Finding My Place In All This (Re: Not So Alone)

July 20th, 2014

I have many thoughts in my head, including a fun post I want to write about weird dildos, but took took an unexpected turn on Twitter when I posted this:

Several dozen replies, some new follows, a couple LOLs and one cuddle pile/cuddlePUDDLE (get the Liberator throe!) later, I feel reconnected with many bloggers. In fact, I think I got some perspective. Despite having done this thing for 6 years (help my celebrate by entering to win awesome sex toy prizes!), I sometimes feel like I am so not part of the in-crowd. I haven’t managed to become close friends with some of the more “popular” or “successful” bloggers.

And maybe that’s okay.

There are some people who have turned this into their job. I don’t think I ever wanted to do that. At least, not through sex toy reviewing. My interest in sex and society and relationships tends toward the psychological rather than the analytic but I haven’t yet applied to Widener, tehehe.

Anyway, other people have gone down the “this is the job” fork in the road. I am a little jealous of them. It never even occurred to me. And that’s awesome. For them. It’s not enough for me Of Sex and Love always needs to remain a place where I am comfortable being personal. That was much of the point when I wrote it, and I didn’t feel like I could openly discuss sex toys and my sex life with my ex-husband, who was in the military, on my other personal blog (Blog count 1).

And even though that relationship is no longer, it certainly won’t be my last romantic or sexual encounter, as you’ve no doubt continued to read here on my blog. For the most part, reviews have dominated this space, but it’s coincidental, not on purpose. It’s how it happens. At some point, I may very well stop writing reviews and focus on my personal sex life if need be.

It will serve a wonderful purpose.

But it also serves the purpose of dividing between myself and some of sex toy reviewers, who are less “sex bloggers.” And that’s okay. For them. Starting a large blog (#3 if you’re counting!) that continues to be a time-intensive labor of love leaves less time for writing.. and socializing. It’s why I go days without looking at Twitter and my Facebook page is often pathetic. I apologize. There are just not enough minutes in the day. Priorities are assigned. This blog is not usually in the top 5 when I have family, friends, work, my other blogs and sex (let’s be honest: sex takes precedence over most of those things) to tend to.

Maybe I mention these things too often. Maybe it sounds like an excuse, but I do it because it’s a reminder. Not all of us sex bloggers/toy reviewers look alike. We don’t have the same priorities. We don’t approach things from the same place.

There are NO one-size-fits-all rules when it comes to blogging about sex and toys.

If you look at this crazy thing with that narrow-minded view, you’re not just missing the point, you’re missing out on the opportunity. And maybe you’re part of the problem. I can admit that I often build invisible walls around myself, but I’m writing this in an effort to knock them down. But if you think there’s only one way to do this, you’re alienating others and misrepresenting the community, which is as varied as my sex toy collection. (Okay, probably more so!)

I don’t want to be part of that. I don’t want to be at the top of a popularity ladder just to avoid the spit from others. Okay? Okay!

I do want to feel like I’m surrounded by friends no matter where I may be in terms of numbers, popularity of success. So thanks to TTC, Dizzygirl, Juliettia, Ima Godiva and Reenie for being the type of people to reply to a message like that I posted on Twitter. And I’d love to welcome new people to the fold. Introduce yourselves. Butt in on Twitter. Comment on blog posts. It’s how everyone started whether we remember it or not!


What Sex Toy Retailers Can Learn from the EdenFantasys Scandal

October 13th, 2013

Let me preface this article by explaining which scandal I am talking about because there are many. EdenFantasy has been doing wrong by employees, clients, manufacturers and reviewers for years. But several months ago, the owner “discovered” there was barely enough revenue left to keep the company afloat. He fire all the employees and shut down all the clubs and programs, including Sexis and EdenCafe, that had been going on. He, then, decided to cut how many points — points that contributors had earned — that contributors could put toward their orders. This resulted in a strange “point consideration proposal” by Fred who literally and liberally berated the community for abusing the system that he had championed for years.

I quote:

You will be asked to submit a reconsideration request. It is optional. If you chose not to participate, your points will remain as they are now.
We review the submission manually and decide whether your points will be restored or completely erased.

All your points (or converted Gift Cards) will be cancelled and removed if company finds that you accumulated 500 points or more by intentionally abusing the system.

EdenFantasys is not a store you an trust!

