Jun 112013
 

When you review a sex toy, do you talk price? Is it just me? I feel that it’s an important point to cover, one that my readers would want to know. If I were reading a sex toy review of an item priced well over $100, I would need a fuck ton of convincing that that item is going to rock my fucking world for that price.

A potential relationship with a retailer who thought I was new to the scene back in 2012 ended quickly when we discussed the finer points of reviewing. They didn’t want me to just review one item, they wanted me to review a lot. Primarily I turned them down because they didn’t have an affiliate program (I work from home now, I need all the income I can get) but also because our views just didn’t mesh.

I’m actually not going to publicly name names here, because the point I want to make really doesn’t have anything to do with the company – my point is that it’s an aspect I care about. But in our very short discussion, as a response to me detailing that I do not sugarcoat my reviews and I am bluntly honest, always, this was mentioned:

“It’s a product review… Let the customers decide if it’s worth it.  Most all of my product are over $100, so if that’s an issue and your readers don’t want to spend that, I don’t want to be skewered because you don’t believe in buying $150 toys.  If a toy is good, and gives orgasms, or does its job, give it a good review.  Let the buyer decide if it’s worth it.  I’m a high end retailer, and carry great products.  I need good, honest reviewers, that have good audiences that might buy.  Let me know what you think.  I repost on my blog, from your blog, word for word, so no editorializing or such.”

Well, I’ve already talked about my feelings on someone re-posting my review on their site and I was not okay with that aspect of their conditions. But I had a real head-scratcher over the “let the buyer decide if it’s worth it”. Um….isn’t that what I’m doing here?? I’m presenting them with the information but also my opinion. If they wanted pure information, they’d read the copy from the website. I responded with:

“I personally expect every, single luxury sex toy to live up to the high expectations that come along with a high price tag, and from everything I’ve seen, so do my readers. I’ve reviewed so many luxury toys that were such a let-down that I fear I’ve become a little jaded. I am hard on toys though; I expect great things for the price tag. I’ve been unable to fully recommend items such as some Lelo, Je Joue, Zini, JimmyJane, etc because there are less expensive items that perform better. In my opinion, I do reviews to help the buyer decide if a toy is worth the money – be it $25 or $125. I wasted a lot of my own money (both prior to reviewing and even recently) on toys that appeared to have glowing on-site reviews. That was what led me to reviewing, ultimately – I was searching for women who’d tried the toys I was considering, to ask them a few questions, and that was how I found out about blog reviewers. There are so many items out there that I don’t think are worth the price and I don’t hesitate to tell my readers that. To me, that’s half the point of a review. They’re looking for reassurance in our reviews, reassurance that they won’t be dropping a week’s worth of grocery money on a toy that just isn’t worth it. I get disappointed with items/manufacturers but in the end I actually like all the reviews I write – I love being able to tell someone that something is awesome and I feel good about telling someone to avoid something that sucks. I don’t gloss over just for sales. In the end, I want my readers to be happy with their purchase and feel that I truly helped them.”

This didn’t go over well, I guess. I never heard from the person again. Apparently, I’m not the type of reviewer they want on their side. They clearly wanted reviewers who would drive people to buy, and it almost seems like they were angling for some sugar-coating. Thus far all of the places I review for have never taken issue with my reviews, no matter how harsh they are and boy howdy have some1 been2 harsh3.

Do you talk about price? Do you feel the need to justify super-pricey toys to your readers, assuring them it is worth it? If that same toy that you feel is decent, but not wonderful, cost half the price would you be more likely to recommend it?

  1. Hello Touch, how I hate thee
  2. We-Vibe Thrill made me angry I wasted my money
  3. Fixsation review was so harsh, the creator tried to slam me in comments by pretending (badly) to be someone else
Mar 232013
 

A few years ago, Lelo decided to cash in on the wave of “luxury” sex toys and kick things up a notch. A fancy new name for a fancier-looking line: Insignia. These first three new uber-luxury sex toys – the Isla, Alia and Soraya – certainly looked posh. Lelo’s previous line had been a signature look at the time: a white, shiny plastic handle with 4 buttons set in a unique configuration and standard colors. The Insignia line completely changed the look. No more white plastic! No obvious handle or buttons! HOW FANCY! Well, in theory. They were certainly pretty to look at, but I found with the Isla that the inner core of metallic-painted plastic caused major headaches when it came tine for clean-up. And even though that metallic-painted plastic inset looked like metal, it was not. Yet, we didn’t question it at first.

Recently, a reader emailed me:

Just wondering if you know anything about the gold foil flaking off the pointy end of the Soraya? I love my black friend but I’m a bit wary of using it when I can’t find the paint flakes after toy time. I haven’t had it all that long either. I’m not rough cleaning it, no scrubbing or harsh chemicals.

