Consumed with love

How do you say “I love you”? Don’t worry, help is at hand. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the Red Envelope catalogue has posed a question that it can help answer.


Step One: take up acrobatics and cover the bed in rose petals. Let’s hope Mr. Right has good leg and abs strength.

What’s next?


Step Two: clean up previously scattered rose petals and bring out chocolate body tattoos with stencils. You can see LOVE has already made its way to her arm, but the catalogue reveals the chocabulary also includes HOT, SPOT, YUMMY, KISS, THIS, GOOD, EAT, START, HERE, TASTE, LICK. I’m going for EAT THIS. What would you write?

The experience is clearly enhanced by their complementary tees—note the stag with the manly antlers blowing heart bubbles to the deer on her chest surrounded by the prettiest little butterflies.

I’m fascinated by the position of his “brush.” It’s poised to go into her armpit, which is traditionally a place of horror and sweatiness in the consumer photography world. I predict he’s just teasing and that’s what’s making her laugh – my armpit? Ew! How could you? And the hovering of his brush is an idle threat before he paints YUMMY on her breast.

What the reader doesn’t realize until later in the catalogue is that, in a surreal meta-twist, there is an acknowledged third in the fantasy couple’s room…because someone is taking a commemorative photo of their best Valentine’s Day ever that turns up later.


A decade ago yuppie catalogues like Red Envelope were not marketing sex products. But, in our post-Paris-on-video, post-Britney-sans-underwear world, we welcome romantic help from our retail friends…wrapped up in a little suburban giddiness.

You can now store your bedroom accessories in style with the lockable Red Secrets Box featuring a “hidden compartment…for extra hush-hush items.” And for the traveling couple, there’s the Mile High Kit with everything for a “recreational romp” from hot cinnamon mints and a blindfold to pleasure ring and feather tickler. It comes in silver or pink.

The board games may be the most exciting part of the product line. There’s Sex Smarts in which you can explore “the culture, history, and practice of sex.” Sample question: “Which sexual positions are most popular?” Ok, I admit, I’m kind of intrigued by this one. It has the potential to be a) interesting, b) ludicrous, or c) totally offensive. I’m hoping for (c).

The next game is Sex Questions to “find out what your partner really likes.” I’m sure you’re glad that Red Envelope is playing the role of sex therapist, opening up intimate communication between you and your partner.

But wait, don’t they realize that 99% of the people using this game are going to have a huge ROW on Valentine’s Day? Sample question: “What physical characteristics do you usually find sexy?” Can he stop himself saying “huge tits” to his A-cup wife? And there are 64 cards!

But wait, there’s more. If your relationship is still hanging on by a thread after Sex Questions, you can commit romantic suicide with Couple’s Table Topics. Sample question: “Which of you is the worst backseat driver?”

You can order through February 12th…Happy St. Valentine’s Day.

18 responses to “Consumed with love”

  1. eeewww in so many directions, i don’t even know where to start. can anyone imagine actually having to sleep or have sex with all that glossy pink bedding piled up around you?

    Is “chocabulary” your word or theirs? Because it’s delicious.

  2. trixie says:

    i think it makes much more sense that there was a third party in the room documenting things.
    that must have been the person who was throwing rose petals (from the top of a ladder perhaps?) in the first photo.
    now that i think about it, there must have been a fourth party in the room taking the photographs.
    hopefully,whomever else present was also responsible for cleaning up the petals before phase two of the celebration. that part would be kind of a buzzkill.

  3. Dave says:

    So it’s come to this — a circumscribed passion offered to the middle class in tastefully glossy catalogs.

    I wonder if the electronic frame also plays sound clips. You could record shouts of ecstacy, or grunts.

    Also odd: The young, impossibly hot couple looks hip, downtown, from the guy’s scruff to the girl’s silkscreened tank top — but they’re surrounded by that bizarre princess-land of pink puffiness. The deconstruction of the bobos, or just bad art direction?

  4. bryan says:

    The deconstruction of the bobos, or just bad art direction?

    probably both. or someone picked the wrong model agency.

    good call on the musical frame, though my guess is it’s intended for less creative uses — say, for playing cheesy songs from the new sheryl crow album.

    it strikes me that this catalog aims at people who want to like sex but really don’t, and so need mile high mints and chocolate stencils to help them out.

  5. Stella says:

    i’m proud to say chocabulary was all mine.

    dave – i think there’s an urban hipster/suburban merge and blurring of the lines. the people at that gig go home to red envelope domestic fantasies. soon urban cool will be uncool and the new cool will be a 1950s sharp-suited conservative style.

  6. bryan says:

    the return of the tie and hat and cardigan may be just what dr stella’s ordering …

  7. Tim Wager says:

    it strikes me that this catalog aims at people who want to like sex but really don’t

    I think Bryan’s onto something here. Even more, maybe it’s for people who don’t even know what sex is. They’re like the narrator in Elvis Costello’s “Mystery Dance,” written from the perspective of a teenager who doesn’t know what sex is: “You can see those pictures in any magazine/but what’s the use of looking when you don’t know what they mean?” Sex is painting chocolate on each other and rough-housing in a pile of rose petals, then snuggling in our matching t-shirts on silk sheets. Then, we’ll have a nice nap and wake up to our favorite songs on the musical picture frame.

    On a side note, my favorite ever Valentine’s Day marketing move was an announcement for a sale in the window of a half-price bookstore (er, shop) in London. Painted in huge, vibrant letters that took up the entire plate glass window was “Now it’s cheap to say I LOVE YOU!!!” So perfectly ironic it just hurts.

  8. Eric Jones says:

    mr. right’s abs? sure indeed, but what about miss sunshine’s abs (and glutes, etc.) as well? can you imagine the fortitude within that skinny little bod to maintain such a high-flying form whilst having a couple feet in the gut? and the delicate angle of the petite wrist, oh my. . . . but no–on second look, no doubt her calfs are, out of the shot, tensioning off the petal-thrower’s latter.

  9. Eric Jones says:

    er, ladder. or whatever.

  10. Adriana says:

    I hear there’s some HGTV tie-in where you can win a room makeover that will look just like the ad — complete with everything pictured, rose petals, electronic picture frame, etc.

  11. bryan says:

    does it come w/ the guy on the ladder?

  12. Ruben Mancillas says:

    you guys are totally ruining what was going to be a special day of exciting and playful gifts for us.

  13. Adriana says:

    The guy on the ladder, the couple, the photographer, are all there just for V-day. But your crowded night of amour will be televised live and then you get a commemorative DVD.

  14. adriean mancillas says:

    Yeah, and I had a photographer lined up and everything.

  15. Swells says:

    Adriean–does that mean I have the night off now? You’re still gonna reimburse me for the rental of that plushie suit, right?

  16. 11: Bryan, you’re hilarious.

    I want my ladder to have “I love you?” painted on it.

  17. adriean mancillas says:

    Steph, the plushie suit was all your idea, remember?

  18. PB says:

    “And there are 64 cards!”

    I heart Stella.