Feb 282014
 

NewStuffI never managed to find the “perfect” theme for my blog. Sure, I loved most of them at the time I created them, but I grew/the blog changed/squirrel. I’ve never been sure of myself. I change my outfits and I change my mind so quick, your head spins. I can’t even fathom never changing up my look. I think this is my 4th or 5th theme since 2008.

I had practical reasons for changing, too. The old theme had a huge flaw: I couldn’t update it automatically. I would have had to download the new theme files and reinstall a new theme….losing all the custom changes I made. And there were a LOT. Plus I’ve been wanting the dual sidebar thing for awhile now. So, what’s new besides the obvious? The blogroll finally got dusted off. And since I don’t read the blog of every person I know & like, that Twitter List serves as a secondary blogroll of sorts. I have some new pages1. I updated my Toybox page, it’s hopefully easier to find things now.  I implemented it a week or so ago, but I finally have Disqus as the commenting system, which will make replying to comments much easier.

I’ve got a lot of things on my plate right now! I recently did my first (very small) educational talk at a local event, and trotted out some of the lovely sex toys. Trying to explain how the We-Vibe worked was a trip! I’m doing a couple consulting jobs right now. REVIEWS. ALL THE REVIEWS. Upcoming reviews include me finally getting around to writing up reviews on items I’ve had for awhile including the Lelo Mia 2 and Mona 2,as well as the Fun Factory G4 Big Boss and Patchy Paul. But I’m also swimming in new stuff, much to my excitement.  The Tantus Black Widow Connoisseur Harness is really, really neat to look at. OH MAN IT IS SO AWESOMELY GEEKY.  The newest versions of the We-Vibe Tango and Touch arrived literally this morning. I’ve got something that’s marketed towards prostates, but really can be enjoyed by anyone, the Jopen Ego e5. What else….ah, the We-Vibe 4.

I saw that Smitten Kitten had posted their old pics again of the “jelly jars” that inspired my “little jar of horrors“, so I got out my jar to see how the science experiment was progressing and found…..free-floating glitter in the puddle. I’m on my way to a toxic snowglobe! Yay?

That’s it. I think. If you see anything around here that broke during redecorating, holler. 

What’s new with you?

  1. Technically not new, just now being shown in the menu. I’ve been doing consulting for 2 years now and I hemmed and hawed over that damn Donate page for 4, never publishing it
 Posted by at 3:19 pm
Feb 262014
 

Disclaimers: This post is emo and ranty. Wibbly math and fuzzy logic and a fuck ton of rough estimating is involved. Sure it’s a really rough estimate, but I’m not looking to be precise here just to make my point. If you can’t handle that, don’t read this. The following rant does not apply if your name is SheVibe, Tantus, GoodVibes, Crystal Delights, Standard Innovation, and a few others not noted.

Many readers and even blogging newbies are so awed by the fact that sex toy review bloggers often get the items we review for “free”, in exchange for our honest review. A recent tweet by a fellow reviewer talking about their upcoming review on the latest version of the Revel Body got my blood boiling all over again just thinking about that fiasco.  After I found out that the unit I was sent was not the most updated unit, I became angry. Very angry. Due to the nature of that item, I spent a lot longer than usual on that review. All in all, I honestly want to say it was 20+ hours. And my anger spawned this ranty post.

“My point is that it damages my reputation and Shevibe’s if my review is pointless because of variances in product that a customer would get. And if half of my issues with the item are then a moot point because it no longer applies….I guess I don’t see why the “Version 1″ was sent to stores so soon and sent to reviewers. I spent, literally, more than 20 hours (and that is likely a very conservative guess) testing, writing my review, doing the accompanying video, and so on. I spent a huge amount of time on this…..and it was basically all for nothing?  I can certainly appreciate when a sex toy is improved upon. But the fact that we’ve all received possibly slightly different versions and no one knows what is what now equals up to something that I don’t believe I can support.”

The response to that was basically a baffled sex toy manufacturer who had no idea that someone might spend that much time on a review. And I think that MANY manufacturers (and newer retailers – or stupid retailers, like EdenFantasys, where Fred thinks we shit these out like goose eggs) have no idea what goes into it.  My average time spent on a review ranges wildly, and it depends on how much outside research I need to do. The minimum, including testing & comparison time, is about 2 hours. Hey, sometimes you just KNOW the toy sucks badly or is awesome and all you need is one or two uses – plus the really good and really bad reviews tend to (for me) fly from the fingers and get written faster. The average for me is going to be about 6-8 hours; some are more, some are less but most fall in that area.  I asked a bunch of others on Twitter what their rough estimate was, and though it varies the answer is clear: we put our backs into it. See what others had to say when I polled Twitter.