This gave me pause. Yes, I too would be a bit concerned if I knew that there were flakes of paint hanging out in my vagina. Since the onus is on the manufacturer to be truthful (and thus far, Lelo always has told the truth when they’ve described their materials) about the product, what with there being no regulations on sex toys, we must assume that the metallic paint is body safe should it flake off. Nothing about the composition of the paint is ever mentioned on the site.

But even beyond just the safety concern is suddenly the fact that your once-posh-looking nearly-$200 vibrator suddenly looks like the sex toy equivalent of a New Years Day hangover – still wearing last night’s fancy dress and makeup, but everything is faded and a bit scuffed from the enthusiastic partying, with missing spangles and sequins and shiny skin. Seriously. I expect a lot from a company who charges almost $200 for a dual-stimulator vibrator that has no bells and whistles like rotating shafts and independently controlled internal and external portions. I expect a lot from Lelo, period. I started looking into things more online, specifically the EdenFantasys forums. I tend to avoid them with a 10-foot-pole, but they do sometimes have their uses.

I found a lengthy post from a Soraya owner who still views the Soraya as her all-time favorite vibrator, despite all of the issues. And the issues don’t stop at cosmetic. At 6 months in, paint flaked off for her. After about 12-15 charges, the unique charging port changed from a pinpoint hole to a larger hole with tiny bits of silicone breaking off. When we first received the Insignia line, reviewers were baffled as to where to put the charging pin – the silicone skin was completely healed, there was no port cap! We were told that it wasn’t necessary, that it would break through and be so tiny that water wouldn’t get in during use. And it didn’t. But if that pinpoint hole should enlarge? I don’t know. After 8 months of use, the owner had a motor malfunction. What I find important to note is that she said that if the motor had not malfunctioned at 8 months in, she would not have been able to get a warranty replacement. I was shocked. Paint is flaking off, yet that is considered a cosmetic issue and is not covered under their 1 year warranty?!? And, good thing the malfunction happened at 8 months in. Past the year mark, one would only get a 50% off credit towards a new Lelo.  Now, this doesn’t mean that you would have these issues with the motor. You may never. But chances of the paint flaking off? I’m saying it’s pretty likely:

leloflake1

leloflake2

Despite the reader who emailed me saying that she treats her toy well, it seems that even those who are careful can suffer a surface scratch to the painted plastic portion and not even realize it – until it later starts flaking. Since the painted portion is concave, it’s less likely that it is a rubbing-off issue. When I used to use silver-toned corded bullet vibrators, after a few months of heavy use the paint would start wearing. I didn’t use them internally so I wasn’t as concerned. But these were cheap, $10 bullets. Not $200 rabbits or $150 lackluster straight vibes or $115 clitoral vibes.

I contacted Lelo to ask if my reader’s Soraya is covered under warranty, just in case. In reading the warranty terms on the Lelo site, it says:

This pleasure object is intended for adults only. LELO warrants this pleasure object for a period of ONE (1) YEAR, after the date of original purchase, against defects due to faulty workmanship or materials. If you discover a defect and notify LELO during the warranty period, LELO will, at its discretion, replace the pleasure object free of charge.

The warranty covers working parts that affect the function of the pleasure object. It does NOT cover cosmetic deterioration caused by fair wear and tear or damage caused by accident, misuse or neglect. Any attempt to open or take apart the pleasure object (or its accessories) will void the warranty.

Now….I take issue with this. I feel that the paint flaking off of a portion you use internally is a result of faulty workmanship or materials. I don’t view that as a mere cosmetic issue.

I can see the paint flaking off of the battery covers to the Insignia SenseMotion remotes, as well, in fact much more easily. I’ve already scratched the surface of mine just by trying to get the damn battery cover off, even using their plastic key. A lot of handling of that remote would cause paint to flake off. Now that I would not take as big of an issue with since it would not be on the internally used portion, but again for the price of these toys…..I would feel cheated to have to look at an ugly, expensive toy.

Thankfully, Lelo responded the way I had hoped they would:

leloflake3

So it seems that the problematic owner from the forums took the warranty to heart and never asked. She didn’t outright say that she tried to return it under warranty and was denied. She assumed she was, and her assumptions made it sound like fact in her reporting.

Always ask. Especially when it comes to higher end companies like Lelo.

Jan 162013
 

 

nonmonogamy2.5.1

 

Non-Monogamy encompasses a whole host of various situations: Swingers, couples in open relationships, people who identify as polyamorous or even just those who are not in committed relationships and are dating numerous people. Most of these non-monogamous people are (hopefully) well aware of safe sex practices and use them every time.

While I doubt that the majority of people bring their vibes to sex parties & clubs and pass em around like a drinking game, there are other situations outside of the realm of monogamy where sharing sex toys may come into play. Even 1-on-1 or threesomes should be treated with care if you aren’t fluid-bonded.

