Sex Toy Story

You can't buy a vibrator in Burleson, but there are plenty of dildos

The dress code later passed. "You know Joanne will never conform," Spears told the group. "No," Perkins said. "She already quit."

Undercover Lovers

Burleson police officer Robert Thomas watched in early November as Havens handed a warrant to another officer for Joanne's arrest if she didn't turn herself in. "Fourteen years of law enforcement," Thomas says, "and I'm trying to recall if I'd ever seen this before. Supposedly it was an anonymous complaint. But this thing was almost drafted as a narcotics operation. If you put cocaine in the place of the dildos, it's a drug operation."

Selling sex and satisfaction: At a Passion Party outside Johnson County, Joanne Webb passes around her wares. Only 10 percent of her sales are for vibrators.
Mark Graham
Selling sex and satisfaction: At a Passion Party outside Johnson County, Joanne Webb passes around her wares. Only 10 percent of her sales are for vibrators.
Joanne Webb has Teri Dees, left, and Deja Allen laughing as they pass around the merchandise at a Passion Party.
Mark Graham
Joanne Webb has Teri Dees, left, and Deja Allen laughing as they pass around the merchandise at a Passion Party.

An affidavit by Havens describes what happened on October 7. At 4:10 p.m., two undercover officers posing as a couple went to Chris' business and asked to see Joanne's catalogs. She encouraged the woman to get some girlfriends together for a party. That way, she could get free goodies.

But the "couple" insisted on buying something right away. They chose two items, and Joanne drove home to get them. When she returned, they handed over $63.11 "in official S.T.O.P. Task Force funding" in exchange for two vibrators. The 30-minute sting was captured on video.

Thomas had encountered the Webbs earlier, when Chris filed a complaint against him for calling Joanne "walking implants" in the Safari salon while investigating a trailer parked illegally at the strip center. (After years of being unhappy with her flat chest, Joanne had splurged on a pair of D-cups. Thomas says someone else at the salon made the remark.)

The officer had heard the "lifestyle" gossip from other officers and members of the city council. "The rumors made it sound like there were big orgies going on," Thomas says. "They were always referred to as 'those kind of people' in the department. For me, it didn't fit. Her personality isn't seductive at all."

Thomas later ran afoul of the character-keepers. In early fall, he'd told his superiors he needed treatment for alcoholism. After rehab, Thomas returned to work. "But it seemed after that I became a liability to them," he says. Punished for minor infractions, Thomas thought they were looking for reasons to fire him.

"Maybe I was paranoid," Thomas says, "but in hindsight, I should have gotten treatment on my own and never gone to them." Bitter, he quit the department in January.

Book Her

Sisemore marched into the Cleburne office of Johnson County Attorney Bill Moore and demanded: "What is this war on the clitoris?"

She knew Moore's reputation as a gentleman, but Sisemore also knew he could exercise discretion in choosing which cases to prosecute. Moore refused to dismiss the charge against Joanne.

On November 11, Joanne had called her director with Passion Parties, who recommended Sisemore. Flabbergasted to hear the charge, Sisemore called the police department and asked, "Can I have the dildo patrol?"

The attorney negotiated to bring Joanne to the station but got tied up in court. On Thursday, Sisemore was told if Joanne didn't appear, officers were coming to get her. After leaving court at 6 p.m., Sisemore obtained a $1,500 bond, piled the Webbs in her Corvette and raced to the county jail in Cleburne. On the way, her coffee spilled and ruined the document. It looked like Joanne would have to spend the night in the pokey.

While the jailers fingerprinted Joanne, Sisemore and Chris dashed around until they found another bondsman. Sisemore says the idea that his wife might end up in jail had Chris acting like "a wooden robot." By 10 p.m., when they got back to the courthouse, Chris was almost in tears.

Inside, Joanne was handing out business cards. Seeing an acquaintance among the inmates, Joanne called out: "What are you in for?"

"Traffic tickets," the man hollered. "What about you?"

"Selling an obscene device to two undercover officers," Joanne yelled.

The policewoman handling her booking looked up. "You're kidding," she said. "I used to sell those. Who the hell did you piss off?"

Though the jail visit seemed surreal, the next week reality hit. Unable to pay their bills, the Webbs closed the office, called creditors and started selling everything they could. Joanne called Passion Parties headquarters and asked for help with Sisemore's fee. No one in the company's history had been arrested for selling vibrators. They recommended Joanne call the ACLU.

Earlier, in a scene out of the movie Norma Rae, Joanne had sat down with Katy, 16, and Matt, 13, and explained that their mother was going to be arrested on an obscenity charge.

"Oh, my gosh," said Katy, a popular teen who sports black and red streaks through her platinum hair. "You're a criminal!" They hugged and cried a bit. Then Katy said, "We'll be there for you, Mom." Everybody high-fived.

But now the teens were fielding embarrassing questions from friends. The family received a hate letter: "I wonder if your children know that you are swingers and whores...You both should be ashamed. You look like a couple that has the potential of being a classy couple. Too bad you are covering it up with your filth. Why, I can smell you through this paper. Gross. Signed, Sad for your children."

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