When it comes to vibrators, we’ve never had it so good…

Today we welcome back brilliant guest blogger Zak Jane Keir. She’s here to talk to you about vibrators, and why we’ve never had it so good…

Aren’t vibrators beautiful, these days? OK, slightly startling conversation-opener, but it definitely has some powerful elements of truth to it. Quite a lot of modern sex toys are genuinely charming to look on: I’ve heard it said about more than one non-phallic plaything that you really could leave it on the mantelpiece and even the local vicar would probably think it was a little piece of modern art.

I find this particularly pleasurable because I remember the days when you couldn’t get anything to wank with that wasn’t pretty unappealing in visual terms. The standard model was either six inches of off-white plastic with pointlessly ribbed sides or it looked like something that had been lopped off a dead plus-size porn star. OK, there were a few variations on the themes, usually in terms of bigger, even bigger and REALLY NO THANK YOU I DON’T NEED TO PLUNGE THE SINK WITH IT.

In the late 80s, the height of self-gratifying sophistication was probably what they called the Non-Doctor: this was a jet black six-incher with either a gold head or a gold band round it. OK, black and gold anything was about as sophisticated as the 80s got, though looking back it’s perhaps odd that the neon mushroom visuals associated with rave culture didn’t cross over at some point. If you really didn’t want a fake dick, there was a type of vibe called an Angel Egg, but that was also made of hard, brittle plastic and featured a loud rattling sound and tended to overheat. I think you could send away for a Magic Wand, which looked, then, not that dissimilar to the way it does now but cost the earth and you could only get one if you had access to a top-shelf magazine and permission to cut out the coupon, or so I was told.

This isn’t to say that the uglyfucks didn’t do their jobs, of course. One of the most alarming – to the eyes, anyway – sex toys I ever used was called The Tongue, and it consisted of a white base unit of the type you get as a control box for cheap fairy lights, and an upper portion that was supposed to look like a tongue. I think the intention was that it was a super-tongue of some description as it was a bit larger than what most of us are used to having in our mouths in quiet time. It was supposed to be cunnilingus in toy form, and it was pretty effective, as I recall, but if it looked like a tongue it looked like a tongue that had recently been severed, or harvested from a zombie. It did, perhaps, teach me that looks aren’t everything as it was remarkably effective – well, until the control box cracked and it wouldn’t hold the batteries in place any longer. After about a fortnight…

Things started to change in the late 90s, slowly but surely. An early pioneer would have been Dell Williams at Eve’s Garden, the original women’s sex shop: they seem to have been the first to float the idea that an orgasm-provider for women could be an attractive object in its own right. Shortly afterwards, Rabbit vibes hit the headlines – and the shelves of suitable shops in every town and suburb, and suddenly it was accepted that vibrators could be pretty, could be multi-functional, could be something other than just a substitute for mighty manly willies. Now there’s a shape and a texture and a colour for every taste and every budget.

There may come a point when people consider it more authentic or retro or something to go back to the days of pink/cream-coloured, vaguely anatomical-looking constructs, but I reckon I’ll stick to being a modern girl and please myself with an array of toys that are not only pretty to look at but far more robust, reliable and tactile than such things used to be.

Zak Jane Keir is a writer and editor who has been involved with erotica for over 20 years. She has written countless articles (for magazines such as Penthouse, For Women, Swingmag and Desire) short stories and several novels, both as Zak and as Sallyanne Rogers. She currently runs the Dirty Sexy Words erotica slams in South London.

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