Lilly

Jun 082015
 

35 Sex Toys for Under $35One of the perks of being a sex toy reviewer is that often we are handed vibrators and dildos to review that we normally would not be able to afford purchasing on our own. I can assure you that I would never have been able to allocate the funds for the Lelo Smart Wand Large, the L’Amourose Rosa Rouge, and so on. Many others are in the same boat. And so they buy cheap (yet terrible) sex toys because it’s what they can afford. Recently though we’ve started seeing actual, real silicone dildos and silicone-covered vibrators for $50 or less so hope is on the horizon.

But we can’t ignore those with budgets. The folks who might normally just buy a PVC nightmare that will arrive smelling up the room and possibly give them a chemical burn in the worst possible place. I need these folks to know that they deserve safe, quality sex toys on their budget. I have a short list of sex toys under $50 on my Best Sex Toys page, but that’s not really enough. I made myself a mission one day a few months ago; to comb through the Shevibe catalog and find “25 for $25 and under”. But honestly? That was hard to do. So I had to up the ante to $35. If you are in the US and get Shevibe’s cheapest shipping which is $5.95, then you can buy yourself a SAFE, non-porous sex toy for $40 or under, shipped.  Note: When I talk about “body-safe” I don’t merely mean toys that claim to be non-toxic. Body-safe sex toys are non-porous. Porosity has long been an overlooked issue.

I’m not promising that all of the vibrators will rock your world. Especially when it comes to vibrators, you get what you pay for. The vibrators on the list under $25 are going to be loud and possibly have very mild vibrations. They may not last long. If you can spend a little bit more, then I can point you to the Vibratex Mystic Wand, the Jopen Lust L2.5, the Picobong Moka, the Roulette Croupier, the Fun Factory Layaspot. Better quality and the Jopen is even rechargeable. You’re here for a reason, though, and whatever your reason, these 35 sex toys under $35 are all non-porous and range from decent to great 1.

What I also want to show you is that you can find safe, non-porous sex toys under $35 without resorting to the gamble that is buying sex toys from Amazon – a place I really want you to avoid.

Vibrators Under $35

Finding vibrators that I wasn’t certain would be utter crap, under $25, was damn tough. I was able to pick out some items that are actually pretty great once I let myself go past $25.

  1. Change in the line-up. The Berman Center Siena was ranked well in a comment below. At $20, can’t hurt to check it out!
  2. Pocket Rockets are usually fairly powerful, one-battery wonders. I once loved one! Consider the Sportsheets Waterproof one…
  3. …or the Vibratex Titan (just toss out the elastomer add-ons).
  4. The Maia Twistty G-spot sports texture with moderate vibrations. 
  5. Rocks Off makes some longer bullet-style vibes that are simple but decent like the Golden Passion RO-80mm
  6. Can’t forget the butts! The Tantus Perfect Plug Plus!
  7. I’ve got three OVO recommendations for you. Their D2 impressed me well enough in person in vibrations and style.
  8. I’ve had a few readers try and love their F3 insertable…
  9. …and the F8 insertable2. All have a 15-year warranty.
  10. The Fun Factory Jazzie is moderate on vibrations & has one speed, but has a nice shape.
  11. And finally, the Doc Johnson Black Magic Bullet packs a very nice, rumbly punch for the price – the corded style needs extra attention to last you more than a few months and I don’t recommend it for internal use, but it’s a bullet vibe that kept me quite happy for awhile until I found the We-Vibe Tango.

Dildos Under $35

Again, once I upped the price cap from $25 to $35, things became so much easier. I went from struggling to find anything non-porous to recommend, to having more than enough to choose from.

  1. The Colours Pleasure Small provides a realistic design in bold colors, plus a suction cup.
  2. The My Little Heaven has a weird shape but reports say it provides great G-spot stimulation for those who need something slender.
  3. I wanted to include glass on the list, for those who want to try the firmness of the material but I am struggling with this recommendation. I really really hate to promote Pipedream products in part for their sub-par quality and in part for their shitty company ethics. About half of their Icicles line is under $35. It makes me twitchy though to even talk about them. 
  4. For a slender glass dildo with a great g-spot or prostate curve, consider the Sinclair Institute Crystal G Glass Wand.
  5. Another glass option is the Don Wands Cobalt Wand.
  6. For those who want size options and maybe something bigger, consider the silicone So Dildo from Marc Dorcel.
  7. The CalExotics Silicone Basics Long John gives us a realistic option in a limited range of flesh tones.
  8. Another suction-cup dildo option is the Maia D1 – it is silicone but has an inner core made from another material. Under normal circumstances you won’t ever come into contact with it and it shouldn’t affect the silicone3.
  9. I’ve got Tantus items on the list – the Warm Up dildo is great for those new to penetration…
  10. …as is the Silk Small 4.
  11. For those who need a harness, the Fetish Fantasy Stay-Put Harness from Pipedream (ugh) has pros and cons – the snaps allow for bigger o-rings to be added but the harness only fits up to 44″ hips5.
  12. Those who need more room can get the even nicer Sportsheets Plus Size Beginner’s Harness, which fits up to 72″ hips, has a nice back side and has 4 different o-rings.

