Reviewer Greta Christina has worked in and around the sex industry for over a decade writing about it, editing books about it, and living it. She edited Paying For It, a collection of articles by all kinds of sex workers: dommes, escorts, peep show girls, T-girls. Her novella called Bending is out in Susie Bright's book Three Kinds of Asking For It (published by Simon & Schuster and can be found at amazon.com). In response to overwhelming member requests for reviews of sex toys, sexy films, and other sex whatnots, Ms. Christina brings her girl-about-sex wisdom twice monthly to Adult FriendFinder. You can check out Ms. Christina on her web site, gretachristina.com.
The Obligatory Year-End Top-Something-or-Other List
by Greta Christina
I'm not going to pretend that this is anything like a comprehensive roundup. I've only reviewed a tiny portion of the thousands upon thousands of sex products released in 2005; and anyway, I didn't even start writing this column until last March. But I deeply respect the eternal human yearning for the sense of order and completion that year-end Top Whatever lists provide. So in honor of that impulse, I hereby provide you with:
The Top Five Sex Products that Greta Got Around to Reviewing in the Last Three-Quarters of 2005
5. Casual Sex Comics, 1 - 5
by El Bute
Available at Last Gasp, http://www.lastgasp.com/
$3.50 - $4.95 each
So here's the thing. In the last couple of decades, there's been this magnificent flowering in the world of comics, and a similarly magnificent flowering in the world of pornography. But alas, the world of pornographic comics is lagging behind -- adult comics tend to be either stupid and juvenile and mediocre at best, or else serious and literary and not very hot. "Casual Sex" is one of the very few exceptions: an adult comic that blends dirty, dirty sex with real characters and emotions. And it's a grand example of why real characters and emotions make for hotter smut: the comics get you inside the story, inside the characters' naked skins, making you feel all the crazy shit that drives people's libidos.
"Casual Sex" isn't perfect -- it's a somewhat uneven series, varying from issue to issue and even from story to story. But even at its worst, its intentions are worthwhile, aiming for a goal that most adult comics aren't even aware of. And at its best, it's an excellent example of what porn comics can aspire to. In ten years, if we get the marvelous explosion of brilliantly filthy adult comics that I'm hoping for, we're going to see El Bute as one of the pioneers of the genre.
4. Dirty Found Magazine
Available at Found Magazine, http://www.foundmagazine.com/
and at Last Gasp, http://www.lastgasp.com/
This is a dirty magazine like no other dirty magazine you've seen. It's a collection of "found" erotica -- photos, letters, drawings, stories and more, found on buses and in cafes and at yard sales, discovered in used books or just picked up off the street. So unlike professional porn, which shows you what some director or photographer or writer thinks people get turned on by, "Dirty Found" gives an extremely private look at the stuff that real people really do get turned on by.
And "private" is the key word here. It's like being a fly on the wall of the dirtiest motel room in town; a peek through the keyhole at the most secret of sexual secrets. It's sleazy and forbidden and very naughty indeed. Yet at the same time, it's rather touching, almost innocent, with a sort of un-self-conscious sweetness. The quality is seriously amateur -- real amateur, not fake amateur -- so you shouldn't expect the photos to be beautifully lit, the drawings to be perfectly in perspective, the writing to be clever or original or even competently spelled. But it's vivid, and it's funny, and it's intimate, and it's freaky, and it's intensely real -- sometimes disturbingly so. And best and most unusual of all in the porn world, it's surprising. That by itself puts it on my list.
3. Rubber Penis Gag with Airway, a.k.a. Inflatable Rubber Gag with Breathing Tube Available at Extreme Restraints, http://www.extremerestraints.com/ $52.50
Admittedly, this is a rather specialized toy. But it does what it sets out to do. It fills up your mouth and makes you shut the hell up, while at the same letting you breathe. And it does it extremely well. It has lots of handy features, too -- the wide pad that acts like a hand over the mouth, the breathing tube that can be pinched off for breath control, the pump-up inflatable gag that lets you fill up the mouth as much or as little as you want -- while not having so many features that it's fiddly and hard to use.
But mostly I'm putting this on my Top Five list for personal reasons. Just putting the damn thing on got me almost immediately aroused... and pumping the gag up was like flicking on a light switch in my libido. Between the control of being silenced and the increasingly intense penetration of the inflating gag, I felt invaded, overwhelmed, hyper-aware of my mouth and its erotic possibilities, helpless and scared in the most delicious way, and horny to the point of near-panic. And the breathing tube makes it the only gag I've ever used that made me feel both completely silenced and thoroughly safe. It's not a toy for everybody; but if you like gags and are getting sick of those rubber-ball things, this is an excellent step up.
