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!
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.
With a dildo collection ranging towards the eclectic, it was only a matter of time before I began venturing into the wonderful world of fantasy dildos. My ex has an extensive Bad Dragon collection and though I admired these creations, they were really intimidating in size and shape (I’m only now realizing how much I love girth, and sort of totally regret never trying any of their larger wares while we were still together). I was never squeamish with what these dildos represented, from werewolf wangs to dino dicks, and was even really turned on by the tentacle-y toys.
I previously encountered the now defunct Whipspider Rubberworks’s Ghost dildo at a birthday kidnapping play party for my ex back in 2010 and loved their entire line. Bad Dragon was in overwhelmingly huge production and so widely memefied that I was sort of turned off by the company even before I heard about their shitty customer service and transphobic behavior. Not to mention nearly every fantasy dildo (no matter the company) I’d come across was incredibly expensive, and for the most part, rightly so. They are ornate, uniquely designed, hand-poured with unique color combinations, and come with different densities. But my budget could only afford one-offs or flops, (Frisky Beast calls them “Aberrants”) products which had nicks, bubbles, or other inconsistencies which made them less expensive.
Last semester I scooped up a “Cold-Brew” cephalapod butt plug from Damn Average for my best schoolmate who works at a coffee shop. It had a little divot in the tip which blended in really well with the rest of the suckers, so I only paid 24 bucks for a really beautifully poured and creative toy. Naturally, I got the first squeeze to see exactly HOW soft Damn Average’s “Super Soft” was, and holy shit was this thing jiggly. I’ve since asked my mate how insertion was with silicone that squishy (literally the softest silicone I’ve ever felt…like gummy candy) and they said it was a little difficult getting in. Still, one thing I love about fantasy dildos is the density options, and I really wanted to get my hands on a toy with a similar but not quite-so-squishy shore.
I’m frequently clicking through Etsy, especially the dildo selection ranging from bigger indie companies like Split Peaches and Godemiche to newer ones just being created. I had my eye on two pieces from Necronomicox and TailsandPortholes when suddenly, a new shop popped up on my radar. With a kickass Black Friday sale and a COLOR-CHANGING silicone pour. Back during the Heatwave/Coldfront sale on Frisky Beast, I had once entertained the possibility of buying a color-changing dildo but never found it to be really affordable. But here I was, looking at a $40 fantasy dildo with glitter and shimmer and the option to choose what color my silicone changed to. All my dreams were about to come true, thanks to a little company named PhoenixFlameForge.
I had the choice of Monty the Manticore or Skoll the Werewolf 1.0 or 2.0. Though both Skolls looked more satisfying in girth, Monty had a more industrial, less phallic appearance (no glans or furry-textured testicles). It also had a really pointy tip and I was ready to find out if this was going to be the cervix-poking experience I feared or if the softness of the silicone would provide some give to a seemingly sharp end. I was also curious as to the functionality of a tapered end for anal penetration, and for such a low price, I could actually answer some of these questions. My Monty came in a week, despite the made-to-order estimates saying it would take much longer, so +1 for super fast shipping. It changed from a dimensional black and deep gray when cold to a cobalt and pale blue when warmed up. SO beautiful.
The bottom fourth of Monty’s shaft is definitely the girthiest of my collection, but I wasn’t really expecting for a full insertion anyway, since this dil doesn’t have a dramatic flare or suction cup. I knew I’d need to hold onto something, and this was likely going to be the lower quarter of the dildo. Being blessed with huge hands and grabby piano fingers (I can palm a basketball and hold it in one hand), I’m able to get my whole hand around the base during use with no problem. I have seen some negative reviews of Monty for not having a distinguished base, which I get, especially since I sacrifice insertable length for whatever I’m holding onto. But seeing as how I was never going to get that hilt (I wouldn’t quite call it a knot as I’ve seen in other fantasy dildos or even the Skoll) inside me anyway, it makes for a good enough grip.
The remainder of the shaft is similar in girth to Godemiche’s Adam, but because the silicone is so squishy (not nearly as squishy as Damn Average’s cephalapod, but much softer than Funkit’s Crista), it doesn’t fill me up as much as the Adam. And it definitely doesn’t go as deep. Which is actually a plus, because that pointy end ends up curling upwards ever so slightly against my g-spot and stays far away from my cervix. The width of the base and how my hand holds it makes additional clitoral stimulation a bit tricky, but when my partner uses the Monty on me, I’m able to use a vibrator easily.
