Condoms, Candles & Crystals: My Bedside Table

You can tell a lot about a person by looking at their bedside table. It’s where their everyday nighttime necessities are kept. It gives you a glimpse into their private life – or what they want visitors to think about their private life.

Mine right now is pretty indicative of me and my priorities. The table itself isn’t a table at all – it’s a set of drawers in which I store some of my sex toy collection. The top drawer contains my favorite toys, for easy access: the Tango, Double Trouble, S-Curve, Seduction, Mustang, Eroscillator, and a few more.

On top of the drawers, I’ve got my two external hard drives, both primarily full of years’ worth of old photos and videos. I need to have these in an easily-accessible spot, but they’re kind of ugly, so I like hiding them under the other stuff I keep on my nightstand.

Right now I’ve got a copy of Lolita by my bed, because I’m (slowly) re-reading it. I wrote my final high school English paper on it, way back in 2010, and I still love it as much now as I did then. Plus it makes a pretty good – and thematically relevant – impromptu spanking implement!

On top of that, I’ve got my iPad – which, these days, I mostly use for watching porn while masturbating, because I am a modern heathen. And on top of that is a small bottle of BabeLube Natural – a recommendation from Bex when I last visited them in New York and needed to pick up a lube that’d work well for hand stuff and butt stuff with my FWB. I always keep at least one bottle of good-quality water-based lube by my bed. Silicone-based and oil-based lubes are great, too, but water-based can be used with everything, including sex toys and latex barriers, so it’s my evergreen go-to.

Next to that is a Bath and Body Works “Flannel” candle. Admittedly, while I swooned over this scent when I first discovered it in-store, I’m less enamored with it when it’s filling my room. A quick sniff of this candle smells like the deodorant and musk of the handsomest man you’ve ever met; a roomful of it, however, is more like a gaggle of Axe-happy teenage boys in a locker room. I’m looking forward to finishing up this candle and moving on to a gourmand old faithful, like “Twisted Peppermint” or “Salted Vanilla.”

I have another candle on my nightstand, of an entirely different type: it’s a spell candle from Enchantments, the witchy haven in New York’s East Village. Bex bought me this one as a gift the last time I visited them, because they are a gem. I asked the shop’s resident witches to make me a candle that would bring me good luck and greater opportunities in my career, so they whipped this one up for me. It’s very orange and very glittery!

Around the base of the spell candle, I’ve placed a few heart-shaped crystals, because mystical talismans make me happy. There’s rose quartz, carnelian, and tiger’s eye. Rose quartz is the “love crystal,” carnelian is associated with sex and sensuality, and tiger’s eye is said to reduce anxiety – so these are all lovely crystals for me to keep by my bed, as a person who suffers from anxiety and (obviously) loves sex!

Propped up behind all this stuff, I have a framed collage that my friend Cadence made for me. A couple summers ago, we spent a whole day cleaning and organizing my room, and found an old framed photo of me and my ex-boyfriend that he had given me while we were together. I didn’t want to keep the photo but saw no reason to ditch the perfectly-fine frame, so I asked the artistically-minded Cadence to make a collage out of various photos and mementos we’d found around my room. Some of my favorite parts of the collage: a romantic photo of Jeremy and Elsie Larson (they are so #RelationshipGoals; he wrote a whole album of adorable songs about her!), a hand-scrawled note from my friend Eric that says “I LOVE YOU,” and my number tag from the first Crush party I ever went to.

At the moment, I’ve slotted a large print of “The Boss Fight of Nudes” in front of this collage. It makes me laugh every time I look at it. I also have a “Make America Gay Again” postcard from American Apparel displayed there.

Of course, no sexually active person’s bedside table would be complete without safer-sex provisions! I have a cute pink basket covered in roses which I keep well-stocked with condoms. Right now it’s a mix of Kimono Microthins, Crown Skinless Skins, Lifestyles Tuxedos, and One condoms. I love being able to offer partners a wide selection of condoms to choose from – like a good Girl Scout or a sex-positive Martha Stewart!

What’s on your bedside table?

Lube-Savvy Lovers and Slick Sexcapades

It’s 2011, I am at a sex shop buying lube for the first time with my first love, and I have no idea what I am even looking at. “Can I help you find anything?” asks the sweetheart of a sales associate. My boyfriend and I both jump at her approach; we’re nervous to even be inside a sex shop, let alone actually buy something. (Yes, kiddos, I am unabashedly sexual today, but in 2011, not so much.)

“Umm, we’re looking for a lube that’ll feel natural and won’t give me an infection,” I manage to squeak, through layers of debilitating shyness.

The shopkeep reaches for a bottle of Blossom Organics and hands it to me, rattling off a shpiel about its natural ingredients and vagina-friendly formulation. Then she leaves me and my boyf to peruse.

We test a little of this mysterious new substance on our hands, and exchange silent, confused glances. At last, my darling murmurs, “I like this one. It feels like your actual vag juices.” I blush, but this time it’s with glee; this soft-hearted moment between us is the most comfortable and least distressed I’ve felt since setting foot in the shop. Because I know that regardless of how much shame I might be feeling, none of it is coming from my boyfriend, and that is what really matters.

We walk up to the cash counter, bottle of lube in hand. “We’ll take this one,” I say, not quite proudly but getting there.

For years, I think of lube as a product for my comfort and pleasure alone, and therefore something I have to specifically request if I want it used. Boyfriends and hookups slide fingers, toys, and cocks into me at my behest, and lube must be applied at my behest too. One partner learns what my “Ouch, I need a little more lube” face looks like, and begins to take it upon himself – but aside from that one perceptive outlier, everyone I bang requires me to be assertive about my own lubrication needs.

I continue thinking of lube this way until, in the winter of 2016, my fave fuckbuddy becomes my fave fuckbuddy, and flips my whole concept of lube on its head with a single comment.

“I want your fingers inside me,” I purr contentedly as he strokes my clit, mid-makeouts, in my big cozy bed.

“You got it,” he replies. “Think you need any lube?”

“Nah, I’m good,” I say. It’s sometimes difficult for me to determine my juiciness level without physically checking, but based on the situation I’m in and the person I’m in it with, it seems likely that I’m soaked.

He kneels between my legs for leverage and pushes two thick fingers into me, finding my A-spot quickly and with ease. I’ve already floated halfway to the heavens when he pauses and says, “Actually, can we use some lube? I want a little more room to move around in here.”

I laugh, having never encountered this request before, and hand him a bottle of Slippery Stuff. The seconds stretch out languidly as I watch him squeeze it onto his fingers and spread it around, coating their full surface. It’s the first time I’ve ever thought of lube as sexy.

He slips his fingers back into me, and I immediately understand what he was talking about. It does feel like he has more room to move around. The slicker environment gives him more freedom for fine movements, fingers building speed in minuscule motions over the exact right spot. He is a manual maestro, a vaginal virtuoso. The sensation reminds me of how much more sensual your own skin feels in a hot bath: the damp granularity of arm hairs, the shiny squeak of wet legs tangling underwater.

I come so hard, I soak his fingers, rendering the lube superfluous. But it was the tool that got us there. The lube he asked for, and the fact that he asked for it.

I regard teaching straight men about lube as a public service I perform. It imbues my sluttiness with noble purpose. Sometimes I daydream that I school all the men of earth on the evils of glycerin and parabens, and in doing so, eradicate a broad percentage of vaginal infections worldwide.

I’ll never forget the crush who, upon getting me naked in his king-size hotel bed, pulled a bottle of lube from his suitcase and said, “It’s no Squillid, but…” Naturally, his mispronunciation of “Sliquid” made me laugh so hard I nearly fell off the bed. The lube he then handed me was chock full of glycerin and propylene glycol, so I passed it back to him and said, “I’m not putting this in my vagina, but I appreciate the gesture.” We spent longer on warm-up before delving into penetration, and it was fine. Perhaps he’s upgraded his lube of choice by now.

