Jan 142012
 

Oh how I’m feeling the snark after this last week. Remember my spiffy, new contact form? And how I get them to check a box, agreeing that they’ve read all of the above? Guess what that means? When I get a sneaky idiot I have every right to share their idiocy!

This busy man chose the “I have a question on sex toys” option. Oh, sneaky sneaky man, did you think you could get away with that?

Hello! My name is Gavriel I am a 25 year old Orthodox Jew. My wife is a big fan of your site. Me and my wife own a website kosher*sex*toys.net. (I bet you didn’t see that coming LOL) It is a shop that markets sex toys to religious people who may be uncomfortable going onto regular sex toy sites. We have gotten a very positive response and have been featured in the New York Post and other news outlets. I would be honored to know what your opinion is on my site and if you have any ideas on how I could improve it. Also if you would be interested I believe it could make an interesting, unique and funny subject to talk about on your blog.

I mean, where to begin? I chastised him for trying to get his “will you give me free advertising” shit in the sneaky back door. I then kinda ripped on Orthodox Jews and how they seem to be pretty sex-negative and body-shaming. And then when I look at his site and realize that the Orthodox Jews don’t want to see any nudity or profanity….I realize…wow. What a line! He’s using the “my wife is a big fan of your site” tactic when she can’t even technically VISIT my site because I show skin and talk about bad things! He never responded. I was comforted though to see that Jezebel, who will write about anyfuckingthing, wrote about their site and religious sex toy sites in general. But they forgot to mention the Baby Jesus Buttplug!

This next one REALLY ticked me off. “I’m a reader of your blog and just wanted to say hello” is the option she chose. Bolded bits are my doing.

General Sexual Health Quiz – Sexual Health Inventory Hi, Your blog is just awesome. I would like to share something with you on the same topic. The following is a simple questionnaire to help you assess your general sexual health. Your interest in sex, ability to become aroused and incidence of pain during sex are indicators of sexual function/dysfunction and can help you reflect on the quality of your sex life. www.centerforfemalesexuality .com/sexual-health-inventory.html Obviously problems cannot be diagnosed by one questionnaire, but it might help you think about your sexual situation in a thoughtful way, and flag problems if you are having them. This tool can be of great help to your readers. Share the joy. Pattie

I’m dysfunctional because of my interest in sex and ability to become aroused?? And where have I said I experience pain during sex, other than the kind I fucking ask for? Fuck you, Pattie, share the hellfire flames. My sole response to her was “Shame on you! You shall be publicly mocked!” *shrugs* I wasn’t kiddin, Pattie.

A few weeks ago someone from BDPR contacted me about Screaming O’s new “Studio Collection” of vibrators and other products supposedly cleverly concealed as makeup. Um, no, there’s no clever concealment here folks. This guy’s first PR email to me seemed related somewhat to my recent Tips for Traveling with Sex Toys post, referencing women having sex toys “yanked” from their suitcases in public in the airport security line. I expressed a vague interest and had more questions, but he never responded to me. When I looked up the line more myself I found that it warranted a spot on the Best & Worst Sex Toys of 2011 – in the “worst” side. A few weeks later, Aaron hits me up again. And again. 7 times that day the same email:

Hi 88314:

Women sometimes love their battery-operated-boyfriends more than their real ones (at least for brief period of time).

Based on the fact that 70% of US women have never experienced an orgasm, two male entrepreneurs have begun a mission with the establishment of the Screaming O, a line of fun, mainstream and approachable products of which women cannot get enough.

For your Valentine’s Day gift guide, you might consider The Studio Collection, B.O.B’s cleverly disguised as a lipstick, mascara, blush brush. Not even an airport security guard, or snoopy kid will know the difference.

Sample? Interview with the creators of the product?

No, I’m not kidding about any of this. Epiphora was #88316. There’s so many things about this email that made me angry, so I forwarded it to Screaming O. I told them to “reign in their PR company” and suggested that they have a heavier hand in what a PR firm does for them because this content makes me dislike the company even more. You know I’m serious when I actually go through the trouble TWICE of verifying my email to Screaming O execs by responding to an automated spam-filter email to say that no, ironically, I’m not spam. Unlike your PR company. Who then emailed me again two days ago. Twice. Seriously?

And the last entry for this week’s Saturday Snark is about the very WTF “magazine” called XBIZ that gives vague and crappy AP-wire-esque posts about happenings in the adult industry world. The lovely Tantus Jenn linked XBIZ’s “Best Sex Toys of 2011” to see what her reviewer army thought of it. Some short thoughts:

  • They link to 2 Don Wands glass items. One of which is definitely not new for 2011, it’s been around (and it’s a copy of something else).
  • They rave about the above-mentioned Studio Collection. And Lelo’s Sensemotion Insignia line. Um hey Ariana, have you even seen these items in person??
  • In fact, let’s continue on with the hits parade where their “Best” is on my “Worst“. Club Vibe 2.Oh. Really?
  • They named a couple valid “new this year” items that are good, but just as many items that aren’t new and most items leave me shaking my head. They seem to have an odd love for all things Pipedream, listing the ridiculous 20-pound masturbator and various other dumb items.
  • Capping off the WTF-Parade they use the term “tranny” not once, but twice. And “shemale”. Oh yeah, I’m realllll sure that the “love doll” by CalEx is an “exact replica”.
 Posted by at 3:20 am
Dec 052011
 

Blogging

Many bloggers will start out on the free Blogger/Blogspot services (it seems to be the AOL of blogging platforms, more people start out there than WordPress) and somewhere down the line decide that it’s time they have their own domain. And then they make a huge mistake.

