Two very happy condoms. Photo via.
It's very hard to get along with condoms. In fact, I imagine it would be very hard to get along with anything that purposefully asphyxiates your dick, hacksaws straight through any semblance of sexual spontaneity and generally makes sex a lot less enjoyable than it should be. But, as far as I know, condoms are the only thing in both mass production and mass use that achieve every one of those things.
Hurrah, then, for Bill Gates, who – as you may have heard – is dangling a proportionally paltry $100,000 (£65,685) carrot in front of anyone who can somehow inject a bit more pleasure into rubbering up. Despite the fact that many large medical corporations have ploughed far more than $100,000 into developing more pleasurable protection throughout the past century, Gates is still hoping that his prize money will uncover the Popov of prophylactics who's able to make condoms feel better than unprotected sex.
I'm neither a scientist nor an inventor, so my ideas of how to improve condoms are currently falling pretty short (somewhere around the implausible "make mini ones just for the tip" region). But I am a dreamer, and I dream of one day fully enjoying protected sex. So I thought I'd call up some sex workers – people who spend more time around condoms than most – and see if they had any helping words to make mine and Bill's dream come true.
Rio Lee, pornstar and dominatrix.
VICE: Hey Rio. Do you like condoms?
Rio Lee: Obviously I like them because they protect me from scabby diseases, but I don't like them when a guy gets floppy. I'm a selfish bitch in bed – it's all about me, me, me – so it's a problem if a floppy interrupts the sex flow. If you could develop a condom that allows a man to have a continuous Viagra erection that would be amazing.
What about pickling it in Viagra solution so it somehow works its way in there?
That sounds kind of painful, but I am a slight dominatrix, so that might work. Mind you, I want to be able to fuck it afterwards so I don't want it to scold the skin off or anything.
True. They've tried to make condoms more pleasurable in the past but have clearly failed on pretty much every level. Could a condom ever be better than unprotected sex?
Well, with modern technology they must be able to make them better. But where the fuck is the extra pleasure with those ribbed condoms? I genuinely want to know. You’d be much better off putting some frozen peas under the condom skin.
Yeah. So apart from peas and Viagra coating, what ideas have you got to make condoms better?
First off, if you're reading this Bill Gates, this is copyrighted and trademarked under the Miss Rio Lee Brand. But I'd say you'd need one of those contraptions like a Fleshlight. When a guy's got a nice hard-on, you slip his cock in and, as it pulls out, it transfers some sort of micro, space-age, latex film directly on to the cock so it's super thin and ready to go. You could have a small one that attaches to your car keys, so when a guy slides his cock in it's almost like fisting someone's arse.
I can see that slogan on the advert. So do you think the whole condom thing is a way for Gates to market himself as a sex symbol and draw some of the youth market away from Apple?
Bill Gates? Sexy? Maybe that's the reason, but I'd say a new condom is going to appeal more to the health conscious and professionals – young people just want to have sex regardless of the condom. But whatever his motivation, if he's going to do something to improve mine and millions of other people's sex lives and help sexual health throughout society, then good on him.
Master Dave, gay male escort.
Hey Master Dave, where do you weigh in on the whole condom debate?
I like them. They mean safe sex and they're something I've always used, both personally and professionally.
Okay then. So as a man of experience, what would you do to make the condom better?
I'd line them with fur and give them a zip fastener. They might be a bit difficult to get into someone, but we can find a way – more lube, perhaps.
Do you think condoms could ever be better than unprotected sex?
I've never really thought about it. I've also never had unprotected sex.
Nope. Not even once.
How many people have you had sex with?
I lost count long ago, but maybe four or five hundred. I don't know – I've been married three times, though.
Congratulations. Do you think that Bill Gates is trying to reinvent himself as a sex symbol with this offer?
No, I don’t think that. I’m led to believe that he’s a very generous man and he puts all sorts of money in all sorts of things.
Would you have sex with Bill Gates?
No. I don’t fancy the guy.
What about other famous philanthropists? Richard Branson, maybe?
Nope, not him either. Do you fancy him?
Who – Richard or Bill?
No – neither, I'm afraid. Thanks Master Dave!
James Deen, pornstar. Photo courtesy of James Deen.
Hey James, what do you hate about condoms?
I don’t hate anything about condoms. I think condoms are fantastic. I actually think they’re perfectly comfortable, and I think that with the technology we have they’re the best solution to safer sex. The safest solution is no sex, then masturbation, but you can still hurt yourself masturbating if you're shoving stuff inside of you or masturbating too furiously.
