This story was originally published on June 24, 2015.
We've all read some iteration of the classic "What's in her purse?" feature, wherein women reveal the contents of their bags and explain why they never leave the house without hydrating face spray or emergency granola bars. These behind-the-scenes looks at people's everyday essentials can be both informative and entertaining — and so we upped the ante by asking five women, straight and queer, partnered and not, ages 23 to 44, to show us what's inside their sex-toy drawers. Read on for their intimate thoughts on their most intimate accessories, then pick up sex-toy shopping tips.
Julie Age: 23 Occupation: Social media editor Identifies as: Female Has sex with: Men Relationship status: Partnered
Jimmyjane FORM 4: "The FORM 4 is the only sex toy I own. It was a great investment, and I don't regret it. I use it primarily externally, by myself, in bed — but there have been a few occasions where it's joined me in the shower.
"Also, my boyfriend and I have learned to use it together (externally) when we're having sex in certain positions. I will say that it’s a little clunky, but extremely effective, especially with the different speeds.
"Occasionally I buzz him with it, but that usually ends in a shriek and me getting tickled or hit with a pillow."
Alexandra Age: 25 Occupation: Investment analyst Identifies as: Female Has sex with: Men Relationship status: Single
California Exotic Novelties Waterproof Jack Rabbit-5 Rows: "My specifications: It had to be quiet — I had a roommate in college to think about. I wanted it to be water-resistant, have something for my clit, and [be] in a reasonable price range. This is pretty solid; batteries eroded in it, but it’s fine. The mid-section is supposed to be massaging beads… My vagina isn't sensitive enough, I guess, to feel massaged, so it’s kind of a useless function. The vibrating on my clit is nice with the rabbit ears, especially because I have a clit ring. The majority of usage is solo, but my ex-boyfriend thought it was fun to play with."
Fun Factory Stronic Eins: "Truth be told, I never got off with my rabbit vibrator. Sure, it would feel good, but it wouldn't make me come. I decided that I needed to invest in more intense, heavy machinery. After much research, I found — and was a little scared of — the Stronic Eins. It's classified as a thruster — a next-gen vibrator for sure… I lie there lazily like a dead fish and let it do the work. It’s nice, but it just isn't a real dick."
Trinity Vibes Fill-er-up Butt Plug: "I LOVE Pinky; that's what he's named. My ex-boyfriend got it for me, actually. He knew how much I could crave anal, so it was really sweet of him. I use it with lube...when masturbating, having sex, and every now and then I just put it in and wear it around the house… I love using it during sex; I can get off from anal, so having that in while getting fucked in the vagina makes for a hell of a ride. It’s kind of big, but with the cone shape, once you slip a little bit into your butt and relax, it’s easy to slide the whole thing right on in. It's my favorite toy by far."
Emma Age: 32 Occupation: Small-business owner Identifies as: "I'm a cisgender queer femme leather girl." Has sex with: "I play with people of all genders (including cis men), as long as they understand and respect queer femininity." Relationship status: "I live with my partner, who is a trans man; we have a non-monogamous relationship, but are very committed to one another and building a life together. We've been dating in a primary-partner capacity for over two years, but had a non-primary arrangement for a couple years before that. Outside of my relationship, nearly all of my sexual interactions are kink-related, and mostly at kink or leather events."
Scarf & Babeland Bondage Tape: "For bondage (as a top, and with my sweetie), I stick with either the bondage tape, or vintage scarves (which can also be used to make an awesome dildo harness — I love a multifunctional item). After a workshop with Midori, I really appreciated the versatility of scarf bondage: It's much easier to change someone's position very quickly than with rope bondage. Plus, it's pretty. I like pretty." [Ed. note: Scarves tend to bunch and create pressure points, increasing the risk of nerve or tissue damage, so learn how to tie them properly before using them for bondage.]
Opinel Carbon Blade No8 Folding Knife: "Used for cutting off bondage tape, and occasional knife play — not cutting, but fear and sensation stuff. Never solo. I guess it's no fun to try to scare myself?"
Babeland Jaguar Harness & Vixskin Buck: "I prefer leather [harnesses] [and have a] variety of cocks, all from Babeland, and most made by Vixskin. Some smaller, for ass play, some larger. The Buck is a perennial favorite; I'm not psyched about balls on a dildo, most of the time. Nearly all cock use is with a partner, although occasionally, if I'm psyching myself up before a scene or playdate where I'll be using a cock to fuck someone or get a blowjob, I'll get off while wearing my cock first, either with the Hitachi or just by jerking off (I'm physically sensitive enough and find the whole thing hot enough that the pressure from base of the dildo is sufficient)."
Sliquid: "Does good lube count as a sex toy? It should. Makes all the difference in the world." Crave Wink Vibrator: "For travel, or (because it's so quiet) when there are houseguests... It looks like a lipstick. I don't mind going through TSA with a suitcase of toys, but sometimes, it's nice to keep things subtle. Either with a partner or solo." Classic Egg Vibrator:"I replace these yearly; the most recent one was from Purple Passion. [I] usually [use these] with a partner."
