Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Cool Toy for Cheap!

Posted: August 4, 2015 by Isaac Cross in Reviews, Reviews (Product)

I normally don’t post this sort of thing, but JT’s Stockroom has a toy on sale that I really like, so I wanted to let everyone know.

The T-Cups Nipple Suction Set by KinkLab is the most user friendly suction toy that I have found. They are normally $25, but are on sale for 25% off.


The sale ends today (August 4, 2015), but even if so, they are worth the $25 regular price.

If you don’t like the color or design of these, there is a similar product from Extreme Restraints here for $17


I may do a formal review of these little tools at some point, but for now I will simply say that I like them a lot and if you enjoy suction or nipple play in general, I recommend these, especially given their relatively low cost.

Update: An excerpt of this review appears on the first page (or first few pages if you are reading on a small device) of both the print and digital editions of “The Game Changer”. I am honored. 

The Game Changer: A Memoir of Disruptive Love” is the new book by Franklin Veaux, co-author of “More Than Two“. If you haven’t read his first book, yet, click on the book title in that last sentence, read my review, and go buy yourself a copy.

I was incredibly excited to get to read the book in advance of its release this September. To get your copy, click on the image below to pre-order.

Now, for my review.

The Short Version

“More than anything, I craved being understood.” (Page 134)

I finished reading the book less than 24 hours after I received it. It is a compelling story about a fascinating individual. So at its core, it fulfills the requirements of a good auto-biography. Beyond that, it is well-written and structured in a way that gives the reader a great sense of the passage of time and the growth of the individuals across the years. The author successfully portrays both his old and new ways of thinking, and does a great job of connecting the threads between them in a way that really helps you to see the bigger picture of his journey. I was struck by how much I identified with both the author and his struggles. I expressed to others that it was reassuring, in a way, to read about someone like him feeling frustrated and lost and hurt, because I have felt that way. So if he could find his way through the fog and find happiness, then so can we. And if nothing else, at least we know that there someone else out there who understands what the fog feels like. That alone feels really good.

The Long Version

“I’m not polyamorous because I want to have sex with a bunch of women; I’m polyamorous because of the way I feel about family, commitment, and love.” (Page 179)

While “More Than Two” inspired me to think about relationships differently and to approach those around me with a new level of compassion and honesty, “Game Changer” instead serves as a source of hope, assuring you that those efforts are worth it. Veaux is someone who I have often held up as a sort of alternative relationships guru (a feeling that was entrenched when I read More Than Two), but in this book, he shows that he has, for much of his life, been just as lost and confused as I have often felt.

When I was about 30 pages away from finishing the book, I wrote a note to the person who had sent it to me saying that I appreciated having the chance to read it. I also told her that I was enjoying it. Immediately after hitting send, I regretted choosing the word “enjoy”. The vast majority of this book consists of following along someone’s personal journey of incredible turmoil and heartache. Veaux has dug into incredibly painful parts of his life and laid them out for us to learn from. So saying that I was enjoying reading about the suffering and hardship that has led him to the values and ideas that he holds today was not quite accurate. I wrote back to her again and said, “A lot of it is very emotionally difficult, but I am strongly identifying with the struggles and appreciating the opportunity to feel some comfort in the “I’m not alone feelings” while also getting the background perspectives that likely fueled the ideas of “More Than Two”. But ‘enjoy’ is perhaps not the right word for that.”

In school, I always remember being frustrated in math class. On tests, I would look at a problem and be able to tell you the answer, but I was also required to ‘show my work’, demonstrating how I arrived at the solution. I always felt that having the solution was good enough, but others wanted more from me. If “More Than Two” was Veaux’s solutions to poly problems, than this book is his way of showing his work. A lot of us, myself included, wanted to know how he reached the conclusions that he has about relationships. A lot of us agreed with him, but still wanted to see the process laid out. This book does that in incredible and painful detail.

“… it’s difficult to believe that you won’t be hurt again when the person hurting you has no idea why their behavior is painful.” (Page 180)

One moment that stood out for me, late in the book, was when he was describing a moment in their relationship where he and his wife were first acknowledging fundamental problems in the core of their relationship. They were reaching out to the world for answers and finding none. I wrote in my notebook that “The sense of hopelessness really comes through in this chapter. I can feel myself aching with the sorrow of these moments, even though I know what will emerge from the other side of it.”

