Lilly

Oct 122017
 

CN: mental health, grief, weight/loss and physical health issues

“This is a call to all my past resignations, it’s been far too long.”

Every time I draft a post like this I wonder “Should I really publish this? Does it really belong here?” but then I remember that at the end of the day this is MY blog. A blog. A personal space to write whatever the fuck I want and I do not have to be perfect and be “on-brand” with every post. I never have been so why start now, right? Being authentic online is not something everyone does because, hey, we like to appear that we’ve “got this” but I’m just tryin to be me.

You may have noticed a distinct lack of posts this year, but it ebbs and flows. I’ve written half as much as I did in 2016. I’ve already discussed mental health issues earlier in the year but they don’t seem to be letting up. I’ve spent my year dealing with anxiety worrying about my partner’s mental health and our jobs. It’s eaten away at me. My depression is likely a symptom of my overall terrible mental health.

I thought for sure that attending Woodhull’s 2017 Sexual Freedom Summit would revitalize me, and the blog. But it didn’t. That same month was the 20th anniversary of my father’s death. Why is it that this anniversary hit me so hard when other years the date passed by without my even noticing? I’m not sure yet, but it wrecked me. For weeks I couldn’t stop crying. I’ve tried talking with psychics and mediums for some relief/closure, but that has opened up another can of worms. There’s really a lot more to it than that but this paragraph is all I have it in me to write about this topic.

I’ve spent a good part of this year worrying about, being anxious about, so so much: a family member, my partner, a few good friends, my health. I’ve spent a lot of time worried over politics. There’s been impatience and spinning tires. Worry. Anxiety, Tears. Anger. “Where’s the good stuff?” you’re probably asking. Well – I don’t know. I mean, it happened. There’s also been love, laughter, and support. But there’s also a big disconnect for me.

I’m currently trying, for the 15th attempt, to lose weight. My health hasn’t been good and frankly I’m worried about dying young but that could just be my health anxieties taking over. I have a few diagnosis reasons to have some concerns and that’s why I’m working so hard, again, and hoping it sticks this time. But as usual I’m being hard on myself. I’ve lost 20 pounds but that’s not good enough; it’s a drop in the bucket; it happened too slowly, etc. #noadviceplease

I haven’t been able to write, lately. That last post was something I’d actually written months ago but never published. The thought of writing a review, for the most part, makes me want to retreat. Maybe a real good salt-report hate-on review would get my attention but otherwise it’s hard. And my list is growing. I have some Blush Novelties items and a Sola vibrator that deserve attention, but I know they’re understanding. I have those new Je Joue Bullets. I have a bunch of Kegel exercise products I need to write about but I’ve been having a weird disconnect with my vagina this year and penetration/insertion isn’t on my top 30 list of things to do. Hence my using and reviewing things like the Funkit Cashew plug hasn’t happened yet. Because of the way I write my reviews, with many comparisons to other, similar items it’s been hard to deal with writing about the O Wand, those Je Joue bullets, etc. I have a lovely Doxy 3 to tell you about, and a confounding Hot Octopuss Queen Bee to figure out. There are even items I have some interest in (or feel an obligation to) but I’ve refused to be sent anything anymore until I can get through this review queue to mitigate guilt a little. 

My depression and overall mental health made me skip my blogging anniversary this year. I will admit I’ve had a few passing thoughts lately of “maybe I’m done?” but I don’t know what to do with that. A psychic told me that “this” is my career – that thing you do for passion and love, that thing that drives you. She told me I’m good at this career and that it needs to evolve. But, according to her, that evolution needs to involve me disclosing to my immediate family and being more “out”. I don’t think I have the courage for all of that, though. And really, evolve to what? Being an educator is HARD. I’ve seen the hustle and the struggle from so many of you. I don’t want to put myself through that – frankly I’m too damn old and cranky for all that. But what else is there that is “next” from this?

Instead of writing I’ve put what I could into other things – supporting friends, building a new/old project, fostering a little more community, and attempting to course-correct my poor health. So this is where I’m at. I don’t know when the next review will be, I don’t know how good it’ll be. But this confession had to be written and that’s that. Please, don’t feel the need to comment. I know folks mean well but hearing “hey it’s your blog, you can write when and what you choose” is more harmful than helpful in some odd way. This is the State of the Union and well…..we’ll see what’s next, I guess. I have things I want to accomplish here but it all somehow seems too hard.

 Posted by at 9:29 am
Sep 062017
 

If you go to any stock photography site, free or paid, you’re going to find a lot of sad, uncreative results for “sex toys”. Existing photos most often feature outdated jelly sex toys; if there are people in the photo, they are thin/fit and white. If there are any decent images they’ve probably been used a hundred times by other companies. So what is a sex toy industry business to do?

Ideally, they take their own photos. Unless your entire inventory is drop-shipped, surely you have nice sex toys readily available for a photo shoot, right? Sadly we too often see companies, especially new companies, using Google Image (or Bing, whatever) as their “stock image” pool with the mindset that “if it’s on the Internet it must be free for everyone to (ab)use”.

