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The Small Print


Vinnie’s Tampon Case has been featured in nearly every woman’s magazine, on countless radio programs, in newspapers across the globe, on TV shows, in documentaries, in books, at the Andy Warhol Museum, offered in stores around the world, given away by Justin Timberlake at his 22nd birthday party, discussed in Harvard classrooms, and, most importantly, carried proudly in back pockets of Jr. Varsity menstruators  on playgrounds everywhere.

I’ve received thousands upon thousands of fan letters over the years from every imaginable type of woman/girl- from every race, culture, class, from almost every continent. I’ve received fan mail written on Hello Kitty stationary from pre-teens who can’t wait for their period so they can use my case, from teens who read my GIANT ROLLER COASTER STICKER BOOK with their entertained boyfriends. I get letters from mothers who get the cases for their daughters, from guys who’ve gotten the case for their girlfriends, from doctors, gynocologists, children therapists, health clincs, crisis centers, from women’s study programs. and a very nice fan letter from a Baywatch actress.

But, in my ten years of giving out my tampon cases I rarely revealed the true reason I decided to embark on the  project. What follows is that explanation.

Project Goal: To create an affordable (or free) everyday object that would encourage a positive and non-sexual dialog between guys and girls about a woman’s body– in hopes of sparking education that will work towards ending violence against women.

The Inspiration: A friend revealed to me her having been kidnapped and raped by a group of strange men when she was in high school. The recurring trauma of her experience compounded by the fact that her family didn’t know how to deal with the crime and the fact that the perps were never arrested or brought to justice shook me to my core.

Furious at a society that refuses to develop the tools to deal with such horrific and wide-spread behavior I took it upon myself to attempt to change the environment that allows a college educated male like myself to be willfully ignorant of a woman’s well being and safety                                                                 thelma_and_louise.jpg
The Plan: Based on having witnessed the cathartic moment my friend had while watching the scene in Thelma & Louise when Susan Sarandon’s character shoots the rapist I had an inspiration moment. I realized that women/girls are offered almost no oportunities to mimic or role-play their power and there are almost no pop-culture heroines that inspire with their daring do- turning the table on the evil that women, specifically, often face. Boys and men are inundated with ego-props from an early age, from toy guns to comic heros to nearly every Hollywood film that has ever been made. Thelma & Louise was the only outlet my friend had to exorcise the demons of her trauma, and to workshop a level of revenge on her attackers. I decided to make more outlets.

I began by making large cartoony paintings of that exact moment of justice/revenge in T&L, thinking that women could hang this image in their home as an inspiration and/or a warning (see images below). But, art reaches, on average, a relatively small audience.                                the-bitch-shot-me_fullholes2001.jpg
I realized that I wanted to offer a product that was much more accessible, immediate and less intimidating than a painting. To really affect change I needed to get the message directly into the hands of young men. This led to scaling down and redesigning my gun-toting women into cute cartoon characters adhered to refridgerator magnets. My first two sets were WOMEN TIRED OF TAKING MEN’S SHIT and WOMEN KICKING WOULD BE RAPISTS IN THE NUTS, both of which were part of my FRIGGIN MAGNETS® line.
These magnets were sold in stores around the country and were much more successful than my paintings in terms of attracting eyeballs, but the overt violent images bothered me (violence begets violence) and the off-color language was limiting the ability of my message getting in the hands of kids, at least thru the gatekeepers of parents and retail stores.

The Solution: I sat on this puzzle for six months until I happened across a menstruation conversation between two of my female friends. When I came into the room they laughed and stopped talking tampons. An awkward silence followed and that was it. If women can’t even have a mundane conversation about menstruation in the presence of a man how the frik will men and women be able to share conversations about the much more traumatic experiences that happen to a woman’s body?

I decided I would make tampons with my name, Vinnie, boldly and unabashedly printed on the wrappers. If a guy named Vinnie can get over his phobia of the cycle then other men would surely be emboldened to follow his lead, right?