They delete all their posts.

I presume they do this because they’ve read that Google penalizes for duplicate content. Perhaps they do it because they don’t want people coming to the old blog anymore. But if you have ever submitted to Sugasm, Pleasurists, e[lust], or simply had any post from your old blog linked from anywhere….deleting the posts will cause you to lose traffic. As I run the broken link checker plugin on both of my sites, I’m seeing this happen more and more. Did you know that you can tell the search engines not to crawl/index your site, that you can set this in the dashboard at Blogger and say that you don’t want to appear in search engines? That’s all it takes, and then your content won’t be seen as duplicate. When I left my old Blogspot blog a few years ago I looked high and low for things to do to help transfer people over to the new site. I had found some code that would automatically redirect (unfortunately since the New Blogger change over happened, that code doesn’t work – if I could find something again that worked I’d set it up); I changed my header, my sidebars and my front page post all to say that I’ve moved and here’s the link. So at least if someone would come to a post linked from Sugasm or Fleshbot, they won’t find a dead page and they might click on through to this site. If I really felt like doing a whole lot of work I’d go back to every post that has been linked to from Sugasm and Fleshbot, on the old blog, leave up only an excerpt of the post and put in a big link to the post on the current site. Since I was only at Blogger for like 3 months that wouldn’t be so bad for me.

 

PR Companies

It’s a dirty business, I know. But didn’t anybody ever teach these guys that sending me a press release or a non-personalized email isn’t going to catch my attention and make me give a shit? And when you send things to the e[lust] account and expect me to publish ANYTHING there, I know goddamn well you didn’t even look at the site. I put up a Contact page and removed the direct links to my email/Twitter/Facebook etc so that hopefully one out of ten assholes trying to reach the “site administrator for a link exchange”1 might read why I don’t want what they’ve got and maybe they won’t email me. Yeah…right. The latest in the circus (and no, I didn’t change a thing, just bolded the wtf bits):

Hi – 
I know you’ve written about (relationships, sex, blah blah) so I thought you might be interested in Bedsider. I’m helping Bedsider, http://www.bedsider.org, a new public service campaign from The Ad Council, connect with bloggers and social media influencers like you. I’m hoping you’ll be able to blog/post/tweet about this women’s health initiative.   
Bedsider is all about preventing unplanned pregnancies and helping women find a method of birth control that’s right for them and stick with it. The U.S. has one of the highest rates of unplanned pregnancy in the entire developed world. Nearly one in ten unmarried young women (ages 20-29) has an unplanned pregnancy each year. This means fewer opportunities to complete their education or achieve other life goals, and increased health and social risks for mother and child.
At Bedsider.org women can explore, compare and contrast all available methods of contraception, set up birth control reminders and view videos debunking myths about birth control..Here’s the press release: http://prn.to/uqx9zuAn embeddable widget shows where to get free birth control: http://bedsider.org/widgets/costAnd funny, new videos http://www.youtube.com/bedsider
Please let me know if you need any more information, hi-res images, video or if you’d like to conduct an interview.  And let me know if you do post about it so the Ad Council can thank you from their social media channels2.

1. Wow. “blah blah”?
2. She fucked up the links and half don’t even work
3. I left off the singlelineoftextthatcontainshernamenumberandPRsiteaddress because it all ran together like that and I don’t want them to get traffic, but the company (if you can call them a company) is helpsgood. Yeah, even the name is bad grammar.

I actually forwarded this monstrosity to Bedsider, saying that if this is the best that their hired PR can do they might want to rethink using them3. I’ve left in the one working link to Bedsider because despite the atrocity that was the PR4, the campaign is actually decent – I would have liked this site about 4 months ago when I was reconsidering my birth control (all because I was terrified of a repeat performance with Mirena IUD, the first insertion was awful and the next 3 weeks were awful. The second was painful during, but fine afterwards). They tell you how to get free birth control, they give you the highlights (or lowpoints) on each method of birth control, where to get emergency contraception, and other good stuff. Of course, some of their “articles” could use some heavy work, like this one on side effects. Brushing off a woman’s consideration of the possible side effects of birth control – hell any person considering any medication is going to have some concern over possible side effects – is just plain bad.

Know Your Audience – Also, try not to offend or piss off your audience

I think a lot of bloggers can agree that lately the level of ridiculous bullshit arriving in our inboxes is at an all-time high.