And before we get too far, it’s not just sex toys. We’ve seen companies grab images of people for their social media persona. We’ve seen companies use images of people on their business website! That shady, gross UK glass seller used a commercial image of Jennifer Lopez for years. Years! We’ve seen Charlize Theron’s Dior image used by the first owners of sex toy brand Dorr. 

Hot tip: Your ignorance on Intellectual Property / copyright law does not give you a free pass, an excuse, or the right to do as you please. You are a business, for fucks sake. Behave professionally! 

There are three ethical and legal ways to use images on your social media account or website:

  1. Take or create the image yourself
  2. Purchase from a stock photo site or download from a Creative-Commons free stock photo site
  3. Pay for limited use rights to an existing photo and include attribution links to the content creator

That’s it. It’s that simple.

So let’s say you just can’t find a cool photo that fits your style and you don’t have the means to create the image yourself – how about finding the owner of the image you yoinked from Google Image search and ask for their permission to use it? You should expect to pay them and/or provide an attribution link. If you are a truly ethical company you will insist on paying them and giving an attribution link. Many bloggers take amazing sex toy photos and some may be very open to an ethical business proposition!  It is not hard to find the original owner – there are a number of good Reverse Image Search tools to use – even Google will do that!

Recently one new company tried to use an image of Epiphora’s that contained a one-of-a-kind item which friends and avid readers will recognize: the sex toy bouquet Aerie made for her. When confronted on Twitter about their random use of this image they claimed that they “found this cool image as stock online and used it for a quick tweet!”. Five minutes and two reverse image sites later proved that Piph’s photo was never on a stock website and, in fact, seems to only have been on her site (and visible in Google Image search) –  I couldn’t find evidence that it was used elsewhere without attribution.

Copyright and Instagram

While we’re on the touchy subject of copyright and photo use, let’s also talk about Instagram. You see, Instagram doesn’t have a built-in feature for “re-blogging” or sharing someone else’s post the way Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr do. Yet folks have created add-on apps to break this and get around it. Some re-gram apps will add the original owner’s Insta handle to the photo itself. Some will also/instead add a link to the original account in the image description. Other apps do none of this and do not give attribution to the original owner of the image, relying on you to do that – and many of you do not. 

The simplest fix here is this: Use only re-gram apps that heavily attribute (in the decription, not a comment) AND ALSO ASK PERMISSION FIRST. When you set out to use an app in the way it was never intended it is just good ethics and good business to ask before you put someone else’s photo on your Insta profile. Ideally, though, you should just create your own content – that’s the entire point of Instagram.

If you use other people’s images and don’t obtain consent you could end up losing your Insta account and users can file takedown requests when they find their stuff being used.

Watermarks are Not Attribution

Many bloggers will add a copyright watermark to their images – I do for most of mine. This does not count as “attribution”. Unauthorized use of these images still counts as copyright violation and image theft and, if the owner reports you to your hosting company, will end in the hosting company forcibly removing the protected content from your site. If you do this too much your hosting company will shut your site down.

Attribution is Not Permission

You may be thinking here that the key to being a good, ethical company is to use our photos but tell people they’re ours. It’s not and content owners can still file (and win) DMCA takedown requests with your hosting company if they don’t consent to their photo being used for your gain.

Permission, or let’s call it a word you may hear more: consent, is crucial to ethically using other people’s work. They may say no. They request payment. But you absolutely must respect that. If you can’t respect copyright and simple consent how is a blogger or customer supposed to trust you?

Creative Commons

The idea behind Creative Commons is to have free, legal content of all types on the Internet for people to use. One key tenet of Creative Commons licenses is that the person using the thing must give proper attribution to the creator. They don’t need to ask permission, because the Creative Content license note on the person’s website acts as the permission. Many bloggers choose not to use this, however, and that is their right.

The content creator needs to go to the CC website and decide how “open” their content is going to be. CC explains it:

Creative Commons provides a range of licenses, each of which grants different rights to use the materials licensed under them. All of these licenses offer more permissions than “all rights reserved.”

Does This Apply to Me?

While the subject of my ire here is aimed at businesses the etiquette and law of copyright, attribution, and permission applies to anybody on the Internet. The incorrect assumption that because it’s “on the Internet” it’s free1 for the taking is not just wrong, it’s illegal. Copyright is real and enforceable. The copyright owner needs to do nothing but show first publishing to prove ownership. Web hosting companies are required to take this seriously and most do.

 

  1.  Quick litmus test to know if someone is an asshole: They’ll tell you a version of “If you didn’t want people to use it, you shouldn’t have put it on the Internet”.
 Posted by at 8:51 am
Aug 292017
 

I’ve finally made it?

I’m taking a few days off social media (unrelated to this) so my hope is that prospective retailers do their legwork. There is an Australian person claiming to be me, writing to retailers using the email address “dangerouslillyreviews@gmail.com”. This isn’t my email address, I’m not the person contacting you. 

I cannot do anything on my end; I can’t get Google to get rid of the Gmail account. They’re trying to scam YOU, not me, so please report them for that to your local authorities.

