Interview with Zackary Brett Hemenway (Formerly of The Pleasure Chest)
What are some of the most popular sex toys for gay men?
It very much depends on the gay man. Generally speaking, we used to sell mostly lube and cockrings to gay men. In recent years men, of all types, have paid more attention to their prostate. And for good reason. With several toys on the market made to be inserted anally, to be left alone to it's magic without any manual intervention, guys everywhere have been finding a deeper orgasm. Gay men have always enjoyed masturbation sleeves, as well as leather gear. Many have scoffed at a leather harness until they tried it on.
Which device is best for someone who's new to sex toys?
If you are into anal penetration you should go with a silicone dildo that is on the smaller side and that has the option of vibration. Size can matter, but when playing solo, you will be able to hit all of the right spots on yourself within a few minutes of exploration. The vibration helps to relax your sphincter muscles. For those not into being penetrated, go for a sleeve. There are a ton of things out there for you to play with. If you want to buy someone a toy and you aren’t quite sure what to get, go for an external vibrator. It travels easily, it’s great for partner play, and it doesn’t make any assumptions.
Can you give us some tips on introducing a device to a new sexual partner?
Communication, communication, communication. Seriously, communication is your best tactic when trying to introduce anything new to a partner. Our culture is swimming in sexuality, but we are typically too afraid to talk to the people we are engaging with sexually. Ask questions, tell them what you like, make plans to try out new things. Talk!
A good way to get the ball rolling is to plan a date where you are not in the bedroom or situation where things could lead to sex, but you feel comfortable talking about it. The park, a secluded table at a coffee shop, etc. Let your partner know you want to talk about fun sexy things, and that they should come up with things they always wanted to try. Once you start talking, you will most definitely find inspiration. Don't be afraid. Knowing what you want is a very sexy trait. Don’t get upset if they aren’t into what you want to try. It’s only fun if both parties want it.
What are some of the best sleeves to use?
The materials are probably the most important aspect of sleeves. There are a ton of sleeves out there, and everyone has his own taste. Stick to non-porous materials that you can part with easily. Some sleeves are thinner and introduce more texture than substance, while others have more mass and give you a more realistic feeling of penetration. If you are into mounting something, and are willing to spend the money, there are some large pieces that are molds of models. They can prove to be quite fun. Quite fun.
Are vibrating products really better at relaxing the anus?
Yes. Unless they are strong vibrations. The best thing for relaxing the anus is breathing, trusting your partner, taking your time, and enjoying yourself. Foreplay will be your best friend with anal relaxation. Once you get turned on and start wanting to go further, you are more than half way there.
What are the differences between anal beads, dildos and butt plugs?
This is a huge question. Dildos alone are so varied that one description doesn’t encompass them all. To break it down very simply – dildos please by insertion, plugs by being inserted and staying put, and beads by the popping action of removing from the anus. There are many toys that cross the boundaries between these three, but for a beginner, I would suggest a smaller silicone dildo. You get used to the feeling of pressure, movement, and penetration. Just make sure it has a solid base. The sphincter has a tendency to pull toys in.
Steel, silicone and wooden dildos are these products made equal? Are some better then others?
It depends on the purpose. Steel and most high quality silicone toys are non-porous. So, they are easy to clean. Metal toys can be warmed up in hot water. I HIGHLY recommend that. Just stay clear of using the microwave. Some companies make wooden toys with a non-porous body safe coating. They are rigid, and like steel are good for prostate and g-spot play. Glass is another material that I highly recommend. Non-porous, can be warmed, easy to clean, and often much more beautiful. No, they can’t break inside of you.
Should gay men be concerned about sharing their toys with multiple partners? What are some of the best ways to keep them safe?
Yes. Sex toys are usually sold as novelties. The companies don’t have to actually worry about what is body safe and what is healthy for you. Luckily, there are a ton of amazing and responsible sex toy companies out there who do care. In general, go for medical grade silicone and medical grade steel. Most glass toys are safe and sturdy. If you don’t want to spend a ton of money, you can share a toy by putting a condom on it. Just be wary of using silicone lubrication with low quality silicone toys. It will melt. Nothing feels as weird as a silicone toy melting inside of you.
