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.

“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?

Introducing…THE SQWEEL

When I saw that the new sex toy I had to review was the Sqweel, I thought someone was fucking with me.

The Sqweel is the craziest sex toy I have ever seen. With the cap on, it looks like like a giant case of oral contraceptives. With the cap off and its wheel of pink silicon tongues sticking out, the Sqweel looks like something that one of my notoriously unsatisfactory x-boyfriends may have thought up after trying to give me head. Which it mind as well be.

Back in 2006, the UK’s most beloved online adult shop, LoveHoney, grew to include design and manufacturing as well as distribution. “How,” you ask? They did it the only way anyone could afford to to do it in 2006: by begging consumers to participate. LoveHoney announced a design-your-own-sex-toy contest, offering a whopping 1,000EU to whoever designed the most viable contribution to the wild world of adult novelties. The winning idea was a deca-tongued motor wheel designed by a man named Trevor Murphy.

Here is “Everyday Trevor” at the 2009 Erotica festival, silently assuring himself that it’s not the size of the tongues that matter, it’s how many you can fit on a wheel while staying within the lowest drop ship price bracket.

I stole this picture from lovehoney.co.uk

After three years in the testing rooms, Trevor’s dream became a reality: Crying out that we stood at the dawn of a “revolution in orgasms,” LoveHoney released the Sqweel. Since then it has been touted as one of the industry’s best selling devices, though has received mixed reviews (testimonials range from silent to chainsaw volume, and multiple orgasms to “it takes forever”).

Personally, I believe in the possibility of an orgasmic revolution about as much as I believe that BP is responsible for that oil spill. But every once in a while something surprises me (“Single Ladies” losing Best Video at the 2009 VMA’s, for example), so Sqweel I will. Also, I’d like to wear something new for my big date tomorrow and need the cash.

Now, when I hear the word squeal, I think of three things: the film Deliverance (which I’ve never seen), “Breath From Another” by Esthero (which samples from and introduced me to the film Deliverance), and “the chained unfortunates roaring and shrieking in discord with the squealing pigs beneath” in Michigan’s now-closed Eloise Asylum. While I can usually count on something scary or dangerous to turn me on, the LoveHoney Sqweel draws the line between scary-creepy and creepy-creepy. (Allow me to further differentiate with an improperly balanced metaphor: Vampires are kind of creepy in a sexy way. Tiny rubber kitten tongues en masse are creepy in more of an antique catheter way.)

The fact that you have to use lubrication with the Sqweel is also something I’m not too excited about (someone should ask me about this in a comment…it would be sweet if some GIRL asked me, since I write for GIRLS and with GIRLS in mind but seem to only attract BOYS).

As wacky and weird and completely anti-erotic as the Sqweel may be, I am committed to my job as a reviewer and will suck it up (!). When I work up the nerve to let it touch me, I’ll be sure to post my reaction.

Until then, here’s an overview of the Sqweel, video style: