Lilly

Dec 182017
 

This is a photo of Kenton wearing a giant plushie vulva, and his head is where the clitoris would be. He's emulating Zach of Buzzfeed who wore a similar costume in a Buzzfeed video and adorably realized his head was the clitoris and was very excited. As part of a new-to-me end-of-the-year series of posts, I’m telling you about my favorite things from 2017. Today I’m talking about my favorite dildo maker of 2017 – Kenton Johnston, the singular person behind Funkit Toys. Regular readers may be scratching their heads at this point because I named Funkit Toys as one of my favorite brands of 2016, but even though Kenton is the brains and creator and talent and silicone-pourer-and-puller of Funkit Toys, Kenton is also just…Kenton. a lovely human. Yes, the sex toys he creates a fabulous but today I wanna talk about the person.

My reasons for picking Kenton are varied and sundry but many can be condensed to: go look through his tweets. He’s engaged with the community in the best, most respectful way. He is an ally and a fighter for causes. He’s quick with the puns and the deeply-geeky science-y answers. He is always down to answer my science questions and then re-answer them so that my brain understands them. He is humble, kind, ethical, punny and engaging. He understands that a sex toy does not need to be created or prescribed “for women” or “for men”, but for body parts – and often, not even then! As he explains here the same design can often work really well for stimulating g-spots AND prostates, or creating a fullness sensation desired by both butts and vaginas. 2017 has, overall, been a trash fire of a year but so many times this dude had me laughing my stress away.

Kenton has battled alongside the social justice warrior bloggers and helped behind the scenes. His creativity with sex toys knows few bounds. Sure, he was the first person to create clear silicone dildos with vivid swirls of color buried below the surface, but have you seen these bases? Fucking genius design. He is creating unique items and doing SUCH a good job.

The personal is the political and 2017 has seen my tolerances for bullshit from companies/brands/creators at an all-time low. I want to spotlight and support the people and brands who have gone above and beyond simply “not fucking up”, but catapulted into allies, friends and folks that the rest of the industry should model themselves on. While I will avoid recommending that you, dear readers, spend your dollars supporting companies run by jerks, I will also be purposely pointing you towards good humans making good things. Supporting the good humans is good for the world.

Don’t take just my word for it, here’s what others have to say about Kenton:

Lunabelle, Ninja Sexology: “I love his relentless drive to Do Better, in the realms of both education and product development. The NoFrillDo project is an example…he saw a need, figured out a way to fill it AND spread the word about body safe materials. And he does it all in a way that’s fun and engaging. Also, he plays pun/song lyric games with me and I will love that forever.”

Sandra of SheVibe: “Kenton is a wonderful amalgam of Artist, Scientist, Activist and Storyteller. His heart is pure and his aim is true.”

Ruby Goodnight, blogger and US brand rep for Doxy: “Kenton just GETS what it’s like to be a small scale manufacturer when you’re up against the mega-corporations. He doesn’t try to compete with them, but he does try and be better than them. He KNOWS his market – and he listens. He doesn’t try to create the ‘better version of this dildo that everyone is doing’ – he makes his own path.”

Logan, blogger at TheNotice: “Oh my god. Don’t even get me started. I have a huge Internet crush on Kenton LET US NEVER SPEAK OF IT AGAIN. He’s just such a genuinely good bean and he’s so funny and committed and it does Things to my brain.”

Sugarcunt writes: “He’s so fun! Our impromptu duets at SFS17 are a super fond memory”

Kate, lover of puns and blogger of GirlyJuice states: “He takes genuine delight in a good pun. I love connecting with fellow punny weirdos.”

Caitlin who writes at Sexational said: “Kenton is a hilarious goof but also one of the most earnest people I know. He’s always trying to be a better person, a better friend, a better creator. Always considering how what he brings into the world can effect it, whether that’s being a goof with his friends or designing new things.”

Indigo says: “I love that he is really willing to engage customers. Email, Twitter, etc are all open for folks. And on top of that, he is human. Like he clearly has compassion, isn’t a robot or in it for money, etc.”

Taryn eloquently summed it up with “SAME” because, yeah. Same.

Do you know Kenton? Do you also love him? TELL ME WHY IN THE COMMENTS!

We’ve seen one-person dildo makers come and go, but I really hope Sir Kenton of Funkit sticks around. He is creating the most unique stuff AND it is modular – meaning it all works together, solidified as a Kit, a very Fun Kit, by that unique base he’s created. To check out his work visit his site or the items SheVibe is stocking. You should also check out his Patreon where you can sign up for cool extras, discount codes and more. And for fuck’s sake, follow him on Twitter. You will not be disappointed!

Image above courtesy of Kenton.