Butt Plugs Under $35

  1. All butt toys can stimulate the prostate, but some are designed for that specific purpose. The Doc Johnson Mood Naughty 2 …..
  2. …or the LUX LX1 are two decent choices. 
  3. For those who like the sensation of anal beads, try out the Fun Factory Bendybeads…
  4. …or the much smaller, not graduated Pleasure Works Casanova.
  5. There are actually a lot of butt plugs under $35, so I’ve chosen a few that rate well with others and one super-affordable, the CalExotics Coco Licious Plug.
  6. Fan favorites include the Tantus Ryder
  7. …or the Fun Factory Bootie.
  8. The Tantus Neo has a super-comfortable base and plug style, and comes in a silky smooth dust-repellent silicone 6.
  9. Those who need something extra big can consider the Renegade Plug V (Large)

Penis Toys Under $35

There are plenty of cheap masturbation sleeves but the material worries me with most, in terms of toxicity. All affordable sleeves are made from a porous material, but I trust Tenga to not be toxic. Their 3D sleeves aren’t quite under $35 but are still an affordable option vs Fleshlights and the Tenga Flip Holes.

  1. The Tenga Eggs are listed as one-time-use but I think if you rinse it and dry it and don’t wait weeks in between, people have gotten a few uses of them.
  2. The lowest-priced Screaming O rings are a sticky, jelly-like non-toxic material called SEBS that is porous 7, so I wouldn’t hang onto them for many uses. The affordable (silicone) Screaming O PrimO TUX isn’t going to pack a punch, and the batteries may be hard to find, but this would be a good way to discover if vibrating cock rings are something you’d like to delve into more.
  3. Cock rings in general are great because they can increase erection firmness and make orgasm more pleasureable (and delayed a bit); a good place to start for a nice reusable one is the Tantus Super Soft.

So we’ve learned that there are some really great dildo options for $35 and under, a lot of butt toy options for $35 and under, but the vibrator category still makes me sad. There are cheap vibrators, to be sure, but they’re just too crappy to list even if they are made from ABS plastic. I’d like to see more brands come out with sex toys under $35 like vaginal and anal insertables that aren’t either loud enough to wake your roommate or so mild that they won’t please most people; the “mild” vibrations are why I didn’t pick anything by Bswish or Blush because my experiences with those brands consistently show their vibrators are very mild and surface-buzzy. I’d like to see some realistically-styled vibrating dildos in the affordable price range,  because it’s apparently something that sells really well in the porous materials.

I don’t actually think that having silicone dildos/plugs that are only silicone on the exterior are a problem – unless the exterior can split or crack open. While it seemed shady and even a little weird to have a dildo advertised as “100% silicone” actually be stuffed with a foam insert or rubber rod, if this is what it takes to produce affordable items that have non-porous, body-safe materials where it counts? I think I’m okay with it. We’ve only found out about this practice when the items have been sliced/cut open, to my knowledge.

Have you found any sex toys under $35 that were non-porous and decent quality that I didn’t list?

  1. Actually the Tenga Egg is porous, but I had no choice, and it’s non-toxic
  2. Note that the width sizes listed are inaccurate, because OVO doesn’t understand how to measure. Both F3 and F8 are probably around 1.25″ wide at the insertable part
  3. Similar style but much more texture is the Maia D3.
  4. And the Silk Medium, even, is under $35!
  5. A more boxer/underwear style can be had for less than $30, but it fits an even smaller range of people than the Pipedream strappy harness – sad that they couldn’t take this anywhere close to plus sizes. These can be used as packer briefs or dildo harnesses
  6. For a little texture you can also consider the Tantus Juice Plug or for a lot of texture, the Tantus Twist Plug
  7. Although they do also make pure silicone vibrating rings under $25
 Posted by at 2:07 pm
May 312015
 

Rechargeable Hitachi Magic WandDespite what I may say in this review, I am excited about the Rechargeable Magic Wand! But first, a little back-story. I’d used vibrators for a couple of years before I started reviewing. Even the few that worked for me took awhile; longer than I sometimes had patience for. So a whopping 1 month into being an official Sex Toy Reviewer I got my hands on the Hitachi Magic Wand. And, having only tried cheap shit and a few I-feel-like-I-should-adore-this-but-it’s-too-mild Lelos, I was suitably impressed by the old Magic Wand and instructed all to go forth and buy one. Nature of the job though, I kept trying new vibrators. Finally, eventually, I found the We-Vibe Tango. And I realized something: the vibrator best suited for me shouldn’t take 15 minutes if I don’t want it to. Many times the Magic Wand took 15, 20, 25 minutes for two reasons: It’s very broad and I need pinpoint, and it’s kinda buzzy rather than rumbly – on high it feels very itchy to me. Plus, I didn’t like the fact that after longer sessions, I couldn’t feel the pee coming out if I used the bathroom shortly after. My entire vulva was numb.  But heeeyyyy I could sometimes orgasm in a few minutes and it beat the socks off the other vibes I had, so I loved it for awhile.

No lie…..It’s been probably4 years since I used the Magic Wand for anything other than a comparison of vibration strength. It sits in my drawer gathering dust on its menstrual-blood-stained PVC head. Instead, the vibrator I recommend is the We-Vibe Tango, unless someone has anorgasmia or prefers broad stimulation – even then I’ll usually recommend the Doxy for its lower-intensity settings and longer cord. I’ve consistently been one of the very few sex toy reviewers who tries to NOT recommend the Magic Wand and doesn’t think it’s heaven on earth.

Upgrade!

I used to love the fact that the original Magic Wand plugs in – no batteries, no power loss, no wait. But the cord is short and eventually I’ve grown to hate cords. They get in the way, they tether you to the nearest electrical outlet. So the fact that the Rechargeable Magic Wand is, well, rechargeable is a big plus in my book. Not only is it rechargeable but a charge lasts forever1 and you can still use it while it’s plugged in and being recharged – very handy for folks like me who have a bad habit of turning on 8 vibrators to find them all dead.

