Well, I’d say it’s been getting easier because it probably looks that way from the outside, but it really isn’t. Every day is sort of a literal/figurative rinse, lather, and repeat with different Lush products to make it seem less repetitive, but it’s still the same process. Running trainings for Planned Parenthood employees, biking 23 miles, somehow managing to visit friends at RennFaire three times… I’m active and it’s valuable but it also distracts me from the biggest realities of missing my ex and wondering what the fuck happened to my sex drive.
I’ve still got it in my head that there’s a purpose for not wanting anyone else, and I think that might be a good move for different reasons, but why the hell can’t I bring myself to jerk off? The times I do, I end up in tears before orgasm, and if I do have that rare orgasm in between, it’s filled with emptiness and dissatisfaction. Have I become one of those people who replaces sexual release with exercise? Someone I thought I’d never be, not because I judge “that person,” but because I never believed I could enjoy exercise.
The only times I do come are in the shower, rocking 5 minute wall sits until my quads are on fire with the shower head pulsing away at my parts. My skin is so hungry, and yet I get nauseous at the thought of anyone touching me. It also doesn’t help that I was just recently diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis and kidney stones, so my body and mind are all over the place. I recognize the dissonance and contradictions in all the circles of my sexuality right now and yet feel completely helpless to do anything. I even tried buying a Crave Flex since I liked the Vesper so much and grew increasingly frustrated at my body’s response. Something didn’t translate, whether it be the silky silicone and bendy tip or the dulling effect the vibrations had as I tried to press them harder onto my parts.
The modes seemed excessive and where I’m at mentally, the process of having to skip through to find the strongest constant vibration was (and is) enough to lose my build. At this point, something so simple as a truck driving past my window can carry away any tenuous desire I have for an orgasm, so the process of experimenting with new toys is just an investment I can’t emotionally or physically handle right now. I’ve had one orgasm in the 5 or 6 times I tried the Flex and it required me to be on my knees, squatted over my Shilo, again becoming increasingly frustrated that here I am, fucking my own dick and trying to pretend it’s his, wishing I at least had him to help me thrust the Shilo. It wasn’t until the burning of my quads kicked in that I could get back into my body and appreciate the increase of heartrate long enough to let go of thoughts and just come.
The Flex is probably amazing for folks, between the multiple vibrations from tip to base and its attached USB charger (so all you need to do is find a laptop or wall outlet without bothering with wires). It’s really nice to look at and still somewhat in the same price range as the Vesper, but something about having the sheer metal and temperature change of the Vesper gives me truly pinpoint stimulation without any power diffusing through silicone. I’d still recommend it, and maybe someday I’ll be able to pull out of my funk enough to truly enjoy it.
So my birthday recently passed on March 31st, and despite living that typical Aries life for now 32 years…firey, stubborn, willing to get into fights with “high-horsed” folx, I’ve also heard the Zodiac has changed and supposedly I’m a Pisces? Which, to be honest, sort of makes sense. The water to my fire, the manic depression of my life, my tendency to socially withdraw but also want to flow and enjoy the fluidity of existence…even the way I write with ellipsis because I find discomfort in the permanence of a period. My living space has gradually taken on water themes in my places of relaxation, namely the bathroom and bedroom. (Interestingly enough my living room has always had red and blue themes…fire and water perhaps?) So I know the Zodiac is often what we make of it and many folx are saying the new shift is kind of BS, but if I could pick any other sign to replace the Aries I’ve strongly identified with for all these years, it’d probably have to be a Pisces.
After finally diving into the world of fantasy dildos with my Phoenix Flame Forge Monty the Manticore, I wanted to continue my collection, but also learned through my Damn AverageLumpy that soft silicone just wasn’t for me. I knew Tails and Portholes had so many beautiful nautically-themed pieces that came with dual density options, but was hesitant to shell out the doubloons right away. When the announcement came that Brandie would be closing up shop for good, the choice was made. The Leviathan I’d been scoping out needed to become a reality. I picked my colors (Mermaid’s Tail, a beautiful swirl of glittery blue and green), selected the dual density option, and waited for my loot to arrive.
What came in a lovely organza pouch was my Leviathan, a squishy, intricately detailed work of art with a gorgeous gloss and an extremely wide base. This is easily the most beautiful toy in my collection now. Every sucker, every ridge, every dip is so deliberately and brilliantly placed all the way down to the logo at the dorsal base of the toy. SO much thought went into the exterior design of this toy and I wish I could find more ways to show it off because it seems tragic to have it sitting on a shelf all day.
As far as function goes, I found myself expecting the wide tip and expansive shaft to leave me feeling full, which didn’t quite happen. During thrusting, the Leviathan just sort of mushed into me, and while the flayed head does give me that initial G-spot shock of “oh hello” when it pops inside, once I get to a thrusting motion I find myself wanting more. I tried using the Leviathan as a G-spotter to orgasm by pulling the head slightly out of me instead of thrusting it, but the softness of the head conformed to the shape of my G-spot instead of stimulating it.
