Friday, January 28, 2005

the joys of sex toys

i thought this topic deserved some in depth exploration (no pun intended, hee hee).

My first exposure to a sex toy was in john irving’s the son of the circus. I was reading it in my eighth grade algebra class (I had finished a quiz early) and I started the chapter entitled “the dildo”. “ewww!” corey dunmead shrieked. “what kind of a book are you reading?!?”
“it’s a good book!” I defended, not understanding his objection, as I had no idea what a dildo was. But by the end of the chapter, I had figured it out. The dildo in this particular irving novel was rather large and hard plastic and used to smuggle drugs. But it was clearly a sexual tool.

After this chapter, I began experimenting with makeshift penetrative objects. Vegetables (I broke my hymen with a banana on the bathroom floor at three am on a school night), flashlights, candles, writing utensils, bottles (teachable moment: never insert an open bottle into a bodily orifice like a rectum or vagina. The open mouth can lead to a suction that is rather hard to detach, at times resulting in injury and/or embarrassing trips to emergency rooms. This one is not a personal experience, but rather a friend’s.), and anything else vaguely phallic. I was trying to understand why something up there was supposed to feel good. Although the psychological thrill was a rush (between the guilt and the shame and the risk of being caught), the penetration itself was not particularly exciting.

At this time, I was also hitting the point of the “everything but” where my sexual experience would plateau from 13 to 18. I liked making out and giving blowjobs. Fingering was great and fun, as were handjobs. But I did not like guys (cause of course there were only guys at this point) going down on me. Too much pressure to perform. The first time a guy went down on me (in the movie theatre during Contact) I had a lovely time, but then he asked me if a “came”. I said sure. Up until that point, I thought only guys could “cum”. So now there was something else wrong with me. I couldn’t come. Frigid at fourteen. But I took solace in the fact that orgasm would obviously come when I finally “had sex” (cause none of the above was sex. When I started attending sex conferences and researchers were sitting around with their cocktails discussing how contemporary adolescents do not consider oral sex to be sex, quite a few were shocked when I admitted that until I started studying and teaching sex, neither did I.)

Anyways, when the time came, in that cheap super eight off of highway six after I got off my shift at ihop and he had a five am physical to join the coast guard reserves in the morning, I didn’t come. I didn’t come the second time. Or the third. Or with the second guy. Or the third. Or the fourth. The fifth was nonconsensual, so an entirely different realm of sensations, orgasm not being among them.

After that particular moment, I swore off sex. A more comprehensive definition this time. I dated a wonderful woman, the first I had fallen in love with back in high school, but could not sleep with her. I dated an eccentric musician from Washington Square Park who didn’t believe in sex (not premarital, all sex. Even masturbation. The guy had issues. And he was dating me).

When new year’s came around, I made a resolution to heal and celebrate my sexuality, for myself. The first step was to have an orgasm already. I had seen Betty Dodson and Tristan Taormino speak (not to mention Leslie Feinberg). I had decided to be a sex educator. I was about to start leading workshops on sexual pleasure, and I still couldn’t pleasure myself. I felt like a total fraud. But a fraud with a mission.

I wanted to buy a vibrator. I had tried to buy one the previous spring. I tore an ad from the village voice for $10 pocket rockets. A male friend escorted me down to the sixth avenue sex shop. We walked in and were confronted with humongous black and tan jelly cocks. They were huge and they were everywhere. By the time we found the vibrators to discover the pocket rockets had sold out, my hair had braided itself into pigtails and I was ready to sprint. Not exactly a positive experience.

The second time, I was going to do it right. I researched online a and . The customer and staff reviews at babeland were particularly helpful. I knew penetration wasn’t what I needed (I had had plenty and look where it had gotten me), so I focused on the clitoral vibes. I wanted something small and non-threatening but strong and adjustable. And reasonably priced. I settled on the honey bear ( I recruited my roommate, who still isn’t exactly sex positive but has made steps, to escort me to Toys in Babeland on rivington between orchard and Ludlow. She hugged the wall by the books while I shyly ventured around the center table of vibrators. A staff person approached and asked if she could help out. I pulled out my notes and said I was looking for the honey bear. She found it right away, his arms raised like a clit hugging ballerina. She also pointed out the honey dog, which looked more like an anteater to me, with two dainty vibrating tongues. The honey bear fit discreetly in the palm on my hand. The remote was also palm length, the two connected by a white cord. I bought him without exploring the rest of the store. I took him home and named him Albert.

I had read enough Betty Dodson at this point not to pressure myself too much. For our first date, Albert and I got to know each other. I could feel something building stronger and stronger, as he gripped my clit, his body hugged by my labia. At the last minute I turned him off. I thought I was going to pee the bed or scream or something to let the building know what I was doing.

On our second date, both of my roommates were out. I took a bath (cause I’m in to super cheesy sexual firsts, just look at my virginity loss above). First I played with Albert on my breasts, pinching each nibble. I licked my left middle finger and started to stroke my clit. Then I moved Albert down. I settled him into place with the vibrations turned off. I stroked Albert as he pinched my clit, his body stimulating the legs of my clitoris and rubbing against my urethra. I then turned him on low. I made sure to breath, watching my diaphragm rise and fall like theatre vocal warm-ups. I started having little shivers and jumps. I turned him up higher. I was breathing fairly hard at this point. I remembered Betty Dodson talking about kegel exercises. I clenched my vaginal muscles, tight, tight, tight, in time with my quick gasps of inhalations. I could feel it building again. My right hand raking my thigh started moving towards the controls to turn it down. I moved it to y breast and squeezed full palmed (in the same rough awkward grasp of so many jr high and high school conquests). When I came I stopped breathing for two minutes. My body shook and my neck froze, head thrust back like a seizure victim. My toes curled and my fingers locked in their double jointed akimbo. Albert purred. I had made a new friend.

