This article originally appeared on VICE Netherlands
You'd probably think that no one handles quite as many sex toys as porn stars, but 40-year-old Chantall from the Netherlands has had more than 600 dildos, butt plugs, and vibrators pass through her hands.
On the blog she started about four years ago, she reviews every kind of toy imaginable—including several Tarzan vibrators, a smiling butt plug, and a double penetrator. Her blog gets around 2,000 visitors a day, while she also gets a lot of emails from people asking her for sex advice on a weekly basis. Besides sex toy reviews, her blog also offers more in-depth stuff—like a comprehensive guide to lube or tips for cleaning a sex toy.
To get to this level of expertise, Chantall has been puffing and panting for almost 15 years—she's been in the sex toy industry for much longer than her website's been live. I wanted to know more about this fountain of knowledge, so I went to her home to get a good look at her sex toy paradise. When I rang her doorbell around 11:30 AM, a cheerful redhead wearing a bright turquoise polka dot dress opened the door. After a cup of tea, she led me to a small office upstairs full of brightly colored dreamcatchers, which she also makes herself and sells online.
I spoke with Chantall about her blog, toxic toys, and the ultimate orgasm.
VICE: Why did you start a blog about sex toys?
Chantall: I have a degree in media studies, and after I graduated, I started working as a freelance writer for various magazines. I've always been very interested in sexuality, so when the editor-in-chief of the Dutch pornographic magazine FOXY asked me to write for them, I immediately said yes. I was responsible for the product page and wrote about ten new sex toys every month. That was about fifteen years ago. From there my interest in sex toys just kept growing, so about four years ago my husband said, "Why don't you start something of your own?" That's when I started my own blog.
How many sex toys have you tried in those fifteen years?
I think I must be getting close to one thousand. But some of them are so bad, you don't even want to try them out. I will still turn them on, but I just don't put them in. So the toys that I have actually tested—I think that's about six hundred.
I'm not going to torture myself by staying in bed with a terrible product for an hour in the hope that something will happen. If I don't get an orgasm within ten minutes, that's it.
Do the manufacturers send you all these toys?
Yes, I have never actually bought one myself. I've got connections with all the major brands, like Lelo, Fun Factory, and Rocks-Off. They send me their newest products before they even hit the stores, so I can try them out and write about it. I also work with a few sex shops. They often let me choose the toys I'd like to test myself.
Do you do this every day?
I don't test a new toy every day, because reviewing sex toys is just like having "regular" sex—sometimes you're in the mood, and sometimes you're not. But I do try to update my website and answer messages from readers every day.
How long does it take you to test a toy?
It depends. If the toy is really excellent, I'll test it more than once. But if it's terrible—which happens more often than the other way around—I will be done with it very quickly. I'm not going to torture myself by staying in bed with a terrible product for an hour in the hope that something will happen eventually. If I don't get an orgasm within ten minutes, that's it.
How do you go about testing a toy, exactly?
I usually test the toys on my own, but some of them are made to be used with a partner, so sometimes I'll call in my husband. I do what I call a "dry test" first. I look at the package, I look up what the manufacturer says about the product online, I feel the material, read the instructions, I check the buttons, and I take a look at and feel how the toy vibrates. I've broken a toy right away just by turning it a bit. And if a toy stinks, I don't even try it out.
If it stinks?
Yes. The shape and the motor of a toy may be amazing, but if it's made out of unsafe materials, I refuse to test it. Unsafe materials generally have a very typical plastic smell. Safe materials are glass, metal, and one hundred percent silicone, for instance. Those materials are non-porous, which means they are easy to clean and that bacteria, fungi, or other kinds of dirty stuff don't get the chance to stick to your toy.
For instance, an unsafe material that is sometimes used for sex toys is jelly, which is PVC that's been softened with plasticizers. These plasticizers are not good for your health. There have been studies on rats, and they got infertile after a small exposure to plasticizers. So toys made out of jelly are not allowed to ever enter my body.
But toys made out of silicone are OK, right?
Sure, though another problem that comes into play is that a company is allowed to say that the toy is made out of hundred percent silicone on the package, even if that's not the case. There aren't many laws and rules concerning sex toys, unfortunately.
Is there a way to tell if a toy is unsafe, besides the material?
There are a few tells: Never buy a toy with a horny-looking woman on the package, never buy toys that smell, never buy toys that come with a "For novelty use only" tag on the package, and above all, read about the product first or consult a sex shop assistant before you buy it. We are all so busy worrying about what we eat these days, but no one really thinks about how healthy their vibrator is.
What's your favorite sex toy?
It's the Europe Magic Wand, purely because of the brilliant vibrations it gives you—though it just might the most ugly vibrator that exists. It looks a bit like a microphone with a huge ball on it, and if you are a woman who has never tried a sex toy, I'd advise you to not start with this one. It vibrates very deeply, because it works on two hundred twenty volts. So, you have to plug it in a socket.
What's the worst?
I think more than a half of the sex toys I've tested belong in that category. So every toy that's made out of unsafe materials is bad. And then you also have those that vibrate badly. I always compare vibrations to the growl of a bear and the squeak of a mouse. Growling bear vibrations are the good ones, while squeaky mouse vibrations are the bad ones. They are not only annoying to your ears, but also to your clitoris.
Then you also have the category I call "Funfair in your cunt"; toys in every color of the rainbow, with clockwise and counterclockwise rotating pearls and glitter. It all looks very pretty but I can not recommend those products for several reasons. And then there are the "sex toys that look like children's toys"—those are the ones I really hate.
What's the most extreme toy you've tested?
The Sybian is a kind of fuck machine—it was so terrible! When I put it on, my whole house—including the houses next door—started to vibrate. It's a device that weighs about twenty pounds, and the company advised to put it on my bed, so that the mattress would absorb the vibrations and my neighbors didn't have to enjoy my little adventure. For me, that was too much hassle. I'm in for good and nice sex. I don't need it to be so complicated that I have to rebuild my entire living room.
Is there actually the right toy for every woman?
Yes, I think so. But if you don't feel the need to have one, that's another story. If you have a good sex life with your partner or with your fingers, you shouldn't feel the pressure to buy one. But there are plenty of women who find it more difficult to have an orgasm.
Every woman is different, and I cannot guarantee that whatever I find pleasurable, all other women do, too. But I can tell you what toys you shouldn't use. I have so many toys at home—I don't think there is anyone else in the Netherlands who has tested that many.