You may have noticed that I don’t have banner ads from various adult toy sites. Not that I don’t get asked; about once a month somebody contacts me to ask if I’d be interested, but frankly, I can’t be bothered. I mean, I know it’s the cool thing to use your personal blog to help augment your personal income stream, but I’ve already got enough to worry about without having to think about maintaining a business that might pay me, oh, 42 cents a week, or 16 ounces of guacamole flavored lube.
Seriously, I turn down a lot of offers from adult toy companies because Mrs. Edge and I don’t really use toys, so the arrangement to have them send me something once a month in exchange for me to review it on The Edge of Vanilla is probably pointless, as most items would sit in the drawer for weeks, if not months. Mrs. Edge doesn’t really care for vibrators — not the rabbits, not the duckies, not the jellies, nor even the ones that you hide in your purse. Last year I bought her an Hitachi Magic Wand, and we’ve hardly even use that. And she’s *very* particular about dildoes; we’ve tried a few, and have essentially settled on one that we use in a strap-on harness when I’m wearing my chastity device. Mrs. Edge is one of those “meat & potatoes” types when it comes to sex, so except for our investment on various devices, our toy drawer is pretty meager.
But there are dozens, no, hundreds of bloggers who do engage in some kind of toy review arrangement, which is a good thing because there’s really no Consumer Reports for sex toys. This is probably just as well; reviews of typical consumer goods like tires, toaster ovens, and table saws can generally be determined by some basic criteria. Is it well built? Will it last a long time before breaking down? Will the replacement parts be costly? (Some of you are probably thinking that those kinds of questions might well apply to choosing your next partner.) But adult toys are more, um, subjective in use. All toasters will toast bread eventually, but not everyone is going to appreciate the particular vibration rate or battery life of the same vibrator.
But clearly, before you buy an adult toy, you want as much information as possible. Since there really isn’t any CR for chastity devices, the Edge of Vanilla Labs has been working tirelessly to develop a more objective scale to use. In the past when I’ve mentioned chastity devices, I’ve generally focused on three essential qualities: Comfort, Convenience, and Security. To this scale I’m adding a slightly more subjective criteria: Sexiness.
Comfort is an essential quality: if a device is constantly scraping, chaffing, rubbing, or otherwise damaging your tender bits so much that you need to keep removing it, then clearly that device is not working for you, and you’re not going to wear it. Yes, some time for adaptation is normal, but having to deal with edema or rashes is not. For example, this is why the Birdlock (and presumably, the new Bon4 device) rates pretty well for comfort — the squishy silicone means that you shouldn’t need to worry about hard edges rubbing against your skin. Similarly, some of the stainless steel devices have smooth rings and edges (more comfort against your skin), but are sometimes offset by sharp edges on the locking mechanisms.
Convenience is an often overlooked criteria when some people discuss their devices, but it really is just as important as comfort, for many of the same reasons. Convenience concerns the ease with which you can keep the device clean, and engage in your normal daily activities. If your device has to be removed a couple of times a day, that’s not especially convenient for your keyholder. If you can’t clean it properly, then you can’t wear it for very long. If you can’t work or exercise while wearing it, then that’s a problem For example, one of my personal criteria is being able to use a urinal; between my work and my regular activities, I can’t always find a stall. I can, however, find a tree when I’m working outside, or on a particularly long bike ride. This is a reason that I avoid the full belt style devices and stick with the CBxxxx line.
Fitting into the convenience category is the ability to wear a device under normal clothing. The CB2000 and the Curve left rather odd looking or simply large bulges in most dress pants, and some of the lesser-known devices depend upon locks or fasteners at odd angles. If people at work keep staring at your crotch as if they are tryign to figure out if you’re hiding something, then that’s not especially convenient.
Some of you might be surprised that I didn’t mention Security right at the beginning. That is because, based on everything that I’ve read in the last ten years from guys describing their own experiences, if a device is not comfortable or convenient, then they aren’t going to wear it anyway, so the security is moot. By Security, I’m referring to whether or not you can masturbate while wearing the device, and if so, how successfully. While presumably any device will prevent intercourse, many allow some (most?) men some degree of manipulation to the point of orgasm (or at least, something that allows an ejaculation of sorts). For example, the Birdlock failed here because the squishy silicone that made it so comfortable allowed me to manipulate myself enough to have a rather pleasant orgasm. The hard polycarbonate plastic of my CB3000 and CB6000 obviously prevent that, however I need to add the KSD-G3 device to keep from being able to pull out. Other people rely on using tighter cuff rings or opt to get a piercing so they can anchor the end of their penis to the cage.
Why all the trouble? Because men’s genitals are infinitely squishy and variable, and a device that is secure for one man might not be for another. And really,when you come right down to it, men who are into these devices aren’t wearing them because their partners don’t trust them (i.e., they are not for preventing random intercourse); they are wearing them because the enjoy the idea of erotic control. The more inescapable the device, the more believable their internal script when it comes to their willing suspension of disbelief. We want something that allows us to believe more completely in our fantasies of turning over the control of our orgasms, within some limits of reason that we set for ourselves. This is why we’re willing to settle for a fairly comfortable and relatively inexpensive CB6000 instead of a less convenient and much, much more expensive Latowski. So, security is ironically not the most important thing with a chastity device, especially if the wearer properly manages his WSD.
Those three criteria may not be completely objective, since I give my own weighting to them when thinking about devices. But I think that they are reasonably applicable to most users. I’ve used these three criteria in evaluating devices ever since I began building my own about ten years ago. But it’s only recently that I began to think seriously about a more subjective criteria: How sexy, how appealing is the device? Does it make you want one, make you wish you were wearing one right now, and damn the cost? For example, the Latowski full metal design is shiny and ergonomic and the metal itself looks like it flexes with your skin. I don’t know anything else about it except that the sleek look is eye-catching and erotic — to me.
And here’s where I think some couples have some difficulty; their difference of opinion on what is “sexy” quite possibly hampers their agreement on a device. When I look at one of the Steelwerks Extreme devices, I see heavy-duty industrial coolness. Mrs. Edge, however, sees something that looks too artificial. Her take on the CB2000, the Steelwerks, and some of the other commonly available devices is that they look like things left over from the plumbing or hardware store. And frankly, we are both turned off by the Lori’s tube devices which, in my opinion, look a bit clunky.
This is one of the reasons that I keep repairing and modifying my CB3000 — we both agree that we like the looks. We have long discovered that when we agree on something, we should buy it because mutual agreement — be it furniture, wall paint, dinner — isn’t all that common with us. Mrs. Edge likes the “organic” design, which in my opinion, is missing in a lot of the other devices. The 3k, and it’s successor the 6k, have a head shaped like a, well, a head. You can visualize a penis inside them, and their relatively low profile under clothing gives it an air of being a bit more natural than, say, some of the other devices that are more tube-shaped.
Again, though, sexiness is a subjective criteria, and I don’t expect that everybody will agree with it. Lori’s tubes have a huge following, and the CB6000 seems to be a more popular device than the older 3000 (for the record, I think that the 3k is a better built device, but that’s another article) . But as new devices are (ahem) coming into the market, I think it’s important to at least have some commonalities on which they could be rated and compared.