Well, it didn’t take long for me to realize that making tampons was way out of my league, so, in the course of conversations with friends about my plan it became clear that a case to protect tampons might be a viable alternative. I workshopped all kinds of different case options (plastic, metal tins, etc) until I hit on the canvas case with the inside pockets idea. It was important that the case be durable enough to protect period products from getting torn or broken but it needed to be soft-ish as well to not break other things in the purse. The canvas case was perfect.   (cont. top of next column)



E=MC2, the wheel, nuclear fusion…etc, etc.  all world renouned inventions… until now.  Vinnie’s Tampon Case has squashed them all.  You are a hero in my eyes.  Every female that i come into contact with agrees.  i hope your grandmas sewing machine is in good shape, cuz we girls are gonna clear you out.  You rule.  Your faithful follower (at least until menopause)-StrikersOL

Dear Vinnie, Suddenly I find myself looking forward to my next period. Thanks, -Susan, Atlanta, GA

Dear Vinnie, I don’t know you, but you are either really psychotic or one of the most awesome people on earth.  I choose that you are awesome.  -Stephanie, Palo Alto, CA

Dear Vinnie, Knowing there are wonderfully freaky boys out there who ponder menstruation makes me happy.  May you inspire the masses. Keep it up! A new fan -T.M.

Vinnie, You’ve got my vote for “Woman of the Year.” It always amazes me that it’s really women that perpetuate the hush-hushedness of having your period.  No wonder men don’t talk about it, we won’t let them.  Well, until you came along… good for you, boy! -VB, Canada

Dear Vinnie, I am writing you today because of the glorious invention that you have created.  I was pleasantly surprised to have received one on Christmas Day.  Only you can truly understand the joy I felt after receiving my very own tampon case.  Like other frustrated females I too have lost many good tamopns to the demons of my purse.  Now, I will never have to worry about having a fresh and clean tampon always on hand.  Thank you so very much for your ingenious invention.  -Cara, becky and Kriss

Dear Vinnie, I love my tampon case!  My friends love theirs! Thank you for not being a squeamish boy when it comes to periods.  You’ve earned you last name for sure.  Muchas gracias. -Elena C.

Dear Vinnie, Yesterday, I received my very own “Vinnie’s Tampon Case for Christmas.  It was a great hit at the dinner table.  I am pleased, too, that I will never again be forced to scrounge in the bottom of my big black bag only to come up with a tampon with a built-in cough drop and lipstick.  -Anne, New Mexico

Dear Vinnie, Thank you so much for making these amazing cases.  Every time I look at it, it cracks me up.  But at the same time it reminds me to check my handy chart.  I never miss a beat thanks to you!  p.s. your mother must be very proud of you.  -Kristen, Studio City, CA

Dear Vinnie, I couldn’t be happier to finally find such a great tampon case!  I’m a flight attendant- always on the go- so I’m sure your case will beat my ziploc bag of tampons in the bottom of my flight bag!  Thanks. -Ryan, Alexandria, VA

Dear Vinnie, For the past 11 years, my mother and I never discussed my period. Every once in a while, she would motion to the grocery list posted on the fridge and say, "Do you need some female things?" and that would bt that. I took your suggestion and left the roller coaster chart on the coffee table and my mom picked it up. To my surprise, she now takes an amazing interest in my flo' and even checks up on the coaster to see when she should start buying smoothie ingredients! With the help of my friend, we've made a series of multi-colored, multi-expression Hot Vinns for use anytime. They're especially helpful for arthritic knees and elbows, too. Thanks, Vinnie! We love ya! -Ester, Ventura ,CA

Dear Vinnie, have you created anything for that first period?--quite the event in the life of the female.  Maybe fireworks should be included.-XXXToneeQua, LA