I do want to clarify that not every sex toy reviewer will go to these lengths. Some don’t. But if you look at the reviews from me and my friends you can quickly tell the difference between those who do this for reasons and those who do this to grab up free sex toys.

But let’s try and put a dollar value on this, just for the fucking hell of it because I’m curious. If we assume that it’s not just busy, grunt work that anybody can do, we should add a few dollars to the minimum wage. Let’s go for an even $10/hour. That average review time is now worth $60-80. Of course, many of the items I’m given to review exceed the $100 mark…..but wait….remember, that’s retail. I don’t know what the average shop marks up their items by – is it as much as 50%? As little as 25%? Hopefully some of you who work in stores can shed a little light. But my point is, simply the time value has probably met or exceeded the value of most of the toys we’re given to review. That’s to say nothing of the links. We’re also providing traffic and maybe even sales. It’s less about SEO these days; in the first 3 years of reviewing we were required to add in links to the site’s homepage with keywords like “vibrators” and “Sex toys”, etc. Even if there’s an affiliate ID on the link, it’s still a link. And what is that link worth? That’s harder to pin down, since it varies by the metrics of the blog.  If I were to sell a post with links (don’t worry, I don’t) I would probably charge at least $75. Now we’re up to a minimum of $135. I don’t know of any toy on the market that will set the manufacturer or retailer back by $135. 

And let’s shine a light on those affiliate links – yes, the store/site gets a sale. Yes, part of their profit goes to us. But they still make a profit from it. And if there is no affiliate program? They see even more profit. Are we sending them thousands of dollars worth of sales from that review alone? Probably not. But it’s still something, it still has value, and it needs to be considered.  Do we value the sex toy we were sent? Of course. Usually. Unless I hate the damn thing, then it’s taking up space and I can’t even fucking recycle it (Hi, Revel Body, talkin to you again).

But wait, I want to be fair. Yes, there is a chance that–IF there is an affiliate program–we might make more in commissions over the year(s) from that review and the balance seems to be outweighed in our favor, if your math is wonky or it’s 12:23am. Here we are again, back around the circle….if I’m making a commission, you’re making a sale. Unless you turned out to be a d-bag retailer who dropped 2/3rds of their stock from rotation and I had to change my links to another affiliate. BUT I DIGRESS.

Retail Sites1. CONSIDER ALL OF THIS before you start bugging us for the finished review when we barely received the product last week2. Consider all of this before you try to control our language and what we choose to focus on in the review.

Manufacturers. CONSIDER ALL OF THIS before you think nothing of sending us prototypes to review and then quickly launching a different version, knowing our review will have some irrelevancy. CONSIDER ALL OF THIS before you assume that we’re the ones making out like bandits and you’re always the one doing us a favor. 

And finally, to our dear readers. The ones we do this for. Consider all of this before you go shopping at Amazon. If we helped you, consider supporting our work and the places we work our butts off for by purchasing through our links. This way we get back a little of what we put in.

tl;dr – We work a lot harder at this than you may realize. Our work is worth more than you realize. And it is work. It is time consuming.

  1. Also I want it noted for the record: None of the retailers I currently work for ever fall into the “don’t be that person” camp. I work with really awesome companies and really great people, but I make it that way
  2. While I can’t personally come up with a reason why it should take me months to finish a review, and I try my best not to overstep that 30-day line, I’m not perfect. Usually if I have to, it’s because I’m waiting on someone to send me a replacement unit because mine might be defective, or I’m waiting on another, similar toy to help me do a comparison.
 Posted by at 4:10 pm
Feb 252014
 

Fun Factory Amorino - small and soft, with a shaft shorter than the length of my open handFirst, let me admit that I skim over things often, and can miss a detail the first time around. When I was looking at the Fun Factory Amorino, I kept wondering how it would work, having that band on it while being inside the vagina. I wondered even further when I got the thing in my hands. It wasn’t until I pulled out what passes for a Fun Factory manual that I saw the warning: “Do not leave the band on during vaginal or anal insertion!” Ok anal insertion, absolutely I understand that. But then I’m not the sort to use a “rabbit” styled vibe anally.  So if you’re not supposed to leave the band on for insertion…….?

