50 Shades of Kink: An Introduction to BDSM, by Tristan Taormino

50 Shades of Kink: An Introduction to BDSM

50 Shades of Kink: An Introduction to BDSM, by Tristan Taormino

50 Shades of Kink: An Introduction to BDSM, by author and educator Tristan Taormino, is a really great introductory book covering many different aspects of kinky sex play. After the international phenomenon of Fifty Shades of Grey, this is the book the world needed – a quality how-to guide and overview on the basics of BDSM.

The Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy (with all its controversy) may give some people ideas on new things to try in the bedroom, but is absolutely not a book that should be used as a kink reference or instruction manual; it is purely fiction and fantasy. For anyone interested in actually exploring what the world of kinky sex has to offer, toss the paperback romance aside and pick up a copy of 50 Shades of Kink.

Tristan’s book is not one of those dumbed down “kinky sex tips” books with vapid suggestions such as “write a naughty note and tuck it into your husband’s briefcase for him to find at work! TEE HEE!” – but rather a real, comprehensive manual to the basics of BDSM. The chapters are loaded with information: from bondage, domination and submission, roleplay, and spanking, all the way to fetish toys, power games, sensation play, and more. After reading this book, you’ll have a great foundation of general kink knowledge, and will be able to further explore these topics in more depth on your own through other books, workshops, or other research.

50 Shades of Kink goes over common kinky terms and vocabulary, the basics of safewords, how to negotiate kinky play with a partner, as well as an overview of “Yes-No-Maybe” checklists and BDSM contracts. The back of the book has a great reading list, encompassing suggestions for nonfiction kink books, as well as kink erotica anthologies. The chapters and topics are organized well; perfect for reading straight through, as well as ideal for skipping around to different sections.

50 Shades of Kink: Signed by Tristan Taormino

Tristan’s approach is very engaging and sex positive, never shaming the reader for what they may or may not know. She explains concepts and covers the basics clearly and thoroughly, with a solid emphasis on consent and safety (and without sounding like a Prop 65 warning sign). Tristan also debunks myths and misconceptions and about the BDSM lifestyle, talks about the importance of communication, and encourages readers to seek further education. She doesn’t make assumptions about the gender, sexual orientation, relationship status, or specific desires of her readers – this book is written for everyone.

50 Shades of Kink acknowledges and briefly discusses the Fifty Shades trilogy here and there, but otherwise the trilogy is not a major focus or strong theme throughout the book. This makes it very accessible to anyone curious about BDSM, whether or not you have any interest in the E.L. James novels.

If you are looking for a great, sex-positive, introductory manual focused on teaching Kink 101 and overviewing the basics of BDSM, 50 Shades of Kink: An Introduction to BDSM is a perfect addition to your library.

50 Shades of Kink is published by Cleis Press, independent publishers of fantastic books on sexuality, erotica, feminism, and LGBTQ studies.

Tenga Vi-Bo: Stick Orb & Twin Orb

Tenga Vi-Bo

Tenga Vi-Bo: Stick Orb & Twin Orb

Cleopatra is said to have invented the first vibrator by filling a hollow gourd with angry bees. You may be thinking, “That is awesome!”, but really – just think about it for a second. A hollow gourd filled with angry bees sounds… well, BUZZY, which is the last thing I want for a vibe. And Tenga Vi-Bo toys feel like super tiny gourds filled with extra-teeny, extremely irate bees.

There are many questions about Vi-Bo, and most of them are simply, WHY? Other such burning questions include:

  • Could there possibly be a more visually offensive, skin-crawling shade of purple than the one chosen for the Stick Orb?
  • Will companies ever stop making one-speed vibrators?
  • WHY ARE THESE NOT MADE OUT OF SILICONE?

Yep, that’s right. Vi-Bo toys are not actually made out of silicone, like their Iroha line; these are made out of elastomer. Although elastomer may be phthalate-free, it is a porous material, meaning you will never be able to fully sanitize these sex toys – bacteria and mildew can get trapped in the pores on the surface.

Vi-Bo toys consist of differently shaped elastomer “Vi-Bo Covers,” which have round cavities where ABS plastic “Vi-Bo Base Orb” spheres are placed. Since the Base Orbs are all the exact same one-speed vibrating balls, this doesn’t create a modular sex toy system (which would actually be a neat idea if done correctly).  So, what is the point of being able to pop out the balls? I can only guess that the removable balls simply make the products cheaper to manufacture.

While laughing and cringing with Epiphora over these toys, we noticed that the Base Orbs look like creepy plastic eyeballs, and are about the same size, too. She held one up against her eye – it hurt. Our scientific advice: Highly not recommended for eyeball stimulation.

