Monthly Archives: September 2010

Lelo SIRI vs. Lelo Gigi: Phallic vs. Non-Phallic Vibrators

The Lelo SIRI vibrator stands out from other Lelo “pleasure objects”and indeed many other sex toys because of its non-phallic shape. By “non-phallic,” I mean that the design of the SIRI does not resemble a penis. This can be contrasted with the Lelo Gigi, which has a more standard “phallic” shape. So what are the benefits of the non-phallic vibrator? Why deviate from the standard?

Phallic Gigi vs. Non-Phallic SIRI

I’m an academic at heart so when I started thinking about why sex toys are designed the way they are (phallic vs. non), my immediate impulse was to invert the question: what are the benefits of using a phallic-shaped vibrator? The primary difference between the Lelo SIRI and the Lelo Gigi—and indeed between all non-phallic and phallic shaped vibrators—is that the phallic Gigi can be used for penetration and the SIRI cannot (or rather, should not).

But—with the exception of to make yourself ejaculate—why would you want to penetrate yourself? (for some reason I feel embarrassed asking this question, but for me penetration has been good for sexual excitation, not orgasm)

My own masturbatory rituals are overwhelmingly clitoral. However, I didn’t even realize that this might be exceptional until I went to a sex toy party and noticed that most of the toys being exhibited lacked vibration capabilities (ie: they were plain old dildos). I wondered whether it was my own masturbation techniques that were uncommon, or whether this particular pyramid scheme had singled out some preferred-penetration market of which I was just not a part.

The environment at the sex toy party was classroom-like enough that I raised my hand in the middle of the saleswoman’s lecture and asked if anyone in the room used vibrators or dildos for penetration, or if they were more like me. Unfortunately the set-up was not classroom-like enough to foster a real learning environment, and the saleslady replied to my question as follows: “I don’t think anybody wants to talk about that here, Jane.” A room of fifteen women who got together at someone’s home on a Friday night to cocktail and buy sex toys seems to be exactly the situation in which people would want to talk about “that,” but what do I know.

I still haven’t had a good conversation about penetration and sex toys, so I hope you’ll converse with me on this one (annonymously, if you want to). Do you use your vibrator as a penetration tool? If not, what are the benefits of having a phallic-shaped vibrator?

(Also, if you haven’t seen it yet, check my intimate video review of the SIRI here)

Alfred Hitchcock Presents: How to Clean Your LoveHoney Sqweel

After reading my last write-up on the Sqweel, you felt an uncontrollable urge to try horizontal ten-tongued auto-erotic cunnilingus. You promptly went to vibrators.com and ordered a Sqweel to call your own. You removed three AAA batteries from your roommate’s alarm clock, dripped the included package of Sliquid over your new sex toy, and Sqweeled it up until you didn’t know left from right or up from down. Now you find yourself with a bit of a mess on your hands…

Never fear, Alfred Hitchcock is here! He knows just what to do to make that Sqweel so clean it squeaks.

secretary

Requite me, requite me not

Oh Ethan, I miss you too.

You went horseback riding? That’s so charming. I went horseback riding when I was a teenager and against my mother’s wishes refused to wear a bra. It was a painful experience.

I want you to come back so we can lounge around together in your room and listen to music on your computer and eat and go see a movie. I want to be warm with you and put off going outside as long as we can together because it’s cold and snowy. We can drink hot chocolate and peppermint schnapps and watch Edward Scissorhands or just listen to it because the music is so good. I want to come back to L.A. with you and be warm in the sun next to your pool and while you’re at work I’ll go through all your personal stuff and make long distance calls from your room! I want you to show me around Shangri-LA and go to all the places Steve Martin talks about in his books. And we can watch the sushi float by.

My advisor/friend asked me what you were like the day before yesterday. I said, “He has soft black fuzzy hair. Sometimes he talks like an early twentieth century novel reads. He makes sick, dark jokes and he is noble and kind and talented.” And you haunt me. You’re always there and never there. And I have loved you since the night I decided to love you.

When I can manage to speak it, it will feel so good to say. For some reason it doesn’t matter if you say it back. It’s like loving my cat–it seems perfectly acceptable for you to just look back at me afterwards. But no one would beleive all that, so I’ll keep it to myself. Or maybe write it on a bathroom wall somewhere near “joker was here.”

If I had the supplies and the nerve, I would write this using a fountain pen on thick stationary, and seal the envelope with melted wax, stamped with J.

But after all, it is almost 2007.

Did I tell you I saw the hockey player at a special talk? Some guy was talking about gay men and AIDS but I think I only heard the words five times. Instead he read Jean Genet. I felt like I was listening to a storyteller. You would have loved it. I was smiling so hard and my body was giggling like the first time I read Nietzsche. My friends and favorite teacher talked to the speaker afterward, and I tried to but was too excited and could only say “thank you” over and over. I also said “abjectation” instead of “abjection.” Once again I am cast as the ditz because my body was too filled with pleasure for me to properly articulate myself.

Luckily, the hockey player left before question time so she didn’t have to see me like that. She was writing on her Starbucks coffee cup the whole time. Maybe she only came because she saw the word “homosexuality” and thought she might meet someone cute. Later I saw her at Leo’s Coney Island at like 1:00 a.m. while I was doing homework. I’m convinced she’s stalking me.

I better get back to my papers. I’m writing on Secretary and have found that Freud’s models of masochism and female sexual development mirror each other. Freud’s not cool anymore; everyone loves to hate Lacan instead. But I think it will be a good paper nonetheless. It turns out Mr. Gray did take away her vise, like you argued. If we accept that she is agent in her sexual masochism, we must accept that she is agent in her personal self-harming masochism. Except that she was static and unhappy hurting herself, and grew into a strong and happy person when Mr. Grey and her did it together. The only way I can explain that is through patriarchal approval, which I don’t want to do because I myself found that movie to be very empowering and feminist. Hopefully I’ll find another way before it’s due.

I’m showing a clip of the spanking scene for my presentation. I can’t wait to see the reactions from those animal-loving, tree-hugging, pro-affirmative-action-voting, marxist bastards. Hopefully, I’ll have my 3/4 length fur coat by then to piss them off extra.

About that fur…While I was watching all those film noirs this semester, I loved all the gangster molls in their fur jackets and decided I wanted one. When I told my friends, they were openly disgusted, which made me want one even more. They hate almost everything I have to say, which makes me realize the field needs someone like me to balance all the assumed liberalism. I once listened to a lecture on how awful technology was from a guy who had the fanciest wheelchair I have ever seen. I still see that asshole around campus and never hesitate to give him a dirty look.

Later…

P.S. If those last few paragraphs make you hate me, please read the beginning again. I hope work is going well.

“Teledildonics” by Howard Rheingold (full text)

Howard Rheingold’s “Teledildonics: Reach Out and Touch Someone” first appeared in the Summer 1990 issue of Mondo 2000, a quarterly cyberculture magazine that launched in the 1980s and printed until its discontinuance in 1998. “Teledildonics” is an essential read for anyone interested in the intersection of sex and technology, social networks and identity, or history of thought. Besides the Mondo 2000 cover art gallery there is no online archive for the publication, so I had a terrible time tracking down the original version of “Teledildonics.” Luckily I was able to contact Howard Rheingold on Twitter and he was kind enough to mail me his personal copy of the summer 1990 issue of Mondo 2000. Below is a transcription of the original “Teledildonics: Reach out and Touch Someone,” complete with undue limerick.

 

Teledildonics: Reach Out and Touch Someone

There was a young man named Racine,
who invented a fucking machine.
concave or convex, it fit either sex,
and was exceedingly simple to clean.

The first fully functional teledildonics system will probably not be a fucking machine. You will not use erotic telepresence technology in order to have sex with machines. Twenty years from now, when portable telediddlers are ubiquitous, people will use them to have sexual experiences with other people, at a distance, in combination and configurations undreamt of by precybernetic voluptuaries. Through the synthesis of virtual reality technology and telecommunication networks, you will be able to reach out and touch someone—or an entire population—in way humans have never before experienced.