I don’t accept every advertising request (just like they don’t all accept my pricing) because sometimes the site or item is just so….bad. Like the guy who wanted us to talk about his blowjob book. But first he wanted me to be an affiliate and get a percentage of sales. It was so many levels of vomit-inducing horribleness. I’m not sure he ever truly wanted to pay for advertising, he was just one of those who wanted people to “review” his shit. I’m also not going to accept a banner ad for a penis enlargement site that says this: “Most women want an endowed partner with a big and thick penis, capable of satisfying their most secret desires”. Wow. Way to go. MOST women?

Do I look stupid? Naive? Do I sound like I’m gonna take bullshit? News flash, I’m none of those. I’m also too smart to agree to crap like this:

Howdy there,

Hope keeping well. I’m just getting in touch to ask if you’re open to reviewing content from freelance writers at This Could Be Dangerous – if so, I’d love to put together a high-quality article written specifically for the site. I’m 29 and have been working as a professional writer and researcher for five years now, and in that time there isn’t a lot I haven’t already covered (I’ve attached a few samples below for you to check out).

As long as you’re happy with the resulting material, you’d be welcome to publish it as you see fit and the content will be owned by you entirely (in that I won’t send it to anyone else, either before or after publication).

There is absolutely no charge for this and no strings attached; the only thing I would ask in return is that I’m able to include a link to a site of my choosing within the article – nothing shady or unethical, just one of the professional businesses I freelance for.

Do let me know if you’re interested, and if so I can get something written for you over the course of the next few days. Needless to say, the offer is open to any other sites you might own as well as dangerouslilly.com. I appreciate you may not be interested in this kind of mutual back-scratching however, so if I don’t hear from you, no offence taken and I won’t trouble you again.

Oh, it’s goldmine. “Free Professional Writing” and oh goodie, it’ll be owned by me!! “Mutual back-scratching” …..really? Really?? To make matters even more ridiculous, I get emails like this on the e[lust] account, too. Yes because that site is just brimming with “articles”. I’m actually not sure what I find more aggravating about emails like this….that they’re trying to go for the whole “FREE” angle as if I’d actually pay someone to write a post here or that they’re conning me into a free advertising/SEO link and not even willing to pay for it. I get requests/offers for paid articles, too, as in they want to pay me to publish it on my site.

Here’s the thing: Any post by these people will have a link. Or two. More if you accept payment. This is free, permanent advertising. Those links there in my sidebar, under Site Sponsors? Those people pay for those links, and I don’t take contracts longer than a year. You all know how I feel about douchebags like Dave who try to spin the permanent link for a price that would offend anybody. A post is up, presumably, forever. Now would the people who paid you to put up the post check in a year to see if it’s still up? No clue. Will your readers lose respect for you? Most likely. Those sidebar links rarely get clicked on. I know this. They know this. We both also know that a link in a post is pretty damn likely to be clicked by half of the people. So to offer me the equivalent of one month of text link advertising in the side bar for a post containing links is offensive to me.

Another thing I won’t do anymore is review a website. If I talk about a site and if I link to it then I genuinely like it – and I’m going to do so all of my own volition. But to ask me to review your (pay) site in exchange for a few weeks of free membership is…..no. No. I also won’t do a site review post for money, either. As I said above…it’s permanent advertising. This review post that they will offer you a small one-time payment for will likely contain a couple links of their choosing using anchor text of their choosing. And since it is a post and not in the sidebar more readers will be clicking the links. So it’s SEO AND TRAFFIC. And they act like the blogger is being properly compensated. There’s no way that any company will ever pay me a fair rate for a site review post – I mean, just do the math: Let’s assume there’s 2 links in the post. If someone wanted 2 text links in the sidebar for a year the price (very discounted, due to the year and the second link) would be in the neighborhood of $400 and some change. There is no way that any site owner would agree to pay that much for a review. I mean I could be wrong, I’ve never actually quoted anybody who’s asked (maybe I will in the future, just to see). My point is that even if I charged them this discounted advertising rate they’re still making out because presumably the post would remain on my site until my site is gone which will not be happening anytime in the next year. Are their links going to remain on the front page? No. But for rank and SEO purposes, that doesn’t matter. I would also assume that a condition of them paying me to do a site review post is that I not hate their site and write bad things about it – in which case the review would be false. And I don’t do that.

The latest site owner guy to irk sent me three emails, all the same. Twice to the blog email, once to elust. The first two times I responded with my advertising rates and information. No response5. So the third time I responded with “500”. That’s it. Just “500”. It was a test. And to THAT he responded. !! All confused and “I’m not sure what you meant there” and shit. So I replied days later and explained. He then apologizes, says that “they” were sending emails out to “several lists online” of sex related blogs so a few people were receiving multiple emails. A: You’re lazy and B: what lists??? He also said he’d follow up with me at the other email address when he returned from traveling and big surprise, never did.

