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The Big Tease; How to Strip for Someone Special

Here comes another one of my Sexual Enrichment Tutorials

Most people miss out on the pleasure of undressing with and for their partners. Stripping out of, or being stripped out of our daily wear and into something sexy. or nothing at all, is one of life’s big turn ons. It’s also a visual signal that we’re shifting out of our work-a-day world and entering the realm of sensuality. Stripping is an art form, ya know. In fact we all could all learn a lesson or two from the folks who do this for a living.

Few of us are natural born exhibitionists. The majority of us don’t know squat about how to slink out of our clothes without looking ridiculous. Like they say in the business, real strippers are born not made. OK, so most of us aren’t naturals, and I include myself in this group. But that doesn’t mean we can’t pick up a few of the finer points of this ancient art form and apply them to our own situation.

First and foremost, we’re gonna have to leave as many of our inhibitions and body issues as possible at the door. If you’re so self-critical as to think you’ll be absurd if you try, you mind as well drop the whole freakin’ thing right here. But if you’re into having some fun, even if it’s at your own expense, then step right up, cuz we’re gonna make you a star!

If you plan on stripping for someone you know well, like your partner; you probably already know a lot about what turns him or her on. Ya know, those little sexual peccadilloes we all have — fishnet stockings, a g-string and high heels, a white jock, leather chaps, armbands, and a cowboy hat, a Catholic schoolgirl plaid skirt, anklets and Mary Janes, things like that. These things well be the building blocks of your outfit. Remember you will be stripping down to something before there is nothing left to remove. So consider your theme and then layer from there. Each successive layer removed should reveal an even more tantalizing layer underneath.

• Don’t wear something that’s gonna be a bitch to take off.
• Have enough layers to keep the show interesting

Next consider the venue for your show. Since there’s gonna be a whole lot of dancing around, you’ll want the space to be big enough so you don’t have to cramp your style. At the same time you’ll want the environment to be warm and intimate. Set the mood with the proper lighting. And your venue must include some kind of sound system, even if it’s a portable boom box.

Either arrange your space so that your audience is seated in the middle of your performance area — so that you can slink and shimmy around him/her. Or consider a little homemade stage with curtains that you can use as part of your performance

Think about props — a chair or stool al la Cabaret works. You’ll want something to taunt your audience with; a seductive hat, a feather boa, a ridding crop, gloves — opera length or leather. There are even collapsible dancer poles available online for a touch of the authentic.

  • Keep the venue simple. You’re the star, not the space.
  • Mood lighting is essential; it’ll make or break your show!

The next consideration is the music. This is really important element to a successful show. A miscalculation here will fuck up your whole routine. Go the distance and compile a few different tempos on a tape, CD or MP3 player to really impress your audience. Arrange your music so that it will automatically flow from one tempo or song to the next. Move from a faster disco tempo at the beginning of your show — to get you and your audience’s blood pumping. Then a slower tempo Soul or Rhythm and Blues number for gettin down to business. Don’t choose something too slow or maudlin, it’ll destroy the sexy mood and the interest of your audience.

  • Your music selections should drip with sex.
  • Don’t interrupt your show to change the tape or CD.

To add an air of authenticity, adhere to strict strip club rules. Your audience is not allowed to touch you. And you are prohibited from directly touching your audience. Keep your communication non-verbal. Your audience must remain seated throughout. These rules will enhance the tease effect. If you want to heighten the effect, consider restraining your audience with a little erotic bondage. A silk handkerchief, or a satin scarf works to secure his/her hands and feet. Or you could always pull out all the plugs and get yourself some swell bondage gear online. I’m thinkin’ some leather restraints and cuffs will do the trick.

  • The strip is to tease and entice. So be naughty as well as nice.
  • You control the show and the audience.

When you’re ready to begin the show, start your music and seductively move or dance towards your audience. Let him/her have a good look at you and you’re outfit — front and back. Approach your audience then gyrate in front of him/her. Be sure to include some deep bending front and back. Let your audience get a load of the goods! Get as close to your audience as possible without actually touching. Close enough for him/her to smell you, or for you to swipe him/her with something you’re wearing. This is where a nice boa or leather flogger will come in handy.