 Posted by at 8:40 am
Dec 132017
 

SheVibe's cover art featuring themselves! As part of a new-to-me end-of-the-year series of posts, I’m telling you about my favorite things from 2017. And while SheVibe has been a Favorite Thing for years now they upped their game this summer with a site redesign that prompted my interview below. You may see them as just another sex toy retailer so I wanted to share with you a little insight on the many reasons I love SheVibe. I’m so privileged to know these folks, and to have gotten to know and understand so much about the way they operate on a personal and professional level which isn’t something we get with many companies. We don’t get to peek behind the curtain. Consider this your peek!

Dangerous Lilly and SheVibe – The Love Story Begins

After working with a lot of retailers in my earliest years of reviewing I slowly grew to be somewhat of an anomoly in the reviewers circle – I had a “primary partner” for a retailer, who would supply most of my toys and get most of my affiliate links. This started to really pay off with drastically increased sales at my first primary partner, EdenFantasys. Yes, they’re terrible and we know that now but I’d stuck by them despite early issues because, at the time, there were so many features of the site I liked for my readers – plus their site was responsible for 75% of my earnings, earnings I badly needed in 2011 and 2012 due to being out of work. But shit went down in 2013 that I couldn’t abide; I made the decision to hitch my wagon to SheVibe for supplying most of my review items and I started slowly changing my EF links to SV links. 

I first worked with SheVibe briefly towards the end of 2010 when they reached out for me to review the Vamp Greta. I wouldn’t review again for them until 2013 with my second Fucking Sculptures (RIP) glass dildo and I’m pretty sure the SheVibe team had reached their wits end with me on that review – I kept bringing up the fact that the FS items were so unique that a stock image of each style wouldn’t exactly work, that they might sell more if each item was shown off and measured. They eventually took my suggestion, though, and seemed to not dislike me too much because a few months later Sandra and I had lunch1 and a bond was cemented. Her passion and compassion shone through as we traded horror stories and insider tips. I knew immediately that I would grow to love her more – she was like the ultra-cool older sister I’d always wanted.

Let Me Count the Ways

My SheVibe avatar as their image for "silicone dildos" I’ve written a lot in the past about why I’m so devoted to SheVibe and my devotion only grows stronger, in part because I know and love the owners as friends. I know how they run their business and I know their ethics. I understand their business decisions and still recommend them over anybody else despite the fact that they carry a (relatively small) number of porous, realistic dildos and vibrating dildos. Although, happily, they have changed their business model over time to drop a large number of porous material internal vibrators. Their stock is very different from many other larger retailers who literally carry everything the distributors offer. SheVibe curates their stock while being open to supporting up-and-coming brands, indie brands, and adding – and removing – products to the site based on customer and reviewer feedback. One recent example is the HIKY – All it took was my bad experience and a confirmation experience for SheVibe to drop the dangerous HIKY2. They act quickly to remove dangerous or painful sex toys and lube.

In the four years I’ve been sending most of my readers to SheVibe I have never had a single complaint about customer service, shipping, returns, product issues, etc. Not a single complaint. I know the SheVibe staff – I know who is dealing with the customers, and this hasn’t changed over the years. They don’t have high staff turnover like so many sex toy companies.  I know the lengths they will go to to help their customers have the best experience possible and get them the most accurate answers. While there are other small feminist shops who also have great ethics, customer service and education – shops I also highly highly recommend3, these shops lack the large variety of stock online that most of my readers usually want. 

This year SheVibe did their first truly major website design overhaul which has incorporated ideas I’ve long nudged for, like the ability to filter by size and material. Their art has expanded to be more intersectional and diverse; something they’re still expanding and improving – personally and professionally. No matter what the topic or issue I know, without a doubt, that Sandra, Thor and the rest of the SheVibe team truly and honestly gives a fuck. Lots of fucks. I have never felt so heard and valued when dealing with a sex toy retailer as I do with them, and I know I’m not alone. They’re the type of company, and friends, you want in your back pocket when life deals you lemons. They’re generous with everything they have to give.

Whether it’s their above-and-beyond customer service, their support for smaller brands, their support of the blogging and sex ed community or their simple willingness to take advice or critcism and create positive change, the SheVibe team shines like a beacon. In a world where literally every month this year some company has made an egregious error in ethics or judgment I have the utmost faith that SheVibe will never be out of my favor. Empathy, humility, generosity, sincerity – these are the traits that come to mind when I think about Sandra and Thor.

SheVibe’s Origin Story

Lilly: Why THIS business? What convinced you to start up a sex toy retail site?

Sandra: When Thor and I met, we immediately started experimenting with sex toys. At that time – 14 years ago now – most of the sites were kind of hinky; lots of jelly, misleading descriptions, mistakes with our orders and widespread misogyny. We thought we could make a better go of it. We had both run small businesses and figured we could vastly improve the sex toy business model.

