Sister Maria would blush but I have to tell you, a sex toy wasn’t always my favourite thing. Twelve years ago, I felt repulsed by the thought of owning a sex toy. “Ew! Why would anyone want that? It’s foreign, it felt cold to touch, and is it really necessary? Some smelled like cheap plastic, and others were bumpy. Still others were shaped in ways I couldn’t fathom using, didn’t seem convenient or comfortable, much less useful for getting off on.

Little Gold Machine

My first vibrator was given to me by a boyfriend. It was a simple gold vibrator. It was hard and cylindrical, and used a couple of AA batteries. At the time, my mindset was stubbornly set against it. But it was a gift, and being polite, I didn’t say no. It wasn’t repulsive, but when I opened the package, I looked blankly at it. It was just alien to my life at that point. I wasn’t sexually comfortable with touching myself, and that’s what made me squeamish. Masturbation was non-existent, because I didn’t bother giving myself any self-loving, and after one or two manual strokes, felt bored. How would this help matters?


My boyfriend thought only to increase my pleasure with the Valentine’s present. However, self-pleasuring was a foreign concept to me. He even gave me a pack of batteries and I inserted two in, and twisted the base to turn it on. It had one speed, and it was buzzing loud. I was too shy to let him see me use it, but eventually, that gold vibrator became a constant companion. I hid it under my pillow, and at the time, I was under pressure to finish writing my Master’s dissertation. Having completed all required classes, my schedule was free to write. You’d think with a free schedule life would be bliss. However, holed up in my room, I was faced with the blank page, and deafening silence. To kill time, boredom, and writer’s block, I wrote the dissertation in conjunction to jacking off. Sometimes it was up to ten times a day. I should have dedicated my eighty page paper to that little gold vibrator. Eventually, the tip’s paint wore off, and the motor died. But I graduated with my Master’s degree.


Safer Sex

I started volunteering for the Asian Pacific AIDS Intervention Team, helping educate others on safer sex. A friend of mine had the idea to give workshops to women and queer student groups. Public speaking wasn’t something I feared, and she and I partnered up. I travelled up to San Francisco frequently, and one day, she gave me $150 and a wish list of sex toys to purchase from Good Vibrations. Good Vibrations remains my favourite sex toy shop, and the first time I entered into its curtained door, a cute white butch dyke behind the counter asked me, “Can I help you?” Innocently, I said, “I’m buying some stuff for a friend….” She gave me a look that said, “Uh huh, yea sure”. Then her eyes grew wide as I unrolled my shopping list. It was at Good Vibes that I got to test and play with gadgets first hand, examine butt plugs, snap bondage tape, flip through erotic comics, tickle my cheek with a feather, and slap my open palm with leather whips. I found that not all sex toys were cheaply made, and that silicone and lube are good things. The world of the sex toy store opened up for me, and I found it completely innocuous. When I got home, I unloaded my purchases into a toolbox that my friend bought from Homebase. A few years later, long after I’d stopped volunteering, my friend’s car was broken into and the thieves made off with the sex toolbox.


Battery to Mains

After my gold vibrator died, I needed a replacement. Masturbation had integrated itself into my life. However, I wasn’t satisfied with the little battery numbers. I had tried keeping costs down by switching to rechargeable batteries, but they lacked the oomph. Batteries just didn’t cut it for me anymore, and the worse thing was jacking off to the point of almost coming, only to have the battery wane on me. That level of frustration pushed me to look at other vibrator builds. I bought a mains electric one, made by Wahl. Plugging in, it was even louder than the gold vibrator, and it was so much stronger, I could barely touch the tip to my clit. But wow, what a surge! I couldn’t resist. The difference: it was like transferring from a trickling stream to Niagara Falls. Glorious, unabated electrical power! To quote Buzz Lightyear: “To infinity and beyond!” The vibrator lived in the crevice between my mattress and the bed frame, and instead of Benjamin Franklin’s words, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”, I believed “An orgasm a day keeps the doctor away.”


I used that vibrator until the cord attachment broke and the wires were showing. It hurt to have the wires crackle and burn my crotch an electric jolt. So I had to dump it, and ordered another one. Same model, same make. When it came down to me moving countries however, I sadly put it in the same bag with clothes to be given to the thrift store. While I felt like I was prematurely abandoning a good friend, I also imagined the store clerk’s surprise. Or maybe not. They’ve probably seen it all before.


These days I’ve branched out. I still have my main electrical vibe, but keep a portable one handy for traveling. I’ve got my bases covered.


Man versus Machine

A friend told me, “Oh I don’t need a vibrator, I have my boyfriend.” I felt sorry for her. What a narrow point of view. I mean each to their own, but what pressure for him! What if he didn’t feel like it? What if it wasn’t 100% every single time they got it on? What if he wasn’t home? What if she had a different fantasy? What if she was in a bath or elsewhere? What if he was threatened by a tiny motor? It’s been my experience that combining man and machine can yield an even greater outcome. After all, Life is about options. Life is enriched by having favourite things: that’s the beauty of plurality.


Erica, 34, London UK