Even with the dual-density, the silicone was just too soft to offer enough pressure, and the dual-density itself does not reach the G-spot tip. When I use it vigorously, I’m just wiggling it all over the place, going left and right but not really in and out. The Leviathan is acharacteristic from my experience with dual-densities like the Vixskin Mustang, Tantus’s Mikey, or my NYTC Shilo. Because The Leviathan’s dual-density doesn’t flare throughout its extremely wide base, the base itself gets a little floppy and bends when I try to get a grip. Even though the base is still really nicely designed, (there’s even a little thumb-dip) something still isn’t working and I think it might just be the large base circumference combined with the softness and overall weight of the toy. If my hands were a little bigger or my grip a little stronger this might work but right now I just keep cramping up.
The advantage of the dual-density core not reaching the base, however, is that I am able to curl the Leviathan once it’s inside of me in order to rub all of the tentacle suckers against my bits. I can bend it in all different ways to meet different angles of my anatomy in order to stimulate my sensitive parts. It’s pretty electric for someone who doesn’t normally use texture for clitoral stimulation. (This is giving me a newfound curiosity towards Funkit’s Signet project). The suckers also make great sounds for folks into auditory stuffs, kind of like really yummy sex as each tentacle catches a bit of air and lube and flesh. It’s sort of a slurpy sex feeling I wasn’t really expecting, so added bonus! The suckers also work as little lube trappers, keeping the Leviathan from getting too slippery but somehow making it slick enough once the shaft is inside me.
For science’s sake, I used Phoenix Flame Forge’s Monty the Manticore directly after The Leviathan to see what the difference in orgasms would be like. While I had difficulty orgasming with The Leviathan because of penetration frustration, I noticed that the Monty’s density was actually a bit firmer and Monty’s pointy tip actually gave me great G-spot stimulation as it held form during thrusting. Because of Monty’s slickness and shape, however, it was even more difficult getting a grip once fully lubed.
Whereas The Leviathan’s flayed tip and bumpy texture kept it snug inside of me during orgasm spasms, the Monty went shooting out the moment I started pulsing. Both toys have their pluses and minuses. Overall, I continue to learn that I just really am not a fan of soft silicone, but given the beauty and now the rarity of The Leviathan and the incredible work Brandie does for Tails and Portholes, I am so proud to have this new addition in my home.
When I was approached by Liberator to review their Black Label Esse Chaise, I was sort of mystified. Like this blog post and even the Chaise itself, I didn’t know where to start or how to react. I was excited, I was intimidated, I knew the possibilities would be beyond my imagination and I knew things were really up to me for direction and choice.
Now, I’m switchy in all aspects of my life: kink, academia, picking a place to eat…when it comes to fucking on a gorgeous piece of furniture or choosing how to write about it, the same principles apply. Do I take the cerebral road and wax poetic about how this item has led me to reconsider disability, particularly in my anxieties over using it? Do I just get straight into the meat of the review because I think readers would be more interested in the form and function of the chaise for their own personal considerations, particularly given the price-point of the toy and the decisions required to make such an investment? I really don’t know.
I know I could write a really lengthy post about the whole experience, and I’ve only really used the chaise for sex three times after having it for a month, but to be completely transparent, I’m contracted by Liberator to write this free review within 30 days, so time is somewhat a factor. Which plays into the first theme of my thoughts on disability. I’ve never reviewed something for a company before. Every review I’ve ever done has been without contract and that’s sort of alienated me from the rest of the professional blogging community because I fear my work has less value. I worry folks think I don’t put as much care into what I do because I’m not getting paid for it. I’m still not getting paid here, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t get a massively gorgeous $600 furniture kit for the quality of my writing, so here goes:
No, maybe I’m not a legit blogger. And that does do my head in a bit, mental healthwise. Seeing a contract for the first time certainly triggered some unexpected anxiety, and considering my primary partner and I don’t have the most frequent sex, scheduling time between my stressful semester, my back, his job, and our sick kitty to try out the Chaise has been a little tricky. What I have discovered, though, is that this Chaise is great not only for physical disabilities, but has done wonders for our neurodivergences as well.
Being that it is so supportive, grippy where it needs to be, the texture of the faux leather cover, the strong D-rings on the bottom, and the angles of the curves, the Chaise is like a little mental vacation once we get onto it. It’s like a really gentle inversion table at times, except I’m consenting to the bloodflow differential and I have all the fluff and back support I need. The headspace change happens almost the second I touch the Chaise. Just feeling the texture of faux leather in comparison with everything else in my apartment brings me a visceral awareness of my sexuality. It’s not as though I’ve fetishized the Chaise (well maybe I have, a bit), but rather just something about it that fits so appropriately with my identity, physically and spiritually.
I thought it was just me who felt that way, as the first time I used it I masturbated alone while my partner was at work. I worked myself into what felt like ten different positions with my Hitachi. I rarely orgasm that many times from a Hitachi; it’s usually one or two and I’m over-sensitized and blissed out, but something about the Chaise had this organically coaching feeling telling me that I could keep going if I wanted to, and I did. It didn’t cradle me like a bed. It was comfortable, but I didn’t want to just sprawl out and nod off into a sweaty mess like I usually do. I felt a weird out of body experience as the sun shone through the snake tank and onto my beating chest, like I was on display…for myself. It was really erotic and very confidence-building.