2. Ecstasy in Berlin 1926, DVD
Available at Good Vibrations, http://www.goodvibes.com/
If all dirty videos were as good as this one, I'd be a much less cranky critic. Hell, if all dirty videos were in the same ballpark as this one, or were even making a remotely half-assed effort to be in the ballpark with this one, I'd be reasonably satisfied. I'm not talking about the fact that it's lesbian SM smut (although that doesn't suck). I'm talking about the fact that it's a labor of love, an attempt to express a heartfelt and passionate sexual vision, a porno that's done with genuine artistry and beauty and care.
Director Maria Beatty has the rare gift of making porn that's both filthy and beautiful. She can capture a perfectly-framed erotic moment, without sacrificing passion or immediacy. She doesn't just slap some pretty camerawork and groovy lighting onto your standard porno fuck scene or spank scene, either; it's all part of one picture, the camera and lighting and casting and costumes all blending together to take the elegantly degenerate images in her head and put them on the screen. I've been a fan of Beatty's for years, and while her videos do have their ups and downs, this is definitely one of her best. Even if lesbian kink isn't your special thing, I still recommend this to any porn fan who appreciates first-class porn filmmaking and wants to see what the medium is capable of. And if you do like watching lesbian kink, you absolutely cannot miss this one.
1. Pulse-Right Bullet Vibe
Available at Good Vibrations, http://www.goodvibes.com/
Of all the shiny new sex toys I tried this year, this is the only one that made it into the permanent collection in my bedside drawer. A small, battery-powered vibrator with three pulsating settings and two steady ones, the Pulse-Right is just the thing for when my brain and bones and muscles are horny, but my clit hasn't quite caught up yet. The pulsing options make a wonderful tease, building me up from casually interested to writhing and pleading. And when I'm done being teased, the steady vibrations are more than enough to kick me over the cliff. For a battery-op vibrator, this thing is surprisingly intense. And I love how portable it is. I've been looking for a long time for a battery vibe I could take with me anywhere (to the living room sofa where I watch porn, for example), but which was strong enough to actually get me off instead of just winding me up and leaving me hanging. The Pulse-Right delivers, both the wind-up and the final punch.
Don't get me wrong. I had a grand old time with several other new toys this year, and I recommend them with few reservations. But being a sex product reviewer, I now own an awful lot of sex toys, way more than I can ever actually use on a regular basis. So most of them -- even the ones I like a fair amount -- wind up getting stashed in an increasingly large pile on an increasingly jumbled bookshelf, to be hauled out every now and then when we're in the mood for something different. But not the Pulse-Right. The Pulse-Right is right there in the bedside drawer, part of the regular starting rotation, along with the Wahl and the Hitachi and one or two other things. It's not my Number One vibe -- that'll always be my beloved Wahl. But when I want a teasy buildup instead of a relentless jackhammer, or when I don't want a bulky plug-in thing tying me to the wall socket and generally getting in the way, I reach for the Pulse-Right with no hesitation. This is definitely the find of the year, and I heartily recommend it to any and all vibrator connoisseurs.
And now, because I'm such a forward-looking gal who doesn't like to live in the past, I'm giving you the following to chew on:
Top Five Sex Products That I'd Love To See in 2006
5. A book of adult photography or art that takes the classic "tease and titillate" imagery of '40s and '50s pulp-fiction and men's adventure magazine bondage art, and then takes those images further, into explicit hard-core kink pornography. 4. A hands-free, strap-it-in-place-and-forget-about it vibrator that really works. 3. A porno video with real polymorphous perversity: with a real variety of sex acts and fetishes, a real variety of races and ages and body types, both male and female bisexuality, and actresses who don't look like they came off some scary "Brave New World" cloning assembly line for large-breasted blondes. 2. A battery-powered vibrator that's as powerful as a plug-in Wahl or Hitachi Magic Wand. 1. An adult comics anthology that I can appreciate artistically *and* whack off to.
So if any of you hear of any sex products that meet this description, please drop me a line. Heck, if you have any suggestions at all as to sex products you think I should try, please drop me a line. It'll make the coming year a lot more interesting for all of us.
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