Have you ever smoked weed with your buddies and spent an inordinate amount of time making stereotypical “we’re stoned, bro” jokes centred around completely cartoonish and unrealistic inventions? If you have, you may be familiar with the part of the conversation when some dude invariably says, “You know what’d be great? A robot that gives you blowjobs,” and the game ends because you’ve reached the pinnacle of the ridiculous and stupid and far-fetched and comically weed-y. Well, thanks to a new product called the Autoblow 2, you’re going to need a new dumb weed joke zenith.
The Autoblow 2 is billed as the world’s preeminent “realistic robotic oral sex simulator for men.” It comes equipped with a motor built that lasts over 500 hours, a removable mouth-shaped sleeve made from artificial skin, adjustable speeds (duh you need adjustable speeds), and is "super easy to clean." The Autoblow 2’s website specifies (emphasis theirs): “The feeling of having your penis inside of the sleeve while the spring-loaded beads stroke up and down can best be described in two words: surprisingly good.”
Earlier this year, Brian Sloan, a former lawyer and the creator of the Autoblow 2—as well as other adult entertainment products like the original Autoblow, Mangasm, and Ladygasm—realized that despite investing over $100,000 into creating and testing the product, he was still $45,000 short of having the funds necessary to complete the project. This led him to launch an IndieGoGo crowdsourcing campaign, which has become something of a viral success. With 16 days left in the campaign, the Autoblow 2 has raised over $40,000.
I found the concept and crowdfunding success of the Autoblow 2 fascinating, so I decided to give Brian a call in China (where he’s based) to discuss what his law school buddies think of his new career choice, the other names considered before settling on "Autoblow," and why sex toys should work like kitchen appliances.
VICE: OK, let’s start with the most obvious question: why?
Brian Sloan: [Laughs] Why not?
I think that if you asked men what their ideal masturbation-improving device would be, many would say, “Something that does it for you and you don’t have to do anything.”
I’ve just always had this idea that it would be the ultimate fetish toy. In a way, it can improve people’s lives, you know?
Ever since I started making toys, I always thought the Holy Grail would be an awesome, automatic machine.
You were a lawyer before getting into your current gig. Do you remember the moment that you decided, “This is nice, but I should quit and start making sex toys in China”?
During the summer between my second and third year of law school, I had a job in a fancy law firm. On the weekends, I would make up a map of garage sales at six in the morning, then I would hit this route of sales during the day. I was making more money buying and selling garage sale goods than I was in my fancy law firm job. I came to China because I was trying to see if I could pay for my trip by solely buying antiques and selling them on eBay. I tried it once and it worked. Then I started meeting more and more people here… and I figured, Wow, I just want to move here and start a business.
I fell into the adult market because I was a bit obsessed with eBay and I knew what sold well in different categories, and there wasn’t really many people selling latex fetish wear and bondage equipment. I found out in China where I could get rubber suits made, and then it took off from there because I was able to make custom sizes—especially for bigger people—for a much lower price than they were used to.
What is the Autoblow 1 like?
The Autoblow 1 is a stroker. There were similar strokers to it before it, but it’s battery-powered. It’s on our original website, RoboticBlowjob.com. With the Autoblow 2, the concept is the same but the execution is much different. Basically, other people sell similar products to the original Autoblow, but no one ever went all out and made something that’s the quality of a kitchen appliance that’s a male stroker, like we have for the Autoblow 2.
I mean, if you bought a sex toy and it broke a few months later, you wouldn’t say, “Aww, I can’t believe it. That’s outrageous,” because you sort of expect it to break. But if you bought an espresso machine for your kitchen, you’d expect at least a year or two of functioning.
There are female toys built that are built at the quality level of a kitchen appliance. But, until now, I think, there are no male toys that are an item that you would consider a home appliance, not a toy.
Autoblow is a fantastic name. What other names did you guys bandy about before you settled on it?
Good question. Whenever I’d mention this product to some old-timers in the industry, it reminds them of a product that existed in the 80s called RoboSuck. The old-timers told me the RoboSuck was a machine that plugged into the cigarette lighter in your car that was popular with truckers.
But basically, we were considering names that had to do with robots and sucking. That’s why we originally named the website RoboticBlowjob.com. I wasn’t big into domain names at that time and I probably wouldn’t have named it such a funny name if I could do it over again. It’s so ridiculous—and maybe that’s why it’s good—but I would never do that again.
Oh, and we considered using the name Suck It, but ultimately decided against it.
Why should people use an Autoblow 2 over, say, a Fleshlight?
I think there’s two considerations about male sex toys. There’s how it feels on your penis. And there’s, "Does this feel real?"
These are related but separate concepts. I don’t think anyone would say, Oh the Fleshlight doesn’t feel good. The Fleshlight feels really good. And it replicates a pretty good, sex-like feeling. But because it’s not automatic, you’re still sitting there, jerking off with your hand. You’re just improving the feeling part. You didn’t improve that much on the realism side. I think that toys—especially for men—are going to move towards a direction where products don't just feel good on your penis, but they feel like the real sexual act.
The difference with the Autoblow 2 is that it’s automatic so you can just put it on your penis. You can either hold it or leave it there, and I think the sensation is totally different, since you don’t use your hands. You can watch your movie or do whatever you’re going to do, and it really feels like someone’s giving you oral sex you because you’re not touching yourself. It’s kind of a surprising experience.
I can’t say that the feeling on your penis is so much better than the Fleshlight’s, but I can say that it feels good like a Fleshlight, but it’s also different because it’s realistic. You’re not jerking off.
You’ve done really well with this IndieGoGo campaign, raising $40,000 of your $45,000 goal. What kind of messages are you getting from the fans of the Autoblow 2?
Interestingly, I’m getting messages from disabled people and people with MS. I'm also getting a lot of emails from a bunch of Iraq War vets, who have various mobility problems who have been looking for an automatic device. Vets tend to email. And we’ve received word from other people who are just giving us support, telling us that they think the concept is cool.
And there are people from the industry reaching out about doing some kind of projects together. So, it’s been really interesting. A lady reached out to me whose friends with a lot of porn stars and cam models and she wants to do a product together. So many things are happening that I thought would never come from the IndieGoGo.
How does the Autoblow 2 compare to real thing?
The real thing is different. The feeling is very similar to the real thing because with the real thing, you don’t exactly use your hands. But you also don’t have to talk to the Autoblow 2 when you’re finished. You don’t have to form an emotional bond with the Autoblow 2, and there are many guys that that's a benefit for.
I think a lot of guys who actually use it are married and don’t have sex with their wives anymore. Or they’re single and the emotional part isn’t important to them.
Physically, it’s different. I mean, it’s a machine. But for some guys I think that has some benefits.
Last question: Do you use the Autoblow 2?
I would say that I have tested the Autoblow 2, but I’m not a diehard masturbation toy user. I mean, I think of it in the same realm of thinking as, "Should an alcoholic run a bar?" Maybe not. I've made the Autoblow 2 as good as it could possibly be, and frankly, the only way to do that was by testing. When I see friends who do a business because they love something about the business, they always pick the wrong business for themselves because they’re blind to the realities of the industry. I can’t say that I’m like the biggest personal user of masturbation products, but I can say that I understand exactly what men want. And I think I’ve delivered it to them.