 Posted by at 10:33 am
Aug 212017
 

16 bloggers giving Screaming O the fingerLast week The Screaming O put out a factually-incorrect press release to pat themselves on the back for an imaginary job well done with regards to a panel session at Woodhull’s Sexual Freedom Summit 2017 titled “The Truth About Body-Safe”. In addition to falsely claiming that the “sponsored” session was a “resounding success” presented to a “packed hall” they released the full, unedited video recording of the session on YouTube and their own website. This recording included the voices of Summit attendees who were in the audience and asking questions or making comments loud enough to be captured in the audio portion of the recording.

In an official statement released by Woodhull Foundation, Ricci Levy denounced multiple points of their press release:

An article appeared claiming that a recent Woodhull Summit workshop had been “sponsored” by a toy manufacturer, Screaming O, and including a link to a video of the workshop. We want to make it clear that when the workshop was selected there was no indication that it was a sponsored workshop. In fact, Woodhull does not permit sponsored workshops, and Screaming O had refused all invitations to actually be a visible sponsor of Woodhull’s 2017 Summit. We have spoken with Anne Hodder who had, unfortunately, been ill from shortly after the Summit and had no knowledge of the false sponsorship claims being made by ScreamingO.

When questioned about filming the panel, we gave permission ONLY if all attendees were notified, signed releases and were willing to be captured on film and audio. That did not happen and no one in the workshop gave permission to be filmed. Despite this violation, Screaming O posted a video of the workshop on its website.

I’ve been sharing blogger insights and information with Ricci over this past week, and have talked to Anne Hodder-Shipp, the now-former publicist who had worked with Screaming O since 2009 but resigned on Friday following their handling of this debacle. For full transparency, Ricci has shared with me (so that I, in turn, can share with you) the correspondence between herself and the COO of The Screaming O, David “Hui” Newnham. Other than the press release which was not written or discussed with Anne before its release, the public hasn’t seen any comment from Screaming O. We’ve pinged their username on Twitter and Facebook and some have emailed them. Some, like myself, left them a message on Facebook Messenger last Wednesday when it was noticed that they were listed as “online and active”. Not surprisingly, I didn’t get a response but they saw it:

Anne made a public statement on Twitter last Wednesday but has included a larger, more updated statement here:

I learned of Screaming O’s Woodhull PR at the same time Ricci did and was sidelined. It did not come from me and did not accurately reflect my involvement in the panel. At my urging, Screaming O temporarily moved the video offline but it is not clear what will happen now. I went on leave for an illness on Aug. 6 and have not been privy to Screaming O’s plans, and now I’m left reeling that months of independent research (and years of hard work) has potentially lost all credibility because of a bad attempt at PR.

This was a difficult role to play and I learned a great deal throughout. I stand by the independent research provided during the panel and am proud that I survived the stress and anxiety that came along with it. But I do not support Screaming O’s actions and feel sad and disappointed by them. To be clear: the panel was not sponsored; I was not paid to do the work, I attended the conference on my own dime, and Woodhull did not accept financial support from Screaming O this year. Screaming O was 100% removed from the process and had no involvement or influence over what was discussed during that panel.

I was responsible for Screaming O’s PR and marketing for more than 7 years; they were my first and longest-running client and a lot of positive change happened from the inside out, including the lab-testing initiative that eventually inspired me to work directly with a polymer testing lab and a molecular biologist to learn more. As a sex toy fan, industry journalist-turned-publicist, and sex educator, this subject has been near and dear to my heart for almost a decade and I was excited by the opportunity. However, it seems my intention for the panel and the video recording did not match that of Screaming O’s and, following recent events, I decided that it was time for me to move on from my role.

Ricci and Anne worked to get the full, unedited video removed on Wednesday and were successful….at the time. But because the press release contained further inaccuracies, Ricci emailed The Screaming O and urged them to ammend their press release. Ricci writes:

We appreciate that you took down the non-consensually-filmed full workshop video and replaced it with a shorter “highlights” version. I would like, now, your assurance that the longer video will never be shown or used for any purposes.

Additionally, I’d also appreciate you clarifying the fact that ScreamingO did not sponsor the workshop, both in the article and in the introduction to the video. We do not permit sponsored workshops at the Sexual Freedom Summit any more than we allow filming or live streaming without the permission and knowledge of all attendees at the workshop.

The following is the full response from Mr Newnham, COO.  This response shows absolutely no remorse. They are denying any wrong-doing and have a gross misunderstanding of “transparency”. Bold emphasis my own.

Dealing with your second point first we are more than happy to work with you and your team to issue a joint clarification as to the role of Screaming O in the presentation of the panel. If “Sponsored By” might imply that Woodhull accepted payment in consideration of including the panel in the program, which is not true; then I am sure we can clarify that while the panel was included in the program solely on its merits, Screaming O facilitated its presentation by compensating the professional panelists for their time and expenses, which is true.

On your first point alleging that the workshop was filmed without authorization, I can only deny your assertion.

You, yourself helped arrange the recording on March 20, 2017 by introducing Anne to Rick and Ted, noting that she would be arranging a videographer to videotape the workshop. All attendees in the room would have been aware the event was to be recorded by the prominent placement of 3 cameras, a microphone and by seeing Gideon working as a camera operator. Finally, Woodhull clearly anticipated that certain parts of the show would be photographed by asking each registrant to affirm or decline their authority to be included in pictures by the wearing of either an Orange or Green lanyard.

