Review: The Pirouette by Pleasureworks

Say hello to the Pirouette!

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This squiggly little thing is a vibrator for internal and external stimulation.  No butts, please- not only is it missing a flared base, it also gets quite slippery, as noted below!  The pirouette is a waterproof vibe made of ABS plastic.  It’s very hard, with no give.  The vibrations are medium-strength and the vibe uses 2 AA batteries.

This vibrator has a nice swirl shape that does make it feel a little girthier than its modest 1 1/8″ diameter.  At 6″ long you’ve got some room to hang out with your hand, but not much.

 

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The Pirouette turns on with a twist of the bottom piece, and you can twist up or down to control the level of intensity.  This is a two-handed maneuver, which I am not wild about.  Because the Pirouette is sold out right now (more in stock soon!) I had guessed the price of this toy to be $25 and it turns out to be only $18, which is a pretty good deal. Still, as you may be able to tell from my lack of exclamation points, this vibe didn’t wow me.  It’s kind of nothing special- none of those features that draw me in.  I like g-spot stimulation, or girth, or lovely texture, or interesting vibration patterns, or novelty.  This toy was just kind of… meh.

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After being spoiled by silicone, stainless steel, and glass, I just don’t love the feeling of plastic on my skin.  My biggest complaint, however, was that after some thrusting paired with clit stimulation with my hitachi, this toy got so slippery I had trouble holding onto it.  Turning the power up, down, or off was a full-stop two-handed ordeal, which was pretty disruptive to my masturbatory flow.  My vagina does tend to run on the lubier side, so this may not be a problem for everyone.  Also, do note that this toy doesn’t need a ton of lubrication to feel nice, which is a plus!

 

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A helpful re-design would have ridges around the base for help gripping, or something that is easier to navigate with one hand.

I totally dig beginner-friendly toys that are less expensive (and therefore less of a commitment.)  But it can be tricky to find good toys at affordable prices!  This brings me to a point that you know I’m all passionate about.  Cheaper toys are not inherently bad!  BUT- if you’re looking for something inexpensive, please be careful about what it’s made of.  In my early days of vibration exploration, I went to my seedy local sex shop and got a toy that, in retrospect, was made of super unhealthy jelly plastic.  But here’s where shit gets political, dearies.  I only review and bring to you toys that are safe (like this one!) and are from reputable stores whose mission it is to stock safe toys.  The good news about Good Vibes?  Literally anything you could get there is made to be ok for your bod.  They’re nitpicky about it because it’s important, and I hope you’ll be careful with your body too.  (Or throw a condom over your jelly toy.)  For more on this rant, you can read my manifesto here.

I know the words “beginner toy” are kind of taboo in the reviewing scene and for good reason.  All bodies work differently, and what gets you off might be different than what gets me off!  “Seasoned” vaginas do not all prefer super strong vibrations, or curves, or whatever.  That’s not a thing.  If you find something that you like, more power to you!  When I say “beginner-friendly toys” here, I’m talking about toys that aren’t super pricey, and are good to explore with.  I wouldn’t recommend some of my favorite toys to beginners- the Hitachi Magic Wand or the Pure Wand, for example- because the Hitachi could be too strong and could make someone think toys aren’t what their bodies like, and the Pure Wand has a strong and firm g-spot curve that some folks find is uncomfortable on their pelvic bones.  Purchases like those make more sense if you’re sure that’s what your body is looking for.   But if you’re looking for a first-time toy, or if you’re re-exploring what your body responds to (because bodies do change over time!)  I would recommend less expensive toys- and different toys than this one.  It’s not actively bad in a huge way (though the control really does bug me), it’s just not really anything special, and it’s kind of difficult to use.  And there are LOTS of other special toys out there, of all price ranges.  Good Vibes even put them together on a page for you, because they love you!  May I recommend the Purple Passion for good multi-speed clit vibration that changes with the push of a button, or the Dreamy-G for g-spot stim that’ll really get you going?  Or you can check out this post about good beginner toys.

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Sorry, Pirouette.  You might be right for some people, but you weren’t a match for me.  2 out of 5 stars.

Thank you, Good Vibes, for sending me this toy in exchange for an open and honest review!

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Review: Butterfly Bliss

Introducing: The Butterfly Bliss!