My partner had a similar experience when he used it on his own and felt really sexy afterwards, describing an energized state and attributing it to the position he was in, back rested against the higher slope and one foot on each side, toes dug into the carpet. He said that because of this, it didn’t strain him or tire him, but it also didn’t feel like a sleepy wank either, where he usually wants to sink back into bed afterwards.
The angles of the Chaise make it very easy to get out of, even if I’ve got my head at the lower slope and my ass at the highest slope, all I need to do is move one leg with gravity and I’ve got a firm plant on the floor. There is no “turtling” required, which I usually need to do to get off of my back once I’ve been in a sunken bed for a while. The Chaise is firm and supportive, but not stiff, so it holds both my 200 pound body and my partner’s 130 pound body in many different positions. I could be on my knees with this thing and it will barely make a dent. The Chaise really is a solid piece of material.
So the day finally came when my partner and I got to use it together. And it was funny, because we were both just casually showing each other how we each masturbated on it, but watching each other do that was so arousing that a full session evolved from there. Everything felt so good! I was amazed at how easy it was to be on top again, with him lying down and my legs on either side of the Chaise. It was the perfect height, and the dip in the middle gave him a great space for thrusting while I could use my legs to lift myself up and down off of him, plus the slope behind his head was great to grab onto for additional support.
I don’t think sex with me on top has ever been that easy in my entire life. The other position that blew us away because we never get to do it was doggy style. Normally, even off the edge of the bed, doggy style is extremely tiring on his legs, and I can never arch my back properly without it hurting my discs or triggering my sciatica. This has been so disappointing for us as doggy style was always my favorite position, and I used to be able to arch my back to work my G-spot really well. By positioning me in the dip of the chaise with him at the top of the lowest slope, he was able to use physics of all things, the gravity of the cushioning to help spring him back up each time he came down from behind. I’m not sure how much sense that makes, but if I’m laid out, hugging the higher slope with my legs spread, and he’s on the other slope with his legs together, he was able to get a really great entry angle for a virtually inexhaustible doggy style that left both of us very satisfied at the end.
Something I find equally valuable about the Chaise is the many usages for it. Currently it sits in our pet room between two bookcases. I keep discovering new things every day for this lounger. Just this week I needed to flip through about 20 books on sex therapy for a paper, and instead of kneeling on the floor, I luxuriously flopped over the chaise to read Jessica Benjamin’s The Bonds of Love. (Paging Dr. Freud!) My partner loves to steal the grippy pillow that comes with the chaise, as it has all these little nubbins on the back and looks identical to one of those medical lumbar pillows you put on a computer chair…which is exactly what he uses it for. We both love using the chaise as our viewing couch when we feed our snake, Princess Buttercup.
I should also mention that the D rings at the base of the Chaise have a distinctly kinky function for bondage, and Liberator was kind enough to send us a pack of their modular ankle and wrist cuffs, but for some reason we were unable to thread them through the D rings. The clips and straps were too thick to fit through, and to be completely honest, were a bit too complicated for our liking. The blindfold was fantastic, though! It even had a little lip of padding at the bottom for cheek comfort and kept me from being able to peek out the bottom (also great for multi-purpose, as my partner uses this blindfold to block out my laptop light when I’m up late nights in bed).
We do like the D rings because they are sturdy as hell. They make lifting and moving the Chaise so easy, and for someone with a bad back, this is so crucial. Lifting by the D rings gives us a great grip on the thing and we have no fear of the cover ripping at all. They’re actually part of the removable cover, as the Chaise has two covers which are simple to take off, and as with any Liberator product, totally washable. Though to be honest, given the smoothness of the faux leather, I think a simple spot treatment should do. Overall I am so impressed with this massive product and would highly recommend the Black Label Esse Chaise for anyone who has the space for it!
Ever since I got to poke my friend’s cephalapod (yes I know that might sound strange on any other blog), I knew I wanted a Damn Average toy of my own. Their range of density in silicone is impressive, from super soft to hard, and their comparisons to gummy candy and erect tissue are spot on. I also love that Sheep, the creator, has synesthesia, because it manifests beautifully in each toy’s color, shape, and texture. Damn Average even has squishy grab bags and silicone stress relievers in all sorts of cool shapes, and as somebody who is really into fidgets and slimes, I’ll definitely be buying one with my next purchase.
Valentime’s Day came and went, and as per usual I did nothing special to celebrate. I usually scourge the shelves of CVS or hit up the Lindt store’s 100 truffles for $30 sale for post-Valentine discounts, but this time I saw a very different discounted chocolate pop up on my Twitter feed. Damn Average was holding a Discount Chocolate Day, with an assortment of amazingly shaped toys all in beautifully marbled colors from mint to shimmered pinks and reds, all blended with rich brown tones to give a chocolatey effect. Talk about synesthesia, the color pours were enough to make my mouth water, and not in one of those cheesy “this sex toy is better than chocolate” type ways. Like, these things actually looked good enough to sink my teeth into. And knowing the gummy consistency of them, unf…
I immediately sent the Etsy page to my partner, since he been on a quest for the perfect butt toy and I knew there would absolutely be something on here to fit his parameters. Nothing pokey. Nothing too firm. Nothing too curved. Not too big or too small. My partner has the Goldilocks of buttholes. He wants something he can “go to town with.” After feeling DA’s super soft density in their cephalopod and seeing the shapes and girths on their website, I knew my partner was going to be like a me in a candy shop. It was tough narrowing it down, but we settled on the soft Lumpy, a semi-phallic dildo with a bit of a glans and several cascading bulges reaching a flared base with a tiny nub for additional stimulation (or grip).