Continue to tease and taunt and keep moving. Squat or use one of your props to lean against or partially sit and seductively open your legs or show your ass. Keep you hands busy on your body, stroking yourself, reaching into your outfit to fondle yourself. Feel free to touch your audience, but never with your hands, only with your props.

  • Completely dominate your audience through visuals.
  • Please through tease.

After this initial dance, move away from your audience and start the main show; the strip. When you shuck each article of clothing, don’t just remove it; tease with it. Toss each discarded article to you audience, or drag it over him/her. Being unable to touch you will enhance his/her sense of smell. Use this to your advantage. Wipe your clothing on your body before tossing it to your audience. The more intimate articles: bra, stockings, underwear, jock or what have you could be wrapped around his/her head and face.

Strip slowly and erotically; reveal only an inch or two of skin at a time. If you are about to reveal something on your front, turn your back on your audience first. If you’re gonna reveal your ass; start by facing your audience, then seductively turn around.

  • Build on the anticipation. Make your audience want more.
  • Stay in rhythm with your music.

Then, once you’re completely naked, approach your audience and present yourself in all your glory. You should be deliciously sweaty and aroused by now. Using one of your props, a dildo perhaps, wipe your breasts, your crotch and bring it close to your audience’s face. Try a lap dance or pull his/her face into your breasts or crotch. Get on all fours and seductively loosen his/her clothing. Your audience will still bound to his/her chair, so you can have your way with him/her. While on the floor use your feet to stroke his/her crotch.

Turn up the heat by masturbating for your audience. Tease or lick your audience’s tits, finger her pussy, or diddle his cock. As your show concludes untie your partner and lead him/her to a full-on fuck.

Good luck

The Well-Pierced Cock

Nowadays, body piercings are all the rage. And, as we all know, some folks can’t stop with just a few—which can lead to some humorous predicaments when being wanded by airport security. While I firmly believe in the right of every man to augment, embellish, or in any other way customize his equipment, it’s a personal decision. If it makes you happy, go for it. If it ain’t for you, just say NO.

Should I Get Pierced?
Here we have Chad; he’s 25 and lives in Alaska.

    My new girlfriend is five years older than me and she is a total freak. She has purple hair, five tattoos and seven piercings, including her labia. She wants me to get my dick pierced. I said I’d think about it, but she says I’m a pussy for putting it off. I know a lot of guys have piercings, but is it safe?

Sounds to me like your freaky-deaky girlfriend is badgering you to get pierced. That’s not good. If I were you, I’d tell her to back off ’til you can make up your own mind. It’s a good thing you’re being so thoughtful about this, because even though a piercing isn’t as permanent as a tattoo, there still are risks involved…more so than getting inked.

Piercings and Safety
As body piercings become more popular, many people try to outdo each other with the unusual. However, the most common piercings have their roots in the traditions of tribal peoples throughout the world. This is particularly true for genital piercings. Many cultures practice erotic piercing to enhance both visual appearance and physical arousal.

The first thing you should know is that body piercing is an art form. It is best practiced by well-trained, highly qualified, seasoned professionals. If you entrust your body to an amateur, you’re probably asking for trouble—so do your homework. As piercing establishments proliferate, some will be better than others. In most jurisdictions, piercers and their salons are required to be registered and licensed. You might want to check your local health department for information and recommendations.

Before you decide to proceed, visit the piercer in his/her shop. Ask questions. Ask them how they sterilize their instruments and jewelry. Autoclaving is the only safe method. Nowadays, all needles should be single-use instruments. They should be opened just prior to the piercing, and then disposed of immediately thereafter. If the shop offers other services, like tattooing, make sure the piercing is done in a separate room (for privacy as well as hygiene).

Most people are initially concerned with the pain involved in getting pierced. Depending on what you’re getting pierced, the level of pain can range from moderate to…well, a lot. And that’s just the beginning. Once the jewelry is in place, there will be at least two to three days when the piercing area is very sensitive to the touch. Because some areas of the body have more blood vessels than others—like your dick, for example—expect some blood loss and a lot of swelling post-piercing. Trust me; getting a boner afterward will be your worst nightmare.

