Unless you’ve been living under a rock or someplace similar, you must’ve heard of IMBesharam.com – India’s number 1 adult lifestyle webstore which has the irrepressible Sunny Leone as their brand ambassador. We talked to its co-founder Raj about the company, their products and how they are going to help spice up the Indian bedroom. Excerpts from the interview:
How do you think you can help spice up Indian bedrooms?
We’re nothing but a medium for the Indian audience to achieve a certain lifestyle they’ve been craving for a while. The impact of western culture has been profound in the general population in the last 10 years as is evidenced from the movies we watch, the TV shows we like, the clothing we wear, the lifestyle we strive for and maintain, and the relationships we get into.
We are just bridging the gap of that demand with a supply of amazing products and international brands, which were not introduced to the reach of Indian audiences yet. These are products available freely in drugstores, malls and departmental stores in the west, but due to social stigma, these products haven’t made it to mainstream retail channels.
How do you plan to increase people’s awareness about the products?
Interestingly, the audience already knows what they want. After having done R&D for over a year, having consulted with several entrepreneurs, legal and customs consultants, we realised that curious shoppers are already looking for these products in India. They just didn’t have a trustworthy brand to turn to or a reliable channel to shop from. So, the concept of shopping online appeals to Indians who can buy everything from the comfort of their bedrooms without feeling embarrassed. Also, having Sunny Leone – Google’s most searched person of the year – has helped increase awareness about our products.
Porn and the internet have been blamed a lot for rapes in this country. What is your opinion? Do you think your venture could be blamed too?
Firstly, we strongly condemn rape and sex crimes or for that matter any form of human rights violations. We have voiced this before and we will work to create the awareness in rural and urban India to respect and protect the women in our country.
We are Indians ourselves, have been born and brought up with these virtues and sentiments to respect your mother, sister, wife and daughter and protect them from such anti-social elements.
The assumption that porn and internet are blamed for rape, however broadly does not have any logical reasoning. Just like accessibility to unhealthy fast food cannot be the reason for obesity, porn by itself cannot be attributed to rape. However, laws needs to be formulated that can filter and control the type and extent of porn which may show violent practices and anti-society visuals.
We firmly believe that Indians are coming together and uniting against such horrendous crimes and we will not accept these atrocities against women anymore. Our venture while it captures immediate attention with a name like ‘Besharam‘ and tag line ‘India’s #1 Adult Lifestyle webstore’ carries products that will act as pacifiers to the deprived and are the top 10 aids and apparatus that are prescribed by sexologists and sextherapists in India.
We are meeting the needs of the audience by:
Making relationships stronger by giving them variety and adventure in their lifestyle.
Curbing urges in teenage by giving them an outlet and thereby keeping them civil and sane.
Providing for the needs of individuals who are diagnosed with problems by giving them aids to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Empowering women by giving them access to self defence tools and products (pepper sprays).
Fostering a healthier and balanced mind and body health by satisfying the needs of the curious, the wants of the married and the fantasies of the single individuals.
This whole venture will achieve more if it gathers the support of the mature and knowledgeable and if it stays away from social stigmas and encourages open thinking and happy living.
We have to ask. How did you rope in Sunny Leone to be your brand ambassador?
We came up with the idea in early 2010, and developed the business plan in early 2011. Knowing India’s fascination with Bollywood and celebs, we made a conscious decision of signing up Sunny Leone, who at that time was fresh from the success of her first Indian TV show Bigg Boss. Sunny Leone is every bit of besharam that our brand is (No pun intended).She has always had a free lifestyle, a completely self-made woman, who has worked hard and stood her ground in face of criticism and cynicism. Finally, she is at a place where people have accepted her, they admire her, they respect her for what she is and the decisions she makes. She is also an international face who was welcomed in India due to her Indian origins. We will be looking for a new face for 2014 and we plan to take an All India poll to vote for that face.
Did you do any survey/research before coming up with the idea to launch the website? What did you find?
We personally did over 6 months of survey which included meeting with peers in online retail, consultation with attorneys to discuss legality of these products, customs consultants and retired commissioners to establish the correct interpretation of law. To our knowledge and surprise, we saw a wide gap between common public knowledge and actual law and its restrictions. While there are certain terms used like sex toys to label a male/female body organ, the average Indian was not aware of the immense variety of products that exist out there that can lead to better and more satisfied sexual lifestyles. 80% of these products had no restrictions on being imported in India for personal use. (Read: Sex without a penis – it’s possible)
We respect and obey the laws in India and conform to it by getting our products approved by the legal counsel. We realized that the law does not prohibit many products which by misinterpretation got labelled as sex toys, for example this massager.
We are actively in talks with the network of sexologists and sex therapists in India to provide to them clinical aids and medical apparatus that can be used for treating common health and sexual problems. We have signed a few wholesale and distribution deals to sell the line of lingerie, lubricants, mood enhancers, sexual supplements and medical aids so these products can be available in medical stores and at reach to the common man.
Were there any legal hassles? An archaic legislation from the British era specifically Section 292 of the IPC makes selling sex toys illegal in India – how did you get past that loophole?
Under the Indian Penal Code, 1860, Section 292 prohibits the sale of obscene objects. A magazine with nude pictures of women will be considered obscene and so will a DVD which has a XXX movie in it. However, a lingerie packaging which has a model who is posing the lingerie that is inside it, is not the objective product but the lingerie is and as long as the picture of the model is NOT lascivious and shows NO nudity, it is not considered obscene under the rule of law.
A bunch of products that we carry in the Adult category section are merely machines that are used by adults for performing various functions like neck massage, head massage, ear massage, feet massage, back massage and hand massage. The shape and forms of some of these products are made to serve a dual purpose and adults derive pleasure by using them in multiple applications that they like or choose to. These products are not considered sex toys. It is merely a multiple-application apparatus. We do not sell any such products that are considered SEX TOYS or those that purely function as one.
Along with talking to Raj, we asked our expert, Men’s Health Physician and Medical Sex Therapist Dr Vijaysarathi Ramanathan, his opinion on whether sex products could spice up a couple’s sex life.
Here’s what he had to say, ‘Whatever thing a person/couple uses to spice their sex life, whether it be porn or aid or apparatus, must understand that the best outcome could be derived by appropriately incorporating such external things into their self/couple sexual style. Evidence suggests that when penile prosthesis were implanted into men with ED, the erections got significantly improved but the overall sexual satisfaction got reduced… just because the couple failed to make the implant induced erection as part of the erotic play.’
He added, ‘ There also should be a clear message to people that these products are there to support and enhance a couple’s sex life and not merely to become dependent on it. There’s a tendency to think it’s just the products that are important in sex life and not their partners. The aim shouldn’t be to sell products, but to promote ‘healthy sexuality’.