As far as anal penetration goes, the squish of the Monty makes it slippery for insertion, and I definitely need to start with a few other toys before I work my way up to this. I find that once I’ve used my Shilo I can graduate to the Monty within a matter of minutes, but I can’t really use it as vigorously. It’s an intense anal experience, one that I could definitely see some folks enjoying and some folks saying “This is just too much!” My partner is slightly intimidated by it, though he insists he will provide feedback one day. Overall, for the amazing price-point, beautiful color-changing aspect and gorgeous pour, plus finally getting my hands on a great quality fantasy dildo, I’m supremely satisfied with PhoenixFlameForge’s Monty and would highly recommend their work.
Walking the halls of the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center on a warm Thursday in August, full of curiosity, anxiety, anticipating the cusping Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit about to break into full swing all around me, I found myself clinging, quite often literally, to the familiar comforts of display tables and free samples. I hoped to strike up conversations, but knew if promoters were busy or engaged in other business I still had the safety net of looking at, and with permission, handling the goodies on each table. I had the pleasure of grabbing some lube sachets, stickers, free mints (thank god, my blood sugar was so low from not eating), and even finally testing the amazing strength of Doxy’s line. Suddenly a glimmer of light caught something, which my eyes darted immediately to like a fish to the lure. Clear sex toys, with ribbons and swirls of color inside of them, wooden paddles with rainbow gradients that put Microsoft Word Art to shame.
I had seen semi-translucent silicone with Tantus’s Flurry and Cush, and had seen some of Godemiche’s decorative pours, but never a company that used clear silicone as their primary medium to display the burst of color inside. (Lilly has a great post on clear silicone here). No one was sitting at the table at the time, so I didn’t dare touch them, just admire them really, really closely. Later on during the evening Sex Geek Salon hosted by JoEllen Notte, I was hanging out my dear friend Christoph who had just led an amazing workshop earlier in the day called “From Stonewall to Nursing Homes: What’s It Like to be back in the closet after so many years?” (It was SO good). We were joined by a bubbly intellectual fellow with a “Peg the Patriarchy” shirt and some rockin’ sideburns and spent our evening playing a bunch of games, coloring, and having nerdy conversations. Though never formally introduced, I kept seeing this gentleman workshop after workshop, socializing with all different people. I don’t know if it was the whir of everything around me, but it wasn’t until day two where I realized this was Kenton, the creator of Funkit Toys, the brain and artist of all those gorgeous silicone pours I had been gawking at in my very first hours of the conference.
It also took me another day or so to make the connection that his special rainbow pour, named the Crista, was in honor of sex educator, blogger, and all things rainbow, Crista Anne. After my recent purchase of the BS Bingo, I decided I needed another rainbow toy in my life, and the Cristas were absolutely fucking gorgeous in all their spectral variety. Funkit’s website has the option to order a custom toy with up to 3 colors swirled in it, but there were no more Cristas in the form of a G-Spot dildo, what Funkit calls their Swing. I messaged Kenton and asked if he’d be willing to custom make me one. He got back to me the following day saying he’d be glad to, and together we worked on making a Crista with each color to my liking. I especially wanted one with a decent amount of purple, and Kenton was so accommodating towards this request.
The speed of this process was head-spinning. One day I had made the custom order, and a week later, it was in my hands. Kenton kept me updated every step of the way, literally taking me on a wilderness journey via Snapchat to watch my dildo being shipped out. So now I have my very own Crista, made just for me, and it feels really, really special. I’ve never had such a unique experience with a sex toy company. Given my previous review and the recent climate surrounding the sex toy industry, company ethics, interaction, and approach is more important than ever. I felt the story of my experience with Funkit and Kenton just as worthy as the review itself because inclusivity is a really big thing for me in this industry and the field in general.
Now for the actual review! The Swing has an outstanding curve to it, to the point where I can’t figure out the physics of how it stands independently due to its near perfect C-Shape. It actually does have a little trouble standing on account of Funkit’s unique base, which is cut on both sides to enable suction but a little thin material-wise (and I’ll get to this in a bit). So while the dildo can stand up on its own, it’s just a little precarious. For folx who like to put their dils on display or stand them up after use so lube doesn’t get everywhere, the Swing may be a little tricky.