Cock Rings

More than half of you out there still probably own sex toys made from materials that would cause me premature grey hair, try as I might to dissuade you. But many people, even if they’ve switched to silicone vibrators and glass dildos, pull out a cock ring from their arsenal now and then and I’m betting it’s not silicone.  Most cock rings are inexpensive and made from various soft and stretchy materials: Jelly/Rubber, Elastomer/TPR (less porous than jelly and usually non-toxic, but still porous) or silicone blends (which seems to be an industry lie). You’ll see these so-called “silicone blends” show up in sneaky ways; they’ll be labeled “SEBS” which Screaming O has claimed stands for silicone-elastomer blend (a lie, SEBS stands for something else entirely), or they’ll just merely be labeled a quiet, solitary “silicone” depending on how well the retailer does their homework. As I’ve mentioned in the past, these sex toy companies can outright lie. The previous myth of “if it contains 10% silicone, they can call it silicone” is false – they can call it whatever they want, regardless of the material composition. Of course, you can whip out your trusty sex-geek-detective lighter and perform a flame test. I flame-tested a Screaming O “SEBS” cock ring, and it burned hotter and brighter than your average oil lamp. Silicone? I think not. Another quick test is visual – if the material is crystal clear, then it is not silicone. Clear silicone is a cloudy clear.

So, what’s the big deal, you ask? Unless you’re buying the truly disposable one-and-done vibrating cock rings1, then your little gummy, (possibly) buzzy ring of fun is quite porous – and can’t be sanitized nor therefore shared. Yes, this also means the ones that you purchase in the condom aisle. Unlike most vibrators and dildos, a vibrating cock ring can’t be covered by a condom for barrier protection so the cock ring could be exposed to vaginal and/or seminal fluids. If you are using a simple non-vibrating cock ring, one that goes around just the base of the cock, you may be able to get away with covering it with a condom, but keep an eye on it.  Since I’ve never tried to do that I can’t say if the condom would keep it covered or not.  There are also some silicone cock rings but again the norm seems to be jelly or TPR.

Also, don’t let a luxury price tag on the vibrating versions fool you into submission.The Lelo Bo, Tor 1, and the Bedroom Kandi Rise and Shine are all higher-end cock rings that are rechargeable but they are made from Elastomer or TPR. Soft, stretchy and free from phthalates and latex, they’re certainly better for your body than the cheap jelly versions but they’re still porous and should never be shared beyond fluid-bonded partners. The Lelo Tor II, the Tantus C-Ring, Je Joue Mio, some BMS brand rings and the Tenga cock ring are all made from true silicone. However, even though many of these are waterproof they’re still vibrators and should never be boiled or tossed in the dishwasher. You’ll be able to get a safe clean by a simple handwash.

Penis Extenders and Sleeves

The vast majority of these are not silicone – and they’re highly porous to boot so they’re definitely not for you if you’re sharing sex toys. Vixen makes a few, like the Ride On, but the price is so high that it will deter most buyers. I see a lot that have “silicone” in the name, but these are all going to be TPR labeled sometimes as that liar term “TPR silicone” – therefore, porous. Many extenders/sleeves and cuffs are designed to be really stretchy and soft – that’s not a common attribute in pure silicone items.  From what I’ve seen, a company called Oxballs  makes a couple extenders that appear at first glance to be pure silicone but most are TPR. So please keep these porous models limited to a single partner, and keep in mind the fact that these are all porous – this means it will never get truly clean and sanitized, the softer ones could mildew if stored while still wet from cleaning, and they may retain stains and/or odors after an extended time of use. SheVibe allows you to limit your searches of extenders and cages to see only those made of silicone, but the choices for extenders are slim.

Harnesses and Dildos

Moving on from cock-centric toys, I want to talk about dildos. Especially harness-compatible dildos. The guidelines are pretty damn simple: Get silicone dildos. Covering it with a condom will work IF you use the right kind of condom (and you probably aren’t) and it’s not silicone or covering it with the right kind of condom if it IS silicone and you’re sharing between non-fluid-bonded partners without a wash in between. Even if you’re using a silicone dildo, if the dildo is used primarily for butt play then it can retain some Eau de Fart. I have some tips to help combat this, but you may find times when that silicone dildo you used for butt play is not suitable for a harness blow-job.  There are plenty of affordable silicone dildos out there, plus Tantus is always having a sale (and often their sales can be combined with my coupon code, LILLY, which takes 15% off your order).

Most harnesses are made from leather or a fabric (even just strap webbing is fabric). These are porous, and should be considered a one-partner item unless they are washable, in which case please wash in between partners.

