Lilly

Jan 012017
 

Traditionally, a lot of the things in this post have been included in my Best & Worst Sex Toys lists but I decided that for 2016, I had a lot to say just about sex toys, and sex toy companies. But also that I had a lot to say about the year in general. I wanted to not be afraid that I was “being too wordy”. You know, in many ways, this hasn’t been a good year. For the country, the world, and even for personal reasons. It certainly hasn’t been my personal worst year but…it’s definitely one for the charts. I hope for a better 2017 personally but have deep fears about the next 4 years overall. This post officially closes the book on 2016 and welcomes 2017. I’m looking to 2017 as some sort of arbitrary reset button that I hope will make things better, somehow. Ridiculous, perhaps, but I’ll take what I can get.

Rankings

Now, you’d think, wouldn’t you, that being ranked as the #1 sex blog on Kinkly’s Sex Blogging Superheros list for 2016 would make me happy, right? Not so much. It came with a lot of strange guilt, mixed feelings, and unease. I still feel uneasy about the whole thing if I’m honest. I’m going to start working on a new sort of un-ranked directory in January, to get exposure to folks without relying on competition.

I also hit the #2 spot on Molly’s Top 100 list, which didn’t make me feel as oogly as Kinkly’s list. Perhaps it’s because I know how she ranks, and it’s not a popularity contest and has strict, laid-out guidelines. Whereas the Kinkly ranking blurb talked only about my reviews, which I don’t think are the absolute best in the business, Molly looks at everything and her words made me feel all warm and fuzzy.

AND Kate named me as one of her 5 Sex-Savvy Superheroes.

I’ve peaked. It’s all downhill from here, folks.

Stuff I Wrote

A few really big projects finally saw the light of day this year – what I’ve dubbed the Great Glass Post which talks about cheap glass, how to test your own items, and what to avoid1. Also, the Big Lube Guide which is constantly being updated. A long-time project, the Jar of Horrors, had its own little “where are they now” post showing photos over the years. The Jar turned 3 this year.

Some research posts I really enjoyed doing included the post about clear silicone vs clear TPR, and a post discussing if there’s any point to putting a condom on your sex toy. I ranted about sex toy copycats and counterfeits and raved about the powerful, rumbling g-spot vibrator options we finally have. After screaming about a really shitty Amazon-only sex toy brand, I wrote a guide on how to report that dodgy sex toy you bought from Amazon before you decided to stick with reputable shops.

I wrote a post about my mantra, “Never Shut Up” about how so many bloggers so often put on their activist hats and how damn important it is that we keep on talking – and condemning unsafe sex toys and lubes. “When we continually reassure our readers that their pleasure is important, their bodies matter and that yes they need to care about the materials of their sex toys and the ingredients of their lubes we are validating that these items are important.” I also wrote about my mental health and how it has affected my libido, and how that has affected my being a sex blogger. 

This year I started reviewing sex toys that are truly new to the industry. They’re so different that I don’t even know what to call them. They’re not a vibrator, really. And definitely not a dildo. They don’t fit in with any existing category. I’m talking about the Womanizer and everything the original model spawned. Writing the review for the Womanizer W100, by the way, was hard. It’s perhaps the most difficult review I’ve ever written because I couldn’t really understand why it was working for me, and who it would work for. Perhaps the most surprising thing: it’s become my preferred clitoral stimulator. Well, the Womanizer PRO40, technically, but really any of the ones I’ve tried are the first thing I’ll reach for now above everything else in my arsenal – yes, even more than the We-Vibe Tango. I know, I’m as surprised as you are.

Stuff Other Folks Wrote

Many fellow bloggers wrote important, insightful, and powerful posts this year. JoEllen’s Surviving a Bully (When You’re 35) spoke to a lot of us. Kate’s “I’m a Good Girl” piece really hit home for me; I identify less with kink these days but I’m a “good girl” through and through. Lorax of Sex got their hands on the awful Lelo Hex condom and showed us what happens when you poke it with a needle – and more importantly educated folks on why this is so bad. Sarah wrote two posts I couldn’t choose between – her post on why she calls companies out is close to my heart just as much as her post “Fat People Aren’t Your Goddamn Punchline“.

Molly bravely agreed to review a truly heinous dildo – you know those reusable heating devices that contain liquid and you click a metal disc inside to solidify the liquid and make it warm? Yeah someone thought that making a dildo like that would be a good idea. Spoiler alert: It’s not. Lunabelle wrote up a guide to buying decent sex toys from Etsy, because too many questionable items are on that site like antler dildos and wax-covered clay dildos. Erika talked to us about arousal nonconcordance, a term I wasn’t familiar with but is super important to understand. And Rose is writing about sex from a chronic illness perspective, which needs to be talked about more in general. So many people deal with various types of chronic pain, disability, and more and yet we’re still sexual beings! Who knew!

Finally, Epiphora wrote about the importance of her name. As someone who has also chosen their own blogger name and will never use her legal name in this context, I love the post. For a while there, Lilly was more like my alter-ego but in recent years I’ve come to realize that “Lilly” is just as much who I am, if not moreso, than the parts of me you don’t see or read about. As Lilly I’m more outspoken and making a small difference in the world. And, like Piph, I seemed to have chosen a name that shouldn’t be hard to spell correctly but people fuck it up all the time and insist on calling me the flower.

Good Things, Good People, and Changes

I wrote a whole post about my time at Woodhull’s Sexual Freedom Summit, but I feel like I can’t say enough good about it.  It’s just that good for me – so much so that even when a moment or two wasn’t perfect, the overall lasting effect and memories are golden. They’re protected and shining, and keeping me going some days.  It was easily the highlight of my year and I’m already making plans for SFS17, including working on a session proposal with a few other bloggers.

