Denver7 on Being Punked by John Oliver With Sexual Health Blanket

Images from the website for the Venus Veil, a fictional "sexual health blanket."
Images from the website for the Venus Veil, a fictional "sexual health blanket."
On May 23, HBO's Last Week Tonight With John Oliver set out to demonstrate how little due diligence local TV stations exercise when selling time to companies promoting products. Among the shows that eagerly took money to pimp a completely bogus "sexual health blanket" dubbed the Venus Veil was Mile High Living, an advertorial program aired on Denver7.

Although representatives of Mile High Living have not responded to Westword's requests for comment about being embarrassed across the planet, they clearly know what happened. Mid-morning on May 24, the Mile High Living Facebook page belatedly removed an irony-free post lauding the Venus Veil, which was said to use "proprietary magnetic fibers to improve bloodflow, boosting performance and sensation" — but not before we saved dozens of alternately hilarious and withering comments from viewers. More on that below.

Denver7 distances itself from the debacle by way of a statement from Dean Littleton, its vice president and general manager.

In Littleton's words, "Denver7 takes the integrity of our content very seriously. We create clear distinctions between local TV news programming and local TV non-news lifestyle programming, including using non-news employees and clearly identifying sponsorships in non-news shows."

Littleton adds: "Our non-news shows were created to help support local businesses and entrepreneurs who are looking for new ways to market their products, and we believe our viewers understand the differences."

Perhaps — but the Venus Veil isn't the first item of highly questionable value to be given an uncritical platform on Mile High Living. The Last Week Tonight segment also includes a clip from a 2019 show in which a spokesperson for Ageless Expressions MedSpa, a business with locations in Littleton and Golden, hyped a laser treatment for vaginal atrophy. When asked by the host if the procedure is painful, the MedSpa rep answered, "The next day, you might feel like you have a sunburned vagina — but it's just healing."

Turns out there was a problem with dismissing such discomfort as "your everyday laser-roasted genitalia," as Oliver put it. More than a year before, a federal agency had issued a news alert pointing out that such devices were not recommended for use as what Oliver referred to as "a medical pseudo-dildo."

In the following segment, the bit involving laser treatment occurs at around the 11:20 mark, while the Venus Veil appears 16:20 minutes into the program, and the second Mile High Living moment pops up just past 19:30.

The price tag for getting the Venus Veil on Mile High Living was just $2,800, and the investment more than paid off in laughs, as witnessed by some of the comments left on the show's Facebook page prior to the post's removal. Here are some examples:
Denver's Mile High Living, you've been duped by the all-mighty John Oliver of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on HBO.

So you are the sucker born every minute. Nicely done, John Oliver.

This product changed my life! I have a number of them. Thank you Mile High Living for your excellent expose.

I saw this a few days ago, thought it was the worst bit of medical quackery ever. Now I just saw Last Week Tonight and it all makes sense now.

The fact this video is still up hours after the LWT episode aired is another PR fail. LOL

You got punked by John Oliver and Last Week Tonight. Would not trust any company you promote. You will obviously promote anything as long as you are paid.

$2800 to smile along with any ridiculous lie. To pass along to your viewers as truth something you haven't even bothered to question or look into. Two thousand, eight hundred dollars, is the price of your credibility.

This is absolute gold. But also, do better.
Will Mile High Living step up its game? We'll let you know if the show responds.

As for Denver7, Littleton confirms that "we are vetting our review processes for non-news segments to ensure our staff follows the proper standards."
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts