Best Sex Writing of the Year, Volume 1

June 14th, 2015

Another year, another edition of Best Sex Writing. Actually, this anthology of essays, blog posts and personal tales doesn’t come out every year, but we’re fortunate to have a release this year. This is the first since Best Sex Writing 2013, and it’s a bit different from previous options due to a new editor, Jon Pressick.

Thus, Best Sex Writing of the Year, Volume 1 sounds like the first title in a brand-new series, but it’s actually not. So if you’ve read any of the previous Best Sex Writing books, then you know what to expect from this one. And if you haven’t, you’re in for a collection of stories and articles to entertain and inform.

There’s plenty that’s familiar with the books that are now edited by Mr. Pressick, who you might know as the brains behind Sex in Words. For instance, there is a touching piece from Joan Price, who knows how to tug at my heart strings when discussing her deceased husband, and a piece about what exactly we should call sex toys by our own Epiphora. The former editor, Rachel K. Bussel, has even submitted a thought-provoking piece on sobriety and BDSM.

Best Sex Writing of the Year incorporates personal stories with professional studies and everything in between. Per usual, I find myself somewhat more enamored with the chapters that analyze sex and society from a scientific/research viewpoint. However, some of those personal pieces were interesting. Two such stories were those by former porn star Danny Wylde and current porn star Stoya. Wylde discusses his sex life after porn and Stoya discusses her mother’s influence on sex education, feminism and motherhood.

In another piece dedicated entirely to the industry of sex work, Laura Augustin looks at the complicated and often heart-breaking relationship that sex work and sex workers have with the world at large. Often ignored, penalized by laws and ignored by police, these people are treated as less than human and stigmatized. The article is insightful, articulate and well-researched.

There’s also a great op-ed from Alexandria Goddard, the blogger who is responsible for outting the young men of Steubenville who participated in, recorded and later posted about on social media the gang rape of a woman woman. Goddard was undoubtedly crucial to bringing these men to justice, and like her title says, wouldn’t change anything about what she did, even though she received a lot of flack for her actions.

There are too many stories to name individually. Jiz Lee and Mollena Williams discuss fisting and desire/submission, respectively. Tina Horn’s chapter about The Gates, a dominatrix house in Califonia, was telling and relateable, even to someone who has never been a prodomme.

In the pages of Best Sex Writing of the Year, you’ll find memoirs that make you cry, articles that enrage you and personal stories that make you chuckle and nod in understanding. Topics range from sex toys to laws to BDSM to sex work and everything in between. No corner of sexuality is left in the dark of this year’s anthology, and the collection is not only one of superb pieces by intelligent writers who love to talk about sex. Like other books in this series, and perhaps this is why I love it so much, it encourages you to talk — and think — about sex in new ways, as often as you can, and to everyone upon whom you happen.

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OVO S2

June 8th, 2015

I cannot help but compare Ovo’s S2 to a boat. A good-lookin’ but sinkable boat. Had I more invested than whether I got off, I might describe it to the Titanic. Fortunately, I did not.

My comparison is quite literally. The shape of the S2, a clitoral vibrator that the manufacturer thinks you can lay on — hence the official name — is like a boat. It’s not entirely unlike the Bsoft by Bswish, of which I’ve tried both versions. I’ve since passed them on to new owners and homes because the shape and vibrators just don’t do it for me. The S2 will soon follow suit for fairly similar reasons.

I do think the S2 is better in terms of size. It’s less than 4 inches long and only about 1.6 inches thick, which means it doesn’t seem like an overly-large sex toy. The curved white side, which presses against your body, fits between your labia, and it becomes wider toward the top, which curves downward for you to rest your hand and press the buttons.

Shapewise, the S2 is a bit of a letdown because it doesn’t offer the pressure I like. Neither the shape of the smooth plastic nor the curve of the top allows me to comfortable press my fingers against it for the clitoral stimulation that I prefer, no, need to get off. Attempting to do so with the S2 was like a challenge I knew was doomed to fail. I can’t even recall if I did orgasm. If so, it was difficult and unforgettable — not words anyone would want to use to describe masturbation.

The shape wasn’t helped by the vibrations, which felt like they were coming from the middle or top of the vibrator rather than focused on the bottom, you know, the part you actually press against yourself. Perhaps the shape and hard plastic caused the vibrations to defuse in a lackluster way, but no matter what the reason, the result is the same: disappointment.

I prefer strong and deep vibrations externally. The deeper they are, the weaker they can be while still getting me off. This is why I like Laya Spot. It’s not the strongest vibe I own by far, but it’s definitely got deep enough vibrations to help. It’s also why I prefer the Miracle Massager to the Inspire, especially when the Inspire is on its higher settings. This is also true of the S2, which has two steady vibration settings, the higher of which is noticeably buzzier.

These two settings are followed by escalation, pulsation, fast pulsation, fast-fast-short pulsation, an a somewhat random-seeming pulsation setting. Without the power to back them up, those settings are all forgettable. The two buttons cycle back and forth through each setting, while the button closest to the edge must be held to power the S2 on and off.

I’m also not entirely thrilled by the buttons on the Ovo. With so much space, they could be bigger and easier to find and press. I like the soft buttons on the Siri much better in comparison; although, I’m not so thrilled about the 4-button layout or position. Indeed, I think the S2’s buttons could be moved further down the body to make more sense. My fingers point downward when I’m masturbating, toward the other end. This may be because of the amount of pressure I like.

The product video calls them luminated. Um. no. There’s a random LED under the silicone near them, but that’s it.

Interestingly, the top of the S2 is made of silicone but the part that actually touches you isn’t. This makes for a slicker sensation, and a little drag might even be beneficial. I don’t see why it’s all not plastic, to be honest; although, the design is rather contemporary and attractive.

Like most rechargeable vibrator’s, Ovo’s S2 comes with a USB charger. It comes with no adapter but you can use the one with your phone or pick one up for $1 at many retailers. SheVibe sells one for $7, but the price is marked up pretty high. There is a sticker on the cable that says it goes with the S2, which is handy.

My experience with OVO toys have just been disappointing. While the designs are pleasant to look at, performance has been mediocre. I’ll have to try an insertable before I bring down the hammer, but my hopes aren’t high.

SheVibe

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Boss Dildo

May 6th, 2015

I’m not sure I can describe how excited I was over the prospect over own the Boss dildo. I own the original AAA-powered Boss, which I described using the word “love”, and the larger and rechargeable Big Boss, though the latter is one of those toys I really should use more! I saw no reason why I wouldn’t love this new offering from Fun Factory.

Each of the toys in the Boss lineup varies slightly. The Big Boss was larger than the original, and the “stub” is a dildo with a suction cup base that doesn’t curve in a way that suggests “clitoral stimulation.” Not that the other two really offered much without bending them; although, I did do this with the original quite a bit.

I rarely order dildos in flesh tones, so was pleasantly surprised when this showed up in the caucasion variant, I guess. It’s also available in black, like the two vibes, and pink. The Boss dildo (pictured here with the Joyboxx Playtray) has a texture quite like the vibes. It’s velvety in your hand. During use, however, this creates a fuck ton of drag that requires nearly as much lube. This is especially true around the contoured head, which has a more intense “lip” than the vibes, but the overall head is less pronounced. The texture of the dildo also seems smoother than the vibes but no less draggy.

The Boss dildo is fairly impressive with seven insertible inches and a diameter of 1.7″. In terms of toys, the Boss dildo falls somewhere in the middle. The original measured 1.6″ wide and about the same length. The Big Boss is slightly wider and ever-so-slightly longer for insertion but definitely longer overall. Because of the color, the dildo appears to be wider, but black is just so slimming!

