Most men—especially those who enjoy having sex with an enthusiastic female partner—agree that the so-called sexual revolution was a good thing. Women’s rights are sexy as hell, if for no other reason than that women now buy their own condoms and lube—and then empty the trash themselves when the fun is over.
It didn’t take the hairier sex long to realize that learning how to get their delicate feminist flowers off meant not only domestic bliss but also the chance to pop a relatively guilt-free load. But as women stepped up to take control of their sexuality, aided by an arsenal of vibrating playthings, men got the shaft. For them, social attitudes were not as enlightened when it came to self-pleasuring without shame—whether by hand or with the collaborative assistance of a sex toy. Horny men were all too often viewed as selfish pigs dedicated to satisfying their own insatiable carnal desires.
Like that’s a bad thing, right?
But as the topic of female sexual pleasure, including self-stimulation, has become more accepted, discussed and enthusiastically supported, so has the twin topic of male sexual pleasure. Although old stereotypes linger of creepy dudes jacking off into ugly masturbator sleeves or inflatable dolls, male sexual liberation is taking place. It’s no longer a state secret that self-stimulation is both fun and, when done properly, healthy—even for men.
With This Ring, I Thee Bed
Though its origins came later than the earliest incarnations of the dildo, it’s still been millennia since men first became aware of the power and might of what is called a “penile constriction device” by the medical community and a “cock ring” by moderns.
The cock-ring-wearing man of today has more materials to choose from than the goat eyelids (complete with tickler lashes) used by his 1200 A.D. Chinese brothers. The latter refined the device during the following 400 years, creating elaborately carved ivory rings with dragon tongues to stroke their partners’ clits. Although far better than an eyelid, ivory had its own drawbacks and limitations.
Things changed once vulcanized rubber entered the market in 1844, followed by the 1930 introduction of latex rubber. What that means for today’s consumer is a vast array of options, ranging from the sturdiest of metal, wood and stone to the most flexible vibrating latex.
Keith Caggiano of The Screaming O feels that the company’s disposable, vibrating ring provides men and couples with an opportunity to explore sexy toys without risking too much personal pride.
“It’s been said that some men are intimidated by sex toys,” Caggiano observes. “They see them as male replacements instead of male enhancements. With the Screaming O, they are a necessary part of the equation. The truth is, when marketing to men, it really is all about the ego. With a little help from the Screaming O, they can watch their female partners scream with joy—and part of them will say, ‘Yup, I did that. I’m the man.’”
Constriction rings are widely available from cottage-industry artisans as well as long-established sex toy manufacturers. Today’s models come in all shapes, sizes, and colors; some with nubs, others with ribs; some that light up, others than make noise. One (the Bang-o-Meter) even keeps track of the wearer’s stroke count. The big manufacturers—Doc Johnson, California Exotic Novelties, Topco, Pipedream Products and Nasstoys—all offer many variations among their hundreds of other products.
The Screaming O keeps a laser focus on this niche, refining and augmenting its original product. Other boutique companies have made bids for market share, including Hott Products, Inner Vibe, BMS, JOYDIVISION, Fun Factory and Rocks-Off. Spartacus Leathers and the Stockroom offer adjustable leather rings, with and without studs. Amid all these choices should be something for everyone—although transsexual men who define themselves as heterosexual yearn for a more petite, adjustable model.
Even high-end Swedish manufacturer LELO got into the act. Its Homme line includes two rings, Bo and Tor, and they’re hardly disposable. Both are stylish and rechargeable, and the Tor has the added benefit of an embedded microprocessor that teaches the ring what works best and when.
So popular are cock rings that stainless steel G-spot/P-spot specialist njoy promises to release a device “with similar quality and thoughtful design to the rest of the njoy line,” according to CEO Greg DeLong.
The Power of the P-Spot
And speaking of that P-spot … Women aren’t the only ones who have “come a long way, baby.” Having moved past the rather ridiculous notion that only women and gay men enjoy having their nipples stimulated, straight men are beginning to explore other sensitive parts of their bodies. And a big part of that is realizing how enjoyable—and health affirming—prostate stimulation can be.
Aneros, one of the most respected names in “male G-Spot” stimulation, introduced its impressive product line in 2002 out of concern for prostate health. Managing director Amy Sung explains that during more anal-phobic times, medical doctors often had to manually perform prostate massages in order to “relieve congested prostatic fluid and increase blood circulation in that area.” Fortunately for the man of the new millennium, Aneros’ “medically patented products allow a man to self-administer a safe, effective, hands-free prostate massage in the comfort of his own home.”
The company soon received enough feedback from men aged 50 to 80, raving about their renewed sexual sensitivity and performance ability, that it quickly became obvious that the benefits of prostate massage go far beyond avoiding the proctologist’s probing, latex-clad hands.
