Back in 2013, a new British sex toy maker called Hot Octopuss unveiled its flagship product: a vibrating penis sheath officially known as the Pulse, which they dubbed and aggressively marketed as the world's first "guybrator."
Early reviews of the sleek, futuristic, and discrete product likened it to a $99, USB-rechargeable "Darth Vader helmet" for your dick. But they also acknowledged that Hot Octopuss was trying to do something ambitious. The company was aiming to create not just a new, rehabilitated, and desirable image for once-seedy male sex toys, but a whole new method and sensation of mass male masturbation (beyond a simple up-down-and-done experience). By so doing, it hoped to revolutionize male self-pleasure and its paraphernalia.
Some met these lofty claims with skepticism. Although there was nothing explicitly called a "guybrator" on the market, vibrating cock rings, condoms, and prostate-stimulating dildos had been around for ages. Some men have supposedly even used their phones on the sensitive frenulum on the underside of their penis as a masturbatory aid.
But, the Hot Octopuss team argued, there was still a big gap between the number and variety of products and sensations available to women versus men. This was fueled, they said, by the comparatively less accepted nature of the male toy market, a byproduct of the embarrassingly phallic and obvious, or plain seedy nature of most male-oriented toys.
Pulse, they said, utilized a new consumer technology, which would provide an unprecedented sensual experience. Based on what's enis Vibratory Stimulation technique (used since 2008 to induce orgasms in and collect semen from spinal cord injury victims), the Pulse rejected traditional vibrator vibrations, which rely on an off-center weight attached to a motor and usually can't make a man come without stroking stimulation as well. Instead, they used a plate with a piston-like motion to create oscillating vibrations, more powerful than a traditional vibrator's waves. When focused on the frenulum, the second most sensitive male erogenous zone after the prostate, this creates a sensation capable of bringing a man to orgasm without any up-down motion. (The author, having personally reviewed the technology at play, can attest that the Pulse's system is effective.)
When VICE learned that Hot Octopuss was launching the Pulse II this summer, we decided to meet with Adam Lewis, the company's co-founder, to talk about his new device, the modern male market, and the future of male masturbatory tech.
VICE: You're launching the Pulse II. What's new compared to the Pulse?
Adam Lewis: When we released the Pulse I, it was not a flawless product. If there were problems, we'd work through it with the customers. And for the most part, they were fine.
It was [only] halfway through the development process that one of our designers said, "Wouldn't it be great if we made the underneath vibrate? If they guy had it on, the woman could lower her bits onto it and it could vibrate [her too]." Genius idea! That meant we could position it as a couple's toy. We added an off-center weight, so that when the piston was going up and down, the weight would spin, causing the whole unit to vibrate.
The issue was, one, it's hard plastic and ladies' bits are quite soft. And the vibrations on the bottom were subject to how strong the man had his vibrations on. The women were saying: "I want it a bit stronger. By the time he gets it to how I like it, it's finished."
In Pulse II, we split the functionality. We've got the Pulse II Solo, and that is now a purely male-play toy. Nothing vibrates on the bottom. For the Duo, we did a silicon over-mold, so now it's nice and squidgy and soft for the lady.
And we made it completely waterproof. Everyone wanted jacuzzi fun, and apparently guys wanted to do it in the shower.
The Pulse is pretty sleek. Did you intend for it to come out looking so sci-fi?
Yeah, we've got to be in the next Batman movie, right?
The brand itself was always going to try to be positioned as a mainstream brand, so we wanted to avoid the stigma of mainstream sex toy brands. We wanted something that was aesthetically cool, that a guy wouldn't be ashamed to leave on a nightstand. What we were hoping to have happen was that a guy would for the first time ever say: "Hey, I've got the most ridiculous toy!" and have guys showing each other the most fantastic gadget they've ever seen, to really appeal to the gadgety side. And I think we managed to achieve that.
You've said you want the Pulse to be the dawn of a new era or line of sex toys. So what is the future, going forward, for Hot Octopuss?
Not only have we invented a new product, but we've invented a new form of stimulation, which we have trademarked "Pulse Plate Technology." What we can do is take the technology and find different ways to apply it.
So many women put their finger on it and say, Oh, I've got penis envy. So we're now in the process of developing the "Queen B," which is taking this predominately male technology and applying it to the vagina. It's going to require a bit of redesign.
Some people in early reviews complained about the volume (and explaining it to family and friends), so are you doing anything about that?
The noise thing, it's like someone saying I want a rocket to go to the moon, but I want it to be really, really quiet. With power comes noise. And I've got to be honest, you put the TV, the radio on in the background and you're not going to be able to hear it. You can get away with being loud if it's, "Oh my God, the best orgasm I've ever had in my life."
The Duo focuses on male-female play. Do you have any thoughts about developing homosexual play toys?
We were looking for a couple's toy that would appease the man and the woman. That's a strategic decision: You've got a better chance of taking off if you go narrow, not wide. So we're not actively marketing this to gay couples. That said… we had a fantastic review from the Big Gay Review. He said he put it on and it was great for perineum [stimulation].
What are your top picks for the best alternative male toys out there that deal in other technologies and types of stimulation?
There are toys that I would never ever, ever, ever, ever consider buying myself when you go to a trade show. There's a big manufacturer called PipeDream that does these big silicone dolls. They put lube on your hand and put it into the bits and the whole thing is vibrating and literally I'm going huh… And this booty literally shook. They made me put my finger [in it] and the whole thing was clenching. It's amazing.
If someone sent me one, would I keep it? Yeah! Would I go and buy it? No! [It's] $750 each. You've got to wonder who buys this. But if you were given one, you'd be having some early weekends.
Then there are, I've got to be honest, amazing products that are not mass market: prostate toys. Certainly not with the straight market. If you're talking about a different kind of orgasm, get over the mental block and try [one] because they are phenomenal. Change your life if you have a go.
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