What are the differences in water based, oil based, silicone, and warming lubes?
I hate warming lubrication. Maybe it’s just personal preference, but anyone I know who is sex positive and has used different types of lubes consistently feels the same way. Water based is easiest to clean. Silicone lasts longer and has a great texture. Oil based lasts as well, and should not be used with condoms. If you are big into masturbation, try working some oil-based lubrication in first, and then adding a bit of water-based on top. Good times….
If out of the standard lube, can you use masturbation cream for anal sex?
There are many lubrications out there specifically made for anal penetration. External lubrications or masturbation creams may have ingredients you don't want floating around on your insides. Stay clear of anything with conditioners, moisturizers and fragrances. Go for a water-based, silicone-based or hybrid lube.
Do you think Poppers are okay to use?
Poppers are technically illegal. When buying them at a store you are buying a product intended for another use, although the companies who make them know exactly why you are buying them. It's similar to buying a pipe that is intended for “tobacco use only”. It is huffing. So, it definitely isn't good for you, but I have never heard of anyone who has died from poppers.
Can you give us some tips on giving good head?
The best cocksuckers are the ones who get off on doing it. If you aren’t into it, don’t do it. But if you are into it, ask what feels good. Start off slow with soft kisses and licks. Pay attention to the balls. Take your time. You want to build up the sensation. Move on to using just your mouth, and eventually include hands. Cup the balls and, if they are comfortable with it, extend one finger under the perineum to rest on the anus.
Can you give us some tips on anal play and massaging the prostate?
This is a huge topic. Much more than I can fit into this interview. I can say two things:
1. Love your hole. We are taught to dislike our anus. We associate bad things with it. It is a huge pleasure center, and you should enjoy it. If you don’t play with your own hole, you shouldn’t expect it of anyone else. Anal masturbation is the best way to know what you like and to curate your own anal sexuality.
2. Anal play isn’t always about penetration. There is so much more to your anus. But when you are in the mood for a little pressure on your prostate, insert a finger past both sphincter muscles (approximately two inches) and curve the finger toward the front of the pelvis in a come hither fashion. Play around with location and pressure. When you hit the spot, it will feel like someone has grabbed your dick from the inside, your knees get week, and you will most definitely moan.
Do you think guys really last longer while wearing a cock ring? Can this be bad for your junk?
Cock rings have a few purposes. The big reasons are to maintain an erection and to withhold ejaculation. It maintains an erection by controlling blood flow. It withholds ejaculation through pressure at the base of the penis. It can only be bad for your junk if you wear one 24/7 or if it is too tight. You will definitely know if it is too tight. There are many guys out there that like the way a cock ring feels and looks. They come in many shapes, sizes, and materials. Start off with an adjustable ring or one that stretches until you have a better idea of what size is best for you. Side note, I really don’t like the word “junk”. My dick is not junk, thank you. My dick is beautiful.
What are some toys for the bondage/sadomasochism beginner?
The BDSM world is vast and varied. It’s hard to suggest toys for so many beautiful facets of that community. I would suggest starting in your own bedroom. Much of the fetishes and fantasies that develop in BDSM play come from our day-to-day lives. Before going out to buy a ton of rope, try a necktie. As opposed to spending money on a wooden paddle, start with the back end of a hairbrush. Once you get your feet wet, it won’t be long before you crave better gear. At that point, you will know what you want to spend your money on. The only danger arises when you don’t communicate to your partner. Setting up boundaries, negotiating the limits, and scripting out the play can give you enough structure to truly let go and enjoy yourself. One doesn’t get into BDSM, they allow the BDSM within them to come out and play. It’s already there. You control when and to what degree it is brought forth.
What do you think about fisting? Is there a sex (safe?) way to do it?
Fisting is a beautiful thing. The anus and its sphincter muscles are much more accommodating than most imagine. There are safety precautions to take when engaging in fisting. It’s all about pace, gradual increase in diameter, and proper lubrication. Gloves are recommended as they help to smooth out any rough edges on the hand, like fingernails, and it acts as protection for both parties. It also makes clean up much easier.