That being said, you’ll be amazed at how resilient the body is. It has a phenomenal ability to heal itself. Of course, the practitioner should provide you with detailed aftercare instructions. These will outline all the procedures and aftercare products you’ll need to attend to yourself while you heal. A word of caution, if your general health is compromised in any way: if you are sick, run-down, overworked, or immune-compromised, your body’s ability to heal will be diminished and the risk of infection will be increased.

As you heal, any pressure on a piercing has the potential to aggravate and inflame the site. You’d best refrain from contact sports, manual labor, or anything else that’ll irritate your new piercing. Most piercings take a minimum of six weeks to heal. Wearing tight clothes, touching the piercing with dirty hands, contact with bodily fluids, rough treatment, and using inappropriate cleaning agents will further diminish your body’s ability to heal and increase the risk of infection. And don’t skimp on the quality of jewelry you choose, either. Cheap-grade jewelry can fuck up the piercing big-time. Look for medical-grade stainless steel, titanium or 18k gold.

Baubles, Bangles and Beads
Given all the pain and risks, you might ask, why do people bother getting pierced at all? Well, that’s pretty easy to answer. Piercing enhances sex by providing a greater degree of stimulation to one’s self and one’s partner.

(Click on the thumbnails below to see a slideshow of popular male genital piercings.)

[nggallery id=104]

The most popular cock piercing is the Dressing Ring, otherwise known as a PA or Prince Albert. This piercing is named after Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria of England. In his day, men’s pants were so tight; a guy’s johnson needed to be held to one side or the other so as not to create an unsightly bulge. To accomplish this some men had their dick pierced so it could be held close to their leg by a hook on the inside of the trousers. The ring enters your urethra and exits immediately behind your dickhead on the underside of your cock. A variation on this piercing is called the Reverse Prince Albert, which enters your urethra and exits on the top of your dickhead.

The PA is the fastest healing genital piercing and is considered the most sexually appealing of cock adornments. This piercing requires less cleaning than most since urine aids in the healing process. However some men, particularly those who sport heavy gauge jewelry, find they have to sit down to pee or they dribble all over themselves. You’ll need to allow at least one week of sexual abstinence post piercing and two to four months for it to heal completely. In the interim, always use a condom.

Other popular male piercings include:
1. The Frenum, which pierces through your frenulum, the waddle of skin on the underside of your shaft just behind your dickhead. This is the second most popular piercing after the Prince Albert. It heals quickly and there’s a minimum of pain and complications. It will also add a great deal of sexual stimulation. There are a couple of variations to this piercing: The Lorum, a piercing at the base of your shaft near your balls; and the Ladder, which is row of several frenum piercings from the base of your shaft to your frenulum.

2. Foreskin piercings, for the uncut guy. It comes down to us from when it was used as a chastity device for slaves. But today it’s all about adornment and sexual enhancement. Your foreskin can be pierced with either single or multiple piercings.

3. The Dydoe piercing is for the cut man. It pierces the ridge of your dickhead. Of course, this is only possible if you have a large enough edge to accommodate the needle and jewelry.

4. The Ampallang is among the least popular piercings, because it is a horizontal piercing right through your dickhead. And its sister piercing, the Apadravya pierces your dickhead, only vertically. You can choose it to be done above, under, or through the urethra. And get this—it’s best done when you have a boner. Ouch, bloody OUCH!

And just to keep you in the know, you can also have your scrotum (Hafada) and/or perineum (Guiche) pierced, too.

And on that note, I sincerely bid you good luck!

Sexual MYTHBUSTERS, Part 1 – The Big O

No podcast today, but there is this…

Angie is 20 and she’s having issues, lots of issues.

Hello, I would ask you a question that has been on my mind for a while. I seem to have a problem orgasming without stimulating my clitoris. I suppose that doesn’t really sound like a problem but it’s really starting to annoy me. I would like to be able to enjoy an orgasm without having to stimulate my clit every time! I love having sex and it feels super duper good but why can’t I climax that way? I mean I am aware of where my G-spot is and my boyfriend said he’ll be focusing more on hitting it “spot” on. There’s also another thing I have noticed, sometimes my boyfriend will hit my cervix and it hurts a bit, but is this even normal? Should he even be able to hit it? Or is there something abnormal going on here?

