Review: Sistalk Doctor Whale

Friends keep asking me what the deal is with the little stuffed cyclops-whale displayed in my room. “It came with a Kegel toy I’m reviewing soon,” I always say, which is a strange sentence. #SexToyReviewerLyfe, amirite?

Sistalk recently sent me their Doctor Whale vibrating Kegel exerciser – and that accompanying Doctor Whale stuffed animal. (I don’t know what he’s a doctor of, nor where he got his medical degree.) It’s a cool idea: an insertable vibrator equipped with pressure sensors, so it can vibrate your G-spot pleasurably while also guiding you through a Kegel exercise regimen and sensing how well you’re doing on your workout. The toy is controllable via an app called Monster Pub, which is also where you can set up and track your Kegel exercises. You can use Sistalk toys as regular wearable vibrators as well, controlling their vibrations via the app.

Sistalk designed this product well in some ways: its silicone is smooth and soft, it’s easy to insert, and it’s comfortable to use. The whale’s tail sits against my clit but doesn’t really vibrate it, so I’ll never have an orgasm from this toy alone, but that isn’t really its aim. The whale’s body is big enough that I can feel it when I squeeze around it, but not so big that it’s uncomfortable. To my surprise, the motor is quite good: rumbly and strong enough to please my fickle G-spot. Physically, the toy is well-thought-out.

But problems arise once you get into the Bluetooth connectivity and app-controllability. The connection between the toy and my phone is always tenuous at best, usually disconnecting after a couple minutes if not sooner. Other reviewers have experienced this issue too so I know it’s not a fluke with my particular toy. Needless to say, it’s hard to focus on a Kegel exercise routine when you’re concerned the vibe will disconnect at any moment, which it inevitably does.

The app itself is too busy, bursting with options. I’ve dated enough app developers to be able to hear their tut-tutting in my head as I flip through this app’s overburdened menus and screens. There’s also a language barrier which makes many of its instructions confusing or downright hilarious (I’m still gigglin’ about the Kegel exercise narrator telling me to squeeze my “vageena” tighter).

I think this line of toys has a lot of potential; the designers just need to fix the connectivity issues, tighten up the app, and maybe construct a more stimulating tail for this li’l whale. Until then, I recommend the We-Vibe Sync if you’re looking for an app-controllable vibrator, and a good old-fashioned pair of Kegel balls if you want to work on your pelvic musculature. Hopefully Sistalk works out the kinks with their products so lots of folks can enjoy these adorable, health-promoting monsters!

 

This review was sponsored, and as always, all writing and opinions are my own.

Book Review: Of Sound Mind and Someone Else’s Body

Content note: there are some discussions of nonconsensual sex, transphobia, gender dysphoria, and whorephobia in this post.

Have you ever read the plot summary for a piece of media and immediately thought, “Oh, this is gonna be a shitshow?” That was me when I read the blurb for Of Sound Mind and Someone Else’s Body, by William Quincy Belle.

Picture this: a supernatural body-swap story, à la Freaky Friday or The Hot Chick, with the lead characters being a successful male businessman and a female sex worker.

“This is gonna be transphobic and whorephobic as fuck, right?” I asked a friend when I told them about the plot of the book. They agreed that it would be difficult to navigate the fraught territory this book wanted to tackle without wading into some problematic shit. But nonetheless, I dove in, wanting to see the probable trainwreck for myself.

Of Sound Mind is about Alan Maitland, a nonspecific “businessman” (much like our boy Christian Grey, the exact scope and focus of his work is never quite spelled out), and Hana Toussaint, an escort with ambitions of becoming a sex therapist. The two are strangers at the beginning of the book, but through a neuroscientific mishap explained in somehow simultaneously not enough detail and far more detail than I cared to read, their brains switch bodies one night. Hana’s shrewd, sexy consciousness relocates into Alan’s brawny businessman body, while Alan’s serious, analytical mind flips into Hana’s eye-catching lady-bod. And, as they say, hijinks ensue.