Convincing the public at large proved to be more problematic.
“We really expected a warm reception,” Sung confides, “but were shocked to find so much resistance to an intelligent, male-oriented, albeit anal, sex toy.”
Still convinced they had an important product that the public genuinely needed, Aneros chose to employ refined, education-rich marketing and sleek, non-explicit packaging in order to make the concept less threatening. Now, after enduring scorn and derision for refusing to put naked women on the boxes, Aneros has built a strong following for its Helix, MGX and Progasm models.
The success of Aneros’ products has inspired a wide array of inexpensive and moderately priced prostate massagers—and not just from medically related or cottage industries. Major manufacturers and distributors stock P-spotters, including Doc Johnson’s Pro Pal and CalExotics’ Dr. Joel Kaplan toys and the P-Rocker prostate massager. The Sinclair Institute Select makes an appearance via Topco, joined by the silicone Bottoms Up P-Spot Rocker, and a number of Adam & Eve pleasers.
Rob Phaneuf, director of product development/art director for Pipedream Products, points out that the company’s movers and shakers consider it “the Ford or Chevy of novelties. We aren’t a fly-by-night boutique manufacturer concentrating on only vibrators or just cock rings.”
Indeed, the company carries an impressive array of prostate delights, including but not limited to the CLASSIX Prostate Stimulator, the whimsical Jack in the Crack Vibrating Anal Stimulator, and the Jester P.E. Vibe.
Other companies known for their high-quality vibrators and silicone toys also have delved into prostate stimulators, including Evolved Novelties, Good Vibrations, Feelztoys, Fun Factory and Lover’s Choice.
Eden Fantasys product manager Maxim Abragamov brings up some good points to remember when buying and using anal toys. “It is very important for men to be able to keep their sex toys clean and ready for action,” he said. This includes using materials that will not injure or irritate the skin. According to Abragamov, “customers prefer phthalate-free, hypoallergenic materials like silicone, glass, metal, and TPR.”
Greg DeLong’s famous njoy is unquestionably the leading metal anal toy company, and deservedly so. Billed by CEO and designer DeLong as “deluxe stainless steel instruments of pleasure,” the sensual works of art are not, with the exception of the Eleven, meant for thrusting. Instead, the largely gender-neutral items are ideally enjoyed while carefully stroking or serving as a space filler during other kinds of erotic touch or activity. Those specifically seeking P-spot satisfaction from njoy are advised to check out the Pfun Plug massager.
As DeLong—and many others—see it, “prostate massagers will certainly continue to gain popularity as people become better educated, more sexually open and adventurous, and more aware of the health benefits of regular prostate massage.”
Get a Grip: Cock Socks and Porn Star Pussies
However popular prostate toys may ultimately become, when most people think about sex toys for men, they envision penis-focused stimulators. For some reason, cock socks, pocket pussies, inflatable dolls and penis pumps are more socially embarrassing than condoms, warming lubes and “body massagers.” Look however hard you like, but you’ll never find the former at mainstream retail outlets such as DrugStore.com and Walgreens.com, although you will find the latter.
Right, wrong or indifferent, while many have become comfortable with women tending to their own sexual needs, a bizarre stigma still clings to fuckable male masturbation aids.
Despite this societal scorn, male masturbators—whether made of Cyberskin or TPR, mimicking a porn celebrity’s ass or a disembodied girl-next-door pussy, housed in a flexible sleeve or rigid canister—are among the most popular of all toys specifically designed for men.
Al Bloom, 2009 AVN Hall of Famer and current director of marketing for California Exotics, remembers the days of the primitive, cigarette-lighter-powered Auto Suck fellatio simulator.
“I would like to have a dollar for every Auto Suck sold in the last 30 years,” he opines. “While it was crude, it introduced men to the concept of using something besides their hand—and that opened the floodgate of new ideas.”
And those new ideas have released a torrent of reinvention. Today, along with the usual assortment of cheap-and-built-to-stay-that-way masturbator sleeves, men can sample an increasingly diverse assortment of porn star butts and pussies. Among the celebrity reproductions are Doc Johnson’s new Sasha Grey Deep Penetrating Vibrating Pussy and Ass, both India’s Bad Ass Booty and Pussy from California Exotics, a selection of Monica Mayhem body-part masturbators from Pipedream Products, and Topco’s Wildfire Celebrity Series porn privates—including the popular April Flores Voluptuous Cyberskin Pussy.
Unique Shapes of Things to Make You Cum
As male pleasure items have improved in quality and usability, so has the desire for discretion and plausible deniability—in case an inquisitive child, nosy neighbor, prurient parent, overly attentive hotel housekeeper or less-than-supportive partner should stumble upon something awkward to explain.
Reigning supreme among male masturbators with a tastefully stylish difference is Japan’s Tenga. According to Masanobu Sato, director of international sales and champion of both the 2008 and 2009 San Francisco Masturbate-a-thon, his company didn’t like that the perception of toys for men was “dirty, dubious, and nasty. We wanted to change that by seeing masturbation as stylish, fun and healthy.”
So effective have the beautifully shaped strokers been, Sato reports, that women not only encourage their men to indulge while alone but also to incorporate the items into their shared lovemaking.
Michael “Sky” Kane, chief sales officer for Liberator, which has an exclusive North and South America distribution partnership with Tenga, says the product is so tasteful that it is the only adult company other than the Sinclair Institute to be allowed to advertise in Men’s Health magazine. So successful have the online and print advertisements and marketing campaigns been that Kane confesses, “We haven’t been able to keep product in stock.”
While Sato says that the Tenga Onacup is enormously popular in the company’s home country, Kane sees domestic interest in the disposable Tenga Egg and the reusable Flip Hole, the latter of which resembles an iPod speaker or other small electronic device.
In addition to being luxurious masturbators, Kane contends that an important reason why Tenga products are so successful “is that the packaging doesn’t look like a sex toy. It’s portable, it’s discreet … even the Deep Throat Cups look like they could be a bottle of shampoo or a canister of deodorant. They’ve very visually pleasing, and if you didn’t know what it was, you’d think they were any toiletry a man might carry while traveling.”
Although Liberator is commonly associated with sex furniture, the company also offers the elegant Roae insertable prostate massager and the Duex, a toy that can be used simultaneously by a man and woman, both made by Zini, a South Korean company.
Not everyone wants their sex toys to look like bottles of shampoo, however, and for those realists and semi-realists there is the Fleshlight. Invented by Steven Shubin in order to provide himself with a sexual outlet during his wife’s pregnancy in the early 1990s, the patented “SuperSkin,” canister-protected masturbator is now so popular that it is available in pink lady and ice colored sleeves, four color choices of case, with or without vibration, and in an array of skin textures and orifices—including those modeled on the bums and snatches of celebrity Fleshlight Girls. The truly adventurous can indulge in Fleshlight stimulation mounted on Liberator furniture.
For those ready to take their sex-toy realism to the logical extreme, companion love dolls from RealDoll are the ultimate dream date. These life-size silicone dolls are made to the customer’s specifications, with buyers choosing from 11 bodies and 21 faces, plus hair, cosmetics and eye color options. According to Amanda Thompson, sales and media manager for Abyss Creations, LLC, which produces the doll, “there are over 50 billion possible combinations, meaning that no two dolls are ever exactly alike.”
During 2010, adult star Kaylani Lei will join the growing list of Wicked Pictures contract girls appearing as RealDolls.
Next Best Thing to Being Inside a Porn Star
Whatever else sex-toy professionals think about the market, all agree that the future will be increasingly interactive. Bringing that dream to life is internet video-on-demand company AEBN and its RealTouch, the most interactive male masturbation available.
Unlike masturbators that leave the user alone with himself, product manager Scott Rinaldo says RealTouch has found a way to blend visual eroticism with sensation. In his opinion, the device has taken the company’s “foundation of visual and aural fantasy to an entirely new dimension by adding the sense of touch.”
As Rinaldo describes it, “Meticulously encoded video allows the device to bring you into the action in real time—every lick, every flick, every in and out, complete with the heat and moisture of an authentic sexual experience. What you see is what you feel. It’s quite amazing.”
What that means is that after inserting his penis into the futuristic-looking RealTouch and using it in conjunction with a compatibly encoded video, the sensations experienced replicate the on-screen action.
“RealTouch is not a diversion, but an extension of our core business,” Rinaldo assures. “It was conceived, designed and built to take our very successful VOD business to a whole new experiential level for our customers. Now, not only can they see and hear their favorite porn stars, they can feel them and be totally immersed in the action. No offense to James Cameron, but let’s see Avatar do that.”
Keep It Wrapped, Keep It Slippery
One advantage to the RealTouch is that as in most porn, condoms don’t come into play. But real life is different than porn fantasies, which exist happily in some post-Pill/pre-HIV era. In real life, slipping a skyclad cock inside a total stranger is not usually a good idea. Even committed couples consider condoms appropriate for their lovemaking—and some men find masturbating while removing multiple layers of lubed condoms to be an experience in progressive orgasm.
According to Dennis Paradise of Paradise Marketing, if there’s one thing that men and women agree on, it’s condoms. Because of this, “There are some condoms that are packaged and directed towards women, but that’s the odd package.”
Although some condom manufacturers attempt innovation—such as the Sensis, with its QuikStrips for ease of application—Paradise asserts that he’s seen it all and “there’s not much new out there.”
