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Oct 022014

The Internet is giant! It’s a library that will never get full (at least, I hope it won’t) and has decades of material. Most of us can barely get through the news and opinions posted each day, let alone find the gems of the past—and there are gems.

Every Thursday I will post a link to something I’ve found that relates to at least one of the themes I write about here—sexuality, disability, abuse, relationships, and so on.

Since my last few posts have been along the lines of “WTF do people think they’re doing?” I thought I’d give you a funny-but-smart post from someone who does kno what he’s doing.

This week’s post is from Dave Hingsburger, published way back in 2006. (I think that makes it about 500 years old in Internet-time.) Dave started his blog that year, and has been writing, almost daily, since then.

I wrote here about how much I value Dave’s work, so it’s fitting that I start this series with one of his posts, and that it’s one where he talks about how he has been able to directly help people with disabilities explore and express their sexual selves.


Today I’m going shopping for a dildo and a butt plug – on work time, on a work mission. There are times I love working in the area of sexuality. This is one of them.

Continue reading.

Sep 162011

Welcome to Pleasurists, a round-up of the adult product and sex toy reviews that came out
in the last seven days. If you like what you see and want more of it be sure to follow our RSS Feed
and Twitter.

Did you miss Pleasurists 146? Read it all here. Do you have a review for Pleasurists 148? Be sure to read the submission
and then use the submission form to submit before Sunday September 18th @ 11:59pm Pacific.

Want a shiny new toy? All you’ve got to do is enter.

Editor’s Pick

  • Barbara Carrellas’ Urban Tantra by Lucy Lemonade
  • I would describe Tantra as the presence of body and mind, breath, and pure enjoyment. This is the description I’ve developed from reading
    Urban Tantra, what I felt the book was trying to convey to me. Like some individuals I had the thought that Tantra was only for white, upper middle-class
    couples approaching mid-life crisis. Finishing Urban Tantra I consider it an excellent solo practice for self pleasure which can be combined with another

Scarlet Lotus

Continue reading »

Sep 042011

Papaya Toys hit the U.S. market with a bang—or a buzz—at the end of July. The line consists of four 100% medical-grade silicone vibrators of varying sizes and textures. They come in a variety of fun colours, including grape and strawberry.

The Tattoo is the smallest of the Papaya collection, measuring in at 8.5 inches long and 1.4 inches in diameter. The slightly flexible, rounded head and long body makes it ideal for external and internal stimulation. The silicone is on the firmer side and wonderfully smooth, except for the slightly raised “tattoo” on each side. You can use this vibe anywhere vibration would feel good, though since it doesn’t have a flared base, please be careful when inserting it in the butt. For such a simple looking toy, the Tattoo has a delightfully strong and steady (and surprisingly quiet) vibration and the coolest controls I’ve ever seen. Two soft touch buttons near the base of the toy turn it on and off and control the vibration speed and three pulsation patterns. You can turn this toy on or off with a simple tap. The buttons are positioned for easy reach, but are out of the way enough to prevent inadvertently turning the toy off at an inconvenient time.

The only drawback to this toy is the assembly. Screwing it back together after putting the batteries in can be challenging for small, painful, or weak hands. The grooves fit together tightly (part of the waterproofing feature) and making them line up was tough for my petite, not-very-strong, hands. I always recommend that people remove batteries from their vibes after every use. This saves wear and tear on the toy and prolongs the life of the batteries. However, if taking the toy apart and putting it back together frequently will challenge your strength and dexterity, I suggest leaving the batteries in and storing the toy in a place where it will not be turned on by accident. Of course, you will still need to replace the batteries after they wear out.

All Papaya toys are completely waterproof. The toy I received did not pass the submersion test, but, after speaking with someone from the company, I concluded that I likely hadn’t screwed the toy together tightly enough or that mine was one of the very few that wasn’t actually waterproof.

I’m really excited to see this new company grow and flourish. Their toys are thoughtfully made for pleasure, and are wonderful to look at, too. They’re quiet enough to use in close quarters, and come with a silky soft, sturdily made storage bag.