I know that a lot of bloggers have been getting thoroughly annoyed by the repeated emails from purePassionate (hint: pitching free design services to bloggers who designed their own site, pitching free blog hosting and free setup of a WordPress blog on their servers to bloggers who already own their own domain….is fucking dumb) but I didn’t realize just how bad it was until I did an email search on the term “link exchange” (I was thinking about setting up a Gmail auto-responder to just people who have that in the Subject line, redirecting them to actually read the Contact page) and found that overall I’ve received emails from 5 different people at this company since summer. Exactly what makes companies think that sending an unresponsive person email after email is ever going to result in anything good?

Think before you get a blogger to do a contest for you

Really think about it – especially if you’re not a sex-related company and the blog in question IS a sex blog. A few months ago I won a giftcard to Shari’s Berries from KinkyWorld. They’d met at Blogher (which isn’t about sex blogging, just all kinds of blogging) and a contest and a product review was granted. So Shari’s was more than happy to take on the traffic from a sex site; they were happy to have their product talked about, linked to and etc from a sex site; they were happy to have sex-blogger-profiles on Facebook follow them. But they would NOT allow my sex blogger profile on Facebook to complain on their wall – they removed it because my photo was not “family friendly”. My profile is not public, my photo shows cleavage and an item that most wouldn’t know is a sex toy. Because I complained vocally about my very bad experience (Hint: do not ever order their Tiramisu cake, and trust me that those fancy dipped strawberries are simply not as good as they look – nor do they look anything like the promo photos) that was very bad TWICE, the company has refused to publish my onsite reviews of their products. I think people deserve to know when something is crap. It’s why I don’t hesitate to write a bad sex toy review. But berries.com apparently just hides the really negative reviews! Way to be trustworthy and transparent!

  1. Update: In the midst of writing this post, a full week or so after making the Contact page, what did I get? Yup. 2 link exchange emails. *headdesk*
  2. something tells me that even though I’ve technically written about the organization, they won’t be thanking me from any of their social media channels
  3. Someone did respond, properly horrified and apologetic about the spammy and crappy attempt
  4. Even though the PR chick tried to contact me yet again to see if I’d write about  Bedsider  and again STILL has not managed to detect or fix the broken links – she blames her mail client, I blame lack of common sense or ability to do one’s job
  5. If you’re going to ask me for a response and my rates, at least have the common courtesy to say “no thanks” or something
 Posted by at 11:08 pm
Oct 072011
 

As I sit here in yesterday’s clothes and a forehead wrinkle that would make most upper class women instinctively reach out to rub it smooth and tell me the wonders of Botox, darling, I’m really happy that I have a job where I can sit here at home and do a little work and then do a little of this or that and put in my time in snippets. It works around my doctor visits and my grocery shopping and my trips to see/help my mother1. Some days it leads me to sex toys and sex toy manufacturers that absolutely disgust me; some days it simply leads me to companies that merely annoy me because of their cheesy crap and half-ass site; other days I’m shown the better side and see that there is good in the sex toy world.

I will start out addressing the small companies, the niche companies who are ultimately good eggs with products ranging from pretty decent to admirable. I write this post not to just let off some steam but with the smallest glimmer of hope that maybe…….just maybe….some of these words will land on the right computer screen and be taken to heart. Maybe one change will happen.

Dear Small Company;

You are trying hard. You are fighting the good fight, perhaps. You are making your items out of body-safe materials and you are not trying to pass off a wolf in sheep’s clothing as an innocent lamb2. But your online presence is really fucking important. Your website is super fucking important. As a customer I want photos and I want details. Lots and lots of details. I want to know the every dimension and exactly how it works. I don’t want some artistic/”French”/mysterious website that is more about the visual than the information. I can see your item or your kit and yet I have no fucking idea what exactly it is? I’m not going to buy it. As a person working for a reseller I want high quality photos of every item and every color and even more details than I’d want as a customer. Why do you make our jobs hard, when all we want to do is sell your product? How can we underlings write up your great products so that Consumer Joe Schmoe who doesn’t know jelly from silicone can see that they’re better and that they should buy your item instead of some dodgy crap from the Walmart-equivalents3 of sex toy manufacturing?

Update your site. Make it easy to browse and easy to read. Sure, go for your artistic merit but don’t let it take over the main goal: Showcasing your worthy sex toy product and telling us why it’s worth twice the money for what looks like the same thing from the Big Guys. Don’t skimp on the information about you and the toy. At all.

Dear Middle-but-good Company;

You’ve managed to become a name. A brand that people trust. You use silicone and I trust you that it’s actually and honestly 100% medical grade silicone. Now I will fully admit to not knowing a damn thing about how your stuff is manufactured and why your dildos cost as much as my monthly cable-slash-phone bill4 so I don’t feel that I can whine about them being so pricey. But it is really hard to sell your product to those people who haven’t learned their lesson yet or just are too cheap to care – all they see is $55/$75 for a sex toy when hey there’s one over there for $19.95! Some of those people will eventually learn; maybe after their doctor explains that the burning redness is from that dildo, or maybe after a storage mishap and their dildo melts.

