I was stirring ramen on the stove as my boyfriend tried on the La Palma for the first time. He figured it out easily and slipped his hand inside. It looked like a sweet biker glove.
“Is it too tight?” I asked, already writing this review in my head.
I stuck my finger through the O-ring to feel for its elasticity and was instantly dumbfounded. The O-ring, which is a mere inch in diameter unstretched, barely moves when manipulated — it stretches to about 1.5″. What? The La Palma is made by Spareparts Hardwear, creators of the amazingly comfortable Joque harness, which has an O-ring that stretches so much it can hold Randy. I was so confused by the La Palma’s lack of elasticity. So very confused.
I took the La Palma to the sink — it’s completely waterproof — and used my rage as my strength to wash it. I recommend this; the water was a grayish color when I finished, suggesting some dye leaked out.
I moped around some more and then sat down to see which dildos were going to fit. My suspicions were confirmed when only small- to average-sized dildos — Echo, Acute, Sherbet, Goddess, Raquel — could squeeze through the O-ring. At a later date, though, I figured out a secret: if I left plastic around the dildos (many of my dildos are stored in plastic bags), they slipped more smoothly through the O-ring. And suddenly, larger dildos — Maverick, Johnny, Astrovibe — fit, as long as I covered them in plastic first.
Examining the La Palma’s zippered case, I found that it comes with a lot of stuff. There’s the harness itself (made of neoprene and nylon), then there are three “Ringo Grip”s — donut-shaped pieces of fabric meant to help super-small toys (like butt toys, I guess) stay secure in the harness. There are two black watch battery bullets, which have vibration patterns (P.S. the We-Vibe Tango and Screaming O Vooom are better), but you have to cycle through the patterns to turn them off. And finally, there’s a CHAIN, if I want to attach the case to my beltloop and look like a freaking creeper.1
Using the La Palma is a tedious operation. Before even using the harness, you must:
- Decide which position the harness will be used in.
- If the dildo is large, cover it in plastic.
- Position the dildo correctly, then shove/wiggle it through the O-ring.
- Remove the plastic, trying not to rip it where the O-ring has a death grip on the base of the dildo.
- If using the bullets, turn them on, push them into their pouches, and close the snaps.
- Finally, put on the damn harness.
So, as you might imagine, swapping out a dildo is a pain in the ass, and a person cannot possibly change the dildo on their own while wearing the harness. It just takes way too much maneuvering.
Using the harness to penetrate me, my boyfriend liked it well enough. He said it felt like an extension of his hand, so it was easier than usual to manipulate the dildo. He thought it especially made things easier when he was beside me and penetrating me from that angle. I, however, was not very impressed. I found it impossible to show him the angle I wanted him to thrust at. Once he removed the harness, I immediately grabbed the base of the dildo and demonstrated, which I obviously could not do when the dildo was attached to his palm. As a result, the dildo was more pleasurable to me when he didn’t have the harness on.
The bullets do conduct some vibration through the toy in the harness — when they work, of course. Their buttons are fickle.
I worry about removing the dildos — especially the big ones made of VixSkin — after using the harness. With no plastic to cushion things, the O-ring pulls at the softer silicone. Much wiggling and pushing must take place. And sometimes the harness leaves black fuzzies on the toys.
Don’t even ask me about using La Palma for masturbation. That would be a recipe for disaster (and snark, I’m sure). I’m often switching dildos, so I would easily become frustrated by having a chunk of material strapped to my hand. Plus, I never have much trouble grasping dildos in the first place.
And that is the thing. How much does the La Palma actually improve the experience of grasping dildos, at least for people who are generally able-bodied? Not much. The La Palma is priced between $125 and $135, which I think is beyond ridiculous. The price makes it nearly impossible to justify unless the person buying it has significant difficulty grasping dildos. La Palma makes it marginally easier to use dildos on another person, but that fact is negated by its price, its not-very-stretchy O-ring, and by the amount of time necessary to prepare the harness before use.
If you have arthritis, or any sort of condition which makes this harness look especially appealing, and you think the price could be worth it, go ahead and try the La Palma. But if you are like me, and don’t think the La Palma can be much of an improvement over hand-grasping, you are probably correct.