He should know, given that his family has been in the condom business since 1943 and is now considered a “master distributor or category manager” for condoms within the United States.
Even with that, Paradise acknowledges that people have their preferences. Thus, he recommends that retailers carry a wide selection of condoms. Such diversity can win customer loyalty and return visits.
In addition to condoms, Paradise Marketing possesses the exclusive right to market Astroglide lubricant as an adult-related product. The company’s namesake cautions retailers about allowing anecdotal stories about lube ingredient side effects to overly influence their buying or stocking habits.
“There’s a lot of garbage about lubes that is disseminated by people, but they can’t back them up with true studies or statistical data,” Paradise says. Nonetheless, he recommends including products that caters to those concerns. “Astroglide formulas are tried and true and, more importantly, as comfortable and safe as you’ll find, but they happen to also put out a glycerin- and paraben-free product.”
One company that unapologetically promotes itself as specializing in glycerin- and paraben-free natural personal lubricants for the “health conscious consumer” is Sliquid. All of its variations are 100 percent vegan friendly, including its water-based, silicone-based, and water/silicone hybrid lubes. Other companies that put the emphasis on natural ingredients include JOYDIVISION, Pjur Group, Earthly Body, Dr. Love and Swiss Navy.
Many companies have added twists to the lubricant game, creating male and female formulas that work either alone or in concert to intensify sensitivity—including Wet, LovRub, Shunga Erotic Arts, Intimate Organics and the granddaddy of them all, K-Y (distributed by XGen Products).
A special note to male masturbators: silicone-based lubes like Astroglide X or Kama Sutra’s Pleasure Portion last longer than water-based lubes and provide a smoother sensation. For those concerned about chaffing, Good Vibrations’ purchasing manager, Coyote Days, recommends the company’s Please Stroke Cream; a moisturizing masturbation cream. And the bottom line is, with all the high-quality lubes out on the market, there’s no need to feel rubbed the wrong way while rubbing one out.
Putting the “Hard” in Hard-On
The advent of prescription medications for erectile dysfunction has changed the sexual landscape for many men who might otherwise have gone without intercourse or used painful injections or suppositories. But not all men are comfortable adding more chemicals to the stew that is their 21st-century bloodstream. Mark Schneider’s Elator provides them a non-ingestible option.
Unlike pills or powders, the Elator allows its wearer to immediately engage in penile penetration whether erect or not. To accomplish this, the Elator employs dual constriction rings; one at the base and one behind the crown, supported by a flexible spine running underneath the length of the penis. Initially only available at urology clinics, Schneider’s device can now be found online, where photos, videos, testimonials, and more information await.
Some men with less-than-cooperative erections prefer an ingestible solution, yet they may not want to go the Big Pharma route—perhaps insurance doesn’t cover ED medication, or a more “natural” approach is preferred. Orally administered sexual enhancement supplements have been around for centuries, and they remain popular—if controversial—today.
Gone are questionably palatable ingredients like starfish, remora, dried human bone marrow, menstrual blood and potable gold. Today’s man stimulates his central nervous system with the help of vitamin E, ginseng, L-Dopa, yohimbe, wild yam, black pepper, gingko biloba, and a number of herbal additives with more difficult-to-pronounce names.
Marketed by companies that include the hip Beamonstar and Millennium—using evocative product names such as ExtenZe, XploZion Pills, SEXVOLTZ, Morning Wood, Sexo Loco, Kaboom, and Ride Hard—liquids and pills alike promise increased sexual desire and endurance. And for consumers who are looking for a softer sell, the products marketed by Shunga Erotic Arts further expand the pursuit of passion. Elegant Asian art reminiscent of ukiyo-e woodblock prints adorn Shunga’s enhancement products, including Dragon Virility Cream and Man Sexual Energy Herbal Supplement.
Retailers: Stick It Where It Will Do the Most Good
The days of the seedy raincoater adult shopping experience are rapidly drawing to a close, and one of the benefits to men is access to creative self-stimulation devices. Portable porn star masturbators in a canister, jack-off sleeves that look like deodorant containers, and prostate stimulators that resemble sculptural works of art are increasingly gaining popularity among men. Because of this, retailers are wise to move beyond merely carrying such products to understanding how they work and placing them within easy viewing range.
As Rinaldo believes, “Men have to be given permission to know that it’s okay and healthy to use external items for their sexual pleasure.”
Decades of experience add weight to the words of CalExotics’ Al Bloom when he observes, “Old-timers tend to niche male items in a group with gay products. The most successful retailers put the more mainstream, non-gay items near the women’s sections. Women and couples add a male toy to their sex play regularly. Believe me, our sale figures confirm that.”
This article originally ran in the April 2010 issue of AVN magazine.