There were bizarre diagrams of it, but none made sense. According to the FF website: “The gently taut silicone stimulation band is placed between the softly rounded tip and the side bud for clitoral arousal. It externally stimulates the Venus mound and the vaginal lips – this little detail ensures levels of excitement of a special kind.”  Like, a very special Blossom episode, kind of special? Special how, exactly?

And still I said to myself, “I don’t fucking GET it”.

Seemingly unrelated factoid: Threading is an ancient hair removal method. “In threading, a thin (cotton or polyester) thread is doubled, then twisted. It is then rolled over areas of unwanted hair, plucking the hair at the follicle level. Unlike tweezing, where single hairs are pulled out one at a time, threading can remove short lines of hair.”

I think I know what threading feels like, now, and I do not like it. Not one bit. I attempted to clumsily utilize a design (rabbit) meant to be inserted vaginally as a external-only labia massager, because they told me to. With the band. IT DIDN’T GO WELL. AT ALL. In fact, I’m never going to use that yellow band again. NEVER NEVER NEVER. I would really love to talk to the person who thought it was a good idea. I have a drawer in my sex toy dresser that has a picture of Grumpy Cat pasted on the front. The yellow band is going in the Grumpy Cat drawer. I experienced the most discomfort using it in the crossed position. I didn’t think this shit up on my own, the box told me to try it. Rather, the best position for the band is off, and sitting far away.

The Fun Factory Amorino suggests these two positions for the band.....an open circle around the tip and clitoral arm, or crossing the band in the middle. Fun Factory Amorino - This position of the silicone band (open circle) was the least painful on pubic hair, and made more sense..... Fun Factory Amorino - This position of the silicone band (crossed in the middle) was awful, and yanked out a few pubic hairs Fun Factory Amorino - The best position for the silicone band....off, and sitting far away

Amorino marks my 5th Fun Factory vibrator, I think. I’ve had the Ellove, the now-defunct Babeland-only Boss Lady, the G4 Patchy Paul and G4 Big Boss. Since all are marketed as internal vibrators, I wasn’t blown away. I personally need a very strong and rumbly vibrator for my g-spot to even show up for the party. Not even with the G4’s could deliver. There was just too much pliable silicone for those rumbly vibrations to get through to still remain powerful. But I wouldn’t call them weak, either. Just….not what I expected/was hoping for. And while I hadn’t really expected to be blown away by the Fun Factory Amorino since it is a “mini” vibe, this line from their site had me wondering: “new, powerful, long-lasting motor”.  Amorino certainly *sounds* powerful, but the bark is worse than the bite. In use, the vibrations are terribly surface-buzzy and I just don’t have time for that. If the vibrations in the Amorino had been satisfactory, I would be able to recommend this to be used sans yellow band. None of the other mini vibes that are recently launched have a clitoral arm that looks to be in a decent enough position. 

This is a dual stimulator that doesn’t have a ton of bells and whistles; you can’t separately control the internal and external portions and nothing rotates/churns/strokes. Some people don’t want the bells and whistles, they just want the luxury of being able to kill two birds with one stone so for those, this type of “rabbit” vibe might be sufficient. The silicone is decent (it’s not the worst offender in attracting dust and fur, but it’s no Lelo, either), there are no animal faces, and the lack of bells and whistles means that it is pretty easy to operate. Fun Factory Amorino is waterproof, as most Fun Factory vibes are. You can turn it off in a flash, the buttons lock for travel, and it comes in this garish, neon pink but also a color they call “petrol”, oddly, which just seems to be a shade of teal that I quite like. The charging is probably the best version of magnetic charging that I’ve come across. It looks like the metal dots are barely touching, but no matter what position I laid the vibe in for charging, the magnets kept their connection and it kept on charging. This is the first Fun Factory item I’ve had with this new Click n Charge, and I have to say I like it. A lot.

Fun Factory Amorino - Showing the magnetic Click and Charge feature. The contacts appear to be barely touching, but no matter how you lay the vibrator, it stays connected and charging.