In my 8 years here I’ve worked with/for a lot of companies and a lot of affiliate managers. I’ve had the privilege of being more picky about who I work with this past year, who I link to, who I recommend. It doesn’t take much for me to tell a company “no”, or stop working with them. You’ll be noticing a lack of Lovehoney links soon (and the ones here don’t work). While I realize that it’s hard to compare other companies to the bright light of Shevibe, Lovehoney just hasn’t excited me. Sure, customers love their kinda ridiculous returns policy, but I’m on the fence about a lot of things. When bloggers found out that we would suddenly have to change every affiliate link and then accept a much lower percentage for our efforts, it felt like the sign I’d been waiting for. I’ve been doing this too long to force myself into anything that doesn’t make me happy. I’m on the lookout for other decent UK companies that carry the brands I endorse.

And all of that is also to say: Every retailer that disappoints me makes me put Shevibe (and Smitten Kitten, Early to Bed, Come As You Are) up on their pedestal a little higher. Every industry idiot who turns their social media management over to a disgruntled teenage boy sporting the “no fat chicks” snapback and “no homo” t-shirt makes me run to Shevibe like a kid hiding behind their parent’s legs. We’ve had so many incidents this year alone with Companies Behaving Badly on social media; it’s exhausting.

And even though my well-intentioned blog post probably ended up making everything worse, I hold such deep regard for the bloggers I am lucky enough to consider friends. The Blog Squad bands together, fighting for truth and justice in this shady industry.

Looking Back, Looking Forward

yearreview

I’ve tried to think of Blog Goals for 2017; things to do better, things to start anew and you know what? I can’t. Every time I ask folks what they want, they want more of posts like this and this. And while those are great, getting that information is sometimes damn hard. I’ve been trying for years now to get insider info on the metals used for our sex toys, but it’s tough. I would love to find a way to help you know if that affordable stainless steel sex toy is made of a truly body-safe alloy2.  I’ve mentioned it on Twitter but I’d like to get some sex toys with my name on them – can I take it a step further and see if I can get one from every major body-safe material? That might be taking it too far!

I’m happy, for the most part, with the way my site looks. My header image has never been better – which hey, tick off another goal! I’m so in love with the image SheVibe came up with and I have a feeling this is my forever banner3. I feel like the site is easy to navigate. And now that I work 40 hours a week4 it’s proving harder and harder to get out a post a week5. I’ll keep trying my best to put out content as often as I’m able. I looked back at the goals I’d set for 2016 and I think I accomplished most of them, blog-wise. I finished the Glass post and the Big Lube Guide. I didn’t get to the Library page. I didn’t really end up doing more videos; I grew to hate the way I looked and sounded and just kept trying to make a video but would delete it every time. I committed to focusing on reviewing even more affordable sex toys, and I think I did okay – Doc Johnson Truskyn, the Blush vibrator, the Boom Olive vibrator, the boring Jazzie, the awful Jimmyjane Intro line, a few random things to avoid, and a Jopen vibe. I’m definitely going to keep reviewing the lower-cost sex toys.

The 2016 goals I failed to meet were the personal goals. I haven’t lost weight. I haven’t exercised much. We didn’t get the garden started. I did, though, escape that horrible, soul-sucking job – albeit replaced it with one that leaves me with much less time to devote to the blog and all that is periphery to that. Frankly, I’m afraid to set any personal goals given my rate of failure on those in 2016. I will be hitting a milestone birthday in 2017 which I am… not ready for. I’m not ready to be that age. Age is but a number, most say, but there is a real stigma against women post-40.

The Lubies that I talked about here are still happening, albeit more tentatively, and slowly. The in-fighting caused a lot of folks to lose momentum and hope, I think, and it will take a small army to get this to happen. 

I’m always open to suggestions, though, so please leave them if you have them! I’d love to know what YOU want to see more of here and what would make my blog even better.

 

 

  1. and has led to me owning way more unusable glass sex toys than I’ve ever wanted to own, and I still don’t know what to do with them
  2. Knowing the grade of the steel can help folks know if they may have contact dermatitis due to a metal allergy. Also certain grades are less prone to rust, such as the grade that nJoy uses. I’ve also seen companies claiming to sell stainless steel when it’s really just chrome-plated something else which will be problematic if the chrome gets a scratch
  3. I think I’ve had at least 5 header images by now so it’s about damn time I settle on one
  4. I started this blog while working a full-time job, but with that job I had no real supervision and not a lot of work to do so I could easily do bloggy stuff all day long
  5. I don’t know how the fuck people with kids ever find time to blog, especially the parents who also have jobs beyond the blogging
 Posted by at 12:26 pm
Dec 252016
 

Due to something that was an experiment-turned-Big-Thing1, I wrote more frequently this year than I have in recent years. I’m branching out a little with this list to talk about sex toys I loved, loathed, wanted to love, and hope to love. Sometimes though I couldn’t pick one item so there’s also a few companies I want to highlight – good AND bad.  This post won’t be my only 2016 round-up though, so stay tuned for more.

Stand Out Sex Toys of 2016

Womanizer PRO40Womanizer PRO40 – The PRO40 didn’t get it’s own review, but it was part of the Womanizer vs Satisfyer comparison post. Despite me liking the PRO40 the best of all of them, I couldn’t be bothered to do a full review since, by and large, it was the same thing as before with some seemingly minor changes. But oh, the changes they were. A lower price! Waterproof! Up and Down buttons! No rhinestones! It’s the same technology as all other Womanizer versions, but it is cheaper. The motor is better than the Satisfyer Pro 2 but perhaps a little less finessed than the Womanizer W100 or W500. I first tried the Womanizer W100 last fall and was blown away. This year this type of sex toy has become my go-to clitoral sex toy. Yes, even more than the Tango. Seriously.

TengaIrohaKushiTenga Iroha Kushi– It’s squishy. It’s cute. The vibrations are fairly rumbly and have enough power to get me off. And that tip is super-pin-point in the best way. I wasn’t in love with the first line of Iroha squishy vibes, but I’m a convert now. I love the seashell look and shape, and my reservations about the grooves were erased when I saw how easy it is to clean. I’ve tried the whale (Yoru), but didn’t like the shape at all. If the shape and color of a red bird appeals to you more then try the Tori– I think it’ll be just like the Kushi.