Let’s see, when you say you “love having sex and it feels super duper good but why can’t I climax that way?” Are you referring to full-on cock in cooter fucking when you say, “having sex”? The reason I ask is that not everyone means the same thing when they use that trite euphemism.

Since you’re not here to fill in the blanks, so to speak. I’ll assume you want to know why you can’t have or haven’t yet had a vaginal orgasm. But before I answer, I just want to say that I hope you are not setting up an orgasmic dichotomy where there doesn’t need to be one. That would truly be unwise.

If you are at all familiar with your genital anatomy, you will know that the pleasure centers in that area of your body are all wired together. Your clit, G-spot, pussy, taint (perineum) and butthole are all on the same circuit, so to speak. Each erogenous zone is distinct, of course, but they act in consort with one another. However, not all your parts will generate the same amount of buzz. Since a woman’s clit is at the center of this network of nerves, it tends to dominate all the others and it is generally the quickest way to intense pleasure for most women.

Ok, now my answer. I can’t really say why your not climaxing while you’re fucking. Other than the fact that an exclusively vaginal centered orgasm is a myth. The vast majority of women don’t have vaginal orgasms. In fact the degree of insensitivity inside a woman’s vagina is so high that Kinsey wrote in his seminal work, Sexual Behavior in the Human Female published back in 1953: “Among the women who were tested in our gynecologic sample, less than 14% were at all conscious that they had been touched.” That’s pretty remarkable, wouldn’t you say?

The vaginal orgasm myth is perpetuated, in part, by many women’s confusion and/or lack of knowledge about their own anatomy. Some women believe that an orgasm felt during fucking is centered in their cooch. This suggests to me that they aren’t being precise in locating the center of that orgasm. Other women believe in the vaginal orgasm myth because they think they need to conform to a male oriented notion of female sexuality — fucking = cuming. And that’s simply wrong, don’t cha know. Just ask all the preorgasmic women out there.

But ya know what? I don’t own a pussy my own self. All I can only tell you is what I have learned from those people who actually have a honeypot. The people I’m referring to, we’ll call them females, tell me vaginal orgasms, mythological or not, may simply be dependent on a tone of a woman’s pelvic musculature. As amazing as pussies are, and they are amazing, if the muscles that surround them are not taught and toned enough, a fucking generated orgasm may elude the owner of said pussy.

Some women haven’t developed their PC muscles enough to cum through fucking alone. Are you doing your kegels, Angie? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you have some serious remedial research to do.

The elusive vaginal orgasm may also have to do with your partner cock, particularly the girth of his unit and opposed to its length. My women friends tell me that a thicker cock may have more of a chance triggering a vaginal orgasm then a pencil dick. No surprise there, I suppose. Position will also play a role. Why not give a bunch of different positions a try and see if one or another makes a difference? You on top cowgirl style, or doggie style might work best. But it’s your coozie, my dear, and you ought to know it better than I.

As to your G-spot question. That’s another thing all together. I am so glad that you are familiar with your anatomy enough to have found your own personal G-spot. And it’s great to hear that you have an accommodating partner who is working on stimulating this sensitive area. Good for you both! However, while I wholeheartedly endorse and encourage your further investigations and sex play, I do have one caution. I share the concern of most of my women friends. We want you to avoid all the G-spot hype floating around in the popular culture these days. Most women have a good time with their G-spot exploration. They report that it is not particularly difficult to find, but it’s also much harder to pleasure. If a woman, you perhaps, gets it in her head that something amazing is supposed to happen with a G-spot stimulation, she might be setting herself up for disappointment. In the same way some women, you perhaps, set themselves up for disappointment if they buy into the myth of an exclusively vaginal generated orgasm.

I encourage you to see your genitals as a whole, not a bunch of separate parts that somehow work independently of one another. If your pussy is happy and your pussy is making you happy; is it really all that important how the happiness comes to be?

In comparison us men folk are not all that fussy. What gets us off; gets us off. I never hear from a guy who is disappointed because he’s not having an exclusively prostate generated orgasm. They do happen, but we’re not the least bit concerned when they don’t happen. I also never hear from a guy who thinks he should be orgasmic through manipulation of his balls alone. That can happen too, but we’re not holding our breath for them.

