Sunday, May 31, 2015

Sybian Sex!

I have a new lover, pet, and housemate. Its name is Sybian.

How do I describe Sybian? Can I call a 22-pound, vibrating, mountable, power tool a "vibrator"? That's like calling the Sydney Opera House (which I plan to visit in September!)  a music device.

The Sybian is a big, curved apparatus designed to be mounted. You attach the attachment of choice, apply lubricant to the attachment and to yourself, straddle the Sybian, sit on it, turn the dial to control the sensations, and enjoy.

You can rock or you can just sit upright and let the Sybian do all the work. It's not a bucking bronco -- you won't be tossed off.

Oh yes, it vibrates. Whoa, does it vibrate! It has a powerful motor, and, and depending on how high you turn the dial, the vibrations go from subtle to strong to 50 shades of holy moly!

cabinetMany of the photos and videos show a woman mounting the Sybian with her knees on the floor, but at our age, few of us would be comfortable that way. No problem -- put it on a stable, elevated platform so that your feet can be on the floor. I recommend the optional storage cabinet that doubles as 3-level risers. That way, you can straddle it comfortably while sitting upright with your feet on the floor.

The cabinet is also useful because the Sybian is big and heavy -- 22 pounds -- so it's not easy to carry or tuck away when not in use. The cabinet is built for it, hides it nicely, and has a separate storage area for attachments as well as a lock in case your visiting grandkids get nosy!

If straddling is uncomfortable for your hips, or if you can't relax that way, you can lie down on your bed with the Sybian between your legs on its power-cord end. Then tilt it forward so that the attachment contacts your genitals without putting weight on you. It's fine to use it this way -- it won't harm the Sybian or you.

Attachment Special
The attachments give you a variety of choices: two for clitoral stimulation without penetration, a variety of options for clitoral pleasure with vaginal penetration, and one with a double dildo for vaginal and anal penetration. The Basic Sybian Package comes with two attachments; you buy additional ones separately or as a kit.

The insertable attachments don't thrust. They vibrate and, using a separate control dial, they can rotate. It's a different feeling if you're used to thrusting.

You may find, as I did, that it took a half-dozen Sybian encounters to discover just the right combination of position, attachments, and intensities that work for you.

You may find, for example, that you get best results by starting with a non-penetrative attachment and switching to penetration when you're fully aroused. You may find that spending 10 minutes on a low to medium speed vibration will get you ready for a higher speed, or that you like penetration with just a little rotation or a lot, or maybe that changes as you get closer to orgasm. Explore, and don't get frustrated if it takes some experimentation before you experience earth-shaking orgasms.  Important: Read the instructions first -- don't go straight to a discovery mission.

  • If you need strong stimulation, you can't find a sexual pleasure tool that's stronger than this.
  • You can have all the sex you want: clitoral stimulation with or without penetration, with or without a partner.
  • Attachments let you individualize it to your preference.
  • Use it solo, or have a partner participate and enjoy your pleasure by watching or holding you or controlling the dial. 
  • If you like penetration, the insertable part can be slender (the finger attachment, pictured on the purple Sybian), jumbo, or some girthiness in between, depending on which attachment you choose.
  • You can try it for 45 days, and if you don't fall in love with it, you can return it for a full refund minus a $175 reconditioning fee. That's an amazing deal.


  • It's a learning curve -- not just how to use it (follow the instructions, please -- don't just turn it on!), but how to adapt it for your individual needs and optimal pleasure. (This doesn't have to be a "con" if you let go of expectations of instant orgasms and enjoy the journey.)
  • Heavy, making it hard to move.   
  • It's really loud. I was afraid that my close neighbors would think an airplane was taking off in my bedroom. If you don't have privacy, this will be a problem.
  • It costs $1,345.

I know I'll get some criticism for recommending a $1,345 purchase. It's not a sex toy -- it's a whole different category.

Here's an idea if you have a few friends who are interested and the cost is stopping you: get together and get the 45-day trial, purchasing extra attachments for each of you. Since  only the attachment comes in contact with your genitals, maybe you'd feel comfortable sharing the Sybian -- a few days at your house, then put in in the car and take it to friend #1's house, then to friend #2, and so on.  I know some people who bought one in common and schedule who gets it on a weekly rotating basis.

Bunny Lampert shows Joan the Sybian

The Sybian was invented by Dave Lampert in 1985, and it's still a family business. The inventor's daughter, Bunny Lampert, told me, "He was always curious about women and their orgasms -- what was happening, and why it was so difficult. What could he create that would be designed for women's sexual pleasure and nothing else?" Clearly, he figured it out!

