DILDOS OR ROSES?
Whether you’re spending Valentine’s Day with your favorite lover or the old ball and chain, or possibly better than either — your imagination — you could sit there on the holiday and look at a dozen long-stemmed roses, or you could have an orgasm, or a dozen, with the Wilde one, a dildo named for Oscar Wilde, who said, “To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.”
Dildos have been around since the Stone Age, but have come a long way.
FROM THE PALEOLITHIC PENETRATOR TO A RENAISSANCE GLASS MASTURBATOR
A 28,000-year-old silt stone dildo was discovered in a cave near Ulm, Germany. It’s the oldest dildo in the world to date. When one reads about the early tools of the Upper Paleolithic era, there’s usually mention of spear tips, needles and harpoons, but not the tool I’ve dubbed the Paleolithic Penetrator. I was skeptical and wondered if a penis-shaped stone had been unearthed and presumptions were being made as to its purpose until I saw it. It’s the cock of ages.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first time the word “dildo” appeared in English was in the erotic Renaissance poem “The Choice of Valentines,” also titled “Nashe’s Dildo” (1590s). Thomas Nashe’s bawdy tale features a man who pre-ejaculates and a glass dildo. Shakespeare mentions a dildo in The Winter’s Tale, but dildos date earlier than that in the Greek theater. Greek playwright Aristophanes wrote of leather dildos in 411 BC.
Chinese ladies of the 15th century had lacquered dildos, and in the 1800s, in Zanzibar, doubled-ended wooden woodies were used. Today dildos come in a variety of more pliant materials: rubber, silicone, and even chocolate, though dildos and other sex toys are banned or illegal in some states and countries.
SHOPPING FOR THE MODERN DILDO
I started my quest for a dildo on Google. One of the first ones I came across was Frankenstein’s monstrous green mutilator made by Fleshlight Freaks. The 9-inch Frankendong seemed more appropriate for Halloween than Valentine’s, but then I changed my mind because paired with Mary Shelley’s horror and love story Frankenstein (the uncensored version available with a click from Kindle for under $1) or perhaps with the ’80s film Gothic, starring Gabriel Byrne as Lord Byron and Natasha Richardson as Mary Shelley (available from Amazon), one could have a heart-stopping night of entertainment that would surpass the typical romance routine of Valentine’s. The Frankenpenis is also available from Amazon (for the sale price of $69.95), or from Fleshlight Freaks (regular price of $99.95) where they even have Frankenvaginas.
I got lost in the Amazon dildo store. There are just too many dildos and once they start to vibrate, some become pretty pricey. I even found a chocolate dildo online for 85 Euros. But until a vagina has taste buds, I just don’t see that happening, and I also pondered the risk of feeding Candida (yeast) sugar, which yeast thrives upon. So I abandoned confectionery cocks, although you can mold your own melt-in-your-mouth chocolate penis from a real member, which would be a fabulous Valentine’s craft project. Clone-A-Willy’s milk chocolate kit is $29.95 and they do overnight delivery, plus their product is medically tested and made in Portland, Ore.
I had no idea how to select a dildo and they’re not like a pair of shoes that you can go try on, so I contacted Chicago sexpert and author KarenLee Poter, host of the Internet talk show, The KarenLee Poter Show: a show about dating, sex, love & everything in-between. KarenLee (as she is known) has a masters in social work. Her show was born of tragedy when seven years ago her husband was stabbed by an employee and she had to take over a construction firm, care for three grieving children, and eventually navigate the singles world. KarenLee bubbles with life again and loves sex. Her enthusiasm is contagious.
KK: How do you choose a dildo or vibrator?
KLP: First off, why stop at one? I have several. Like a fine wine, you may have to spend a little more money to get the best product. I prefer the Lelo brand because of the material (they’re waterproof), also the functionality, and the internal rechargeable battery.
I’ve had other vibrators get sticky and gooey. And one “Rabbit” actually fell apart — his head fell off. I had to use duct tape on another to keep the battery compartment together.
(KK: The only decapitated rabbits I’ve ever seen were in the grocery store. I might not be as wild as I thought.)
