[Check out my annual best/worst tag for older lists!]
2016 has been a trying, infuriating, exhausting year, and it seems trivial to jump straight to sex toys without acknowledging that. But this is also a year in which we’ve needed to learn how to remain resolute amidst unbelievable pain. To laugh at the absurdity of our world. And if you want absurdity, oh, look no further than my life.
This was my ninth year reviewing sex toys for all the internet to see. This year, among other things, I perverted a soap dispenser into a lube dispenser, let other people control my vibrator over the internet, and played vaginal Chubby Bunny with tiny silicone dildos. I cycled through 12 different butt plugs in one day and upset some dignified ladies on the internet. I bought a color-changing dildo shaped like a corn on the cob then painstakingly photographed it in the snow. Why not.
2016 was the year I expanded my horizons by attending several queer play parties. I also went to AVN in Las Vegas, where I put my finger in a twerking butt, met some of my porn idols, and stood on a man for the first time (it was great). I got recognized at a sex shop in Vancouver, BC and felt like a goddamn rockstar. I treasured my time with close friends, colleagues, mentors, and fans. I turned 30, cut my hair, got a sex toy manicure, and — most of all — adopted a new cat, my beautiful hairless child. Twitter even refrained from shaved pussy jokes.
Before we bid good riddance to 2016, let’s remember some of the best and worst sex toys that came in contact with my genitals this year. Because there were some really good ones! And some absolute garbage ones that you should never, ever buy.
As in years past, I’ll first list the best/worst toys, then give out awards such as “I Risked My Life for You; You Are Welcome.” I’ve added three new awards this time: “Best of the Rest,” “Social Media Excellence” and “Old Faithful.”
Don’t forget to comment with which toys you loved and hated this year!
Skip to a section, if you’d like:
- Best Sex Toys of 2016
- Worst Sex Toys of 2016
- The Ends Justify the Means (My favorite review and quotes of the year.)
- Best of the Rest (My greatest non-review post of the year.)
- Hardest to Wrangle (My most difficult review to write.)
- I Risked My Life for You; You Are Welcome (A toy that caused pain, night sweats, disillusionment, etc.)
- One Step Forward… (Honoring actual innovation in the sex toy industry.)
- …And Two Steps Back (A toy helpfully undoing all our progress.)
- Old Faithful (A toy that got a lot of action this year.)
- Social Media Excellence
- Ridiculous Sex Toy Trend of the Year
- Manufacturer of the Year
Best Sex Toys of 2016
- We-Vibe Rave (buy) — Ahhhh, it was love the moment I first touched this toy to my clit. The Rave has pleasing, highly-adjustable vibrations and a corresponding (and actually fun?!) phone app, but what really takes this toy to superstar level is its curved, asymmetrical shaft. I doubted it until I felt the G-spot fireworks it was capable of setting off. Now I’m hooked.
- L’Amourose Prism V (buy) — Coming in at a very close second, the Prism V is just as versatile as the Rave with a few of its own bonuses, including waterproof capability, effortless controls, a sweet price tag ($99!), and a gorgeous, sleek design. I imagine I’ll be recommending this one along with the Rave for years to come.
- Automatic Lube Dispenser (buy) — It’s not a sex toy, blah blah blah. Too bad — this contraption changed my masturbation sessions forever. Now I simply thrust a toy or my palm under the spigot and wait for the glorious, motion-activated bzzzt.
- Doxy Die Cast and Don (buy) — Doxy is known for industrial-strength vibrators, and that reputation is not wrong. I found myself loving both toys I tried from them this year.
- LELO Siri 2 (buy) — An example of what LELO is capable of if they get their heads out of their asses, I’d go so far as to say the Siri 2 is the company’s best compact external vibrator. Finally updated with a much more robust motor than the original, it’s a solid, humble little vibrator. (And humble is what LELO needs right now.)
- Hole Punch Toys (buy) and Downunder Toys (buy) — Dipped my toes (vagina?) into the world of indie silicone sex toy manufacturers with these two, and I did not regret it one bit. The Hole Punch Ass Cram Cone delighted me both visually and vaginally, and I was thrilled to experience Downunder’s dual-density dildos.
Worst Sex Toys of 2016
- Dame Eva (don’t buy) — The lofty aims of this vibrator only make its failure even more painful: it’s meant to attach to the vulva for hands-free stimulation. Ha. Ha. Hahahahaha.
- Fun Factory Bi Stronic Fusion (don’t buy) — I knew it was too good to be true. Goodbye, all that time I spent trying to position this toy to get any pleasure whatsoever.
- Jimmyjane Intro 2 (don’t buy) — I pretty actively avoid Jimmyjane toys at this point, but I received this vibrator in a complimentary Unbound Box and WOW, IT IS SO BAD. Not only is it larger than the Form 2 it’s ostensibly modeled after (it’s as big as my palm, people), the vibrations are buzz central. NOPE.