We took one look at this thing and both agreed it needed to be in our butts. A mutual butt toy. The marbling on it looked gorgeous in pictures, described as a pink-gold shimmer but actually appearing very peachy in person. Something about the Lumpy (or “Lumpy Little Fucker, the Devil” as it was originally named by Damn Average), just says “I resemble a dick, a turd, and a delicious piece of chocolate, please put me in your bum ASAP.” Everything about it looks like it’s going to feel amazing, and it translates beautifully into action.
When I received the Lumpy, it was already wrapped in heart-printed tissue paper, an adorable touch, and I’ve never seen my partner so eager to use a toy right away. Usually it takes a few days before one of us uses a toy, but when I went to work that night, I came home to see the Lumpy freshly boiled on the dish rack. Without even asking, my partner went right into it: “It’s perfect! I can bend it in any direction, I can fit my whole hand around it, I was ramming it as hard as I could and it felt so good! I almost came without jerking off; I’ve never done that before!” Clearly, it was my turn.
I wish I could say the Lumpy also had these life-changing experiences for me, but I’m honestly so happy that my partner has finally found his “go-to” anal toy. The Lumpy is still great, don’t get me wrong. But for me, the softness makes insertion a little tricky. I say a little and not a lot because the angle of the tip definitely helps for the initial point of entry, and the length of the Lumpy lets me pinch the shaft and guide it in. It sort of reminds me when I’m being anally penetrated by my partner when he’s like 90% erect. The other thing that surprised me about the Lumpy was my inability to get past the final bulge. I could not for the life of me get it completely in, which was all I really wanted. No matter how many times I orgasmed (and I think I came about 5 times with the Lumpy…it’s still a great feeling toy!) I couldn’t stretch enough to accommodate that last bump.
Comparing the Lumpy to some of my other dildos I’ve used anally, the girth is no thicker than the head of my Shilo and similar in softness. So I grabbed the Shilo and was able to insert it quite easily on my first try. What I’ve come to realize about my preference in dildos is that, while in theory I like the idea of a softer density, in practice they do not offer the thrusting power or insertion pressure I enjoy with firmer toys. They are more difficult to grip and tend to bend in all different directions, and they squeeze to fit my insides instead of pushing against them. While this is great for an anal toy that is meant to comfortably stay in place, for example the Bingo, for a toy I am trying to actively feel, not so much.
It all clicked when I started using the Shilo directly after the Lumpy and appreciated the Shilo’s firm, wide base as well as its dual-density core, which supported more rigorous use. But this is absolutely a case of different strokes for different folks, as my partner dislikes the pressure of firmer silicone and really enjoys the bendy aspects of squishy silicone. One other issue worth mentioning with soft silicone, which we hadn’t experienced until now, was the odor-trapping experience. I had read about it in Lilly’s post, where softer silicone can be more likely to bond with butt smells. Our Bingo, Shilo, and Crista hadn’t picked anything up yet, but after just two uses, Lumpy had begun to get a bit…pungent.
We are big fans of coconut oil, so I was hoping this would prevent the toy from picking up any smells, but unfortunately even after boiling the toy (actually, especially after boiling…it was particularly stinky when it got warm) the Lumpy still retained a smell mimicking its very shape and color. The odor got stronger if we bent the tip of the head to the left or the right, stretching the silicone a bit. Bleach didn’t help, but some of the smell came out after soaking Lumpy overnight in giant container of white vinegar. There are still faint traces of Anus, but since a.) we know the thing is sterilized and b.) it’s going to remain a butt toy, we’re not too worried about it as long as we don’t hold our noses right up to it. It does give me yet another reason to buy a Lumpy of my own in a harder firmness, though. Marbled March has begun and it looks like Sheep and I both share a birth month…perhaps I may treat myself to a toy or two…
I want to begin this post with a content warning. While it’s super empowering to talk about my disabilities for the next few paragraphs and how they relate to my upcoming review of the Liberator Jaz, they also cover topics of body dysphoria, PTSD, and some allusions to abuse. This entry is my version of self-care. Please do what you need to do for your own self-care. My review of the Jaz will begin with the first image, if you want to scroll ahead.
Phew. So 24 hours and some leftover Chinese food later, let’s see if I can take another crack at this entry. I tried making a post that went a little bit into my various disabilities and how they affected my sexuality and sexual identity, only to realize that “No, Avery, that is not for your blog, that is for your fucking thesis.” I also had no idea how traumatic of a writing experience that would be, thinking I had a conceptual handle on how to frame my disabilities when it always ends up a moving target.