So they don’t affect sensation for you?
They don’t change the sensation of sex that much. People who hate them just need to get over it. I’ve had a lot of sex with condoms and a lot of sex without condoms and the difference is minimal to none, for guys at least. I can't speak for girls, but I've heard more complaints from them than guys. But when I'm having sex, you could snap a rubber band on my arm and I'd barely notice because I'm having sex. If you feel distracted because of a condom then maybe you don't want to have sex that bad.
That’s a pretty good point.
I see nothing wrong with the condom. It’s the best available option for the masses who are having casual sex with people. If you want to go to a bar and pick up somebody for random sex you should absolutely wear a condom. The other option is meeting each other, getting tested, waiting three days then having sex.
Yeah, I supposed that’s a bigger buzzkill.
Yeah, it’s like, “I’m going to fuck you so HARD… in three days.”
So what would you do to improve them?
I’d invest in upping their protection rate beyond the 80-something percent it is now. It’s already pretty good – your chances of getting HIV are pretty slim – but, and I want to make it clear that I'm not a doctor, but the HIV virus is actually smaller than the pores in a condom, so in theory they could still transfer through them.
What do you think about Bill’s idea?
If Bill Gates wants to award $100,000, he should donate it to HIV and AIDS research, or maybe public education so people know not to have unprotected sex with an unfamiliar partner. Condoms are fine. Until you give me a better option, I'm all about them. So why not spend that money to treat the reasons we're using condoms in the first place?
But you’ve been really anti-condoms in regards to Measure B. Why’s that?
That has nothing to do with safety, because Measure B doesn't make things safer. My issue is that it violates my American right to freedom of speech and my First Amendment rights that allow me to produce constitutionally-protected content – which, as decided by the Supreme Court, includes pornography – in any way that my vision sees fit.
For example, I’m making a movie about a couple trying to have a baby. They’re trying, but the dude can’t get the woman pregnant so she starts having sex with his friends trying to get pregnant. How can I make that movie with everyone wearing condoms? It compromises my artistic vision and my artistic goals. It's fine if you say porn isn't an art, but the fact is I have a goal and it's my right to make my content any way I want. If condoms don't fit into that vision then they don't fit into my vision.
Mina, female escort.
How do you feel about condoms, Mina?
I don’t like them, but I understand their necessity and always use them when I’m with clients. I've got the implant in my arm for when I'm with close partners that I know.
What don't you like about them?
I think it’s because you have to stop to put them on and they just sort of stop the whole flow of passion. Also they taste disgusting, even the flavoured ones, and they make it feel like there's a barrier between the two people when they're inside you.
Do you have any nightmare condom disaster stories?
Yeah! I started seeing this guy who was insistent on using the cheap ones, but they kept breaking and I had to go to the clinic every day to get the morning-after pill. The relationship didn't last long. I personally buy the extra thick ones. I'm not too bothered about my pleasure, it's more about protection so I don't get a disease.
Could a condom ever be better than unprotected sex?
I don’t think it’s possible. You’d still have to put them on, which is the problem.
What if they somehow put themselves on?
Yeah, I suppose they'd be OK if they went on by themselves and were really thin but very, very strong.
What if they made noises and were interactive?
I think it would be a bit too weird to have a talking condom, to be quite frank. I haven’t thought about that one, but thank you for that mental image. Next time I put one on I might think of that.
So if there's no better alternative, do you think Bill Gates might just be trolling everyone with some kind of wild dick chase?
I think he’s taking the piss, because unprotected sex is the ultimate, it gives the full sensation – it can’t be better than that. You can’t get that from something that’s supposed to be a barrier.
Would you have sex with Bill Gates?
No! He’s only a man with a lot of money. If he paid me loads, then yeah. He's Bill Gates, so I'd expect a bit. He's also not the most attractive man in the world, but I don't know, nothing too mad – maybe two or three grand would do the trick.
Surely you must have had worse than Bill Gates in your time?
Oh yes – that’s a fact. The worst one was about 26 stone and had a skullet. Have you ever heard of a skullet?
No. What's that?
It’s like a mullet, only they’ve got all that hair at the back of their heads and none on the top.
He also had bigger tits than I did.
Nice. Okay, we're starting to go off topic, but thanks Mina!
Follow Aleks on Twitter: @slandr
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