Friday, January 2, 2009

Toy Reivew: Zeus Electrogasm

Erotic electrostimulation is classified as extreme, fetish, or, in BDSM terminology, edgeplay. And the majority of porn tends to portray it as just that: websites like Electricity Play and Wired Pussy are BDSM-oriented in nature, emphasizing the pain and torture aspect of electricity. But there is a softer side to electroplay, and that was what I was after when I ordered the Zeus Electrogasm from Extreme Restraints. Different in its small, self-contained, standalone design (most e-stim toys' pads or dildos are attached by wires to an external power source) and sold for only $39.95, the Zeus Electrogasm was simply too good an offer to pass up, particularly since most other equipment goes for $200 or more and looks like it requires a good deal of expertise to use properly. I was far too curious about pleasurable female e-stim to not buy it. While material depicting or describing men enjoying erotic, non-BDSM e-stim is incredibly prevalent, it's fairly impossible to find its female corollary. So, trying to put ideas of electrocution out of my head, I went ahead with my order to put it to the test and provide a female perspective on erotic electricity.

(It would seem I'm not alone, either: Extreme Restraints generously offered up five Zeus Electrogasms for Fetlife's Kinky Christmas Stocking Giveaway. A good deal of the current 290 Google search results for the product are clearly part of the list of stocking goodies.)

The toy comes complete with two tab batteries (one for the toy and one replacement) and fairly simple and comprehensive instructions. The toy can be used anywhere on the body below the waist (e-stim above the waist is possible, but very dangerous and not advised, considering a shock to the heart could result in cardiac arrest). It's unisex, and although all pictures feature the Electrogasm on the pussy or asshole, presumably the butterfly wings could be wrapped around a cock just as easily. There are three buttons: "ON", which turns the toy on as well as increases the intensity one level each time it is pressed, "OFF", which decreases the intensity one level each time it is pressed until it is off, and "MODE", which switches the modes and patterns of stimulation. Even though there are four lights on the toy, there are in fact six modes or patterns of stimulation. The Extreme Restraints website, oddly enough, lists only five- tapping, rhythmical kneading ("like a massage", deep kneading ("like being sexually fucked from within"), pressing, and continuous press. There is indeed tapping in the first setting. The second setting is a short burst of buzzing. The third (which lights up both the #1 and #2 buttons) is a longer burst of buzzing that crescendos in intensity slightly. The fourth setting (which lights up the #3 button), is a mixture of various modes, shifting between all those described. The fifth setting (which lights up the #4 button) is essentially the same as the fourth setting, except that every sensation lasts a little longer before switching. And the last setting (which lights up the #3 and #4 buttons) is a continuous buzz that doesn't stop or change in intensity. While there's nice variety of sensations, massages or getting fucked from within simply aren't a part of them. If the electrodes (i.e. the wings) were farther apart, it might feel more like a massage, but that isn't the case. And the internal fucking is more of a result you get from using electrified insertable toys. The Extreme Restraints website says there are five levels of intensity, while the Zeus Electrosex website says there are ten; although I couldn't test it directly (as explained below), it does have ten levels. The toy automatically shuts off after fifteen minutes, which can be a little disconcerting while in mid-use. But when you turn it on, it automatically goes back to the last mode you had it on (though it always begins at the lowest intensity). And in a very nice addition, the toy doesn't automatically start up when you press the "ON" button; you can change the mode before electricity actually starts transmitting, just in case you don't want to have to feel whatever it was last set to. A second press of "ON" will have you happily buzzing away.

And here is a quick demonstration of the remote-controlled version of the toy, from the Zeus website itself. Though they mention the silence, it should be noted that the buzzing at the beginning and end are obviously for effect, and not the sounds of the toy itself.

But what does it feel like? That's the question that most people have, so I'll try to explain it as best I can. Though the buzzing is comparable to the sort of vibration you can find in many other sex toys, I will say that it is different enough to warrant trying it out. In some ways it feels less like something buzzing on your skin, and more like your skin itself is vibrating (which, technically, it is!). The higher the intensity, the less vibrator-like the feeling becomes and more, I suppose, like electricity, where you can feel an almost pulling or pinching going on. In addition, the feeling in the tapping mode is one you just can't get anywhere else; I know of no toys that can provide it. Since this is my first e-stim toy, I can't help in comparing it to other models in terms of intensity. I will say, however, that it surprised me in how strong it was. I never managed to get beyond the fifth level, because it simply was too much for me. (Though let it be known, for the record, that I have a notoriously low pain threshold). The first and second levels were pleasurable for me, and beyond that, it became more painful, or, in the case of the taps, more shocking. In essence, it can feel pleasurable or painful. For people curious about how electroplay feels, the Zeus Electrogasm is cheap enough that you won't feel too bad if it turns out to not be for you. But I have a feeling most people will like e-stim . . . the only question remains how much they'll like it.

