The LGBTQ community has always brought an innovative approach to sex toys. When you're simultaneously fighting for the right to your sexual identity and surrounded by pleasure products that consider your needs to be an afterthought, the resulting environment is ripe for revolution.
Transgender persons have fueled the creation of Buck Angel's Buck-Off masturbator. Lesbian couples have enjoyed the Tantus Feel-Do wearable strap-on or the Semenette POP! squirting dildo. Gay men even have entire brands like Perfect Fit dedicated to their desires. Despite the laundry list of products targeted to the unique body-on-body positions that unite during LBGTQ intercourse, one of the most stereotypically popular aspects of lesbian sex has still gone underserved — at least, until now.
I think lesbians will be more open to trying something that was designed by a lesbian for lesbians.
Veteran video editor Sandy Holland, better known as multi-award nominated Gabrielle Anex in the adult industry, has been composing enticing, on-screen heterosexual stories for 20 years, most recently for production company New Sensations. Oddly enough, Holland isn't straight.
“I started in the adult industry as an editor after graduating film school from UCLA,” says Holland. “Even though my main experience has been editing heterosexual porn (as Gabrielle Anex), I'm actually a lesbian myself.”
Tribbing, the lesbian sex position more commonly known as “scissoring,” isn't something Holland would come across often in her work, but her personal life was a different story.
“I guess you could say I got the inspiration for the Shi/Shi from my personal sex life,” says Holland. “I remember expressing frustration to a girlfriend once that it was a shame there weren't any toys designed specifically for the scissoring/tribbing position.” For the uninitiated, scissoring involves two women splitting their legs in a scissor-like shape that allows them to grind their entire pelvic areas together. Even with multiple products on the market for gay and lesbian couples, LGBTQ sex toy makers have somehow managed to overlook the need for a vibrator that properly accommodated this often joked-about but extremely pleasurable sexual position.
“Sometimes you might want to add a vibrator or something while in that position,” remarks Holland. “The only toys that were out there were bullets and vibrators that were designed for straight product lines, meaning only one partner could feel the sensation if in that position.”
Sandy was luckily in the right place to begin her career in sex toy creation. As an editor for the video-based sister company of toy manufacturer NS Novelties, Holland took her budding pleasure device to work.
“I had no background in toy design prior to this one...[so] I took [my idea] to Scott Taylor at New Sensations,” recalls Holland. “He loved the idea and asked for a mock-up of it, so I went to Toys R Us, bought some Playdoh and molded it.”
With Taylor's assistance, Holland went straight to the top, bringing her home-made prototype to NS Novelties’ Lavi Yedid.
“We then took the idea to Lavi in the toy division and he ran with it,” says Holland. “The final product looks strikingly similar to my Playdoh model.”
The result of Holland's collaboration with Yedid and his team is an egg-shaped external vibrator with symmetrical, swiveling sides.
“I consulted with Lavi a lot on the toy and made sure it had design elements that I thought were necessary,” notes Holland.
Female couples can position the toy between their pelvises during sex, and each side will move equally with their grinding motions. “It has a ridge going down the center of each half which is designed for each partner to really be able to clutch onto with their vulvas,” says Holland. “I felt that part was important because it isn't just the clitoris that needs attention or has sensation. Women's bodies are very sensitive everywhere in that area, so I wanted to make sure it was not just something you had to put on one area.”
Smooth dildos without any similarity to a penis have been some of the most sought-after toys for lesbians.
“I think there are a lot of lesbians who don't like the idea of a sex toy that resembles a penis,” Holland said.
Rather obviously for those in the LGBTQ community, Holland reminds the heterosexual folks in the room that “lesbians have sex differently than straight or gay male couples.”
However, various forms of strap-ons and other poorly designed products for female couples still miss the mark on lesbian sex.
“From my experience, it's more sensual and there is a need for constant contact of skin on skin,” says Holland. “[Some lesbians don't] really even need the simulation of heterosexual sex to come into play at all in their bedroom.”
The Shi/Shi is truly the first of its kind to make a significant impact on a rarely published (or, rather, video-recorded) aspect of lesbian sexuality — insertion is optional.
“As a lesbian, it's often frustrating to seek out sex toys because the majority of them involve penetration of some sort, and frankly, not all women want or are into that,” Holland said. “Some are more into stimulation of the clitoral area and don't need to use a dildo to feel pleasure.”
When your sexual needs are happily outside of the majority, a product like the Shi/Shi Union carries something special.
“I think lesbians will be more open to trying something that was designed by a lesbian for lesbians,” Holland said. “I would absolutely team with NS Novelties again to come up with some more designs for my lesbian sisters!”