The workshop was recorded with the full knowledge of all participants and without objection.

We have, and will continue, to make a full unedited version of the workshop available online so that those interested parties that were unable to attend Woodhull might benefit from the information presented. This is entirely consistent with our values of providing open, honest, evidence based information related to body safety that will allow a better informed public to make their own decisions.

Indeed, I am completely surprised at the apparent controversy surrounding this and the inference that this transparency is somehow a bad thing. I cannot see how it could be anything but good.

The response from Ricci, part of which I’ll share here, doesn’t mask her anger and disgust at Summit policy being violated and audience consent being violated.

As for the video itself, we’re not going to debate with you or, in fact, even explain Summit processes, rules and agreements. The leader of the workshop was aware of our rules. And while interaction was offered with our tech people, there was no follow through from Anne Hodder or anyone at Screaming O after an initial inquiry.

Transparency? At no point during the workshop did anyone share with the attendees that Screaming O was videotaping and would be using the tape for their own purposes. Nor did anyone share that Screaming O had paid the expenses for the two experts on the panel. Transparency is a good thing, Hui, but not when you betray the words and hide behind them as an excuse to expose people and put them at risk in their personal lives.

~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~

They may have taken the video down, for now, but as of Friday showed no remorse and no intention of keeping that video out of the public eye. Whether or not they edit out audience members’ voices before they put the video back online remains to be seen and I’ll update here when that happens. 

As someone who was in the audience (and in fact right behind Gideon who was tucked away against the wall, unobtrusive) I can assure you that there was no “full knowledge” and no chance to “object”. Did some of us notice the recording cameras? Yes, absolutely. But because most of us knew Woodhull’s policy due to experiencing it already in other sessions, we assumed that the recording was happening for private use only, perhaps by Woodhull, perhaps by Anne Hodder – but certainly not by Screaming O. Their name wasn’t even brought up, and no one knew who the man in the corner was. NO ONE gave consent, NO ONE had the chance to object.

Mr. Newnham used, incorrectly, the fact that Woodhull passes out color-coded lanyards as proof that “photographs are expected” of the “show” and I can’t even tell you how infuriated that makes me. At least one person who spoke up was wearing a lanyard that meant “no photographs” and furthermore that still doesn’t absolve them from obtaining consent and alerting everyone about their intentions. He is also using the logical bullshit of “implied consent” to absolve them of any wrong-doing. My reaction to that last sentence isn’t something that I can type in words, it’s a sound akin to a really mad Howler Monkey with a face of pure thunder.

I refuse to support a company who lies and violates privacy and consent with abandon. I can’t trust them on ANYTHING anymore. I am absolutely disgusted at Screaming O’s attitude and their actions from Wednesday on. Even if they don’t publicly re-release that video, even if they remove the audience voices if they do re-release it, the point is that they don’t give a shit about privacy and don’t understand consent. As a blogger who is partially anonymous, I can’t ever work with them again due to privacy concerns and my own ethics. I can’t condemn their words and actions harshly enough. I’m frankly so disgusted and enraged that the words coming out right now come off stilted, clinical, and don’t seem to portray what I’m feeling well enough. It’s because I’m so focused right now on getting this information out there so that everyone else can decide for themselves with full knowledge, that I am not letting my own emotions fly too high.

After I suspected their material claims were false/inaccurate for years I was ready to re-think my opinion of the company after Anne and a few others got them to lab-test their “SEBS” material and then publicly “admit” that it wasn’t the “silicone blend” they’d insisted it was. Other industry people that I trust told me to trust in Anne and by extension the Screaming O. While I don’t agree with everything Anne and others said in the panel, I still have respect for her and I don’t lay any blame on her for this mess. But now my support for The Screaming O is pulled. I won’t recommend their products.

Fuck you, Screaming O. You are putting people in danger unless you obfuscate the audio of all audience members.

This post doesn’t even begin to touch on how I felt about the contents of the session. That may come later, but I can assure you it has sparked a renewed interest in the flame test. The words from one of the scientists about the flame test talked about things I’ve never even mentioned as a “result that will give you answers”. But I digress. You can read the transcript of the session here, read Ruby’s rant here, Sarah’s rant here and see tweets from the session here.

Comments from audience members are especially welcome here, as I’d like to know if I’m alone in not knowing the truth about those recording cameras.

2:00pm EST – as I’m writing this post I’m notified that TSO changed the wording on their press release, removing the wording that lists them as the sponsor. You can compare this new version to the original.

September 15th – The original press release from Woodhull has been replaced with a much more tempered, legal-sounding press release that notes that Screaming O has removed audience voices from the video and will never release that full, unedited video again. If it appears on third-party sites, they will remove it.  The press release is noted as a “joint statement” and seems to be literally all we’re going to hear from Screaming O on the matter. They do not apologize for their actions, but merely “any confusion that may have resulted” from “miscommunication”. At the bare minimum this result lays to rest most fears of outing from those who were non-consentually included in the original video but I don’t see Screaming O taking any responsibility, expressing any remorse or regret – at least publicly and that’s a big deal. This bare minimum outcome doesn’t remove them from my Blacklist.