The vibrations are meant for those who don’t like/don’t need deeply-felt rumbling sensations….or who don’t really need much vibration, period. I need them, and I need them to be strong and deep, but I do recognize that not everyone does. However….I really really dislike the vibrations on this thing and find a hard time imagining it being good enough for most. There doesn’t seem to be a motor in the clitoral arm, nor does the motor in the shaft go much past the midway point, so that also tells you that this isn’t for vibration enthusiasts. The silicone has a decent amount of give to it – it’s nothing like jelly, but it’s softer than the Jopen Vanity/Picobong/Lelo dual stimulators. Operation begins by pressing and holding the “Fun” button for a pause, and then there’s only a plus a minus. Easy operation, sure, but it’s also easy to flip past the highest power level and get into the patterns. Annoying.

Basically…..the band is a gimmick, as many of us reviewers likely assumed. I do not feel it adds anything positive to the vibrator. It doesn’t achieve anything special. It’s something that will, instead, irritate you or get eaten by your dog/cat and later freak you out.  If you have a really thick head of hair, maybe it could be a hair tie1.

Next!

 

(and thanks to Shevibe.com for supplying the Fun Factory Amorino and wanting my typical Lilly impression on this)

  1. I attempted for a moment to be “witty” and think up a few other hysterical “uses” for it, but I’m bored already with this thing

Review Roundup #31

 Blogging  Comments Off on Review Roundup #31
Feb 242014
 

Welcome to HedoVibes, a collection of reviews and giveaways that were posted in the past week or so from around the web. This is a collection of adult product reviews & contests from real reviewers. If you want to be included in the next edition start with the guidelines, then use the submission form.

Want to read more reviews? Check out HedoVibes for a list of the latest reviews and stellar reviewers. You can also follow on twitter for the latest round ups. HedoVibes is also accepting photo submissions for each edition.

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 10:46 am
Feb 192014
 

A very dirty We-Vibe 3; the shiny silicone attracts dust and fur in minutes. Wouldn't a sex toy wipe be great right about now?If you’re a fan of silicone sex toys (and if you’re a reader of this site, you’d better be!) you know that many toys, especially the plugs and dildos, attract lint/dust/fur better than your average Swiffer cloth. If you are a cat owner then you will find that you’ve got cat furs on your clean toy within minutes. A reader of mine was asking for advice on which of the existing sex toy wipes would be safe enough to use on the toy without rinsing it off before use. They were in a shared living situation where a trip to the bathroom in the middle of foreplay wasn’t a possibility. Since I wasn’t a fan of some ingredients in commercial wipes, plus they are awfully expensive, I did a little brainstorming.

A family member used to make their own baby wipes and I remember doing this for a number of baby shower gifts. It’s pretty simple, and cheap. We would buy these round Rubbermaid plastic containers (they no longer make these, but I’ve found a good alternative) that perfectly fit half a roll of paper towels (you cut the roll in half with a knife). Since it was for baby use, we would get two containers so that an entire roll of paper towels would be made up at once. For sex toy cleaning use I’m sure you could get away with just making up half a roll at a time. But the baby wipe recipes used baby oil (mineral oil) and baby shampoo – these aren’t products that I would want in my vagina. From all the research I’ve done for natural lubes, coconut oil comes up time and again as a great product with many health uses and is generally very well tolerated by most people when used as a lube. Notice I say most. Coconut oil doesn’t tend to clog up pores like the commercial oil-based sexual lubes, for most people. Very sensitive people might have an issue, but in the recipe here you’re using so little that you should be okay; still test it out on yourself. When thinking about it I also wanted something that would provide a bit of extra antiseptic quality, so that it could be used as a cleaning wipe after sex/masturbation. Many people in shared living situations also can’t just hop up and take their dirty sex toys to the nearest sink for a washing. Research showed that a bit of tea tree oil would work well, and has been used and recommended as a treatment for vaginitis in a diluted solution. The solution I’ve read about for a vaginitis rinse was 1 teaspoon of tea tree oil to 2 cups of water. I’ve been sticking with that and have not personally had any issues. Since this isn’t being used as a rinse, but a sex toy wipe, not much will get on the genitals.