Around this time, many products were “discontinued.” Reviews and orders were being canceled left and right. Some, mind included, took months to get out. Anyone who wanted to buy something was hard-pressed to do so. Affiliates who had reached their payouts were not — and some still haven’t been, 5 months later — paid. During this whole thing, Fred refused, and then denied when I brought it up, to discuss or admit the state of the company. He banned many contributors and limited the accounts of others, myself included. However, many of the previous employees began to speak up about how this was just the cherry on top of the shit sundae.

Reviewers and shoppers who wised up by reading posts like mine left in droves, many opening up a blog for the very first time. Others took to Twitter and other review/affiliate programs in light of Fred/EdenFantasys’ policies.  SheVibe opened their own forum.

There’s no doubt that it’s a ridiculous scandal and one that could have been completely avoided. It hurt the company and left the community scarred and fragmented, but that’s not all there is to it. Eden’s fallacies are absolutely a lesson that other companies can — and should — learn from. This is far from a cohesive list, so I encourage you to add your thoughts in the comments. I may even add them to this post. The scary part is how many of these facts are simply common sense.

Business Management

  • Don’t turn a blind eye to things like the bills. They don’t go away. Quite the opposite. They pile up, and you ruin your reputation with consumers, manufacturers and other companies with whom you have a relationship. When it gets to the point that the company needs to be shut down or sold immediately because you ignored or tried to deny away the problem for months or even years, there’s no one to blame but yourself.
  • Yes, you have to spend money to make money. No, you shouldn’t spend thousands or millions of dollars on projects that don’t bring in money and ultimately bleed the company dry. Yes, working with bloggers can yield positive results. No, it shouldn’t be your only end game.
  • Don’t blame the customers for your bad business practices. This falls under the “there’s no one to blame but you” category, but I’ll talk about it more anyway. Don’t blame customers for taking advantage of programs or sales that you created.
  • It’s such a sleazy thing to base your business on the idea that you will make deals with others. That you will slip them something a little extra under the table or that you’ll bow to their demands to appease them, especially if you’re hurting your customer in the process.
  • Don’t try to do it all. Even if you have the best of intentions, you can’t do it all. You just can’t. Determine what you can do and do it well rather than spreading yourself too thin. Otherwise, you wind up starting clubs and giveaways and blogger outreach. The best case scenario is that it works with a few hiccups or that it doesn’t, and you can gracefully back out. Sometimes people will understand. On the other hand, if you don’t realize that you’re setting yourself up for failure, you might make a bunch of promises that you can’t deliver on, which may result in some unhappy customers.
  • Treat your employees well because they are what make your company run. They may be the face that customers see. They have the power to testify against you in court and to tell your dirty little secrets.


  • When you reward your contributors for listing pros and cons about things, they’ll do the same for your company. It’s not about bloggers, it’s about pissing off vocal people. And bloggers will talk — even Metis Black mentioned how quickly the network works a CatalystCon West —  partly because we like to talk to begin with, but it’s more than that. I feel as though I owe readers the truth, whether it’s about a a toy or a company. I feel an obligation to tell buyers that a company isn’t reputable. As a blogger, I feel a sense of community with my fellow bloggers, and I want to help protect them from companies that will take advantage of them. So it’s my job to talk about it on this blog, on Twitter, on Tumblr, on Facebook or on your forum. Wherever I can talk about what you did wrong, I will. It’s not about you. It’s not petty vengeance. It’s about raising awareness of wrongdoing.
  • This leads me to my next point: don’t lie. The truth always comes out. Either you wind up telling bigger lies to cover up the succession of untruths, you get caught in the act or you wrong a person whom you trusted with your secret, and the truth comes out. The truth always comes out. Can you deal with that?
  • People don’t react to change well, especially not if it’s sudden. Yes, you may have to change the focus or programs that your company has. If you do it all at once, people will complain because they’ve become accustomed to a certain lifestyle. You can attempt to smooth things over by explaining why you have to change, and even though you don’t have to explain how your company works or what you’re doing, a little transparency goes a long way. When you start lying, even if it’s just by having shady practices, people stop trusting you.

And that trust? Yea, it’s kind of important when you use marketing campaigns about how people can trust you.



The Death of EdenFantasys

June 5th, 2013



If you’ve been around the Internet the last couple days, then you’ve probably come across this audio video, featuring the voice of Fred, the owner of EdenFantasys, and some staff members as he fires them all in bulk – and all without really saying so. In the event that the video gets deleted, Epiphora has a transcript up on her site. Multiple sources have verified the validity of the video; although Fred continues to deny that it’s real (also in E’s blog).