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I’ve seen this vibe before and it was never really one that appealed to me much.  As a lady who enjoys the feeling of fullness, the thumb-sized knob of the butterfly bliss never called to me.  Furthermore, it’s been years since I’ve used a battery-powered vibe.  I tend to go for the convenience and green-ness of rechargeables.  That being said, as a sex toy reviewing veteran returning to the scene, I’ve realized I’ve been in a sex toy rut and am ready to give things a new go.  Bodies and pleasure change, and it’s always good to circle back every few years to revisit sensations!

I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised!  Andy, my friendly Good Vibes affiliate contact, sent me over this vibe and a Pirouette (review to come) along with a little personalized note and some lubes, because he is adorable.  Here it is with the dino, for scale:Image

Stats-wise, this is a silicone vibrator powered by 2 AAA batteries.  It’s waterproof and phthalate free and has an insertable tip of 2 3/4″ by 1 1/8″ (aka, Not Enough For Kate’s Cavernous Vagina.)  Different vaginas like different things.  Mine is all about HEAVY g-spot action, cervix nuzzling, and stretching.  This is not a toy for that kind of thing.  The bulb on the insertable part of this toy does give a nice gentle fullness in the sensitive lower part of the vagina, but I found myself mashing it into me to try to get the fullness 2 fingers would provide.

The wings and antennae are intended to tickle and buzz against the clitoris.  For me, they did a little- but the buzzy vibrations numbed me pretty quickly and I had better luck grinding my clit against the textured body part of the butterfly.

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I experimented with different motions- rocking, swirling, pumping- and found a rocking motion worked best for me.  The vibrations were stronger than I expected.  Unfortunately, they were not enough to get me off completely.  To be fair, I’ve been using a hitachi a lot lately!  However, the squishiness of the silicone (which, BTW, is body-friendly and awesome) enabled me to maneuver things around and use another vibe on my clit without pinching my skin, which was good.  I also liked the one-touch power supply- which cycles through 3 levels of power at the touch of a button.

 

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This toy is not the noisiest, but it does make some noise.  I tend to vibe out (!) under the covers and once my nighttime noise machine is on, and this was not audible over that.

This would be a really good beginner vibe for someone.  It’s versatile- it can be used for penetration or clit stim or both.  It’s very reasonably priced at $28, which is pretty great for a silicone toy.  It’s body-safe, which is a great way to start off on the right foot!  It’s quiet enough, and also waterproof for added noise protection (showergasms!) for those living with roommates or parents.  Also it’s not huge, and it’s cute.

My one major beef with this vibe is that the ridges and highly textured surface make it obnoxious to clean.  My typical toy-cleaning routine is 2-fold- a quick wipe-down right away with a baby wipe, and then more thorough cleaning after the afterglow has faded with toy cleaner.  This butterfly’s ridges and wings and crevices require a LOT of attention.  Like, scrubbing with a toothbrush.

 

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And I am too lazy for that.

3 out of 5 stars.

You can pick up one of your own at Goodvibes!  This vibrator was provided to me by Good Vibrations in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.  Good Vibrations, as you know, is a fabulous, woman-friendly sex toy store invented by vibrator fairy godmothers in 1977 that provides good quality, body-safe toys, all-body sex education, and general badassery.  I choose to review for them because I believe in their mission.

 

Madison Young’s “Daddy” is articulate, authentic, disheartening.

I love Madison Young and what she stands for. I met her first through Rough Sex #2, which was incredibly hot and in which she was phenomenal. I like to watch her because she seems like a real person- she attains real pleasure, and engages in real eye-communication with other performers- rather than the forced into-camera eye-flirt that so many others do. Madison is a self-identified feminist and highly accomplished BDSM educator, director, and actor- among other things.

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Perhaps my hopes were too high- or unfair. I hoped that this memoir would be a holy grail of How To Do Daddy Stuff Right. It was not. In fact, it ended up making me more afraid that Daddy play may ultimately prove risky or even harmful to those of us who have trauma histories or are especially vulnerable to powerful people who take advantage of us. I was hoping that this book could be a resource for mental health professionals who are trying to understand how a little girl/ Daddy dynamic, which makes many people have a knee-jerk squick reaction- can be played out lovingly by two well-adjusted, happy people. This book is not that. Truthfully, it made no claims of being so. Madison herself is only 34 (according to a likely-unreliable web source.) She is an actual human being who is every bit as entitled to making mistakes and bad choices as any of us. At no point did she claim that this book was a how-to guide. That expectation- or hope- is on me.