What I do hear from guys is that we often need a particular kind of dick-oriented stimulation to get us off. And this is where the men folk and the women folk are a whole lot alike. You, like us, probably need a particular kind of stimulation to get you off. Be it vaginal, clitoral, G-spot, or whatever. If you acknowledge that your genitals are a composite of parts that work together to bring you joy, then you’ll be less likely to be swayed by the claims, hype and misinformation about female sexual response.

Regarding the issue of your boyfriend hitting your cervix. Yeah, that’ll hurt, don’t cha know. I’d be willing to guess that he’s in the wrong position and being too athletic in his pumping when that happens. If he’s bumping your cervix, but you like the depth and athleticism of his manly thrusts, simply change position. That should remedy the problem.

Finally, I’d simply advise you to respect the uniqueness of your body and your sexual response cycle. If it’s your clit that delivers the big O, even though you are being pleasured elsewhere. Then by all means, stimulate your clit while whatever else is happening, and enjoy the ride.

Good luck

So Ya Wanna Be A World-Class Cocksucker


What’s up with the current lamentable state of cock sucking these days? Why, I can remember a time when the humble hummer was king. Now, sadly the basic blowjob is a lost art.

Dr. Dick is forever getting letters from all over, from both men and women, asking for his sage advice. Dear Dr. Dick, Help! I don’t now what it is, I can’t seem to get the hang of fellatio. FELLATIO? Are you serious? Keep referring to cock sucking like that and we’re gonna take away your adult card. And then there are the letters frombj-1.jpg disappointed aficionados of excellent head. Dear Dr. Dick, Help! My boyfriend sucks dick like a girl. He’s afraid to get down and dirty on my big old dick. Yeah, ain’t it a shame? Ya know, there are those who believe an expert cocksucker is born not make. Either you can suck the chrome off a trailer hitch or ya can’t. However, Dr. Dick believes anyone can become an adequate or even a superior cocksucker with a little will power and some ingenuity.

Let’s start with the basics. There’s no one best way to make oral love to a boner. No two cocksuckers do it exactly the same way, but all have one thing in common and that’s the desire to satisfy. Technique and position take a back seat to simply craving a 9167735.jpgcock in your mouth. We’re not talkin’ rocket science, girlfriend, it’s just a pecker and a mouth doin’ what comes natural. So if cock sucking is more work than fun, just give it up. Life is too short for a bad blowjob.

Begin by taking a good look at the object of your desire. A big stiff woody is a wonder to behold. And even those little willies can be cute as hell. Visually explore the whole enchilada. Feel it’s shape, its thickness and texture. Use your tongue to trace a line from his dick head down the underside of his shaft to his balls. If you’re lucky enough to be gobbling an uncut dick, draw back his foreskin and slop your tongue all around his corona. As you do, watch your man’s eyes roll back in his head in ecstasy.0213.jpg

Let his cock slide inside your mouth. Let your lips slide over the head and down the shaft a little, but, for god’s sake, watch out for your teeth! Slide your mouth down farther and open wider. Feel the stretch in your jaws. When his dick gets close to your throat, you may begin to gag. This is a normal reflex that you will, in time, be able to control. Ask for some feedback on your efforts. Just don’t talk with your mouth full.

There are lots of other things you can do with your mouth. Lick his dick, suck on it and flick your tongue rapidly across the top of his dick. Or you can simply move your mouth up and down his joystick. Dive into his crotch, lick his inner thighs, lower belly, and slobber all over his nuts. Keep your mouth wet, a thick wad of saliva will add to the pleasure and eliminate irritation. Don’t be afraid to be sloppy. Increase your speed or slow it down. Incorporate a little manual stimulation if ya’d like. Fondle and bj01.jpgcup his balls in your hand.

As your man approaches orgasm he will become more excited and may start some pelvic thrusting. If he does and you start to gag, use your hand to guide his dick in and out of your mouth. Remember that you’re the one in charge here. Encircle your lips firmly around his cock and over your teeth. Keep the other parts of your mouth as relaxed as possible (actual “sucking” is unnecessary at this point). Keeping a regular rhythm is nice, but don’t let it get boring. If you vary your position and your stroke you won’t get fatigued.