In fact, that post only outlines years of member abuses, shady behavior and a whole slew of things that have made people walk away from the company and community with a sour taste in their mouth. Not one, not two, but multiple of my friends have been banned from EdenFantasys over the years, and most of the time there was no legitimate reason other than “makes the site look bad.” In fact, review policy was changed a while back to state that we could only write positive reviews, more or less, to keep things looking all sunshine and kittens.

And, so the gist of the audio is that things had been going downhill for some time, but the company wasn’t even able to break even last month. So… Fred had to fire everyone via audio chat in a completely roundabout way. While he made it obvious that he had known what was coming, some people were completely blindsided, and he didn’t even take the time to fire some people. He simply changed email passwords to some people, essentially ending their jobs in the shittiest way possible. But, hey, it’s not the first time.

Things have been going downhill for some time according to Fred in that recording. In fact, Fred would have you still believe that everything is just hunky dory, and the only staff member who’s still around is spewing those lies to the community. But it’s more obvious than ever that things are bad. Stock has been dwindling for months. Good luck trying to find anything to spend those gift cards on because vendors don’t want to deal with the company. They’re calling the shots, but Fred’s minions would have you believe that inventory is shrinking to get rid of redundant products. As the truth comes out, it seems like this never was the case.

I’m eventually getting to my point, which is something along the lines of “I can’t believe he treated employees like this and is lying point blank to the community” and “I totally saw this coming.” By now, you’ve probably heard complaints from several people about various aspects of EF dealings, including unfair bannings, blocking off-site links, sending out used toys and employee abuse. So, I’m not entirely surprised that things have gone down in flames, but I don’t think anyone could have seen this coming the way that it did. Even staff members were left out in the cold, and now that we have proof that Fred is blatantly lying, it only brings into question everything he has ever said and, by association, anything the staff members have ever said because we don’t know how much involvement he had in it.

[edited to add]

I would count several people who have worked for the company among my friends, and I don’t mean to implicate them as dishonest, but I don’t know that what Fred told them was in truth.


Fortunately, I have no personal loss, but many people do, and many people are still drinking the god-damned Kool-Aid for some unknown reason. I’m being realistic. I cashed out my points and bought one of the few freakin’ things that still left in stock because I don’t even know if the website will be around tomorrow. Some people are in a so-called panic mode, and they’re not wrong to be.

Even before this, my role really dropped. I was unhappy with the company after they fucked with my friends and I became far less active. However, I still signed in and accepted reviews for one simple reason: I was gaming the system. It went something like this.

  1. I’d write reviews and participate on site for points
  2. I’d turn those into gift cards and buy other stuff
  3. I’d get points for those purchases (the system no longer allows this)
  4. I’d use my affiliate code to earn actual money

No, I didn’t feel bad about this. I always felt that the company had it coming from an ethical standpoint and their system continued to let me do it for years. You see, I agreed with all my friends who had left but I kept my mouth shut long enough to make this work for me because who doesn’t want some extra cash or free sex toys?

I think, perhaps, that the methodology to spend money to make money is one that Fred does not understand. Throughout those years, I became increasingly frustrated by this community movement. Sure, some awesome people joined even after the people I have grown used to left, but the blogger outreach and points programs led to a lot of shitty reviews and spam that made the site that much less useful. If you weren’t all overly supportive for the company or even for a freakin’ toy, you weren’t community-minded. Somewhere down the line, EF really became about quantity over quality, as if having people posting and talking about you was enough to drown out the negative and the cold, hard truth. Sadly, for a while, it was.

This should be a lesson to everyone. Treat your community, customers and employees like shit? It won’t work. Spread yourself too thin? And you’ll soon tear. Respond negatively to criticism or suggestions and the people who have a different vantage point will stop talking to you and start speaking up against you. Make enemies in the blogosphere, and people will tell others about what a little shit you’ve been.

Shortly before the announcement that all the staff had been fired, I received a PM as one a group of valuable members, asking me to stick around through some upcoming changes, I had no idea they’d be so extreme and, honestly, how can Fred expect the company to rebound in any way? As it stands, there’s nothing to stick around for. The community, the store are all in dire straights. The staff is gone. EdenFantasys is as good as dead, and if you think otherwise, you probably deserve to go down with the ship.