- Sola Sync (don’t buy) — What appeared, at first, to be a forgettable rechargeable wand vibrator morphed into an actual nightmare one night when it WOKE ME UP by turning itself on in my office. Also, it’s weirdly elongated and looks like it’s melting, and it has terrible controls and terrible vibrations.
- Bubble Love (don’t buy) — I waffled on whether to include this bathtime “pleasure jet” in the list, because the sensation it produces is pleasant. Then I remembered the incessant gurgling, wheezing, and whimpering sounds it makes in use, and my murderous rage returned.
The Ends Justify the Means
(My favorite review and quotes of the year.)
Usually the mark of a strong review is how amused my boyfriend is by it. With this one, of the bug-like and amazingly bad Eva, he kept giggling at my dumb jokes, even calling my second-to-last-paragraph “some Oscar-winning shit.” So, I guess it’s good! (To my deep amusement, he didn’t like the way I referenced vaginas guzzling champagne because, according to him, “vaginas don’t ingest.” Well excuuuuuse me!)
There’s a special place in my heart, though, for my Bubble Love review. It has everything: intrigue! Adventure! Weird childhood masturbation memories! Mishaps! A video!
Here are my favorite zings from the year.
What is life if not a series of attempts at proving arrogant men wrong?
Usually, my labia don’t cross my mind often… but then the Dame Eva came along, and suddenly I was digging around in there like a raccoon foraging through the garbage.
Moral of the story: you probably shouldn’t invite me to stay in your family’s cabin. I’m apt to squirt on your parents’ towels.
Obviously, you don’t want Blink 182 against your clitoris.
Nature clearly didn’t take anuses into account when crafting the carrot.
I figured the Tantus Uncut #1 would feel like fucking myself with a birthday candle, yet I was still surprised by how much it felt like fucking myself with a birthday candle.
My G-spot can’t speak English, but here’s a rough transcript of its thoughts when I use the Rave:
. . . I like the way I can wedge the koala’s ear into the side of my clit. That is a sentence that should maybe never be taken out of context.
Eva tries to keep your vagina accessible, open to being penetrated at all times. You know, so objects can slide into it. Or fly into it. Or plop into it. Whatever. I don’t know how you have sex.
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.
Best of the Rest
(My greatest non-review post of the year.)
There has been a draft of this post, “A sex blogger by any other name,” in my dashboard since 2014, but in the years since then, the importance of my chosen pseudonym has come into sharp focus. I’ve mustered the strength to own the name, to claim it confidently, which I now realize was necessary for this post to come to fruition. It even prompted a new blog category, “Break Out the Tissues.”
Honorable mention: “Buzzy vs. rumbly: the most important aspect of a vibrator,” an in-depth explanation of vibration types and why they matter so much.
Hardest to Wrangle
(My most difficult review to write.)
A moment of silence for my pride. When I expect to hate something, then don’t, and that thing is also atrociously pink and pretty much only stocked on Amazon and potentially not even body-safe, it freaks me out. I don’t like admitting that I’m wrong, but that’s basically what I had to do in my review of My Celebrator. I also got to complain about pompous men, though, so overall, a worthwhile review.
Honorable mention: Fun Factory Boosty. Describing the sensations of anal toys still eludes me. “It’s, like, plugging my butt?”
I Risked My Life for You; You Are Welcome
(A toy that caused pain, night sweats, disillusionment, etc.)
Dunno if you heard, but I put 20 miniature silicone dildos in my vagina this year. It felt… increasingly disconcerting and not at all good.
The hilarious thing about the tiny dildo fiasco is that it didn’t technically have to happen at all. It was an April Fool’s joke, so I could’ve written the entire review having not actually stuffed the toys in my vagina. But my morbid curiosity forced me to find out what the sensation would be like. Now I’d like to block that sensation from my memory.
One Step Forward…
(Honoring actual innovation in the sex toy industry.)
Hell has frozen over: I like the We-Vibe Nova. I realize I risk damaging my cred by saying so, because historically, I dislike dual/rabbit vibes. But… this one lines up with my anatomy, and the vibrations are decent, and the clitoral part isn’t some wimpy pokey shape. The Nova’s wave-like clitoral arm isn’t meant to arch over the clit but instead push up against it, bending back in use. This means I can actually thrust a little and maintain clitoral stimulation — a rarity for a dual vibe.
The Nova is, of course, still anatomy-dependent. It doesn’t work for everyone. Still, it’s an example of how, by tweaking familiar shapes and thinking a little outside the box, a company can create something fresh.
…And Two Steps Back
(A toy helpfully undoing all our progress.)
So here’s how you don’t make a dual-stimulation toy, as demonstrated perfectly by Fun Factory’s Bi Stronic Fusion. Don’t equip it with a shaft that moves, and therefore breaks the clitoral contact with every thrust. Don’t give the external portion of the toy the shittiest buzziest motor in your arsenal. Don’t charge $219 for it — nobody is that sure it will fit their anatomy. Just don’t. You’ve upset me now.