Hi vinnie, we love you.  -Maddy and Ann

DUDE!!!! Vinnie! you are like my freaking idol! seriously you are the best thing sense sliced bread! Usually guys get all wireded out about us ladies having our natural cycle but you......you.....KICK JOSH HARNETT'S ASS!!!!! when i first saw your Vinnies tampion case i thought it was a joke but now i know! i saw it in the magazine Working Mother (no im not a teen mom, i was waiting at the doctors office) OK well you need to tell your people to send Vinnie's tampon case to San Clemente K man! Oh and another favor make a stciker of your cartoon face that says Vinnie's Tampon case so i can put them all over my folders! Vinnie i gotta hand it to you. You rock my socks off! And keep it up man! Love **JO** YOUR MY IDOL (i know i already said that but its so true)

Dear Vinnie, Are you a real person?  What's you deal? –Craig

Vinnie, You rock yo  my name is Narnia and i love your book i am 12 and i started my a month before  my b day wich is Oct 27 and i got it for my bday and i loved it  you rock  love narnia

Dear Vinnie, this is probably the greatest thing i've ever bought. ever. i love love love it. thanks so much for creating something so useful and practical. –Mary, Great Falls, VA

Vinnie,  Your tampon case always keeps me prepared!  I even have tampons for others who need them!  I feel so useful...thanks! –Kirsten, Merryville, IN

Youre freakin amazing, You have no idea how much i love you and my tampon case. – Adrielle, souix Falls, SD

I break for cycles Bitch!!! –Cristi, NYC

VINNIE!! Your tampon case has saved my life more than once. My friends can always count on me to have their back when that time of the month unexpectedly comes about and surprises them. Thanks a bunch! Sincerely, Abby- Parkersburg, WV

Dear Vinnie, you undoubtedly make my flow something to smile about. –Stephanie, Hattiesburg, MS

Vinnie, you make being a girl fun. –Alex, Mukilteo, WA

Dear Vinnie, i absolutly adore your tampon case and promised myself that when i was able to use them i would get one but i am unable to purchase them in england. PLEASE can you send one my way i am desperate. i feel i would be the envy of my whole school with one of these. – Octavia, Northants, UK









Even though I called it a tampon case I designed it to hold nearly all menstruation related products. I called it a tampon case because, like most guys, tampon was sort of a catch-all word for the entire business, so I knew guys would know what it was for once they saw that word. Vinnie’s menstruation case was too clinical and plug case too…wrong. My friend Krissy encouraged me to use the word tampon to reclaim it as something cool instead of the dread it typically inspired in both women and men. The first case I made was an iron-on transfer image with my name and smiling face boldly displayed. I sewed it by hand and gave it to my friend Marcy. She laughed and immediately stuffed her tamps inside so I knew I was on the right track. My friend Sasha introduced me to the idea of a period chart, so I created one with additional Vinnie-esque graphics and put them in every subsequent case.

silk-screen_smile_sharp.jpg Freeness: Since the expense of menstrual products is also an issue women have with most tampon products (“its just cotton!”) I decided that my newly minted Vinnie’s Tampon Case would always be free from me. This was 1996. Two years later, when I had the time and had saved up some money to print and sew a couple hundred cases (with the help of my mom’s sewing and my grandmother stuffing Period Charts) I embarked on my official five year commitment to VTC. From January 1, 1998- January 1, 2003 I pledged to give out free tampon cases everyday to whoever asked me for one. And to encourage requests I wore embroidered shirts and jackets that had the name of my project on the back. And for five years I did just that, giving out nearly 10,000 free Vinnie’s Tampon Cases.



The Secret: An important part of the project was to never let on that my effort had anything to do with combating rape or violence against women. And in the thousands of interactions and interviews I almost never let on (the one exception being an interview I did for the online website Adiosbarbie.com). My plan was to always present the project with the humble explanation that I simply came up with the idea “after seeing my female friends fumble in the bags for a broken tampon”. My plan was to avoid burdening the case with “a cause”. I wanted the case to bring a smile and to encourage conversations where conversations had never existed before-a non-sexual dialog about a woman’s body between a boy and a girl (Boy- “What’s that?” Girl-”Its a Vinnie’s Tampon Case!” Boy-”What does it do?”). I wanted the case to eventually appear as if it was sanctioned by “the man” so that teens who are all about “sanctioned” products (mainstream gear that keeps them from appearing like a…(gasp) nonconformist) would pick it up and use it.