L: Do you remember what your first sale was for?

S: Yes! It was for a weight loss supplement called Lipodrene on July 4th 2006. The site started out much differently than it is now – there are so many products and categories that we have ditched along the way (including brownies, shoes, mainstream movies and vitamins).

L: Let’s talk about the early years especially the magazine. That seemed like a LOT of work with all the advice columns. How did you get people to write in with questions? What made you decide to create all those different characters!

S: Ugh, the magazine was a beast. We had no idea what we were doing, but Thor and I fancied ourselves decent writers and thought we could create interest and indexable content for the site by having the companion “magazine”. MySpace helped a lot back in those days – we are still friends with some of those folx. We would get questions from them, some from our immediate circle of friends, and some questions were our own – meaning we wanted to learn about specific situations relating to our own experiences and decided answering those questions would be fun and interesting. The characters were the backbone for the theme of the site which was Superheroes (before Superheroes were cool, ahem). We wanted each of them to have diverse backgrounds and we really tried to make their stories relatable. We cringe looking back on it now, but at the time it felt really forward thinking and progressive.

Stock the Stock

SheVibe Lumberjill coverL: You are known for carrying “indie” or smaller single-person company creations where many other online-only retailers do not. How do you decide what to carry (be it from their line, or deciding on a business, period)

S: Most often, we select indie brands after they reach out to us or have been recommended by a trusted blogger. We practice due diligence by checking out their social media culture and their website to see how they are presenting themselves to the world. If we like what we see, we’ll bring in a small run and see how it does. It’s very rare that a brand takes off quickly; it can often take years for a newbie brand to take hold. But if we have to re-order even just once within a year, we’ll stick with them. It’s not easy and it’s a tough business to navigate. Very often, these are artisan pieces that are pricey (and worth every penny) so the public needs a gentle education on why they’re worth it. The blogging community has been invaluable in conveying how important these brands are.

L: Question from a reader: “how can small brands position themselves without losing the plot trying to get into retail?”

S: There’s no magic bullet. The long (and short) answer is: you do everything yourself and you do it well. SheVibe grew as a company by consistently keeping down costs while slowly building a loyal following. To this day we do EVERYTHING in house. We don’t outsource. From accounting to marketing to coding to photography and beyond, we do it all ourselves. Yes, it’s a ton of work – and it’s how you build a brand. We’re probably the poster child for “if you want something done right…”. Chances are, if you’re lacking in any of these significant skill sets, you’ll have a more challenging go of it.

L: You carry so many things I love and have requested but I’ve noticed some brands come and go over the years. What makes you decide to stop carrying a toy or line?

Thor: A few things: It doesn’t sell. We can’t source it reliably. The quality is consistently compromised. The manufacturer is cutting corners. Frequent customer dissatisfaction. It’s that simple.

L: You’ve been in business a long time and have seen many changes – so what are the next trends you expect to see in sex toys?

T: You’re going to see a more prominent focus on penis toys. Virtual reality, air pulsation, variances on the “stroker” format. Technology will play a big role, somewhat awkwardly at first. Silicone will continue to dominate and we’re hoping body safe toys will become more and more affordable.

Behind the Art

That glorious time when SheVibe featured Epiphora and I on their coverL: Your monthly cover art ideas seem unending! How do you decide on the monthly art?

T: The SheVibe team has a creative meeting every Wednesday. Covers are selected from a variety of source material. We’ll promote a manufacturer or a new toy. We’ll pull from pop culture. We’ll also do covers paying homage to those we love and/or respect in our industry. Once in a while, it’s a mini-operetta! Multiple covers will tie-in to each other. It really varies. This year, there’s a consistent element that runs through every cover… Can anyone guess what it is?!

L: The comic strips in each category are also something unique to you – what gave you that idea?

T: We are geeks. One of the partners is a comic book artist. We wanted to be different and make people feel comfortable. Comic panels seemed relatable and fun. That’s really all there was to it.

L: How did you decide on the style of art you wanted?

T: It all comes down to Alex Kotkin. He’s a very talented comic book artist and we went with his expertise in this area. In the end, it just worked!

L: Many retailers use, at most, bland photos or over-the-top sexy images that feel like they could appear on any random adult site, but your art stands out (as I’m sure it was meant to). What made you focus on art so much throughout the site?

T: The art allows us to present ideas, promotions and subject matter without the graphic (and sometimes grating) visuals many adult sites rely on. We wanted to make people comfortable shopping with us. The art is disarming and it seems to make people smile.