 Posted by at 3:19 pm
Aug 202017
 

My Blacklist of companies I don’t support is long and growing – companies seem to only be added, not removed. Until now. So why now, why Blush Novelties? The answer is complicated, yet simple. The answer is Ducky Doolittle. She recently started working there and she is a long-time sex educator that I have immense respect and adoration for. She is basically Saint Ducky of the Doolittles, Sex Toy Company Whisperer. She has ethics that line up with my own1, but she has insight into the industry that most of us don’t have: behind the scenes. I did not make this decision lightly; I took 5 months to wait and watch and ask questions.

Blush Novelties divider image 1

January 2016 – Blush got on my Blacklist last year when it was discovered that they’d copied the Tantus Uncut – they’d copied other Tantus designs years prior, but this one was new and happening in the age of social media call-out. Yet they didn’t get put on my Blacklist because of the copycat designs – that was probably 40% of my reasoning. Shevibe doesn’t carry the Blush products that are copycat designs so I figured I would simply never recommend those designs. The seething rage came from what happened as a result of that Twitter call-out. Their social media manager at the time denied the accusation but the dildo designer confirmed how they’d come up with the design and how it was impossible that it was anything other than a direct copy. The social media manager in charge of accounts during this Twitter call-out proceeded to lose their shit on Metis Black and every single blogger supporting Tantus. They hurled accusations and sharp words. Their behavior on Twitter was so reprehensible that it caused many bloggers to boycott them. My anger was evident in last year’s post, to say the least. We didn’t know who in the company had said those things, if it was a “random employee” or someone higher up. Over a year went by, quietly, before Ducky arrived on the scene. Because no one knew what to do with the social media accounts until she came aboard I remained blocked on Twitter for quite some time!

March 2017 – Ducky reached out to me via email, knowing how I felt. I asked a lot of questions and I wasn’t shy about sharing my opinions. This one answer from her five months ago made me open to working with Blush in the future: “The work I do is very subversive. It’s not about one sex toy. It’s not about one sex toy manufacturer. I work first for the end consumer. Second, for the undervalued worker. Being a feminist and working for a feminist adult company is the easy street. I prefer moving mountains, one little nudge at a time. And that is why I said about Blush, “this is a company I can really help.” They are trusting me and I am going to do right by them.” 

August 2017 – Then at Woodhull I had the chance to talk to her more; I decided that an interview was the best format because her words are what changed my mind and I want to pass that on. Ducky doesn’t take jobs where she can’t educate and make a difference and speaking with her it was crystal clear that Blush is the right mix of everything she needs – a good foundation and willingness to be bettter. I trust Ducky to guide this company and keep them on the right path. I believe Ducky when she tells me of the changes that have been made and the different direction this company is taking. I have been impressed with their new, affordable silicone sex toys and now feel comfortable recommending those items without any reserve. 

Blush Novelties divider image 2

Can you tell me a little bit about why you chose to work for Blush? 

I have a unique insight into North American pleasure product companies in part because I had been working as a buyer for a large distributor. This meant I worked with all the major brands. I had meetings with their team and got to know the companies more intimately. When I was ready to leave my position with the distributor I gave a lot of thought to who I might want to work with. Blush was at the top of my list.

The simple answer why I choose Blush is because it is a young company, with lots of potential. Blush also has a very creative, diverse team. The owners like my frankness and value my experience, my integrity, and my creative input. I felt like “here is a company that needs me and that I could have a real, honest impact on”.

Some of the older companies are buried deep in their mindsets when it comes to the products they create. They are big and when it comes to change and innovation it’s like asking an ocean liner to turn; they are slow. Blush is open minded, nimble, and full of unstoppable energy.

An issue some bloggers have had with Blush is their copying of the designs of other brands. Can you tell us how this happened?

I was not with Blush when that happened, but I did have honest conversations with the teams inside the building over the impact that has had on our reputation. One of the issues I believe Blush has faced is that we are not a large company, but the company has ambitiously sought to be competitive with the larger companies.

With larger pleasure product brands, creating “like products” is very common. Often, they are importing from the same manufacturing facilities and just putting their brand on the packages. Other times big sex toys companies move more like the fashion world. By the time one designer has a style hit the end of the runway at a show, there are multiple companies drawing and cutting a pattern for something of that style. I am not saying it’s right, but it is the way big business often runs. It doesn’t matter if it’s potato chip flavors, make-up pigments and packaging, book publishing, fashion, or sex toys. Big business is brutal.

Today Blush is pulling away from that model. We are very tuned in to consumer reviews, we spend a lot of time with retail store staff members to get their feedback, we have grown our creative team, and we have more designers who work to engineer our own motors and casings with a lot of care. I can say that Blush hears loud and clear how making like products impacts both bloggers and loyal consumers. I hope sexuality writers feel proud and continue to give honest feedback. As for how Blush products are being designed today? Almost every product in production moves across my desk as we move it though the prototyping phases. I get to assess the worth for the buying public. I get to give feedback on design, and how to enhance designs to best fit pleasure anatomy. I get to write the product descriptions and features for upcoming Blush products.