Remember practice makes perfect. Above all take the time you need to learn what works best for you.

How the penis disappeared from the sex toy


by Hannah Smothers

You’ve seen what a penis looks like. Sure, there are variables that make each one a little different—the world is beautiful that way—but, generally speaking, they all fit a certain mold.

As the male sexual organ, the penis was designed to transport sperm from one body into another. As an added feature, the penis can also summon orgasm in a female partner during this process. But we know this isn’t always the case. While a healthy male organ works pretty well for its intended reproductive purpose, there are some design flaws in terms of maximizing female pleasure.

LILY 2So what if you could redesign the penis, make it a little bit better? Which pieces would you change, and which would you keep? Erasing the need for reproductive functionality, would you scrap the whole thing and start from scratch? In the end, would this magic device—capable of bringing women waves of pleasure—even resemble the penis in its current human form?

Welcome to the world of modern-day vibrators, a place largely devoid of the original pleasure device.

As sex toys have become increasingly sleek and modern—taking cues from the minimalistic designs of like Apple and Ikea—one clear trend has emerged: They no longer look like human penises. In fact, they no longer look human at all—which, according to designers, entrepreneurs, and sex therapists alike, is a very good thing.

Kitschy and grotesque

The first time the American public saw a non-human organ used to stimulate sexual arousal was in the early porn films of the 1920s. Over the previous few decades, small home appliances marketed under the guise of medical necessity (to cure the female ailment of “hysteria“) had become commonplace—kind of like how we now see “personal massagers” advertised in Brookstone. But in the new black-and-white pornos of the ’20s, audiences saw these appliances used for very non-medical purposes.

zini-deux-293x300And once the public was confronted with the idea that these devices could be used strictly for pleasure, the products disappeared from women’s magazines and reputable store shelves.

Vibrators made a second coming about 30 years later, during the sexual revolution of the 1960s. But even though Americans were talking about sexuality more openly than ever before, we still weren’t totally cool with the idea of incorporating these objects in our sex lives. In response, early industry leaders made them as outlandish as possible: Rotating glitter-dicks, two shafts emerging from one testicle-shaped base, rubber duckies that secretly vibrated. We displaced the awkwardness of using machines as sexual aids by turning these aids into novelty objects, or toys.

But there was a big problem with this approach. Since the products were advertised as “novelties,” not health aids, they were held to lower standards than medical devices and other things we put inside our bodies. The cheap toys were unsafe, ugly, and ineffective. And not at all sexy.

“I don’t think anyone has ever said, ‘I want a vibrator that looks like a bunny rabbit and a penis all smashed together,’” Ti Chang, the female co-founder of sex toy and jewelry design company Crave, told me. “I think the sex toy industry has really had a lot of male voices—it’s been men designing products for women, so it tends to be very male anatomy centric. Like, ‘Oh, it’s sex, she wants a big cock, so we’ll just make lots of different colors of cocks, and to make this really silly, we’ll put a little rabbit on it.’”

Companies like Doc Johnson—a leading novelty company for decades, notorious for its line of Zini DonutRealistic Cocks—offer a good example of the “she wants a big cock” mentality that dominated the industry during the late-20th century. Robert Rheaume, the president of high-end sex toy company JimmyJane, charmingly described these hyper-realistic dildos as the kind of severed penis you’d get if “there was an Orc from Lord of the Rings walking around, and they cut his penis off.”

He also argued, by nature of them being just so grotesque, they’re not very sex-positive. He put it to me this way: “Let’s say you and I are well into our sexual relationship, and I pull out this giant, Doc Johnson, 15-inch cock,” Rheaume said. “You might be like, WOAH, where’s that going? Get out of my apartment right now, I’m leaving—call me a taxi, call an Uber. It’s just intimidating and scary for some people.”

Kitschy, intimidating, grotesque—all are terms you could use to describe the sex toy market up until the early 2000s. The poor designs, cheap rubbers and plastics, and incredibly dick-centric domain of products presented itself as an untapped valley of junk, just waiting for a messiah. This is what Ethan Imboden, the founder of JimmyJane, realized upon walking into an Adult Novelty Manufacturers Expo a little more than a decade ago.

