The History of the Fleshlight
The Fleshlight is one of the most popular masturbators on the market and has been for over 20 years. Whether you want to build your own stamina or you want to fantasize about your favorite porn star while you masturbate, Fleshlights make it easy to do.
How did this brand become the go-to for masturbation sleeves? It wasn’t the first stroker on the market, so what’s its secret? Here’s what you need to know.
A Need for Release
The inventor of the Fleshlight, Steve Shubin and his wife, Kathy, had a problem. She was pregnant at the age of 40 which is considered high risk. Their doctor told them penetrative sex needed to be off the table until after the birth of their child.
Steve Shubin, a former police officer for Los Angeles County, knew he couldn’t wait that long, and he didn’t want to only use his hand. Instead of doing what some people do (lying, sneaking, cheating), he talked to his wife. And asked how she felt about him making a “substitute” until they could get busy together again. With her blessing, Shubin went all “mad scientist” in their garage to make a sexual aid that would feel good to use.
From the Garage to an Empire
Shubin began his Fleshlight journey in the 90s. His first patent was filed in 1995 for a “female functional mannequin.” By 1998, he patented what would become known as the Fleshlight as a “device for discreet sperm collection.” If you’ve ever used one, you know that’s a pretty accurate description.
The exact mix for the SuperSkin material that makes Fleshlights feel so real is proprietary and a closely guarded secret. But it’s also the same formula Shubin mixed together in his garage all those years ago. As a self-proclaimed mad scientist, Shubin didn’t actually know how to make the material, only that the “ingredients” he used needed to be body-safe.
With a lot of trial and error, the Shubins knew they were onto something. After a $50,000 investment, the Fleshlight empire began its early steps to greatness. After more than 20 years in operation, the company has sold over $1 billion in Fleshlight products (from strokers to lube and everything in between) and over 15 million Fleshlights.
The Rise of Fleshlight Girls
Shubin designed Fleshlights to be discreet for guys to use — the canister is meant to look like a flashlight on purpose, hence its name. But it was Shubin’s son who may have had the best idea for the fledgling company — partnering with porn stars to make products modeled after the star herself. From the beginning, they would be known as Fleshlight Girls.
It was the right move and a profitable one. Well over 40 women have joined the ranks of the Fleshlight Girls since its inception. In the early days, the decision to invite an adult star was based primarily on the videos they made. Today, cam models and other social media superstars (in the adult world) are often asked to participate. One of the most popular Fleshlight Girls is Stoya, with her classic Fleshlight model known as the Destroya — with more than 75,000 strokers sold over the years.
More Than a Stroker
As the company has grown, so too have their product lines. The classic Fleshlight canister continues to be an option, and Fleshlight Girls have also expanded to include Fleshlight Guys and FleshJack Boys — capitalizing on the continued popularity of straight and gay male porn. But beyond that, the “realistic” look of the standard Fleshlight is no longer your only option. From Turbo to Ice, if you prefer something more abstract, Fleshlight makes it.
Even better, they’ve also expanded to include all sorts of accessories to enhance your experience. Fleshlight lube is made to be used with any of their strokers and includes options that add sensation. Accessories let you go hands-free or play in different ways. And if you’re into a more virtual experience, Kiiroo uses a Fleshlight stroker for the penetrative aspect of their virtual reality experience.
The next time you use your favorite Fleshlight or browse online looking for a new one to buy, remember that your favorite toy exists because of one man’s need to get off while his wife was pregnant. Thankfully, founder and creator Steve Shubin didn’t stop there and realized he was onto a big idea.