Big Boss, Boss dido and the Boss vibrator

Big Boss, Boss dido and the Boss vibrator

Because I don’t tend to warm up with other toys or use many insertibles that are this large, the Boss dildo just winds up feeling a little cumbersome. But the size and firm-ish texture are probably going to work really well for someone who likes that sort of thing. It’s firm enough to thrust like crazy once you’re all lubed up. Although, the asymmetrical suction cup base is a little weird for using as a handle. This isn’t a deal breaker, however.

The Boss dildo still has two ridges that come toward toward the base. These are more like the original Boss because the Big Boss, the ridges were quite defined. They’re more gradual on the dildo. With the vibrators, this was intended to stimulate your clit. This isn’t really the case, however, because it doesn’t curve enough, those the curve is more akin to the original Boss, too. Without the vibrations, it doesn’t do anything for my externally, so I find myself reaching for another toy.

The curve does do a decent job of stimulating my G-spot, but it’s no Pure Wand or Comet, so some people might need something more. Good Vibes also suggests you give this one a try for prostate pleasure.For me, the Boss is less about shape and more about size. It’s filling, and conquering it fills me me all sorts of price.

Ultimately, I think I like this shape better as a vibrator. Because I so often tend to simply hold it in place while stimulating my clit, it works better to rely on vibrations rather than thrusting as the source of pleasure with the texture on the Boss dildo. I’d love to recommend any of the vibes to my readers, but it doesn’t look like Fun Factory makes it any longer. This is a shame because it was a wonderful toy, both in vibrations and size/shape.

If I’m being honest, the Boss dildo is the type of toy I’ll keep in my drawer and forget about until i feel so guilty that I have to use it, but it’s not the type of toy I’d use for a quickie session where I want to cum, squirt and get back to work.

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Joyboxx

April 21st, 2015

Joyboxx
$34.99 from Joyboxx

Sex toy storage is such an interesting search. Many companies have tried to be the end-all and be-all of storage. They’ve created lighted boxes, pillows and tissue boxes that hide toys, locking cases and more. Up to this point, I think my favorite has been the Lovehoney deluxe sex toy case. It has everything I was in storage: ease of use, versatility and mobility.

In fact, so many storage options fail in that regard, that I don’t really use any of the ones I have. I have empty boxes sitting in multiple places. One of them I simply use as a bag for my toiletries when I travel. People like Epiphora use plastic drawers, which are easy to organize and cheaper on the whole than specialized sex toy storage.

But that doesn’t mean companies won’t still try, and Joyboxx is the newest one on the market.

Let’s start with opening the Joyboxx. The latch, which is also where the lock attaches, slides side to side to open. This definitely is a two-hand job, and it sticks a little because it’s plastic and not a nice, smooth metal. I definitely think this could be improved upon. I don’t even want to think about trying to open this is your hands are already covered in lube.

Closed Joyboxx with sliding lock

Closed Joyboxx with sliding lock

The Joyboxx is very plain from the oustside, and while I feel that a handle could easily be added to it, there isn’t one. This makes it less than ideal for travel, so consider this home storage only. Joyboxx also doesn’t have as many compartments and storage options as, say, Lovehoney’s sex toy storage box. It’s hard plastic, so you may want to line it with something if you don’t want it to make any noise.

Once open, the JoyBoxx is just that — a box. There are no other shelves inside, so everything is going to sort of be piled in there together. To keep things easy to find, I imagine you’ll want to not overfill it. There is a small air hole, which helps to keep moisture from building up.

The Joyboxx measured 11.25” (L) x 5.5” (D) x 3.5” on the inside. This means you’re not going to fit any gigantic wand vibes or the Great American Challenge (do you guys remember that thing?! Ugh!) or oversized bottles. But it will fit moderate sized vibes and dildos, a few restraints and smaller bottles.

Joyboxx lid comparment

Joyboxx lid comparment

One feature I do like is the little compartment on the lid. The cover pops up and you could easily fit some small things. Think cock rings, condoms or lube and wipe packets. It’s this much too small for Lelo chargers, but I bet some other chargers would fit, as would regular batteries. This compartment rests on top of the lid, which means you don’t want it open when the Joyboxx itself is open. I can’t help but wonder if, perhaps, a door that opened from the inside of the box would be a better idea, so you can access both at once. There is something inside the Joyboxx however: the PlayTray.