Type of Toy: waterproof vibrator
Company: Papaya Toys
Price: $80 (USD)
Length: 8.5 inches
Diameter: 1.4 inches
Power Source: 2 AA batteries

You can get your ownTattoo, or any of the other toys, from papayatoys.com or in person from the New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles location of The Pleasure Chest.

Thank you Pam from Papaya for sending this gorgeous toy for me to review.

Jul 212011

Local news doesn’t usually look like this.

The Plaza Is No Place for a Passion Paradise store

Local news also doesn’t usually make me so angry.

To summarize (with a little editorializing, of course), an adult store has rented space in this community, which already houses stores, restaurants, condos, and a community center. The businesses and condo owners object. They’re afraid of what children will see through the windows. They believe their plaza is no place for “that kind of store”, which makes me wonder where they think “that kind of store” belongs. Reading between the lines, they think this place will be seedy. The head of the merchants’ association says that people don’t want to see their neighbours coming out of “that kind of a store”. This sounds more like personal fear and objection than professional evaluation.

I know that adult stores have a seedy reputation, sometimes founded and sometimes not. I know that the average person doesn’t know that safe, happy, friendly adult stores exist, such as Babeland in New York and Seattle and Good For Her in Toronto.

What bothers me is the instant judgment, the attitude of “not in our neighbourhood”, and the implied denigration of sexuality.

So I decided to visit the Web site of this Passion paradise, something that should have been included in the article to allow readers to make up their own minds.
Maria’s Passion Paradise

The description of the weekly couples’ events caught my attention: parties featuring education on the importance of foreplay and snacks with reputed aphrodisiac effects. The impression I get is classy, fun, education-focused, playful. It’s not for everyone, of course, but it’s also not wrong, harmful, or degrading.

I didn’t really get a good sense from their Web site of the kinds of products Maria’s Passion Paradise sells. The quality of products sold at adult stores is really important to me. Many sex toys, lubricants, and other fun things have irritating and even harmful ingredients in them. These are the kinds of things I worry about when I hear about an adult store, plus wondering whether the staff will be friendly, knowledgeable, and yes, discreet.

As to the worry over what the store would display in the window that people would be forced to see, it’s my experience that “those kinds of stores” are very sensitive to their public image,
and display things that are enticing but appropriate (such as bath products, scents, lingerie such as that you’d find at Victoria’s Secret, etc).

I understand the expressed discomfort about having children around, but rest assured, unless they go in (which they’re not allowed to do) they won’t see anything they’re not supposed to.

It comes down to people being afraid of what they don’t know, and treating sex as if it is something strange and foreign, not something that is as normal and integral to our everyday lives as cooking, sleeping, and going to work. Adult stores aren’t for everyone, and there’s never any reason for someone to enter one against their will. However, they play an important role in many people’s lives, and I suspect some would be surprised at how interesting, fun, and helpful such a store could be.

I could probably write about this all day, but let’s wrap it up.

Yes, actually, I’d love to see my neighbour come out of “that kind of store”. I would be happy for them that they were exploring and taking care of their sexual needs. Talking about sex, or being in an adult shop for that matter, doesn’t have to be vulgar, or even explicit. Maria’s Passion Paradise looks like it’s neither of these things.

The condo and business owners at the plaza had a meeting the other day. I wonder if they decided to put their personal fears and prejudices aside. Allowing Maria’s Passion Paradise to move in would have only positive social and fiscal effects on this community.

Jun 292011

“Why eat a M&M when you can have a big yummy sundae?”

I heard this comment from a friend, as she was sterilizing her small, silicone “starter” dildo in preparation for giving it away.

“You might still want it. You just never know,” I argued.

“Oh, no, I’ve got my hands full now,” she laughed.

She went on to remind me of all her new toys, dildos of various sizes, straight and curved. Perhaps she does have her hands full.

But it got me thinking. Why is bigger considered better than smaller? When it comes to toys, aren’t both valid for diferent pleasure experiences?

IN other words, the ages-old question: does size really matter?