One of the really beautiful elements of this book is the way that they are able to bring you into the room with them and feel things. I teared up more than once as they story progressed, at one point in particular, I couldn’t help but feel a deep sense of remorse for the moment that he describes as one of the three worst moments of his life (all three of which happened in cars). I don’t mind admitting that I get emotional when I read sad things, but only when the story-teller is successful in making me care, which he seems to do almost effortlessly.

“Maryann was a world-class snuggler, the sort who might be a favorite to win Olympic gold if there were an event in competitive snuggling.” (Page 116)

Veaux’s descriptions of small, random moments of joy and connection, which might seem like trivial details in such a big story, provide a crucial sense of humanity that regularly reminds the reader that everyone involved in the story are real people. And despite their quest for non-standard relationships and even enjoyment of the occasional whips and chains, they also enjoy watching puppies play in the park, or turtles ride on the backs of alligators, or snuggling quietly with someone you love.

“It doesn’t matter that the world is without purpose or meaning, because it has hot chocolate and sunsets and waterfalls and the smell of a lover and the sound of rain on the roof when we’re safe and warm in bed, and those things are awesome. So even if tomorrow we might get hit by a bus on the way to the grocery store, today, right now, we have each other, and each moment we exist is really all we ever have anyway.” (Page 36)

His larger world views bleed through in many of the smaller moments. After reading the above passage early in the book, I remarked that the book was secretly about way more than just poly. Several more times, throughout, I found myself highlighting and bookmark ideas that he gave such wonderful voice to, even those that were not just about relationships.

“Agreements built on insecurity and fear punish the people who make them, but they punish the people around those who make them far more.” (Page 146)

This, I think, is the most important line in the whole book. It is the moral of the story, I believe. It transcends the world of poly, too. In how many ways to we solicit promises from others around us only to allay our own fears and insecurities and fool ourselves into feeling safe? How often in our lives do we allow commitment and obligation to be our security blanket, rather than ensuring that we constantly earn the loyalty and love of others around us? Whether you identify as polyamorous or not, I think that idea is one worth considering. That idea is why I recommend this book without reservation.

“Amber is a dragonslayer, and you do not always get to have a comfortable relationship when you are in love with a dragonslayer.” (Page 205)

If I had any complaint about the book, it would be that the title doesn’t quite match the content. On page 2, we are told that the book is about his first game-changing relationship, yet that person, Amber the Dragonslayer/Giraffe/Game Changer, is not introduced to us until the last 60 pages. While the title of the book is “Game Changer”, a term and concept that are explored in-depth in “More Than Two”, 75% of this book is about the time before he met Amber. Instead, the book seems to follow his relationship, from beginning to end, with his ex-wife.  That isn’t a bad thing necessarily. As I said before, that depiction of struggle is one of the things I value most about the story. It is simply that I expected, based on the title and introduction, to read more about that radical, game-changing shift in thinking and the ways in which his life changed afterward.

It would be like if Avengers 2 was titled “Age of The Vision” and then we all left disappointed that most of it was about Ultron and The Vision didn’t show up until the end. That would not have made the movie any less awesome, though, and “Game Changer” is still a great book, despite this small disconnect.

So, my major gripe is that the story ended before I wanted it to, but I think that really says a lot about how compelling it is. I truly devoured the book and I look forward to sharing it with others this autumn. I would definitely tell people to read “More Than Two” first. But for those that bristle at ideas in it, such as the rejection of veto policies and the elevation of the status and rights of secondary partners, this book fills in some of the necessary gaps and explains why he believes so strongly in those things, which (in spite of how the high school version of me felt about showing your work) is probably just as important, if not more-so. In many ways, this book may serve as a short-cut, allowing readers to learn from Veaux’s experiences and mistakes, in lieu of making their own, and avoid many of the pitfalls that people beginning their exploration of poly often fall into.

… And his geekiness makes me smile.

Review: Kink (Documentary Film)

Posted: April 24, 2015 by Isaac Cross in Reviews, Reviews (Film/TV), Reviews (Web)


Buy the documentary film “KINK” on DVD or digital download here

A relatively new addition to Netflix Instant Watch (if you are into that sort of thing) is a documentary film called “Kink”. If you don’t have Netflix, you can get it on Amazon here.