Learn more about the Sybian here. If you have one, or have tried one, or have questions, I hope you'll add your comments below.

2/23/16 update: Read here about the new silicone attachments that are rocking my world. 

And you can get a $75 discount with the code "JOAN75" when you purchase a Sybian here!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Years by Nicholas Delbanco

It isn't often that I find a novel to recommend to you that portrays characters our age in a way that's relevant, realistic, and insightful about aging and relationships. As a reader, I want to connect with characters and plot lines that I can relate to at this time of my life (age 71 as I write this) via beautifully crafted fiction.

The Years by Nicholas Delbanco is a splendid example of the kind of book I love to read. It's literary fiction, not a quick or mindless read. It's achingly honest about aging.

How did it happen, Lawrence wondered, that the person in the mirror was sprouting liver spots and wrinkles and hair in his nostrils and ears?

You'll invest some brain power in following the non-chronological sequencing. We meet Lawrence and Hermia when they re-meet in 2004 on a cruise ship after more than 40 years apart. He's 64; she's 63. The book flits back and forth from 2004 to their past. We learn how they met and fell in love in college, how they broke up and drifted apart, different relationships that shaped each of them as they journeyed through their lives, and the scars and regrets they carry with them.

They leaned toward each other, pressed against each other, and she wondered what her breasts would feel like if he kissed them as he used to, and what would happen next. She saw them in the mirror, two bent gray heads adjacent in the ornate gilt-framed glass, saw them touching lips and cheeks as though performing for the camera in some sort of time-lapse photograph, a present overlay upon the past.

Yes, we can anticipate that this chance meeting will lead to a renewed love connection, but the book is still not predictable. In the latter half of the book, we move forward through the time after they reconnect. There are surprises, which I won't reveal, and even the predictable parts are nuanced, never trite.

It's rare to find a novel that speaks realistically about love and aging and includes sex. The sex scenes are tender, slow to unfold, and not graphic. For example:

They had been passionate together the way the young are passionate, and nothing in her life before had readied her for how they fit together or how she, holding him, felt ... That passion was not spent. It was spent in the physical sense, of course; she could no longer manage, and he could not manage, the revels of the young ... But it was like The Tempest; it was everything restored, made whole, old treacheries forgiven and old arguments resolved. What had been lost was found. They were gentle together now, slow. It was strange to be so much in love with someone she had loved before and known so well and parted from and then spent more than forty years not knowing....

I found the writing masterful. I put post-its throughout my copy to remind me of pages I wanted to return to, and this photo shows what my book looks like now.

The Amazon ratings are mixed, and I'd love to know the age breakdown for those who loved and those who were bored by this novel. I suspect that the negative reviews were by younger readers or those who don't have patience for literary fiction that is slow to unfold. At our age, we know that life is slow to unfold, and we don't need to rush a book any more than we have to rush sex these days! I can't imagine readers in their sixties and beyond being unmoved by this novel.

If what I've written here intrigues you, I hope you'll read The Years and post your own comments.

Nicholas Delbanco, born 1942

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Eroscillator: buzzing solo or with a partner

5/5/15: I just returned from a whirlwind 11-day trip to St. Louis and New York City, where I gave 7 presentations and one national TV interview (more about that when I can show you the video). Over and over, I found myself recommending the Eroscillator, especially when people asked about a vibrator that could be used for clitoral stimulation during partner sex without getting in the way of two bodies trying to be as close as possible.

The Eroscillator has several attachments, but I find myself using only the "finger tip" (or, as I call it, the "marshmallow") attachment pictured here, because it's wonderfully squishy while still being intensely strong. Here are the other attachments:

I wrote about the Eroscillator in 2007 here, but the place I really raved about it in all its glory was in my first senior sex book, Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex after Sixty, published in 2006. Here's what I wrote about it then

Toys Are Us: My Personal Vibrator History

I bought my first vibrator in my thirties at Macy’s: a “personal care” product for, uh, “massage.” The instructions said nothing about using it for sex, but, wink-wink, I knew.

For decades, I collected vibrators, trying to find the model that would do it for me. I don’t remember if I started with the Wahl (which I named Wally), with its many intriguing attachments, or the Hitachi Magic Wand (named Big Buzzy), but after buying the first one, I quickly bought another.

Over the next few years, I filled three nightstand drawers with vibrators of all sorts, both plug-in and battery-operated. I had vibrators in the shape of a penis, egg, wand, rabbit, and probably more I’m forgetting. I must have tried every type of vibrator on the planet, not because I love variety but because it was difficult to find the one for me. I've always preferred the strength of plug-in rather than battery-operated sex toys, and now that I’m older, I need the most intensity possible. A “light touch” is pleasant, but if my goal is orgasm, it’s got to be strong.