“As soon as I saw past the fact that in front of me happened to be two penises fused together at the base, I realized that I was looking at the only category of consumer product that had yet to be touched by design,” Imboden said in his 2012 Atlantic profile. Coming from an industrial design background, and lacking the desire to manufacture what he saw as landfill products, he left his job designing everyday consumer products to launch JimmyJane—a sex toy company that would put safety, design, and sex-positivity first. Around this time, a small, luxury intimate toy company in Sweden called LELO started doing the exact same thing.

post-phalic 01The kitschy sex toy industry was primed for a big change, and companies like JimmyJane and LELO were ready to usher it in.

Disrupting the dick

Skeuomorphism is a concept in technological design that describes our tendency to retain tactile aspects of the physical world as we move more of our lives onto screens. At Apple, for example, skeuomorphic design was thought to ease the transition from the real to the virtual. Turning a page on your Mac or iPhone would closely resemble turning a page in a real notebook, paper sounds included. If you can recreate the physical aspects of a very familiar, tactile world in the flat, virtual reality of an operating system, designers have long believed, maybe more people will feel comfortable using the product.

In sex toy design, this has translated into manufacturing dismembered penises and inventing crevices meant to resemble human vaginas and mouths. But why—if women and couples are looking for something more than their own, very real human parts—would they want a plastic knock-off of those same parts in bed? Just as some people argue that retaining archaic, physical traits of notepads on our iPhones is unnecessary, companies like JimmyJane and LELO saw retaining the original design of human organs as unnecessary and outdated.

Of course, there will probably always be a market for straight-up dildos—which are different from vibrators—and which, by nature of their intended internal purpose, must resemble a human penis. But female-oriented vibrators allow more room for innovation.

With this in mind, JimmyJane and LELO’s emphasis on design, coupled with major tech advances of the early 2000s, allowed these pioneering sex companies to essentially reinvent the penis. “Technology drives the industry—it’s tech, tech, tech,” Patti Britton, a clinical sexologist in southern California, told me. “Everyone’s going for the faster, the most options for control, as well as these really unusual and really sophisticated designs.”post-phalic 02

Those sophisticated designs are now pretty commonplace, and they look nothing like human parts. The design shift comes as a result of technological advances, yes, but also reflects a pretty significant ideological shift. Vaginal penetration, as we now know, isn’t necessarily the key to female orgasm, and penises aren’t naturally shaped to stimulate the elusive G-spot. Skeuomorphism started disappearing from the industry, and the dick was reinvented—and ultimately displaced.

Luxury investments

When sex toys start looking less like severed organs, it gets easier for consumers to take them seriously. And when consumers start to take them seriously, it opens up room for a luxury class of sex toys—something that LELO and JimmyJane, especially, have capitalized on. Most of LELO’s products start at more than $120, though the company also boasts a 24-karat gold plated vibrator for $15,000. As Steve Thomson, LELO’s global marketing manager, told me, creating toys that last a lifetime, like a nice espresso maker or television, is “a way of challenging assumptions about the sex toy market as a whole.”

“There’s always going to be a place for novelty goods and phallic-shaped items,” Thomson said. “But I don’t believe that’s the future of sex toys in any way. People are moving away from the assumption that it’s purely a substitute for a partner.”

post-phalic 03To Thomson, as well as industry leaders at JimmyJane, Crave, and the numerous other companies that have joined the modern sex toy craze, the future of sex toys is in making objects that fit easily into a consumer’s everyday life. That’s why, as technology improves, we see things like app-controlled panty vibes and vibrators equipped with memory that will store your favorite sexual patterns.

Along with loosening cultural values around discussing sex—almost everyone I interviewed cited the Fifty Shades of Grey franchise as a major breakthrough—the shift in toy design has transformed the industry from a $1.3 billion a year industry to a $15 billion a year industry in revenue alone. “If it’s okay for the modern mom to have dialogue about Fifty Shades of Grey, sexuality and masturbation, I think it gives us complete permission to have these conversations and to make these products available,” Rheaume said.