Metal, Wood and Glass Toys

Provided that the toys are free from defects2, these should be safe to share between partners and anal-to-vaginal if they are washed thoroughly in between partners and uses. Take careful note if the toy is highly textured – really make sure to scrub all around the nubs, ridges, etc to be sure you’ve removed any traces of fluids. A non-textured seamless item made from any of these materials though will be super easy to clean in between partners; you could even just keep a pack of Afterglow Wipes on hand if you’re in situations (like at a swinger’s club) where departing to a sink in the middle of multi-person fun would kill your mood. They do have anti-bacterial properties and are body safe to all but the extremely sensitive folks – I don’t know though if I’d recommend using them on a toy, using the toy on a woman, and then after that move to oral sex, I can’t imagine that Bergomot oil tastes very good with all the other chemicals but I’m ultra sensitive to that sort of thing, your mileage may vary. Please note: If you’re using a wood sex toy, the only company who makes truly safely-coated ones able to withstand alcohol and bleach solutions for sanitization is Nobessence. If you bought any other brand, I would not advise sharing it.

Vibrators

Again, stick to only silicone (or condom-covered TPR) and make sure to thoroughly wash it in between partners. Be sure to get down in the cracks and crevices if the toy has, say, a hard plastic handle (Like Lelo vibes). For more immediate use, if you’re able, cover with a condom. If the only sex toys you own are made from porous materials, then you should always cover with a condom even if you’re the only user. For vibrators that are entirely made of hard ABS plastic, these can just be wiped down with a little soap and water, rinsed or again cover with a condom if there’s no immediate availability to get to a sink in between partners. ABS plastic is non-porous, but you do have to watch out for nubs and crevices. Pocket rockets are the worst offenders at keeping clean. The Hitachi Magic Wand (or a similar wand vibrator) has porous material on the head; not all wand vibrators are like this, but certainly the ones originally marketed for actual back massaging. Newer wand vibrators that are made by sex toy companies are sometimes made with a silicone head like the Mystic Wand or the Lelo Smart Wand, but also keep in mind that many wand makers like to add texture and ridges to the head – those spots are harder to clean on the fly so covering it with a condom if immediate sharing is likely is a safe bet. There are more and more silicone-covered wands being made these days and some, like the Dorr Avond or Doxy 3 are excellent for their ease of cleaning.  If you’re not 100% certain though, cover the head with a condom. It’s also a good idea to continue the condom down past the exposed metal portion and onto the plastic handle if you’re going to be in a group situation with people who are copious squirters. A note about the condom: Make sure you’re buying the right kind of condoms for your wand. Chances are good you don’t have the right kind on hand.

Kink and Leather

I’m not talking about kink to those that frequently visit BDSM clubs; they are all pretty aware of safety precautions but those that just play casually in the bedroom won’t be aware about certain things. Any item that breaks/scratches the skin or causes welts that can bleed (if you get that rough) should be kept only to one person.

Gags that have leather straps would also need to be kept to one person. Cock rings can be leather. Paddles can be leather. The shiny side is water resistant but the rough parts aren’t, and none of it is non-porous.

Rope: If you tie anybody up and the rope comes into contact with saliva or other bodily fluids, wash the rope before using it on another person.

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

At the end of the day, sex toys can and should be used to enhance any sexual encounter if it’s something that you and/or your partner(s) enjoys. But when you step outside the relative safety3 of a fluid-bonded monogamous couple, things can muddy up in ways that many people don’t think of. Why yes, actually, I have witnessed amateur porn where the sex toys were shared copiously with little regard to safety. It happens. The sex-positive bubble is small in comparison to the rest of the world; that much is obvious since jelly/rubber/icky toys are still such a hot commodity. The most conscientious person will always bring their own sex toy if they already own some great ones, that way there’s no worry about sharing if everyone has their own. The perfect kit would likely contain a few different types of lube (be sure to have an all-natural one like Sliquid for those who have sensitive skin issues), a few different types of condoms for both sex and sex toys, nitrile gloves, and toy cleansing wipes.  If you only ever purchase your sex toys online, like me, finding affordable sample sizes of lube can be pretty damn difficult. I only have some because of my attendance over the years at places like the NYC Sex Bloggers Calendar parties, Momentum, etc. but they are perfect little things to have when you don’t want to worry about the lube bottle spilling out in your purse or you don’t have the room for a few bottles. The sex toy retailers used to all have lube samplers; I really liked the one GoodVibes used to offer, but for some reason nobody  carries these anymore. You can find them on places like Amazon or at condom-centric online places, but many will not include the better brands like Sliquid or any all-natural lubes. They will, however, give you a full buffet of flavored samples if that happens to be your thing (it shouldn’t be though, the ingredients list on those is not palatable). You can also buy up a cube of Sliquid “sachets” of lube, but they’re not exactly affordable for frequent use, it looks like they run around $1 each plus shipping.

But think about it: if you always had easy access to a little case containing an awesome little vibe (ahem: Tango), 2 gloves, half a dozen condoms and lube samples plus a few single packets of Afterglow wipes4? Not only would you be the most awesome person at the sex party, but your individual random encounters would be safer and fun, always.

A note on choosing condoms for use as toy covers:

After a lot of research and at-home tests, I’ve found that latex condoms are horrible for sex toys made from jelly, PVC, TPR, rubber, etc. Also, most condoms (of all kinds) use cheap silicone lube. And if they do use water-based lube, the ingredients look like they may be toxic or highly irritating to some. Make sure you’re using the right condom material and type for your situation – more about this is found here.