“Daddy” begins with a happy family- giving us a pristine snapshot of “after.” Madison is letting us know not to worry too much- that everything here turns out ok. She takes us on a journey of explaining how she came into her own sexuality- of the how and why she enjoys submission. It was well-written, even-headed, and sweet. I related here. I thought, “Finally- I can give this to people and they will understand!” Everything looked healthy. Dynamics were ultimately mutually caring. Things were good.

Some vignettes did make me worry for her- the initial pattern of trying intense BDSM for the first time in front of a camera, instead of on her own where she was able to have her own reactions without fear of losing a job. The time when she severely injured her rectum, continued with a scene, gushed “about a cup of blood” and then, rather than going to the ER, flew back to where her partner was before seeking medical attention. This, to me, was the first sign of dependency that seemed harmful. This is where I began to worry.

As the story progresses on, Madison develops a deeper relationship and connection to James Mogul, who we know from the beginning is her current partner. James seems to care for her sometimes- but frequently violates the terms of their poly relationship and treats Madison like she’s being unreasonable when she discovers and voices her hurt.

Madison tiptoes into wisps one hopes will turn into self-aware insights as to how she utilizes kink to heal old wounds, but she never quite gets there. She seems like an approval addict who will do anything for a fix. By three quarters of the way through the book we watch our heroine endure lying, cheating, drug use, emotional stonewalling, being abandoned in times of concern and crisis. Madison is surrounded by gentle, loving, and supportive friends and still focuses solely on the meager crumbs of loving from her Daddy. It is heartbreaking. You cannot blame Madison, but you want so badly to help her move forward from this seemingly endless repetition compulsion.

Ultimately Madison doesn’t explain much about how James came around. It seems like he did his own thing until he grew tired of it, never acknowledged or apologized for the enormous hurt he caused Madison, and quit the industry. We zoom forward into a birth scene- which chronologically could only be a few months away from the days when he was ignoring her entirely- and then snap right into the present.

My heart aches for Madison. I am deeply disappointed to report that this book gave me the sense that for her, the Daddy play significantly contributed to an extremely harmful dynamic wherein the powerful party abused and took advantage of the other, who was too lost in subspace to realize what was happening. Madison’s trust, love, and faithfulness were used as weapons against her by the man in whose hands she decided to place her well being. I found myself rooting so hard for Madison. But where she appeared willing to forgive her Daddy on faith without explanation or understanding of what had happened- and I felt like she invited her readers to do the same- I simply could not get on board. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to watch porn starring James Mogul without feeling disgusted and turned off.

Though she is an educator, Madison makes no claims that this book is intended to tell people how to do things. It is not fair for me to fault her for being imperfect. But I was hoping for some lesson learned from all of this- some way in which she grew or progressed or learned how to care for herself, or thought about how to talk to her daughter about how to identify healthy relationships. There was none of that. Perhaps the painful parts of this book struck me with such force because I related to them and saw myself in them. (This is more than a “perhaps.”)

So is this book true, and authentic, and descriptive of the submissive experience? Yes. But overall I found it troubling and sad. I hope that Madison is able to treat herself with love and respect, and someone with whom she can play with Daddy dynamics in a way that is truly safe and loving and caring. I hope that people outside of the scene will not take this memoir as proof that all Daddy/little girl relationships are abusive, manipulative, or harmful. And I hope that those who do read it will both have compassion for Madison and also try to look for something better.

I thank Madison for sharing her story and for not whitewashing it. Books like this help us gain an accurate perception of others’ experiences so that we can relate to their struggles and mistakes. It takes bravery and love for others to choose to open ourselves in that way. Madison surely knew that some readers would look down on her for including the less- than-pretty, not-perfectly-empowered pieces of her story and she included them anyway. This was a very conscious choice, and one that comes from the queer, feminist, radical Madison I know and love.

I can’t rate this book because it would feel like I am rating someone else’s life. So instead I will say: this is a worthwhile, if uncomfortable, read. This is a work of bravery, strength, and love. This is the beginning of a conversation.

