LEHIGHTON, Pa. Sensuality, Rina Valan is fond of saying, is between the ears, but the products she sells are for what happens between the sheets.
Lehighton, Pa.-based Fantasia Unlimited runs home-parties; but instead of Tupperware, the company sells underwear and other products to make sex more pleasurable. The women attending these parties do not care about air-tight plastic containers; they are shopping for tidbits to make the men in their lives forget about dinner.
Valan who last August moved her 7-year-old company from New Jersey to quiet, staid Lehighton, about 90 miles north of Philadelphia said that thousands of home parties are held in the name of Fantasia each year.
The idea, she says, is to dress up for love; with 1990 sales of $1 million, it seems that Valan is dressed for success.
"We have something that will get 'em up, keep 'em up, speed 'em up and slow 'em down," said Donna Holt, one of Fantasia's 125 sales representatives in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey Connecticut and Vermont.
With that announcement, a few risque quips and a sex quiz, Holt started a recent party in Easton, Pa. For the next two hours, Susan, the hostess, and four friends touched, tasted and smelled the 100 novelties, lotions, creams and lingerie on the Fantasia menu.
The Fantasia presentation drew giggles, gasps and guffaws from the 19- to 29-year-olds. There was Honey Dust Powder ("Honey-flavored to make your skin lusciously smooth and soft," says the product list or menu.)
Many of the other lotions cannot be faithfully described in a family newspaper.
The lingerie is equally provocative, running from edible underwear to a lacy corselette with garters in black with purplish-red.
Fantasia's operation is similar to other home-party businesses.
A woman signs up to host a party and invites friends in this case, females only. The sales representative whose dual role is to get the participants in a fun mood pitches the items. At the end of the evening, the sales representative takes the orders in private. The items arrive at the hostess' or buyer's home in about three weeks wrapped in plain brown paper.
The name Fantasia came about because "I wanted a place where you can be whatever you want to be and it's OK," Valan said.
It is with that motto that Valan has pioneered sexy lingerie for large woman; she stocks many items in sizes up to XXXXL.
"All women complain about something," she said. " 'My thighs are too big' or 'My thighs are too small.'
"They're probably right, but it doesn't matter. So you don't look like a Playboy bunny; you can still be sexy. The mind is the sexiest part of the body."
The best party goers and sales representatives are the older women, Valan said. "The younger group, the 20-year-olds, don't know anything. It's like giving them sex education; they see something and ask, 'You do WHAT with that?'
"Men are great customers because they don't ask the price. They like a little red thing and they buy it, who cares about the price," she said. "But parties for couples or men don't do well because men don't buy collectively. They don't call their best friend up and say, 'Hey let's go shopping for some lingerie.' "