• I’m A Sex Toy Reviewer: 4 Things No One Prepared Me For

    I’m A Sex Toy Reviewer: 4 Things No One Prepared Me For

    You ever have one of those moments where you just stop and think “What even is my life?”

    Now imagine that moment is happening and you’re double-fisting limp Fleshlight sleeves while shooing a cat away from an open bottle of expensive organic, plant-based lube you forgot to put away after filming a review video.

    And this is your job.

    Whenever I tell people that part of how I (mostly) pay my bills is by testing and reviewing sex toys, lubes, and creating sex education content, most people say how much fun that must be.

    It can be, but most of the time it is a ridiculous and absurd slog that drains more than just my balls.

    First Of All, How Did I Get Here?

    Like most jobs I’ve had, writing about and reviewing sexual paraphernalia is something I fell into. I don’t have any degrees in sexual studies or some sort of medical expertise.

    I was just a dude who needed a job!

    As someone who can’t stand the standard 9-to-5 and was ready to throat-punch everyone I met in customer service, writing felt like a good route to go. The hard part about finding writing jobs consistently is having a niche that is in demand and few people cover.

    Unfortunately for this aging comic book and movie fanatic, the entertainment/nerd market is beyond saturated.

    The only other thing I had going for me was that I was sex-positive and held very little judgment for people’s kinks and proclivities. Turns out that if you combine that and can string a witty phrase about anal beads together, there is a demand.

    Initially, most of my work was SEO-packed listicles that required more online research than hands-on experience. Stuff like “Top 55 Best Adult Cam Sites of “The 276 Best Vibrating Eggs for Vaginas”, and other articles that would hit the front page of Google.

    Eventually, my Editor/Guardian Angel let me stretch my wings a bit and write for Philadelphia Weekly’s Sex, Dating, and LGBTQIA+ sections. This gave me a chance to build a portfolio and a voice that could entice more clients.

    About a year ago, I landed a freelancing contract with a science-backed website that focused on mental and sexual health for women. They were looking to broaden their base and bring in some new perspectives.

    Turns out more than half of their readers identified as male, and they needed someone to write pieces for all the dudes and also ladies or non-bis with a penis and prostate.

    I have both. Finally, a job I was actually qualified for.

    They said they would send me actual products, most of which would be out of my personal price range, for me to try out and eventually review in articles and short videos. I would also get the opportunity to film educational material.

    For clarity, the videos are of me talking about things, not performing them. 

    I was genuinely excited. Sexual education and acceptance are massively important to me and the idea of free toys and lubes didn’t hurt either.

    Well, when used properly it wouldn’t.

    This felt like a dream come true. I could work from home with my lovely, sexy, wife and our two hellspawn cats while getting free goodies I could never afford and enjoy with said sexy wife.

    Then, reality began to settle into my “cumming for capital” fantasy.

    Here are 5 of the things I didn’t consider when I began my journey as a sex toy reviewer.

    #1. Where You Can Stick It

    One thing I did not consider was where I should store everything I got.

    When space is limited, especially if it is a shared space, it is not cool to leave out several dozen dildos and faux-ginas. That goes double if you have pets that love sticking their goddamn heads in everything.

    At first, this wasn’t a huge deal. My first few assignments that required more than just online research were for different types of lubricants. Silicone-based, all-natural oil kinds, CBD lubes, etc. Most of them came in small bottles that I could pack away in a tiny box in the corner.

    The problems pile up when you hit around 15-20 bottles of lube.

    I also tend to leave items out while I’m writing about them for quick reference and inspiration. So, if we got a delivery for dinner or something and the driver didn’t know what I do for a living, they would probably assume some dark shit was going on in this house.

    As part of reviewing a lube, you have to take the packaging into account. Not just the aesthetics, but the functionality. Is it easy to open? Simple to apply with one hand?

    Does it leak all over f*cking everything?! Even my Tim Sale autographed hardcover copy of Spider-Man: Blue?!

