I REMEMBER the first sex toy I bought was the colour of fuchsia and moulded in a jelly-like material with beads in the shaft. It looked like a miniature gumball machine.
It was called Rodger The Rabbit and gave my 18-year-old self an orgasm so strong I saw stars.
Having tried countless vibrators since, I doubt I will ever be so attached — emotionally or physically — to another erotic gadget. I am now a bunny girl for life.
Rodger came from an Ann Summers party thrown by a friend at uni. I had wanted to attend one ever since spying through the bannisters as a kid at my mum’s glamorous buddies arriving for the parties she hosted in the Eighties.
They would hoot with laughter before slinking back into the night carrying bags emblazoned with the famous “bitten apple” logo.
The logo was a reference to Eve tasting the “forbidden fruit” in the Garden of Eden and discovering sexual pleasure.
Two major things happened at the bash with my student mates. One girl got the nickname “Viagra Falls” after drinking so much cheap white wine she vomited a cascade of semi-digested chocolate willies. And we all dared each other to purchase a rabbit vibrator to find out what the “buzz” was about.
After trying them out in our bedrooms, we understood why so many millions of these have been sold.
These magical machines made us all climax faster than you could shout “Bugs Bunny” — and some of us for the very first time.
EAR WE GO
RABBIT vibrators were pioneered in Japan during the early Eighties.
The bright colours and sweet animal details were designed to get around laws banning the sale of anything that looked like a realistic penis. With its reverberating ears, the bunny hummed on women’s hot spots and was soon being exported to foreign sex shops.
Customers loved how effective the widgets were and how friendly they seemed compared to other toys of the time.
Many of these had a cold, clinical feel or looked like tinned hotdogs — and were just as sexy. By 1991, Ann Summers had launched a version here. The Pink Pearl Rampant Rabbit vibrated at variable speeds and featured rotating sensual spheres in its stem.
AN appearance on Sex And The City in 1998 made a fresh audience prick up their ears.
In a season one episode that was called The Turtle And The Hare, shy Charlotte (Kristin Davis) expects vibrators to be “scary and weird” but is introduced to a pretty pink rabbit. She gets so obsessed that she starts cancelling plans with pals to stay in and pleasure herself.
Miranda and Carrie stage an intervention to pry her away from her new fixation. After the show aired, women queued around the block at adult stores asking for Charlotte’s rabbit. Its maker, Vibratex, saw sales jump by 700 per cent.
As online shopping took off, sales of rabbits rocketed too.
Now even the coyest of customers could order their saucy supplies for discreet delivery.
TODAY, rabbits continue to be among the most popular toys, not least because their “dual stimulation” design is efficient at bringing women to orgasm.
According to sex therapist Laurie Mintz, author of A Tired Woman’s Guide To Passionate Sex, 43 per cent of women report that “combining penetration and external stimulation is their most reliable route” to climax.
Rabbits deliver exactly that. The buzzing ears help excite the 8,000 nerve endings of the clitoris on the outside of the genitals, while the shaft stimulates a place inside the vagina once called the G-spot.
Now sexologists tend to call this the “G-area”, as it is not a precise point but a broad zone of tissue through which the hidden, internal parts of the clitoris can be stimulated.
Renee Denyer, of female-focused sex store Sh!, says: “The shaft of rabbit vibrators also provide something solid for the contracting vaginal muscles to clench around during the waves of an orgasm, which can make the sensation more intense.”
Technology has now come on leaps and bounds since the first rabbits. The latest luxury toys are made of body-safe, medical-grade silicone rather than the dodgy jellies of old, some of which could leak harmful chemicals, “melted” when in contact with certain other toys or lubes and they were hard to clean and prone to causing infections.
Modern throbbing thrillers are rechargeable, with different racy features. Some heat up to body temperature, while others are controlled via apps or move in time to music.
How we talk about sex toys has evolved too.
WHAT’S UP DOC
AFTER the first vibrator was invented by British physician Joseph Granville in the 1880s, they were marketed to treat ailments ranging from constipation and tuberculosis to deafness.
But NOT for giving sexual pleasure.
While it is often claimed doctors used vibrators to treat women’s “hysteria”, this seems to be a myth.
Many were advertised as “personal massagers” to “relieve headaches and back pain” as late as the 1970s, when US sex educator and feminist icon Betty Dodson began using vibrators to coax out climaxes in masturbation workshops.
CELEBS RABBITING ON
NOWADAYS sex toys are so widely accepted — in the West, at least — that we give them as gifts.
Research by sex toy maker Lelo showed that nearly two-thirds of women aged 35 and under got their first vibrator as a present from a gal pal, with 21st birthdays the most popular occasion.
And celebrities ranging from Oprah Winfrey to Emily Atack have raved about their “erotic electricals”, while Beyonce dropped £4,000 on cheeky goodies in a single sex shop spree. Plenty of famous faces even have their own sex toys for sale.
Gwenyth Paltrow’s wellbeing empire Goop has just released a double-sided wand vibrator.
And Love Island’s Megan Barton Hanson is the latest face of Ann Summers’ raunchy ranges. Singer Lily Allen launched her own Womanizer Liberty clitoral suction gadget last year. So now we all know just what makes her “Smile”.
And model Cara Delevingne recently became co-owner of sex toy start-up Lora DiCarlo.
Fifty Shades Of Grey star Dakota Johnson is an investor in Maude, which is a “sexual wellness” brand that makes “sculpture-like” designer stimulators.
And adult retailer Lovehoney has won a Queen’s Award for Enterprise. From humble beginnings in co-founder Richard Longhurst’s bedroom in 2002, the brand now has international sales of £56million, with 2.2million customers.
AND me? After a 15-year career as a sex writer, I have tried more spicy toys than I’ve had hot dinners.
And I have broken a fair few through overuse.
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GIFT IN KIND
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I often joke that there are more dead rabbits in my bedside cabinet than in Watership Down.
But whatever new toys I discover, the classic Ann Summers Rampant Rabbit will always have a place in my toy box and in my heart.
I do have one request, though: That the next version be named the Pubic Hare. Laughter enhances pleasure, after all!