THE STYLE: Stylistically I wanted the VTC line to have a retro car culture vibe. I modeled the general look after Ed “Big Daddy” Roth’s Rat Fink era Hot Rod aesthetic from the 60’s. Like Bid Daddy I wanted the designer (’Vinnie’) to be featured prominently as a quasi mc for the brand (below).

And just like Big Daddy, I decided to feature big wheels, revving engines and race flags to attract boys to the products. It was imperative to have the exact opposite look of typical period products, to nix the soft pinks and euphemistic jargon, and replace them with bright reds, bold blacks and unapologetic language that announced the function of the case with authority. I figured women would enjoy this complete departure from the norm. They did and do.

The RESPONSE: Even though my friends liked my case I wasn’t sure initially how strangers would respond. The response was incredible and beyond anything I could have imagined. Women instantly got the concept and were SO ready to finally have an opportunity to put the played euphimistic attitiudes about the monthly cycle behind them. And men were, oddly enough, also relieved to finally have an outlet to talk about something they never felt they had permission to acknowledge in the past (since, according to the credo of period product commercials, a successful period is a ‘hidden period’, so by ackowledging a woman’s period you are revealing that she hasn’t been successful in hiding it. Weird dynamic).


Other VTC Products-The original product was a canvas tampon case, but the VTC line eventually grew to include a CRAMP RELIEVING BUBBLE BATH & Music For Menstruators CD, two books put out by Chronicle Books (Vinnie's GIANT ROLLER COASTER PERIOD CHART & Journal Sticker Book , Vinnie's CRAMP KICKING Remedies), as well as a Vinnie Mini Case for non-applicator tampons and a vinyl zippered case for formal events or scuba diving.

On Jan 1,2003 After wearing my VTC uniform everyday for five years (including weddings!), and after thousands of spontaneous conversations about my project, I stopped wearing my uniform as I said I would. But the demand for VTC didn’t stop. The fan mail kept on coming as did the media requests. My brother in LA played the role of ‘Vinnie’ on a daytime talk-show because I couldn’t make it out west (see video )  and a high schooler became Vinnie (or V2 as we called him) the last semester of his senior year, wearing my uniforms and handing out free cases around NYC with his pals (watch V2 ).







FAN MAIL (cont.):

Dear Vinnie, It gives me irrational joy every time i look at my tampon case or period chart. the world needs vinnie! -Jennifer, Greenville, SC

Dear Vinnie, my only regret is that i have but one period a month for which to use my Vinnie's Tampon Case. -Saara myrene, green bay, WI

Dear Vinnie, What can I say?! You are nothing short than God’s gift to women!!  I was first intro-ed to your case when a girl in my class swung out her case and proudly marched our of class without a second glance back.  When she did come back to class, I had to know what made her so bold with her flow.  It was one of your one of a kind cases!  I studied  it over and asked her non-stop questions, I was then bound to buy one… And now, I want to be a case carrying member of the Vinnie Case Club.  The few, the proud, the menstruating… -Nathalie, Hammond, VA

Dear Vinnie, It makes me feel good to know that someone out there is dedicated to making the world a safer place to menstruate. -Amy C., Los Angeles, CA

Vinnie, Thank you for your wonderful product, it has been a source of joy.  All my homies dig it, but I left it in the RR of my college once, and no one even stole it!  My fiance is so completely bowled over, he now calls my period, “your Vinnie.” You Rock! -Lisa, San Francisco, CA

Dear Vinnie,I am just lost for words.  This is so cool.....Thanks man, -Gena

Hi Vinnie!Thank you so much!!!  Forty-five girls in LA are now going to think of you for at least a week every month for the rest of their lives!- Marissa, LA 

