Dildo Delights

Popping out of purple satin and peeking through sequined gowns, the breasts of female celebrities appeared a series of close-up shots in a recent issue of Entertainment Weekly along with the challenge "Can you identify the décolletage?" Although I don't want to get my Wonder Bra in a tit wedgie, I can't help but notice that boobies get all the attention from the fashion police (especially during awards season). Just once, I'd like to hear style guru Steven Cojocaru exclaim, "Wow! The pants in the new Armani tuxes are so high-waisted that Colin Farrell's pecker looks ready to pounce!" or some hottie correspondent on E! note, "Richard Gere's suit really emphasizes his ample package, in a tasteful way, of course."

All this talk of chic dicks had me thinking about another phallic wonder that simply doesn't get its fair share of press: the dildo. Dildos have been around since the third century B.C. and are represented in erotic art throughout the world. According to dildo history and lore, the Greeks were the first to fashion phallic tools, called olisboi, out of stone, leather, and wood. Merchants sold them throughout the Mediterranean, and they may have been used in deflowering rituals. In Renaissance Italy, these same tools were called dilettos, from the Italian word for "to delight," and olive oil was the K-Y of the day. Fast-forward to Victorian England, where the first rubber dildo was introduced, along with vibrators, which were prescribed by doctors to treat female hysteria. Google "dildo history" and you'll find Web sites that begin with phrases like "situated in a deep, narrow cove at the entrance point," describing the province of Dildo in Newfoundland, where, legend has it, resourceful housewives carved dildos from leftover whale parts.

Today, the variety of dildos available—from black porn star Sean Michael's realistic 10 inches cast in rubber to the $400 Pyrex-quality glass "Clingon" dildo—is enough to make one's orifices ache just thinking about it. One thing I find interesting about these toys is the different visions of dildo designers. There are those who try to create the most lifelike representation of the male member possible, striving for multi-tonal flesh colors and offering features like textured skin with veins, scrotal sacs with movable balls, foreskins you can pull back, and even dildos that ejaculate (thanks to an internal tube and handy pump). In the last decade, sex toy manufacturers have discovered thermal plastic, a silicone-and-PVC combo reportedly developed by NASA (sold with names like Cyberskin, Ultraskin, EroSkin, and, well, you get the idea). It's become all the rage because it feels very much like skin.

On the other side of the fence are designers who make dongs that stray as far away from their phallic implications as possible: pink shimmering goddesses, blue smiling dolphins, lavender kittens with paws and whiskers, even astrological signs like the red-scaled Scorpio. In America, this school of dildo design was born out of a particular sect of lesbian feminism that rejected all things male, but has maintained its popularity among folks who want a cigar to be just a cigar. In places like Japan, where it is illegal to manufacture toys that resemble genitalia, most phallic vibrators are made to look like people, totem poles, or animals.

Then there are folks who make dildos that double as works of art to display on your coffee table (or vice versa). One self-described conceptual artist, an eccentric young British woman named Shiri Zinn, makes the most expensive dildos I know of. She uses high-end materials like Swarovski crystals, rose quartz, precious stones, and rare snakeskins to create sculptures that'll stuff you. One of Zinn's elegant pieces is a handcrafted, double-ended dildo made of black-and-blue molten glass with a silver-and-crystal-studded band around the middle. My personal fave is a pink, molten-crystal butt plug with a matching pink fox-fur tail, which comes with its own silver ornamental stand. Zinn boasts a list of celebrity clients, and her objets d'art-cum-sex (which will set you back between $1,900 and $2,300) are available at the exclusive boutique Coco de Mer in England. But her mission is not just monetary, and she wants to push the boundaries between what is deemed acceptable and unacceptable for public consumption: "I am intrigued by the reactions to [sexual] subjects which are often considered as dirty and distasteful. I intend to challenge these prejudices and uncover their positive aspects and unexpected glamour through the medium of design."

Somewhere between artful and good, old-fashioned fucking fun is Vixen Creations (vixencreations.com), purveyors of fine silicone sex toys. Vixen is a mom-'n'-pop shop (or mom-'n'-mom in this case) compared to the Wal-Mart-like giants Doc Johnson and California Exotics, which mass-produce toys in big factories. I remember watching an episode of Real Sex that traveled to the Doc Johnson headquarters, where immigrant workers hand-painted bluish veins on realistic cocks, and thinking that this was not how I wanted my dildos to come into existence!

Smaller companies like Vixen are not just about the bottom line; they manufacture toys that are well crafted, high quality, and actually tested to make sure they feel good, hit the right spots, and get the job done with flair. I had the chance to visit the woman-owned and -run Vixen Creations factory in San Francisco—it was like an alcoholic beer snob visiting a world-renowned microbrewery, like Willa Wanker and the Dildo Factory. The women of Vixen showed me the process of mixing colors (like a rich teal and a blue-and-white ice cream swirl), pouring silicone into molds for toys with names like Bullseye and Rascal, letting them dry, then literally pulling cocks out of their molds (those with balls or interesting shapes are the hardest to extract). Dildos sat side by side on shelves, each one carefully inspected and then sealed in its own plastic bag. I like knowing that my dildo didn't just come off some long assembly line, but was handmade with grrrl power and love. It brings me back to the dong's historical roots, back to Miletus, Greece, where you could meet the maker of your schlong, talk about its benefits, maybe even bargain, or trade your toga for it. There is something so profound about meeting the woman who created the cock that fucks you. It makes me look at my dildo collection with newfound respect, and of course, hunger.


Visit my Web site at www.puckerup.com.

 
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