Respect and Karma

L: What terms do you like and dislike for sex toys? (pleasure devices, sensuality hardware, etc)

T: We try not to employ terms that “dumb down” or disrespect the user. Sandra hates “naughty” and we all dislike vulgar product descriptions. We can’t always rewrite product copy but we always try and modify the especially egregious. Sometimes specific terminology indexes better with search engines and in those cases, we’re at the mercy of the web…

SheVibe Blogsquad posterL: Another reader question: “There are some sketchy sex toy retailers out there. What methods do you use to get customers to trust you? “

T: That’s easy. We always do right by our customers. We never lie. It’s part of our corporate culture. SheVibe practices Karma. That’s the best you can do and so far, we think we’ve built a great deal of trust with our customers. If we’re wrong – we own it, but we work hard at not being wrong.

L: This year’s overhaul was huge – what prompted it and what will folks see as the biggest and best changes?

T: A few reasons: Accessibility was a primary factor. We now present the same way regardless of the device you’re using to access our site. We wanted to incorporate faceted search. This gives our customers more options when trying to find that perfect toy. We wanted to utilize modern technologies to increase speed, security, reliability and customer experience. We feel we’ve accomplished all of these objectives with the new site, but we’re always making improvements.

L: What has been the best part of this adventure over the last 11 years? The worst?

S & T: SheVibe has always considered “the worst” to be a gift and part of our learning experience, we try not to dwell on the negatives. Yes, we’ve had challenges and heartache but we don’t let those events define us.

The best? Hands down – it’s the human experience and culture at our company. We were lucky enough to form a partnership of creative energy. Combined, our small staff incorporates expertise in graphic design, photography, original art, web coding, advanced technologies and years of business management. Most significantly, we are all like-minded social justice warriors and share in our triumphs and defeats with equal measure. We all love each other and that’s rare in the workplace.

~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~

Thanks for reading, folks. I realize that some of this was incredibly effusive and mushy but when I love something, I love it. I’m as generous with my words of love as my words of loathing. I hope this gives you a little more understanding on why I refer you so much to SheVibe. There is no absolutely perfect retailer, I’ve found, but the SheVibe team has a level of compassion that is rarely matched; I have no doubts about the longevity of their success and I have no doubts about the level of care you’ll get as a customer. I believe in supporting businesses that are run well by decent people and SheVibe gets that hard-earned stamp of approval.

  1. I live a few hours from SheVibe Central and drive past it in my travels to my homestate
  2. They’ve decided against a sex toy based on my one bad experience before, and only didn’t this time because I wasn’t certain that the incident wasn’t related to the fact that the battery died mid-suction. Once we all thought about it for a little bit, knew that that could happen to someone else, and then sure enough quickly were told about another person’s evil experience, they dropped it from the line-up
  3. To name just a few: Smitten Kitten, Sugar of Baltimore, Early to Bed, SheBop, Come as You Are, Self Serve, Vibrant
 Posted by at 9:49 am
Dec 122017
 

For years now I’ve kept up a tradition of talking about the Best (and Worst) things I’ve reviewed over the prior year. But this year I looked at my reviews (lacking though they are) and found that there were actually very few things I reviewed and loved. I could make a list of the worst, easily. My goodness so many things let me down – whether they were loud and weak, over-promising and under-delivering, simply not worth the hype and cost, the cause of literal injury and pain or pretty okay except for some bafflingly unfortunate button placement. Many others just left me bored. But love? Adoration? Not this year. At least, not that I’ve had time to review, yet.

I dealt with a lot of personal bullshit this year, while also feeling the terror of my worst fear coming true: Trump as president. Depression, anxiety, and stress played a big role in my life this year and kept me from giving a shit about a lot of things – one being this blog. I’m trying to get back here, though. Our patience for bullshit hit an all-time low this year, collectively, so it’s no suprise my Blacklist got a little bigger. And while one sex toy brand came off of my Blacklist, another went back on it due to their heinous behaviour at Woodhull 2017 and their complete lack of understanding of consent and privacy. Fuck you, Screaming O

I can tell you that you’ll have a few good reviews to look forward to in 2018, like the Blush Real Nude dildo or the Sola Cue vibrator. I’m hoping that my reviews trend more positive in 2018, at least a little, because I really do want to be able to wholeheartedly recommend some awesome new stuff for you. Yes yes, it’s important to uncover the shitty things and I’ll never stop doing that but, yikes, it’s been bleak. You know I’m picky so let’s hope the industry ups its game!

I did manage to write a couple of articles I really like, topics that have needed to be addressed for a long while now:

You’re going to see posts between now and the new year about some of my favorite things from 2017. I’ll be updating this post as a sort of Master List. And if I can think of anything else or YOU can think of anything else, I’ll add to it!

