whipped up in a blender. But even these drinks and delicacies were only an appetizer for the evening’s main course – a full menu of items to make “dreams and fantasies come true.”

This was a Fantasia Home Party – and their popularity is sky-rocketing on the East Coast and Staten Island.


These events are for women only. A hostess can invite whomever she pleases as long as it’s a sister, female cousin, aunt, niece, mother, mother-in-law, or female friend or co-worker. The women come because they get to browse and shop together, get advice and have desires validated.

This night in Charleston was to be full of “tasting, touching, feeling and having a good time,” promised sales representative Lisa Ortega, who had come with nearly 80 personal products to display.

But there was to be no tasting until Ms. Ortega gave the OK. Tupperware, this was not.

The 25 ladies seated themselves on folding chairs and studied their “menus” closely, pointing out items to friends, nodding and chuckling to themselves. Some had placed orders earlier and were on-hand to make suggestions to the others who were novices.

As at all fantasy parties, the presentation started nice and easy. Ms. Ortega displayed lotions and sprays with pheromones (the odorless hormones to attract the opposite sex), bath crystals, sheet spray and dusting powder.

Each woman had a few moments to smell the products and test their consistency before passing them on to her neighbor for similar scrutiny.

“I’m getting that (pheromone) spray to have the men all over me,” announced one woman, causing a wave of laughs and agreement and fueling many decisions to buy. “That will spice things up a little.”

The dusting powder was made for tasting. Ms. Ortega brought the canister to each woman and applied a bit to her arm with a feather duster. Women then sampled the powdered sugary residue. Not bad, most agreed. The serious stuff came next: Silky lingerie, lace hosiery, nighties and flowing gowns.

Women felt the fabrics and held the merchandise to their bodies. They pondered which styles their husbands, boyfriends and boyfriends-to-come might enjoy most. They asked girlfriends their opinions on the color selection.

The show-and-tell went on for two hours. There were body bars and acrylic massagers, chocolate-flavored body toppings, romantic games and adult toys. Each item elicited its share of whispers, nudges, abundant innuendo and howling laughs.

“Oh you gotta try the Mini Me,” called one woman to her friend across the path.

Women were instructed to indicate their interest by noting items in their menu. At the end of the evening, Ms. Ortega, who had sold Tupperware for six years, would meet with each woman to take her order. In just under three weeks, the ladies would receive her items in a plain brown paper package.


Fantasia Home Parties has been around for 20 years, because sensuality sells if it’s peddled properly. The Company was founded in New Jersey in 1984 by Rina Valan-Hudson who wanted to help women enhance their sensuality without compromising their reputations or public images.

Ms. Valan-Hudson recalls being intrigued by sensual aids in her early 20s. But she remembers vividly the ordeal to learn about products at Manhattan shops. “The only way way I could look at items was to go to an adult store.” Ms.Valan-Hudson explained. “My friends and I would sneak away, walk by the store for about 15 minutes and finally go inside. I would always start a spiel about doing research.”

Ms. Valan-Hudson thought there must be a more comfortable way to learn about products, and see them up close. Having worked in multi-level marketing in the hobby/craft industry, she knew about the power of parties. Fantasia Unlimited was born.

Now called Fantasia Home Parties, the company focuses on “providing service to women and doing parties in a tasteful manner.” Sales in 2002 topped $l.8 million. This year, sales are already 60 percent above last years levels.

About 200 Fantasia sales representatives are concentrated on the East coast, and plans are in the works for full expansion to Florida and the Georgia with a test market in Las Vegas. A Web site at will help connect people to parties or sales reps in the area.

These parties are a place to “look and browse and talk about things that are on our minds and share,” Ms.Valan-Hudson said from her Pennsylvania office. “Women are so good together like that. This is how women shop.”

“This is about romance and keeping the romance alive,” agrees Ms. Ortega, who hosted parties for years for her girlfriends before becoming a sales representative in January.


“The challenge of being a married, working couple with children in that day-to-day life is so busy and there’s not much time to kick back and relax,” said Ms. Ortega who knows whereof she speaks. She has been married eight years and has two children.

She says Fantasia Home Parties allows women to stay at home for next to nothing and have the most romantic evening you can possibly think of.”

Ms, Ortega is a true believer and one of about 20 Fantasia sales reps currently working on Staten Island. She presents at least eight parties each month.

Her job, which she considers supplemental income, takes roughly three hours each party evening. She earns 25 percent of saIes. This evening, Ms. Ortega cleared $400.

“The money I make you can’t make working part time in a retai1 store for the time I put in,” Ms. Ortega said. Her best customers are women over 35 years of age.

But it’s not uncommon to find women in their mid-60s as sales reps, according to Ms. Valan-Hudson. “This isn’t bad stuff,” she said. “It is a service for women for personal items.”

The benefits of being able to relax and enjoy the company of other women in this way are many. According to Ms. Valan-Hudson, there are women who have had fertility problems and after buying some items are able to get pregnant. She attributes the pregnany success to the ability to relax.

And women who get involved as sales representatives are becoming confident in the business world. “Many women are able to quit their day job and they are buying houses and cars. Or they can stay home and be there at critical hours with children. That motivates me,” Ms. Valan-Hudson said. “We are helping people and they are bettering their lives.”