Anybody thinking that the electricity will instantly zap them to orgasmic pleasure is probably wrong. It's not that it isn't possible, but there are a couple of things to consider. E-stim novices aren't used to the sensation of electricity (except as something painful and to be feared/avoided). What that means is that while the soft buzzes might feel fun, new, and eminently cool, "erotic" might not be the word used initially to describe it. When I first put it on my pussy and turned it on, I was actually reminded of my first try with a vibrator- it tickled! The feeling was enjoyable, but it never felt like it was going to take me to, or really anywhere near, orgasm, at least not without some additional help. In order to enjoy it erotically, you're going to have to train your body and brain to respond sexually to the sensation. And even, then, you might need another source of stimulation to send you over the top. But don't get me wrong- it is erotic, and it is simulating. After playing around with it for a while, just running through the sensations (i.e. no masturbation, porn, or fantasies), I was surprised to find that I was pretty wet (something that rarely happens to me without direct touch). And when I did finally climax, my orgasm wasn't more intense, but, surprisingly, it did seem to last a little longer than usual. Certainly a plus!

Now, I went ahead and bought the toy with a hefty 8.5 oz. tube of Tens Electrode Gel, since I was understandably put off by my reading up on tales of poor conductivity and burnt, reddened skin and "hot spots" of intense heat at the contact points from not using some sort of electricity-compatible, or, better yet, electricity-enhancing lubrication. The instructions with the toy are mum on whether or not lubrication ought be included, but I'm glad I bought it. Without gel, I could go up to the fifth level; with it, the results were rather astounding. The gel really increased the intensity dramatically. Suddenly the first level felt more like the third. The difference is incredible. This isn't a review for the gel, but I will say that it does its job quite well, increasing conductivity and making sure no electricity goes to waste.

Now, onto the problems:

Unfortunately, the buttons can be somewhat difficult to work. When it's on your thigh (where I initially tested it), it's great- you can see it, work it, and enjoy. Plaster it on your pussy or ass, however, and suddenly you can no longer see the buttons. Considering that accidentally upping the intensity instead of switching modes or turning it down can result in some shocking discomfort or pinching pain, I really don't want to be making that mistake. Throughout my playing, I'd find myself peeling the toy off (while still on) just so I could confidently turn it off or adjust the intensity or mode and then reapply it, or consciously keeping my finger on one of the buttons, so as to not hit the wrong one later. Indeed, the flashing lights on the toy won't do you any good when it's actually on your genitals. The toy could really benefit from making its buttons more raised and pronounced, since it's relatively smooth and hard to tell what's a button by running your fingers over it, even if you do eventually memorize which button is which by its placement. Perhaps dials that turn, clicking at each different mode or intensity, would work better. Or a long plug-in remote attachment. Anything but the ineffective way they've got it working right now, which makes me blindly grope around down near my genitals (or look absolutely ridiculous holding up a handheld mirror to my groin). Prospective purchasers worried about the controls might want to shell out an extra fifty dollars to buy the the remote version, so as to have the remote and controls directly in front of your face (with the added benefit of three more intensity levels and being able to hand it off to let someone else stimulate you from up to 50 feet away).

It's also a little disappointing that there is no sole "OFF" switch; the "OFF" button here functions as a way to decrease intensity. If you happen to hit too high an intensity and want to get the thing to stop completely at once, you're out of luck- you'll have to frantically hit the button several times until it finally turns off, or wildly fling it away from your body. And yet another problem is in the "Shuffle" modes. Though they are the best settings, in my opinion, offering up some variety in sensation so you get that surprise fun "What's coming next?" and no boring or uncomfortable repetition, the problem lies in the intensity. The long pulses always feel more intense than the softer, shorter "taps". You either have to take a break and wait out the less intense moments, or be very ready to turn down the intensity the second it starts another pattern, lest you have an "Ouch!" moment. I'd compare it to having songs of different volumes on the songs on one CD. You're happily listening to it and then out of nowhere comes the ear-splittingly loud song you'd forgotten about. Not good.