NudeImpressions1Blush Nude Impressions 01 – I’m not a fan of Blush overall so it was hard for me to put this here. Really hard. But I couldn’t help myself with this darn good, affordable vibrator. It’s waterproof. It’s rechargeable. It has a strong suction cup. It’s silicone (of course). The vibrations are fairly strong and rumbly – it’s no We-Vibe Rave but for the price range and qualities, I think it gets overlooked. It can be used in a harness. It’s butt safe. It’s good for g-spots. It’s even good for external stimulation. Should I go on?

Favorite Sex Toy Companies of 2016

funkit2Funkit -This year I was blown away by the designs of Funkit. Yes, the first thing I focused on was the clear silicone and swirls of pigment but then I noticed the designs. I noticed how hard Kenton was working to perfect the designs and the lengths Kenton will go to to ensure that everything is as high-quality as possible. At first there were just a few dildos and a plug, but now there are paddles and hand-sex rings and even ball gags. Fancy a certain color combo? Funkit can abide. Shevibe is now stocking a few select colors/models from Funkit (including the rainbow “Crista” design)!

crownedjewelsCrowned Jewels -In a world rife with counterfeit stainless steel sex toy designs the originality and beauty of Crowned Jewels stood out.  Offering up stainless steel alternatives in either titanium (anodized for extra awesomeness) or aluminum alloys, these lightweight metal designs can be especially great for folks who worry that the heft of Njoy steel is too much. While their designs, for now, are a bit on the short and slender side, bigger (and better?) things are coming!  I’m excited to see the direction this company will take and their future designs.

wevibesyncpositionsWe-Vibe – “Wouldn’t it be awesome if there was a g-spot vibrator with the motor of the Tango?” is probably something many many folks have said over the years. So We-Vibe listened, and created the Rave. Then they listened to the many complaints and downfalls of the typical rabbit vibe, and fixed that too by adding the motor of the tango. And making a unique and powerful clitoral arm. Nova is my number 2 favorite dual-stim sex toy (the L’amourse Denia is the top, but it was on last year’s list). And even though the flagship We-Vibe, that c-shaped couples vibe, has never been something I needed or loved, I have to give props to their new Sync. They fixed the “fit” issue so that it would accommodate the genitals of more people2, and made the motor more rumbly and powerful. It’s not perfect, of course – the Bluetooth doesn’t work when surrounded by flesh because of the position of the antenna3. Because of that it’ll probably never work for me, or others with large full labia, but who knows – maybe they’ll listen, and change that, too. I continue to look forward to their future vibrators! 

DoxyvDoxywideDoxy – While I love the Doxy Don (it used to be the Skittle), I don’t use it much these days. And while I appreciate the Doxy Wands, I never use them because I’m not a fan of broad stimulation or vibrations that aren’t deeply rumbly.  So why are they here? Because they are a stand-up company. Their products are high-quality, their customer service is superb and they’ve managed to hire a stellar manager for their US-based operations; Ruby is an amazing human. AND they sent Girl on the Net to us for Woodhull’s SFS16. Doxy has a few products coming down the pike for 2017 that I am 98% certain I’m going to fall in love with, so be EXCITED.

Problem Child Sex Toy Companies of 2016

lelohex22Lelo fell out of my favor years ago but it’s been getting worse. They started the year with a useless piece of fabric called the Penis Tuxedo, and took up the rest of the year on their even-more-useless condom, the Hex. They partnered with Charlie Sheen, a celeb known for abusing women, to act as their spokesperson and liaison to breaching Civilian Land as they try to fancy themselves a condom maker and sex toy maker. The promotion of a condom that can break and users don’t even know it broke is dangerous, ironic (Sheen is HIV+) and plain stupid. Any sex educator who promotes the Hex as a good condom has earned my distrust, and I’m done recommending Lelo products, period.

tracys-dog-burnTracy’s Dog – I loathed the company for a long time based on the brand name and the fact that they only sold their products on Amazon. Then I saw that they were including fake lab test reports on suspect dildos sent to reviewers; they lied about the lab tests and lied about the material. So when I was searching for a cheap, clear sex toy to use in my clear silicone post I couldn’t resist the purchase of the Tracy’s Dog rabbit, especially since 90% of the Amazon listing called it silicone. It’s not. I wouldn’t recommend buying anything from this brand; there are other brands to support instead, and Tracy’s Dog doesn’t have anything truly unique.

meoMEO.de – What happens when a sex toy retailer puts out a line of house-branded Njoy steel knockoffs, sells house-brand silicone lube mispackaged as water-based lube4, and labels a TPR-headed wand vibrator as silicone because they believe silicone is a “concept”? “We mainly use the concept of “silicone” in the German-speaking world. Our customers understand the term “silicone” a plastic, which is soft and moldable.” I get mad. Other bloggers get mad. And I realize that I can’t recommend them to my readers.  I don’t have a way to test which grade of stainless steel a company may be using and if it’s truly the most body-safe choice, so when I see something priced much lower than njoy, it is highly suspect in my eyes. MEO isn’t the worst ever but have made enough mistakes to cause me concern.

Worst Sex Toys of 2016

Fiera Arouser for HerFiera Arouser – The Fiera “don’t call it a sex toy” Arouser was only given to me for review by the company because I demonstrated the apparent ability to make them feel that I wouldn’t be mad in my review that it didn’t give me orgasms, because it’s not for orgasms, and also because I’ve been dealing with a very low libido. It’s a $200 (or $249 depending) item that is meant as a “warm up”. By combining some suction and light vibration, this sex toy is supposed to basically get you in the mood for sex, or something. But it won’t give you an orgasm, they don’t want it to, and insist that’s not the point. Your husband should give you the orgasm – and please read that bit with the incredulous sarcasm that is in my head. Also, the silicone head has to be replaced every few uses and they’re about $5 each.  It is gendered, hetero, and frankly – insulting. Try literally any other sex toy to achieve the same results. Yes, sex toy, because that’s what this IS.