    Some lubes are ridiculously difficult to clean off fabrics and surfaces and can leave stains. That’s fun to explain to a guest sitting on the couch.

    Toys like vibrators, cock rings, and dildos can be tucked away in a drawer if you have one or two. Things get a bit more precarious when you have more prostate massagers than t-shirts.

    Thankfully, I’m pretty good at Tetris.

    Until recently, I thought the most difficult thing to store would be the myriad of suction-cup dildos. Turns out that lining them up on the wall like I’m the world’s loneliest big game hunter or sticking them to the ceiling like a bunch of dick-cicles wasn’t as amusing to the Mrs. as it is to me.

    Currently, I am faced with my biggest space-saving challenge yet.

    As the only writer with a penis working for this website, I am in charge of their new Fleshlight Hub. That means, at the time of writing, I have almost 40 of the best Fleshlights in my house. Every one of them needs to be stored back in their box for future video reviews and article photos.

    I went from never even holding a Fleshlight to having more than I knew existed in the span of three weeks.

    Most of them are from the popular Fleshlight Girls line, where adult film stars have a Fleshlight sleeve modeled after their picture-perfect pussies or A-list a-holes. My partner and I share some discomfort over sex toys that are essentially just disembodied parts of women as it feels a bit serial killer-y.

    So, we had to have a long talk about where we were comfortable putting them all.

    My wife suggested the tool shed, but then I’d be the guy with 40 Fleshlights in his shed which is not a good look. Somehow, it felt worse than just building a tower in the middle of the living room with them.

    She shot that idea down fast.

    Instead, I emptied out the storage area built into the couch. Adios, the blanket that grandma knitted, I got pocket pussies to store!

    Every assignment will come to a close and I can get rid of a lot of these things, which feels like a waste considering how expensive some of the items are. But, it’s not like I can find a new home for them.

    I legally, and practically, can’t resell them. What would I even post on Facebook Marketplace?

    “Gently used Fleshlight in need of TLC! She’s a rescue <3!!”

    Eventually, there is going to be a mass exodus of all of these things into the trash. Part of me can’t wait to see the look on the sanitation crew’s face when dozens of these things tumble out into the back of a garbage truck.

    #2. Finding the Right Angle

    Reviewing the finest in spicy accouterment is more than just playing with the toys, you have to write about them.

    Sending in a review of “I nutted” or “Smells funny” ain’t going to cut it.

    You need to be creative, informative, non-judgmental, and honest. If you can’t be honest about hating a product your client needs you to push, then try to find the good in something. Unless the product truly sucks and/or is unsafe, someone is going to want to know if it is right for them and not so much if it was right for you.

    For example, the thing I said about fake parts of women as sex toys? That’s my own hang up and I would never assume someone was looking to turn a college girl into a lampshade just because they own a realistic-looking sex toy and that needs to be clear in the writing.

    A major rule in writing about consensual sex stuff, and life in general, is never “yuck” someone’s “yum”. 

    I also have to admit when I’m out of my depth. Recently, the whole team was sent a bunch of the best vibrators. Some were clearly labeled as prostate massagers, some had clit-sucking capabilities, and others seemed more unisex.

    For the ones that I didn’t like that fell under the unisex category, I had to admit that if I had a vagina the product might have gotten higher marks. To someone with a vagina, it might have been revolutionary.

    To me, it was a wasted Tuesday afternoon.

    There was a similar issue when we had a line of CBD infused lubes. With my experience in cannabis products, both personal and professional, I was suspicious that a lot of the effects the lubes claimed were more marketing than anything else.

    CBD lubes claim to help enhance physical sensations and promote relaxation, bringing on a feeling of euphoria. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m pretty relaxed and euphoric after orgasming anyway.

    That being said, plenty of female reviewers did say it aided in menstrual cramping, noticeable pelvic muscle relaxation, and that they did notice a difference between the lubes.