Vinnie, you’re a nut!  Thanks for the tampon case! I have to admit, when I first laid eyes on it I thought, “Yeah, this is exactly what I had in mind only… mmm…. Perhaps a bit more subtle…”  But hey, who needs subtle?  Girls already know about tampons and guys- they’ll just have to handle the fact that women have cycles.  (By the way, I especially like the picture of Grandma sewing the cases.)  -Ann, St. Louis, MO

Dear Vinnie, If I can get a hold of one of your cases I may enjoy being a girl again. Hopefully before the next time Aunt Rose comes for a ‘visit. -Lisa, New York, NY 

Dear Vinnie, How can I get more tampon cases?  This product has changed my life, and I must share the joy with my loved-ones, especially those who are female and pre-menopausal!  Waste no time, this is no laughing matter! -Jan, New York, NY

Dear Vinnie, The resounding response from my friends is “I have to have one of those!”  So, if I may order (for now) 2 more tampon cases. It will improve my status with my peers.  Jenn

Okay.  All the ladies have now received their case and I have to say- the reviews are unanimous! And the award goes to Vinnie’s Tampon Cases!  Here’s a little quote that I think encapsulates it all for all of us: “For the first time ever, I am bummed that I don’t have my period.” –Eimear B.  I think that’s about it. -Stacy c.  

Vinnie,Your tampon case makes owning tampons spine-tingling, delerious, laugh with utter abandon, dance like a dervish, skip pell mell, kiss total strangers on their faces JOYFUL!!! Well, maybe not. But I sure dig the case. Cheers. – Jessierose, Purvis, MS

Hello vinnie!  recently, my car was broken into and my purse was stolen--which most unfortunately contained my vinnie's tampon case. i was lamenting my loss to the friend who got it for me (along w/ the period chart--one of the best gifts ever!) and she said "why don't you write to vinnie and see if he'll give you another one?"  this seemed worth a try, as you apparently do just give them out to random people.  if i wasn't so pathetically broke, i'd just buy another one...but...     i only hope that the vinnie's i lost at least circulated to someone else instead of ending up in a dumpster.  let me know 'kay?  will continue to adore your stuff!!   Jennifer D.

Hey Vinnie, my name's Alex and I'm 14 and I seriously need one of your cases but I live all the way over the planet in Coventry, England. Is there anything I/you/my rabbit can do?  -Alex, Coventry, England

Dear Vinnie, I (Bridget) was given the roller coaster period chart book for my
birthday from Denise, and I have gone to elaborate measures to create a sock
heating pad. I love the book, as do all my friends, and rock on Vinnie, not
many unibrow wearin' guys write books about cramps. ;) –Bridget

Dear Vinnie, I got my first tampon case in the summer of 8th grade and my friends quickly folloed my footsteps, I just wanted to let you know I am proud to own a Vinni'es tampon case and I show everyone it. -Jackie, Carlsbad, Ca

Vinnie you are the coolest guy in the world to have thought of such a thing.  Please come to my home town so I can get a case just from you. –Crystal, Beaumont, TX

Vinnie! What's up with the "high-performance" tampon cases? Can they paint my toenails? Wash My car" Fix my Bad hair day blues? I still would love to be the envy of all the ladies, how can I get hooked up with a tampon case?

Hey vinnie, i think you rule because you can talk about girl's periods and your a guy....so thats just cool...i know i wish that i could have a guy friend like you...to talk about my cramps with....but all i have are shitty chicks to moan to about my stomach hurting and they don't care because they go through it too and no one sympathizes for them either....so thats sucks....anywayz....you rule....majorly.....so keep up the good work...lol...okie dokie...l8trz!    -kAtHeRiNe(KaT) from Nc,UsA

Dear Vinnie, You are the coolest guy!  You need to civilize more males out there--thanks for the hope.  :) – Cassandra, Chicago, IL

i love tampon cases!! i carried mine everywhere even when i wasn't on my peroid! then someone stole it from me, so i am getting a new one! –Jessie, Temple, GA

Vinne, Everyone tries to steal my Vinnies Tampon Case!  I tell them to buy their own. –Tami

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