JimmyJane Intro 4 and 6 with the Form 4 in the backgroundJimmyJane Intro Collection – I tried to give it a chance. I even psyched myself up and expected to enjoy it – rather than expecting to hate it like most Jimmyjame products I’ve tried and verbally (or literally) lit aflame. And boy was I sorely disappointed. I said in the review that I don’t hate the Intro pieces but I’m far from loving them, however as time has marched on I’ve gotten more salty over it especially after reading more about the Intro 2. There are plenty of other affordable sex toys that are better than anything in the Intro Line so please, do not waste your money on these buzzy, half-ass vibrations covered in lint-attracting silicone with some strange shapes.

missvvMiss VV’s Mystery / Miss On The Go – I couldn’t even give this one a proper review because this crappy product requires an app to be useful. And the app never worked for me, an Android user with the latest Samsung phone. First, the app claimed my Bluetooth wasn’t compatible5, and then the app just kept crashing. They don’t anticipate a fix for months, apparently. Good fucking thing I didn’t actually pay for this! To boot, the kegel exerciser is painful to wear as there is no “bend” or give in between the two sections. And that tail! So long! I couldn’t keep it in my pants. Even more strange was the fact that I kept getting notifications on my phone saying that “pillowprincess has canceled the invitation to play”. This means that someone supposedly was allowing me to chat with them and control their useless vibrator. How could this happen though with an app that has never worked? Maybe it’s the Ashley Madison syndrome – not enough users, so bots are available to control or be controlled to make you feel like the experience isn’t totally worthless.  And at $169, with buzzy, weak vibrations, Miss VV’s (real) Mystery is that someone thought this was a good idea. Raise a glass to yet another crowd-funded failure, folks.

Sex Toys of 2016 I Expected to Love More

tantusrumbleTantus Rumble – I wanted to love it, because Tantus. The body design is wonderful – ergonomic and lightweight, with removeable silicone heads for easy cleaning and sanitization. The let-down lay in what many of felt the name implied: rumbles. We admittedly all expected powerful, strong and rumbling vibrations due to words used in marketing. What we have are more gentle vibrations that are somewhere in between buzzy and rumbly. I can recommend it for folks who like broad stimulation and gentle-to-moderate vibrations, but for myself I just don’t love it.

vibratex mystic rechargeable wandMystic Wand Rechargeable – With a motor that felt just a bit buzzier than the original and construction problems making my wand not safe for further use, I was underwhelmed. Even if the silicone were glued on better, the vibrations are just not as amazing as the battery-powered version. It’s such a disappointment because otherwise I adore the body design. Another lightweight, ergonomic wand – albeit with vibrations more powerful than the Tantus Rumble.

swanwandSwan Wand – Fellow lovers of rumbling vibrations urged me to try the Swan Wand, and my few sessions with it left me a little disappointed. The larger end is the rumbly end and boy is it powerful and rumbly, but it’s too large for me to insert. No problem, it could just as easily be an external, broad stimulation vibrator – except I don’t prefer broad stimulation. The Swan Wand is dual-sided and nice, and it clearly is a favorite of many bloggers….just not my favorite. But I don’t hate it, either. I hope to get my full review up soon. The lovely Nashville-based Friction sent it to me and if you are in the Nashville area, contact RoseMarie!

Sex Toys I Look Forward to Trying in 2017

cravebulletCrave Bullet – I got to feel the vibrations when I visited Sexplorations in October, and liked it but I need more use time. I know that the world doesn’t really need another bullet, and I know it can’t best the Tango but something in me needs to try it. Despite the higher-than-Tango price tag on some colors. Hell I’d also like to try other Crave products, like the soft Crave Flex or Crave Solo – although the $139 price tag on the Crave Solo has kept me away all this time and it may prove to keep me away for good.

funkitFunkit CashewCashew is their plug, which can be for vaginal or anal use but I think it was designed to be a vaginal plug. I’m lazy and usually don’t like to thrust dildos anymore so a plug sounds dandy. Ages ago I used a particularly short and curvy wood dildo as a vaginal plug and loved it; then I tried a plug version of the defunct Jollie and hated it because it lacked an exterior base, so removal was a real bitch – it was like a silicone potato. But the Funkit base reportedly won’t get in the way, much, keeping the path for clitoral stimulation open while giving an easy out. The blue-green color of Cashew is at Shevibe now! Bonus!

bswishBswish Wand – Historically I’ve hated every Bswish thing I’ve tried; their motors were always weak as fuck as super buzzy. But the buzz on the street is that the wand is equal to or slightly better than the Mystic Wand so I’m intrigued! Given the price point on this, $31.99, I’m having conflicting feels. I can’t judge anything by the required 4 AAA batteries, since my beloved-and-now-departed Mystic Wand also took batteries.

lumberjillLumberjill Leisurecrafts – Soon to be stocked at Shevibe, I’m interested in trying out more wood sex toys. The designs of Mr Dick Carver have proven to be unique and interesting, without looking anything like Nobessence or, worse, a table leg. Wood is an amazingly beautiful material that is safe when coated properly, and no…..no splinters. It’s probably the least-understood and appreciated safe sex toy material. When coated in a permanently-slick waterproof coating, wood is as slick as glass but les fragile.

 

Hopefully you’ve found things to buy, things to avoid, and know where to spend your holiday money now. Did you have a favorite (or awful) sex toy this year that is notable? Let us know in comments!

  1. It turns out that by offering my RSS subscribers the chance to win not one $50 gift card, but three $50 gift cards, with the link to the gift card entry page only published in the weekly RSS newsletter, I felt compelled to write enough to have at least 3 RSS newsletters go out per month. Many years I would have months in which I only wrote a single post, but not 2016
  2. but like any sex toy, it won’t work for everyone
  3. on the side, under the serial numbers – if that spot is not “seeing the light of day”, Bluetooth won’t really work well and for me and my labia, that will never happen
  4. Causing toy damage with users – they recalled via emails
  5. if the latest phone isn’t compatible….then what is??
Dec 122016
 

vibratex mystic rechargeable wandFive years ago I first reviewed the Mystic Wand and the two companion versions – the (old style) Mystic Rechargeable Wand and the Mini Magic Wand. In 2011 I wanted to like rechargeable vibrators more than I did; but the idea of having to pause only to swap out batteries felt more logical to me than a rechargeable which seemed to lose it’s high more quickly and when it was dead, it was dead – for a good 2-4 hours.  I always recommended the original, battery-powered version of the Mystic Wand because I loved the rumble and the power level was enough for me. I have always preferred the Mystic Wand to the Magic Wand, but I am nearly allergic to buzzy vibrations. Then Vibratex discontinued their rechargeable Mystic Wand in June 2014, with promises that they were working on something else. And so, I waited.

And waited.

And here I am, right back where I started, recommending the “old school” battery-powered Mystic Wand over the new Mystic Rechargeable Wand – and it’s not because of the rechargeable factor. In fact, Vibratex designed this to work even while it’s recharging. That may make for some awkward positioning to ensure you’re close enough due to cord restrictions, but if the Mystic Rechargeable Wand is your only vibrator on-hand, you can at least keep going.

Vibrations

With the original versions I detected no discernible difference between the motors when both were fully powered. The (old) Rechargeable lost it’s oomph pretty quickly, though. With the new Mystic Rechargeable Wand again I was searching for a difference in the motor and finally figured it out. They’re probably both the same intensity level but the Mystic Rechargeable Wand feels a little bit more buzzy. The vibrations travel through flesh a little bit less. And it’s just enough for my picky clitoris to notice.  It’s probably a difference that may not even be noticeable to some people but I’m so sensitive to a rumbly motor that I can tell when it slips from an 8 on the Rumble Scale to a 6.5.

I’ve been able to enjoy powerful orgasms from the original Mystic Wand, despite it being a (small) wand-style vibrator and me notoriously loving pinpoint clitoral stimulation. But the orgasms from the Mystic Rechargeable Wand have been a bit lackluster and mild. If you find that you don’t need the extreme power that backs most wand-style vibrators – you just need the broad stimulation- you could be really happy with the Mystic Rechargeable Wand.

Redesigned Body

Vibratex did something with the body redesign, making it look nearly nothing like the original Mystic Wand – and I love it. I love the curved handle. I love how easy it is to hold. There are THREE locations for the buttons! Three! Between the ultra-light design, the curve of the handle and the location of the buttons it is a wand well-suited to those with certain disabilities which may make holding a large, heavy or straight-handled wand more difficult. The location of the buttons also makes it much easier for a partner to use the Mystic Rechargeable Wand on you.  In short, it’s ergonomic and really well-designed. Mostly….

mysticwandbuttons

But the redesign comes with a problem that I can only hope they will fix – because it IS fixable. In order to put two buttons on the back side of the handle, a large portion of the plastic handle is covered in silicone. The silicone buttons are part of the silicone skin. The problem is that the glue holding the silicone skin on to the plastic is cheap. Terrible. After my first cleaning, I thought I rubbed too hard and easily slipped part of the silicone covering off with my thumb in one corner. As I gently peeled it back to see what happened, it kept on separating from the plastic body. You can see in the pictures below what is plastic and what is silicone because I wanted to see how easily it would peel off once a large portion had already started. Even just a small corner peeling back would definitely make cleaning impossible. As it stands now with the level of material separation I have, I’m not sure I should use it. It’s not waterproof, only splashproof, but I fear that the separation will negate even that.

mysticwandpeel

You may wonder why I reviewed this with the defect in the silicone covering. I would have waited if it were just mine but I’ve spoken to a few other folks who had this happen, too. I’m hoping it was a bad first batch, but we’ll see.  When I know that this issue has been resolved, I’ll update this review. Vibratex does have a warranty on this, so I plan to contact Vibratex and see if there’s anything they can do.

I do want to note that the head on the Mystic Rechargeable Wand is the same size head as the Original Mystic Wand, which means that the g-spot attachment will fit. As this is a smaller wand it will not work with Hitachi-compatible attachments.

Recommendation

I can’t recommend the Mystic Rechargeable Wand until I know that the silicone glue problem is fixed. I would recommend it for folks who know they don’t need seriuosly rumby vibrations or super-powered vibrations, or folks who need a smaller, easier to wield broad stimulation vibrator – AFTER Vibratex makes sure that this issue is fixed. Currently, the Mystic Rechargeable Wand is priced at $69.99 at SheVibe, while the battery-powered original Mystic Wand is $49.99.  There’s a lot of competition now in the mid-sized, rechargeable wand-style vibrator category, so Vibratex needs to fix this quality control issue.

 

Thanks to SheVibe for sending this over to me in exchange for my honest review!

Dec 012016
 

Womanizer PRO40The Womanizer PRO40 is practically perfect in every way. Until recently, Womanizer remained an overpriced, luxury item. When you get it in your hands it doesn’t feel quite as well-made as some brands. It lacks the pretty, “classic”, refined beauty that has drawn people to Lelo, L’amourose, Je Joue etc. And while $99 for the new Womanizer PRO40 still is considered luxury, out-of-reach pricing to many, it’s a bit more attainable than $219 for the Womanizer Deluxe.  The Womanizer PRO40 is clearly epi24’s answer to the sales lost to the cheaper Satisfyer models.

The Womanizer PRO40 is not overtly feminine, thank god, and is in fact pretty damn plain. Trans or gender-neutral folks can feel a type of dysphoria when they’re forced to use overtly feminine designs, so this isn’t just a concern of color and “ugh, pink again”. While very femme folks may find that even the magenta-and-white PRO40 isn’t pretty/cute enough, I kinda think the design is a happy-medium especially when the superior features exist.

Superior Features

Somehow the Womanizer PRO40 gained a feature (it’s now waterproof, like Satisfyer) AND is priced much less. How is this possible? Well the motor is a little louder; they’ve gone with a cheaper motor that still performs well, but is less refined, I guess.  It may still be more expensive, but the PRO40 has the features that keep me coming back to Womanizer – comfortable nozzle heads, intuitive designs, and better navigation buttons. The PRO40 combines the best of the W100 (body, button placement) with the best of the W500 (extra power for those who need it, and up/down level navigation buttons), adds in waterproofing and takes away cost. I’m happy to have a slightly louder motor in exchange.

