Veteran inventor Jack Jaffe looks back at how he caused a stir at the 1971 Harrogate Toy Fair with his game, Libido.
The first professional toy fair I attended was the Harrogate Toy Fair in January, 1971.
I rented a booth to demonstrate and sell (I hoped) my first board game, Libido.
The game sees two to six players try to compel the others to reveal their sexual attitudes and experiences and, if all are agreeable, maybe lose their clothes, of which a maximum of five pieces are allowed.
I hired the services of four Leeds University students and instructed them to strip down to their underwear but no further. The stage was set or so I thought...
On the day before opening, I was approached bt the Fair Secretary who told me that if I demonstrated Libido, I would be expelled from the Fair.
“Despite having paid for my booth?” I asked. He shrugged his shoulders.
I wasn’t all that surprised or disturbed because I had noted a night-club directly opposite the Fair, so I immediately trotted across the road and suggested I’d be happy to demonstrate the by now famous Libido to his customers, for a small stipend to which he readily aquiessed. So for four nights, I had a pleasant evening and cut my costs.
On day three, I quietly notified the few remaining journos that I would no longer tolerate this ban on my demonstrating Libido.
“At 3.30 pm, on my booth, my students and I will demonstrate the game come what may,” I bravely declared.
At 3.29 the next day, you could see the dust-motes coming through the skylights, with just two journos in sight when, suddenly, the space accommodated 10 x 2 – and two TV cameras.
I had prepared a brief speech about freedom and adults rights to play board games, which the TVs duly filmed and when they continued to turn, I’d just begun to improvise when round the corner came the Fair’s Secretary.
His jaw dropped (first time I’d ever seen it in real life) and then he ran forward, shouting “This has got to stop!”
The cameras swivelled and continued turning, and extracts were shown on both BBC News and ITV News.