Who Should Read Sex Toy Reviews

December 31st, 2011

Whether it’s your first and you have no idea which direction to go in or it’s your fiftieth and you want to know if a specific toy will work for you, reviews are helpful. Hands-on descriptions of sex toys and similar items are so important and can help you determine if a toy if for you or not. Plus, reviewers can include photos and images that give more detail and show things in reality unlike planned publicity photos with expensive cameras and photoshopping and extensive lighting.
Sexy toy haters.
One of the things I’ve learned about sex toys and sex toy reviewers from reading reviews is that we are normal people. We are your neighbor, teachers, boss or friend. Sure, some people have kinks that are further out and others lead alternative lifestyles. However, these are not devious, strange any enjoying sex toys are a healthy and normal things and analyzing them with reviews paints them in a light similar to every other consumer product.
Retailers who pay attention to what they do sell and have guidelines about what they don’t sell can benefit from reading reviews. If you simply want to know whether a product is truly luxurious or whether your consumer demographic would actually purchase a toy, read some reviews. Debating a new line to carry, check out some reviews. Want a unique angle for pitching toys to customers? I think you see where I’m going with this.
Sex toy manufacturers.
This one is a given but, many times, I feel like the creators don’t listen to me even if they’re the ones sending me toys. I’m not telling you to pull a toy from the shelves but if you do (I’m talking to you Papaya Toys!), I respect that you respect me and are listening. Maybe you’re not going to go that far but you’re going to release newer, better versions of your toys, like SI did with the WeVibe and reviews are going to show you room for improvement. I don’t think I’m alone when I say that you can pump out hundreds or thousands of products but if you keep making the same cheap toys and the same mistakes, we’re going to buy from other manufacturers.
(Potential) reviewers.
One of the awesome things about sex toy reviews, is we’re really developed a standard, unlike a lot of product industries. Reading reviews is one of the best ways to learn what other people want to know because we tend to write about the things we would want to know when we read reviews. Reading reviews can help you develop your voice, strengthen your writing skills and even make friends.


Why I do This

May 16th, 2010

And by this I mean: blogging, reviewing, chatting, posts on forums, Tweeting and otherwise participating in this corner of the blogosphere.

At first, it was purely about getting free toys and maybe a little about proving how awesome I am. I’m competitive like that. Yes, I have gotten a lot of free toys. So a quick thank you to EdenFantasys,,, Babeland, Good Vibrations, PinkCherry, TabuToys, AdultSexToys, SheVibe, Wet Inc, Liberator, TheAdultToyShoppe, Nexus, California Exotics, BetterSex, Lovehoney and Ophoria for sending me free shit. I appreciate it more than you know. But I’m not as greedy anymore. I’ve gotten enough stuff that it takes a little more for something to catch my eye or I’m better at gauging what will or will not work for me. I’ve also been able to buy or swap for a lot of toys and there’s very few things I really want which I haven’t gotten. In the past few months, I acquired both the Lelo Ina and Mona, Fun Factory Delight and a Liberator Throe.

So as much as I like contests, I can’t even find $300 worth of items I want to join this one being hosted by AdultSextoys.

Of course, that’s not the only reason I’m here. Another selfish reason for doing all of this is simply to get to know myself better. To explore my sexuality, to experience pleasure. I’ve done a great deal of this with the help of my husband, too.

But not all my reasons are selfish. I’ve learned a lot from being apart of this all. I thought I knew a lot but I didn’t. Maybe I knew more than some people and I certainly know more than some people now but the more I learn, the more I realize how much there is to learn, how much I really don’t know. The more I know, however, the more I feel like maybe there’s an activist inside me.

And I hope, although maybe it’s a silly hope, I give something to others. Like maybe I’m helping to spread knowledge or prevent a bad purchase.

I have to admit, I love the praise, the recognition. I like having rank at EF and seeing my numbers rise. I like the sheer amount of stuff I’ve written. I like looking at my hits and visitors and pagerank. I like it when someone mentions how I’m a tough reviewer and this is why she trusts my word. That kinda thing. I like praise and recognition. A lot.

I’m here because I’m made some awesome friends and spent countless nights laughing out loud in chat as we discuss sex toys, PR mistakes, crappy companies and good ones. As we joke about who belongs to whom and who is a bigger slut and just what that word means anyway.

I guess I’m here more for selfish reasons than not but here I am and I’ll probably be sticking around a while. You see, you people keep me sane. And busy, And smiling. Maybe you’re the reason I do this.


The Way I See It

March 26th, 2010

There have been so many posts in this corner of the internet lately which bitch about, well, just about everything. I think we all understand that sex is personal and people have a lot of gut reactions to things whether it be rape culture or cheating or corporate politics. And, far be it for me to say that people shouldn’t feel how they do or even that they should or should not post something on their own blogs but.. I bet that if we all spent a little more time focusing on what is right in our little corner of the web (and lives, in general), we might just feel a little bit better.