As always, I was relatively cautious when opening the description of the video. Most films that make it onto Netflix that have a sexual bent are pretty horrible and I expected this to be the same.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that this is a documentary about the people and projects of the good folks at Kink.Com and that it was produced by (of all people) James Franco. Yes, that James Franco. (more…)

“Ooo magnets!!” was the thought I had when I stumbled across THESE bad boys on JT’s Stockroom. I have to admit, I’m a sucker for cool new toys and new tech (or, in this case, perverting rather old tech). I’m also a clip and clamp slut (seriously- I own like a hundred clothespins in varying tensions and sizes, plus I have a giant box of binder clips, hair clips and plastic clamps from the dollar store). So naturally, I had to snag ’em. Their $20-34 price tag also made them pretty appealing. I purchased the XL, heavy duty versions that apparently have a stronger, more intense attraction that’s only a couple bucks more. (more…)

Someone recently asked me for advice on what they should buy as a new BDSM player. The person is in a rural area and doesn’t have access to a physical retail store and doesn’t have a lot of money to drop on toys from online shops when can be very expensive.

So I rounded up a few things on Amazon that you can get relatively cheap and easy to build your first starter kit.

Why Amazon? Well, you get some level of protection if the product is not delivered or not as advertised. The shipping is usually free, so long as you spend more than $25. It’s a little less shady than ebay or random websites. I like Amazon.


What not to buy: Avoid anything with the word “Fantasy” in the title and under no circumstances buy anything labled with “50 Shades of Grey”. Chances are that this will be cheap material meant to give the appearance of bondage, but will probably break after a minimal amount of struggling. Avoid anything with velcro or snaps, too. Finally, while fake handcuffs are a part of a lot of people’s fantasies, they are also an easy way to get injuries. Even the fuzzy, friendly looking ones can be to tight, can put pressure on nerves and joints.

Instead, go for leather or canvass, something with buckles or locking pins. It’s quick, easy, durable, and reliable. Here are a few examples.

Expensive, heavy-duty leather cuffs

Cheaper leather cuffs – You may need to replace the chain with something from home depot for strength or, if you want more restriction, use a snap hook instead of a chain.

Middle ground, good quality leather cuffs – No chain, so you’ll need to get one elsewhere or use a snap hook.

If you don’t like leather and prefer something a little more gentle looking, try these corset-print cuffs from California Exotics.

Cuffs like those above are very efficient, quick in and quick out. But if you prefer to take your time, rope is the way a lot of people go. So the thing about rope, though, is that it is a skill. Tying wrong can cause a lot of problems. Start with some books. I have several recommendation on the Bookshelf Page.

After that, you want to make sure that you are using the right tools. All rope is not equal. The nylon stuff you buy at Walmart is slippery and stiff. Utility rope from the hardware store is scratchy and usually thin, so cutting off circulation is more likely.

Natural fiber rope intended for bondage is expensive, but is the absolute best. It is comfortable, flexible, and holds a knot like nothing else. Hemp is the most popular material, but bamboo, jute, and silk are all very common as well. There are lots of great brands out there. Expect to pay about $1 per foot. deGiotto Rope is a brand trusted by many, and you can get it in a variety of colors.

If you can’t spend that kind of money on really good, fancy rope, then the next best thing is MFP. It doesn’t hold a knot quite as well as hemp, but it is strong and soft. I usually buy my MFP rope from, but if you want to bundle it into your Amazon order, you can get it here. I recommend 1/4 inch thick for wrists and ankles, 3/8 inch for full body harnesses or waist bondage. It’s available in all sorts of colors, even glow in the dark. When tying with rope, always have a pair of trauma sheers or a rescue hook in case you need to get them out quickly.

Things To Hit People With

Floggers are the most popular impact toy. They are also some of the most difficult products to determine quality for. Cheap products like these are very common. They are also very bad. The craftsmanship, the materials, and the just about everything else about them are very poor.

Look for floggers that are made from full-grain leather, meaning one side of the leather strips will be hard and shiny and the other side will be soft like suede. Here is an example. Good leather floggers can be expensive. But they will also last forever. Cheaper products fall apart after just a little use. However, there are some options.

Floggers made with chain or chain-mail are incredibly painful, but are less expensive. Suede floggers like this and this make a good, less-expensive substitute, but the important thing to remember is that suede cannot be thoroughly cleaned the way that full-grain leather can, so you may need to replace it when it gets dingy and dirty.