Another upgrade is that the head is finally SILICONE. Before I knew that the head was a porous material I used it one night when I didn’t realize I was still spotting. I laid it down beside my bed, and went to sleep. The head never again was visually clean. The new head is also now a little more plush than before; in fact it reminds me of the way the Doxy head feels.

Yet another feature I didn’t love about the first Magic Wand was the rocker-switch and how it went low-Off-high. You could flip past “Off” in a split second but sometimes it messed you up. Now, there is a power button plus an intensity button that cycles through 4 levels PLUS a patterns button if you like that sort of thing.

Oh and the overheating. The Original Hitachi Magic Wand got surprisingly hot – all over. I’d heard tales of people who used it for long periods of time, burning through the motor every year or two. The Rechargeable Magic Wand doesn’t overheat, not even after hours of operation. Of course despite fixing this issue, they don’t believe it so they set a fail switch in  – it’ll shut off at 20 minutes of continuous use. You can turn it right back on, though they tell you not to. It’s annoying for the people who can, not only tolerate it for 25 minutes, but need it for 25 minutes. Or more. This shutting off crap is probably the only Con of the new-and-improved Magic Wand.

Rechargeable vs Original Magic Wand

Is It Noisy??

Anything on high, against soft fleshy skin, is gonna get noisy just by nature but the motor is considerably more quiet in the new Rechargeable Magic Wand. Gone is the high-frequency whine that reminded some of a not-so-distant leaf blower, or kitchen appliance. I feel like you’ll be able to use this in most situations without any fear of being heard.

Noise test video is here!

Is It Powerful??

Original Hitachi Magic Wand: Low = 5000 RPM; High = 6000 RPM
Rechargeable Magic Wand: 1 = 2700 RPM; 2 = 3800 RPM; 3 = 5400 RPM; 4 = 6300 RPM

Here’s where things get confusing. If you go by the numbers you would think that Speed 4 on the Rechargeable Magic Wand is more powerful than the Original Hitachi. You would think that Speeds  1 and 2 are less powerful. But when I used it the first two times without knowing the numbers I’d assumed that Speed 2 on the Rechargeable was equal to Low on the Original, and Speed 4 on the Rechargeable was equal to High on the Original. I did a lot of comparison feeling before I ever knew the numbers. But really…..RPMs are fairly useless in my opinion for determining vibration intensity. Did you know that the We-Vibe (at least the 4 regular and 3) on high is 5500 RPM? If we’re gonna use RPM as a measure of intensity then the We-Vibe should be as powerful as the Magic Wand Original on low. But anybody who has felt both knows this simply isn’t true. My favorite vibrator, the We-Vibe Tango, has RPMs that only go up to 4800 on high. And while High on the Tango is pretty damn powerful, it feels so much better because of the lower RPMs.

So my whole point is this: I know what the numbers say but my perception says that the top speeds on both feel the same (and they both feel the same as the Doxy, to me). My perception is that there is only 1 less intense speed, and that is Speed 1. This is still not going to be a vibrator that sensitive people can tolerate without clothing/towel barriers and if that is what you need then I don’t see the point. Buy something less powerful.

Are All the Old Attachments Still Compatible?

Yep. The head is the same. I feel that the attachments work better now because the motor is clearly lower-pitched and a bit more rumbly. One thing I noted, that increased my love for the Smart Wand Large, was that the rumbly nature of the Smart Wand Large was way more compatible with attachments (especially insertables) because the vibrations traveled through the silicone much better. The difference was honestly astounding. I don’t think the Rechargeable Magic Wand beats the Smart Wand Large in terms of making awesome insertable attachments feel more awesome, but it’s an improvement over the original.

Enough stalling, Lilly….What’s the Verdict?

I’ve stalled long enough; I have to say it: I don’t love the Rechargeable Magic Wand. I like it better now, in theory, but I personally still dislike it. It still takes me longer to get off with versus the Tango and for the same reasons – broad head where I need more pinpoint and my vulva went itchy at the 2nd intensity level. I literally had to turn it off over and over to reach down and scratch like I’m Al Bundy. Sexy, eh? But I kept going, determined to orgasm and it was……….meh. It was a fizzle. It was bland, even though I’d turned it up to level 2 just to finish off. It felt like a waste of my time, when these days I can come on level 1 of the Tango on good days. Level 1.  I used to require level 3 or 4 all the time, every time. So….yeah. I’m gonna be that person who still doesn’t love it. Who still insists that it’s itchy. Who says “it’s not about the RPMs it’s about the motor”. I still prefer the Lelo Smart Wand Large because the vibrations are less itchy. I still prefer the Mystic Wand, even!

But this isn’t a bad vibrator for the right person. If I were a person who loved and needed broad stimulation, I would be raving about this thing. If I weren’t so sensitive to itchy-vulva-syndrome then I could overlook the broad head and still be overjoyed by it. I think that nearly everything they upgraded & changed is amazing and all very much-needed upgrades. I still don’t think that the Magic Wand, even the rechargeable, should ever be someone’s first vibrator. But if you’ve tried the Tango and the Mystic Wand and felt that it wasn’t enough….then try the Rechargeable Magic Wand. Sure it’s pricey, and it’s even a shocking double on the cost over the Original. But it is a high-quality vibrator, of this I have no doubt. I would recommend it over anything Bodywand in a heartbeat.

Would I still pick the Doxy? I do pick Doxy over Original because the Doxy’s cord is longer, it’s quieter, and there are many lower level settings that don’t make your vulva numb. But now, suddenly, the Doxy has the inferior head material and the cumbersome cord (unless you want to drop even more cash on the fancy metal version of the Doxy – silicone head but still a cord). So it’s a tough call. If you need to ramp up gradually? Go Doxy. If you want the cordless feature? Pick the Rechargeable Magic Wand. They’re about the same price at Shevibe, so it’s a toss-up in my book. Decide which features matter more to you and choose wisely. Then, decorate the handle with washi tape. Because why the hell not.