 

Thanks to Lorax of Sex for their help!

  1. And actually using it once, with one person, and then pitching it
  2. And if they have defects, nobody should be using them – get them replaced!!
  3. I say relative because there are no guarantees that someone won’t cheat; there’s also the chance that if you haven’t been together for years, an STD may have been dormant and didn’t show up on your pre-marriage STD panel
  4. Also, why the hell don’t any online retailers offer such a thing? Lube samples are like the drug company logo pens of the sex toy industry. I’d certainly pay $19.99 for kit containing a dozen or so lube samples, 12 various condoms, a couple dental dams and half a dozen Afterglow wipes. Maybe I should make a company that sells those. That would be genius
Dec 232012
 

I thought that this recent question deserved to be highlighted more:

I want to buy my girlfriend an anal plug/toy. She’s new to anal; she tried the finger and now I believe she wants to pass to another level… I just want to give her a toy and let her experiment a little bit. Now, I am new also in the toy buying and I need your advice. Can you recommend something for beginners? I am aware about the materials but I still don’t know what to choose. I believe she needs something soft, something with a “natural feel”. Any advice will be appreciated.

My response1:

A plug is something you wear around for hours or you can also just use it for the occasion, while just a simple toy is used as-is. The most comfortable plugs have a definitive difference between the neck and the body, with a decent base. The neck is what sits at the sphincter level; the sphincter prefers to be closed so a plug that will feel the most natural and least like she’s about to poop will have a thin neck.

I would also caution against looking for something super-soft and cushy/squishy simply because you need something with a bit of “backbone” to be able to penetrate the ass. That first sphincter muscle, especially, can be quite stubborn for beginners on letting anything inside the ass. Biologically speaking, it’s not natural. Your rectum and sphincter are built for exit-only; when the sphincter is open, it wants to close. And when things come out it is much easier than putting something in. That’s not to say that anal play is bad or dangerous; not at all if done right. I’m just pointing out that it’s not the biological function de facto which is why things may seem a little tricky at first.

If she’s taken nothing other than a single finger, I would highly suggest that no matter what else you get, you get her a warm-up dildo or two. Preferably two. The Tantus Silks are the absolute best. I have them both and in my opinion you cannot just jump to the medium if you’re brand new to anal.  I was steered towards the Silk Small as a warm-up and introductory toy to my Crystal Delights plug; despite the fact that I chose their smaller plug, it was still a little too big for me to just jump right to. The Silk Small was amazing. Only after sufficient play with the Silk Small would I graduate up to the Silk Medium. Even after numerous play sessions, to get used to the “weird feeling”, I would still start off each time with the Silk Small as a warm-up before moving on to the Silk Medium.  These are smooth, plain and great for getting the anus and sphincter used to having something there. Other small, silicone options include plugs like the Tantus Little Flirt which if you get from their “Grab Bag” section, is under $20. The same can be said for the Ripple Small from Grab Bag. Tantus Meteorite is slightly bigger than the Little Flirt, but the fun colors demand a higher price tag.  Tantus Warm Up dildo is a newer design, and is another small 1″ option. This would actually be great for prostate play introduction. If you’re looking for something a bit more realistic in design, consider the Vixen Small Bent. They make one in standard Vixen silicone, and then the Spur is the soft, Vixskin option. That will give you a little cushion and comfort.

Plugs that receive rave reviews from everyone are the Njoy Pure Plugs. I know that stainless steel can seem intimidating to a first-timer, which is why warm-up toys are imperative. The Pure Plug Medium though has a max diameter of 1.25″ and a nice, long thin neck. It’s built for comfort and to wear around for hours and hours. The steel might be cold at first, but you can warm it up in a bowl of *semi-warm* (not hot) tap water if you want.

If you’re already ready to move past the 1″ and under set, the Fun Factory Bootie is highly recommended for something under $50. The Tantus Ryder is also a good pick.

Make sure you use plenty of lube! Thicker gel-like lubes work best for anal play. While many companies will tell you that you should avoid silicone-based lubes with silicone toys, the higher quality silicone of Tantus can tolerate certain higher-quality silicone-based lubes. Hybrid lubes are great as they have a small amount of silicone so they don’t interact, but Tantus have recommended brands like Sliquid as having high compatibility even if it’s just straight silicone lube. As always though, you have to do lube research – too low of a pH for lube for the butt can lead to a stinging sensation which is not good! Use the Lube Guide to find a lube that is a good pH and devoid of irritating chemicals.