Dear Luxury Sex Toy Manufacturers;

Despite being a toy snob, I’m not really a fan of you on the whole. Sometimes I am, like with Njoy but then they kinda fall into the small-niche moreso than luxury. But Njoy at least lives up to their price tag. You luxury guys….eh. You’re all about the bells and whistles and the super pretty packaging. A vibrator that you can customize to your preferred shape or rotation is impressive on paper but when I actually go to use it and find that all your promises are as useless as a fake Hallmark card? I’m gonna be harsh and pissed that I spent (or theoretically spent if given it for review) upwards of $100 on your sex toy, thinking that for sure YOU got me and finally…something good.

To you I have two things to say: Let your products speak for themselves – and save the buyers money by cutting back on that fancy ass packaging and the brooch5 and the extras. Second, for fucks sake gimme a better vibrator motor! If the cheap shit companies can use a motor that produces vibrations that go beyond tickling the surface of my skin so can you. The women and men who are buying your toys are not delicate fucking flowers. Put a decent motor in there that produces a vibration to be proud of, dammit, and then the controls for multiple speeds will make everyone happy – from the delicate flowers to the tough cookies. I do not like or support Doc Johnson on the whole (as an example) but unfortunately they make a couple bullet vibrators that are perfect – motor-wise. Zini, Lelo, Je Joue, JimmyJane, Nomi Tang, and others who create different/fun/new/pretty/innovative sex toys: I’d be backing you if your motors weren’t as limp as a wet noodle 9 times out of 10.

Dear Big Boys who’ve been around since the internet was invented and then some;

I’mma go ahead and name names right here – I’ve said this all before, it will come as no shock and I am not shy in voicing my disgust. CalExotics. Pipedreams. You guys make a lot of shitty products, some downright offensive products, and some eh products. I don’t trust you, I don’t like you. But you’re a big company and you’re everywhere. You have the Walmart angle. All of a sudden your previously labeled “jelly” toy is now suddenly body-safe non-porous TPR? Nope. Don’t believe you. Especially when it still fucking stinks to high heaven. Your perpetuation of disgusting gender stereotypes and bad ideas that you sell with copy that would make your own mother blush and you justify it by saying that it’s flying off the shelves so it’s what guys want6 and by golly you gotta give the people what they WANT! Fuck that. Have some fucking integrity. Topco, Doc Johnson – you might have some (minor) redeeming qualities/products but overall you’re crap. You, too, are contributing to the unsafe materials and shoddy mechanics and the bottom line is that you don’t care. You are a politician.

I can’t say anything to the powers that be in your companies. You will never EVER change. All I can hope for is that somehow those of us who know better are able to drown out your voice with the voices of the people who care and who are trying to produce something with integrity rather than make a buck.

Dear Resellers/Retail Stores who are determined to carry every product made;

I get it. You’re in this to make money. You’re one of a million other sites and the competition is stiff. But really, do you have to lower your standards and put flowery copy writing on utter shit and sell the items that might actually cause cancer, or at the very least are a colossal waste of the consumers money? Adam & Eve was the first site I bought a sex toy from. But when those first two sex toys quickly showed their ugly underbelly I lost faith in them as a whole. And I never shopped there again. You can make money AND have integrity. It requires a little more hard work, though. The internet isn’t the land of the quick, easy buck anymore.

I’ve been reviewing sex toys for 3 years. I’ve reviewed more than some people, but far fewer than others (which is probably because after the first year I was reluctant to review something that I just knew I wouldn’t like and it’s hard to review item after item that leaves you jaded and I’m not easy to please – but I’m not impossible either. I just refuse to sugarcoat a half-ass product). I’ve seen a lot. I’ve grown to know that I don’t have to put a positive, happy spin on every review I do even if the product wasn’t my thing or is overpriced. Would it help pad my bank account, as an affiliate? Sure it would. But that isn’t the reason I started reviewing toys and I’m going to be blunt. If that means I am the only person on the web saying that the latest high-tech Lelo toy is a sopping wet disappointment? So fucking be it. I’m not trying to be mean, I’m trying to be real and save other people like me the money.

It’s heartbreaking to see the little companies die. Jollies LLC made some great sex toys and they were really innovative without trying too hard (Zini, Je Joue, etc). Their products were at once simple yet unique yet just what we needed at the quality we wanted. But they went the way of the little corner bookstore after a Barnes and Noble moved in two blocks down. And it’s sad.

