The Waterbed Isn't Dead: Inventor Wants Us To Sleep Groovy Again
Invented by Charles Hall in 1967, the Summer of Love, the waterbed is making a comeback in the Millennial generation. Just when you thought nothing from the eight-track era would ever be seen again, the undulating pleasure platform resurfaces. Nearly 50 years after the invention that put the motion of the ocean in the bedroom, a trio of waterbed experts, including the original inventor, set out to bring back the grooviest bed in history. Whether or not the Afloat makes it big is up for question. Hall hopes the younger generations will make like migratory fish, “It’s like salmon, they’ll return to the place where they were spawned.” That may not be brochure-ready copy, but that got your attention.
Will Sex Still Sell?
Normally, the answer would be an unequivocal, heck yes! If anything, sex sells even better today than it did when the first “Pleasure Bed” debuted. However, if you recall, the original waterbed didn’t fly off the proverbial shelves. According to a New York Times article, Hugh Hefner, a nudist colony, and head shops were Hill’s only takers at first. Knock-off waterbeds that came with “orgy butter” sullied the market, making it a seedy novelty at best.
The old version scared people. Electrocution, spilling of hundreds of gallons of water and broken floorboards went through people’s minds when they first heard of the waterbed. Eventually, they got over it and the waterbed revolution began. From the late ‘70s to the early ‘90s waterbeds boomed. By 1991, one in five beds was a waterbed! Hotels, celebrities, and even pop culture all embraced the sexiest bed around. Then, about five years later, the boom died.
From Dairy Cows to Bedrooms
A monkey wrench in the waterbed business: they lasted forever. People who bought and enjoyed them never needed another. Conventional beds become filled with dust, skin and other undesirables. Waterbeds maintain, aside from a leak here or there. That’s great for the consumer, not so much for a business. Regular beds also improved considerably, mimicking the feel of a waterbed with various new materials. Eventually, waterbeds became a tiny niche for novelty buyers or, surprisingly, dairy cows. Since dairy cows do their best work prone, the soft idling apparently served them well.
Not Your Dad’s Waterbed
The innards of the very first prototype waterbed might surprise you: Jell-O. Naturally, smelly decomposition and lack of movement spelled disaster for that idea. Armed with lessons learned, the Afloat isn’t your daddy’s waterbed. The New Age waterbed ranges from $1,995 to $2,395 and includes a host of tools like a heater, a 25-foot hose, and a metal frame. This version is more mobile, only weighing 40 pounds without water, and is up to floor-loading code anywhere.
Don’t Call It a Comeback
The makers of the Afloat hope that both the young and old will enjoy the improvements to a classic technology. Mr. Hall, the inventor, espouses a wide variety of benefits. First, no bugs, like, at all. Second, sex plus comfort! The inventor explains, “Because this waterbed fills in any open spots, the motion is suppressed substantially. The cuddling and position aspects are far better than anything you could imagine.” When asked if the marketing plan aims for sex or comfort? Hill, age 75 replies, “I think for our generation, it’s comfort. Maybe sex for the Millennials.”
Blast From The Past Or, Just Stay There?
So, will younger generations experiment with the new and improved pleasure pit or simply marvel at their parent’s weirdness? Temperature control, improved material, and more flexibility may give the Afloat a fighting chance. There’s also the Baby Boomers, still the largest generation by population. Will they flock to a novelty of their youth or smile wistfully at a product from a bygone era? We shall see. Now you know the groovy history of the waterbed and where to get one if the notion strikes you!
Tags: Remember This?... | Waterbeds
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