If there’s one thing I am learning, it is that our experiences are coloured by our attitudes. Certainly, there are many legitimately negative things in the world today and they do carry over into cyberspace but the opposite is also true. So before you stop reading because you think I am going to bitch about how everyone else is bitching, I’m not. That won’t get any of us anywhere. Instead, I’m choosing to see things through a different filter and you might be surprised how things appear.

For instance, I’ve happened to notice how freaking awesome it is to get free shit just ’cause I talk about it. So I’m pretty grateful to a bunch of companies who allow me to do that. I’m completely blown away by the response I get from actual manufacturers who care what I say about their products or companies who are interested what I have to say about their business or website. This reviewing and consumer interaction concept is something sort of foreign in many markets and I can respect that. Plus, I do get a lot of feedback from other consumers like myself. My reviews actually help people shop.

And, for whatever reason, people read this blog. They care about what I have to say and some of them even care about me as a person and what happens in my life. That? Is the bee’s knees. Dated cliches aside, I am truly appreciative of the friends I have made via this little blog o’ mine. This blog has even helped me earn money. In fact, I could pay for all my domains and hosting by affiliate commissions alone so I can actually say this site pays for itself.

But wait, there’s more!

My activity around these blogs and communities has also been an enlightening one. There is much to learn, so many different perspectives I’d never considered or even knew about to consider. There are so many opportunities to see thing from another’s point of view and to help spread the word. There is so much productive, helpful and eye opening discussion going on everywhere you look. Few other areas on the internet foster healthy communication that way.

It’s pretty cool to talk about sex all the time, too.

All things considered, there seems to be a lot of bright side to look at.


Here we are.. again

July 20th, 2009

1 year and 3 days ago I introduced myself to the world as Adriana Ravenlust. I had big plans, big ideas – like I always do. I don’t dream small. I dreamt of being the biggest and the best. I wanted to explore my sexuality, to let you journey with me. I wanted to talk about love more frankly than I have been able to for years. I wanted an identity through anonymity.

And I have achieved some of that. Yet, I cannot help but see how I fallen flat on my face as well. In so many ways I am not where I was. In so many ways, I am still.

I’ve traveled by plane from my home abroad to return to the states where I feel, perhaps even more-so, a stranger. And not even because I spent 2 years living across the world. I went from reviewing items and blogging about it in my spare time to nearly making it a career after saying good bye to my husband as he departed for his second deployment (he returns home in a few “short” weeks). I have spent those months in almost complete isolation, without a single friend to break the silence – except for you, dear reader, commenter, Tweeter, e-mailer. For a while, I felt a connection with a community in a way I had not connected for months, even years. I felt hopeful at the prospects. E-mails and comments and Tweets caused laughter, made it easier to survive the day.

Perhaps most surprising was the way that this blog actually helped to bring my husband and I closer together, maybe even lending a hand to mend a rift,the worrying about which would keep me awake at night.

I could not have expected those changes but even stranger, I could not have predicted what would stay the same.

Despite the fact that I wanted to reinvent myself in some ways, I have only succeeded in being me even more. I have resisted changed, disagreed with policies and argued vehemently over opinions, as I am wont to do. I am sure that I have made more than one enemy.

I have also been unable to prevent or stop feelings from bleeding over into this aspect of my life as well. Most importantly and relative to this blog is my dependence and desire in regards to recognition. While I enjoy reviewing and blogging and Tweeting more than I ever realized I would, I do not enjoy it nearly as much as I could on those days when I get lost in the shuffle. Perhaps it’s simply hard to stand out among the seemingly endless sea of sex toy reviewers. I am no Epiphora, no Sleeping Dreamer.

Maybe I have failed to cement myself as more than a sex toy reviewer as personalities such as Essin’ Em have done; although, I have tried and will likely continue to do so with articles, features and even a bit of erotica. It is entirely possible that no matter how I try, I just do not have what it takes, that I lack the edge to stand out in the crowd. It could be even more likely that in my zeal to be someone else, I forgot to be me and isn’t that, after all, the only absolutely unique thing I have to offer the world?

I probably just expect too much, in this, as I do all else, setting myself up for disappointment. It was folly to set my expectations so high (yet I did, do, will). I find it more appealing commiserate than to congratulate myself on this hallmark. I could be misguided, even in that.

Happy birthday, blog.