No, it really doesn’t, because we’re all different. Yes, yes, I know. That’s not much of an answer, is it? No, but you’ll hear it from me a lot. Our unique differences are what make people, and sexuality, amazing.

So instead of arguing about whether big is better than small, or short is better than long, or ridged is better than smooth, I’m just going to give you some suggestions for how to figure out what is right for you.

Today I’m talking specifically about the size of a penetrative toy.

When buying a toy for anal or vaginal penetration, consider this: people often estimate on the larger side. I don’t know whether it’s that “bigger is always better” factor coming into play, or whether it’s an estimation problem, but people often buy a bigger dildo than they need or want. In general, at least until you’ve gotten the hang of toy shopping, go a little smaller than you think you’ll need.

Whether you’re shopping at a store or online, it’s a great idea to understand the measurements. Dildo thickness measurements are given by the diameter of the toy. That’s the measurement across, not around, the toy. Trust me, 1.5 inche diameter is big. To put that into perspective, an American professional golf ball is 1.68 inches; professional golf balls in Britain have a diameter of 1.63 inches. So, if you buy a dildo that’s 1.5 inches or larger, you’ll be looking at something almost as large as a golf ball. If that’s what you want, wonderful, but I just thought you should know.

If you’re lucky enough to be able to shop at an awesome, friendly toy store, you’ll be able to touch the toys and get a sense for how small, or big, they really are. If you already insert fingers (or other toys) into yourself or your partner, you can compare the toys to your fingers. Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re looking for something the same size as what you already use. Keep in mind that a toy will feel different than fingers.

There’s another way you can figure out exactly what size you want. Buy a bag of carrots, scrub them carefully, slip a condom on for added protection from dirt and sharp edges, and figure out which one feels the best when inserted. If you insert anally, Please be very, very careful that it does not slip in the whole way. If it does, the likelihood you can get it out without medical help is pretty low. This is supposed to be fun, not a hassle!!

If you want to be more scientific about it, get a cucumber or summer squash, try it out, and keep paring it down with a vegetable peeler until you get the size you want. Then cut it in half lengthwise, measure across, and you have your diameter. Then you’re ready to shop!

I’ve given you a lot of ideas. Now it’s your turn.

Does size matter?

How do you make sure you’re buying the right-sized toy?

May 122011

It seems fitting that the first toy review on this blog should be of a classic–meet the Hitachi Magic Wand.

Some call this toy the Cadillac of vibrators. I don’t know a lot about cars, but if Cadillacs are large, sturdy, dependable, and very, very powerful, then the comparison is appropriate. Originally marketed as a back massager, this wand quickly gained a reputation with women as an ideal masturbator. If you’ve never used a vibrator before, this electrically powered-behemoth might make you feel as if you’ve been hit by a pile-driver. Or you may love it and wonder how you ever got along without it. Many women say they experienced their first orgasm under the ministrations of the Hitachi, and I’ve even heard it said that the loud thrum of the toy’s considerable motor is arousing in itself to some committed users.

With a foot-long handle (give or take an inch or two) and a tennis-ball-sized head (no, it’s not intended for insertion in any orifice), this wand is not a feather-weight. It weighs in at 1.2 pounds, which is a lot heavier than it sounds.

The thing that makes this toy so strong also makes it convenient. Have a power outlet near your bed? Need some quick private sexy time? Plug her in, and you’re away to the races. I’ve found the cord a little short on this one, but others have told me their models have very long cords, so perhaps I have an anomaly.

Have you tried this toy and found it just too strong? Don’t despair. Many women enjoy using the wand through clothes, blankets, or even a towel. Why use the toy at all, you might ask, if you’re just going to put something between it and yourself? Why not just get a smaller, less scary toy? Well, you’ve already spent $50+ on this one, so you want to do what you can to make the relationship work. But there’s an even better reason. The large surface area of the head of this wand means that all of the nerves in the vulva can be stimulated. The clitoris is more than just the head that you can see and feel…it extends inside the body, to a place only strong stimulation can reach. Enter the Hitachi.