What started out as a breakdown of each disability through different models, discussing diagnoses, language, my social positionality, and a lot of body image issues, kept coming back to this holistic traumatic revelation of how each of my disabilities are so deeply ingrained within one another. How my panic attacks from my degenerative disc disease can also send my SVT into atrial fibrillations. How my ongoing weight gain isn’t just from my bipolar meds, it’s from years of calcium channel blockers and my extremely limited exercise regimen on account of my rottedback. And how it’s a terrifying feedback loop because exercise is the one thing that will help my heart, my back (losing weight eases stress on my lumbar discs), and my mind.
What began to resonate the deepest was discussing my lifelong history with PTSD and how scared I am to talk about it in the blogging world because I don’t want to trigger folks or misuse language. I have been so dissociative with PTSD throughout my life and this past year is really the first time I’ve let things in. I know why, and I’ve discussed this with some people but kept largely silent about it. I’ve tried to speak up when I hear folks praise kink/queer/poly relationships as the highest levels of consent and communication. But I’ve also been very coded with my language. I am not ready to address what has happened to me publicly, but someday soon I will find an appropriate avenue to open up about my abuse.
These last few months have been a blessing in terms of honoring disability. I’m taking a class with Bethany Stevens on Sexuality, Chronic Illness, and Disability, and it’s reintroduced me to amazing writers like Clementine Morrigan, Sunaura Taylor, and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, as well as some beautiful performances like those of Sins Invalid. It’s also encouraged me to start bringing more direct approaches towards sexuality into my eldercare group therapy sessions, particularly after I screened Salome Chasnoff’s “Code of the Freaks” and offered a nudity content warning, only to be chided by the group (“What do you think we are, a bunch of prudes?”)
I didn’t think they were prudes, but we also spent the previous 15 minutes talking about curb cuts in their local parish and how the visiting pastor never speaks loudly enough, so I made the terrible assumption that Jesus and erotica were mutually exclusive lifestyles (I mean, yes and no?). So yesterday I went full-in: sex toys. Well, sort of full-in. I segued with the discussion of the Sportsheets line for Veterans with disabilities and followed up by talking about Liberator’s variety of wedges. I’ve disclosed my degenerative disc disease with the group several times…if only they knew how crucial Liberator has been for my own disabilities.
I write this post propped up on my Jaz, relieving my legs from the usual sciatica I get from sitting in bed. The Liberator Jaz has been an assistive device for me in myriad ways. After my microdiscectomy, I was able to use it for at-home physical therapy by propping it under my knees during strength band exercise. It’s great for my posture when I’m sitting at the computer for extended periods of time. Under my 200 pounds, the cushion of the Jaz pops right back into place once I stand up.
Most importantly though, the Jaz helped me reinvent old sex positions I could no longer get into comfortably after surgery and my cortisone epidurals. Missionary tends to be my favorite as there is no twisting or arching like doggy style/spooning, and I don’t get as tired as I would if I were on top. With missionary I can’t tilt my hips as high as I used to without getting a shooting pain through my left hamstring. On really bad days my sciatica can extend all the way down to my heel, and with the Jaz I can prop my hips/ass in the air for better G-spot stimulation without any added strain.
One of my other favorite positions with the Jaz is with my partner bent over it, his ass in the air. By using the thicker side of the wedge to push him up, his testicles don’t get as squished during pegging and he does not have to strain his legs when I peg him from behind. This way, I can put my weight on top of him while I fuck him and he still has the Jaz keeping a comfy distance between his bits and the bed, so if he wants to reach down to jerk off he has the freedom to do so. The angle is also much more pleasurable for insertion as I am penetrating in a way that doesn’t poke his prostate too much.
So this Jaz is a very versatile little pillow. I say little because it’s pretty much the exact same size as my 15″ Macbook Pro. One might think that’s not big enough to have an effect, but I’m 200 lbs, 5’10”, a size 38 mens, and there’s plenty of room for me on the Jaz. My partner is my same height but about 130 lbs and a 28 mens, and the Jaz is still a perfect size for him. I’m telling you, it’s versatile.
Cleaning is so easy, and I love that it comes with not one, but two covers. I literally just throw the cover in the wash on cold delicates, no fabric softener, and hang it to dry. It comes out perfect every time. You can always spot clean yours but we tend to get ours a little…messy. Also, this thing IS a total cat hair magnet, but I’ve found that those lint brushes (not the sticky ones but the fuzzy ones) pick everything up really nicely. One final bonus about the Liberator Jaz is price. At $54 it’s worth every penny for the durability, ease of use, and innovation. I honestly think it should be in every person’s arsenal, regardless of ability or if they’re going to use it for sex. I guarantee you will find a really good purpose for this thing one day.
Wellllll…the semester didn’t start quite how I wanted it to. A lot of us found out for the first time that Widener is no longer AASECT-accredited and so we do not get automatically certified upon graduation. This was apparently told to us during orientation but many of my classmates and myself remember it quite the opposite. Anyway. Not much I can do about it now with graduation coming in May.