The girth tapers a tad narrowly towards the bottom which I find makes it easier for my fingers to grip, but with the shore and the density of the silicone, makes it the shaft a bit floppy and bendy. The top gets much thicker in density, which is good, because it pushes against my G-Spot, but it’s not overly bulbous. There are a series of ridges from top to base, which I don’t necessarily feel during thrusting, but they are really essential for grip and also for getting a tactile sense of how far the dildo is when it’s inside of me. The Swing is not a long or thick dildo by any means. It’s modest, and combined with the pliability of the silicone, makes it versatile for potential anal play. As in, I normally wouldn’t put a G-Spot dildo in my butt because a stiff curve gets a bit pinchy for me, but I have a feeling the Swing, like the BS Bingo, will flex to fit comfortably inside of me, so updates to come.
As far as G-Spot stimulation, the Swing is great, particularly if I angle it downwards or have my partner do that for me. I find that I don’t insert the Swing very far, just enough to hit my G-Spot, and both my partner and I prefer using the shaft of the Swing itself to thrust rather than the base. Funkit’s bases are really unique for their multi-functionality. They offer really strong suction, you can plunk them on the base of another dildo or even one of their Swats and you have a double-ended toy that is not going to pry apart unless you want it to. And this works for almost any dildo base that is big enough to match Funkit’s diameter. We tried it on all my Tantus dildos, my Doc Johnson silicone dildos, my Godemiche Adam, and the Swing didn’t budge.
The base itself stays nicely in an O-ring for my harness, mostly I think because of how my Swing tapers and because is not extremely top heavy. Unfortunately, because of how the base is structured, it has flaps that bend down and this makes it tricky to grip if I’m using the dildo on its own. I know Funkit advertises the flaps as making it more grip-friendly, but with lubed fingers, active kegels, and rigorous thrusting, the flaps slip right out of my tightly pinched digits. I tried to grab the base with my fingers perpendicular to the fold as to not bend the base, but it’s still thin enough that I mush it together. Funkit’s thought of everything, though. They specially make “Hubs” to attach to the bottom of each product, reinforcing them for a sturdier grip. I know some other silicone artisans make swatch-type stress relievers or firmness samples in disc shapes (Damn Average has seasonal themed “Squishy Grab Bags” for $20 max with all sorts of fun shapes to squeeze). Split Peaches even makes glow-in-the-dark silicone “Stress Reliever Boobies,” and how fun would it be to have a glowing boob attached to the base of my Crista to reinforce my grip? All the DIY fun creative ideas, ALL OF THEM.
Disclaimer: I am not including ANY links to MEO’s website as I do not want to give them any traffic.
I had my hesitations about MEO, I did. So many things seemed very wrong about this company, from their marketing, to the toys they stocked, to their incessant email spamming. I found it abhorrent that they would make knockoffs of nJoy’s long-existing products, but was also really curious as to why they were so much cheaper. So on a whim, being that I’m unaffiliated, unpaid, and thought I had nothing to lose, messaged the MEO admins asking if they’d be willing to send me any toys to review on my website. I got a prompt response saying yes, and to choose my toys.
I immediately asked for the Alpha Male 3 Stimulator, which looked much like the nJoy Pure Wand, with the secret intentions of using my landlord’s industrial dremel to get a bisected view of what kind of metals were really in this thing. I also asked for their Foreskin Dildo, which had this really cool highlighter-yellow base and claimed to be silicone, which I figured I’d flame test when I got it. Basically, I wanted to science the shit out of MEO’s products. I jokingly mentioned the Garden Gnome Dildo to Wolf, the guy handling my order, with no intentions of actually wanting it. But lo and behold, MEO would rather send me a huge dildo and a ten pound ANAL GNOME and fork over international shipping fees than risk another steel toy getting into the hands of a sex toy reviewer. Something VERY suspicious about that.
The Gnome is PURE phthalates, shrink wrapped in busted plastic. My dear schoolmate is a collector of all things garden gnome related, so I’ll see if they have use for it, otherwise there have been suggestions to light it on fire. But truth be told, with all that PVC and the toxic fumes, I think that might be kind of dangerous. The thing reeks just sitting on my counter, I can’t imagine how it would be engulfed in flames. It’d probably ignite like a sterno. So unboxing this package made me uncomfortable to begin with. The lubes were gendered: PlowBoy and PlowGirl. Silicone for the boys and glycerin-free (but not glycol-free) for the girls. And pink! YAY! Fucking hell.