I’ll also never forget the night last summer when I told Bex my new boyfriend didn’t own any lube. “WHAT?!” Bex shouted. “We should bring him some! Like, right now!!” They were high, and were therefore perhaps more emphatic about this subject than they would be while sober, but not by much. I brought the boyf a bottle of Sliquid Sassy the next time I saw him, and he put it to good use immediately.

Another day, another night shift at the sex shop. I’m new to the retail scene and trying to soak up as much knowledge from my coworkers as possible. I know a lot about vibrators, dildos, butt plugs, floggers… but about selling these things? Not so much.

Keeping a wide berth so as not to freak out the customer, I listen in on my babely coworker giving a lube pitch. “These lubes are the best ones on the market,” he announces with the utmost confidence, and gestures sweepingly at the Sliquid section. “They’re hypoallergenic, organic, tasteless, and fragrance-free. This one is my favorite.” I watch with scarcely-concealed glee as he picks up the Organics Gel, my all-time fave, my right-hand man, my nightstand essential.

If I could go back in time and tell my 18-year-old self that one day she’d swoon over a dude because of his taste in lube, she’d probably laugh in my face. But it makes perfect sense. Caring about lube is caring about partners’ comfort, health, and pleasure. What could possibly be sexier than that?

 

This post was sponsored by the good folks at Lubezilla, and as always, all writing and opinions are my own!

Review: Pink + Gun Oil lubes

I am a lube snob. I use almost exclusively Sliquid. My lube collection is like an advertisement for glycerin-free, natural, vagina-safe products – and that’s the way I like it, of course.

I was sent some products to try from two lube lines, Pink and Gun Oil, both created by the same parent company, Empowered Products. They sent me full-size bottles of both the silicone-based and water-based versions of Pink lube (called Pink and Pink Water, respectively) and smaller samples of various other products they carry, including the basic silicone-based and water-based Gun Oil lubes.

So let’s get this out of the way: these products are highly gendered in their packaging and promotion. Pink lubes have soothing colors (mostly pink, of course), girly fonts, and the words “for women” (which bugs me, because anyone can use these lubes). My Gun Oil samples don’t say “for men,” but the packaging screams it with its military-style font and “masculine” colors. If gendered products irritate you or trigger you, etc., I think you’ll have to look elsewhere; some Sliquid lubes are less binarist in appearance.

But despite the differences in marketing, Gun Oil lubes are actually not different from Pink ones, formulation-wise. As this excellent Novelty Toy Meets Girl review points out, Pink Water and Gun Oil H2O contain the exact same ingredients, as do the silicone-based versions of each lube.

So you could say there’s no difference and that you therefore might as well buy whichever lube appeals to you most, visually, but that’s not exactly true either – there is a difference, and it’s price. As that same review explains (seriously, it’s a fantastic post), you can get greater quantities of Gun Oil lubes for lower prices. As is sadly the norm when it comes to gendered personal care products, women get shafted. So if value’s all you’re after, go for the Gun Oil.

What all of these lubes have in common is that they’re very liquidy and runny. That’s not something I personally like in a lube, because I always end up getting it all over myself and my bedsheets instead of on the toy I’m trying to use it on. But some people prefer that drippiness, because it can feel more “natural” and vaginal lubrication-like.

All the lubes are unscented, but the water-based ones have a sharp, sour taste that I would find really distracting if it got into my mouth at any point during sex. (If you want an oral sex-friendly lube, I can’t say enough good things about Sliquid Swirl.)

The lasting time of these lubes is okay, but not great. I would still tend to choose a thicker, more gel-like lube if I needed long-lasting slickness, like if I was going to use it for anal play. As with all water-based lubes, Pink Water and Gun Oil H2O can be perked up again with the addition of more water, though I don’t find that they get as slick upon reactivation as they initially were. Reapplication makes for a better result, so you might end up using a lot of product.

Lastly, both water-based lubes contain propylene glycol, which is a known irritant. Not everyone reacts badly to it, but if you’ve had problems with propylene glycol lubes before or if you know your orifices are sensitive to this sort of thing, you might want to give these a pass.