Masakhane is getting really intense now that it’s incorporated into my practicum. I’m super excited for an upcoming Sex Positive Sex Toy Bingo we are hosting at Hell’s Kitchen Lounge in Newark. It’s been a LONG time since we held a fundraiser there and they’re always really fun. Hell’s makes a special “Masakhane” shot and we give away all sorts of goodies; this year all our toys are coming from SheVibe and I made sure they were blue and orange themed (Masakhane’s colors). I did throw twonew Tokidoki products in the mix because they had devils on them…maybe a Hell’s staff can win one or a hockey fan hanging out before the game.
Either way, I’m stoked, particularly after the abomination of a Sex Toy Bingo I attended at Capitoline in Asbury Park last month. They used to host it at Asbury Lanes and it was amazing…we even saw Rubber Doll perform and Bettina May performed some burlesque numbers. What it’s become and the quality of the prizes was gut-wrenching and I really hope Masakhane can offer folks a proper Sex Toy Bingo.
The one great thing about starting a new semester is catching up with my cohort. Two of my best mates in the program did a holiday gift exchange with me, and this past weekend we got to give each other all presents. My two awesome gifts from them were interestingly enough both necklaces with secret functions. One is a tiny glass-blown oil diffuser, currently filled with Jasmine oil (my favorite flower). The other is a Crave Vesper, and well…it functions as a “Holy Shit” machine.
Remembered that Sex Therapy class starts next weekend and one of my classmates is gifting me a Vesper necklace. ::excitement intensifies::
I had wanted a Vesper for a few years now after seeing it in Kink Shoppe and one of my other classmates had one. But despite demoing it on my fingertips I never really understood how it would operate on my nethers, especially being so pinpoint. The price intimidated me, though it has since gone down considerably ($70 for the stainless steel). And though the novelty of having a stealth vibrator necklace seemed cool, I wasn’t gangbusters about it. As a gift however, the Vesper couldn’t fail. It looked cool, it finally gave me the opportunity to try it at no cost, and it looked to be a great conversation starter.
I won’t say I had low expectations for the Vesper, because the vibrations are strong. They tread the border between buzzy and rumbly, particularly at the strongest setting. With three speeds and one pulse function (which is way too fast and also way too weak), I really only use the highest speed of the Vesper. What suspended my hopes was the size of the tip, being that my typical clitoral approach is with broadly applied vibration. Particularly left crural radiating-type orgasms. Where the hell was I supposed to poke this thing? Would I just lay it flat?
Anything I put directly on my clit tends to get really achy or sore, especially as I get hard. The Vesper went against my instincts and indeed worked best with the tip pointed directly onto my clit. It’s shockingly stimulating in a way I haven’t felt since I started using vibrate-y things in high school. To be completely honest, it reminds me of being fourteen years old again and using the bristle-free side of my Sonicare electric toothbrush which then I shamefully hid in the dusty corners of my bathroom cabinet until throwing it out a decade later.
There’s something about the initial jolt of contact that sends my legs twitching and bring me close to orgasm almost right away. It’s not effortless…the stimulation becomes so intense that I need to take the Vesper off of me for moments, creating this building momentum which is again, an orgasm method I haven’t employed since my younger years. So it’s nostalgic in a sense. Frustrating, but in an endearing way, not in a “fuck it, I give up” way. The other thing about the hardness of the stainless steel concentrated against the hardness of my clit is I can feel the tip roll over my boner if I press hard enough, slipping side to side, which is a little uncomfortable. So I have to be precise with my positioning which gets a bit difficult as my legs are twitching and I’m doing this tantric “mounting orgasm” method and contorting my face and hands into all sorts of wacky shapes.
I absolutely love how the Vesper warms up. I definitely think that has something to do with my ultimate orgasm. It’s supposed to warm up, unlike the Jopen Lust 2.5, so I’m able to just let go and enjoy the sensation of increased temperature instead of worrying if I’m about to set my pubes on fire. Fashion-wise, the chain is a perfect length for my neck (bare but censored chest in the link), and the hole in the Vesper is wide enough to fit any chain of your choosing. Any toy with a DIY option makes me super happy, and I can imagine the Vesper looking awesome with a leather slipknot cord.
Cleaning is a little intimidating as the toy is splash but not waterproof, so I try to keep the pad of my thumb over the silicone button when washing it. Charging is really cool, just unscrew the top, screw the charging dongle to the Vesper, and plug it into any USB charger. In all my uses, I’ve never drained the battery completely, and I am pretty diligent about keeping my toys charged, so I don’t foresee any charging issues with this toy.
Overall I’m really tickled by how much I liked the Vesper…here I was thinking it would be another Lust 2.5 situation, a vibrator that was too pinpoint to make me orgasm on my own, something I’d need to use in the heat of the moment with a partner. And what I have is a really great quality pinpoint vibrator that I’d happily use on my own by itself as a standalone. This year has definitely been one of discoveries, between realizing how much I love girth to now learning that I may enjoy pinpoint stimulation after all. So thanks Crave, for teaching me a little bit more about my body. Ah, the beauty of good sex toys.