My favorite sex toy retailer: Shevibe.com! 

My favorite dildo maker: Kenton of Funkit!

My favorite blogging inspirations! Check out why I loved these 11 folx this year. 

My favorite blogging tools: Apps, tools, plugins and more – these are the things that allow me to cobble together a blogging existence.

I never wrote a whole post about it, but one of the best things on social media in 2017 was EffinBirds. I have a folder saved of some of their images that work best as lazy-salty responses to asshats on Twitter; this folder is on Dropbox so that I can have access to these salty gems from any device (which is really crucial). Effinbirds lets me quickly and easily respond to mansplainers and jerks with exactly the amount of effort they deserve: none. I’m embracing my palty number of fucks to give in 2017 and amping up my salt.

Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s December 31st as of the last edit and I have a fuck ton of laundry to do. Can’t start 2018 with nothing to wear, right?

 Posted by at 8:19 pm
Nov 142017
 

Hot Octopuss Queen Bee on a dark blue towel with the edge of a hair dryer in the background. The Queen Bee looks a lot like a hairbrush without bristles. I feel like I must surely intro way too many reviews by telling you how skeptical I was about a product before I even laid hands on it. I do, right? I’m kind of afraid to find the answer and search my blog. But yeah I was skeptical about the Hot Octopuss Queen Bee from the moment I saw it. Sometimes I end up being pleasantly shocked but often I find my instincts were right.

For those unfamiliar with the basis of the Queen Bee’s tech, it’s a spin-off of their flagship penis vibrator, the Pulse. The pulsating plate on the Pulse is able to deliver deep, rumbling “vibrations” to the penis and provide intense stimulation that bested a traditional vibrator for many folks – it was powerful without being numbing and gave a sensation that didn’t even require manual movement (though you could, if you wanted to). Actually I did have a moment, briefly, without so much skepticism and I thought I could like the idea of the Bee, because anything that promises rumbling sensations perks my ears up. But as you may know I’ve been having a lot of trouble with depression this year and especially these last few months. I would use the Bee now and then when I remembered my review commitment and I took strange notes every time I used it, since I wasn’t in the headspace to write any parts of a review back then.

Hot Octopuss Queen Bee Diaries: "Aug. 19, 10 p.m. - The room fills with light from  the headlights of a car sitting at the stop sign  across from my home.  They linger. And linger. I shut off the Queen Bee, worried they're trying  to parse out what that strange sound is. "

In the user manual they give you the basics in many languages. It’s 278 grams, and 229mm long. It takes 4 hours to charge for 1 hour of use. The noise level is “below 55db”. Wait, what? 55db is ….relatively quiet? Not bad, not great. Allow me to get geeky for a minute, please. I promise this has a point. Our last dishwasher was rated at 50db and once we left the kitchen we couldn’t hear it running, not unless there were pots in there. Our current maxes out at 44db and sometimes I can be in the kitchen and not be sure it’s running. Using a sound meter is tricky – how close you hold the item to the microphone affects what it registers, obviously. When I was doing the tests for the Womanizer vs Satisfyer chart I held the items within 2 inches of my phone’s mic. I should probably have held the item as far from the phone as it is from my ears, in use, and I might re-do it that way. 

When I ran the sound meter test on the Hot Octopuss Queen Bee it registered at 48-54db when I held my phone up by my ear and held the Bee at vulva-level. When I held it up to the microphone the same distance as I did with the Womanizer it topped out at 80db. You can hear the Queen Bee in all it’s noisy glory right here.

I also ran the totally-scientific partner-and-cats reaction test. I left my partner in the living room, far end of the room, playing Assassin’s Creed. Central heating was running. I went into the kitchen, two rooms away and stood behind a wall. 80 feet and a wall separating us. He heard the Queen Bee loud and clear, even on low. The cat in the living room was staring at me. The cat in the kitchen was glaring at me with her ears back. 

I shouldn’t have been so surprised that the Queen Bee is disturbingly loud – sometimes the Pulse can be loud, too, but this is a whole new level. The Pulse is nothing like this. The Queen Bee doesn’t have the high-pitched whine of the Magic Wand or the frightening chainsaw-on-speed sound of the Rockbox Finger but it’s still loud and cringe-y. Pitch has a lot to do with it, as well – it doesn’t blend in with anything for most houses so it’ll stand out more.

Hot Octopuss Queen Bee Diaries: "Sept. 3, 7 a.m. - The Bee is so loud that I worry  the noise is confusing my brain into thinking it feels  more than it does, so I put in ear buds & turn on  music - like turning off the car radio so you can  concentrate better in a tricky traffic situation.  It doesnt help. I can still hear it. "

The Hot Octopuss Queen Bee is “not a vibrator”, technically speaking. They talk about oscillation (which in my experience is side-to-side movement) and “pistons”. The plate moves more outwards than side to side – and when I put too much pressure directly down on it, it stops completely.

