The Unbound Tsk is the exact type of toy I used to warn customers against when I worked at a sex shop — and yet, somehow, I really like it.
See, there’s a common phenomenon among the kink-curious: They’ll buy an introductory kink toy in the hopes that it’ll unlock an exciting new side of their sexuality, but because they’re unsure how they’ll feel about it, they’ll (reasonably and quite understandably) only spend a little on it — maybe $20, maybe less. And because many cheap kink toys are mass-produced, poorly made and seemingly designed by someone who can’t tell a flogger from a flyswatter, a lot of those initial experiences are disappointing. This can lead newbies to think that they’re “not kinky after all,” when in fact it was the product — not their own predilections or lack thereof — that caused the problem.
To be fair, a lot of those cheaper toys are better for people whose interest in sadomasochism is more about the fantasy of pain than about actual pain — which is totally valid. These toys tend to produce more sound than sensation, so that you get the thrill of the audible “thwack” but not necessarily as much pain as you’d expect alongside it. Cheap toys are also prone to breakage if you really put them through their perverted paces. Some kinksters can afford to upgrade to fancier tools when the time comes, but many can’t — and so the cycle continues of buying low-quality toys and having low-quality experiences.
That’s why it’s so exciting to me when companies make kink toys that are both affordable and effective. There’s a $14 rubber paddle by Fetish Fantasy that I love, for instance, and you can get a perfectly decent silicone ball gag for under $25. I’m happy to report that now I can add the Unbound Tsk to that list.
What Is the Unbound Tsk?
The Tsk is a two-sided tool for infusing some sadomasochistic excitement into your sex life. On one end, you’ll find an oval-shaped, faux-leather paddle (although I think “paddle” is a generous word here — the part that hits your skin is just 4.5 inches long, 2.5 inches across and less than ⅛ inch thick). The other end is similar to a flogger, except the tails are made of silicone instead of the traditional leather. The tails themselves are nine inches long, which I mention mostly because Nine-Inch Tails sounds like an industrial rock cover band founded by kinksters.
Between the two ends is a long, sturdy handle, which also extends between the two layers of patent leather that make up the paddle, serving to give that end more structure and heft.
That’s basically it. It’s a pretty pink thing that you can hit people with.
My Experience with the Unbound Tsk
I unfortunately haven’t gotten to try this toy with a partner yet, because I’m in a long-distance relationship and my sweetheart is 500 miles and one national border away from me at the moment. But I’m a big fan of solo sadomasochism, something that Unbound actually suggests: “Either end of Tsk can be used to slap, smack or swat yourself or a partner,” they write on the Tsk’s product page.
As it happens, this toy is a good shape and size for using alone, should you want to. The handle is short enough that I can comfortably hit my own thighs with the Tsk, but long enough that I can reach around to smack my own ass with it, too.
Generally speaking, when it comes to impact play, sensations can be labeled either “stingy” or “thuddy” (although, as with most sexual binaries, this one is more of a spectrum than an either/or situation). Stingy pain is felt more on the surface of the skin, and has a sharp, bitey quality, like a slap, whereas thuddy pain resonates deeper into your flesh, like a punch. Some people strongly prefer one or the other, some have no particular preference, and for some, it just depends on their mood.
The flogger end of the Tsk is very stingy. As with most floggers and whips, the pain tends to be concentrated wherever the ends of the tails hit your skin. This means you’ll want to be careful to avoid “wrap-around” — if you aim too close to the edge of someone’s butt, the tails could whip around and hit them on the hip bone instead, which you don’t want. Generally speaking, you want to aim for more fat and muscle than bone. (Practicing on a pillow can be helpful when you’re learning to aim better.)
The tails make a satisfyingly scary sound when whipped through the air. I find that this end, however, doesn’t get past about a six out of 10 on my pain scale no matter how hard I swing it, which’ll be just fine for some kinksters and disappointing for others. I like that this end of the toy lets me experience the things I love about stingy pain — that sharpness that pulls me into the present moment, the endorphin rush and accompanying hazy headspace it often evokes — without drifting into “holy fuck, ow, stop” territory. It also reddens my skin pretty fast, which I like. And being made of silicone, you could sanitize this end by sticking it in some boiling water for a few minutes (leaving the rest of the toy out of the water), in case you get any bodily fluids on it.
The other end, the one with the faux-leather paddle, surprised me. Usually this type of toy feels obnoxiously stingy, to the point that any pleasure I’d get from it is obliterated by the overwhelming ouch-ness of it all. But because Unbound has used two layers of relatively thick, firm pleather here — and because the handle of the toy extends into the paddle and functions as a rigid core — it feels decently thuddy in use. It makes a loud smacking sound that I usually associate with stingy pain, but the sensation feels somewhat deeper and dulled, as if I was being hit with a thicker, heavier paddle.
That’s the quality of the pain, though. In terms of the amount of pain, this end doesn’t really deliver. Of course, for some people, that’ll be a selling point; not everyone who wants to be “disciplined” in bed actually likes pain or finds it hot. But for me, a seasoned masochist with a moderate pain tolerance, this end kind of leaves me yawning and going, “Is that it?!”
The paddle end can also be a bit harder to wield, because you’ve got the flogger tails flapping around wildly on the other end while you swing it. I figured out a solution for this, though: I wrap them around my hand before gripping the handle of the toy, and that keeps them tucked out of the way while I’m paddlin’.
My partner, a skilled sadist, doesn’t like the look of the Tsk — when I sent them some photos, they said they were put off by the color, the lightweight construction and the impracticality of it being double-ended. I can see where they’re coming from; I, too, tend to prefer implements that are more purpose-specific — not to mention more painful — than the Tsk. It also feels like it could break if used for a particularly intense beating, so if you want to go hog-wild, I’d invest in something sturdier.
But the very qualities my partner and I dislike in the Tsk could be what makes it suitable for nervous beginners. Its friendly aesthetic, dual-usage design and affordability (it’s just $25!) are attractive qualities when you’re apprehensive about sexual experimentation. As I know from working sex toy retail, there are way worse beginner impact tools out there than the Tsk.
What Other People Are Saying About the Tsk
On the Unbound website, several reviewers professed to using (and enjoying) this toy alone, as I did. “This thing gets foreplay so hot, partnered or solo,” one wrote. “I love to use it while sexting and sending my lovers videos of me using it while we sext.”
Lots of folks love the approachable aesthetic of the Tsk. “So much BDSM gear is so intimidating to look at and handle,” one enthused, “but Tsk is adorable and so easy to play with!!” A few users even mentioned that they like to display theirs on the wall when they’re not using it.
Another user pointed out something that I’d also noticed: “Unfortunately, when we unwrapped it from the packaging, the smell of plastic was overwhelming and very unpleasant.” A different faux-leather product I’ve tried from Unbound, the Orion, also had a musty, plasticky smell I didn’t care for, though I noticed the Tsk’s scent chilled out after it’d been out of the box for a few days. On the plus side, the pleather makes this product vegan-friendly.
One reviewer was braver than me: “My partner used both ends on both my ass and my pussy, which I highly recommend trying for different sensations (gently to start with, of course).” I could see how the Tsk could be suitable for “pussy torture” or “cock and ball torture” — it’s not terribly painful and the paddle end is a good size for smacking a vulva or dick. Another user concurred: “Okay, who doesn’t like getting their fucking clit whipped with this thing?”
Well, probably a lot of people, but that’s beside the point.
Along those lines, the Unbound Tsk won’t work for everyone, and if you discover you love pain, it’ll probably be more of a gateway drug than a long-term fave. But as far as gateway drugs go, this one’s pretty damn good.