I am one of many who grew up getting my orgasms from the bathtub faucet. Legs spread, back against the bottom of the tub, water pouring delightfully over my clit, I’d lay there with my mind split between thrilling newfound pleasure and neurotic calculation of how long I could run the bath before it seemed suspicious. I almost certainly ran up my parents’ water bill from roughly 2000 to 2002. (Sorry, guys. At 14 I was too stupid to even know water bills existed.)
But I later graduated to circling a Sharpie over my clit through my underwear, and after that, vibrators. Glorious, glorious vibrators. So many shapes, so many options, such ease. I started masturbating sitting up, at my desk, eyes glued on the naked bodies on my computer screen.
Obviously, I haven’t looked back since.
The Bubble Love is an unattractive plastic lump of a sex toy that uses water to get you off. Submerged in the bath, it shoots a jet stream at your genitals.1 Years ago, I declared “water-powered sex toys” the stupid sex toy trend of the year, but all those toys required a shower hook-up. The Bubble Love is a standalone product. It sucks air in via the hole at the top of the toy, mixing it with water and then hurling it in your general direction. It’s rechargeable, comes in a box the size of approximately six bibles, and costs $150.
You can also get a silicone Dilly that attaches to the front of the Bubble Love. Disappointingly, it is shaped like neither a Dilly Bar nor a pickle. It’s blob-like, with a smattering of raised ridges reminiscent of a non-slip bath mat. I hate the word “Dilly” almost as much as I hate “dong,” “sex lube” and “couples’ vibrator” — it’s a dildo, it doesn’t need a cloyingly cute nickname. Say it with me: D-I-L-D-O.
Like a bad romantic comedy
My first time with the Bubble Love was a fucking EXPERIENCE, one so hilariously indicative of my sex toy reviewer life that I’ve taken to dramatically re-telling the story during social gatherings and board game nights. Let me paint the picture so you may sufficiently gawk at my misfortune.
I was cold, busy, and stressed from moving into my new home — theoretically, the perfect time for a bath. Everything started out great: I lowered myself into the water, breathing in the delicious orange ginger scent from my bubble bath. I ran my hands over my body, savoring the silence and calm.
First I tried attaching the toy’s suction cup to the bottom of my tub for hands-free stimulation, but hahahahaha no. It wouldn’t stick to the textured surface, and even if it did it would have been way too low to align with my vulva correctly. So I set the suction cup on the side of the tub, where my cat promptly batted it onto the floor while yelling at me. He seemed worried about me for some reason. Intuition, I guess. I should’ve trusted him.
When I turned on the Bubble Love, I was bombarded by the sound of the toy desperately attempting to inhale air. It sounds… like that instrument they use at the dentist to suck the excess water out of your mouth. Or like a distant leaf blower coupled with the singular tiny scream of a lobster being boiled. It sounds like many things, at various times, with no rhyme or reason as to why.
I made a video to demonstrate, and YES that is Hyperbole and a Half in the background because my toilet literature is on point:
I tried to use the Bubble Love despite the din, but something was missing. I realized I wanted penetration. NO WORRIES, I’LL JUST GO GET MY DILLY. (This is the part in the play-by-play where I get to visibly sneer while uttering the word “Dilly,” which almost makes up for that word’s existence in the first place.) I got up, toweled off, and trudged to my office to retrieve the Dilly.
Okay but whose fucking brilliant idea was it to create something for underwater penetration that is made of matte silicone? The friction is insufferable! Anyone who has tried to use penetrative toys underwater knows this. As I attempted to lodge the Dilly in my vagina, my level of angst rose exponentially. This was taking a bad turn, just as the cat had predicted. But I was determined, so I got out of the bath yet again, toweled off much more haphazardly this time, and tracked water into my office to grab a tube of lube.
Next I found myself in the tub, hips raised out of water, hastily drizzling lube on the Dilly, then stuffing it into my vagina before plopping back down into the bath. It was like a scene in a bad romantic comedy.
At this point I got serious about chasing my orgasm. I owed myself that much. But at any given moment, I was unable to tell whether I was 5 minutes or 50 minutes from coming. My cat got bored and no longer felt I was in danger of drowning, so he left. I tuned out the sucking sound, somehow. I don’t know how much time passed. I clenched the Dilly, and finally I came — a long, shuddery, very nice orgasm.
I was a bit offended by how good it was, to be honest. A shitty orgasm would’ve been the cherry on top of that story. But life doesn’t always give you pitch-perfect endings to sex toy mishaps. Instead life sends you a sex toy that, despite the Herculean effort involved in using it, actually feels pretty good.
