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May 18, 2007

Great Sex Can Be Yours

handcuffs feathers and blindfold

Photo Credit: Lewis Wright/iStock Images

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Great sex can be yours if you're open to new things. But do all these gizmos and gadgets that claim to enhance your sex life really fulfill their promise? Marie Claire asked one woman, who gets paid to find out, what she recommends.

An Unusual Career

Only my closest friends know what I do for a living. Most people don't even know my job exists. It's not that I'm ashamed of it or anything, but when I tell people I test-drive sex toys for the Spankie.com Website, they usually assume I'm a nymphomaniac -- which I'm not.

About twice a month, my company sends me an unmarked package filled with sex gadgets. Like any job, I schedule time for my projects in a date book: "4 to 5pm, play with jelly dildo; 9 to 10pm, try out new glow-in-the-dark condom." Luckily, I have a very understanding boyfriend who usually "assists" me with my research.

If you had told me a few years ago that I'd be a sex-toy critic, I would have said you were crazy. "Nice girls" like me don't do this sort of thing -- which is what makes my doing this so ironic. I didn't even start experimenting with sex until I went to college, and I was hardly what you'd call promiscuous. I almost always had a serious boyfriend. When I turned 26 and was single, I bought my first vibrator, mostly to find out what all the fuss was about. I was so nervous going into the store that I ran in and grabbed the first one I saw -- it was baby pink -- and one other item, just to look like I was a regular customer. The experience left a big enough impression that I included it in a script I cowrote for a show called As I Like It -- I'm a stand-up comic, too -- in which I talked about everything from semen getting stuck in my pubic hair to how I used that vibrator. Someone from the Spankie.com site caught my act and recommended me for the product-testing job. It was obvious that I felt comfortable talking about sex in public without getting embarrassed.

The first box I received had 30 condoms in it -- different brands, flavors and colors, ribbed and unribbed. The next shipment was half a dozen dildos. Before long, my bedroom was like a war zone of kinkiness -- phalluses, handcuffs, whips, vibrating things.

Like any critic, I take my work very seriously. I test each toy a couple of times; once isn't enough, because sometimes I'm more in the mood than others. I keep a notebook by my bed, so I can immediately jot down notes, like "feels slimy" or "has a funny aftertaste." I also check for sturdiness. Can I whack it around? Will it break if it's dropped on the floor? And, of course, I test for pleasure. Think of me as the Consumer Reports of sex-toy testing -- my standards are that high.

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