Thank you, Madison. And good luck.

So You Want to Experiment with Sensations: Pain, Pleasure, and Everything In Between

Sensation play is great.  By adding and removing sensation, you can heighten your awareness and perception.  Sensation play can be a great way to connect with a partner too!  It can be a sexy, romantic way play with trust, patience, power play, and limit-pushing.  And don’t worry- it’s not all 50 Shades of Grey!  (FWIW- I think that book is atrocious.)

Not all sensation play is painful- at all.  Some people like light, gentle touches- like silky fabrics or fur.  Some like light stings, or things that have a worse bark than their bite.  There are LOTS of toys in this category!  And some people really like a nice good sting, thud, or pull.  There’s certainly a lot for that too!  With all body play, there are varying levels of risk.  I’d be an irresponsible sex blogger if I sent you out to try more intense body stuff without making sure you’re doing it safely, so promise me you’ll use your noggins.  Sterilize if there’s broken skin or blood.  Before you try anything that puts strain on breath or circulation make sure you read SM 101 or another comprehensive guide like it.
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You know this, but just to refresh- for any kind of potentially physically or emotionally vulnerable play, establish a safeword beforehand.  A good, universally known system is “Yellow” for “slow this down, I’m getting near my limit” and “Red” for “stop right now.”  A good nonverbal safeword (if you’re unable to speak, e.g. with a gag) is to have something noisy to drop to the floor like keys or a mumble pattern- like an “UH-uh!” that the dominant partner will be looking out for.  Safewording is not a sign of weakness.  Rather, it is a sign that you’re in touch with your own body and psyche and are invested in having a positive experience together.  Help your top help you, and safeword as needed.

On to the fun stuff!

A great way to start with sensation play is with a blindfold.  It’s low-risk, comfortable, and easily removable.  This one is cute, comfy, and inexpensive:
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A blindfold heightens your senses and builds anticipation in a way that many find erotic.  A light touch of a fingertip down the arm becomes amplified and extra ticklish.  The warmth of a partner’s body becomes more perceptible.  The slap of a crop becomes unpredictable.  This is the first toy I recommend to any friend looking to add a little pizzazz to their relationship- above any vibrators or oils or dildos.  A blindfold can do wonders.  Highly recommend.

Next up:

The Tantra Feather Teaser by LELO.

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LELO is a fabulous company that makes some really great, high quality toys.  This feather toy is little- about the size of your hand- and comes in a really pretty, gift-worthy box.  (It’s also nice for storage!)  This teaser feels just lovely, especially when paired with the blindfold above.  You can also flip it over and use the cold metal ball on the other end of the handle for cool smooth contrast.  These teasers are nonthreatening and flirty.  They’re obviously not sterilizable so if you’re intending to share it between partners, steer clear of any bodily fluids.

Also from LELO is the Sensua Suede whip.

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If you want to be adorable, this whip and the feather teaser make a really attractive pair.  This whip is small too- 14″ in total.  As a relatively inexperienced whip-wielder, I find it takes some pretty focused effort to get much more than a light sting out of this toy.  It’s nice on breasts, bums, and backs.  It feels fantastic slowly dragged across a nipple.  This is a great toy for someone who is new to impact play, as I think of it as one of those toys whose bark is worse that its bite.  If you want it badly enough and get in some practice, though, you can get some sting out of this one.
This next toy is a really great example of how you can use psychology to your advantage with sensation play.  This Pinwheel BDSM toy looks like a terrifying medical device.
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And it is!  This tool is something doctors use to test nerve reception.  Scary as fuck, right?  We can work with that.  See, this toy only hurts as much as you want it to.  Depending on the angle of the toy, the body part, and the pressure of your hand, this little lovely thing can be anything from a light pokey tickle to a sharp sting that leaves a little pink dotted line on your skin.  It’s sterilizable too, which is nice and important as this is a scratchy/pokey toy.  I don’t know if they all do this, but my Pinwheel toy has this delightful ominous squeak when used.  I love watching a toppy partner bring this slowly to my skin, not knowing if they’ll choose to be nice or mean with it.
Getting into some more serious sensation, may I introduce the Butterfly nipple clamps:
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There are gentler nipple clamps on the market for sure.  These are, in fact, some of the most painful ones I’ve ever tried- and I love them.  Butterfly clamps (sometimes called Clover clamps) have this neat mechanism wherein they tighten when pulled.  These are pretty intensely tight anyway, so when the chain connecting them gets pulled, you’ll feel a pretty intense shock of pain.  There is no way these are getting pulled off.  Personally, I LOVE nipple pain.  I’m very sensitive in some other places- like backrubs, for example.  I never imagined I would like play like this, but I tried it and found it really heightened my pleasure.  Try to keep an open mind when you’re trying new sensation play.  You might be surprised by what your body responds to!

