12 Days of Girly Juice 2016: 1 Fantastic Toy Company

Here’s a riddle for you. What’s sexy as fuck, smells wonderful, and makes kinksters swoon?

No, not my vagina. Although: that too.

Nah, I’m talking about products made by Aslan Leather. Like my vag, they are glorious beacons of kinky wonderment, made right here in Toronto, and much-revered by sex-nerdy bondage enthusiasts. And this year I’m profiling Aslan as my favorite sex-products company of the year, because I just love ’em so very much.

I met Carey Gray – Aslan’s fearless leader – at a Tell Me Something Good event back in mid-2015, when we co-judged that night’s storytellers. Uncharacteristically for me, I struck up a conversation, because I just had to tell him how much I admired his beautiful products. He very kindly offered to let me review an item of my choosing from Aslan’s catalogue – truly a kinkster’s dream come true.

A few weeks and back-and-forth emails later, I found myself trotting down an alley to Aslan Leather’s sorta-secret workshop in downtown Toronto. I had requested the Crystal Blue Cuffs, and the craftspeople plucked a pair from their overflowing stock drawers and handed them to me, all nicely wrapped and pretty as hell. On my streetcar ride home, I kept taking the cuffs out of my bag, holding them to my nose, and inhaling deeply. Like many people, I have a visceral reaction to the smell of leather: it’s intoxicating, inviting, and sweetly sexy. Even now, if I open a drawer containing one of my Aslan products, the scent wafts out to greet me, and I feel both comforted and turned on.

Since acquiring those gorgeous cuffs, I’ve picked up a few more Aslan products: two collars (one black and one pink, natch), and a pink harness. All of them are absolutely stunning, well-made, sensuously fragrant, and buttery-soft. I swoon a little every time I touch or see or smell an Aslan item. They are simply top-of-the-line, as far as I’m concerned.

A materialistic kinkster’s heart is never sated, so I have a few more toys on my Aslan Leather wishlist. I’d love to own one of their ballgags (somehow I’ve never used a ballgag!), their pink leather paddle, and the ankle cuffs that match my wrist cuffs. I’m also all starry-eyed for the line of bluish-purple leather toys they released as a posthumous tribute to Prince (SheVibe carries the harness from this line, and it’s a stunner).

In 2017, I hope to widen the variety of companies and craftspeople that comprise my kink-toy collection: I want a ballgag from Oddo Leather, a leather paddle from 6Whips, a Lexan glitter cane from RavenHawk, a chest harness from Mad Elephant, and a torquemada from Creative Kink. But for now, I’m pleased as punch that Aslan Leather items make up most of my kinkwear “wardrobe.” They make me feel like the cutest little subby princess when I wear ’em, and that feeling alone is worth the price of the products.

What was your favorite sex toy company of 2016?

Monthly Faves: Heroes, Queerdos, Stone Crops & Road Stops

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April is always one of my favorite months of the year: the weather gets warmer, school ends, and I get to celebrate my birthday! Here’s some of what made me happy this April…

Sex toys

• When me and Bex get together, spanking inevitably happens. We’re both big fans of impact play – they like to receive, and I like both giving and receiving – so of course, we also share an appreciation for paddles, floggers, crops, whips, canes, and all manner of other impact play toys. In our big road trip across the midwest (more on that later), I bought a purple suede flogger at the Pleasure Chest in New York, a stone crop at Leather & Latte in Minneapolis, and a pervertable paddle-ball at a toy store in Cleveland. So many fun new things for people to hit me with!

• As you might have noticed, I am fond of blowjobs. Normally this doesn’t figure into my masturbation too much, but admittedly, a few of my orgasms this month were intensified by the presence of a Tantus Uncut #1 in my mouth. I like that it’s girthy but not jaw-achingly so, and that the texture of the silicone can feel amazingly real when it’s warm. Hnnnnggg.

• I had the opportunity to visit the Hole Punch Toys studio with some friends this month. It’s located in Minnesota, the homeland of Prince, who had just passed away – so Colin (the brains and brawn behind Hole Punch) had made us special commemorative Prince-themed butt plugs. (!!) They are purple and glittery, and they came in a cardboard storage tube emblazoned with the Prince symbol. So, so, so wonderful and unique.

Fantasy fodder

• I’ve been aching to do service-based submission lately. I want to bring some charming domly person their coffee made exactly the way they like it, help them schedule and fulfill their appointments, and give them a massage at the end of a long day. And then, you know, maybe suck their dick to relieve their stress. Like ya do.

• I’m going to write about this in more detail eventually, but: I recently went out for coffee with someone I’ve looked up to and had a crush on for LITERALLY TWELVE YEARS, and he kissed me. It was the kind of kiss that makes you all tingly and sends out residual ripples in your life. I don’t normally fantasize sexually about kisses – they’re usually so innocuous, or so much just a prelude to more explicit things – but damn, it was a good kiss. And it meant a lot to me.

• A recent hookup made me realize how little I fantasize about penis-in-vagina sex these days. It still feels good and I enjoy it, but I don’t get off on it psychologically the way that I sometimes have in the past. My fantasies nowadays are more focused on kink stuff and what Bex calls “queer sex”: sex involving primarily hands, mouths, and toys.

Sexcetera

• Late in the month, Bex, Taylor, Caitlin and I embarked on a weeklong trip across the northern U.S. We called our journey #HaveDildosWillTravel. I flew to New York on the 21st, we attended AltSex on the 22nd, and then we spent the next two days driving through Pennsylvania, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. We stayed in Minneapolis for a few days before turning around and driving all the way back to Toronto. It was a raucous trip full of sex-positive sightseeing, best-friend bonding, and bad jokes. I feel so grateful to have excellent friends whose idea of a good time is in line with mine.

• Speaking of great friends… Early in the month, my closest pals finally convinced me that my burgeoning-but-floundering relationship needed to end. I broke up with my boyfriend and it was the least emotionally affecting breakup of my life, because the relationship had been doomed from the start. It made me realize that I don’t actually want or need to be in a romantic relationship right now, though I’d previously ached for one. Weeks later, on our road trip, I had my first-ever one-night stand, which further drove home the point that maybe fun and feelings-free sex is what I need at the moment.

• School ended for me this month, and my last project – the only thing standing between me and my journalism degree – was an audio series about kink and mental health. I spent most of March and April doing research, conducting interviews, and editing audio. (I’ll let you know where you can listen to it when it becomes available!) As such, a lot of my thinkiest thoughts lately have been about the power of kink in psychological coping and healing. Working on this project felt very “meta” because kinky encouragement helped me get through it: dom-y people in my life instructed me to work hard and gave me verbal and tangible rewards when I did, which kept me on-task during my psychologically tumultuous final stretch before the deadline. I’m proud to say I completed the project and got a great grade on it!

Femme stuff

• I turned 24 while we were on the road, and Bex bought me a gift so sweet and thoughtful that I burst into tears when I opened it: an Aslan Leather collar. I’ve stayed up many a late night staring at leather collars online this year, desperately wanting one for both kink reasons and femme reasons, and this one in particular really spoke to me. I originally thought it might be weird for me to buy myself a collar, given that I don’t currently have a dominant partner to “own” me – but then I became increasingly drawn to the idea of “owning” myself, of being my own dom. Bex giving me my dream collar felt like an acknowledgment from my best friend that I don’t need to wait for that perfect dominant partner to come along; I am a whole person now, capable of taking care of myself and being badass on my own, even though sometimes I feel submissive and small. ♥ ♥ ♥ (Plus, let’s face it: this collar is fucking gorgeous and fits my aesthetic perfectly.)

• I felt a lot of love for my Frye harness boots during our road trip. I’ve stomped all over Canada and the U.S.A. in them, and they’re hardy enough to handle it. I love how they add a little toughness to otherwise-girly looks; there is something so satisfying about pairing a flippy floral dress with chunky black leather boots.

• When I visit the States, I always like to check out the makeup selection in drugstores, because it’s a bit different from what we can get in Canada. I picked up a NYX liquid eyeliner in the shade “Crystal Pink,” and it is so deliciously on-brand for me. Intense pink glitter! Yessss!

What got your rocks off and your gears spinning this month, my loves?

Monthly Faves: Show-Offs, Blowjobs, Butt Stuff & Balconies

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February was a super tough month for me emotionally, but in between cry-a-thons and anxiety attacks, I also managed to have plenty of good sex. Here’s a breakdown of the highlights…

 

Sex toys

• I have said this to you before… like, many, many times… but I really enjoyed the Eleven this month. It helps that I used it in a porn shoot (more on that in a second), but holy shit, it’s just a classic as far as I’m concerned. Sometimes I’m struggling to reach orgasm and I break out the Eleven as a last resort, and it always, always does the trick, somehow.

• To flagrantly repeat another toy that’s gotten its fair share of mentions in my monthly faves: the Magic Wand Rechargeable really earned its keep this month. I used it in the aforementioned porn shoot, as well as during my first anal sex experience and many solo sexytimes. It’s nice to have a vibe that works so reliably well that I don’t even have to think about it.

• When Bex visited early in the month, we took a trip to Come As You Are and I became fixated on the limited-edition pink version of Aslan Leather’s Jaguar harness. It’s $130, I already owned a Jaguar harness in black, I’m trying to save money for an upcoming trip, and I don’t even have an opportunity on my horizon to use a harness – but nonetheless, I wanted one, because it’s femmey and perfect. So I posted in a local kinky trading group to ask if anyone wanted to buy me a pink Jag in exchange for my black one plus some other toys I’d throw in, and a lovely lady took me up on my offer. I’m soooo happy I own it. It looks gorgeous on me and I’m going to make someone’s fucked-by-a-femme fantasy come true someday.

 

Fantasy fodder

• If you follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed it’s been a bit of a blowjobby month for me. My ideal blowjob recipient was in town so I had some mouth cravings to contend with. One of my favorite encounters in February was an impromptu blowjob date, which resulted when I messaged dude to offer him BJ carte blanche. I got to suck off one of my fave dicks in the known universe in a dimly lit room while we listened to R&B slowjams. Twice: once before dinner/drinks and once after. It was pretty much the best. And I continued to think about it a lot through the month, because unf, yes, all the good dicks in my mouth, please.

• My friends, you have not lived until a hot androgyne has rammed the shit out of you with an Eleven at a sex club in front of an audience as part of a live porn shoot. I thought I’d be too nervous to have a real orgasm, and was entirely prepared to fake one (which I know is bad, but it was a performance!) – but then my babely scene partner leaned close to my ear and whispered, “Does it turn you on that all these people are watching you?” That, combined with the well-wielded Eleven and the Hitachi I was pressing to my clit, triggered a very-real orgasm almost instantly. Welp. I didn’t think I was an exhibitionist, but it seems my fantasy landscape has been forever revolutionized by this incident…

• Ugh, there is something so hot to me about the process of teaching someone how to get you off. And especially that moment where they start to get it and do it how you want it without being told. I got to be on both sides of that this month, with regards to spanking, fingering, and blowjobs, and maaaan I was into it. Good sexual communication forever!

 

Sexcetera

• My main sexual adventure this month was losing my anal virginity. It was awesome. I want to do more butt stuff real soon. (I probably won’t get to, though, because it’s something I’d only want to explore with a trusted partner, and I don’t really have access to any of those at the moment. Booooo!)

• The award for weirdest sexual adventure of the month goes to the time I got kissed, fingered and felt up on an Airbnb balcony while slightly stoned, as snow came down around us. Marijuana often impedes my ability to tell whether the situation I’m in is strange or not, because everything feels strange when I’m high. But yeah, even looking back, it was a surreal experience. I don’t think I will ever forget the feeling of his hands sliding up under my bulky winter coat as he backed me up against that cold glass railing. Swoon.

• My friend is developing a party game called Don’t You Dare and I got to play it a few times this month. It’s really fun! I have some feelz about the ways in which games like Truth or Dare can be immensely helpful and world-widening for anxious folks like me… Maybe I’ll blog about that one of these days. (If you wanna help fund the game so it can liven up your parties someday, you can do so at its GoFundMe page!)

 

Femme stuff

• It was a big lingerie month for me. I am expanding my “porndrobe,” as it were. Some of my fave new sexy acquisitions are a navy and teal lace set by QT Intimates and a pink floral lace set by American Apparel. Now I wanna get more boy briefs and thigh-high socks, but what else is new?

• While searching Redbubble for “heart-eyes emoji” – as you do – I found this zip-up pouch. I had been in the market for a case in which to carry safer sex supplies (condoms, lube sample packs, gloves, dental dams, maybe a small vibrator), and this fit the bill, so I bought it. It’s actually a little bigger than I would prefer for everyday sex-supply totin’, but when I packed a huge bag for my hotel-sex date, it fit a noble quantity of latex barriers and butt plugs. Hooray!

• I bought a black and white skull-print scarf for something like $4 at a vintage shop and it is the ideal thing for tying around my hair when it’s in pincurls. Such glamour!

 

What were your fave sexy things this month, darlings?

Review: Aslan Leather Crystal Blue Cuffs

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One of the reasons it’s so exciting to be sex-positive in Toronto is our proximity to Aslan Leather. They make top-quality leather kink goods in their tucked-away downtown hideout. Their stuff is handmade, gorgeous, and all comes with a lifetime guarantee. Ooh, baby, yeah.

They were nice enough to hook me up with some Crystal Blue Cuffs to try. Actually they offered me anything I wanted, but since I already have what is perhaps their best-known and most-lusted-after product – the Jaguar harness – I figured I’d give their bondage goods a shot.

These cuffs are right up my alley: blue (my fave!) and white, classic kinky styling, and androgynous in such a way that they can look super femmey on someone like me but could be boyish in someone else’s aesthetic context. Yuuuum.

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The cuffs are 2″ wide and have six holes that the buckle can go into. On my average-sized lady-wrists, the 3rd hole is the one in that sweet spot where comfort meets security. I’ve heard from other folks that Aslan is open to customization requests, so if you have particularly tiny or large wrists that these cuffs can’t accommodate (unlikely), they could probably help you out.

I find these cuffs verrrrry comfortable. They’re lined with vegan (a.k.a. fake) leather, which is softer than real leather and cushions your wrists slightly. The vegan leather is also a great feature for if your wrists get sweaty, because the moisture that could potentially stain real leather has no effect on the fake stuff. Brilliant.

aslan-leather-crystal-blue-cuffs-3As always with Aslan products, the leather of these cuffs feels gorgeously soft and broken-in, and has that classic leather smell that is deeply sexy but not overpowering.

The buckles have a hole in them that enables you to padlock them, if you’re so inclined. Unlike kink products made by companies who don’t know their shit, these are designed with practicality in mind. You can’t wriggle out of them once they’re properly buckled and connected. In fact, during the photoshoot for this review, I kept having to ask my photographer friend to uncuff me so I could get into different positions!

The cuffs don’t come with a connector, but Aslan sells a basic one, as do a lot of sex shops. You can also just tie the D-rings together with string or rope if you’re feeling lo-fi (but make sure you’re able to cut yourself or your partner free in a hurry, incase of an emergency!).

aslan-leather-crystal-blue-cuffs-5The comfort and prettiness of these cuffs makes me inclined to wear them in non-sexual scenarios too, as fashion accessories. They’re just so damn lovely. If you can pull it off, I say, go for it: it’s a kinda-subtle and adorable way to advertise your kinkiness on the streets!

If you, like me, enjoy matching your ensembles, Aslan can fill that need for you: the Crystal Blue color scheme is also available in ankle cuffs, a collar, a Jaguar harness and a Minx harness. You would be the cutest submissive on the block if you had a little ensemble of co-ordinating kink-wear!

You can buy Aslan products on their website; a smaller selection of their pieces is also available through various other shops, like SheVibe, Come As You Are, and Early to Bed. And buy them, you should, because they are stunning, high-quality, and they actually do what they’re supposed to do: make your BDSM fantasies a reality.

Thank you so much to Aslan Leather for these wonderful cuffs!

Also: shout-out to my friend C.P. for taking these awesome photos. She also shot my bio photo and various other photos on my site, and is generally the best.

Interview: Tina Horn of “Best Sex Writing”

The two things I love most in the world are sex and writing. So, obviously, Best Sex Writing is the kind of book title that gets my attention.

This year’s edition is edited by Jon Pressick, self-described sexuality media mogul (who has actually interviewed me before, you might recall!), and it’s fabulous. The essays range from academic analyses of racial politics in porn, to journalistic examinations of sex education, to deeply personal stories about sexual adventures. It’s a total treat to read, entertaining and compelling all the way through, and I’m confident that anyone who digs my blog would also dig this book!

I was invited to be part of the book’s blog tour, and when I saw that interviewing an author was an option, and one of the authors was Tina Horn, I knew she was the one I wanted to talk to.

You might remember Tina Horn as one of my favorite porn performers, or as a presenter at the first Feminist Porn Conference. Or you might know her from her podcast, writing, or teaching. In addition to Best Sex Writing, Tina’s also got a new book out called Love Not Given Lightly, which features profiles of various people working in sexuality.

Her piece in Best Sex Writing is called “The Gates” and it’s about her time working at a women-owned BDSM house in the Bay Area. It’s simultaneously a journalistic profile of the women there and the place itself, and a personal look into Tina’s own time as a switch there. I loved reading it and was excited to chat with her about it!

Girly Juice: What was your goal when researching and writing this piece?

Tina Horn: I wanted to write about the period of my life when I was working at The Gates as a professional switch. But I didn’t think the world needed another memoir of a middle class white girl with some literature degrees finding empowerment through professional BDSM. I made it my project to look outward. What was the story of the woman who started her own underground business? What were the social dynamics between the women who worked there? What objects were in the rooms, and how were they designed? How were things organized and regulated? I wanted my consciousness, my experience, to come through the concrete details, and I wanted to get some closure since moving on from that work by honoring it in journalism form.

GJ: As both a journalist and a sex worker, you have plenty of experience with interviewing as well as being interviewed. Do you have any tips or strategies for making a source feel comfortable and able to open up when interviewing them about a sensitive topic like sex?

TH: There is always an ethical question for a journalist or nonfiction writer: at what point are you exploiting your subject? Exploitation comes from false pretense.You work to make someone comfortable and trust you so you can get your story out of them: that’s the job, the craft of reporting. I do my best to negotiate with my subjects when I’m reporting on them just as I would for a kink scene. I ask them what’s off-limits, what THEY want to talk about, how much time they have to talk.

For example, I interviewed Sage Travigne, the owner of The Gates, for my piece. I told her the interview was for my thesis, which it was. Before the final version was published for my Masters I sent it to her for review: not only fact-checking but to give her the chance to take out anything that made her uncomfortable. Before it was going to be in Best Sex Writing, I sent it to her again to get her permission. So, transparency in process is key, especially when you’re dealing with a part of someone’s life that is highly misunderstood and stigmatized such as sex work and kink.

As for getting people comfortable talking about sex: frankly, I’ve made it my work to interview people who are already comfortable and have trustworthy boundaries with subjects of sex, kink, gender, and relationships. Because then we can skip the awkwardness and go deep.

GJ: One thing that struck me about your story on the Gates is the camaraderie and companionship between the employees there. Is that a common experience when doing sex work in shared spaces, or is the Gates exceptional in that way?

TH: Well, I can only speak from my experience, or anecdotally from the many sex workers I know. If you read an article by a service industry person who worked at an amazing woman-run restaurant that transformed her life, you would never assume that all restaurants were like that.

I do think the Gates was an exceptional place for community, humor, creativity, ethics, and female camaraderie. But it’s important to point out that not everyone who has worked there over the course of twenty years has found it to their liking. I happened to find that place when it fit really well into my life. That’s what I love about nonfiction writing: the specificity of a story helps people to realize NOT that all places are like that, but that places like that are POSSIBLE.

GJ: A lot of your work (including your podcast, which I love!) focuses on unusual kinks. Do you have any advice for someone who is uncomfortable or apprehensive about their kink(s)? How about for someone who thinks they don’t have any kinks but wants to explore and find out?

TH: Thanks, I’m glad you love “Why Are People Into That?!” If you have a desire and you’ve internalized some shame about it, remember not to police your own imagination. What goes on between your ears when you’re masturbating is your business. And if you want to live out your fantasy, you just need to focus on communication, compatibility, negotiation, and consent.

Research online, read books, watch porn, find media about your kink. There’s no one way to do any kink: figure out your style. Ask yourself the central question of my podcast: why am I into this? And finally, to quote the great Funkadelic: Free your mind and your ass will follow.

GJ: Lastly, since sex toys are an area of personal interest for me, I have to ask: what are your favorite toys and other sex products to use, either with clients or in your personal life?

TH: NJoy toys are simply the best. Greg, the owner and designer, is so supportive of sex positive community that I feel great about endorsing his products all the damn time. The weight of stainless steel toys creates the most delicious pressure in my cunt and my butt, one of my favorite sexual feelings. They’re non-porous and easy to disinfect and sturdy which is great for brutes like me.

The Aslan Jaguar is like a second skin to me. I have a brown one and a black one with brass hardware.

I love Hathor Lube, which is fancy organic water-based lube with the supposed aphrodisiac “horny goat weed” in it. Funny story. I once sold this lube, among other things, to Beyoncé and Jay-Z. First of all – they said they didn’t have lube at home. Can you imagine how good Bey’s next record is gonna be now that she has lube?! Anyway when I told Jay-Z that this lube contained horny goat weed, he asked me if he could smoke it. I told him if he did, he should definitely write an online review.

Thank you so, so much to Tina Horn and the folks at Best Sex Writing! Make sure to buy the book; I bet you’ll love it as much as I did!