Tenga Vi-Bo: Base Orb batteries and parts

The Vi-Bo battery replacement procedure is an intense surgical operation. Base Orbs require precision eyesight to open and close – my roommate accidentally shut one improperly and we couldn’t get it to turn off, until close examination of the ball finally revealed that the cap had been replaced without perfectly lining up the microscopic engraved dots. Each individual Base Orb ball requires three watch batteries, with the additional challenge of prying these tiny batteries out of the ball to replace them. Attempting to stuff Base Orbs back into the Vi-Bo covers takes more effort than is reasonable, which includes carefully realigning power buttons to match up with the covers’ holes. Also, the maximum battery life according to Tenga is 30 minutes, so you better stock up on LR44 batteries and a pair of pliers.

So, how do these toys actually feel when in use? The answer is: slightly uncomfortable buzz. Not as buzzy as the OhMiBod Lovelife Discover, but enough to feel mildly ticklish on the clitoris – but only mildly, since the Vi-Bo’s single speed is far less powerful than even the lowest setting on Discover.

TWIN ORB: The Tenga website claims: “You can use the two orbs simultaneously thanks to the flexible body!” But really, what is this floppy yellow shape supposed to do? It isn’t long enough to reach between two nipples, unless you squoosh your breasts together. I tried sticking one end in my vagina and bending the other around to hit my clitoris, and… it felt like nothing. The Twin Orb is so pointless that the fact it is yellow (I desperately want more yellow toys in my life) does not redeem this toy even the slightest bit.

STICK ORB: According to Tenga, “The two orbs double-up the intensity of the stimulation!” However, this horrendously-hued purple toy just feels stupid inside my vagina. The intensity is not “doubled-up” if you use this externally: one ball goes on your clit, and the other ball goes… well, nowhere. Internally, the toy feels narrow and boring, the two lumps don’t really do anything, and the weak one-speed vibration is barely detectable. Also, when Stick Orb is inserted, the vibe controls are located inside of you. The whole thing is just mind-boggling poor design.

Tenga Vi-Bo: Safety Cover for Stick Orb

As if it wasn’t already bad enough, Stick Orb comes with what is called a “Safety Cover” – a creepy purple condom-like thing that is supposed to stop the Base Orbs from randomly popping out when inserted vaginally. Tenga vehemently informs users not to use the Stick Orb internally without the Safety Cover (which is also made of porous elastomer) or covering it with an actual condom. Not only is the Safety Cover terrifying, it is also a major battle to put on and get off of the vibe. Since Base Orbs are waterproof, the whole concept seems to be lawsuit prevention, if the vibrating balls did somehow manage to actually explode out of the Stick Orb while lodged inside someone’s vagina.

This seems unlikely to happen, since it requires great effort to remove the Base Orb balls from the covers by hand, but only further demonstrates how Tenga doesn’t particularly seem to care about the user’s actual pleasure when creating toys for vulvas. And of course, Tenga also states for good measure: “We can not be held responsible if you choose to insert the device into your body” as well as “We can not guarantee the safety of use with condoms and other third party products.”

Besides Twin Orb and Stick Orb, the rest of the Vi-Bo line includes:

  • FINGER ORB: “Place on your finger, to increase the stimulation of your touch!”
  • RING ORB: “You can place this around a man’s penis to share the stimulation during sex!”1
  • HAND ORB: “Placing the bands around your thumb and little ring, your palm stimulates while your rings are free to move!”

And then, there is the overall purpose of Vi-Bo, as explained by the Tenga website:

VI-BO aims to be an item that isn’t used for “one person to stimulate another person” but more as a tool for two people to stimulate each other, for greater communication to support coupled intimacy.

Does this make even the slightest bit of sense to you? Yeah, me either. Please, Tenga, just stick to developing sex toys for penises, unless you’re actually going to DO IT RIGHT. Vi-Bo is a dismal line of vibrators that are poorly designed, poorly manufactured, and a huge waste of money.

Tenga Vi-Bo can be summed up with one simple word: WHY?

These horrendous toys were loaned to me by excellent blogger friend Lorax of Sex. Thanks!

  1. A man’s penis, mind you. Please refrain from placing this on a penis belonging to a person of any other gender identity []
Vagina Boat

This Week in Sex: Vagina Boat

Vagina Boat by artist Rokudenashiko

Okay, the title is a lie. I don’t run TWIS posts every week so it probably should be something more like “This Year(?) in Sex” however the word “week” sounds better, so, you know. Deal with it.

From My Room

My most popular post yet: I dish all the details about having amazing sex with Epiphora.

We-Vibe featured my rave review of the We-Vibe Touch on their website!

I’m walking with Jiz Lee and the Pink & White team in the 2014 AIDS Walk San Francisco this Sunday, to raise funds for dozens of Bay Area AIDS service organizations that work to stop new infections and support people living with HIV/AIDS.

