Sex-toy vending machine sells pleasure for a penny

PinkBox co-owners Timaree Schmit (left) and Dean Kitagawa.

THANKS TO A Philly vending-machine company, customers can pay a small price and get more than just a sex toy in a box.

The company is called PinkBox and its machines offer adult toys ranging from condoms to vibrators - making it the first vending machine of its kind in the United States, its owners claim. Items range in price from $4 to $99, and PinkBox takes cash or credit cards.

PinkBox's first machine debuts tonight at Underground Arts, 12th and Callowhill streets, as part of the Philadelphia Burlesque Festival, which runs until Sunday. After the festival, PinkBox co-owner Dean Kitagawa said, the machine will be moved to another location - most likely another bar or club. It can be set up as easily as a jukebox, he said.

Kitagawa said the company markets PinkBox products to bargoers who have had "a few in them" and wouldn't normally make the trip to a regular sex shop. PinkBox cites the products' immediate availability and competitive pricing as perks that set them apart from storefront or online retailers.

Millennials also seem to be less critical of those interested in purchasing adult toys, Kitagawa said.

"We want to take the taboo feeling out of purchasing things that could be marriage- or couple-enhancers," Kitagawa said. "We want it to become more and more mainstream, and now is the time."

PinkBox donates some proceeds to marriage-equality efforts, including freedomtomarry.org, a national organization that advocates for same-sex marriage, Kitagawa said. By aligning with such organizations, Kitagawa said, PinkBox hopes to show that the products can be used by all types of couples.

Kitagawa added that he expects a sizable turnout this evening, although PinkBox doesn't necessarily attract everyone.

"With the exception of my mother, who is finally coming around, people seem to be taking this well," Kitagawa said.