They also present a “feature” of a gentle “warm-up” sensation, if you will, by using the other side of the wand. This isn’t a feature, it’s a side-effect. I’ve felt more vibration-transference on handles where they didn’t intend for it to happen, than the Queen Bee. The backside sensations are so weak you may not even notice them in use.A close up of the seam along the pulse plate of the Hot Octopuss Queen Bee. It has flakes of dried fluid in it, despite being cleaned just prior to the photo being taken.

This is all accomplished by there being a separate, moving part on the Queen Bee. The pulse-plate is firm, hard TPE that is given some movement via the softer TPE ribbed sides. The downside is that this is a “seam” to beat all seams and the fluids and dust and whatnot that get caught up in there is… a lot. I’ve purposely taken the photo above before cleaning to show you how bad it can get.

Hot Octopuss Queen Bee Diaries: "Oct. 24, 8 p.m. -  I keep turning the Queen Bee this  way and that, trying to find the perfect angle.  Any angle, really. It’s like I can feel the insinuation  of sensation all around my clit but not directly  on it. This is no good. No good at all.  I want to hurl it."

I have the same problem with a pulsating plate as I do a thrusting vibrator: pressure impedes movement. Just like the Mona Wave and Stronic Drei and even the pinchy Rockbox Finger – the Hot Octopuss Queen Bee is dead in the water when it meets my vulva. I feel like my genitals are the Bermuda Triangle for sex toys with movement. But then I remember that physics is a thing and I stop blaming my body and instead get mad about sex toy companies who don’t think about this.

Not only do I like, and need, pressure with the Queen Bee to circumvent my issues with broad stimulation, I have fleshy labia – full. “chubby”.  This means that it feels rumbly if I’m holding it in my hand and apply no pressure but the second my labia surrounds it like an octopus1, all movement of the plate stops and I’m left with this far-away hint of something….somewhere. I can hear it, oh boy can I hear it, but I don’t feel it. Because I can’t feel anything, I can’t even accurately predict if this will work for you if you don’t have much labia, if you have a larger/more visible clit and don’t need pressure. I don’t know what it’s supposed to feel like! I’ve read a few reviews that talks about it feeling like a rapid “tapping” sensation. This hasn’t been my experience.

I have tried holding it at various angles. I have tried uncomfortably spreading my labia. I have tried numerous positions and I just cannot find any pleasure with the Queen Bee. I’m relieved that I can finally write this review and get it off my mind because I just don’t want to ever turn on, much less use, the Queen Bee again. I shouldn’t have to try this hard to get a sex toy to work for me.

I believe the only way this will work for you is if you have minimal labia and do not need pressure. The Queen Bee, despite being gendered by Hot Octopuss and prescribed for “women”, would potentially make a pretty decent alternative to the wrap-around design of the Pulse. Because of the material it seems like you’d be better able to glide the pulsating plate all around your cock2. You still can’t apply pressure and the sensations will be really localized but if you’ve been able to orgasm from vibrations alone, this could work well for you3.

I have one final bone to pick: It’s the button placement. The controls are on the “back side” of the Queen Bee. They’re all in a row, and can’t be seen in use. They take up almost the whole handle so at any given time my fingers are over them, trying to finagle the QB to my vulva while also not pressing the wrong button. I’ve accidentally hit the patterns which means the whole moment is ruined. I’ve been unable to quickly turn it off without removing it from my body and staring at the controls. It’s not intuitive, it’s not easy.

Hot Octopuss Queen Bee Diaries: "Nov. 4, 9 p.m. - Most times after a failed session with  a sex toy I hate, I go find a sex toy I love to finish myself off. But not this time. My arousal is negative  and my vulva just wants to glower at me from  the corner.  My vulva just needs to be left alone."

Like the strange iGino 1 and promising-until-it-wasn’t Revel Body, the Hot Octopuss Queen Bee will deliver different sensations from the vibrators you’re used to but it is not a sex toy for the masses. It is something that a minority of folks will love and appreciate and for $150 I just can’t recommend it. It’s a price point where most folks are going to want as much certainty as I can provide them that the sex toy will work for them and I simply can’t do that.

But wait…there’s more!

Before we go, I want to briefly talk about the materials because you all know that materials matter to me. You know I’m skeptical and use only non-porous products. Happily, the Hot Octopuss Queen Bee uses medical-grade non-porous TPE that can be sanitized. It can also tolerate silicone lube! I absolutely support this material as body-safe. I don’t know that everyone here is as fascinated by materials-talk as I am so instead I’ll link you to the materials FAQ sheet they gave me. You can ask me any question about the material in the comments or via email. If I can’t answer it, I’ll ask H.O.!