And the real obvious detractor is the blockage problem. Whereas separate pads on TENS or EMS units have cables that can be annoying, they can clearly go on either labia, or either side of the asshole, leaving the vagina, clit, or ass clear for other stimulation or penetration. Not so with the Zeus Electrogasm. The same design that makes it so compact and wire-free means that the actual power source might be right in the way of your favorite bits. It won't be a problem if you can get off solely from e-stim, but if you need some touching, vibration, or insertion, good luck- you'll have to either place the Electrogasm in a spot that's not really near the good stuff, or try maneuvering around it. And care should be taken with maneuvering. The slightest shift could turn a pleasant buzz on my pussy into a tight pinching pain at one (but not both) creases of my thighs. It was one of the main reasons I walked around very very carefully while wearing it, lest it go from "Oooh" to "Owww". This could be fixed by placing it higher, so the wings are nowhere near touching the thighs (you can run! jump! rock climb!), but that also obviously changes where you feel the buzz. Even masturbating my clit while wearing the toy lower across my pussy was a little dangerous- knock the toy about a bit and you might find it pinching uncomfortably as described above. Ultimately, it worked best when you're still, lying, kneeling/on all fours, or sitting, which obviously puts a damper on how you can use it. Personally, using the toy over my asshole was probably the best, simply because I set it for a continuous press, stuck it on, laid down, and did my thing. This way it added a layer of pleasurable sensation but stayed out of the way, leaving my pussy completely open for all sorts of masturbatory fun. Similar fun could certainly be had by switching these up and having some anal fun while leaving this on your clit.

NOTE: I cannot stress enough that you should NOT try to adjust the toy while it's turned on. I got a painful little shock trying to do just that, and let me tell you, even though the pain was fleeting and not that bad, it will nevertheless get your adrenaline pumping as you try to fling the thing off, every "Danger: High Voltage" warning sign you've ever seen in your life flashing before your eyes (though I will remind everyone that it's purely psychological; the voltage here is quite low and there's no danger so long as it's used below the waist). As much of a hassle it is, always turn it off, reposition, and turn it back on.

It's up to you to figure out if these cons are deal-breakers. I will mention, once again, that the Zeus Electrogasm is incredibly cheap, a great deal for an electroplay toy. In fact, I believe it is the cheapest toy on the market (that is not an attachment requiring a more expensive power source). It's also incredibly easy to work. Pop in the included battery, place on body, press the "ON" button. There are no annoying and confusing cords and cables; the pads are a part of the toy, so you don't even need to set those up. Unlike most other buzzy toys, it's completely silent, which makes it ideal if, say, you'd like to wear it in public under clothes or simply would like to masturbate noiselessly (so as to not disturb or alert roommates, etc.). And for those who want to use it painfully, it's even better- no neighbors complaining about hearing whacking or spanking. Cheap, quiet, with a new sensation and lots of variety- could you ask for more?

All in all, I can think of a lot of great uses for the toy. It'd most certainly have a place on a BDSM practitioner's shelf, though true pain connoisseurs might snub it, as would those well-versed in BDSM electrostimulation, who prefer the ability to control sensations with their own power boxes. But a dom could certainly have fun springing this on a blindfolded sub, either as soft and pleasurable sensation play or harder pain play that'll keep them guessing ("Vibrator? Wait, no, ahh, ouch, that can't be right!"). It would also provide a lot of fun for use in public- all you need is some loose pants or a skirt to get that special, naughty thrill when you feel something and nobody else knows about it. (I'll say again that for such a purpose, this toy has all others beat, since it will be perfectly silent regardless of how high the setting- no buzzing noise coming from your panties). It's definitely a great toy for foreplay- I've already decided that it'll be a great toy for pairing with reading erotic fiction- just lay back and let it tease and titillate you as the words carry you away to fantasy. If you're careful or just have a high pain threshold (or enjoy pain with your masturbation/sex), it can definitely add delicious layers of sensation to heighten your orgasms. And I'd finally add that it can be a great addition to the toy box of e-stim afficionados, for introducing those who are wary of erotic electricity or scared by the intimidating TENS box and all its wires. For anybody curious about the sensation of electricity, the Zeus Electrogasm is certainly cheap enough that it's worth the purchase.

I enjoyed it, and still think it's a worthwhile purchase. It won't be a favorite, or one present at every masturbatory session, but it will get good mileage in my bed, not to mention being probably the funnest thing to share with a vanilla lover who might be scared off by most fetish and BDSM or bored by the more trite feathers and blindfolds. Common, it ain't, and its uniqueness earns it a big thumbs up from me.


Daniel said...

I have used this toy...

I found it very difficult to position the toy where I wanted, due to the bulky control part. It was impossible to place it around the anus evenly.

Also, it didn't stand up well to wear & tear. For some this is a one or two use toy, making it not such a great value.

Kitty said...

Hi, I know the comment above me wasn't happy with the buy. But I must say I was quite happy you posted this. I bought it and loved it to for all the same reasons you stated.

I just found it funny how your like me in a lot of ways on your blog. Like being a couch potato. Thank goodness for finding pages like this that remind me there are people like me out there.

Much love

Porn Tube said...

I have to buy one for my wife... this is an amazing sex toy...