Random Important Anal Play Information:

  • Please AVOID anal numbing  / desensitizing creams, gels and sprays. I can understand that newbies will be nervous about it feeling weird or hurting, but the anus is very special – if you do not use enough lube and you use a toy that is too big, too soon, you can create tiny tears in the skin called fissures. This is bad because then you are at a high risk for getting fecal matter into the open skin; you’re also at a higher risk for transmitting diseases of all types through broken skin.
  • When you’re using fingers, it’s really best to put on a nitrile glove. This is a safety trick for both the receiver (fingernails!!) and the giver (broken skin? fecal matter under the fingernail?)
  • Never, ever ever ever share anything between the ass and the mouth or the ass and the vagina. Never. Ever. Have I made my point clear? Ignore what they do in porn. Those butts have been cleaned out better than your average endoscopy requires, and there is no fecal matter that might transfer. You or your partner could become very sick if you don’t heed this warning. This also applies to sex toys. The only toys that should ever be used in both holes are non-porous ones that can be properly sanitized  – silicone, glass, metal. And you absolutely must sanitize in between orifices.
  • There will sometimes be a little poop. It’s a fact of life, it’s going to happen. Just have warm, wet washclothes or baby wipes right near by.  If your partner cannot handle this, then you need to rethink anal play with them. Consider buying black sex toys, too, as they won’t show fecal matter like a pastel pink dildo would.
  • Anal play, when done right, can be very pleasurable – for women and men. Men have the added bonus of a prostate to enjoy, but that’s for another guide. Many women have experienced g-spot stimulation via anal play (the wall inside between the vagina and rectum is very thin).
  1. My response is directed to the asker, who has a female partner. However, my information is the same for all genders – I just am focusing on the butt, not the prostate this time
Jul 192012
 

All of my readers know, or should know, that I think vibrators are awesome. Spectacular. A boon to sexual health. Not everybody will agree with me, though. So today when I ran across a post that sounded very anti-vibrator, I’ll admit…my hackles were raised in right quick order.

N of My Dissolute Life allows readers to ask questions for him to advise on. Today’s question was “I can’t orgasm without a vibrator. What should I do?”. My answer is obvious: Embrace it. Bring it in to your partnered sex life. Be happy that you can achieve orgasm whatever way that works for you. As I commented on N’s post, I spent 10 years not having orgasms because I didn’t know any better. It’s not that sex didn’t feel good….no, it felt great. But I couldn’t push over that edge and I was ashamed of it. I didn’t tell my partners. I hid it. That was a disservice to myself AND my partners. But I didn’t really know about sex toys and I had no idea that a vibrator could help me. Today, a vibrator is present in damn near every sexual encounter I have, unless to do so would simply be cumbersome. My husband has no problems with it. He’s very much a part of and responsible for my orgasms during sex. My husband, and any partner I choose to have sex with, is evolved, sensitive, realistic, secure and respectful about my sexuality and my sexual needs.

But N’s “non-kinky” answer was : “The generic one is this: you just need to break your addiction. Plain and simple. STOP masturbating with a vibrator. Sure, you’ll have some period of time when you’re dying to cum, dying to take out your trusty old friend. But you need to use that desperation in service of your elusive manual orgasm. I promise: if you go a month without an orgasm by the vibrator, you’ll be able to have one by hand.” (read his whole post here)

I got so upset at this that I immediately put on my commenting hat and my hands were actually shaking. Yes, I did jump on the “mansplaining” cart perhaps a little too quickly but maybe not. I’m not about to tell any man that the method he uses for orgasm is bad and he should stop it, if he should come to me feeling insecure about it. I will suggest to him ways to incorporate it into partnered sex. But since I lack a penis and prostate, I don’t have any actual experienced knowledge on how the male orgasm works.

I cannot say this enough: Vibrators are not a problem. They are not bad, they are not habit-forming, they are not dangerous, you are not weak and broken if you need one. Personally, I’ve found that my use of vibrators has increased my sensitivity. When I first started,  I needed things that were super strong. As I’ve tried more toys I’ve discovered that it’s about more than just the strength, it’s the depth of the vibrations. I need more than just the external head my clit stimulated. It’s that simple. Since I’ve been using vibrators I have indeed been able to orgasm with just fingers or tongues and yes, I was delighted about this. I’m happy to try again because it leads to a different-feeling orgasms than the vibrators and it’s a novelty to me. It’s the same thing for me as if I tried to bake a loaf of bread and it turned out well. Yay! But I suck at baking so 90% of the time I’m going to purchase pre-made bread and that’s ok. There’s nothing wrong with having someone or something else make my bread.

This isn’t the first time a man will proclaim vibrators to be bad for us, and I’m quite sure it won’t be the last. In fact I’m sure that there are women who are anti-vibrator. (I don’t understand why, though. Why the fuck are so many people so fucking judgmental when it comes to how someone else does something? What do you care if I need a vibrator? It’s not hurting you. Don’t shame me into thinking I’m broken. Live your life and be happy, let me do the same. You don’t personally like or need vibrators? Great! More power (or not) to you! I’m starting to think the hippie compounds of the 1960s had it right. )

Embrace your sexuality. Embrace your kinks, explore whatever avenues you want. But rest assured you are not alone in whatever it is you need and like for your orgasms or arousal.

