15K_Vibe

Can the World’s Most High-End Sex Toys Really Deliver a Golden Orgasm?

What does a 24-karat-gold-plated climax actually feel like? We asked a veteran sex toy reviewer about the luxury market

Women’s orgasms, we were told last year in a survey of the sex toy industry, are worth billions. But should it cost that much just to get us off properly?

You wouldn’t think we’d need to ask this question: Hands are free, vibrators are more plentiful than dick, and many perfectly good buzzers can be had for as little as $12. Hell, there are 500 apps you can download on your phone, some for free, to buzz your junk until you squeal. But in the last few years, a handful of sex toys have hit the market priced so highly and regarded so luxuriously that the orgasm they promise ought to shoot you straight into heaven.

Or at least, send you to the moon. That was one review of sex toy maker Lelo’s 24-karat-gold-plated dildo Inez — peddled by Goop, no less — and billed as the ultimate in luxurious indulgence. The price tag? An easy $15,000. (Strapped for cash? The silver Inez is only $7,900.)

While the promise of a golden orgasm got a lot of press, it’s incredibly difficult to figure out who, if anyone, bought this thing: Actual user reviews online are extremely difficult to track down. The Amazon reviews read like obvious trolls. “Buffy and I could absolutely not figure out where to invest a few dollars left over from a hedge fund scam,” one reads.

Elsewhere, we’re told the metal materials allow you to heat it closer to your body temperature, which at least offers a somewhat different sensation. One seemingly legitimate test drive mentions some annoyances: You need to polish the surface back to gleaming, and it tends to get very slippery with all your fluids and lube on it. This review suggests adding a few rubber bands to the end to give it a grip. Classy!

BuzzFeed asked people to guess the price of the dildo without actually taking it for a spin. (“You have to be one rich, horny bitch to get that!” one woman exclaims.)

Paltrow herself admitted that the Goop endorsement is kind of a joke. “We’ll link to a $15,000 gold dildo just to troll people,” she told the Hollywood Reporter. “It’s fun. We look for products that will create that kind of reaction.”

“We know most of our customers aren’t buying 24k gold sex toys for their thermal conductivity and chemical inertia, and that’s not really why we designed them,” a rep for Lelo says. “We make them because they represent the height of indulgent, sensual pleasure. Our biggest sexual organ is the brain, and it’s the biggest erogenous zone too. Since there’s something profoundly subversive about using gold for personal pleasure, gold stimulates our pleasure centers in ways that ‘ordinary’ materials don’t.”

But the Inez is just the tip of the dildo into the high-end sex toy market.

The Pearl Royale dildo is made of diamonds, sapphires and pearls, if you can scrounge up a cool $1 million for one hot cum.

If that seems pricey, maybe splurge for a glass dildo with a whip for $1,372.

And that’s to say nothing of the dozens, if not hundreds, of dildos on the market that dangle stunning orgasms for the still-expensive but not exactly outrageous price of just a few hundred bucks.

Men, too, can shell out nearly $20,000 U.S. for a thrill — in the form of a sex doll that knows your birthday. Still, the technology inside high-end sex robots sorta justifies the price tag. It’s not just a contoured, buzzing stick, it’s a full-on android.

All this begs the question of why. We accept that some goods and services simply deliver better performance than others, while many are just trumped-up perks at trumped-up prices when a more affordable product can deliver as much or better. Is that case with high-end sex toys? Do they really deliver a better orgasm?

These days, there are a glut of toy options on the market with an endless array of bells and whistles that cater to every imaginable need, whether that’s a quiet motor, discreet design or a suction-like ability, and Americans drop $20 million a year on these suckers.

So I asked Epiphora, a veteran sex toy reviewer who personally owns over 600 toys and blogs about the high, the low and everything in the middle at Hey Epiphora, to help parse this stuff. Her reviews are so respected because she’s not afraid to tell you when the pricey toys aren’t worth it, like this $400 sex chair called the Rumble Seat that looks like a toilet. She also keeps a running tally of her all-time favorite sex toys priced under $200.

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Are high-end sex toys worth the money?
Quality sex toys are worth spending money on, but a high price tag does not guarantee anything. This is where honest reviews are so vital. Particular sex toys are absolutely worth their price, like the stainless-steel G-spot god the Pure Wand, which is a steal for only $110. But I’ve also seen tons of useless “luxury” toys. So price alone doesn’t tell you much. I’d look to other factors first, such as reputation of the company, body-safe materials, type of vibration, settings, shape and what the reviews are saying.

Many people would do just fine with a decent sub-$30 vibrator, but if you can swing a little more, there are some really great rechargeable vibrators that have more features and will last longer. These would be in the $50–150 range. Unless you’re a celebrity or like to waste money, there is no reason to ever buy a $15,000 vibrator like the Inez. That’s not a sex toy; it’s a status symbol. It will not give you a better orgasm, full stop.

But surely they do provide a different orgasm experience.
Sex toys are an amazing tool for exploring pleasure, as they’re able to achieve stimulation that humans often can’t. Personally, I would’ve likely never found my G-spot without the aid of perfectly curved dildos, and I greatly prefer vibrators over fingers for clitoral stimulation. The potential for pleasure is huge, but it’s also incredibly individualized, and it’s constantly muddied by overzealous sex toy marketing. No sex toy can ever promise you the best orgasm of your life, yet they still do. Ignore the marketing and read reviews from people who’ve actually tried the toy.

Learning the difference between buzzy and rumbly motors is the single most useful skill you can develop as a sex toy shopper, and probably the one feature that can make a price hike more worth it.

What would you say is the most luxurious sex toy you own?
It depends on if you mean price tag alone or not. The most expensive toy I own is the Sybian, a sex machine that retails for about $1,400, which I do not use because I find it incredibly uncomfortable. The Rumble Seat is probably next in line at $400. But I don’t really consider either of these to be luxurious.

I believe the most expensive toy that I would actually consider luxurious (purely because it’s solid stainless steel and costs $300) is the Eleven. But again, another toy that I didn’t personally find to be worth the cost.

The most expensive toys that I truly love would probably be the Fun Factory Stronic G and Eroscillator.

Sex toy marketing, particularly on some of the higher-end ones, perpetuate this idea that there’s a hierarchy of orgasms, and the “better” ones are going to come from these fancier products.
There is no hierarchy of orgasms, and any company that pretends there is is doing it to sell their shit. Everybody is different and has different needs in terms of stimulation. This is a cornerstone belief in sex education. It’s ludicrous, and disingenuous, to insist that anything is going to be effective and pleasurable for everyone.

What do you think the psychology of the appeal is though, particularly with the extremely pricey toys like the Inez?
I don’t actually know if the super-expensive toys like the Inez are appealing to consumers. Most people balk at spending more than $100 on a sex toy, let alone $15,000. The only time I ever hear about someone owning a super high-end sex toy like that, it’s a celebrity. I don’t believe toys like the Inez exist for pleasure; I think they exist for press.

Psychologically, a higher price tag is bound to make consumers think they’re getting something truly amazing. But price tells you nothing about whether a toy is going to be pleasurable for you specifically.