Signed,

Jaded but Hopeful (in a cheerful Comic Sans font)

 

(If you are a “recipient” of one of these letters, for once I will allow companies to comment on a post. I generally don’t because they’re usually just trying to get a free link but if you are genuine in your response then I’ll post it. But don’t be offended if I remove the link to your company’s site and please….use your real name in the comment name field, and not the name of your company)

  1. Despite of course the fact that I can’t/don’t feel comfortable telling her exactly what I am doing and who for because I really don’t want to have that conversation and she’s a very suspicious woman of all things internet
  2. I’m looking at you, CalExotics, publicly proclaiming that ALL of your TPR and PVC and “Cyberskin” and other squiffy hybrids are all free of phthalates and are totally body safe. For trying to say even that all your TPR is non-porous when I’d bet it isn’t because you’re too cheap and only in this to make money
  3. I would consider this to be large companies who produce thousands of various items at low cost, mark them up 300%, don’t care what materials they’re using, mass-produce with shoddy quality control and are around because they were they first and they simply have the most stuff at places like Rt 15 Adult Book Store. Companies like California Exotic Novelties, Doc Johnson, Topco, Pipedream, BMS Enterprises, and Nasstoys.
  4. and no, I don’t have Vonage
  5. Yeah I’m talkin to you, Lelo, with that Insignia line that looks really fancy but is actually just plastic and mediocre vibrations
  6. Yes, I’m talking to you, Pipedreams, with your “cum dumpster” copy on overpriced body parts

Dear Dr. Berman – I call Bullshit

 Commercial/PR Fail, Sex Toys  Comments Off on Dear Dr. Berman – I call Bullshit
Sep 042011
 

Dr. Laura Berman’s line of sex toys has been around for awhile now. In fact when I first was purchasing sex toys back in ’05 they existed. Since then the packaging has changed; I’ve been able to see on the CalExotics website how some of the products have been slightly updated to look less cheap. But when you really get down to it my point is: If Dr. Berman were truly fucking serious about her sex toys then why the HELL did she partner with CalExotics?

Some of her products are eerily similar to existing CalEx products – they’ve just been made purple and rebranded. If she took a lie detector test (and passed) and swore up and down that she actually created the design of even half the toys in her line I would faint from shock. She does a great job of coming off as authentic and of course the MIGHTY OPRAH supports her.

I want to quote this, but since Dr. Laura’s site didn’t link to the original article, I can only link to quote on her site.

Lately, there’s been a lot of buzz about vibrators! The New York Times recently interviewed Dr. Laura Berman about her popular line of intimate accessories and the growing trend of women taking sex into their own hands. “Women are getting less and less caught up on an unrealistic and puritanical vision of what a good girl is,” Dr. Berman told the Times. “When they can embrace their self-stimulation, they can take ownership of their sexuality.” She pointed out that Sex and the City helped pave the way for sexual comfort in women and even the film industry is on board. Her products were in a recent episode of Private Practice on ABC, and in 2009, her vibrating panties appeared in The Ugly Truth, a movie starring Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler. “That scene would not have been in a major Hollywood movie 10 years ago,” she said.

From Vibrators Carry the Conversation, New York Times, April 20

I do watch Private Practice and I don’t remember her products so I guess it didn’t stand out. “That scene” in the movie The Ugly Truth I definitely do remember and I also remember thinking that a woman would have to be highly sensitive and easy to orgasm if a pair of cheap vibrating panties sent her into epileptic convulsions. I’ve seen those panties in a sex toy store, I’ve read reviews. They’re most certainly not plus-size, in fact they come in only one size. Which is typical for CalExotics. They’re not exactly discreet, the remote is wonky at best and good luck being one of the few people for who the vibrating bit will be in the right spot (and stay there).

What else is typical of most CalExotics toys? They’re not “one size fits all” in situations where something claims to be; they’re cheaply made and even the higher end lines cut corners (like “couture silicone” dildos filled with foam, covered with a silicone skin) and they’re never going to last you very long at all. That’s fine for the 4,000 items they sell that are under $25, but it gives sex toys a bad name. When I first was buying toys and thought that Dr. Berman’s line was something special and better, I was so sorely disappointed by the reality – cheap, plastic, and somewhere out there is probably a similar version of it mad eby a different company and it’s much, much better.

If I were a famous sex sex educator I would *never* partner up with a company like CalExotics to bring my ideas to the public. Smart people who’ve bought toys with famous names on them like Sue Johanson and Dr. Joel Kaplan will probably lose respect from sex-toy-buying people after trying out their cheap unoriginal CalExotics toys. I’ve noticed that most of the old Sue Johanson line is discontinued on the CalEx site but can still be found elsewhere, mostly alongside crappy reviews. I recall once when I was considering a fancy and expensive clitoral/nipple pump system I looked at one that had the Dr. Joel Kaplan name on it. I was briefly suckered in until a reviewer friend pointed out that A: It was manufactured by CalEx and B: It was a copy of an existing item in their line up, just with different colors. Wow….talk about deflated! The credibility and reputation of all of these educators has plummeted in my eyes after seeing what crap they’re willing to pass off to unsuspecting sex toy noobs.

Lest you think I’m just ranting here against the shitastic CalExotics, I will state that I have (sadly) owned 4 of the Berman Center line of sex toys. And I owned them and hated them well before I was a sex toy reviewer with access to high end toys. /disclaimer.