Hilariously – or horribly, depending on what type of person you are – the switch happens while Hana is blowing a client, so Alan finds himself suddenly choking on cock after a lifetime of staunch heterosexuality. I felt conflicted reading this section, because on the one hand, it seemed written for laughs and I got instantly annoyed at Alan’s no-homo bravado in punching the dude in the nads and walking out. But at the same time, gosh, it would sure be traumatic if there was suddenly a dick in your throat when you’d neither consented to that nor ever experienced it before. I couldn’t tell whether I was supposed to laugh at Alan or pity him, which was a frequent feeling for me while reading this book.

Alan and Hana locate each other fairly quickly, figure out what’s happened, and unite in a mission to find the neuroscientist who fucked up and switched their brains. In the process, however, they navigate various challenges, like Hana fielding Alan’s business calls, Alan chatting up Hana’s escorting colleagues, and – all the while – getting used to life in their new, gender-swapped bodies.

I can’t personally speak to what it would feel like to read this book as a trans person. I imagine it wouldn’t feel great. There’s no acknowledgment in the book of transgender identities, which seems a shame, as that would be an interesting take on the somewhat tired body-swap trope.

Some of the gender-based difficulties Hana and Alan encounter seem overblown for comic effect – like Alan struggling to put on a bra, or Hana getting her dick caught in her pants zipper. (She’s a sex worker. There’s no way she doesn’t know her way around a fly.) But though Alan is sometimes incompetent at his coercively-adopted womanhood, overall I get the feeling that he thinks men would make better women than women do, and that women’s “petty” concerns would be easily solved with a small dose of “male” assertiveness. In a couple different scenes, Alan (in Hana’s femme little body) confronts catcallers and subway masturbators, shaming them publicly, and the book seems to suggest that this is the best way to deal with these altercations – completely ignoring the reality that marginalized folks standing up to creeps often results in violence, which is why we don’t do it more often. Duh.

The book is peppered with monologues from Hana about the stigma and oppression faced by women, sex workers, and people who dare to be publicly sexual. While I think these soliloquies are designed to paint Hana as a three-dimensional character, she ultimately comes across as someone who doesn’t so much have a personality as a series of staunch opinions. The effect is Manic Pixie Dream Girl-esque; her narrative function is to open Alan’s eyes and change his life, and she doesn’t seem to have much of an inner emotional life beyond that mission. Further, her impassioned rants are fairly 101-level stuff; anyone who’s familiar with feminism and social justice concepts, even from afar, is likely to read these and go, “Yeah, of course.” I know there are still many people out there who would benefit from basic explanations of gender bias, sex stigma, and whorephobia, but are those people really gonna read this book, let alone learn from it?

The other weird thing about Hana is that she spends almost the entire book flirting with Alan, fawning over him, and trying to fuck him. This is a pretty classic thing for a male author to do: ignite desire in his female protagonist for wish-fulfilment purposes, even if it doesn’t make sense for the characters. We’re shown no reasons why Hana would be attracted to Alan, other than (maybe) the physical attractiveness of his body, which she is in. He doesn’t come across as particularly smart, kind, funny, or interesting – so why does this babely, ambitious, clever woman pursue him relentlessly for the entire book? It doesn’t ring true to me.

The author tries to paint a compassionate picture of sex workers, unpacking some of the stigma they face. But we’re reminded again and again that Hana is educated, volunteers her time for philanthropic causes, and could easily do something else with her life but has chosen sex work. There is nothing wrong with this by itself, but depicting Hana as a “good” sex worker for possessing these qualities feels icky to me. Sex workers are still perfectly legitimate and acceptable even if they don’t have a formal education and/or have chosen sex work for survival reasons.

As a piece of literature, I felt similarly about Of Sound Mind to how I felt about the Fifty Shades books: the writing is okay but the plot is at least fast-paced and interesting enough to keep my attention. It’s often hard to tell characters apart when quotes aren’t attributed because their voices are so similar, and the dialogue is consistently stilted and awkward. (“Man, did I enjoy my orgasm! I love ejaculating,” Hana exclaims after one ostensibly sexy scene. “God, I love a good fuck pounding!”)