Lorax of Sex sent me a package containing a beautiful piece by Fucking Sculptures, as well as several other exciting and/or strange items that I’m already drafting reviews for!

Also! Did you know you can subscribe to my blog posts via email?

From The Blogosphere

Bouquet of Sex Toys

Epiphora has published the most wonderful post where she recounts the first time she had sex with me, reviews my apartment, checks my bone density, and christens my Throe.

Amy Dentata wrote an incredibly touching piece about how queer trans feminist porn helped her open up to her partner and feel like she finally found a place where she belonged.

Girl on the Net talks about why gendering products with terms like “man-bag” and “guybrator” is strange and stupid, and how explanations such as “it’s just marketing!” are no excuse.

Erika Moen debunks myths and illustrates how great adding sex toys to a relationship can be. Need ideas on how to introduce your partner to the idea? Her comic covers that too.

Penny gets serious about the hurt that comes from sex-shaming and body-shaming, and writes about her personal experience being shamed for her erotic photography.

Apricot Creams won my CrashPadSeries Giveaway several months ago, and then wrote a great review of CrashPad’s Guide to Fisting. In their words, “It has the same effect on me that the vast majority of Crash Pad videos do; it turns me on but it makes me happy, too – really, genuinely happy.”

From The Interwebs

Vagina Boat & Vagina Cake

Megumi Igarashi (aka Rokudenashiko) is a TOTALLY RAD Japanese woman who makes molds of her vulva and creates cute artwork and miniature dioramas out of them. She has rowed around in a boat molded after her own vagina, hosts monthly vagina art-making workshops for women, and has been arrested on obscenity charges for selling her 3D printable vagina design files. Talking about vaginas (or manko in Japanese), much less visual representation of them, is major taboo in Japan. Rokudenashiko strives to challenge these cultural beliefs with her artwork. She is my new hero.

Put on your headphones and turn up the volume for some good morning sex in your ear with a British accent. You might not think you need this, but you do.

The ongoing webcomic Tripping Over You has fantastic artwork and a heartwarming story about a same-sex couple. Pro Tip: Keep track of your place while reading this and other webcomics with Comic Rocket!

Sarah Mirk has written a fascinating, detailed overview of the history of American sex ed films for Bitch Magazine. The article is quite long, but completely worth reading all the way through. You would think that over time, the quality of information in sex ed films would improve, but the reality is much more complex.

And From Elsewhere

Stuff not necessarily related to sex, but still excellent:

"Female Hysteria" by Robin DaveyRobin Davey creates really cool illustrations and looping animations in his unique and colorful art style, including my favorite: the soothing, hypnotic, endlessly rotating hamburger.

I could spend all night wrapped up in a blanket burrito while reading disturbing and creepy Wikipedia articles (and I have). Here’s one to get you started: In the year 1518 there was a “Dancing Plague” epidemic, where those affected couldn’t stop dancing constantly until they died of heart attack or exhaustion.

A look into the warped and cliquish tech culture of California’s high-tech industry hub known as Silicon Valley, where the most important characteristic for landing a job is to fit into The Culture.

GLOW IN THE DARK SPACE UNDIES. That is all.

Pink & Pink Water Lubricants

Pink & Gun Oil Lubricants

Pink & Pink Water Lubricants

Pink and Gun Oil brand lubricants are manufactured by Empowered Products, and come in a variety of different types: silicone-based, water-based, hybrid, warming, and gels. Despite the name Gun Oil, the only oil-based products in the line are the lubes specifically designed for male masturbation. I was sent silicone-based Pink and Gun Oil, as well as water-based Pink Water and Gun Oil H2O for review.

Pink Water and Gun Oil H2O are pretty good water-based lubes, and during use I found them to be long-lasting with a smooth feel. To be honest, however, I don’t find that these lubes particularly stand out in any way compared to other glycerin- and paraben-free water-based lubes on the market. Although they do the job just fine, there is nothing special about them (aside from the fact they taste horrible). Given the choice, I would just rather buy a water-based lube with less synthetic ingredients.

As for the Pink and Gun Oil silicone lubes… well, they are silicone lubes. I can’t classify myself as a silicone lube connoisseur, since the stuff generally does not play well with silicone sex toys. However, silicone-based lube is preferred by many people, as it is very long-lasting, and especially great for anal play and shower sex. Gun Oil is a well-known and popular brand for silicone-based lube.

Except for the addition of Vitamin E and Aloe Vera, Pink and Gun Oil have the same ingredients as Pjur Original Bodyglide and Sliquid Silver. Pink and Gun Oil have a similar lightweight feel compared to Pjur Bodyglide, whereas Sliquid Silver feels somewhat thicker.

The entire line of Pink and Gun Oil products are glycerin-free. All products are also paraben-free, with an exception of the hybrid blends and Stroke 29 Masturbation Cream.