Overall, I can’t say that I’m in love with these lubes. I’m likely to stick with my old faithfuls because of their longer lasting times, more natural ingredients, and less aggressively gendered marketing. But, y’know, I’m always glad to have more lube options. Sometimes I even get into a girly mood and want to douse my genitals in something that says “Pink” in big letters.

Thanks, Empowered Products!

My Top 5 Favorite Lubes

I don’t write about lubes a whole lot here, because, well, they’re not that interesting, frankly. Much like a pair of scissors or a pair of socks, lube is something you hardly notice unless you’ve got a particularly shitty one.

That said, I do have my lube preferences. Like most sexually well-informed people with vaginas, I am picky about what I will slather all over my sex toys. Here are my top 5 picks, in no particular order.

1. Sliquid Organics Gel is my number-one, tried-and-true, go-to lube. As its name suggests, it has a thick, gel-like consistency, making it ideal for anal play or marathon vaginal sex sessions. It lasts way longer than most other water-based lubes I’ve tried, it’s paraben- and glycerin-free, it’s organic, and its smell and taste are unnoticeable. Truly a perfect lube.

2. Sliquid Sassy feels pretty much identical to the Organics Gel in texture and consistency. As far as I can tell, the only difference is that Sassy isn’t organic, and is usually a bit cheaper, depending on where you shop. I recommend Sassy to everyone, especially for anal play.

3. Sliquid Swirl in “Pink Lemonade.” Another Sliquid lube? Yep. Swirl is the only vagina-safe flavored lube I’ve ever encountered (it’s sweetened with aspartame instead of any kind of sugar), making it a godsend for those of us who like to experiment with nifty flavors during sex. The only one I’ve tried is the Pink Lemonade, though I hear that the other varieties are equally delicious.

4. Pjur Original Bodyglide is silicone-based, so it’s not as versatile as the aforementioned lubes – it can’t be used with most silicone toys. However, it lasts longer than its water-based counterparts, and it feels nicer to the touch. I use Pjur for handjobs, and sometimes on toys made of glass or steel. They don’t call it “Bodyglide” for nothin’.

5. Blossom Organics Natural Moisturizing Lubricant feels almost exactly like my natural vaginal fluids, which is why my boyfriend and I made the mutual decision to buy it after sampling all the lubes at Red Tent Sisters back in the day. Blossom is reasonably long-lasting, water-based, free of gross chemicals, and has a mild sweet taste. It remains my favorite lube for vaginal intercourse, though it is harder to find than the other lubes I’ve mentioned.

What’s your favorite lube and why? Do you use different lubes depending on what activities you’re doing?

Lube Week, Day 4: Sliquid Organics Natural

The final product in my week o’ lubes: Sliquid Organics Natural, sent to me by Conscious Contraceptives!

This lube is from Sliquid’s line of 100% organic products. Great news if you’re passionate about keeping grossness out of your body! The line includes arousal gel, a thick gel lubricant, a water/silicone hybrid lube, and a warming lube. But today we’ll be looking at the basic model, which is simply called Natural.

It has a thin, runny, liquidy consistency, pretty much the opposite of a gel. This means that it’s probably better suited for vaginal play than anal.

Without any extra moisture, it dries within about three minutes. It can be reactivated with a little spit or water, which gives it another thirty seconds or so. Because of the short lasting time of this lube, I’d again recommend only using it for vaginal purposes; if you apply it at the start of a session and jump right into the action, the lube will probably wear off just in time for your natural fluids to kick in.

I haven’t really found much use for this lube because of how thin and short-lasting it is. If it’s important to you that you only use organic products, then Sliquid Organics Natural is certainly one of the best choices, but I’d encourage you to also check out the gel version because it’ll stick around for longer and be useful for more situations.

Thanks so much to Conscious Contraceptives for sending me this product and most of the others that I’ve reviewed this week! Make sure you read up on their mission so you know what they’re all about (trust me, it’s good!).