I think the premise of this story is fascinating, and could’ve been a good jumping-off point for discussions of gender politics, privilege, and empathy. The author does address this stuff but it’s all fairly surface-level; I would love to read a deeply feminist, nuanced, “woke” take on this story trope. Likewise, I was curious to see how the author would handle sex scenes between two characters inhabiting different bodies than they’re used to – but the writer breezes through the one sex scene in a hurry, without delving at all into what that type of sex would feel like, physically or emotionally. I felt a bit cheated that one of the most interesting questions the book poses was never answered.

If you want something light and silly to read that might prompt some reactionary feminist thoughts, give Of Sound Mind and Someone Else’s Body a try. I didn’t hate it, and it gave me lots to think about – including the question, “Why is this making me roll my eyes so hard?!” There are worse things you could read. Like – by a small but decisive margin – any of the Fifty Shades books.

 

If you like, you can buy this book on Amazon (in Kindle edition or paperback). Feel free to check out the author’s website if you want to learn more! FYI: This review was sponsored, meaning that I was paid to write an honest (not necessarily positive) review.

12 Days of Girly Juice 2017: 1 Fantastic Toy Company

“Wow, you really like We-Vibe, huh?” my boss asked me shortly after I started a stint working sex toy retail earlier this year.

I looked at her blankly. Of course I like We-Vibe. We-Vibe makes high-quality, body-safe vibrators with strong, rumbly motors and some of the best-honed technology on the market. What’s not to like?

Choosing a company to profile in this year-end feature has sometimes been tricky for me (previously: Fucking Sculptures, Aslan Leather), but this year it was so, so easy, because I use We-Vibe’s products more than those by almost any other company. They fit into my sex life seamlessly, whether I’m alone or with a partner. They just… do what they’re supposed to do.

The We-Vibe Tango remains the real MVP of my toybag. I own two of them now, and frequently exhaust their batteries from jerking off with them several times a week. In fact, the Tango was far-and-away my most-used vibrator of the year, facilitating a whopping 93 of the 333 orgasms I had this year (that’s 27.9% – more than any partner I had this year, certainly!). It just works well. The vibrations are rumbly and powerful, the shape jives with my clitoral preferences, and I know I’ll reliably have an orgasm with this toy. It’s also magnificent for sliding between bodies during partnered sex, whether a partner is fucking me, fingerbanging me, or using other toys on me.

I also keep a We-Vibe Touch at my parents’ house for my use when I sleep over there, and it serves me well. The shape isn’t my favorite but with dat motor, it doesn’t really matter.

Speaking of motors, We-Vibe’s made one of the only existing couples’ vibes with an actually good one: the We-Vibe Sync. This is my #1 recommendation for people looking for a couples’ vibe or a toy that can be controlled long-distance. With their We-Connect app and Bluetooth connectivity, We-Vibe has perfected this functionality in a way other companies have failed to. The toy stays connected, does what it’s supposed to do, and is controlled via an intuitive and exciting mobile interface. As someone who’s had multiple long-distance beaux this year, this toy has been an important one for me!

Some other favorites of mine from the We-Vibe catalogue: the rumbly and usefully-shaped Gala, the G-spot-targeting Rave, and the dually-stimulating Nova. To be fair, they also released a few toys this year I’m not as fond of – like the Wish, with its finicky motors, and the uncomfortably-shaped Ditto – but, for the most part, they are always pushing themselves to make better products, and seem to take customer feedback into account. When a new We-Vibe product comes out, even if I’m skeptical, I’m always at least curious.

I knew my We-Vibe love had become part of my brand when, the other night, after some thoroughly unraveling phone sex, a long-distance beau asked me, “What vibe were you using? The Tango?”

“Yep. I love it,” I said. “I have two.”

“Alright,” he countered. “No need to brag.”

12 Days of Girly Juice 2017: 9 Best New Sex Toys

It was a good year for sex toys! I acquired over 65 new toys this year. (Yeesh. Being a sex toy reviewer is weird and great.)

You would think it might be hard to pick my top 9 favorites from that massive number, but actually, I’m a total snob. It’s rare that I acquire a new toy and love it enough to keep using it after I’ve reviewed it. Here, then, are the 9 best new treats I got this year, and where you can get ’em if you think you’d also like ’em…

9. Kronic Sensations wooden bat. I picked this up impulsively one day at local Toronto sex shop Kink T.O., and it was such a good purchase. These bats are incredibly thuddy, like getting hit with an actual mini baseball bat – so if you like your impact sensations deep and penetrating, rather than surfacey and stingy, you’d be into these. (Available at Kink.)

8. Sportsheets under-the-bed restraints. These are so basic, so useful, so necessary that it’s odd to think they haven’t been attached to my bed for my entire adult life. But no: I only acquired them earlier this year. They’re the easiest way to seamlessly incorporate bondage into your sex life. When I’m having a lot of kinky sex (i.e. not lately), I use these all the damn time. A++, 10/10, would recommend. (Available at SheVibe, Ignite, Peepshow, PinkCherry U.S., PinkCherry CA, the Smitten Kitten, and Early to Bed.)

7. Zumio. I’m rarely in the mood for this thing, but when I am, woof, I need it. It’s one of the best tools available for intense, pinpointed clitoral stimulation. Its mega-intensity also makes it useful for kinky forced-orgasm scenes: if you’re holding a Zumio to my clit, you’ve got my goddamn attention, I’ll tell ya that much. (Available at SheVibe, Ignite, Peepshow, the Smitten Kitten, and Early to Bed.)

6. We-Vibe Gala. I just got this recently and am already loving it. (Full review to come in 2018!) Its two-eared shape makes it ideal for people like me who abhor direct clitoral stimulation and prefer having their clit touched through the clitoral hood or inner labia. The motor is also excellent, as is standard for We-Vibe toys. (Available at Come As You Are, SheVibe, Ignite, Peepshow, and the Smitten Kitten.)

5. ScreamingO Charged Vooom. I reviewed this along with a cadre of other cheap vibes and the Vooom was the only one I loved and continued to love. This zippy little raspberry-pink bullet vibe performs remarkably well for its price point, and makes a capable understudy for my beloved Tango when needed. (Available at Come As You Are, SheVibePeepshow, and PinkCherry U.S.)

4. Weal & Breech purpleheart paddle. This beaut unseated my previous favorite impact toy from its throne this year. Fancy, handmade, and one-of-a-kind, it makes me feel like a kinky queen. The perfectly balanced weight and ergonomic handle make it clear this paddle was created by kinksters. I’ll never forget when, midway through our first spanking session with this toy, my then-boyfriend moaned low in his throat, “I reeeally like this paddle,” to which I moaned back, “SO DO I.” (Similar product available at Come As You Are.)

3. We-Vibe Nova. I technically got this last year, when Bex gifted me one, but didn’t give it a proper shot until early 2017. The Nova is, hands-down, my favorite dual-stimulation vibe I’ve ever tried. As is par for the course with We-Vibe, it’s thoughtfully designed, high-quality, and pleasantly rumbly. When I’m craving deep vibration on my G-spot and clit simultaneously, I know the Nova is the best tool for the job. (Available at SheVibe, Peepshow, Ignite, PinkCherry U.S., PinkCherry CA, and Early to Bed.)

2. Doxy Die Cast. Definitely the prettiest wand vibe in my collection! I still reach for my Magic Wand more often, because it’s lighter and the lower speeds are rumblier, but the Die Cast has definitely snuck into my starting lineup this year. It’s wonderfully luxurious and always powerful enough to get me off. And that glitter finish! Swoon! (Available at Come As You Are, SheVibe, and Peepshow.)

1. Standard Glass S-Curve. A gift from Bex, this is indubitably the best toy I received all year. Quite possibly my favorite dildo ever, now that I think about it. Yes, the S-Curve has usurped my beloved Double Trouble as my vagina’s favorite thing, simply because it’s slimmer and more targeted and doesn’t require warm-up like the DT does for me. The S-Curve finds my A-spot with such ease and speed that it’s pretty much the closest thing I have to a “press here for orgasm” device. I’ve also heard reports from partners that it’s a simple and intuitive toy to fuck someone with. Win-win! (Available at the Smitten Kitten.)

What were your favorite toys of the year?

Review: Hot Octopuss Queen Bee

Imagine you met a guy at a party and, after a few minutes of cordial conversation, he kept loudly insisting on his brilliance as a cunnilinguist. “I have a supremely talented mouth. I can get anyone off,” he would sneer, with just enough enthusiasm that maybe you’d believe him a little bit, especially if it was late and you were a bit intoxicated and perhaps it had been a good while since anyone had even attempted to get you off.

Imagine, then, that you took him back to your place, removed your clothes, and set him loose on your junk so he could prove his claim. And he then proceeded to blow raspberries all over your vulva – making a loud and ridiculous noise, barely even grazing your clit, and certainly not getting you off. Imagine how you would laugh, as he continued to smile up at you in that unwarranted cocky manner.

This is more-or-less how I feel about the Hot Octopuss Queen Bee. It makes a whole lot of claims it cannot support. And, to add insult to injury, it makes a noise the likes of which cannot be ignored.

The Queen Bee is a new clitoral stimulator roughly the shape and size of a hairbrush. It uses “PulsePlate technology,” whereby the one of the flat sides of the “hairbrush” pounds in and out quickly, creating oscillation rather than vibration. “Although oscillators are commonplace in the medical world, Hot Octopuss is the first to bring this technology to the sex toy market,” the company’s website brags, though this flat-out isn’t true; the Eroscillator has been doing the oscillation thing, and much more effectively, for many years.

Oscillation’s claim to fame is that it supposedly produces deeper, stronger orgasms than vibration, and doesn’t tend to cause desensitization the way vibrations sometimes can. These claims, in my experience, are true of the Eroscillator – the orgasms I have with it are legitimately like nothing else I’ve felt – but with the Queen Bee, not so much. Its PulsePlate is too broad for me, kissing my entire vulva rather than zeroing in on my clit – and while I sometimes enjoy this broadness with, say, a wand vibrator, it doesn’t work so well on an oscillating toy. I have to focus hard to even detect that my clit is being stimulated. I would imagine this would be doubly true for folks with smaller clits and/or fleshier labia than mine.

This problem is exacerbated by the fact that the Queen Bee’s oscillation significantly slows and weakens as soon as any pressure is applied to the toy. I’m used to this with my Eroscillator: I tend to press it against my body early in a session and then ease up as I continue, allowing it to oscillate more intensely when I’m ready for that. But the oscillations in the Queen Bee are dampened to an almost laughable degree when the toy encounters any pressure. Unless you like holding your sex toys so they only graze your junk with the most feather-light touch, you probably won’t get much out of the Queen Bee.

On top of all that, this toy makes an egregious, unforgivable amount of noise. It’s so loud, I hesitate to use it past 9PM lest I wake my neighbors. It’s so loud, I can’t bring myself to use it when my roommate is home, even if she’s across the apartment listening to Beyoncé at full blast. It’s so loud, I have to turn the volume on my porn way up while I’m masturbating with it, or else wear noise-canceling headphones. It’s so loud, I can’t imagine using it with a partner without both of us dissolving into intractable giggles. It’s so loud, turning it on for even a few seconds makes me feel embarrassed to exist.

Are you getting the picture yet? The Queen Bee is very fucking loud. And it’s not an inoffensive, vague whirring either. It’s a rhythmic, mechanical pounding that seems to scream, “I am using a VIBRATOR!!!” I am reminded of a prank my dad once pulled at his office where he emailed a surreptitiously-named MP3 to some colleagues which, when they opened it, shouted through their speakers, “Hey, everybody; I’m watching PORNO in here!!” The Queen Bee rivals that for its embarrassment-to-amusement ratio.

I have more complaints about the Queen Bee. The buttons that are difficult to locate and press in a hurry. The unnecessarily gendered name and marketing. The claim that the non-pulsating side of the toy is in fact a feature, ideal for “gentle warm-up massage,” rather than the equivalent of holding the handle of a wand vibe against your clit for shits and giggles. But really, my main sources of beef with this toy are its false claims of originality, its tendency to give up the ghost under pressure, and that godawful, inexcusable noise.

If I wanted to eke an orgasm out of something that neither lived up to its ostentatious claims nor complied with noise bylaws, I’d just fuck that guy from the party whose loud and ineffectual cunnilingus was his proudest achievement.

 

Thanks to Hot Octopuss for sending me the Queen Bee to try! Should you want to buy a Queen Bee, you can find it at Peepshow and SheVibe.