Since this rant is mostly targeted at my disgust that a well-known sex educator would partner up with such a shitty company, I want to direct you to some more reading to know more (if my past reviews haven’t said it) about why I will never endorse/support/recommend 99% of CalEx toys. True Pleasures talks about her time as a CalExotics “Sexpert” and it really says a lot about the company. Please give it a read if you haven’t already.

 Posted by at 9:24 am
Jul 022011
 

It seems that my rants lately are being spurred by a deluge of emails from various and sundry companies all looking for a hand-out of some kind. Thing is….I’m not stupid. And I’m not about to be walked all over, either. Let me just get this out of the way right now, in case it’s not been made clear before:

I will NEVER post content that I didn’t write or don’t 100% believe in/support. I am all for supporting causes and sex-positive people and companies and “the little guy” but I will not post shit just because I was asked in a mass email. There’s helping out a worthy cause and then there’s being taken advantage of. If I post here about something you better damn well believe I’ve done my research, that I fully support it, that I’m not spouting off random shit and getting paid for it (either money or “in kind” i.e. a link at some site). I mean you’ve all seen my sex toy reviews – I’m picky (can we use the term “connoisseur” instead? It sounds less negative) but you’d better believe that if I say a sex toy is good I fucking mean it and mean it hard.

So what are some things that have been coming down the pike that I feel go against ethical blogging/respectable blogging/ sex-positive blogging / real-person blogging? All of these are real:

Scenario 1. “Hi,I wrote an Ebook about penis size and vagina size importance in heterosexual intercourses.” He’d like a review. Um, has he READ my site?

Scenario 2. “I’ve visited http://dangerouslilly.com/ today, and really like it. I run a site with similar content, and I was wondering if you would like to trade links with me? You can see my site at “a#dult-c#raft.c#om”. SIMILAR CONTENT??? Dude, for reals, I’m offended. No srsly. The graphics alone make my eyes hurt and it’s all SEOtastic content that god knows who wrote. Once I emailed back about my “no link trades” policy and said that if he truly meant it that he’s already linked to my site because he genuinely likes it, then thank you (guess what? my link is gone, he doesn’t like me, lol)

Scenario 3. A man using a gmail address sends me a generic sales pitch to join his unnamed affiliate programs. It’s a sales pitch, alright. Why so cloaked, dude? But you’ve already read my rant about these types of unknown sites wanting me as an affiliate just so they can get free advertising, right? Right.

Scenario 4. “I’ve recently written a 5-part series titled “Be the Best Lay She’s Ever Had”, and am currently working the hustle to try and scrape up some links and traffic. You know how it is. While your site is mostly female facing, I figured it never hurts to drop a line and ask for a link, worst case scenario is you say no.” I give him half a point for honesty. A fellow blogger replied with her ad rates which he, of course, turned down saying he was making no money off his site – so he’s relying on the kindness of bloggers to read his Cosmo-magazine-esque crap and just give him a shout-out for shits n giggles? He offers nothing in return, not even a link like Scenario 2 guy. This guy is a real taker, not to mention that what he wrote is not anything I’d ever promote or support, it’s somewhat misogynistic and really just feels too much like a site trying to get good rankings so that THEN he can start making money. I don’t see this guy’s site/”articles” as a philanthropic effort to hetero women.

Scenario 5. “My name is [redacted], PR person with [redacted], and work with P#aris I#ntimates, a sex toy blogger and retailer. I’d love to do some cross-promotion with your site. I can write a free articles (redacting the example links) for your blog on almost any topic and also have 10,000 Twitter followers if you are looking for new visitors. I’m all about spreading the love!” Ok so he might have something to offer but in the end….I’ve seen the articles. Some aren’t what I’d call entirely sex-positive; many are the same yawn-worthy drivel that you can find on hundreds of sex-tip sites, and all are littered with SEO links to their sex toy store. Guess what that’s called, folks? Free Advertising. If you are really that hard up for content on your site then put out a call for guest bloggers – real bloggers, fellow sex-blogging-community bloggers. Share the love within our own community, not handing over your dignity and respect for an article that might get you some search engine hits and possibly some traffic from their Twitter account. I would so much rather you take a break or hell even re-post something from your archives than to ever post this kind of shit. It will make me never trust your recommendations and advice.

New! Scenario 6. “I would like more information about advertising on a minimal budget as we are still in the “guerilla marketing” stage of our company.”  I can appreciate that it’s difficult and a catch-22 for small companies to advertise when they may not yet be bringing in much profit but really….how do I know that to be true? In this particular case, judging by the product itself it’s probably quite true that they’re not making much but you’re going to ask me to lower the rates that I give to everyone else just to appease you and your tight budget? Honey, everybody has a tight budget. I have a tight budget. Would you go to a stripclub and ask the dancer for a private dance for half-price because you just lost your job? Let’s envision how that would work out for ya.

I’ve also had offers from places who will pay me for a post they write, unlike Scenario 5 guy. Again, I adamantly refused them and told them I never post opinions that are not my own or support ideas/sites/products that I don’t believe in. Will I take advertising money for places that I wouldn’t shop at? Yes. (unless it’s s$ext$oy.com, who couldn’t pay me enough to link to) They’re unobtrusive and I make it clear that they are a site supporter. You all know the places I recommend sincerely because I review for them.