I feel like 2017 has already been a year of anticipation for many folks. In good ways and bad. I’ve had wonderful moments to celebrate, opportunities to reconnect with old friends, beautiful sessions with clients, and many new toys on the way. I’m also about to begin a new semester at Widener this weekend, one potentially full of improvements and chances to connect further with the rest of my cohort. But it’s already been a bit of a FOMO year for me, missing out on the amazing Creating Change conference in Philadelphia as well as today’s Women’s March on Washington. Both powerful gatherings of celebration, resistance, reflection and exchange, sending messages of not only tolerance but unabashed need for awareness as a means of survival in ongoing generations of misinformation and hate. I am and will absolutely be there in spirit and will do what I can from my emotional and physical locations to support and reciprocate the positive energy of these movements.
At this time, it feels cosmically organic for me to review the NS Novelties Pride Dildo, a realistic phallic-shaped dildo striped with rainbow colors. So many of the workshops I teach use rainbows. From color therapy glasses to rainbow Mr. Sketch markers to mixing rainbows in Oobleck to theming subject matter around chakra colors, rainbows have been thematically elemental throughout my entire life for their multitude of representations. Spectrums, diversity, pride, vibrancy… everything I can possibly associate with rainbows always enhances my well-being. During my “Beyond LGBTQ 101” workshops, I love teaching folks what the colors of the Pride Flag signify: sexuality, life, healing, sunlight, nature, magic, art, serenity, harmony, and spirit. The takeaway of the discussion usually ends up being how each of us, no matter our identity, has the profound capacity to value and cherish each of these symbols. And so when I use my Pride Dildo, I do it mindfully. And when I review it today, I want to do it mindfully, because today is a day when symbols of hate and intolerance are all over my television, all over my computer screen…I would much rather wield my rainbow dick and align my chakras through a patriarchy-smashing orgasm than pay any attention to that man behind the curtain.
I used to be repulsed by dildos that resembled dicks. I disowned them with indignant disdain until I realized I could use the master’s tools to dismantle the master’s house and that language and symbolism can perpetually be reclaimed. This dick is nobody’s dick but my own, and it can represent whatever I want it to. So when I got the large Pride Dildo and saw that exactly how “realistic” it was, asymmetrically shaped with a bit of a curve, a smaller head, vascular but not grotesquely so, even a scrotal raphe, I was actually kind of stoked. Granted, the Pride is huge in length and girthy in some spots of the shaft, but I felt like I had gotten an actual mold of someone’s cock. The subtle wrinkles of insinuated foreskin underneath the glans hold onto lube nicely, particularly coconut oil (my lube of choice), which can get runny during warmer application.
I love having the extra length as an option for deeper penetration, and my partner likes the stripes because he can see how deep he is going inside me according to what color he has gotten to. The silicone is relatively matte and doesn’t attract dust like a lot of my other toys, which is an added bonus. I do wonder how this dildo would have felt if the silicone were a softer shore. Not complaining though, the density of the silicone, similar to Tantus, gives the Pride plenty of oomph. Plus it’s reasonably inexpensive and comes in a smaller size, which I’m honestly debating on buying for my nonprofit to use during condom demonstrations.
The suction cup at the base is rather floppy, so not really gripping material, but since the testicles are nice and hard, I ended up using them for a handle. The suction cup is the strongest I’ve experienced in any sex toy. Despite the weight of this toy, the cup held it firmly onto everything, from textured linoleum tiles to drywall (I know…how?!). I thought I’d really have no purpose for a suction cup until I remembered how much I used to enjoy orgasming on my knees. I have now discovered a new orgasmic witching hour, 2 o’clock in the morning on the kitchen floor while my partner is soundly snoring in the bedroom. I’m really fucking satisfied with this dildo and and pleasantly relieved it was able to fulfill my expectations. I highly recommend it and am so glad to add it to my ever-growing rainbow collection of toys.
and Thor said, “I’m gonna kill ’em all with my hammer, like I killed the giants.”
As part of our Business of Blogging course with Epiphora and JoEllen Notte (The Redhead Bedhead) this past spring, my fellow bloggers and I were given the task of coming up with an origin story…something that encapsulated our desires to blog about sex, sexuality, identity, toys, and all the other delightful things we write about on a regular basis. I loved this assignment so much; it gave each member of our cohort such unique opportunities to express our backgrounds in so many different formats. It was a delightful way to learn about each other and I had tons of fun writing it. So here it is, in all its unedited glory:
The concept of an “Origin Story” has put Hedwig and the Angry Inch’s “Origin of Love” in my head on a loop all week with the simultaneous imagery of Weapon X from the Marvel universe (Uncanny X-men story arc ALWAYS). And I’ve sort of been traversing head and heart for my story. Do I illustrate a mosaic of snapshots from my life with a lens covered in more vaseline than RuPaul’s Drag Race seasons 1 and 2? Do I pick one cathartic moment and deconstruct that in order to respect its own value as life is full of origin stories? And then I realized my “Origin Story” had been staring me in the face the whole time. Hedwig and X-men. So what’s the connection to blogging, toys, my passions for sex education, sexual self-discovery and exploration?
First of all, I had discovered both Hedwig and the Angry Inch and X-men comics at hugely transformative stages of my life. I was around 7 years old when X-men entered my life. It was one of the first cartoons I ever really engaged with, the first arcade game I punched rolls of quarters into, the first comic series I began reading, and Goddess help me, when that 1994 Fleer Trading Card Series came out, the first thing I had ever began collecting feverishly (I still have every card, mint condition, in a plastic binder on my bookshelf).