But does it feel like a bathtub faucet?
Well, it doesn’t feel like a vibrator. Not at all. It’s a unique sensation for sure — immediate, yet weirdly ephemeral. Aggressive yet amorphous. Fluttery, yet not as gentle as the word “fluttery” sounds. Like a barrage of big bubbles, but the bubbles have power and body. They don’t waft — they shoot. It takes a sec for my body to register it as pleasure. It takes focus.
For such a bumbling device out of water, the Bubble Love is exceedingly easy to use underwater. It feels almost weightless in my hand. HOWEVER, if you’re not careful, you can spew water across the room. It’s designed to “sense” when it has been removed from water, but the sensor seems to be on the bottom of the toy. Much spraying and destruction can take place before the toy realizes it needs to turn off.
The stream feels different depending on how high you turn the intensity dial and how close the toy is to your body. Further away, it’s more broad and diffuse. Closer, it’s concentrated and pinpoint. I like somewhere between, where I’m able to target the dominant left side of my clit while also basking in the fluttery overall vulva stimulation.
It’s certainly the closest you can get to the bathtub faucet or hot tub jet sensation without actually scooching down under one. And thank god, because I’m no longer young and spry enough for such things. For the first time in a decade, I tried to go back to my roots and masturbate under the faucet… but I logistically couldn’t.
I had never considered how many elements have to be just right: the size of one’s body, the width of the tub, how much the faucet protrudes, the water pressure and temperature. I can’t do it with my current tub, and I was apparently very lucky that my childhood bathtub worked in my favor. Sometimes the stars align, I suppose. If I believed in a higher power, I’d believe in the kind of god who elaborately constructs optimal first-time masturbation scenarios for each of us.
I considered asking my mom if I could come over and use that tub again, but somehow that seemed like one step too far. Hold on, I still have boundaries???
Those noises, though
It’s like when your partner’s sick and constantly coughing that upsetting mucous-y cough, and you know they can’t help it but you still secretly want to strangle them. I’d like to enjoy the pleasurable sensation of the Bubble Love, but I’m so distracted by all the sucking, wheezing, and whimpering that comes from the air hole. Sometimes, the heavens open up and the Bubble Love momentarily and inexplicably shuts up. But mostly it doesn’t, and mostly I want to murder it.
The thing tortures me even when it’s not being used, making a high-pitched dog whistle sound while it charges. I have to charge it like 3 rooms away.
I tried everything to stop the noises. I banned fizzy bath bombs and fluffy bubbles, sticking to boring untainted bath water. I tried blowing out the air hole like an Atari cartridge. I removed the tube and buoy. I lugged my Bluetooth speaker into the bathroom and put on my favorite Iron & Wine songs. In my most desperate moments, I plugged the air hole with my thumb to suffocate it. But that only bought me a little bit of time since without air, the Bubble Love doesn’t work.
Am I a freak of nature that this bothers me so much? Possibly. I’m the kind of person who needs silence to write. One loud conversation in the coffee shop and I can’t think. Music bleeding through the floor renders me unable to fall asleep. I’m able to tune out the consistent hum of most vibrators, especially since I tend to be watching porn anyway. But in the bath, where I’m supposed to be relaxing? There’s no excuse for this.
Every time I go to take a bath I think about how I should use the Bubble Love and then decide I don't want my bath ruined by the Bubble Love
— Epiphora (@Epiphora) September 28, 2015
You’d think a sex toy you use in the bath would be the epitome of lazy, but for me it was an endeavor. I just lay there thinking about dentists, wishing I had some porn to project on the tiled wall, trying to tune out the noise and focus on the endgame. Most of my orgasms with the Bubble Love were good, but not good enough to erase the amount of concentration they took to achieve.
If you want to emulate the sensation of water from a faucet or jet drumming against your genitals, the Bubble Love is an adequate option. Perhaps, if you are not deterred by noise, if your tub is big enough for you to spread your legs and then wedge a huge contraption between them, if you have $150 for that sort of thing. But if you simply want to orgasm while luxuriating in a bath, waterproof vibrators are quieter — and they work out of water, too.
Me, I’m officially relieving myself of the burden that the Bubble Love has become in my life. I’m leaving the past in the past, saying goodbye to 14-year-old me and her ingenious acrobatic masturbation techniques. I’m almost 30 — I no longer have to steal away to the bathroom or improvise with household appliances to get off. I could run up my own water bill if I really wanted, but I don’t need to. I’m more efficient now.
- External only, please. You wouldn’t want to direct the stream into a vagina, as that could cause an air embolism.