People with weak wrists or other hand and arm problems may want to look for one of the newer, sleeker, lighter wand-style toys on the market—such as The Mystic Wand. Or you could use the toy hands-free by propping it on a pillow and rubbing against it while sitting or lying down.

The Hitachi magic Wand has a long and famous reputation of being a women’s masturbation toy. Betty Dodson, the “Mother Of masturbation”, made famous for her masturbation workshops for women, has publicly sung its praises for decades. But you are only limited by your imagination. Slip an attachment such as the G Whiz Magic Wand Attachment onto the wand and you instantly transform it into something you can use for vaginal or anal stimulation.

Or you can use it when playing with your partner. One woman I talked to recently enjoyed resting the toy underneath her as her partner penetrated her from behind. An increasing number of male-bodied folks enjoy using the wand as a masturbation tool. It can be used to stimulate any area where it feels good, and again, towels, clothes, or blankets can be used to cushion the vibration if it’s too strong. With safety in mind, When pleasuring yourself the only limits are your imagination and when pleasuring a partner the only limits are their pleasure and desire.

Oh, and if you’re stuck with a wand and you just can’t find a masturbation trick you like, use it for back massages. Surprisingly, it’s very good for what it was originally made to do!

Apr 262011

I bought my first sex toy at the sex shop in my college town. Appropriately located next to a bridal shop, Cynthia’s sported shelves and shelves of colourful boxes. Cynthia herself was a coifed, perfumed, French-tipped shop-owner who seemed to specialize in rushing me out of her store. One windy day, I walked in and timidly asked about g-spot vibrators. I was handed a slim plastic toy with a curved end that looked as if it was designed to go fishing and catch my g-spot, not massage and stimulate it. My query about whether this hard, pointy presence would indeed feel good was waved off, and my purchase totaled. Not feeling as if I could ask more questions, I payed the thirty-some-odd dollars and left.

The toy was indeed too hard and pointy. I used it externally until the motor started overheating. When it became so hot after short periods of use that it threatened to burn me, I prepared to send it to the great sex-toy graveyard in the sky. My boyfriend (now husband) encouraged me to keep it for posterity. I have that toy still, stuck in the back of a drawer.

How did this happen? How did I walk out of a store without feeling comfortable that I got what I wanted?

IN the midst of our hurried discussion, Cynthia had let it slip that she’d just spent an hour with a man, helping him choose a toy for his wife. Why didn’t she spend that time with me? This was almost ten years ago, when there were fewer toys on the market, but surely there was more than one toy in that store marketted for G-spot play.

I imagine that Cynthia saw a young, blind college student, clad in jeans and a sweat shirt with fatigue circles under her eyes and wild windswept hair. I imagine that Cynthia saw this girl and reasoned that she probably didn’t have a lot of money. I imagine that Cynthia got snagged on my blindness–no, I know she did, because she spent more time worrying out loud about how I would manage to put the batteries in my toy. Yes, showing me how this was done was helpful, worrying about it and ignoring my question about pleasure was not.

What would I have liked my experience to have been? I would like to have been welcomed into the store. I would have liked to have my request for G-spot toys responded to with at least two options, laid out side by side so I could explore their merits and differences. I would have liked it to have been the kind of store where toys were laid out, ready to be handled and explained. I would like to have not felt like an interloper, to have felt instead that subtle shift that let me know I was accepted.

I left that city behind a long time ago, and no longer have a sex shop within walking distance of my home. That slightly uncomfortable, lackluster encounter is the only in-person sex toy shopping experience I’ve ever had. I’m hoping to one day soon be able to shop in person with some of the excellent online retailers I’ve used—
Babeland and Good Vibrations are both on my list.

We all deserve a positive toy shopping experience. If you are lucky enough to have a friendly toy store near you, go support them. Buy something you love and tell the store employees how wonderful their store is. If you need something different from what they’re offering you in terms of products or services, tell them; the way they respond will tell you a lot about the ethics of their store.

I love hearing different people’s experiences. What was your first toy-buying experience like? What was your favourite toy-shopping experience?