Throw away your trench coat, wipe the crust from your eye, and come out of that dank basement — sex toys have gone mainstream. No longer do we need to schlep to the seedy parts of town and slink into poorly lit, windowless pits to find sexual stimulation enhancements. Sex toy development has gone way beyond the edible underwear, expressionless blow-up dolls and French ticklers of yesteryear. How much tickling do the French really need anyhow? We’ve moved beyond the gag gifts of bachelor and bachelorette parties and onto high-tech gadgets you might actually want to use.
While the Internet may be destroying brick-and-mortar bookstores, its wrecking ball has yet to dent the walls of the new sex-toy shop. Stores like Lover’s Lane, Babeland and Early to Bed provide a friendly staff that offers information and encouragement to people of all genders, orientations and experience levels who want to explore their sexuality. There are testers of lubes and oils available for comparing slipperiness, taste and scents. Toys can be handled, to better evaluate feel and vibration intensity levels. You can’t do that on the Internet. All of these stores do have shops online, for those who are still a little too shy or who live too far away to make it into the shop. But don’t fret small-towners, if Howell, (population 9,500) can get its own Lover’s Lane (which just opened two months ago) then there’s hope for your sleepy town too.
In this brave new world of mainstream sex toys, some clear trends are starting to emerge. Women are becoming empowered and taking charge of their sexuality, men are seeking sleaze-free, sex-positive stores, couples are shopping together, and people are looking for earth- and body-conscious products.
Eco-friendly toys are not just about a healthy planet. Keeping toxic chemicals out of your body is probably a good idea, but, until recently, most toys were made from some pretty nasty, cancer-causing stuff. Jasmine Portofino, founder of Earth Erotics, thinks this trend will only continue to grow. “I started Earth Erotics in 2007,” she says, “and, since then, I have watched dozens of body-safe and environmentally conscious adult products come onto the market.” Eco-friendly sex toys are made from high-quality nontoxic materials and are often vegan-friendly.
Get yourself off without fucking the Earth
What could be greener than a vibrator shaped like a leaf? Sex-toy company Leaf Vibes makes a variety of toys with spring-fresh foliage designs. These toys don’t just replicate nature, they help sustain it. With a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, piles of spent batteries will no longer litter the floor around your bed. Leaf Vibes are also Phthalate-free, great for keeping your naughty bits cancer-free.
Glass? Yes, glass. It is a naturally occurring recyclable material that is manufactured without heavy chemicals or solvents. Glass toys are made from borosilicate glass (the same stuff as your Pyrex baking pan) and can withstand the thermal stresses of the most enthusiastic user. The glass of these toys is usually hand-blown into beautiful designs that are easy to clean and can last a lifetime. Pass ’em down to the grandkids!
Stainless steel dildos
Stainless steel toys are made from the same grade of metal as medical equipment. If it’s safe enough to replace a hip, it’s probably safe enough to put in an orifice. It can be cleaned with soap and water or boiled for sterilization, keeping harsh chemical cleaners out of the drains and out of your body.
All-natural vegan lubes
Have you ever read the ingredients list on a bottle of lube? Hydroxyethylcellulose, chlorhexidine methylparaben, sodium hydroxide. What the hell is that stuff? Do you really want to slather it all over your most intimate areas? Another common ingredient lurking in many tubes of lube are animal byproducts, which, if you’re vegan, is kind of a big deal. Here’s where all-natural vegan lubes ride to the rescue. These certified organic lubes are paraben-, glycerin- and petroleum-free.
We asked around at a number of stores, and every person we talked to mentioned Fifty Shades of Grey, the book famous for introducing housewives to BDSM. Searah Deysach, owner of Early to Bed says of the book, “People’s interest in kink got piqued, and we are still seeing new comers trying out some fresh tricks.”
Handcuff and whips and ball-gags — oh, my!
Not sure where to even begin with all the crazy BDSM accoutrements? Try a bondage beginner’s kit. Most online retailers, such as Babeland, Early to Bed, and Muf.com, offer a variety of kits that include things like cuffs, blindfolds, and riding crops to get you started, some even include the book as a sort of guide.
Fifty Shades of Grey
Take a gander at the book that started this suburban BDSM trend. You can pretty much pick it up anywhere, even at the drugstore, next to paperback mystery novels and Sudoku puzzle packs. The book takes a lot of flak for being poorly written. It’s on par with any other dime-store romance novel. How well it’s written isn’t important anyway; what’s important is, it got women who had previously been too shy to ask for what they wanted in the bedroom, to finally ask for it.
Sex toys are often thought of as something we use all by our lonesome, and they are, but more often they are being used with others. Megan, store manager at Lover’s Lane in Howell, describes her client base as “mostly couples.”
Let’s Work Together
The C-shape design slides into the vagina, stimulating the clitoris on the outside and the G-spot on the inside, leaving plenty of room for her partner to slide on in and enjoy the vibrations right along with her.
This sleek vibrator from Jimmyjane fits discreetly over the fingertips with a slim battery pack that is worn around the wrist like a bracelet, resembling something out of Tron. Next time your partner is too tired for lovemaking, you could try to coax them with a relaxing massage — enhanced with vibrations. The pads can be placed directly on the fingertips for intense vibrations or flipped around to the back of the finger for direct skin-on-skin vibrating action. Sounds like a great way to amp up foreplay.
Even toys that are geared to a specific gender have got couples of all orientations more interested in spending some quality time together.
A new frontier
for the fellas
Gay, straight, bi — everyone seems to be clueing into the secret of prostate stimulation. The prostate, that walnut-sized gland responsible for the production of the clear fluid that carries sperm during ejaculation, is also called the P-spot, and stimulating it leads to intense orgasms. It can be a challenge to reach back there, or to get your partner to, but, luckily, there are some toys on the market that are ergonomically designed to reach that tough spot.
Something for the ladies
Who says science can’t be sexy? This crazy sex machine was invented by Doctor X. Treme and while that may be a pseudonym this guy really does have a Ph.D. in applied physics, from Yale no less. What started out as a request from his wife to make her a sybian (aka a sex-machine), turned into a nerdy obsession that eventually lead to the creation of the X1 Orgasmatron, which delivers intense orgasms using all the awesome powers of math and science.
Katherine Montalto is web administrator at Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.