News that a US-based sex toy company had set up the world's first "male stress relief" masturbation booths in New York City in early January quickly made the rounds online. However, a quick trip to its supposed site on the corner of 28th Street and 5th Avenue revealed no such booth at all.
Hot Octopuss announced that it would introduce its own version of LinkNYC's free WiFi booths called "GuyFi" booths. The booths would convert old public telephones boxes across Manhattan into private masturbation sanctuaries, complete with a laptop, chair and a black privacy curtain.
"Scientists say that male 'alone time' reduces depression and stress, as well as increasing self-esteem—all undeniably beneficial for staying healthy in today's fast-paced and stressful work environment. A break for as little as 15 minutes can seriously enhance productivity in the work place," the sex toy firm said in its press release.
The company claimed the first GuyFi booth was launched on 13 January on 28th Street and 5th Avenue and that at least 100 men had used the booth on the first day. However, no such booth exist on the corner of the two streets. Workers of Cafe28, a counter-serve deli in front of the alleged booth, said they could not remember seeing the GuyFi poster or men flocking to the former telephone booth.
Further inspection revealed that it looked like any other phone booth and that no major renovation had been done. Two pay phones remained firmly in place with passersby using the booth's metal separators to shield them from the bitter New York City cold as they lit their cigarettes.
Lucy Rogers of Manifest New York, a PR firm that works for Hot Octopuss, had a simple explanation for why the GuyFi booth was no longer available. "A booth did indeed open at 28th and 5th on Wednesday 13th, however it was there for a limed time only. We never intended for it to be there for a long period of time," Rogers said in an email interview with IBTimes UK. The spokeswoman added that the GuyFi booth was a "one-off prototype".
"The booth was never created to encourage public masturbation. We simply set up the booth with the message that men should look at taking a 15-minute break from their busy lives. We created the booth to see what the reaction would be from the public, and in the true spirit of the brand and their strong focus on breaking down stigma around sex, it was designed to spark debate about masturbation and the taboo around the subject matter," she added.
Rogers continued, "It has done what we wanted to in respect its received worldwide interest with people talking about masturbation when they previously wouldn't have. In our eyes, it has indeed worked, it's sparked debate!"