The PlayTray is something I wanted to write off as soon as I heard my inner voice reading the rhyming name. I mean, cutesy things more often than not, right? But the PlayTray is actually incredibly functional. It creates a surface for you to set toys, lube and accessories before and after use. You can simply pick up the tray and bring it to your sink to clean, and the slots in the PlayTray mean you can rinse toys directly on it. It actually fits quite nicely in my sink as you can see in the photo below.

Boss Dildo on the PlayTray

Boss Dildo on the PlayTray

You could also toss it in your dishwasher with the toy on top if you don’t want dildos touching the racks. Then, you can leave it in your sink (or dishwasher) or on your countertop to air dry. This eliminates a lot of issues with lint and fuzzies that silicone toys pick up — even from towels.  It’s sitting in my bathroom right now, but I can easily see myself grabbing the tray before playtime to set up toys and then depositing the toys back on the tray.

At 8-by-3 inches, you’re not going to fit all of your toys on it, of course. A slim vibe or a couple clitoral vibes will fit, as well as smaller bottles or packets of lube. In fact, the size is probably my only qualm with the tray. At this size, it fits awkwardly in the Joyboxx. It’s not wide or long enough to rest, but it just seems reasonable that you should be able to “install” the PlayTray somehow as a shelf inside the Joyboxx. This would also make the box more accessible so that everything needn’t be piled in it together.

With the small size of the PlayTray, it doesn’t seem like something that really complements the Joyboxx as much as it could. In fact, I almost want to recommend the PlayTray to my readers instead of the Joyboxx, rather than in addition to it! You could fashion something yourself, but the tray is dishwasher safe and free of pthalates, which is pretty awesome.

If you do buy both, you can mix and match the color of the tray and box. Right now, there’s only black and purple, and it matches my Liberator Throe pretty well as you can see.

As a storage solution, the Joyboxx didn’t quite smash it out of the park. It’s not as easy to use, versatile or travel-friendly as I would like — the Lovehoney case still serves me better in those ways. But the PlayTray does offer something in terms of function that no other company has done, and I’d like to see more efforts like that.

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UberKinky Rounded Handle Leather Flogger

April 2nd, 2015

I think much of this is due to the hefty stainless steel handle. It creates a balance and allows you to direct your aim with ease. It’s actually much shorter than the falls on the flogger — about 7.5 inches from tip to the edge of the braiding. This fits very well in my fist. It might feel a little cramped if you have especially large hands, but i doubt it. I actually prefer the shorter handle to some of the other floggers I have.

The handle isn’t perfect, however. There’s a smoothed down but visible seam along with some indentations that I assume are from the manufacturing process. It doesn’t impact use, however, like it might if it were a stainless steel toy.

Because of the weight, it doesn’t feel like a “play thing” like those ridiculous little feather ticklers that would better be marketed as toys for cats than kinksters. The functional yet attractive design would fit in with any experienced kinkster’s collection. It’s on another level from most of the floggers I’ve already tried.

There’s a leather wrist loop securely attached and the end of the handle is bulbous, which makes it easy to grasp and difficult to slip from your fingers. You can also use this for storage.

The falls are longer than most of my floggers — between 22″ and 23″. They’re cut at an angle, and not exactly the same length, so it doesn’t look blunt. Each fall consists of a leather “Exterior” and a red, suede interior. It’s a nice, deep red that my flash and indoor light does a poor job of showing. The appearance is gorgeous, but the smell of that leather? Divine!

The falls are secured under a braided band. There’s no visible hardware, but I have no doubt of the quality. There isn’t any fraying or separating of the layers in the tails.