KLP: You can’t return vibrators if they don’t fit. I’ve had a few that just didn’t hit the right spots, which is very disappointing. There are vibrators designed for external clitoral stimulation, internal “G-spot” stimulation, and the combo, which is my favorite if you are using it for masturbation — as they say, “Double your pleasure, double your fun.” The traditional Rabbit is a dual-functioning vibe. My preference is one that has motion on the internal portion and vibrations on the clitoral rotating part. The Rabbit’s head is the part that touches the clitoris. Most women don’t have orgasms unless their clitoris is stimulated. The vaginal-only vibrator won’t touch your clitoris if it’s inserted internally, but you can use it on the clitoris as well. Lelo makes an oval-shaped vibrator, which has different speeds. It fits in your hand, and can be placed on your clitoris while you’re having sex. This works well if the girl is on top. My boyfriend nicknamed it “Pet Rock.”
KK: What about size? Is bigger better?
KLP: As far as size goes, no one is really interested in shoving a yardstick up their vagina. The girth of the dildo is sometimes important, if you want to have a fuller feeling during insertion.
(KK: I’d been thinking about girth over length. A Canadian company called Happy Valley Silicone designed the Hottie, a dildo line featuring shorter but fatter versions, still available globally in many fine sex boutiques.)
DILDOS MADE IN CANADA BY A WELSH SHEEP FARMER
Some things are just too excellent to make up, and sex toys designed by a wholesome-looking Welsh sheep farmer and his wife at their 200-year-old farm in rural Canada falls into this category.
When I asked Mark Ricketts in 2014 which of his products at Happy Valley was the most popular, his answer surprised me. “The hottest trend at the moment isn’t for a specific toy, but rather for an exciting new color we launched at Christmas. The new color is an astoundingly rich, deep metallic purple. We are regularly contacted by shops who place a new shipment of purple Fuze toys on the shelves in the morning and have sold out by midday.”
“The Tango is always a favorite year after year; it’s a fantastic couples toy. Although it is designed to have the potential to be used without a harness, it is important to remember that 80% of people cannot hold a double-ender in place with muscle control alone.” And now, in 2016, they have a double ended Tango that vibrates.
The products are sleek and sexy looking. I asked Mark how they design them. “We take the time to handcraft and sculpt several versions of each new model, and then the real fun begins. The prototypes are shared amongst our dedicated team of testers to be thoroughly put through their paces. It is important to know if a new design is too big, too small, or just right. Once all the feedback is in, the best ideas are incorporated into our final design.” Being a sex toy tester is something that never occurred to me and it certainly wasn’t mentioned at career day at school.
Since their toys are available in 17 time zones, I asked Mark about national trends. “Canada is the land of butt plugs, Americans love the larger dildos, Europeans go wild for double-enders, whilst Australians want all of them.”
Mark recommends starting safe, small and simple:
Choose a safe toy. 100% medical grade silicone is an excellent choice. Body: hypoallergenic, phthalate-free, and safe to boil. Always be careful of any toy if you do not know what it is made from.
Choose a small toy. If a toy is slightly smaller than you ideally want, you can still have fun exploring new sensations. If a toy is too large you will never use it and it will simply sit in the corner gathering dust.
Choose a simple toy. Some toys promise to do everything but make the tea, with different bits thrusting, twirling, spinning and caressing all at once. This can be completely overwhelming and not always enjoyable. On the other hand a nice, simple dildo, with or without a removable vibe, leaves you in control to go at your own pace and ultimately have a much better time.
Happy Valley’s products range from $20-$100 and are available in boutiques around the world, such as Smitten Kitten (Minneapolis), She Bop (Portland), Come As You Are (Toronto), Womyn’sWare (Vancouver), Other Nature (Berlin), and Love Piece Club (Tokyo).
Kirsten Koza is a Canadian humorist (without a butt plug) and author of Lost in Moscow, which explains how she became fearful of things being shoved up her bum after a traumatizing, public, incident with a Soviet rectal thermometer. She’s the editor of the Travelers’ Tales anthology Wake Up and Smell the Shit: Hilarious Travel Disasters, Monstrous Toilets and a Demon Dildo.
This story of Kirsten’s was first published in a New York business and pleasure magazine, Feb. 2014. All links and prices have been updated here for 2016.
KarenLee Poter’s YouTube video “Does Size Really Matter?”
KarenLee Poter Show on Facebook
Happy Valley/Fuze on Facebook
The Ottawa book launch of Kirsten’s anthology Wake Up and Smell the Shit: Hilarious Travel Disasters, Monstrous Toilets and a Demon Dildo (although not erotic but definitely naughty) was hosted at The Sensorium Erotic Gallery (curated by David Cation) at Wicked Wanda’s Adult Emporium and there were lots of dildos present.