BE SEX POSITIVE.

 

 

Apr 292012
 

There are two sex toy materials that seem to scare the uninitiated: Glass and wood1. It is ironic considering that the material you should be the most scared of is the one 50% of customers purchase willingly and gleefully. But glass is strong, non-porous, is not made with chemicals and is compatible with every type of lube.

The World of Glass Sex Toys

The glass we use is Borosilicate glass (often known as the trade name “Pyrex”). A 1-inch rod of Pyrex glass requires more than 3000 pounds of pressure to snap in half and has a crush strength of over 8 tons. Our glass pieces, after being formed initially,  are put back into the kiln and “annealed” (heated) almost back to melting point. This gives each piece its final smoothness and brings the glass back to its full strength because all the parts have been completely fused together into a single solid work of art.  This adds hours of extra time to the process and is one of the first places that will be scrimped on with the much less expensive glass products.  Knowing where the glass comes from is really important to help you understand that every piece you receive is a unique handmade piece of art crafted lovingly just for you!

Shellie, owner of Crystal Delights glass dildos and plugs

Not all glass sex toys are created equal, however. I’ve certainly been disappointed in quality issues with glass dildos I’ve received (the most obvious being the ugly one) – mainly because despite the “hand-blown” buzz word, the toys were mass-produced and failed to look like the photos provided. When you buy a glass sex toy you absolutely must be prepared to receive something that is not a perfect replica down to the millimeter of the photos and specs on the retail site you’re purchasing from. But yet too much of an anomaly leads to surprises of the bad kind, disappointments, and sometimes leaves you with a sex toy you have no desire to use. I’ve owned glass dildos from Pipedreams, Joyful Pleasures, Dream Toys and SSA Glass. Joyful Pleasures was probably the best out of those but it still was a let down due to the size difference from their stats to what I actually received. The SSA Glass dildos were all huge disappointments in all aspects: quality, design and consistency. But then again the saying “you get what you pay for” is true; SSA Glass is cheap and it shows. The cheaper glass sex toys still won’t break during sexual use but they might chip more easily. They certainly won’t have the artistic beauty and careful construction like truly hand-made glass toys will.

One thing that all of the above sex toy manufacturers have in common is that their glass dildos are produced in a large plant in China. This isn’t necessarily a death sentence but it depends on how involved the manufacturer is in their quality control – I’ve dealt with companies who manufacture in China and they turn out quality products that are consistent. But what if you knew that your sex toy was made locally by a skilled artisan and that it passed through only a few hands before arriving on your doorstep?

Crystal Delights – Small Manufacturer of High-Quality Glass Sex Toys

Crystal Delights Twist dildos and anal plugs Crystal Delights display case - glass dildos, glass plugs, a bunny tail and more One of the many unique Crystal Delights "vintage" series, made from antique buttons, medallions, etc. This one is mine!!

I have talked with Shellie, the owner, a few times about sex toy businesses and her glass sex toys. Talking to her always reinforces why we should make the effort to choose small sex toy companies over the Founding 5. Shellie designs the toys, inspects them and packages them up for shipment herself. You’ll never receive a plug or dildo or paddle that she hasn’t personally looked over to make sure it meets her standards. She uses just one local glass blower who is very adept at creating consistently high quality items. While you still see minor differences in size because there is no mold to fill, you can also do something with Shellie that you can’t do with larger companies: Talk to her. I know, it’s a novel idea! But let’s say that you’re eying up her small glass butt plug and you’re still really new to anal plugs. You might feel a little nervous about the size and wish that it was a little smaller. All you have to do is email Shellie and tell her that you’d like a plug that runs a little under the normal specs. If you’d like to go even further you can contact her to make a custom piece!

I have my own glass plug2 courtesy of Shellie and I’ve seen all of her stuff in person a few times. The vintage plugs, the Swarovski crystal plugs and dildos, the glass paddles, the tail plugs – it is all, without a doubt, the most stunning and sparkly glass sex toy collection I’ve ever seen. Not one piece looked weird or wonky. In fact, I don’t think I’ve even read a bad review on her stuff.

A pile of Crystal Delights glass butt plugs sparkling in the sun - taken in the vendor room at MomentumCon 2012

Image courtesy of Crystal Delights

I asked Shellie a few questions because I’m a Sex Toy Geek!

How do you come up with your designs?

The basic design is the easy part!  You can get inspiration from almost anything, it can be the color, the shape, the attachment (crystal, medallion, tail) or even a customer request, can I have this but bend it this way or add a bump here, shorter, longer, you get the point.  But that really is the beauty of glass, it is very adaptable!

Do you do a lot of testing and revamping the designs before you list them?

