Reviewing sex toys with Aidan Moffat
The Tenga Flip Hole, beautiful isn't it?
Aidan Moffat has done many things, including being in one of my favourite bands. But, as with all of us, there are some experiences which have escaped him. Maybe they are too sordid, shitty or dull, but now, for Vice, he's aiming to experience all those missed sensations of life's gross tapestry. Why? Because ignorance is a good thing to lose. This week he begins with electronic male masturbation aides. Classy.
A Good Thing To Lose #1: The Tenga Flip Hole
We all know someone who tends to think out loud too often, someone with an aptitude for random outbursts of trivia and extraneous queries which probably should’ve remained in their head. I was with such a friend not too long ago, trying to enjoy a cheap sandwich from the corner-shop one lunchtime when completely unprompted he asked: Have you ever tried a Fleshlight? Now, you may not know what a Fleshlight is, but you can probably deduce from the snappy pun that it’s some kind of hybrid of the organic and the mechanical. And you’d sort of be right. It’s looks almost exactly like a regular, common-or-garden flashlight, except at the end where you’d expect to find a bulb and a lens - the business end, I suppose - you will instead discover a rubber, real-feel replica of a lady’s privates. That’s right, it’s the shadiest of shadowy things - a male masturbatory aid. I stopped chewing the corned beef roll as my jaw loosened and answered: No, I have never once felt the urge to slide my penis into anything other than the fairer sex. Perhaps on the darkest outskirts of my sexual consciousness there lurks a vague desire for an experimental homoerotic communion, but I’ve yet to entertain the possibility of relations with anything that could be considered less than human. And why would I need help masturbating? My right hand has provided at least twenty-four years of impeccable service and has developed a level of expertise and efficiency that no machine could ever hope to rival. You should try it, he said.
To just about everyone, the very thought of a male masturbatory aid is plain repulsive. And quite rightly so. There are obvious hygiene issues involved with a device whose sole purpose is to catch seminal fluid on an every-other-nightly to nightly basis, and the image it conjures of its user is grubby, seedy and suicidally lonely. And yet we live in an age when female masturbation is encouraged and celebrated, where rabbit-eared vibrators fly off the shelves of Ann Summers’ High Street stores after receiving the Sex And The City seal of approval. Why isn’t male masturbation held in the same, saucy respect? Granted, I’m sure it’s not nearly as much fun and it’s certainly a much messier business, but ultimately the goal is identical: to independently achieve orgasm. So why should I be so shocked when my mate says he’s shagging a torch?
It’s this very attitude that the Tenga Flip Hole attempts to address, and on first impressions successfully so. It wouldn’t look out of place in your local Apple Store, next to the iPhones and iPods, its minimal, white, elegant Japanese design belying its prurient purpose. Improbably, it actually looks quite sexy. The transparent cylinder that houses it looks fantastic too, the translated English text lending it a cute charm: Hi Technology, Hi Quality, New Style Onanie Life! and NEW ADULT CONCEPT – BE POSITIVE, BE SMART, BE FREE TO MAXIMIZE YOUR SEXUAL LIFE! I’m immediately convinced – for the first time in my life, I want to push my penis into something that doesn’t breathe. My only reservation is that it looks so cool in the box that it seems a shame to remove it, so I leave it unopened and place it on my desk so that it can be coveted until my girlfriend and baby boy are sound asleep (she knows about it, by the way).
Okay, it’s time. I open it up and take my pretend partner for the evening out of its packaging and examine it. It’s a cylindrical clamshell contraption - it slides out of a stand and then opens up to reveal two opposite sides of a penile assault course of latex spikes and knobs, all supposedly designed by sex boffins for maximum stimulation. It also comes with three different types of lubricant - an unfortunate necessity with this sort of thing - but to further distance themselves from the uglier side of the market, Tenga have chosen to call these lotions. There are three: Real, Mild and Wild. Not wanting to open too many doors at once, I decide to use Real, pouring it into the device and closing it up again as the miniscule illustrated instruction manual suggests. The tiny booklet is all in Tenga’s native tongue, so I find it difficult to ascertain exactly what the three buttons along the top and bottom sides are for. I do a quick search on YouTube to find the demonstration video in English, but I could have worked it out for myself. The bottom one holds grip on the "base of the shaft" while the middle one covers the whole thing and the top one - you’ve guessed it - accentuates stimulation of the head of the (or rather my) penis.
I’ll spare you any lurid details of how I get myself in the mood, suffice to say that I have now achieved a state in which entry is feasible. Or so I think. After a couple of knocks on the rubber door - which the makers have sensibly and essentially not fashioned in the shape of a vagina - I realise that the key will probably need to be greased if it intends to open this particular lock, so I get a small amount of the lotion and oil the wee guy up. Much better, glides right in. But what now? I start playing with the three buttons and they do exactly as advertised, but I can’t say that I’m feeling any especial sensation from the little latex stalactites and stalagmites inside; it’s pleasant enough but the earth hasn’t even hinted at moving. I decide that the middle button’s for me and squeeze it down. And then, well, I do exactly what you’d imagine until we mutually fulfil our objectives.
How was it for me? It was okay. Slightly more exciting than the old-fashioned way but I think that was more to do with the novelty of the device rather than the science behind it. And so much for the neat and tidy angle: my hands are now covered in slippery cock lubricant and I can’t find a hanky, so it’s the same problem as always but with a different kind of fluid. I actually found cleaning it to be much more fun, using hand-soap as recommended to wash the rubbery surface of the Flip Hole’s inner. It felt all squidgy and nice! Then I turn it upside down and leave it to dry on its stand, and I’m thinking: "What a lot of fuss for a fucking wank."
Tenga have certainly achieved one of their aims – they have convinced me that there’s little difference between using your hand to masturbate or splashing out on a sex-toy (sorry) to help you. If you have the cash, then why not? I now know that it’s not really the sad and sordid experience I had once imagined. However, how anyone can be arsed with all that rigmarole for such little reward is beyond me. And where’s the excitement of spontaneity? Of course, I imagine that most men who use these things are single and live alone, so they don’t really have to plan ahead like I did, being free to leave their onanistic playthings lying around their room of choice, ready to be grabbed and lubed whenever the notion strikes. According to the manufacturer, I can still expect my Flip Hole to satisfy another 49 of these notions, although how they came up with that figure is a mystery – what happens on the 51st? So, at £69.99 with 50 uses, we’re talking about £1.40 per orgasm. Being a stereotypical Scotsman, my immediate reaction is to get my money’s worth, but I really just can’t be bothered. Perhaps our paths will cross again one magical, moonlit evening, but in the meantime I think I’m quite happy to rely on my trusty right hand, which will now be forever referred to as Old Faithful.