The lowest two settings on the Womanizers are subtle and arousing. They feel really good, and aren’t necessarily trying to yank an orgasm out of you. In fact the lower settings on the Womanizers are really great warm-up toys, and can build arousal in me in ways that the Fiera never could. Have I mentioned the buttons? Oh the buttons. You can easily toggle between lower and higher settings. I like to draw things out with the Womanizer (usually) because it feels so nice; so I don’t want to rush, I want to keep edging my orgasm. I can start out at 1 until I find some good porn; increase to 2 when I’m more aroused; tip it up to 3 to get the ball rolling; back down to 2 for a minute to keep things going. Up to 4 to pick up the pace; 3 then 2 then back up to 4 and maybe 5 if I need a boost and want to come. It’s the sex toy version of Monica’s ergoneous zones playlist.  I cannot do that with any Satisfyer model except the Satisfyer 2, which pales in comparison to Womanizer PRO40.

Magical Power Button

Another crucial feature that Womanizer PRO40 has is the power button: I can quickly return to the lowest setting; perfect for just after orgasm. To turn it off you would press and hold the power button, but while it’s on a quick tap will bring you down to level 1. Level 1 is tolerably intense in those sensitive moments just after orgasm, but allows me to actually keep going and have multiple orgasms. I can’t do that with the Satisfyer models because I’d have to turn it off completely (and then back on, obviously) to get back down to the “gentle” first setting (not all Satisfyer models have a gentle first setting). The way I use these products, the power button feature on the Womanizer PRO40, and indeed all models, is something I can’t give up.

The Womanizer PRO40 does come with their two nozzle heads, one of which has a slightly bigger opening. All Womanizer nozzle heads fit on snugly and stay put, and are very comfortable against the vulva. I’ve found that the nozzle head preference doesn’t always correlate to clitoris head size, but also to labia size/style.

If you’d like to read more in-depth about my feelings on the Womanizer toys overall, I’ll direct you to my review for the original, W100. Sadly I think it has just recently been discontinued.  If you’re curious about how the Womanizer PRO40 compares to other pressure-wave toys, visit the Womanizer vs Satisfyer Comparison guide.

Even though the Womanizer Pro 40 is a little louder vs W100 or W500, it’s now my top recommendation over every brand and model of pressure-wave sex toys. This remains even more accurate after trying every Satisfyer model on the market.

 

Thanks to Shevibe for sending me the Womanizer PRO40 in exchange for my honest review. There are many retailers you can shop with but I recommend Shevibe over them all; they have the best customer service and overall pricing/selection. They’ve been in business for over 10 years and can be relied upon for discreet shipping!

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Nov 292016
 

img_20161129_110321Recently I posted an article calling out Tracy’s Dog for being a shady, shady brand. This isn’t the first time I’ve purposely purchased a sex toy from Amazon suspecting bad results (see also: Glass safety post, Silica Gel post) but it’s the first time I took a leap of faith and committed to filing a report with Amazon. I was happy enough with the results of my chat, and saw a glimmer of hope for cleaning up Amazon. If more folks would file reports, and go beyond just leaving a 1-star customer review, we might be able to slowly whittle away at all of the counterfeit products and the incorrect material claims1. The most effective options are ones for those who have purchased the offending item from Amazon, but even non-customers can do a few things. Here are all the various ways we can start to clean up Amazon:

File an A-to-Z Protection Claim

There’s talk of this “A-to-Z” guarantee protection, and so I looked into it. I quickly hit a snag when I followed these directions:

To file an A-to-z Guarantee Claim on an eligible order:

  • Go to Your Orders.
  • Locate your order in the list and click Get help with order.
  • Select a reason code to describe your issue.
  • Select Request refund through A-to-z Guarantee.
  • Enter the required information and select Submit

Well, I didn’t see the “Get help with order” button on the order I needed to report. I saw it on a couple of other, more recent orders. My order definitely fit in the 90-days timeframe. You might see it if you try to contact the seller, though (but I never have on any order, so I’m not sure why a few showed the link and most don’t) – and you should, to see if you can get your money back. I found no way to contact the seller on my order – perhaps because it was outside of the Amazon 30-day returns? I don’t know. But the A-to-Z thing didn’t pan out. So…Now what?

Live Chat

I went to “Contact Us“. You start by choosing the order you want to report. Then in section 2 you select an issue. I selected “Problem with the order” and then “Wrong item or not as expected”. When Chat opened, I explained the situation at hand: The seller’s ad copy in their listing says silicone, the box says silicone, but it’s not silicone. They didn’t ask me to prove it; they didn’t ask me how I knew. I chose to tell them about my blog and a little about the flame test method. I could have also linked to the post where we talk about the flashlight test on clear TPR and silicone, but I didn’t need to.  They confirmed they were filing a report for me, and told me that if more customers give similar feedback, they’ll investigate the seller. 

I’ve always received good help from Amazon’s live chat, but sometimes it’s been clear that there’s been a bit of a language barrier. In the case of reporting the Tracy’s Dog vibrator, I could tell that the person I was speaking with understood the situation perfectly (and in fact asked me more about everything; she was a med student, too) and I didn’t need to further explain my links, my materials testing, etc. She appreciated the links I gave her though, and thanked me for doing research before contacting them. If others out there ever want to report this particular brand, feel free to link to my Tracy’s Dog vibrator post to give Amazon background information on the problems with the brand.

The bottom line here is this bit from my Live Chat conversation with Amazon – I was told by the Live Chat associate:

“I have submitted your claim. You may also leave feedback on the products review page for others to see. Hopefully we will get more claims and that will speed up the priority of the investigation.”

And when I asked about others reporting:

Those that have bought it from Amazon should definitely contact us as well because it brings the problem to our attention sooner than the reviews. The reviews are more for customers to have an idea as to what others think.”