Since that first orgasm, I have been an advocate of sex toys. I took the next boy I slept with down to toys in babeland for a vibrating buttplug after our first night together. We later invested in a nexus and harness (named them henry and june). When we broke up he kept henry and I kept june, so I bought her a new cock. And I haven’t stopped collecting.

What I have learned in my three years of orgasms and sex toys. I like hard toys. Hard plastic and stainless steel and pyrex (and glass if I could afford it) are my friends. I like vibration outside and pressure inside (except in my ass where I like both). The double headed toys like the rabbit and the koi fish (kicks the rabbit’s ass) with a clit tickler and rotating shaft with pearls and such can easily be outdone by a slimline and a nubby-g. the rotating shaft does nothing for me vaginally, but I love rotating toys in my butt. Silicone is the best material ever made because it conducts heat and vibration and you can boil it and it comes in so many pretty pretty colors (but is not cheap). The most expensive toys are not the best toys. The best toys are rarely cheap.

If I could only have three toys for the rest of my life (providing their life matched mine and would not short out or be eaten by neighbors dogs or something), I would choose my new hummingbird, the medium severin butt plug, and the classic Hitachi magic wand (this girl is my long term committed relationship).

In terms of first toys, start with the clit or something small with a wide rim if its for the ass. focus on sensation first, orgasm second, penetration third (for boys and girls). i love the honeybear and the bullet toys (make sure the toy is adjustable, i like scrolling speeds as opposed to low/medium/high or, even worse, on/off). slim lines are very versatile for girls, but under no circumstances are allowed up the ass. don't pay $80 for your first sex toy. start cheap and work your way up once you know what you like. always use condoms on your toys. again, wrap up your toys. i'm sure i'll think of more tips later.

If you are interested in purchasing or exploring sex toys, I highly suggest blowfish and, as well as good vibrations. If you are in the new york area, my second favorite sex toy shop (toys in babeland being my primary store) is fantasy world on 13th and 7th (24 hours and they sell sliquid h2o lube, my fave). Have fun and happy orgasms.


Blogger Dacia said...

You're awesome. That's all I have to say.

1/28/2005 8:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I second that (you're awesome).

I've had a couple vibe's blow up lately (like, sparks, smoke, bad smell) and now I'm vibeless and afraid to buy a new one... but I want one... but what if it blows up and hurts me. Is there a reason they blow up?

1/29/2005 6:04 AM  
Blogger Algor Langeaux said...

I am glad that I am not the only one that was well into their sex studies before they entirely found their own way. Myself I was 35 when I had my first experience with vaginal penetration... about 6 months after finishing my dissertation...

1/29/2005 7:34 AM  
Blogger Night Sweat said...

Male perspective: My own right hand, plus Astroglide. Or Wet. Or some other glycerine based lube. It has stood the test of time, age 12 to age 60, my present age. They didn't have such good lubes back in 1960. Wesson Oil is quite inferior: too thin, plus it makes a messy stain. Vasoline is too think. Spit isn't slick enough.

But not to be too bit a luddite, but there is really nothing superior to skin on skin in a vagina, moist with natural female lubricants. Now that I am deep into late middle age, I have found that a vagina with tight muscle tone is noticably superior to a slack muscle tone. So there you have it, the single best and most reliable sex object for me: healthy young vagina. Go figure.

1/29/2005 11:19 AM  
Blogger Jane Vincent said...

anonymous with the exploding vibrators-
were these battery-operated or electrical (plug-in to a socket) toys? with battery toys, the life can be extended if you remove the batteries between uses (or, as a helpful babeland employee suggested to me on wednesday, turn one battery around, so that you always have your batteries with the toy, but it doesn't turn on and there isn't a constant current wearing down circuitry). also, wrap up your toys with condoms when you use them (non-lubed prevent a mess on the toy while you can add as much of your favorite goop as you please to the condom and yourself). make sure your battery and electrical toys aren't getting prolonged water-exposure (even the water-proof ones are only water resistant). i had my first hitachi short out because i spilled a glass of water on it while it was plugged in (i cried). also, buy quality toys. take to your salesperson or investigate the website before purchasing. japanese toys are known for their quality and durability (not to mention faces and animals).
look at it this way, if your hairdryer shorted out, smoked and shot sparks, would you never use a hairdryer again? (maybe a bad example as that happened to me and i don't currently use a hairdryer but that's because i'm poor and lazy and would rather sleep and extra fifteen minutes) no, you would buy a better hairdryer and be more conscious of the care it needs. i recommend the same for sex toys.
good luck.

1/30/2005 1:18 PM  
Blogger Librarian Babe said...

Jane, you need to have a call in show like that Canadian lady, Sue Johansen. I can just see your "Educated Slut" call in show - it would be a huge hit! You're far cuter than ol' Sue so people would like watching your show even more.

1/30/2005 5:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You mentioned Toys in Babelad in nyc. What do you think of Pleasure Chest (sex positive stpre on 7th avenue)?

1/31/2005 5:58 PM  
Blogger Jane Vincent said...

i have been to pleasure chest a handful of times. i wasn't overwhelmed with adoration but i wasn't offended beyond belief either. In terms of sex positive staff, for which i have a loyalty to babeland, and general space and selection, which fantasy world has more of, pleasure chest gets an honorable mention. i did pick up a great pair of leather wrist cuffs/restraints there on sale and i bought my "it's a lifesaver" pocket rocket carrying case there. and they have cool buttons. buttons are important when you have no vehicle for obnoxious bumper stickers.

1/31/2005 6:11 PM  
Blogger Nik said...

I was surprised you didn't mention the eroscillator--my best friend has been swearing by it for years! And telling me I need one!

5/13/2005 6:09 PM  

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