That is a difficult question, sometimes things just come together and its fast and perfect right off the bat, but other times it takes months to get it just right, there is testing here before it goes out to my “product testers” and then feedback from them before it is ready to launch.  What I think is a brilliant idea sometimes isn’t!

What sort of “quality control” things do you do that a large manufacturer overseas wouldn’t do?

This is one of the things that I love about glass manufacturing, I touch and look at every piece of glass that goes out the door to a customer. And I am the second line that has done that, because the glass blower has already looked at it as well.  We want to be able to take those extra steps to make sure we are giving you the best possible product for your money.  We know that you have many choices and we want you to be glad you picked us for your business.   I try to be available as much as possible via social media, email, even phone to help with anything that might come up, we want you to know we take customer service, and our products seriously.

Can you work with people to create a custom design or size?

We can and do!  I have several custom pieces out there already and I often contact people when I get a special tail, or medallion in that I think they would love.  Again that is part of what is special about handmade glass from a small company; I like to know my customers and what they want and ,if there is any way possible, get it to them.  That isn’t a possibility from the big box manufacturers importing from China.

Glass Sex Toy Pros, Cons and Myths

  • Pro: Glass is non-porous and free of any chemicals that might be harmful
  • Pro: Glass is compatible with any type of lube
  • Pro: Glass is easy to clean (depending on the design, of course as some more elaborate designs can require more than just a rinse to get in the crevices) and can be sterilized in boiling water or the top rack of your dishwasher. Check with the manufacturer, though, before subjecting it to high heat.
  • Myth: Glass sex toys will break during use – I don’t know what people think when they think of glass sex toys but the truth is that they’re made out of a very sturdy and solid glass (borosilicate) that is resistant to cracks and damage. This isn’t like your grandmother’s antique glassware or anything. 98% of glass sex toys are solid, not hollow3.
  • Myth: Glass sex toys will cut/injure you – Unless you managed to chip it, that’s simply impossible. Before you use your glass sex toys you should always inspect them for damage. While they are difficult to damage with normal use, it’s still possible to accidentally drop it on the wrong surface at the wrong angle and incur damage. 
  • Pro: Glass is a natural and reusable material. Have a glass toy that chipped? Safely smash it up to bits and use it in a mosaic somewhere; otherwise try to locate a recycler who takes this type of glass (Just ask if they recycle Pyrex-type glass).
  • Con: Glass is very sensitive to temperature – great for temperature play if you do it correctly (warm or cool water only) but you must be careful! You know what happens when you stick out your tongue and lick a frozen lamp pole, right? Yeah. Don’t ever freeze your sex toys for sadistic play. Don’t dunk them in boiling water for cleaning without donning silicone oven mitts or having another safe method of retrieval.
  • Con: One chip and you’re done for. Yes, it can chip. It’s not something that happens easily and I’m not saying that you should only use glass sex toys in a padded room but do be careful. When you’re boiling it for cleaning, have a tea towel in the pot to protect surfaces and only do one sex toy at a time. Dishwashers are fine. I’d caution clumsy people against using a glass dildo if you’re in a room full of concrete or ceramic surfaces (in case you drop it).
  • Pro: You won’t need as much lube for a clear glass (i.e. non-frosted) sex toy
  • Pro: Can double as art! I’ve seen some stunning pieces that could easily sit in a china cabinet. Of course you should only do this if you’re prepared for the “Ohhh that’s pretty…..what is it?” question.

 

Steele Malone Glass "Dilettos"/Dildos

Image Courtesy of Steele Malone, manufacturers of artistic glass dilettos

Just like with any other sex toy, you should be mindful of which glass sex toy manufacturers you entrust. Not all glass toys are made from damage-resistant heat-resistant borosilicate and not all borosilicate glass toys are annealed for extra strength! This is why I personally  recommend Crystal Delights and other small manufacturers like Simply Blown and Steele Malone who all use glass-blowers and keep things simple and local4. I’ve also seen some very unique glass sex toys on Etsy which are made by glass artisans and can range from the mundane been-there-done-that to beautiful, original works of art.

Do you have any more questions on glass sex toys? Ask and I will get the answers!

Already familiar with the joys and beauty of glass? Tell me in comments what your most favorite pieces are!

  1. If I had a dollar for every time I saw a comment about Nobessence or Hans wooden dildos saying something along the lines of “I’d be scared of splinters!!” I’d be a somewhat rich woman. Still annoyed as hell, but at least rich and annoyed
  2. It’s fucking gorgeous, I love so many of her vintage ones but this one spoke to me, you can see it here
  3. Actually I’ve only seen one hollow glass dildo and it was made by Don Wands. It was hollow because they painted the design on the inside. This left a small hole in the dildo where the miniscule brush went in and during use small amounts of body fluid and lube would get in. During cleaning, water would get in. It also resulted in a dildo that left a lot of people feeling nervous about its strength
  4. I’ve never seen or tried out a Simply Blown or Steele Malone dildo, though, they’re not common at online stores and they’re too pricey for me to buy!