 

This review brought to you by the lovely folks at Shevibe who provided me with the Rechargeable Magic Wand in exchange for my no-bullshit all-truth review. How cool are they??

  1. I got about 4 hours out of it
 Posted by at 12:25 pm
May 272015
 

Jopen Envy Fifteen Vibrator ReviewI’m reviewing the Jopen Envy Fifteen because I’m on the hunt for a decent remote-controlled vibrator; it’s what people ask for the most, it seems! The thrill of wearing a vibrator in public is a gateway kink for many people; it’s one I can get behind! But sadly when it comes to remote control sex toys the market is lacking. A really great RC vibe needs to nail down these three things:

 *  A remote that allows the remote holder to know what’s going on – what setting the vibrator is one, basically.

 *  A remote connection that stays through clothing, flesh and ideally from across the room. Bonus points if it works through a wall.

 *  A comfortable vibrator shape with decently rumbly, decently powerful vibrations.

Con – Weird Shape

Every Jopen vibe I’ve tried has been very powerful and pretty rumbly so I had high hopes for “rule 3″ to be met with the Jopen Envy Fifteen – and we almost had it. Look at the shape of the design. Where would YOU expect the vibrations to be centered? If you’re like me, you expected the vibrations to be in that portion that sticks out a bit – it would be a great design for those (like me) with full labia and a “buried” clitoris. But strangely the vibrations are focused at the other end. So this leaves the protruding part to sit at your vaginal entrance, I guess. The design sucks for me because of my full labia, chubby mons and buried clit. It’s vibrating my labia, right now. 

Jopen Envy FifteenPro and Con – Powerful!

Yes, the vibrations of the Jopen Envy Fifteen are powerful (no, not Tango-powerful, not quite). I didn’t think I could ever say this, but they’re ….. TOO powerful. The first setting is barely anything. I can feel that something is happening with the vibrator, but that’s it. The second setting is still very mild to me; kinda rumbly, but mild – although very sensitive folks will find it to be a great setting. The third setting jumps up to a level that could make moderately sensitive people orgasm. Already the third level is more powerful than some of the more mild vibrators I’ve owned. The fourth setting isn’t noisy, but it can be heard if you’re sitting on a chair and the room is quiet. It’s moderately rumbly and decently powerful. The fifth setting is rumbly in hand but between my labia and under pressure, it’s only moderately rumbly with a hint of buzzy. The fifth setting is pretty powerful. All of the settings can suffer from vibration dampening when surrounded by flesh, but it’s not too bad. I actually was able to orgasm on the fourth setting by wearing it in a way that wouldn’t be discreet in public (half of it sticking out of my labia like a mini cock, the red light blaring away) and putting a lot of pressure on my clitoris.

So it’s probably too powerful for those who are moderately-to-very sensitive IF you don’t want to actually orgasm in public. If you do, you might not last long. For those who are more orgasm-resistant, this might be the panty vibe that gets you off if that’s your aim.

Con – Controls Aren’t Intuitive

I first thought my Jopen Envy Fifteen was broken. You turn it on by pressing and holding the button on the vibrator for 4 or 5 seconds. Nothing will happen, except that the red light will be brightly shining. You then press the middle button on the remote, but a slow, deliberate button push, not a quick click. You’ll want to hold the remote in your hand by the fat end! Be warned – when you turn it on, it starts off at the THIRD setting. Here’s where it gets odd – to decrease the power level, you first have to click the top button (“up”) and THEN click the bottom button (“down”) to get to the first setting. Clicking just the top button will take you to the second setting if that’s all the lower you want to go to start off.

You can then click on the center button for 6 different patterns. You can also use the increase/decrease while in a pattern to change the vibration intensity. The red light on the vibe will blink along with the pattern, also.

Con – It’s a Bitch to Turn Off

Here’s where it gets annoying – the only two ways to turn it off are: 1. Press and hold the button on the vibrator for 3 or 4 seconds 2: Click the middle button on the remote 7 times (if you’re not in patterns) to cycle through all of the patterns to get it to stop vibrating. The red light on the vibrator will remain lit until it’s turned off at the vibrator.

The red light on the remote does sort of let the remote-holder know what’s going on. If the remote’s red light doesn’t light up, it means you’re going in the wrong direction with the buttons or you clicked it too quickly.

Con – Bright Red Light!

The vibrator of the Jopen Envy Fifteen has a very bright, red LED light under the silicone skin. Yes, it can be see through panties. It can be seen through most pants. The button is going to be roughly in the area of the vagina so it’s probably not visible to others if you wear it correctly and you’re standing up but I’m betting there would be situations where the red light would be visible. In a dark place, even more visible.

Pro – Remote and Vibrator are rechargeable

They include a Y-shaped recharging cable that plugs into both the remote and the vibrator, and then the other end is USB. Too many remotes take weird batteries, so this aspect is nice.

Pro – It Might Work Really Well Under a Harness

I can see the design of the Jopen Envy Fifteen working for many people when they’re wearing a strap-on harness. Not me, again, but if your labia is not chubby, if you don’t have a buried clit, this could work well for you to use while wearing a harness.  I can totally see someone buying this for the sole use of wearing it while they’re strapping on. Between the remote and the design, it would be easy to use and pretty comfortable.  Yes despite the fact that the design doesn’t work with my labia, it is overall comfortable.