Because it’s made from calf suede, it’s obviously not the choice if you’re a vegan, but I love leather and meat too much to be. The tails fall heavily, with a satisfying  chorus of “thwaps.”  The dual layers are thicker than, say, the Crystal Whip. Although it was bent in the package, the falls have no kink in them, which is an issue I’ve experienced with cheaper floggers.

It also provides more intense sensations than some of those beginner’s floggers. You can use it more lightly, of course, but it doesn’t take much effort for a more stinging sensation because of the weight of the leather. There is a chance that this isn’t the best toy for you if you have arthritis or other hand, wrist or arm ailments.

I would recommend UberKinky’s Beginner’s Guide to Flogging to see if you might want to try flogging and to see how to get used to floggers. Per their guidance that your first flogger shouldn’t be heavy or have longer tails, you might want to opt for a smaller flogger to see whether you and your partner enjoys the sensation.

I haven’t been able to spend as much time with the UberKinky Rounded Handle Leather Flogger as I would like. In particular, I am looking forward to feeling the heavy falls against my flesh and the cold of the stainless steel touching my skin.

 

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Lovehoney Plus Size Adore Me Bustier

March 20th, 2015

You guys, I love black and red. Obviously. The color combination is great. Given that it’s the palette Lovehoney decided to go with for their new Adore Me line of lingerie, I instantly fell in love with almost every single piece. No lie.

So I left it pretty open when it came to choosing which piece to send me, and I got the Adore Me bustier. I opted for plus size because standard sizing has no XL. This might be a mistake on their part, but I think the design takes into consideration different body shapes and sizes by being stretchy and adjustable in multiple places.

This might be might first bustier. I generally choose babydolls that are more loose fitting around the midsection. So how did my first experience go?

I liked the feel of the Adore Me bustier as soon as I put it on. The microfiber bustier is super comfy. It slides right across your skin and isn’t much of a barrier between your body and your partner or even your own hands. You could probably sleep in it.

But like any bustier, it’s going to show any bulges or whatnot. If you’re worried about your tummy, you might look for something other than the G-string it comes with to prevent panty lines and bulges. As a whole, this is the more revealing piece when compared to the Adore Me Chemise, which is a little longer, features a straight laced hem all the way around and covers the breasts with a layer of microfiber. The chemise is still pretty form-fitting, even though it’s longer and covers your butt, so these pieces might not be up your alley if you’re working on body issues.

The chemise might offer a little bit more support to the chest. Although neither of these pieces of lingerie have underwire, the lace cups on the Adore Me bustier are definitely on the low end of support. My breasts needed a little adjusting to be ideal. Because I need more support from the side, this wasn’t perfect for me.

However, the straps are a thicker fabric, which should be good if you’re more well-endowed. You can adjust both the length of the shoulder straps as well as the two straps that cross in the cutout at the back. This enables you to choose how much skin you want to wear and even adjust the fit. Because the plus sizes cover a range 1x/2x or 3x/4x, this is important and a smart decision on Lovehoney’s design team’s part.

So how does sizing run on this piece? I am barely plus-sized and it was comfortable. There’s a lot  of stretch so you could definitely fit up to a a 2x, but it likely wouldn’t be as flattering. I took a couple measurements. These are flat measurements:

  • Empire waist: 17.5 inches
  • Center waist to bottom hem in front: 12.5″
  • Side waist to beginning of garter: 17″
  • Distance from bottom of cutout to lace hem edge along ruching: 7″
  • Minimum shoulder strap length: 5″
  • Max shoulder strap length: 9,5″
  • Min garter length: 2.5″
  • Max garter length:  5″
  • Length of cups in center: 9″

Obviously, 35 inches for the waist line isn’t super plus sized, but I was easily able to stretch it to 25 inches. It may not wear comfortable that way, but there’s a generous amount of give in the fabric. In the product photo, its stretched much more so that it will cover the taller-than-I-am model’s tummy and some of her pubic area.  I stand only 5’2″ and this is about how long it is on me, unstretched, with the bra straps about 1/2 longer than the minimum.

