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Friday, Dec. 7, 2012

Curious About Electric Play? Some Reasons You Might Want to Try It

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Last weekend, kinksters and educators Sunny Megatron and Ken Melvoin-Berg visited the Tool Shed to teach their popular class ZAP! Electric Play, which covers toys that use electricity for stimulation, such as neon wands, violet wands and TENS units. These items were originally designed to improve physical or mental health, but were adapted – “by perverts,” as Ken puts it – for sexual use.

We have a glass case full of neon wands, violet wands, and various metal implements in the store, and we are frequently asked what, exactly, they are, followed by, “Why would anyone use those?!??” After the class, I asked Sunny and Ken what their responses to this question would be.

Laura Anne Stuart: How would you explain the appeal of electric toys to someone who has never used them before?

Ken Melvoin-Berg: The appeal of neon wands and violet wands, for me at least, stem from when I was peeing on an electric fence at my uncle’s farm. That feeling of electricity caused a little bit of arousal in me…it’s a very primal thing. [Y]ou start playing with electricity, whether a neon wand or a violet wand or a TENS unit, and automatically start thinking about electric shock therapy and all the evils – One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. But as soon as I started getting zapped, it made me happy instantaneously. It’s that primal feeling that made me come back to [it] over and over. Plus, I’m a science geek!

Sunny Megatron: For me, in a sensual realm, it’s a great couples toy. You think of sensation play and running a feather over someone – well, this kicks it into overdrive. Not only do you have the great sensation that doesn’t really hurt, but you have the element of excitement, because we all associate electricity with something like, “Oooooh, it’s gonna be bad, it’s gonna tingle, it’s gonna be horrible,” and it’s actually fun. For BDSM purposes, it takes on a whole other purpose. If someone is a little bit scared of it, the sound is like a tattoo gun, or if they stuck a fork in an outlet when they were three – it’s going to give them the mental stimulation and play with their mind.

LAS: How would you describe what a neon wand or violet wand feels like?

SM: They feel like a prickly tingle. Not painful, but just enough to make your hair stand up – in a good way, not an ouch-y way. On high settings, some people would say that it’s like when you run your feet across the carpet and then you get that little shock – but on the pleasurable side.

KMB: I don’t think that’s exactly it, because static electricity is sharper and faster. For me, it’s more like if you’ve had an accidental electrical accident, like sticking a fork in a toaster, and you get that pulsating wave, the contractions of your muscles going in-and-out and in-and-out…It’s a very different sensation than anything else to have your muscles start to spasm involuntarily.

LAS: That’s a good example of how everyone’s different. My last question is: what would you recommend as a starting point to someone who is interested in electric toys?

SM: It depends on the purpose. If it’s a couples toy and you want to do something different to foster intimacy and have some sensation play and explore, I would say get the wand. But if you want to get off hardcore, or I want to crank it up and hurt someone hardcore, then go for the TENS unit.

Laura Anne Stuart owns the Tool Shed, an erotic boutique on Milwaukee’s East Side. She has a master’s degree in public health and has worked as a sexuality educator for more than fifteen years. Want Laura to answer your questions in SEXpress? Send them to laura@shepex.com. Not all questions received will be answered in the column, and Laura cannot provide personal answers to questions that do not appear here. Questions sent to this address may be reproduced in this column, both in print and online, and may be edited for clarity and content.