Pro and Con – The Remote & Connection

Except for the fact that the light on the remote will not light up if you cannot go any higher/lower in vibration intensity, the remote holder doesn’t really know what the wearer is experiencing. If you get distracted you’ll forget where you left them.

The connection stayed put through my clothes, so that’s good. The remote is advertised to work up to 16.5 feet away which is……meh. It’s alright. It’s not going to work through walls and it’s not going to work from across a long room, but it’s decent. The remote is small and easy to hold, though. There’s that.

Final Thoughts

Overall, unless you’re using this during strap-on play OR you have minimal labia/mons and a prominent clit, I don’t think I can recommend the Envy Fifteen. Despite the price being pretty good (under $100), it has flaws that make it frustrating. The vibrations in use aren’t as rumbly as other ENVY/LUST items, and the jump from “tease” to “whoa” is a big jump. I think it’s going to let you down more often than not. Given the really bright red light, I don’t think it’s suitable for play in a low-light setting in public. I’m not loving the design because it rules out anyone with a buried clit. For public play, the remote sucks. For many uses, the remote sucks.

I’m going to keep trying out remote control vibrators to see if I can find one that isn’t awful. I’m losing hope, though. Industry, step up your game!! If someone could come out with a remote like Dorcel’s, with the connectivity and range of the Lelo Sensemotion, and a vibrator with rumbly vibrations in a decent range from teasing to decently powerful with gradual steps in intensity combined with two styles – one suited for innie clits and one suited for outtie clits – we’d be in business. But I have a feeling I’m going to be long gone from this world by the time sex toy companies recognize that not all clits are outties and design toys accordingly. Next in line for this style will be the L’amourose MAE – think it can impress me?

 

May 262015
 

Earlier this month I was nominated by Will and Vixenne as having a “Real Neat Blog”, which was super sweet. I am shamefully behind on blogging much of ANYTHING these days. So by the time I’ve gotten around to writing this, nearly everybody that I planned to nominate has probably already been nominated by someone else and has written their post. 

Everybody told me how much “_____” it would be buying/owning a home. You think you know, but you have no idea. We have wayyyyy too much stuff, the house needed quite a bit of work (and still does in many ways) and my schedule got completely thrown out of whack. I started dropping off to sleep before 10pm most nights (hell, sometimes before 9pm) and waking before 6am. Nearly every day before work, I am running errands. I probably have gone to Home Depot 4-5 times a week, every week since the move a month ago. It’s all a bunch of insanity; moving and home-owning is a literal pain. I’m in so much bodily agony it’s ridiculous. 

But I’m seriously content. Happy! I smile for no reason. I look at the kitties as they lay in 45 different positions on the bay window, and know that we did good. I look out at our (very lumpy, needs much work) vast lawn and half-acre of trees and feel at ease. It’s all very….odd. I’m not used to this. I keep wondering when the honeymoon period will end, skeptic that I am. 

So yeah. I’m trying to get back into the habit of being at my computer, blogging, reviewing, being active on Reddit and social media but it’s hard right now. We’re SO busy. I spend so little time at the computer some days which is honestly just a foreign concept to me. Anyways, on to the post. The two people who nomm’ed me had different questions, so I’ll answer the ones I can/that apply. 

1. What was the reason you decided to start blogging? Has that reason changed over time?

I think this is something I’ve talked about before; I started blogging because I was looking desperately for a way to ask a real person a question in real time about a specific sex toy I was considering. I’d already wasted a few hundred dollars on toys that didn’t work for me and I just had a question! In 2008, there weren’t a ton of reviewers. So I found my answer by way of finding a blogger. I decided I wanted to do it too! But back then, there weren’t blogs solely about sex toys, or very few. So I was a sex blogger. I wrote juicy stories and diary entries and took half-nekkid pics to entice readers and get traffic to my reviews. I had a lot of fun and it did me good, for a while. But then I felt the need to be more “serious” and “professional” and stopped wanting to flirt with other bloggers and always be “sexy”. I just wanted to rant about the stupid sex toy industry shit and write reviews and do my research. 

2. If your site had a goal, what would it be? How do you feel you’re doing with that goal, right now? How do you feel you’ve done with that goal over all?

Hmmm. I wanted traffic. Then, I wanted affiliate earnings. Then, I wanted to educate people. I wanted to research and educate and peel back the curtains. I wanted to cause a ruckus and make people think. 

I’m not the top, but I’m doin all right. 

3. How has blogging influenced your life?

The people I’ve met, the friends I’ve made. I see the world differently. I am a better person. I am so much more educated about LGBTQ issues (I grew up quite sheltered, really) and gender issues and all of that. I am more open-minded. I am overjoyed to finally find people who get me, who are similar to me. I’ve traveled, I’ve had experiences that I would never have had. 

And I more sex toys than I know what to do with. 

4. What is your favorite part of blogging?

When I can help someone narrow down their choices in finding them their perfect sex toy. 

5. What website on the entire web, besides your own, do you spend the most time on?

Twitter and Wikipedia, probably. 

6.  Gotta ask one toy question. Name your absolute favorite sex toy. (More than one is fine.)

I normally hate, detest, “choose 1 thing as your favorite forever” questions. I’m awful at it, I cannot choose, I cannot decide. But this? I got this. We-Vibe Tango. It’s no contest. I could give up everything else I own, truly, and be fine with my Tangos. 

7. What is the most important thing about you that you want everyone to know?

I am weird. I can be awkward. You might think I don’t like you, but I probably do. I’m terrible with maintaining contact and friendships in the way most people do it, but I adore and treasure my friends no less. People have said I’m intimidating, I’m scary, I’m not approachable. I’m truly baffled by the wide berth some give me. I’m just a socially-awkward, slightly-extroverted introvert who is shit at small talk but engage me about a topic I like and I’m babbling away. 