 

The Hot Octopuss Queen Bee was provided to me in exchange for an honest review from Hot Octopuss. It’s available directly from them or at my favorite retailer, Shevibe.

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  1. I see what you did there
  2. While the TPE on the backside has some minor texture and seems a bit “grabby”, the main side has no texture (just a print). It isn’t as smooth of a glide as hard plastic but with lube you shouldn’t feel any friction
  3. Yes, that whole paragraph feels a little “trying to squeeze out a silver lining” to me, too.
 Posted by at 10:31 am
Nov 022017
 

Black O-Wand on a bed of oyster shellsI might be the most skeptical reviewer around so when I read claims about the O-Wand being the “most powerful” rechargeable wand vibrator on the market, or claims of rumble, I immediately distrusted the whole thing. Could the O-Wand match the rumbling growl of the Lelo Smart Wand Large1? Would the O-Wand compete with other wand vibrators that talk about being the “most powerful”? I’ll be honest, the thing about the O-Wand that intrigued me at first glance is the handle – curved and ergonomic.  So what made my skepticism turn to distaste? 

Simply put, the O-Wand is trying too hard and not fulfilling its promises and unless you’re new here, you know how much I hate that.

Of all the Gin Joints in all the World

“You only hold me up like this ’cause you don’t know who I really am”. As with most reviews, I tend to do a lot of comparisons to other, similar products. Sometimes this need for comparisons can delay a review because it’s sooo much work. To review the O-Wand I had to drag out the giant box o’ wands; it’s the least-accessed box of sex toys; so ignored, in fact, that I found a dead bee in the box when I started pulling things out to work on this review. How utterly fucking appropriate, as I consider most wands to be irritating and buzzy. Why do I even continue to review wands, since I already know I need pinpoint stimulation and most wands just won’t work for me? The biggest reason is that I get asked for wand recommendations a LOT and folks are usually looking for something rechargeable, powerful, maybe even waterproof and sometimes rumbly. The wand I’ve liked the most over the past 9 years has been the Lelo Smart Wand Large because it is hella rumbly, but I am loathe to recommend any Lelo products for many reasons. I’m constantly on the lookout for a Smart Wand competitor. My definition of “rumbly” is also a bit more narrow/selective than some folks, especially when it comes to wands. When something is that high-powered even too strong of a hint of buzz renders the wand itchy and irritating to my vulva – it literally feels like my labia are being sanded off and oh, my god, the temporary numbess I get from these is overwhelming.

Itchy vulva aside I have other reasons for harping on the “ok but it’s really not truly rumbly” beyond just personal preference and the biggest reason is wand attachments. They simply work a fuck of a lot better on truly rumbly wands. And folks – I wouldn’t call the O-Wand “rumbly”. It’s not quite as buzzy as some wands but that’s about the best compliment I can give it.

There are some comparisons I can’t make. I don’t remember what the Sola Sync felt like, not well enough to make a definitive comparison but I remember feeling it at Woodhull this year (Sola was a Blogger Lounge sponsor one day) and being impressed. I don’t own a Le Wand, nor will I ever, but I got a chance to feel it up when Sarah and I visited a sex toy shop in Boston and the Magic Wand Rechargeable definitely felt a little more rumbly than the Le Wand.

The Patron Saint of Liars and Fakes

“And when it all goes to hell, will you be able to tell me sorry with a straight face”. The marketing copy calls the O-Wand the “most powerful, safest and stylish wand available today”. In many places they call this the “most powerful wand in the world”, and the box further clarifies with “the world’s most powerful rechargeable wand massager”. If you’re going to proclaim “best”, “the most powerful” and other comparative statements in marketing, can you at least try to make it true in some way? The claims made by O-Wand just simply are not true. The motor is really similar to the Magic Wand Rechargeable, but the MWR is a little bit more powerful. Again, I wouldn’t call either wand “rumbly”.

I also wondered about “safest”. What could possibly be more safe than some of the existing wands on the market? There are certain electrical-type tests that all vibrators have to pass if they’re sold in the EU, and pretty much every vibrator out there passes those tests. I referred back to a marketing email from the O-Wand company to see why they make this claim: “Safe: Made from the highest-grade body safe silicone, the OWAND is fully CE certified and boasts an automatic power-off to avoid overheating.” I don’t know of any that are NOT CE-certified, to be honest. And O-Wand is not the only wand to have automatic shut-off: Doxy has it, as does the Magic Wand Rechargeable. I’m pretty sure there are others.