*Lilly’s Note on this topic: It may be “how things are done” in the business, but I don’t like it. I do, however, have faith that Ducky’s conversations with the owner about this topic have happened, blogger & consumer input has been noted and I feel that it’s unlikely to happen again. A promise? No. But if they do it again my support may be pulled and Conversations Will Be Had.

A larger issue that caused a number of bloggers to dislike Blush and stop recommending them had little to do with their products and much to do with the way one social media manager treated us in 2016. You obviously weren’t there and don’t know the mindset of that person but does Blush understand overall that that can’t happen again?  Even when you’re someday not working for them? 

I know it was very hurtful for the bloggers who were engaged with Blush at the time. I am sorry that happened. It is my understanding there was an immediate shift that happened inside the company when the social media upset happened. I want the bloggers who were involved to know you had a positive impact on the Blush brand. We appreciate you for it.

The first thing Blush did was let that person go. The company then pulled back from social media for a while to assess how and why it happened, and how we could work to make sure it never happens again.

It’s kind of like when you have a bad experience at a restaurant. If it’s just one receptionist or server who does you wrong, it’s easier to forgive them and go back to that establishment again. But if the whole restaurant is full of rude and thoughtless personnel, then I would be forced to look at the top of the company, the managers and owners to see where the real problem lies.

Blush has made mistakes, but we own them and we work to be better and do better. I am happy to say I really trust and enjoy the owners at Blush. They are ambitious, but they also have open minds and hearts. The Blush staff is happy. My experience is that is hard to find in any industry. I can’t make any promises for what the future holds for any of us, but I have put my career and my family in their hands. As long as I am here, I will always seek to care for consumers, bloggers, retailers, and the Blush staff to the best of my abilities.

Blush Novelties divider image 3

Many folks have lumped Blush in with companies like Topco, Doc Johnson, NS Novelties due in part to the many more-porous materials used and the titillation packaging used on their older lines. Can you tell me how Blush is different, now? I understand they’ll never go fully silicone but are they making a shift to using better materials more often? 

We make products to meet the market demand. To be honest, most of the market is not buying the products that bloggers love to own and review. Your average per customer purchase in a brick and motor store is about $35. At Blush, we seek to please the average consumer by making higher quality products at affordable prices.

We love the highest quality materials. And the highest quality materials have been gaining more and more space in our catalog, for sure! The only porous material we use is our own proprietary blend of TPE. We use TPE because we can create the most realistic feeling strokers and dildos with soft TPE. Yes– it’s porous, intended for single person use, needs to be washed with care, and will not have a very long lifespan. As long as consumers enjoy TPE, we will seek to make the highest quality TPE on the market.

Most of our products however are made of non-porous silicone, ABS (hard) plastic, bioplastic (recyclable and corn starched based), or our proprietary blend of non-porous PVC2. Everything is tested by a Bay Area Compliance Laboratory Corp, an independent testing facility. These tests confirm all Blush products are made from body-safe materials3 and meets or exceeds international safety standards as set forth by CE, RoHS, REACH, and POP directives.

For the readers: Blush Novelties talks about their porous products being body-safe, but a Swedish Chemicals Agency tested random sex toys purchased at European retailers and found a supposed Blush product that failed one of their tests. After notifying Blush, who noted that they don’t sell products to that retailer, they found out that their products were being cloned (right down to the packaging) but made using unsafe materials. Since this does and will happen (with any brand), how can customers be sure that they’re getting a genuine Blush Novelties product? 

At this moment, it would be hard to know. Most of the knock off business happens on Amazon and Ebay but if you are buying from a quality retailer then you can feel safe. Soon you will see our packages coming out with anticounterfeit labels. Each product will have a unique code that you can submit on our website to ensure you have a legitimate Blush item.

And finally, what products are you the proudest of right now that you think bloggers should review and talk about more? 

Oh my… the list is long! I love our dual density, silicone Real Nude collection. I love every single piece! Our Hop dual action, rabbit style vibes are beautiful, with deep rumbly motors. Our Noje collection is giving every vibrator on the market a run for their money! Our Aria collection is full of powerful motors in silicone designs. And they are very affordable too!

Blush Novelties divider image 4

I’ve already tried, and loved, one of Blush’s newer silicone vibrators, the Nude Impressions 01. Because I’ve reviewed a lot of higher-priced sex toys this year (and have more still in my queue) I’m going to be trying out some affordable options from Blush. Their silicone dildos are already listed on my guide to silicone, suction-cup dildos and a few of their items are on my Sex Toys Under-$35 list – but I need to test these for myself. I’ll be reviewing the Real Nude Suko, Hop Trix, Aria Hue G, Luxe Purity 2, and the ultra-affordable Gaia Eco. Despite knowing that their porous sex toys are non-toxic, I just still can’t bring myself to recommend those materials 90% of the time on this blog so I’m trying to elevate the affordable, non-porous items.