My nominations are: 

KaraSutra

Marvelous Darling

Naughty Reenie

JoEllen, the Redhead Bedhead

Sugarcunt

Bex Talks Sex

But yet….these aren’t the only blogs I love. These aren’t the only bloggers I love. Look there in the sidebar, because there’s so many fantastic people writing great stuff. 

 Posted by at 3:09 pm
May 052015
 

After my recent review of an atrocious Lovehoney product, the Rockbox Finger, quite a few people exclaimed “Oh! That was the pumpkin-knife design!” so I knew I had to watch the short series on Netflix. While I watched I took notes of my reactions to various things. All episodes have one or two situations they’re dealing with but heavily pad the footage by showing the customer service gals on the phone or checking in with the returns department. 

Frisky Business, Episode 1: 

Well, it’s 3 minutes into the first episode and I’ve already spied more porous sex toys than I ever care to see for a lifetime. Sadface! Seeing the Sqweel in “action” for the first time; it looks fucking terrifying. A warp-speed wheel of slapping little tongues? How does that simulate actual oral sex?

We’re introduced to the returns department! Wow. “Upwards of 200 products are returned every day”. We’re shown the things people are returning. Roy seems like he’d be awesome to work with. 

This is interesting – If a box of toys comes in and it’s ripped (the packaging? the shipping box? they’re not clear) then the contents get gathered up and the staff gets to take home whatever they want. Rejects from the staff box that have hung around a few weeks get taken to a local charity shop. As they are saying this, the camera pans to a bunch of pocket pussies. That would be a damn interesting thrift store. 

HERE IT IS! THE FINGER! Oh my god. They weren’t kidding. The inventor basically stuck a Wet For Her brand Two Finger Extender Sleeve on a pumpkin carving blade. Lovehoney Owner Neal is shown numerous times taking it around to female employees to get their opinion. Somehow, the prototype seems to be less noisy than the real version. Many ladies say that it seems like they’re on the right track, with some changes. Some say that it’s a bit much at first; Neal tells them confidently that “it’ll be adjustable so you can start slowly”. I guess that bit of logic was trashed!

Next they show former Lelo founder Eric Kalen looking at the design, and it’s a second, more refined prototype. Every valid suggestion that the ladies in the office give is shot down for design reasons. At this point, the button isn’t on the very end like the final design, but close to it. One gal shows how she would hold it and says that the button would do better if it were closer to the insertable part, but Eric shows that there’s 4 batteries and clearly, no room for a well-thought-out button placement. Several people, even Neal, raise the point about the extreme noise being a negative to which Eric replies that it’s “part of the experience”. Shade is thrown, side-eyes are flying. It really seems that the final product is so much worse than even the prototypes.

Nobody discussed the pinching factor on camera, and it almost seems like it’s less of an issue with the prototypes. The battery cap on the prototypes is different, and seems to be easy to use. So with all the talk about “yes, we’ll change that” and whatnot, I can actually see why people would pre-order this atrocity after seeing the show. It is absolutely shameful that the final product made it out the door as it is. 

Frisky Business, Episode 2:

We see a lot of Annabelle Knight, their product video review personality, in this episode. There’s a part where she’s showing off half a dozen or so low-quality, porous dildos. They’re prepping to do demonstration videos for them. Annabelle says that she normally does video for the luxury toys but is branching out. The look of despair tinged with what I imagine to be disgust and resignation, as she looks at the small pile of disgusting dildos really tells me all I need to know. I like her. 

Also in this episode they are choosing the winner of the latest Design competition. During the final round-table meeting, we are introduced to Eric Kalen again and Tracey Cox a “sexpert” who has her own line of sex toys via Lovehoney. During the description of a toy that is meant for the g-spot she is explaining what it’s meant to do, to the camera, and then says “IF the g-spot even exists”. 

*sigh*

Frisky Business, Episode 3:

Nothing special to note, really. A trade show, some Betty Page stuff. More customer service and returns dept peeks which is clearly how every episode will go.  I’m wondering how I’ll get through all 6 episodes. My desire to watch is flagging.

Frisk Business, Episode 4:

We get to see them setting up Lovehoney Australia. In order to see how they should market, I guess, there have been polls on what each region of Australia likes. Results for Brisbane – Anal Ease. Anal Ease?!?! REALLY???? Nooooo please no! Australia, just say no to Anal Ease!!

Frisky Business, Episode 5:

Coco de Mer – I somehow had no idea the two were related! Coco de Mer is their “upscale” boutique shop in the heart of London, looks like. They only carry the luxury toys; they definitely carry all of the overpriced Lelo Special Edition toys. Here one of the shop runners is showing Shiri Zinn glass dildos and talking about temperature play – they suggest putting it in the microwave. Um……no. Absolutely not. For one, that’s dangerous to the user and for two, these Shiri Zinn dildos are the silly ones with rhinestones and metal glued to them. She may have also recommended the freezer for the cold aspect, I’m not sure. I was too horrified by the microwave comment to pay attention anymore.

And another “high end” spin-off of Lovehoney is their Blue Bella home parties – basically they sell lingerie for skinny white women. No lie, there is not a single POC in their photographs. They claim to carry sizes up to 26, but when you click on 26 or 24 or even 22 you get a big ole “there’s nothing here” page. Erm. Absolutely no real plus-size options. You might find a few things that would fit US Size 16, but it’s primarily just a couple of pairs of panties.  