Aside from the cups, pretty much everything on the Adore Me Bustier is adjustable, and I think many people will find they’ve gotten their money’s worth with this piece.

lovehoney-adore-me-bustier-details

Adjustable straps, Lovehoney charm and twisted strap

The detailing doesn’t just stop with adjustability. I enjoy the lace details at the empire waist and along the back hem, which isn’t as drastic of a curve as the front. Beneath the open back, there’s vertical ruching in the center of your lower back/butt, which brings the lace hem upward. This allows your butt to peak out from beneath it, as you can see in product photos.

There’s a tiny Lovehoney charm between the breasts that I initially didn’t even notice, but I quite like it! In fact, the attention to detail really shows through. It’s not a groundbreaking design by any means, but the lace, ruching, ribbon and charm all make it feel very “complete.”

However, one thing I did notice was that one of the shoulder straps was sewn incorrectly, so that one side of the strap always twists and won’t lie flat. It’s not a deal breaker, but it is something I would notice.

Like any set that comes with a G-string, this one was much too large for me. If sizing is an issue, you could consider the Adore Me garter panties, which have removeable garters and come in both standard and plus sizes, for a better fit.

I might have liked the Adore Me Chemise a little better in hindsight, but I definitely enjoyed my first experience with a bustier overall. If the attention to detail and general quality — minus the one twisted strap — is any indicator, Lovehoney’s doing a good job with their lingerie!

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The Big Book of Domination Review + Giveaway

March 5th, 2015

Perhaps the single most noticeable way that The Big Book of Domination differs from The big Book of Submission is the number of stories. At over 200 pages, this book could have dozens of stories, but it actually only contains 25 stories. With 69 stories in The Big Book of Submission, each story was shorter on average.

When it comes to what I like in erotica, this isn’t actually a boon. I love sudden fiction. I love sultry sex in 2000 words or less. I like reading it. I like writing it. I don’t need the flowery descriptions that add to word count. I’m not a huge fan to a ton of buildup. Show me the main event.

It just seems like the point where I would end the story introduces another scene, and I can’t keep myself glued to the pages. Perhaps I get off too quickly, but this isn’t really conducive to how I use erotica.

I also found it hard to keep my attention rapt through the first three stories, which involved male domination. Fortunately, the fourth ushers in a domme, but the first three could, perhaps, been broken up in a different order. While most of the stories do seem to pair a male dominant with a female submissive, I do like how several of them play with BDSM roles. Several stories involve submissive experiment with holding the metaphorical whip.

There are other themes that I noted in The Big Book of Domination. These include power exchanges that are surprising and somewhat sudden, either between strangers or from the point of a view of a submissive discovering another’s dominant tendencies.

Because so many of these stories seem to be from the submissive’s view point, The Big Book of Domination isn’t as different from The Big Book of Submission as I think it could be. It’s more of a general BDSM collection in my opinion. With that said, the stories happen in many different and sometimes unusual settings. There is an overall lack of cliche, even if that means I sometimes am turned off by something such as manly boot licking.

This isn’t to say that I hated the book. I didn’t. There were a few stories I found particularly enjoyable, especially the last story, “Little Angel” by Evan Mora. It was one of the many stories where someone who typically identifies as a submissive experiments with dominance and finds it thrilling!

Now, this might not be the perfect book for me but I feel confident that many people will like it. In fact, some people specifically like erotica that’s a little longer than most sudden fiction. If you liked The Big Book of Submission but thought the stories should be longer or even if you didn’t like it because each piece wasn’t long enough, I would suggest you check out The Big Book of Domination.

One lucky reader of OSAL will get their chance to read the book thanks to the folks at Cleis Press, who are sponsoring a giveaway. One American winner will get their hands on this anthology, and you can determine whether or not this book is two thumbs up.

Enter using the giveaway widget below. Remember to check back daily to earn more entries and increase your chance of winning!

Good luck!

The Big Book of Domination

Ends March 26.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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