    When reviewing items that are going in or on your body that are supposed to have a physical effect, you do need to be mindful and aware of every sensation. You need to paint a picture for the reader.

    It’s like being a slutty sommelier.

    Descriptive, but not graphic, language is the name of the game. You’d be surprised how many ways you can say how slippery, tight, or girthy something is.

    Saying a vibrator vibrates really hard is boring. Saying “your prostate will experience unparalleled pleasure with every soft buzz and rumbling roar” moves units.

    It isn’t all marketing bullshit either. All lubes are slippery, but what ones are silky, buttery, slick, or luxurious? That’s what matters.

    You also need to be a bit fearless when it comes to reviewing sex toys. You have to be comfortable telling millions of strangers about your dick size, how long you last, and how well you can bottom.

    For me, the answer to all three of those is “perfectly fine”, in case you were wondering.

    These days, it is hard for freelance writers to find work thanks to machine learning (no, not sex machines) and people who think it is some sort of revolutionary AI that can replace copywriters for free. The only way to ensure work is to show your creativity and openness.

    ChatGPT has never had its prostate played like a violin and it shows. 

    #3. I Need All of the Gatorade

    Writing isn’t easy, but neither is reviewing sex toys as a middle-aged neurodivergent dude.

    Libidos are a fickle bitch sometimes, and a whole host of things can affect yours one way or the other.

    In general, I’d say I’m a pretty randy individual. I enjoy sexual activities and erotica, even if it is more for appreciation than for achieving a goal.

    As I age, my body doesn’t always want to play ball. Even if I’m ravenously horny for my partner, my penis doesn’t always get the memo. Sometimes it’s because I’m exhausted or distracted, or I get in my head about not performing well.

    Either way, sometimes my dick can be a real dick.

    When needing to test or review something like a Fleshlight, I need to really try and hype myself up. Sometimes that means spending a fair chunk of time looking through the best cam sites and porn sites until I find something that raises more than an eyebrow. The more you do that, the more novel or hardcore material is required.

    You ever have one of those wanks where you finish and immediately slap your laptop shut to avoid hours of introspection?

    You might ask why I don’t just wait until I am already bricked up to test this stuff, wouldn’t that make more sense?

    For one, the timing could be all wrong. My wife and I both work from home. If she’s in a Zoom meeting with her mic on, I doubt her co-workers need to hear my trying to blow out a plastic tube’s back or a buzzing that makes everyone check their phones to see who is calling.

    The other is I have deadlines, and deadlines don’t wait for your boner.

    A common issue for folks with ADHD or similar neuro-divergences is that their libido waxes and wanes intermittently. There could be a period of a few weeks where I’m hornier than a Spider Monkey, or a whole month where an orgy with the whole adult cast of Barbie wouldn’t interest me.

    I mean, I’d still go, but I would just run the craft services table.

    It has been especially difficult this past year, as many people with ADHD will tell you, thanks to medication shortages. Getting cut off from your meds without warning can throw your whole brain into a blender.

    Couple that with common comorbidities like depression and anxiety, and you have a one-way ticket to Limp City.

    That being said, I have bills to pay and this is my job. So, I soldier on and eventually get so drained that I consider faking an orgasm to get it over with.

    Seriously, at a certain point, it is less dropping loads and more like my wang is wheezing.

    My clients are thoughtful enough that when the team of reviewers gets a new product to test, we usually have at least a month or so to try it at least once.

    That’s where the other ADHD issue comes in: procrastination.

    Most ADHD people put things off until the last second since the rush of needing to finish a giant project with a ticking clock sends us into hyperfocus, assuming we can actually start working. It’s not intentional, but it is common.

    Again, deadlines need to be met. If I can’t get my job done in time and have it near perfect, then that delays someone else, which delays someone else, and on and on. There’s also an element of shame that comes with not being able to complete a task for an admittedly silly job.