Overall, this isn’t a 100% perfect resolution but I never expected perfection. In my conversations with Ducky (and a few others) I simply feel truly convinced that Blush has learned from their mistakes and are on the right path to being a better company. If you want to talk about it further with me, please let me know. If you have questions for Ducky, leave em in the comments.

Author’s note: This is not a sponsored post.Images courtesy Blush Novelties because I don’t own enough Blush products yet to take my own collage photo!

  1. she’s just not as publicly salty as moi
  2. Yes, this is something I’m going to expand on in the near future
  3. I personally prefer the term non-toxic when talking about anything that isn’t silicone, but I’m not editing Ducky’s words
 Posted by at 5:48 pm
Aug 172017
 

4 Crave Vibrators for Comparison: Crave Flex, Crave Vesper, Crave Bullet and Crave Solo vibratorsAs I was working on my review of the Crave Bullet and contemplating the reviews of the Crave Solo and Crave Flex I realized I was going to spend a lot of time comparing them to each other in addition to comparing them to other compact vibrators – so why not just do a big comparison post? Before I continue, I want to get one thing settled – Crave isn’t a “first vibrator” brand. While I don’t think that everybody’s first vibrator should be mildly intense and extremely cheap, I also think that you need the experience of other vibrators to understand vibration type and intensity before spending money on something like a Crave vibrator. You have to know what your clitoris needs, and a good number of folks haven’t figured that out before trying a few vibrators.

Crave Vibrator Basics

There are a few things that should ring true for you to determine if a Crave vibrator is right for you:

  1. You like pinpoint clitoral stimulation
  2. You know you don’t need a powerhouse, rumbling motor like the We-Vibe Tango
  3. You probably can orgasm from a finger or tongue – eventually, or fairly easily. The more sensitive you are, the more powerful these will seem, of course.
  4. You like the “classic” fashion glam of their designs and don’t mind spending a little more – Crave vibrators range from $59 to $149.

Crave Vesper

Crave Vesper - showing the power button. If you wear it correctly it lays against you, not facing outward.The Crave Vesper has gained fame for being an actually decent piece of jewelry-meets-sex-toy kitsch that is even worn and raved about by celebs. I fell in love with the Vesper because it’s so very pinpoint and the vibrations were pretty decent. The Vesper taught me something about my clitoris – the more pinpoint, the better, and the less vibration I’ll need. Because while my first love will always be the rumbling and intense We-Vibe Tango, the Vesper is about half as intense yet still works – my orgasms won’t be as intense as they are from the Tango or the Womanizer, but they’re satisfying. It’s not weak, it’s not really buzzy and many who are more sensitive than I will call it “powerful”. 

I also love that it heats up – I swear that added heat really does make a difference for me. It brings in a little more blood flow and may be why the Crave Flex just isn’t quite my jam.

The added bonus of the Vesper being really pretty jewelry helps justify the price, in my eyes.  It ranges from $69 to $149 depending on the metal – if you like silver jewelry you’re in luck with the $69 version but if you’re stictly in love with gold you’ll be spending $149.

Crave Flex

Navy blue Crave Flex showing with the attached silicone cap off to see the charging plugSo the motor in the Crave Flex is the same as – or pretty damn close to – the Vesper but the silicone vs metal makes it feel a bit different in use. It took a lot of concentrating to see that it’s really similar, but I feel pretty safe saying it is. And I feel pretty safe comparing these motors to the Crave Bullet, as well. The difference all comes down to material, shape and execution.

The Crave Flex appealed to me aethestically – the navy blue and gold, the slender design – it’s pretty classy. In some ways it felt a little better than the Vesper because the silicone makes it feel just a slight hair more rumbly. But the Vesper’s heated siren song calls to my clit, too. In the end both the Flex and Vesper are about equally good at getting me off – not a super powerful orgasm but it does the job. For folks wanting to get into pinpoint vibrators that are not the intensity of the Tango, I’d definitely recommend this. I don’t have a lot to say about the Flex because there’s not much to find fault with. Sure, the charging cap is a little bothersome – I worry about getting fluids on the plug when the cap comes off because of the way I’ve held it. 

To prefer the Flex you’d have to know that you don’t want a rigid vibrator material (hated hard plastic bullets? You wouldn’t like the Vesper) and that you don’t need powerhouse intensity. It’s not squishy like Tenga Iroha vibes but the 1/2″ or so on the tip doesn’t have rigid plastic underneath and can flex. Flex. Accurately named, at least! Fear not, it comes in more colors like Black and Bright Pink.

Crave Bullet

Crave Bullet Vibe Stainless Steel with Silicone Cap off to the sideAs a clitoral vibe I’m unhappy with the Crave Bullet – this one is the worst execution of the motor that lives in the Flex and Vesper. The Bullet is really meant for folks who need to upgrade their watch-battery mini bullet that lives inside certain sex toys in situations where the superior We-Vibe Tango is too long. The vibrations of the Bullet are enough to give a significant power boost to small sex toys but it still disappoints in full-size or larger dildos. 

Despite the Bullet not being wearable, Crave decided to give it the same treatment as the Vesper – increased prices for different metals. $59 for the standard steel isn’t terrible but $99 for the gold-plated is too much to pay (for most). I’d recommend the Vesper or Flex over the bullet if you just need a pinpoint clitoral vibrator that isn’t intense. If you want to know which toys the Crave Bullet fits into or want a more in-depth review about the issues I had with it, check out the full review.