Part of my unboxing video. Authentic reaction of surprise and ick at the gendered lube. "…ok, why do the 'boys' get silicone?" ::smh:: pic.twitter.com/mJ1C4gZkFk
The silicone dildo DID hold up to the flame test in several areas, no scorch marks, no melting, no reactions at all. It was a squishier silicone, something akin to your average Vixen silicone, and had a length and girth just a touch thicker and longer than Godemiche’s Adam. The base was an inch thick which I loved, because it meant I could get a good grip on it. I got in the mail yesterday and here we are today, my Jopen Vanity Vr6 in hand for clitoral stimulation, this PlowGirl business at the ready (this is the biggest dildo I’ve ever owned, so I figured I might as well try out the new water-based lube), and the new dildo. The dildo was amazing. I’ve realized I’m a huge fan of thick dildos. Three orgasms in under a minute without even trying…so fucking good. This has literally opened up a whole new world for me. Too bad that’s the last time I’ll ever be using it.
I got up to give them a good wash when I noticed there was a strange and gooey thickness to the bulb of my Vr6. The dildo also seemed extra sticky. That’s when it hit me. I started rubbing my fingers together. Still slick. Oh my god. The lube wasn’t water-based. IT WAS SILICONE. Maybe they mispackaged the PlowGirl with silicone lube. I began soaping up both toys under warm water, rubbing gently with my thumb as an entire layer of toy material came off the bulb of my precious Vr6. I’m freaking out. I’m not even thinking about what’s going on inside my body at this point. I’m worried about the toys. I finally get the lube off the Vr6 and hopefully that is the last of the material’s degradation on that toy. Then I start working on the MEO dildo. It is tacky as fuck. I already know this is a losing battle. No matter how much soap, gentle rubbing, harsh scrubbing, nothing is saving this dildo. The surface has become gluey. It reminds me of tar. There is no smell. It’s just ruined silicone at this point. My hands are completely sticky with whatever is coming off of the silicone. And THAT’s when it dawns on me.
Whatever my hands feel like is proooobably what my insides are feeling like right now. Jesus Christ. I waddle to the bathroom, grabbing my one and only douche I will ever use, a Yeast Gard probiotic, in a sad attempt to flush out whatever’s inside me. I use a gentle glycerin and fragrance free wipe to rub the remaining silicone lube from my outer crevices and I’m about ready to fucking cry. How could a company do this? How could I be so stupid? Why didn’t I rub the lube between my fingers first to see if it got sticky? Because I read the label. I believed the label. So now I have two ridiculously gendered bottles of silicone lube, one PRETENDING to be water-based, one ruined silicone dildo, one completely toxic “Anal Gnome” that I can imagine few people ever putting up their ass (porn stars excluded, I’ve seen a couple scenes), and a complete sense of horror as to what’s going on with my body and how careless a company could possibly be to allow this to happen.
I am literally in tears writing this. REALLY wishing I read the review by Emmeline Peaches before I used it. Now I’m wondering if it’s not a case of one mispackaged PlowGirl but rather all PlowGirl lubes that have a high concentration of silicone without it being included on the label. This is no hybrid, it’s not oil, it’s not aloe. This is straight up silicone. And it’s fucking unacceptable.
Content advisory: Poop. So much poop. And a lot of CAPS LOCK.
I’ve been putting off writing for a little while. Life has been throwing a lot at me, what with my hands dipped in all things sexuality-related, board meetings at Masakhane, eldercare wellness-therapy groups, trying to negotiate new degree tracks at Widener, and now being offered an opportunity to speak on the politics of identity and sex toys for Widener’s CareersCon coming up in September. The semester is approaching, and I am coloring testicles furiously in an Anatomy book while watching “It’s Complicated” with Meryl Streep because that’s apparently what $1,800 costs for a class, though I will admit I am excited to have other classes with Elizabeth Schroeder and in a different class I get to profess my love for Judith Butler. Academia has its upsides and downsides.
Anal August is coming to a close and with it so are the doors of Come As You Are Co Op; life is aligning with the ebbs and flows of sexuality. After hosting a last minute poll as to what the subject nature of this post should be, it seems as though folks were interested in hearing about my horrific history with anal beads. I figured this was appropriate, given the topic of my upcoming workshop about sex toys and Formidable Femme’s most recent amazing blogpost. (Also a huge fan of this blogpost from Lilly in 2015). (And this one from Hey Epiphora!). You get the idea. My relationship with anal beads is paradigmatic of many things I find really fucking wrong with the sex toy industry, and I’m kinda glad I got to experience this learning curve in the way I did.