The real you, your real opinions, are so fucking valuable. Please don’t throw out that value.

 

Seriously now, what would you think of me as a blogger, as a person, if I posted about all that shit? I want to know, I really do. I get a lot of people asking me for advice on sex toys and other things and I don’t take that role lightly. I will NOT recommend something I don’t fully back up. And really….I can’t respect a blogger who would. But that’s just me, that’s just how I feel. Am I being bitchy? Am I being too harsh, too rude, too stingy, too snobby? I stand by Ethical Blogging and Sex-Positive Blogging; I’ve earned the trust of many and I intend to keep it.

Please excuse the less-than-eloquent nature of this post. I’m ranty and I’m in a shit-ton of pain with a fucked-up wrist. I shouldn’t even be typing, given how much it hurts to do so but something sparked me today and this just had to come out.

Also, the weird characters in site names? That’s only because I don’t want to give them any Google Juice or whatever you want to call it :)

ETA: those who comment are wondering who I think I’m going to offend with this post – why, the bloggers who do these things, of course. ;)

Jun 302011
 

I have a great deal with you. Why not earn generous recurring commission with your blog? I believe you will make a great affiliate partner when you promote sex toys and “safe for work” products. You can help us promote our websites and we can help you make some money! :-) I’m exclusively inviting you 1 to join our affiliate program. By becoming our affiliate partner, you will enjoy these amazing benefits….

Are you looking for a well converting website which really can help you in making good money? If so, the HeartlessScammer.com affiliate program is an opportunity you are looking for 2.

There’s two times when, as a blogger, you’ll be offered a spot in someone’s affiliate program: If you are a reviewer of their products, or, if they’re just trying to get free advertising from you.

I’m betting a number of you are going to think that the second reason sounds pretty harsh, right? I’ll share my opinion on this and ask other experienced review bloggers to chime in with comments.

Yes, I do belong to a few affiliate programs but only for places that I review for (or once reviewed for). The only one that makes me any amount of money worth mentioning is from EdenFantasys, and that’s primarily because I review the most often for them (plus, personal feelings from anyone aside, you have to admit that they walk the line between overstocking worthless crap like Sextoy . com and not carrying many options like VibeReview . com, all while offering pretty decent prices. Options + prices + lack of total sleaze = most like to be bought from).  By actively reviewing for a company I am an affiliate of, I’m putting my affiliate links “out there” in numerous posts. I might make the occasional (VERY occasional) sale with places I reviewed for years ago but kept my affiliate account (VibeReview, Babeland) but it’s rare.

I once belonged to an affiliate program that I was NOT a reviewer for and I only did it because I already genuinely liked the site – Kink.com. I had a rotating banner widget to show their various sites to appeal to various readers, I occasionally wrote about them (ok, twice) but never once did I make an affiliate sale.

So try to imagine the star-aligning moment that would have to occur for you to make any sales on an affiliate program that merely resides as a banner in your sidebar. A reader would have to notice it, and then click on it, and then purchase something from the click from your site. I touched on this topic briefly when I wrote up the Basics of Paid Advertising on the Sex Blogger Education section of e[lust], but given the deluge of affiliate program offers that I (and undoubtedly many other bloggers like me) have received in the last month I just had to write more about this.

Bottom Line:

Their numbers might sound dazzling. 10-20% of every sale? A percentage of those affiliates who sign up under me?? Free to join??? (wait, this smells a little like an MLM scheme, or is that just me?) But trust me on this: They’re going to get a lot more from this largely-one-sided relationship than you are just in free advertising alone. They want their name out there in Google land, that’s what it boils down to, and they don’t want to pay for it.

You’re worth more than a one-sided relationship that just uses your good heart and lies to you, aren’t you?

Added 7-11-11: A special caution regarding International companies:

I’m prompted to add this because of an email I received today from a retailer and a follow-up question from another blogger who received a email from the same retailer.  I strongly caution against joining an affiliate program when they are based in another country than you, unless you know that most of your readers are from that other country. If you’re a US-based blogger, most of your traffic is also probably US visitors.  If I look at my primary stat counter site, it tells me that 52% of my visitors are from the US, 24% are “unknown”, and only 5% are from the UK. My secondary stat site (which doesn’t log as many visitors as the first, 5000 vs 500, respectively) says that 60% of my visitors are from the US and 16% are from the UK. The second site tends to do a little better capturing IP-location data than the first.

So unless you are actively reviewing for a company that is not in your own country, odds are that you won’t ever make much by just being in their affiliate program. And even if you did review for them, you’d have to be really good at SEO tactics to get in UK dwellers to read your review and purchase from your affiliate links.

So yet again…..it’s free advertising for them.

  1. Exclusively? Ooooo let me be flattered until I remember that you’ve also invited 25 other bloggers
  2. Seriously? I could write a better pitch than this shit, and so could a used car salesman