Frisky Business, Episode 6:

My interest is really at the bottom rung about now, since each episode has been very padded with returns department moments and customer service department moments. Every close-up shot they show in the warehouse is a cheap, porous item. Most of the returns are cheap, porous items. I’m just so sick of seeing cheap, porous toys!!! Ugh. They are talking about how they have to rename very crude products like Pipedreams “Fuck Me Silly”; well, here’s a thought: don’t fucking list this shit? They claimed to have come about as a company specifically “friendly to women” yet they carry sexist/racist products like this Pipedream line.

New Trend discussed: “Sex toys for men are on the rise”. Ha. Punny.

Final Thoughts?

Despite the fact that the episodes started to bore me after awhile, I enjoyed the behind the scenes look, overall. It reminds me that I could never actually work in a warehouse like Lovehoney because I wouldn’t be able to tolerate seeing all the manky, porous sex toys in droves. And overall, the people there mostly seem damn cool – they seem like people I’d like to work with and know. Besides seeing the tons of porous, gross toys the other thing that concerned me is their famed 1-year return policy – I’m not keen on the specifics of their return program. Unless I missed it, they never explain what their criteria are for deciding if something was used or not.  I saw many items trashed, but also a few were determined “unused” and put back on the stock shelves. I would feel better knowing the exact criteria used because honestly, if I clean something well and the packaging isn’t tamper-proof I think it could look new & unused. 

 Posted by at 2:17 pm
Mar 222015
 

Showing a jar of toxic sex toys on the left with a lot of clear liquid in the jar and a jar of silicone sex toys on the right with no liquid and no damageThe first official lab test of sex toys happened in 2006, with results confirming that toxic sex toys were a big problem. But the industry has come so far since then. While there are still many stores that stock a lot of gross, crappy sex toys, the overall percentage of porous materials in sex toys is on the decline. Beyond that, it seems like phthalates are on the decline, as well, in porous toys. But does this make them any more safe? Can the major companies be trusted? And really, what proof do we have that the cheap sex toys are safe?

In The Beginning…

Back in 2006, Badvibes.org, headed up by toxic-toy pioneer Jennifer Pritchett of The Smitten Kitten, had a whole bunch of sex toys tested at a lab. They did a material analysis, looking to find out if something called silicone was really silicone, and to see what level of phthalates were found. The results were staggering – high measures of phthalates. In the years since, savvy consumers simply tried to avoid the porous materials by sticking with silicone but until recently we had many shady companies using the word “silicone” when the product was actually made of a thermoplastic elastomer, rubber or PVC. So another pioneer, Metis Black, came up with the flame test. It took a long while to really understand the nuances of the flame test and how any given material would react. We thought that pure silicone could never burn up and disintegrate but found out that when the sample is thin and is a softer, stretchier silicone burning and material destruction can and will happen. I found that out when I decided to get the Jimmyjane Hello Touch tested at the same lab that Badvibes.org used.

Recently Lab-Tested Sex Toys

Then, Dildology tested a Doc Johnson dildo labeled as “phthalates-free PVC with added Sil-a-gel” to see what was up. True to PVC nature, the dildo had an awful odor. Lab results came back which indicated that phthalates were present. This test was run July 2013. In September of 2014, Badvibes.org again sent out a large batch of sex toys to the same lab for testing; including the infamous James Deen PVC dildo. The lab results on the James Deen dildo showed a compound that ends in -phthalate when Dildology had it tested, but the Badvibes test came back with a different percentage of compounds and a plasticizer called “sebacic acid dibutyl ether“. In addition, every single other item that Badvibes had tested September 2014 came back showing zero phthalates. Despite a chemical found that has phthalate in the name1 , what was found is a non-phthalate plastic softener. The only bit of “bad” found in the tests from September 2014 was a Pipedream product called “Silicone Lil’ Pearl Pleasure Sleeve” that wasn’t silicone at all, of course, but a compound that looks like it’s similar to what the Screaming O rings are made of and seems to be considered non-toxic.

Since we know that the industry is not regulated and that manufacturers can lie on their product packaging (or, in the case of Screaming O, have a years-long miscommunication from the material supplier result in years and millions of packages incorrectly labeling the product as a type of silicone, an error that was not of malicious intent), we’ve been very reluctant to trust. Just because the 2014 Badvibes test showed no phthalates doesn’t mean they’ve been eradicated. One item they didn’t test that I would love to get tested is anything from the Pipedream Basix collection, but alas I have no spare money to do more testing. Further, there’s something else I want to point out – this supposed Sil-a-gel additive that Doc Johnson uses in their porous PVC items which is supposed to basically be an antimicrobial? I see no evidence of anything other than PVC and plasticizer in both lab tests of the James Deen dildo. Maybe it’s something that wouldn’t show up in the FTIR test the lab ran? I don’t know. Many people who own a Doc Johnson product advertised as containing Sil-a-gel experienced burning, itching and redness of the genitals and report a very strong shower-curtain-perfumey smell.

Not Enough Studies

Here’s the thing – there are chemicals and materials in play that we don’t know much about. We don’t really know how they’ll affect us when used as a sex toy. Some people report that for the minimal time a sex toy is inside your body, there’s no way that phthalates, if present, are going to cause damage to your endocrine system. Hell some people believe that phthalates aren’t harmful to us at all! I don’t know of any studies done on people who used phthalates-ridden sex toys for years. If someone did get sick, get cancer, etc…..what are the chances that that illness could even be traced back to their sex toy use? Some people might say that because we do not know, we should not worry. I say that because we do not know we should err on the side of caution – stick to pure, safe, chemically-stable non-porous materials like silicone, glass, medical-grade metals, properly coated wood and properly glazed ceramic as well as hard ABS plastics.