Write a Customer Review

While the customer review won’t alert Amazon, it could help in deterring others from purchasing the item. Ultimately, this is what we want: we don’t want customers purchasing shady products from shady brands. You can write a customer review even if you haven’t purchased the sex toy from Amazon (but you should own the item, at least). Reviews from folks who’ve purchased though may hold more weight and will show as “Verified Review”.

Leave Seller Feedback

This is again only something that customers who purchased from Amazon can do. In your Orders history next to every item is a “Leave Seller Feedback” button.  I gave the seller 1 star, confirmed that it arrived on time, said that it wasn’t as advertised, and again discussed material discrepancy in the comments section. This will be seen by both Amazon and the seller. Too many bad seller feedback reports will also cause an investigation.

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Report Incorrect Information

There’s a link that you will only see if you’re logged in to your Amazon account, where you can report incorrect information. You don’t need to have purchased the product, but you should be certain that the information in the listing is incorrect. The link can be hard to spot; it floats around based on the size of the product picture.  If the picture is small, the link is right up under photo or bulleted list of product highlights. If the picture is large the link may float farther over to the right. Below are two examples.

amazonreport1

amasonreport2

When I clicked on the link, because the incorrect information was everywhere and not just the bulleted points, I chose “Other product details” first, and then after some thought I went back and reported again to point out the bulleted list. The next drop down wants to know what the issue is. I put “incorrect information”, but “product quality issue” may also be valid. On listings like the items I purchased for the Silica Gel post, I would choose “conflicting information” because those items said silicone in some parts of the listing, silica gel in others, and so on. Does it help to report over and over again on the product for every issue? I don’t know. Because we could say that the Tracy’s Dog rabbit vibrator also had “conflicting information” – while all of the ad copy from the seller, Tracy’s Dog, said silicone the Product Description (which I assume Amazon writes?) said TPR. But it only ever said TPR in that one little section, and that is easy to overlook when they say “silicone” 15 other places.

amazonreport3

It would take a massive effort worldwide, really, and I feel that this reporting needs to be done across the board – not just sex toys, but all items on Amazon that you receive which seem in poor shape. Counterfeit products are rampant on Amazon, products of all kinds, and these counterfeits are killing small businesses. Maybe a change can happen; maybe Amazon will just stop selling sex toys. Until this massive change happens, though, please think twice before you buy that sex toy from Amazon.  You’ll get much better customer care and support by shopping with amazing folks like Shevibe, Early to Bed, Come as You Are, Smitten Kitten and many other small, feminist shops both online and in-store  – for more information on where to shop, go to the last portion of this article.

 

 

  1. allow me this one moment of sheer optimism
 Posted by at 12:54 pm
Nov 272016
 

Remember when I thought that “Womanizer” was the worst name for a sex toy? “Tracy’s Dog” is worse, and it’s the brand name. It might be the worst brand name I’ve ever heard. Stick with me here; I know you may be wondering if it’s April 1st already but you’ll soon see this isn’t your average sex toy review.

Tracy’s Dog – A Brand I Do Not Trust

You won’t find “Tracy’s Dog” at the retailer I trust most, SheVibe, or other retailers I trust like Come as You Are, Early to Bed, Smitten Kitten, Babeland, and more. Where will you find it? The retailer I trust least – Amazon. Tracy’s Dog has been trying to get me to review their sex toys for ages now. They’ve sent a bunch of emails. I’ve always refused because I won’t review sex toys that come from Amazon and only Amazon because reasons. Some reviewers have tried out the brand, and not everyone hated it. There was a really eyebrow-raising issue with Cara Sutra’s Pleasure Panel reviewers and their “Liquid Silicone” dildos – two people received a “Liquid Silicone” dildo with a “Materials Test” result paper which supposedly came from a testing lab and claims the material is SILICA GEL – links and photos further down. Not silicone, for they are not the same thing. And as I’ve reported before, silica gel is a desiccant – not a sex toy material!

The Tracy’s Dog Flirt Rabbit sells for $13.98 at Amazon, is not made from silicone, and is a nightmare. I bought this stupid thing from Amazon for that piece I wrote illustrating water-clear TPR and cloudy-clear silicone. I also bought this because on the Amazon listing, in amidst all the SEO words, Tracy’s Dog claims it is silicone in the title. The “highlights” bullet list calls it silicone. The fucking packaging calls it silicone. Multiple places throughout the page call it silicone. Finally way down under “Product Description”, it’s called TPR. Most people will not see this, though, and think they’re buying affordable silicone. This. Is. Not. Silicone. This is why I avoid “white label” sex toy brands, and brands that you only see on sites like Amazon, Ebay, AliExpress and Groupon. The “branding” on this piece of junk is literally a fucking sticker. So yeah, be prepared to see this godawful thing from other “brands”, too.

51xasgt4mjl

“Tracy’s Dog® Flirt Rotating Bullet 36-frequency Thrusting Soft Silicone Powerful Rabbit Vibratoir G-spot Stimulation Vibe Clit Masturbation Dildo (Purple)”

*sigh*

  1. It’s not silicone.
  2. What is 36-frequency?
  3. Vibratoir?
  4. Not a Dildo
  5. SUITABLE FOR BAR FLIRTING

AND THEN. Oh because the listing gets better. We’re still up at the top here – just under the image where they bullet-list the highlights and say:

The rabbit vibrator is made of healthy senior silicone, crystal clear,vivid skin touch feeling

What, pray tell, is “healthy senior silicone”? Also, no, not “skin touch” feeling. It feels like goddamn softened plastic. I’ve felt TPR that does feel realistic-ish, but not this!

Realistic big glans,telescopic bead design, 36-frequency vibrating,adjustable power,can auto thrust to you body, direct sexual desire,like a fire burning all your passion

Oh, you’ll feel a fire, alright, after you’ve used it too many times and the itsy bitsies living in the pores give you a yeast infection.

“Rotating, Vibrating, Thrusting, knock the door of your heart.”