There are also plenty of wand vibrators out there made from 100% body-safe materials. The “highest-grade” crap is just marketing weasel words. It’s silicone – it’s body-safe. You know who else uses silicone? The MWR, the Doxy Die Cast, the Smart Wand, Sola Sync – I could go on and on.

I know what you’re thinking: Who would buy anything if the marketing told the truth about sex toys? There’s making subjective claims and then there’s false advertisement and in my opinion we have the latter. Am I being picky with words? Perhaps.

Don’t You Know Who I Think I Am

“A penny for your thoughts but a dollar for your insights”. The first thing people usually ask about any wand that isn’t the Magic Wand is “will Magic Wand-compatible attachments fit the head?”. People really like attachments because it’s great to be able to turn a single sex toy into a full-on toolbox. The problem with the O-Wand is that the head is kinda egg-shaped. While it’s roughly the same size as the Magic Wand, the shape is different. The shape difference leads to a gap on the sides which causes Magic-Wand compatible caps to move a little AND not be touching all of the head so there’s vibration loss in transference. Not that it matters all that much, though…

Four black O-Wand attachments on a bed of oyster shellsWhen a vibrator is buzzy the buzzy vibrations just don’t travel through any protrusions on the head cap very well – case in point: the Tantus Rumble (which is too mild and buzzy) or the PalmPower (which has multiple issues). The same applies to the O-Wand attachments. The ridiculously-named O-La-La clitoral stimulation cap attempts to give you choices of broad or pinpoint stimulation but so much of the vibrations are lost in translation. Very little activity is felt in the protruding nub inside the cup, and the cup edge’s vibrations are moderate, buzzy, and easily killed with just a little pressure. The O-Spot, their insertable, transfers very little vibration. When I put the same cap on the Smart Wand Large the difference is staggering. The O-Gasm cap, for penises, transfers the most vibrations out of the three caps but again, it’s kinda buzzy. When you put that same cap on the Lelo Smart Wand Large it becomes a powerhouse, penetrating penis vibrator to rival the Hot Octopus Pulse but with vibrating wings.

So Magic Wand compatible attachments will sort of fit the O-Wand and vice versa. There is about a half-inch gap on the very top of O-Wand attachments when I put them on the Smart Wand Large but the protrusions are on the sides so it doesn’t matter. If you do decide to brave it and get the Lelo Smart Wand Large know that there are a few attachments from O-Wand that will work pretty well!

I’m Like A Lawyer With The Way I’m Always Trying To Get You Off

“Last year’s wishes are this year’s apologies”. Let’s get back to the original thing about the O-Wand that intrigued me: the handle. I loved the curved handle of the Lelo Smart Wand but the vibrations travel too well – what’s good for the head isn’t good for the hand and vibrations transfer up the handle fairly intensely. Not so with the Magic Wands or Doxy Wands but their bodies are all straight – great for use in a wand-compatible Liberator mount but not good for me to hold during lay-on-my-back positions. The only good aspect about the O-Wand is the handle and the button placement. The curve of the handle fits my body and the opening in the handle means I don’t need any real grip – I just need to slide my hand in. The buttons are within easy reach for my thumb – of course, that can bite you in the ass if they’re accidentally hit but I find that because I don’t need my thumb to grip, it happens less often. What if these features of the handle don’t matter to you? What’s it got goin for it, then, over the competition? Not much.

The handle is simply not “enough”for me to recommend this over other wands. Yes, it’s waterproof but so is the Smart Wand, the Sola Sync, the Dorr Avond, the Jimmyjane Iconic Wand, and more. Until a recent price drop the O-Wand was the most expensive wand vibrator on the US market – it used to retail at Shevibe for a whopping $249, a full $50 more than even the overpriced Smart Wand. It’s now on par with the Smart Wand, price wise, at $199. At $249 I would never have recommended it. The Magic Wand Rechargeable, which is slightly more powerful and rechargeable, is only $124; if you really want the broad AND the waterproof, you’ll have to pick the Smart Wand. If you want the power and the waterproof you can try the Sola Sync priced at $149.

I don’t hate the O-Wand. But what if I had never been poisoned by the need to prove/disprove their sensationalistic claims, would I be griping so much? I would definitely be bitching about the useless caps, yeah, but overall I would still be bored with the O-Wand. Meh. Salty about the price. I would still say “buy the Magic Wand Wand rechargeable”. A really great, versatile wand is somewhere out there on the sex toy horizon. The O-Wand isn’t it.

 

My thanks to SheVibe for sending me the O-Wand to check out, in exchange for my honest review. Thanks also to Bex, fellow FOB fanboy, for input on the section titles because I needed something to motivate me to write this.

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  1. Hereafter if you see any references in this post to the Smart Wand, please know I mean the Large – the medium is fucking useless
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