Crave Solo

Disassembled Crave Solo showing silicone covered vibrating portion and the function buttons on the bottomThe Crave Solo is more powerful than the Bullet, Flex or Vesper but it’s also more buzzy – and noisier. Crave’s marketing says:

“Nothing ruins a sexy moment like a loud buzz. The Solo is significantly more quiet than any other vibrator, enabling a wider range of possibilities for when and where you’ll use it.”

I definitely disagree. So many rechargeable clitoral vibrators on the market are really quiet and a good number are more quiet than the Crave Solo in use. If I hold mine in a certain direction something starts to rattle, contributing to it being the most noisy Crave vibrator I own. Will yours sound that way? Is mine a victim of poor quality control? Who knows.

The Crave Solo is significantly more expensive than the others, also – but it comes with it’s own leather case! Yay! Eh, not so fast. The case offers no function but is a case so it’s better than a cheap bag so why am I wasting words on it? Because it irks me, to be honest. Here we have a luxury vibrator that talks about a leather case, brags about it almost, so when I actually wrinkle my nose at the cheapness of the “leather case” I can’t not mention it. It’s made from either the finest shaving of true leather or bonded leather. The inside is lined with a very crinkly vinyl-like water-resistant material and because this still isn’t thick enough to be substantial, there’s cardboard in between the two materials so that the pouch holds a shape. The sides are open at the top and bottom, and the zipper is cheap. Given the overall price it just feels….insulting. I think I’m probably the only reviewer to complain about the case, ha. What can I say? When the price tag is $140, I’m going to be picky about everything.

Crave Solo isn’t the buzziest thing I’ve had the displeasure to review but it is just buzzy enough that I can’t get off with it. If we’re on a scale of 1 to 10 where 2 is the Dame Eva and 10 is the Tango, I’d say it’s about a 4? 3.5? Whereas the Flex and Vesper I’d put at like… 5.5ish. Maybe the Vesper is 5 and Flex is 5.5. Anyway, my point being: I just can’t come with the Crave Solo. It may have more power than the Flex but the lack of any discernible rumble is just killing me. It’s not pleasant to use and I’d recommend this Crave vibrator the least out of the models I own. 

And while I understand the need for the controls being where they are (the butt of the metal portion) the buttons leave a lot to be desired. It’s a clear silicone with a tiny circle and plus and minus that are incredibly difficult to see. The Crave Solo is definitely more substantial and larger than the Flex, Bullet and Vesper, by far. I was surprised at the size of it, actually.  The feel of it in hand, because of all the metal, is impressive and weighty without being “too”. The silicone-covered portion is as rigid as the metal handle.  It’s a pretty penny, $139 at Shevibe, and I really feel like there are better options on the market for most people. I’d rather recommend the We-Vibe Tango, We-Vibe Touch, Je Joue Mimi or even the Jopen Lust L2.5 to have something with more power and rumble.

Also: RTFM. I thought my Crave Solo was defective because it wasn’t charging when I plugged it into my USB hub. I gently disassembled the packaging and read the directions. After you plug it in you have to press the power button to begin charging the Crave Solo. This does not apply to any other Crave vibrator except the Crave Duet.

Crave Duet and Wink

The Crave Duet is the original Crave; there’s also a smaller all-silicone Crave Duet Flex. While I enjoy pinpoint vibrations I don’t enjoy that rabbit-ear clit-hugging style – plus I read too much about the Crave Duet having a lot of vibration dissonance (the motors doing a “wobbling” thing that mimics a pattern but in a bad way).  I think you’d have to really enjoy the rabbit ears on a stereotypical rabbit vibe to like the Duet.  The Duet is pretty pricey at $149 from Shevibe and is the more powerful of the two. The Duet Flex is less expensive, smaller and will have the same motor as the Flex. Check out Lunabelle’s review of the Duet Flex – I think if you’re going to go for one of the Duets, aim for the Flex. More affordable and easier to use.

The Wink is petite and pinpoint but reports say it’s fairly buzzy and mild so it immediately got nixed from my list. Sarah complained about the fact that it doesn’t even have a button – you have to twist the base like a cheap pocket rocket – and the fact that it’s powered by a single AAA battery. It’s $69 for a battery-powered single-speed vibrator which is just not worth anybody’s time.

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My personal tastes aside I will tell you that every Crave vibrator I own is really well made (except for that stupid leather case and the weird rattle in my Solo). There are no seams that stick out; the metal is body-safe and trustworthy. The silicone is silky and not a dust magnet. Their packaging is minimalist, creating as little waste as possible and is probably recyclable. There is a warranty on everything. Again, I may not like everything about all of their vibes but I have a lot of respect for how their products are made. I’d love to petition them for a motor that is closer to the Tango but beyond that? Kudos to Crave.

 

Most of these Crave vibrators were provided to me by SheVibe in exchange for my honest review; I purchased the Flex on my own. Check out the whole Crave line at SheVibe!

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