(A toy that got a lot of action this year.)
2016 was the year I somehow became cool enough to be regularly invited to play parties (!?), and on each occasion I toted along my trusty (Hitachi) Magic Wand Rechargeable. It just seemed like the right thing to do: it’s iconic, it’s all the power I’ll ever need, and it’s cordless, so no hunting for a wall socket. This vibrator is badass enough to become the center of attention if the situation calls for it, but innocuous enough to blend in to the background if I want to sit back and indulge in some casual Hitaching.
It’s also more impressive than my mere presence will ever be. One party attendee saw it peeking out of my bag and asked me, “is that the Magic Wand? Is it the rechargeable one?” And I replied, “of course.”
Social Media Excellence
Being clever in only 140 characters is an art form. I keep track of my best tweets of all time, but here are my very favorites from 2016.
Innocently Drinking Wine on My Porch and My Neighbors Don't Know I Just Squirted: the Epiphora Story
— Epiphora (@Epiphora) May 13, 2016
I heard a buzzing sound and my immediate thought was, "what, whose vibrator just turned itself on?"
…it was an actual bee.#dildoholiday
— Epiphora (@Epiphora) November 13, 2016
Me getting a package in the mail from Astroglide pic.twitter.com/HBe03Kwzmm
— Epiphora (@Epiphora) July 28, 2016
Got invited to a queer fisting party tonight. I wasn't sure about going, but then I learned there will be a polydactyl cat at the residence
— Epiphora (@Epiphora) June 15, 2016
Known creeper asks "what's the best lube for my penis??"
I resist replying:
"gasoline and a match"
"just… a knife"
— Epiphora (@Epiphora) June 28, 2016
Ridiculous Sex Toy Trend of the Year
“Smart” sex toys.
Back in my day, sex toys did as they were told and otherwise left us well enough alone. Now, in our seemingly unstoppable push toward automation, a slew of new toys react to bodily changes instead, and some even give you feedback and suggestions afterward. So just in case your parents and the media and your doctor and your bosses and Cosmo and Twitter don’t give you enough incessant tips for bettering yourself, now sex toys can!
I understand the impulse, and I don’t disagree with the usefulness of it for some people… but it seems so unnecessary. The HUM, for instance, has sensors that detect motion and pressure, vibrating back what it assumes you want. As if my vagina knows something I don’t? Nah, brah. I don’t need an “artificially intelligent” vibrator because I already have a computer that tells me what feels good — it’s called my brain.
I dunno. I can’t shake the feeling that these toys want to do things for us because they don’t trust us to do them ourselves. It feels vaguely misogynist, like women are so fickle and confusing that the only way to satisfy them is to gather scientific data from their bodies. For nerding out purposes, sure, knowing how fast I’m thrusting a dildo appeals to me. But knowing how fast my partner thrusts in order to judge him on it… does not appeal to me.
Quantifying sex is all the rage right now. The Lovely cock ring monitors your body movements and then gives you a “sex report” afterward, listing how many calories you burned, how many MILES PER HOUR you moved, and offers “personalized” tips for next time, such as — I’m not making this up — “Engage in foreplay for 4 more minutes and start the intercourse with position ’69.'” Like men need another thing to get macho about! I do not want someone trying to break their own speed record while fucking me, or mansplaining that we should 69 because “the app said so.”
Fuck 69, by the way.
This obsession with performance reminds me of when I was at AVN. There was a booth for a special watch called Time to Squirt which measures the speed of the wearer’s arm movements and instructs them when to speed up to induce vaginal ejaculation for their partner. Nevermind that people might have different sexual responses to stimuli and the speed that works for one is not fucking universal ffdgnkidfngikdfg oh my god why do I have to say this still?!
Also, what could be sexier than a partner literally LOOKING AT THEIR WATCH while they finger you? Nothing, I think.
Manufacturer of the Year
To commonfolk, We-Vibe is the company that makes “those couples’ toys,” but to sex toy aficionados, they’re the geniuses behind some of the most powerful rechargeable clit vibes around: the legendary Tango and Touch. This year, to my squealing delight, they finally created a G-spot toy — and hit it out of the park. They also released a new version of their wearable vibrator, the We-Vibe Sync, which now has multiple adjustment points to fit a wider variety of genital configurations. What?! Sex toys are not one-size-fits-all?!
Aside from the toys themselves, I appreciate We-Vibe’s approach to hawking them. Much of their marketing focuses on toy features rather than grandiose claims. They know when to kill off a toy (cough the Thrill cough), and when to leverage a toy’s popularity (the Dusk sleeve to hold the Tango). Best of all, they have always been super sweet to me, once even sending me a toy in my favorite color with no prompting — and no strings attached.
There you have it! My favorites and least favorites of the past year. What about you? What was the best toy you discovered in 2016? The worst? Your favorite ridiculous sex toy trend?