Last but not least, one of my very favorite toys:  the Under The Bed Restraint System.

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Being tied up is a really fun way to do sensation play.  You’re basically forced to stay still and trust your partner with your body.  It can be very intimate, and very lovely!  It can also bring up some unexpected emotional reactions, so communicate if you need anything- a drink of water, a break from a position, a check-in snuggle.  This thing is basically shaped like a capital H and goes under your mattress so that you can be strapped up with arms and legs.  It’s super simple to install (have a friend help place it while you hold the mattress up!) and tucks away discreetly between uses.  The straps are easily adjusted and the cuffs are comfy.  I did have an experience wherein I broke one of the split rings on the leg cuffs (sexy tickling when tied up = strong leg contractions!) but was able to replace it with a sturdier one from a hardware store for less than a dollar.
All for now!  All of these toys are available at your friendly (internet/)neighborhood Good Vibrations store for purchase!  Good luck, be good, and have fun!

Kate

Let’s Talk Sex Stigma

I want to talk about judgment.  I’ve been writing a post about sensation play and was recalling an overheard conversation in which one person was denouncing folks who are into play with BDSM toys that are all bark and no bite- like nipple clamps that don’t squeeze tightly or handcuffs that come undone easily when pulled.  The person laughed haughtily.  I got mad.

This is my across-the-board belief, not just for sensation play:  No one way of playing is inherently better than any other.  People who are into really intense pain play do not have access to some higher level of sexual pleasure or empowerment or maturity than those who do not.  Sex and sexual play are many things, including physical, emotional, and psychological.  One person may experience absolute ecstasy and connection with another person through a caress of the thigh.  Another might find it from being tied down and tickled.  Another may find it through verbal degradation and humiliation.  Assuming that all of these things are happening in the context of consensual and caring adults, they are all good.  There is no hierarchy of good.  They are simply all good.

There is a lot of cross-judgment with kinds of play.  I’m sure we’re all well aware that some folks think that anything beyondpleasureless sex for procreation is amoral.  I’m not really talking about those folks.  I’ve been side-eyed by folks who think that using a blindfold or a vibrator in the bedroom is an indication that the relationship isn’t enough to sustain itself, or that sexual chemistry is absent.  I’ve had glances of disapproval from folks who think that I haven’t proven myself as a true sexual submissive if I haven’t wanted a collar.There’s one way to succeed at sex: to recognize and do what makes you happy.  Sometimes that means play that’s heavy into sensation.  Sometimes it means play that makes you feel certain emotions like helplessness or trust.  Sometimes it’s working out things in the bedroom that are hard to address, ask for, or access elsewhere.  Sometimes it’s trying new things with a partner and delighting in the novelty together.  Sometimes it’s expressing love by focusing entirely on making another person happy, or being the object of another person’s heartfelt efforts.

It is lame to look down on someone else for how they get off.  In fact, I think it’s very often a signifier of one’s own sexual insecurity or discomfort with one’s own internal desires.  You don’t have to be heavy into kink to have your mind blown.  Using sex toys does not indicate a lack of skill or creativity.

Let’s all be nice to each other and celebrate the delicious diversity that is sexuality!  I firmly believe that our sexualities have the capacity to keep evolving our entire lives.  Sex can be an amazing way to explore yourself and embrace the parts of yourself that have been painful or dark.  Sex can be a way to take on roles we can’t or don’t take on elsewhere.  Sex can be healing and wonderful.  We’re all coming into it with completely different histories and experiences.  One moment is rarely the final point in one’s journey.

So go forth and have amazing sex!  I would love to hear about moments in your sexual histories that were significant.  Tell me your stories, dear readers!

Kate