He’s not wrong. Research shows that not only are more women using toys, they’re owning up to using more toys. Consumers are literally taking their orgasms into their own hands, and they’re commonly paying upwards of $150 to do so. Is it worth it to buy a vibrator that costs a bit more than something you might find at your neighborhood adult novelty shop if it means it’ll last longer and isn’t toxic to your body? Absolutely.

But not everyone can afford it, and while some products come with a money-back, orgasm guarantee—they don’t always work as advertised. Has design for the sake of being beautiful, and innovation for the sake of being advanced, displaced the actual functionality of the vibrator?

That’s what was bothering Janet Lieberman, a mechanical engineering grad from MIT and enthusiastic sex toy user. Facing repeated disappointment in the toys she bought, Lieberman realized she was in a unique position to utilize her expertise to make things better. The technology was good, but she saw it going in the wrong direction. There was a sort of machismo attitude slipping into products designed for women—who cares if your device can track your orgasms, give you Bluetooth feedback, and looks like modern art if it doesnt work?

Now, as co-founder and lead engineer for the New York-based sex toy company Dame, she’s ushering in the newest wave—and quite likely the future—of sex toy design.

Women come first

One of the big problems with the sex toy industry is how male-driven and controlled it’s been throughout most of its history. Sure, the men at LELO and JimmyJane have women’s desires in mind—both Thomson and Rheaume told me about the extensive research measures their companies take when designing new products. JimmyJane, for example, relied on data about average labia size from the renowned Kinsey Institute when creating its new Form 5 vibrator, which is designed to simultaneously stimulate a woman’s labia and clitoris.

And to make sure the products hitting the market are truly effective, the leading companies also rely on demo communities—women who test new prototypes and provide detailed feedback. But, as Lieberman argues, there’s a difference between running a product by a demo audience and having a woman—the target consumer of the product—involved each step of the way.

And so, it’s becoming increasingly common to see women-run sex toy companies, or to see women involved in the design and engineering process, according to industry insiders. “If they’re products for women, you kind of want women everywhere in the process so they’re making the right priorities,” Lieberman told me.

A female designer and engineer, for example, might know right off the bat whether something is going to work. It’s not that men don’t take all the important components into consideration—after all, some of these products are used mutually between partners—it’s just that women are more likely to understand the various nuances in their own anatomies, and take those into consideration in the engineering process.

While enabling sex toys to track activity and communicate long distance via the internet—both features on the newest models—is cool, Lieberman and Crave’s Chang both stressed a personal mission to deliver what sex toys have long promised: really fantastic orgasms.

“Having an orgasm is like a birth right, you should have it!” Chang said, in a sentiment famously voiced by Nicki Minaj and, more recently, Amy Schumer. In her process at Crave—which steers clear of trying to mimic anything anatomical—function always comes first.

Lieberman and her business partner, Alex Fine, took a similar approach when building Dame’s first product, a couple’s vibe called Eva. “I wouldn’t say that one of our primary goals in designing this was that we wanted it to be beautiful,” Lieberman said of the device, which resembles a futuristic beetle. “We wanted it to be accessible, but we put function ahead of form.”

They also wanted to make sure the cost wasn’t prohibitive—a sex toy that’s too expensive can actually detract from sex, she argues. Eva sells for $105, a price-point Lieberman attributes mainly to the device’s high-quality silicone and the rigorous research and design process that went into it. Lieberman likens the Eva to a pair of really good headphones: You can hear the music, it sounds incredible, but you aren’t super aware of the fact that there are two small speakers in your ears.

Lieberman acknowledges that before sex toy designers could think about getting back to the core purpose of the industry, consumers needed to be introduced to beautiful, high-end luxury products. But the next wave of sex toys will likely follow her function-over-form philosophy—and encourage an even bigger audience to come.<

So, are we moving toward a world where penises, and human sex organs, are obsolete? Of course not. We’re just moving toward one where we can do better than what the average human body has to offer. As Patti Britton, a certifiable expert in all things sex, put it, there will always be an element of humanity that can’t be captured by even the most elaborate of sex toys.

“We’re still human beings—we’re skin and bone and flesh and energy,” Britton told me. “So far we really haven’t matched that one in the lab, we may one day. But I think, overall, humans will want to be with humans. That’s how we’re wired.”

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