Another popular impact toy is a paddle. Tantus has a line of absolutely amazing rubber paddles. They feel great and material is the most body-safe stuff on the planet. It can be washed, sterilized, and shared without worry. It is incredibly durable and is one of my favorite toys. But they are expensive, at about $50 a piece.

So instead, beginners who aren’t ready to invest that kind of money usually turn to either wood or leather. The thing to remember about both is that if they get blood or skin cells in them, they can’t ever be completely clean, so if you play really rough, you probably want to make that toy unique to your partner.

Wood paddles can range in price and style depending on what you want. But I like to tell people that a sturdy wooden spoon or spatula generally works just as well and is usually way cheaper. If you prefer leather, there are lots of options for that, too.

Another common tool of pain are sticks. Canes, crops, etc. On everything else, I have told you to avoid the cheap knockoffs, but actually with this one, I haven’t found many truly bad crops or canes. Some of them break, and slight variations in the size and material can change the sensation drastically. So unfortunately, it’s really difficult to give you advice and honestly, it’s just not a good product to buy online. The shipping will kill you. If you don’t have sex shops in your area, you might have access to a place that sells supplies for horses. You can get crops there. As for canes, they are just long sticks. Dowels, fiberglass rods, even pipes and poles can make good substitutes for the things that are marketed as BDSM tools. Buy local for this one.

Other Pain Toys

Nipple clamps are a favorite. They come in a variety of styles. Clover clamps are my favorite. There are also alligator clamps, tweezer clamps, vice clamps, and many more. You can find all sorts of variations. Some have weights, some vibrate, some have bells, some have decorations. All of them are super cheap and readily available online. There is no reason to pay $30-40 for this toy in a sex shop when you can easily find it for $10 on amazon. And, of course, you can also just buy a whole box of clothespins for a couple bucks.

Another great sensation is scratching. My scratchy claws are from Hammerfell Armory. They cost $150. Most people aren’t up for that. So some affordable options include things like this or this or this or this. Get creative. Even a fork from your kitchen drawer can get the job done. A word of caution. Knives can be fun to play with, but it’s easy to slip up with big consequences. Use other things until you get confident.

Blindfolds and Gags

Taking away sight and speech is a great way to heighten the sensations and intensify the experience.

Blindfolds are pretty easy. A sleep mask works pretty well, and that one also comes with ear plugs if you want to go for full sensory deprivation. If you want something a little better, a leather blindfold like this one is a good bet. Look for something that is shaped around the nose and pushed in on the eyes for a good light seal. Something with buckles is usually better than elastic, and two straps is always better than one. It’s up to how much you want to spend and how important it is that they see nothing. Some go under the nose as well, but they are more uncomfortable. If you want to be sure they will see nothing, go for a full hood instead of just a blindfold. There are some that also come with a gag attached.

As for gags, there are some differences in styles. Ball gags are the standard. The wiffle-ball style gags make it easier to breath, but also make you drool quite a lot. Bit style gags come in firm or soft. Panel gags have a ball that goes into the mouth while the outside panel covers the outside of the mouth as well. In some cases, the ball is replaced with a dildo. For extra effect, the outside panel can also have a dildo so the dom can have some fun, too.

What Else

I have had a ton a great times with nothing more than $30 worth of stuff from the local dollar store. You don’t need a lot of expensive toys to have fun. Once you figure out what you like, then you may be ready to drop $150 on claws or $100 for a flogger. There are hundreds of sites offering top grade bdsm toys. But you should make sure you like that type of play before you go there. In the mean time, the links above can fill up a toy bag without having to leave Amazon.


We’re not mad, just disappointed.

One of my favorite things to do is covert public play. In my search for the perfect vibe to help me out in my slutty quest, I’ve wasted some serious money on some shitty remote vibes. This, sadly, was just the latest to disappoint.

Kink as a Sexual Orientation

Posted: September 14, 2014 by Isaac Cross in Learn Something, Philosophy, Reviews, Reviews (Web)

In lieu of “Mailbag Monday” today, I wanted to give an extended answer to a question posed in a discussion group that I am a member of.

Last month, Slate published an article by Jillian Keenan titled “Is Kink a Sexual Orientation?” There has since been an ongoing debate about this question. As it happens, I began to identify kink as MY orientation just a month or so before the article came out. So when someone asked the question in this discussion of what we all thought of the article, I was happy to answer from my own experience. Here is that answer, edited only slightly.

dot heels (more…)