My first experience with any sort of butt play was at age 16 with an unlubricated attempt at my then boyfriend’s dick partially in my ass. This was followed by the “Oh my god NO, ouch, why did we do that, BAD IDEA BAD IDEA” dance/hop all around the apartment with my hands clasped around my buttcheeks. I had sworn off anal for another two years until college came when someone I started hooking up with introduced me to fingers and lube. THEN a dick. MUCH easier. MUCH more pleasurable. Particularly with a vibrator on my clit. I found that orgasming with a dick in my ass provided an incredibly intense orgasm, and decided butt play was for me.
Winter break came our freshman year and partner and I stopped by a little leather shop on Christopher Street in the village and decided to buy a black large jelly rubber butt plug which we later realized would never in a million years fit inside my ass. I ended up using it vaginally. (I know, what?)
Years went by until I graduated college with much more knowledge in sexuality (heck, even a BA in it), began teaching sex ed for Masakhane, and started working at my local sex shop. For the next six years working at this sex shop, I used my 50% discount with reckless abandon. I bought hundreds of toys, spending each paycheck exploring the best and worst our store had to offer. And looking up at my toy shelf right now, I see all of 10 of those remaining. I’d try a toy and it’d either break, melt, I’d decide it wasn’t for me, it didn’t fit right, whatever. In retrospect, I wish I kept every single one of them because some serious science could have been done. Lilly’s Jar of Horrors? I could have made some sort of art installation! Hindsight…20/20…ableist idiom, but so true.
The first thing I heard about butt toys working at the store is how amazing anal beads were. “You know how good it feels taking a shit? Now imagine having an orgasm while taking a shit. Blumpkin level.” My colleagues were precious. I mean that sincerely. The honesty and crudeness of our conversations was something I still can’t have in a lot of other spheres. Even in the rest of my sexuality fields, I don’t know how comfortable I’d be casually watching porn at 9am while eating a taylor ham, egg, and cheese and commenting on the skill of a performer’s messy blowjob.
Anal beads were one of my first purchases with my newly acquired 50% discount. Not just any anal beads mind you. These. Tiny ones, green (because color was a huge factor in choice for me during my early purchase days, not material), connected with string knots, and a plastic green loop at the end. I used them twice. Once by myself, where they hurt immensely while taking them out, each knot scraping my insides, actually feeling the skin of my rectum catch in between each knot and bead as I pulled the string out of me. I used a ton of lube, but it didn’t matter. I still bled on toilet paper for two days.
The second time I used them was with my partner during sex. I asked him to pull them out of me while I was riding him on top with a bullet on my clit. As I was orgasming and he pulled them out, he yanked them way too fast, and while it felt better than the previous time, what he had hanging in his hand was mirrored by his face of horror. I didn’t need to look at either before the smell had hit me. The strand of beads were completely stained brown, each knot had caught a little bit of feces. I’m not talking a ton of poop here, but enough that by the swinging of the beads, the sweat of sex and the humidity of a Jersey summer, my boyfriend’s outstretched hand wafted the stink of shit from these beads while he looked at me asking “what do I do with these?” That ended our session pretty quickly, as I ran to the sink to scrub them out. Scrub them out. NOT throw them away! I put them in a wad of paper towels, left them in his basement to be forgotten, only so two months later his mom and little brother could find them and ask him about the plastic green bracelet behind his computer desk. Awful.
So I learned the hard way: No string, check. Bacteria, knots, pain, hard to clean, etc. Get beads that are connected, Avery! I fixed my eyes on these really funky looking beads that weren’t bead shaped at all, but rather shaped like little, fat, S‘s connected all with the same material. The same, disgusting smelling material that reeked so bad I could smell it through the packaging. It literally smelled the same as that Cherry scented dildo, minus the fruity notes. Like burnt medicine and shower curtains. All the typical phthalate signs I hadn’t learned about yet. But the texture wasn’t tacky (actually quite bumpy, which added to the disaster later on), and nowhere on the package did it say jelly, so I scooped it up. And then it scooped me up. Yes, these S-shaped nodules were absolutely perfect shit-scoopers. What I thought would stimulate my asshole upon exit and entry ended up provoking the SAME reaction in the SAME position with the SAME partner when I asked him to remove them. This strand of S‘s went even deeper into my butt, scooped out generous portions of feces per bead, and once removed I couldn’t tell what smelled more, the original material or this newer, poop-enhanced version. Not to mention the bumpy texture was a complete lube-eater, so we had a nice slathering of Santorum going on with this item as well.