Dildonics—it had to happen. It is the unnatural fruit of the marriage of lust and craft. The word “dildonics” was coined by visionary computer pontiff Ted Nelson in 1974. Ted is best known as the inventor of hypertext and designer of the world’s oldest unfinished software project, appropriately named “Xanadu.” As originally conceived, it described a machine invented by San Francisco hardware hacker How Wachspress: a device capable of converting sound into tactile sensations. (Patent #3,875,932). The erogenic effect depends upon where you, the consumer, decide to interface your anatomy with the tactile stimulator. Picture yourself a couple decades hence, getting dressed for a hot night in the virtual village. Before you climb into a suitably padded chamber and put on your headmounted display, you slip into a lightweight—eventually, one would hope diaphanous—bodysuit. It would be something like a body stocking, but with all the intimate strangeness of a condom. Embedded in the inner surface of the suit, using a technology that does not yet exist, is an array of intelligent effectors. These effectors are ultra-tiny vibrators of varying degrees of hardness, hundreds of them per square inch, that can receive and transmit a realistic sense of tactile presence in the same way the visual and audio displays transmit a realistic sense of visual and auditory presence. You can reach out your virtual hand, pick up a virtual block, and by running your fingers over the object, feel the surfaces and edges, by means of the effectors that exert counterforces against your skin. The counterforces correspond to the kinds of forces you would encounter when handling a non-virtual object of the specified shape, weight, and texture. You can run your cheek over (virtual) satin and feel the difference when you encounter (virtual) human flesh. Or you can gently squeeze something soft and pliable and feel it stiffen and rigidify under your touch.

Every nook and protuberance, every plane and valley and knob of your body’s surface, will require its own processor. Technically this is the limiting factor in the evolution of teledildonics: the development of extremely powerful computers to perform the enormous number of calculations required to monitor and control hundreds of thousands of sensors and effectors. Fiber optic networks can already handle the very high bandwidth that telepresence requires. But it may take decades to develop the mesh of tiny, high-speed, safe but powerful tactile effectors. Today’s vibrators are in the ENIAC era.

The tool I am suggesting is much more than a fancy vibrator, but I suggest we keep that archaic name. A more sober formal description of the technology would be “tactile telepresence,” and it is much more than a gleam in the eye of a horny hardware hacker. Part of the infrastructure for a dildonic system exists already in the form of computerized clothing and head-mounted displays that permit people to enter the fully three-dimensional illusion of an artificial reality.

Teledildonics in inevitable given the rate of progress in the enabling technologies of shape-memory alloys, fiber-optics, and super-computing. Enormous market-driven forces will be unleashed when sex at a distance becomes possible. Questions of morality, privacy, personal identity, and even the very definition of Eros will be up for grabs.

If everybody can look as beautiful, sound as sexy, and feel as nubile and virile as everyone else, what then will have erotic meaning?

If you can experience sexual frissons or deep physical communion with another person with no possibility of pregnancy or VD, what then of conventional morality?

If you can map your hands to your puppet’s legs, and let your fingers do the walking through cyberspace, there is no reason to believe you won’t be able to map your genital effectors to your manual sensors and have direct genital contact by shaking hands. What will happen to social touching when nobody knows where anybody else’s erogenous zones are located?

Clearly we are on the verge of a whole new semiotics of mating. Privacy and identity and intimacy will become tightly coupled into something we don’t have a name for yet. In Unix systems, files and programs and groups of users can be grouped into nested hierarchies by a system of “permissions.”

The protocols of passion are something we can only guess at now. In cyberspace, your most public persona—the way you want the world to see you—will be “universally readable,” in Unix terms. If you decide to join a group at a collegial or peer level, or decide to become informationally intimate with an individual or group, you will share public keys to your identity permission access codes. The physical commingling of genital sensations might come to be regarded, in time, as a less intimate act than the sharing of your innermost self-representations.

Finally, with all those layers of restricted access to self-representations that may differ radically from layer to layer, what happens to the self? Where does identity lie? And with our bodily sensations, as Ted Nelson might say, will our communication devices be regarded as “its”…or will they be part of “us”?

Sqweel Sex Toy Inspires New Oral Sex Technique

Still a little uncertain about my new assignment to review the Sqweel, I decided to talk it out with my best friend. When I arrived at her house and saw that her and her boyfriend were sitting around a fire pit passing around beers and xanax like peace pipes, I couldn’t help myself from busting out the Sqweel and my camera. While it’s rare that such a situation would yield anything worth recording (let alone sharing), we may very well have come upon the true revolution in orgasms! Check it out:

I asked the fine people at Leftos whether they thought that horizontal licking was new technique or not. One user said that it was a regular course of action and if that made him a freak, so be it. What do you think: Are my friend and I just naive in the variety of cunnilingus out there, or did the Sqweel inspire a whole new situation?