A decade ago, I cleaned out my drawers, threw out the thirty-year-old attachments that had deteriorated into flakes of plastic, discarded the toys I didn't really like, and kept only my favorites. I hated to throw this large collection in the trash, but I figured neither Goodwill nor my local consignment store would accept used sex toys, and they weren't old enough to donate to Good Vibrations antique vibrator museum.

I decided I didn't need all these extra toys anymore because I've discovered my favorite: the Eroscillator, an oscillating plug-in designed for clitoral stimulation. It feels great—intense and focused, with its smooth, rotating motion—and it is easy to hold, easy to aim, and easy to adjust intensity during the act. A twelve-foot-long cord makes it work in hotel rooms, where the outlet might be half a wall away. Best of all, the long, slim handle and small vibrating part make it simple and comfortable to use with a partner. It’s expensive—$120 to almost $200*, depending on attachments—but worth every penny.

Because the Eroscillator is endorsed by Dr. Ruth Westheimer and her picture is on the box, I named mine “Dr. Ruth.”

Electrifying Sex: Using Sex Toys with a Partner

At some point after Robert and I became sexual, I asked if he’d be open to using a vibrator with me. His response was a definitive, absolute, “No! I don’t want a machine in the middle of our lovemaking!” He had had no experience with what he called “appliances,” and they didn't fit with his feelings about lovemaking as natural and spiritual. When I showed him my vibrator, it seemed like a noisy, mechanical thing.

Robert would make me come with his fingers before or after intercourse—I couldn't come during intercourse at all. My sensations just weren't strong enough anymore to bring me over the top unless I had really strong, direct, and focused clitoral stimulation. He kept asking if there was anything he could do during intercourse so that I could come that way, and my answer was always, “Only if we use a vibrator at the same time.”

Finally, he agreed to try it. The ease of giving me an orgasm and the intensity of my pleasure won him over. We've used it ever since, and it’s part of our love play. Now Robert will say in the middle of sex, “Let’s get my buddy, Dr. Ruth!”

- from Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex after Sixty (2006)

* 2006 prices. Now $140 to $250.

Note: I kept this excerpt in present tense although some crucial things have changed:
1.  I lost Robert to cancer in 2008, but I still love remembering precious moments like these, and I couldn't bear to shift the ending of this excerpt to past tense. 
2. I now have several favorite vibrators. The Eroscillator is still in the top four for solo sex and top two for partner sex!

Seasonal 01

Sunday, May 03, 2015

#FreeSexAdvice in New York City with Francisco Ramirez

I had the delightful experience of sharing Francisco Ramirez's #FreeSexAdvice in Union Square, NYC. If you're not familiar with Francisco's events, he sets up two chairs in a park along with a sign offering free advice about sex, relationships, and dating. Then he sits down and waits for people to join him and ask their questions.

Yesterday -- Saturday, May 2, 2015 -- he brought a third chair. A chair for me. We had decided to take advantage of my visit to New York to offer park visitors a sex educator duo. We set up and Francisco tweeted that we were ready.

I thought I knew what to expect, but I was surprised and thrilled that people would actually sit down in the chair and, with very little prompting, start confiding their sexual concerns, stories, and questions. They shared confidences that their partners (if they had partners) didn't even know. We heard these types of stories, among others:

  • I love my partner but we don't live close enough to see each other regularly. I'm cheating when we're apart, feel guilty about it and keep promising "this is the last time," but I can't seem to stop.

  • I was brought up in a church that condemns same-sex relationships. I know I'm a lesbian and I want a wife. But I love my religion!

  • Will masturbating to x-rated man-woman pornography make me a pedophile? I've heard that porn does that.

  • I live with a younger man. It was okay at first, but now it's just blow jobs and giving him money. I don't leave him because I'm afraid of being lonely.

  • I don't have much trouble finding people for hook-ups, but I'd like a real relationship. Should I be pickier?
Often people talked to us for 15 minutes, getting deeper into their stories, as Francisco and I asked questions to clarify the issues and offered advice. Sometimes the people arrived at revelations and conclusions that they hadn't expected, and after they left, Francisco and I turned to each other and said, "We really helped someone just now." It was deeply satisfying to how good information and a new perspective could change people!

Many thanks to Francisco for including me in this great adventure. We've already agreed that we'll do it again next time I'm in New York.