You’d think I’d learn. Ok, so maybe I just need ROUND anal beads. But maybe I should get graduated ones, where they get really tiny at the tip and wider at the bottom. And maybe we can make them vibrate this time! Because why not add a new variable into the mix of something already really uncertain and discouraging? But I’ll be really good about it, I’ll make sure they’re silicone this time, because when a reputable company like TOPCO says it’s silicone, it HAS to be silicone, right? The insertable bullet transmitted zero vibration throughout the beads. The handle ripped and I almost lost the entire toy inside of me. We ended up grabbing the beads by the bullet when the bullet, in all its lubed glory, popped out of the toy. So after sticking a finger in the hole where the bullet USED to be and slowly negotiating this toy out of my rectum by holding one end of the ripped handle and keeping one finger in the bullet-hole, I was able to decide that “MAYBE I DON’T FUCKING LIKE ANAL BEADS.”
I know there are some good ones out there. Tantus makes some impressive Vibrating Progressive Beads. Fun Factory will always be famous for their Flexi Felix. But something about that sensation of shitting tiny turds I thought would feel so pleasurable a decade ago has absolutely zero appeal to me now. Don’t get me wrong. I love textured plugs. The Tantus Ripple feels absolutely amazing. I adore the Aneros Helix, even if it isn’t my current partner’s favorite. I can even handle the beaded end of the Fun Wand if I’m gentle enough. It’s just something about a loooong chain of bumps that my body can’t handle.
So there you have it. Anal bead mistakes were made. By a so-called “sexpert.” Which is why, with all the good toys out there, there are twice as many terrible ones. With even the most informed educators, we have the capacity for human error and need the space to learn and share those learning experiences (no matter how grotesquely crappy they can get). Sex-positive or not, whatever sex-positive means to you, we do stupid shit to our bodies all the time. We’re not always going to make the best decisions in life, and wisdom isn’t always a forward trajectory.
I’d like to think that my anal bead blunders are over, but I’m sure there will be a day down the road where I reflect on other practices in my sexual self-care that need improvement. I know there were moments working at the store in my later years where I had flickers of judginess at the customers who bought that string of green anal beads. I desperately tried getting my boss to take it off the shelves, but “It kept selling,” so we kept stocking it. Some days I’d do my best to offer a safer alternative. Some days I’d remember back to the moment I bought those beads. Would I really have listened if someone told me to pick something else? Probably not. My stubborn ways would have said, “No, this is cheaper, it’s my favorite color, and I don’t even know if I’m going to like it. I’m going with these.” You pick your battles and hope for the best. But that’s another story.
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.
It’s a California Exotics Art Deco Jelly Butt Plug. I am deliberately not linking to it. I bought this toy in September 2008, the first week my employee discount ever went into effect at the adult store. We hadn’t really started stocking much glass or silicone at this point, and I would like to blame my purchase on a combination of that, not “knowing any better,” and this plug being the closest thing to glass “aesthetics-wise.” It was also beyond anything my ass could handle in my early butt play years, so it stayed unused for many moons (I liiiiive for ass puns) before I was able to use it comfortably.
Even now, it’s still not a toy that works well with my ass. Its width stays too wide for far too long. I’d rather have a plug with a brief moment of wide girth before it tapers back down to something tolerable that my butt can hold onto. But I kept this plug, if for no other reason than it still looked really pretty, so long as you didn’t touch it or look at up close to realize it was jelly (it never had a chemical smell to it, and the texture, though rubbery, was not sticky or tacky at all). As years went by, I had decreasing room for this plug in my arsenal, and considered throwing it away except that my one partner really liked it and insisted they didn’t care about the debatable material. That was until last night, when I got home from my second partner’s burlesque competition at 4 am only to discover the plug in a tupperware container full of soapy water at the bottom of our shower with a post it note, like some sort of crime scene. On the post it note was an apology:
“I washed this 5 TIMES and it still smells bad 🙁 Hope you made the best of your night. Love, Partner.” (I should mention I later confirmed my suspicions, that the “smell” was of anal descent, not the material itself. Lilly has some good tips for ridding your butt toys of lingering odors, but this was beyond hope.)
Cackling, I left the aberration in its watery prison and forwarded a video of the hilarity to the third partner in our poly family, asking them what the fate of said plug should be:
Knowing full well how jelly goes up in flames like a dried out Christmas tree, I was ready with camera in hand. I had hoped for effects akin to Lilly torching that Screaming-O cock ring, and I was NOT disappointed.
So rest in peace, stinky jelly toy. As Lao Tzu once said, “The flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long.” I’m pretty sure that was never meant to be applied to a CalExotics Art Deco butt plug, but it works.