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Electric vibrators

Author: Megan Butcher

For a while, it seemed like electric vibrators had gone out of vogue. In our stores, they sat in their basket on the wall, and occasionally someone would pick one up, flip the switch, do a double take and put it back down again. Which always struck me as a shame, since I am a die-hard, loyal, electric vibrator enthusiast.

Sure, battery operated models are smaller and more wieldy, easier to fit between two people, and don’t put your clit on a tether to the nearest outlet. But batteries, dammit, wear out. Or wear down, so if you want your toy running at top speed all the time (yes, please!) you have to change them before they’re actually real garbage, which irks my penny-pinching heart. Very importantly, for those of us who are power hungry, I’ve never met a battery vibe that matched an electric for strength. And as for longevity -- my electric vibe has outlasted every single battery model I’ve ever owned. That toy and my cat are the two things I would save from a burning building.

Lately, though, there seems to have been a resurgence in the popularity of electric vibrators lately. More specifically, some days it feels like every other person is walking in the door and asking about the Hitachi Magic Wand. Upon first laying eyes on the wand, most people have one of two responses: "Oh my god, I’m supposed to put that where?" or "Wow, where’s your nearest plug?" For those of you who aren’t familiar with what’s been called "the cadillac of vibrators", it’s just a little over a foot long, the business end looks remarkably like a white plastic tennis ball (see our online catalogue for a photo), and it’s pretty weighty as vibes go. The big split in reaction comes not only from the size and heft, but from its power as well. The Hitachi has two speeds, and when I’m feeling clever, I like to describe them as "higher" and "holy cow". This strength inspires fear in some and awe in others.

If you want to come through your clothes, definitely go for the Hitachi. On its own, plastic to lube to skin, the thing is so damn powerful its easy to short circuit your nerve endings. At least, that’s the only way I can describe what seems to happen occasionally when I use it. After a few frustrating visits with my Wand, I finally found that the higher speed with a washcloth folded in four provided enough, but not too much stimulation. Betty Dodson, one of the Wand’s biggest champions, recommends affixing the washcloth with an elastic used to hold bunches of broccoli together. But once you do get it working for you, man, does it ever work. "Holy cow" falls somewhat short of the mark.

But the Hitachi isn’t the only electric vibe out there. There are rechargeable types that look about the same, but don’t plug in while you’re using them. They’re more powerful than battery operated models, but you still have the wearing down factor. The best of the best, as far as I’m concerned, is the coil vibrator. We carry one called the Ben Wa 3001; Wahl makes a similar one. It’s a little less powerful than the Hitachi, but much more quiet. The vibration is definitely on the high-pitched buzzy side, for both the low and the high speeds. It’s quite different from most of the battery operated models, which tend towards the throbby end of the spectrum. It also comes with several attachments that can diffuse or focus the vibration, or provide different kinds of texture; also, one of them is a 3 inch probe with a nub at a 45 degree angle that can be used for either vaginal or anal stimulation.

There are separate attachments for all of these vibes, so if you’re looking more for penetration, but don’t want to sacrifice the power and reliability of electric, you can get either straight or hooked probes for the Hitachi types, as well as one in silicone. There’s also a clit/g-spot stimulator that is designed to fit the coil type vibe.

So the Hitachi is a huge back massager and the coil vibrator looks a little like a drill. Maybe not quite as funky as an animal print or as sensuous as silicone, and yes, there is the issue of the cord. But frankly, I am willing to plan my bedroom decor around the location of outlets. It seems a small sacrifice for that much pleasure.

(From our May 2003 newsletter.)