  • The design of this product bases on in-depth analysis of the Europe and the United States female’s sexual-mind. Its size and appearance according with human body engineering design can let a female fondle admiringly.
  • Thrusting soft silicone combined with strong power motor creates infinite fun. ..Powerful rotating bullets coupled with the unique flapping wings make you passionate.
  • Built-in the most advanced motor, provide a steady stream of power for the strong speed.

The two long cute antennas and wings vibrating with36 frequency tender massage your body, releasing all of your sexual desire and pleasure. The realistic soft big glans can thrust into your body slowly, conducting you into a wonderful happy world. Under the glans penis, the large raised silica gel points stimulate the right place, making you excited. The 101 pleasure floating-point around the stick, surrounding the passion of thread, give you a good friction.12 adjustable speed,36 frequency and 360 ° rotation can fully satisfy you.

1. For couples: This toy can satisfy curiosity and increase the newness.

2. For solo: No longer lonely with it in the night.

3. For the senior players: It helps you explore new things.

4. For beginner: It provides the instant resource for love.

tracysdogbox tracysdogbox2

Note: Text appearing in dark red is directly from the Amazon listing, and written by the brand. There’s just so much to unpack here, and this is only the fucking Amazon listing. So, it’s right there on the Amazon page, why did I copy it, you’re wondering? In case they change it – plus it’s funny (and sad).”No longer lonely in the night” – now, if we were talking about an actual dog, providing actual companionship, sure. But a vibrator? A vibrator will not ease your lonliness, nor is it meant to. Vibrators are also not there for love. The orgasms you get from a really great sex toy that makes you come harder than you thought possible, the kind of sex toy that makes you want to give them as gifts to everyone you meet – sure, those may produce endorphins that mimic love and if you try to steal my Pure Wand or Kate’s Double Trouble you will be hurt. But love? Ehhh, you’re pushing it.

Sure, we can absolutely chalk a lot of this up to “lost in translation”. After all, the vibrator is made for Asian women. Not kidding.  In amongst all of the typos and bad translation it says on the back of the packaging: “the product Dimensions boby [sic] feature based on Asian design, tailored specifically for Asian women”.  Also on the back of the package is where they say that it is “crystal clear silicone”. Um, no, no it’s not. You want proof beyond this post? It failed the flame test spectacularly.

tracysdogburn tracysdogburn2 tracysdogburn3

Anyway. Since this post is about this particular vibrator, I want to tell you a few things about it.

  1. Yes, it thrusts. Poorly.
  2. Yes, it rotates. However the rotating section of “beads” has sharp points on it and can be felt through the thin material.
  3. The only part that vibrates is the clitoral arm, which is, of course, buzzy and mediocre at best. Not powerful.
  4. It’s shit. Even if it were silicone, it’d be shit. Don’t fucking buy it!

I Won’t Trust a Brand Who Lies

Here’s the thing. Yes, there are products from this brand that are indeed silicone. There are positive reviews for these products from sex toy reviewers. But I will never endorse ANY Tracy’s Dog product, ever, despite it being affordable silicone because they lie. They’ve lied in 16 ways about this rabbit vibe; they’ve lied about those “Liquid Silicone” dildos – even though that 2016-dated product material test affidavit went out with multiple dildos they claim it was a TYPO and sent out another test report from a different lab DATED 2010. SIX FUCKING YEARS AGO.  Below you can see the two test papers that were sent to the reviewer and originally appeared at carasutra.com in this review, used with permission from Cara. At the left is the 2016 report, which doesn’t name any specific sex toy, listing the material as “silica gel”. At the right is the 2010 report, again not naming any specific sex toy. You can see what an actual materials test report looks like from a reliable lab by visiting BadVibes.org. I’ve also sent out an item for testing to a lab and received the same test report styling as BadVibes did. No decent lab would put forth such strange, vague test result papers.

Tracy's Dog material test paper from a lab reads: Sample Name - Sex toy. Sample Material: Silica Gel. Tracy's Dog Materials Test Report from a different lab, offered up as the "real" lab test. No sex toy name is defined, material is "liquid silicone rubber" and the report is dated 2010

Update: A review of the “Tracy’s Dog Double Silicone Thick Dildo” brought yet another atrocity to my attention. As the reviewer states, the company lists it as having a soft TPE exterior and a silicone interior. This just isn’t done. There’s no reason for it, and the silicone (if there is any) is hidden under a layer of porous material. Again, I don’t trust this at all. More lies!

I can’t recommend this company, at all, for any product, full stop. Even the items rated well by other bloggers can be found in similar form from more reputable companies. The brand Tracy’s Dog now live on my Blacklist. If you need an affordable sex toy, check out my list of sex toys under $35.

35under35small

 

ETA: At the suggestion of others I decided to contact Amazon. Their A-to-Z thing wasn’t activated (when looking at orders history, you should see a “help with this order” button or something, and I didn’t) so I ventured into Live Chat. I’m sharing the chat, but I want to point out: the way to get dodgy sellers/brands like Tracy’s Dog off Amazon is for CONSUMERS to file reports the way I’ve done. If enough people who’ve purchased the item report it as misleading ad copy, etc to an Amazon associate, then an investigation may be opened.  There is also a “report incorrect product information” link to click on the page, which can be done by anybody. It took me a little looking to find it, but it’s up at the top, after the item photos, on the right side. 

In my chat with an Amazon associate, once I explained what the situation is and showed them the link to Cara’s review with the shady lab test reports, etc, I was told that the person was filing a claim so that the item page can be taken down for review. I confirmed that I personally didn’t want a replacement, that I wanted to report the brand & seller. The helpful associate let me know she was asking her supervisor for any other steps that can be taken to report the problem. I was told: “I have submitted your claim. You may also leave feedback on the products review page for others to see. Hopefully we will get more claims and that will speed up the priority of the investigation.” and when I asked about others reporting: “Those that have bought it from Amazon should definitely contact us as well because it brings the problem to our attention sooner than the reviews. The reviews are more for customers to have an idea as to what others think.”

 

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