    Like, how useless am I if I can’t f*ck a silicone sleeve and write 500 words about it?

    That can send you into a shame spiral that requires a lot of self-care, but the rent is due. So, you have to literally nut up and get to work.

    The worst time I put off testing until the last second was when we had to test 6 different anal lubes. I had to fly solo on that one and I don’t mind telling you that was one of the most unfun and exhausting butt-stuff weekends of my life.

    I didn’t injure myself or anything, but the last thing you want to feel when getting penetrated is boredom.

    Could I have just lied and submitted some creatively curated bullshit? No, because I have integrity.

    (He said with a straight face while looking at a Fleshlight sleeve hanging out to dry.)

    #4. It’s Not All Doom and Coom

    I don’t want to dissuade anyone who wants to do this job, most of the time it is fun. Sex is supposed to be fun and you can’t take it too seriously.

    Sometimes you just have to sit back and laugh at yourself and the situation you are in. It can be little things like the fake mouth for simulating blowjobs that arrived looking like this:

    Seriously, I must have spent the better part of an hour cackling and saying “I won ta thuck it!” 

    Sometimes my wife makes fun of me and it is well deserved. How can you not poke fun at a grown-ass man staring at a wobbling, purple dong with deadly seriousness?

    True story, last night our house was hit by a major storm and the power was out all night. Through the dark, I felt her eyes burying into me before she said “All of these Fleshlights, and there is not a single actual goddamn flashlight in the house?”

    Here’s another funny story about how I almost died messing around with a Fleshlight.

    I was working on a piece about how to prepare your Fleshlight for its first use and brief instructions on cleaning it. I needed to remove the SuperSkin sleeve (a proprietary material whose ingredients are as mysterious as Coca-Cola’s) for some photos in front of the bathroom mirror. As I held this limp kaiju tentacle in my hand I had a thought.

    “What noise would this make if I blew into one end?”

    Putting the business end up to my lips and holding the floppy mass in place, I didn’t consider how tightly I was gripping the other end.

    In a fraction of a second, a fleshy bubble appeared in the mirror, which shocked me, causing the air and a wave of cornstarch that coated the inside to burst forcefully into my lungs.

    Coughing and hacking, I fell over and nearly smashed my skull on the counter corner. If I had hit my head my last thought would have been “That was the funniest thing I’ve ever done and I didn’t do it on camera.”

    There are more upsides than laughing at yourself. You learn a lot, besides just not to use a Fleshlight as a bagpipe.

    Working for this particular company, everything they post is reviewed by medical doctors on staff and backed by peer-reviewed research. I’ve gotten the chance to learn about the chemical interactions of different oils and materials and their effect on the human body. I’ve read numerous studies on human biomes and mental wellness in relation to sex.

    I’ve even learned more about myself and what I like and don’t like, getting more comfortable with my body and feeling sexier because of it.

    Another upside is pretty obvious: free shit!

    Putting my cards on the table, I have had very little experience with sex toys made for people with penises until now. The few that I have used are cheap and flimsy and I never saw the point of dropping hundreds of dollars on an adult toy that wasn’t a highly detailed superhero or sci-fi model.

    As I said, I never tried anything like a Fleshlight before. It always seemed pointless when I have my hand. I have now seen the light and plan on hanging on to a few of them when this is all done.

    When other jobs I’ve had ended, I might get to walk away with a free t-shirt or whatever I could sneak into my bag on the way out. Now, I have an arsenal of top-tier sex toys.

    Not to mention a wealth of material to talk about on stage when I do stand-up.

    Who else is going to have a “My Fleshlight almost killed me” bit?

    RELATED: The Best Male Sex Toys, Ranked

      • Justin Perlman (he/him) is a comedian and writer based in Atlanta. He has two cats named Dr. Whoopsy-Daisy & Superintendent Chalmers and cries at the ending of Robocop.

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