When making:

(1) 1/2 roll (2) 1/2 rolls
1 cup Water 2 cups Water
1/2 Teaspoon high quality Tea Tree oil
1 Teaspoon high quality Tea Tree oil
1/2-1 Tablespoon organic virgin coconut oil 1-2 Tablespoon organic virgin coconut oil

I use hot water from my bottled water dispenser, which melts down the coconut oil (it really only needs to be above 77 degrees to melt the coconut oil). I shake it up really well in a smaller, lidded container so that it’s as dispersed in the water as it can be, and then quickly pour it over the cut roll in the plastic container. Put on the lid and let it sit for a bit, then turn the container over. Let it sit a few minutes more, and then open it and remove that cardboard core.  Then just continue to pull from the middle of the roll. I use the higher quality paper towels because they don’t disintegrate. Make sure when you pick out your plastic container that it’s big enough around and tall enough to fit the half a roll. There’s a number of options out there for containers at Target or Wal-Mart or similar places.  Creative types can come up with decorative options for making this container as discreet as you need it to be!

 

**Disclaimers** 

  • You need to make sure that coconut oil and tea tree oil in this very diluted solution is tolerable to your body. It should be tolerable to all but the most sensitive, but please test it out first. I’m not a doctor or a nurse, this is just something I personally use.
  • I do not recommend this for latex condom users. While the oil is very much diluted, there could possibly still be enough to break down a latex condom. I don’t recommend that you take the risk.
  • Coconut oil has been safe for me to use on every silicone toy I own, and was recommended as a natural lube option by Tantus folks. I know that mineral oil should never be used on the cheaper, porous materials like TPR, Elastomer, etc since they are already softened with mineral oil and that would speed the material breakdown. I assume that any oil could do so, because most will tell you not to use an oil-based lube with these toys.  This solution is safe for glass and stainless steel, but I would contact the manufacturer of your wooden dildo just to be certain. 
 Posted by at 4:31 pm

Best Women’s Erotica 2014

 Erotic Books, Reviews  Comments Off on Best Women’s Erotica 2014
Feb 192014
 

BWE14Quite some years ago, before e-books, I got my first taste of what someone else’s really hot sex looked like through the erotica compilations available at my local Barnes & Noble. Best Women’s Erotica was one of the three short-story collections that I cut my teeth on. As with them all, some years are better than others. But make no mistake, it was always really good writing.

While the cover art of BWE’14 eludes me (and I did manage to find a few grammar errors that jumped out at me) I can absolutely say that these stories were superb. More than a few left me disappointed when they ended; I wanted to keep reading more of that tale. Excellent stories and character development, no doubt. It’s been awhile since I’ve read a BWE, but 2014 really seems to overall be aiming at a cisgendered hetero female audience. There are 2 stories where the women in question are lesbian, but at least one of them brings in a cismale to the party. I found myself wanting more lesbian erotica, but that’s just me. There was plenty of kink; nothing super extreme though (unless you count cake-sitting as an extreme thing–it’s absolutely not my thing, yet still that story was so well-written, I read it anyways and enjoyed it for what it was). Actually, this collection would be a great one to hand someone who cut their erotica teeth on that damnable 50 Shades stuff. Similar sort of scenarios but with way, way better writing.  Violet Blue curated the collection, and did a wonderful job choosing the best of the best. While there is a decent amount of varying degrees of D/s, it’s not all about submissive women. Violet Blue demands that the stories that make up this collection feature lots of really hot sex with great stories, and she delivers. You won’t find anything “artistically subtle” in these pages, the stories are meant to arouse and excite. 

From the back of the book:

The Most Daring Erotica of the Year

From sparks between strangers to the knowing caresses of long-time lovers, Best Women’s Erotica 2014 delivers risky, romantic stories for your reading pleasure.

This year’s extraordinary collection is a glorious celebration of the finest and friskiest female erotic fiction today. In Valerie Alexander’s “Monsoon Season,” a gorgeous hunk begs to be groomed as a sub by his hard-to-get lover. A new couple with just the right toy discovers each other’s true desires after a few dates in the playful “Revealing” by Ruby Ryder. Laura Antoniou’s masterful “Blame Spartacus” explores how strong men will serve an even stronger woman, and beg for it. Artfully curated by Oprah’s porn pundit Violet Blue, these stories evoke the sensations of falling in lust and the electrifying thrills of sexual passion.

Cleis Press sent me BWE2014 to talk about here and also will be sending one to a lucky (US-only) winner, in paperback! Entry methods are pretty simple, for once. I know you’re accustomed to weird and complicated giveaways from me, but for this little book I thought I’d cut you all a break. The rules are pretty basic: If I can’t verify your entry, it will get deleted. If you don’t live in the US, you can’t win. I’ll put you in touch with my contact at Cleis Press, so no need to be handing over your personal info to me directly.

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