Is PVC Toxic?

It’s commonly said in our industry that PVC without phthalates isn’t toxic. This isn’t what everyone believes2. A recent study of Dollar Store items showed a lot of toxic chemicals in their stuff, and I felt that the study hit home for our industry – just because a person cannot afford the current cost of most non-porous sex toys, doesn’t mean they should be saddled with the unhealthy chemicals. So when the people who buy, for example, a Doc Johnson PVC dildo with added Sil-a-gel experience itching and burning and redness….are they reacting to the toxins in PVC that are NOT phthalates? Or are they reacting to whatever this Sil-a-gel stuff is, if it exists?

It’s Still Porous

I also say that even if the material in question is non-toxic (like most TPR/TPE type elastomers) it is still porous, and that is still a major concern. Porous sex toys can never be sanitized much less sterilized; they should never be shared between non-fluid-bonded partners; and you should never use the same porous toy both vaginally and anally. The porous sex toys can hang on to bacteria, mildew and other fungi, cleaning chemicals that you thought you rinsed off, and so on. Since the materials are not chemically stable, as they break down they will feed these microorganisms back to your body. I have read many comments on places like Amazon where people bought what is claimed to be a TPR, non-toxic sex toy and experienced the burning and itching that is associated with phthalates. Could they be mislabeling the material? Sure. Could the porous material be hanging on to the chemicals used in the manufacturing process like mold release agents? Sure. It could be anything.  In this age of all the “phthalate-free” claims, I get plenty of feedback from people who’ve experienced long term chemical burn problems.

Will a Condom Protect You?

The party line has been “cover it with a condom” but how did the collective we arrive at that? Just because condoms can prevent pregnancy and STIs doesn’t mean they can be put on a chemically-laden bacteria-infected porous dildo and keep you safe. But let’s think about this logically for a minute – the jar of melted sex toys that I have, and the recent Smitten Kitten jar both displayed oils seeping out of the materials. From what I know of the materials in my own jar, only one item was PVC with probable phthalate content. The rest were a TPR material, as best as I can guess. And there’s a lot of oil in that jar! And guess what doesn’t play nice with oil? Latex condoms. There have been no tests run to see if the latex will break down enough for the irritating chemicals, bacteria or fungus to get through. If I could do this test myself, I would. I don’t know who to contact to run such a test. There is one possibility and that is using nitrile condoms (like the FC2 Female Condom) or polyurethane condoms (like Japanese import Okamoto or Trojan Supra) but have you seen the prices on these? Also, they’re not going to cover the entire toy (leaving nothing exposed is the best protection) PLUS they’re probably not big enough for the extra-large specialty toys that are cost-prohibitive when made in silicone.  If you’re going this route, or any route with a porous material, I recommend replacing it after 4-6 months (4 months for anal use, to be safe). This estimate is not scientific, but based on my own prior uses with toys and watching how long it took for them to change color, get oily, etc.

Will the Industry Change?

I understand budgets. I understand that by the time you save up for a $30 sex toy, something else will have happened to your $30 that is more important than a sex toy and you’re back to the original $15 you could spare which means buying a PVC or Jelly toy. I understand it; I wish I had a better fix for you. If a polyurethane condom is something you have access to and can purchase in small doses per use, and if it’ll cover your toy completely, then go that route. I cannot stress enough that this isn’t ideal. I don’t want to tell you that you’re not worthy of masturbation and enhancing partnered sex. This just means we need to see a change in the industry. The more silicone purchases that are made, the more companies will understand the need and make changes.

I think that the change has already started, just by looking at percentages of stock. Let’s look at Lovehoney UK, as an example. For dildos, they have 299. 100 of them are made from a safe, non-porous material – silicone, glass or metal. That’s 1/3. It’s okay, but I’d like to see it at 2/3 or more. For vibrators, they stock 391. Looks like roughly 215 of them are a safe, non-porous material – silicone or hard plastic. That’s a little over half which is good but again I’d like to see that number a lot higher. Here’s one more example – sextoy.com, a US-based site that I do not recommend to my readers, currently lists close to 2000 dildos on their site. A little over 1200 of them are made from a porous, potentially toxic material – this leaves only 800 non-porous options. I think that the companies that make many hundreds of sex toys could make their silicone sex toys even cheaper if they manufactured more. The bigger the bulk order is for material, the more their cost goes down, right? That’s my thought, anyways. There needs to be a large selection of truly safe AND very affordable sex toys.  It is beginning to happen – we’re seeing under-$30 pure silicone dildos (in small doses) from companies who previously only produced toxic, porous junk.

This post references research I’ve done and is my personal opinion. In the end, you make up your own mind but I’m going to give you the tools to be as well-informed as possible. I would ideally like to see my readers ditch the porous materials (except for penetrable toys, that’s largely unavoidable) but I also know that there are gaps in the industry. I do feel that a porous, “non-toxic” material has the potential to be harmful, depending on what is living in the pores. I know that lower-end mass production companies might have heavy metals in their pigments, something that is ignored but still a toxicity problem. I know that we have no idea about the effect of these phthalate-replacements on our bodies when used in a sex toy. I know that VOC’s are a problem, and it is present in the cheap materials that have a strong odor. We still have a long way to go. To see a change we need to continue to educate and be vocal and encourage readers and customers to “vote with their money” by buying the silicone options when ever possible. Shop at reputable retailers like the ones listed here, and choose wisely. If you’re ever uncertain, ask me!

  1. Dioctyl terephthalate
  2. Said in the article “One PVC shower curtain can release as many as 108 volatile organic chemicals into the air.”
 Posted by at 12:34 pm