Good Vibrations: ‘Vibrator Races’ at Taj Louisville

Louisville is always coming up with innovative, often hilarious ways to entertain the masses. We’re a bit of a party town, as you likely know, and those of us who work in the spirits industry are keen on creating unique experiences. What’s even more exciting to me, though, is when bars and restaurants incorporate progressive ideas and advocacy into their events. That’s why, back in February, when I got the chance to add to my events repertoire emcee of the first-ever “Vibrator Races” at Taj Louisville, like a magic bullet, I jumped at the chance.

My friend Ken Blackthorn, the “On-Premise Meister” for Jagermeister, first got the idea for the “Vibrator Races” when he visited a bar in Key West, Florida — Mary’s, which hosts a similar event, often benefiting local charities and bringing in crowds of tourists and locals alike. “I didn’t know how people would take it in Louisville, but I thought, why not?” said Blackthorn, who teamed up with the folks at Taj to create an actual track for sex toys to “race” down and win, called “Dildo Downs.” Blackthorn approached me about emceeing the event with my friend, Olivia Griffin of The Limbo tiki bar, and as I mentioned, we were all in. Stolen Spirits (for which I work) and Jagermeister quickly got on board to sponsor the event with drink specials and swag. So, you’ve got to be wondering, what in the actual hell are vibrator races?

Picture this: a wooden, neon-painted track, not far removed from what you may have raced your Pinewood Derby cars down as a child. Now, that’s some weird nostalgia happening.

Moving on.

Four vibrators can race down the track at a time, so Olivia and I introduce each toy — complete with quirky names given by Blackthorn and the Taj staff — with vibration descriptions in real time and our best quirky sexual puns. Griffin and I asked bargoers to bid on the vibrators, auctioneer style, and the winner would then own that “horse” in the race. We then split that pot between the winner and a donation for Planned Parenthood of Kentucky and Indiana.

Cassandra and Jacey, bartendresses of the evening, stayed busy pouring libations for many customers who clearly didn’t know what they were walking into that evening. “I thought I was just meeting a coworker for a drink,” said one patron, “and here I am rooting for a sex toy race!”

As the toys took off, Griffin and I narrated the race, “Pink Panther pulls ahead!” she exclaimed, of a smaller g-spot finder. “Wait! Lightning McQueen takes the lead!”

It seemed the smaller, more powerful bullets were faster than the toys with greater girth. Note this for future races, friends.

Some patrons were confused as to what was happening in Taj that evening, while others kept on with their normal eve of imbibing. No one seemed upset by the sexuality of it all, which is a great sign for our community: normalizing masturbation — and being able to talk about it!

I continued to remind folks that this was a sex-positive event and that all genders use sex toys, in hopes that everyone would feel safe and get their dollars out for bids. It was, in fact, for charity after all.

Ultimately, with four vibrator races, we raised $283 for Planned Parenthood of Kentucky and Indiana, with sponsor Stolen Spirits adding $100 to that, bringing us just under $400. Griffin, Blackthorn, Taj and I felt proud of our “vibrations” in the community and have already started brainstorming on how we can make this event bigger and better to multiply that charitable giving. With warmer weather approaching and Taj’s sprawling outdoor space, the options for an outdoor Dildo Derby are endless, which has me wondering — how big can these vibrator races get? Can the spirits industry continue to support organizations in our community with a sex-positive and all around unique and fun event complete with tasty libations? What other pleasure toys would be the next underdog or dark horse in the race? I’m talking all shapes and sizes, y’all. Win, place, oohhhh. Cheers!