View ingredients for Pink, Pink Water, Gun Oil, and Gun Oil H2O

According to Empowered Products, the added guarana extract (which is found in energy drinks) works to “stimulate blood flow for heightened reaction and response.”  According to Wikipedia, guarana seeds contain “about twice the concentration of caffeine found in coffee beans.” I can only conclude that this means I could go to sleep and have my vulva stay up all night writing new blog content.

The formulas for the two Empowered Products brands are exactly the same – the only difference is the marketing. Pink has painfully stereotypical targeting toward a female audience; everything is the color pink except for the actual lube itself (because pink things are for women, right?). Gun Oil comes in bullet-shaped bottles, with a brochure featuring incredibly ripped men holding machine guns in front of combat tanks.

Pink products “embrace the essence of what is female”, and Gun Oil products will “elevate the vital expression of masculine fulfillment”.1 I get that the ‘story‘ behind the Gun Oil brand is that the founder was a U.S. Marine who noticed fellow soldiers using firearm cleaning lubricant for masturbation, but the exaggerated message of these products are for the manliest of men is absurd. The gender-based marketing for each brand is just over the top and unnecessary.

Gun Oil & Gun Oil H2O Lubricants

I do love the pump-top bottles on the Pink brand lubes – this makes it so much easier to squirt lube onto toys and body parts than fumbling with a snap-top cap. Since Pink Water contains preservatives, the pump-top isn’t a concern for accelerating spoilage. This bottle style is also fantastic for Pink silicone, since it helps cut down on accidentally getting super-slick silicone lube ABSOLUTELY EVERYWHERE.

A plus about the Gun Oil brand is that it tends to be widely available in adult retail stores, and can also often be found along with Pink products in some drugstores. Not everyone lives near a sex-positive sex shop or is able to shop online, so if you are looking for a glycerin- and paraben-free lubes and your shopping options are limited , there’s a good chance you may find these brands at CVS or your local sketchy porn emporium.

Pink and Gun Oil products are hard for me to sum up, since I don’t particularly feel strongly either way about them. They’re sufficient, but not exceptional. Would I pick them over Astroglide? Absolutely. Would I pick them over a more naturally formulated water-based lube? I can’t say that I would.

These lubricants were provided to me by Empowered Products in exchange for an honest and thoughtful review.

  1. These quotes are taken verbatim from the brands’ brochures. []
We-Vibe Touch

We-Vibe Touch

We-Vibe Touch

The We-Vibe Touch is renowned among sex toy reviewers, alongside the We-Vibe Tango and the discontinued Salsa. An absolute powerhouse of a vibe, this toy is the definition of strong, rumbly vibrations. Although small in size, the Touch packs some serious power, with eight vibration modes that will resonate through to the Earth’s crust and register at 4.0 on the Richter scale. Well… it will feel that way, at least.

What does rumbly actually mean? In order to understand my vibration spectrum for judging toys, try the following exercise:

Imagine pushing an empty metal shopping cart over coarse, uneven parking lot asphalt – feel your hands becoming uncomfortably tingly? This is the feeling of a cheap, shoddy vibe at the buzzy end of the vibration spectrum.

Now, imagine the tremors caused by a Giganotosaurus growling deeply like James Deen, combined with the pulsations of a subwoofer blasting dubstep at max volume. This is the the feeling of the We-Vibe Touch.

The hourglass shape of the Touch fits comfortably in the hand and is easy to hold, with a thumbprint-sized concave area that gently cups around the clit. Touch’s body curves gradually into a blunt, flexible point, where the toy’s vibrations are most concentrated.

This is an updated version of the Touch – We-Vibe listened to what users and reviewers had to say, and made significant improvements to the toy based on this feedback.

Compared to the earlier version’s shiny, glossy surface akin to that of a cave salamander, the revamped Touch now features satin matte silicone. Soft and almost velvety to the touch, this new silicone finish feels wonderfully smooth against the skin.

Charging functions for this new version of the Touch have been greatly improved. The magnetic inductive charging nubs are now longer and more pronounced, making the vibe easier to snap into place for charging. Additionally, the “cap” end of the USB charging cable is now flattened (as opposed to the previous version’s round cap, which would knock out of alignment if you so much as glared in its general direction).

The new Touch comes in only one color: purple. Gone are the older version’s wine red and murky teal – hues that weren’t particularly amazing, but at least provided variety and were a bit less cliché. Although in general I’d appreciate more color choices from We-Vibe beyond “Barbie shoes” and “Willy Wonka Jacket“, I must admit I am able to look past this for the Touch because the Touch fucking rocks.

Only want one clit vibe? The newly improved, rumbly and powerful We-Vibe Touch is hands-down a fantastic choice.

This toy was presented to me as a Twitter contest prize. Thank you, We-Vibe!

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