I understood the higher value of the foil cards that shimmered with their metallic colors, the importance of collecting every card for the triptych stories in order to get the full picture, and I also loved talking about collecting these cards with other kids. It reminds me a lot of my sex toy collecting now. Between my highest quality “gets,” to fawning over other collectors’ toy displays, to wishing for those “rares” that were in such limited production that even if I didn’t want them, I NEEDED them, my appreciation for the different artists and aesthetics in the ’94 Fleer Set was really precocious for a 9 year old kid.
The characters in X-men have also been an evolving (see what I did there?) inspiration throughout my life. As a child, I dressed up as Storm for Halloween one year and Jubilee the next. In my preteen years, X-men gave me an immense respect for powerful women, but simultaneously allowed me to eroticize them, as my first fantasies as a kid were Psylocke and Polaris. Purple and green is still my favorite color combination, go figure. As I got older, and began to understand the political context behind X-men as mutant “others” and my own morphing (again, X-men puns) LGBTQ identity, I saw these characters less as fictional impossibilities and more as realistic role models than most celebrities in early 2000’s culture.
When the live action movies began coming out, I sort of twinged at their “artistic license” with the canon, but was really excited that they were getting more people interested in X-men…people that previously may not have considered themselves “comic folk” or “superhero affiliated.” It’s sort of like how Sex and the City and Fifty Shades of Grey are all types of frustrating and problematic as introductions to sex toys, but they create dialogue among audiences that might never have happened, and that is something of merit. I was also really jazzed that Bryan Singer, one of the directors for several of the movies, was openly bisexual until I heard about all the cases of sexual abuse filed against him. My heart dropped. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, it created a lot of conflict as to whether I wanted to continue supporting X-men films, where that would compromise my ethics, or if it might trigger me along the way.
I liken this a lot to my immediate knee-jerk reactions to companies like JimmyJane affiliating themselves with larger, “morally corrupt” corporations like Pipedream or concurrently wondering why She-Vibe continues to stock JimmyJane products. I see that when inserting my own personal narrative into someone else’s decisions without understanding the individual perspectives of everyone involved, it is really difficult to control my emotional reactions. I couldn’t rationalize any positives in the X-men films, for example, Anna Paquin, who is also openly bisexual and a proactive figure within several advocacy groups, and I was quick to write off an X-men movie if Bryan Singer had any affiliation with it. So this is definitely an ongoing battle of mediating my own impulse to “throw the baby out with the bathwater,” which is something that will require extensive work if my blogging aims to explore sociopolitical subtexts behind the production and promotion of sex toys.
Where the X-men had jumpstarted my sexual exploration in childhood and LGBTQ affiliations in teen years, Hedwig and the Angry inch engaged my sensitivity to self in terms of love, mental well-being, and using my “rebel roots” to connect with people instead of isolating. My early angsty teens were fueled by punk rock, Ani Difranco, and a complete transformation into masculine-leaning androgyny. I hadn’t begun identifying as genderqueer, but after seeing Hedwig in my best friend’s living room my sophomore year, I learned that just like my fluid understandings of gender, my ideas of appearing “hard” and “soft” to people were equally blurry. It became the pitch for my sex education from undergrad onward: because I looked “alternative,” I was actually “accessible.” People would understand that I wasn’t judging them because I was probably always being judged. Hedwig taught me to embrace my vulnerabilities in praxis, that I’m not going to get anywhere in life without taking risks, and that mistakes are a part of the process.
But most of all, Hedwig taught me love in a profound way. I learned about love as a spiritual process, love as a means of connecting to people, love as a foundation for creation, love as the element that runs through everything we do as humans. And today, it still holds true. Every paper I have written, every thesis, practicum, or capstone I have ever worked on has emphasized the importance of love in your work. It is the great equalizer in that it is indefinable and yet always felt in some form. I use love in how I teach students, how I work with clients in therapy, I am using love right now in how I write this entry. It is nebulous, explosive of time and space, heady yet simple, spectral beyond anything narrowed down to a “concept.” I still write anonymous letters to randomized addresses I find from whitepages.com telling people “I have no idea who you are, but you are beautiful and I love you.” It’s worth doing. Love makes this all worth doing.
Reflecting on X-men and Hedwig and the Angry Inch, I think not only of Stan Lee and John Cameron Mitchell, but everyone else that has had input in the creation and writing of these stories. These stories are rich with value, complexity in symbolism that are universal enough that almost anyone can connect with them, but nuanced enough that they are not two-dimensional and individuals can take away different messages. These writers are absolutely brilliant at their craft and it takes a network of support and years of effort to achieve such excellence. But they are also unique as human beings, they had their own “Origin Stories” to bring them to writing.
Everyone has an origin story, if not one, than many, or even infinite. Some may say every moment is a new opportunity for an origin story. I am curious to hear yours, if you’d be willing to share. If you click on this entry, it will take you to the post where you can add your comments, or you can email me or even chat with me in real time via IRC.