Deborah Age: 44 Occupation: Photographer Identifies as: Female Has sex with: "If there is someone that I find appealing, whatever gender, I will have fun... I have been 'heteroflexible' over time." Relationship status: "I'm currently in a relationship with my 'slave' submissive male, age 22. I’m a dominant female and typically do the 'sleeping,' meaning pegging or penetrating, of the male."
KinkLab Bondage Basics Leather Hog Tie: "This gets used on my boyfriend with my cuffs and restraints. He is pretty flexible and squirmy and likes the challenge of getting out of being tied up…so this doesn’t get used for too long, but then he remembers who’s boss in the bedroom. The clasps are easy to use."
Revel Body SOL Sonic Vibrator: "I’m not a huge vibrator user on myself, but I now need to [be], as I am having hand and wrist issues [when I masturbate]. The Revel Body SOL vibrator has new 'handle' called the REACH. This saves my hand and wrist from getting sore or tired. I use this toy on me and my boyfriend all over, from massaging behind the ears to his perineum to my clit. It’s very quiet, so not 'scary-sounding' — we have a lot of fun with the different settings. I prefer 'thumpy.' It also makes taking a bath really fun with the suction! I love the shape and design."
Joyboxx Hygienic Storage System: "This fits in my nightstand drawer and quietly opens and locks. I put my condoms and small überlube and lip balm in there, the three items I use a lot. The tray comes out with the toys at the same time, so it protects them from dust on the furniture, and after I use them I don’t have to put them on the floor or stain my nightstand or bed...the best thing ever."
JO Toy Cleaner: "When I do clean, I use this great, light, foamy cleanser. It doesn’t leave any scent or residue, it’s gentle, and the foam pump doesn’t waste any or have 'spray-back.'"
Shawné Age: 23 Occupation: Digital artist Identifies as: "Fluid between Womyn and Boi." Has sex with: "Pansexual." Relationship status: Single
ASLAN Leather Commando Harness, Vixskin Maverick, & Tantus Flurry 02: "When I moved to Paris from the U.S., I had to get rid of nearly everything I owned... The questions I asked myself in order to decide which toys to take were: Which of these toys makes me feel my sexiest self? Which of these toys did I have a sexual breakthrough with? Which of these toys are safest to use around new partners, if necessary?
"I bought each of these toys for myself — even the harness. I love the way the stiff leather feels against my skin and how the straps are positioned on my body. In combination with the pleasure of a stiff, realistic-feeling cock in my hands, I enjoy the contrasting sensations of my soft, natural body with the artifice of my accessories. This particular harness flatters my body perfectly and its adjustability allows me the choice to access or intentionally deny access to my most sensitive parts.
"When I do choose penetration, my dildos are a perfect tag team. [The Maverick and the Flurry] are the only toys that have allowed me to squirt. The Maverick is quite large and quite soft. For this reason, it's arguably my favorite toy. On the other hand, the Flurry is average-sized and extremely ridged. I hate anything with an upward curve, so this dildo is an amazingly smooth and easy ride. I use these two in alteration: Flurry first, Maverick second, to finish."
Fairy Wand Massager: "When I arrived in France, I was lost without a Hitachi Magic Wand. I quickly found the Fairy Wand at a local shop, where I could barely make the transaction due to my poor language skills. I will never forget this, because a beautiful stranger offered to translate for me. After, he invited me for a cigarette and asked for my number. We went out a few times and he introduced me to other spots around Paris for fetish wear and leather goods."
Fun Factory Stronic Zwei: "I'd been seeing the Fun Factory Stronic at parties, and all of my friends were raving about it... This ended up being a major impulse buy, but I would do it again a thousand times over. The Stronic Zwei is so powerful and versatile. It's also quite big and firm. For this reason, I love using it for some serious back-door play. This is the only toy I've used with a partner so far."
Sex-Toy Shopping Tips While online shopping provides discretion and convenience, brick-and-mortar stores offer expert advice from trained professionals, as well as the opportunity to see and touch the goods before you buy. However you shop, patronize reputable companies. As Babeland co-founder Claire Cavanah has told us, "You always want to make sure you are buying from a well-respected site or retailer; you want to be confident about the quality and safety of the toys you are buying."
That means you want to know how they're made. "You should learn more about the types of toys to avoid — for example, those made of jelly rubber, which contains phthalates," Cavanah adds. Pthalates are plasticizers used to soften toys. Although pthalates are found in a variety of products, from shower curtains to plastic wrap, exposure to certain types of them has been linked to disrupting hormone functioning — so you want to avoid them when you can. Because the sex-toy industry isn't regulated, it's on you to avoid products made with potentially harmful materials. Steer clear of toys that contain phthalates and ones that are porous, which makes them impossible to disinfect. Instead, opt for silicone, latex, hard plastic, acrylic, glass, or lucite. For a full list of sex-toy ingredients to look for and to avoid, click through to Babeland.