This week, we announce the SaSi, Babeland’s new cunnilingus machine, but I also had a friend try it out. My "friend-with-benefits."
She was more than happy to be a little experimental with it. The toy certainly looks intriguing, and comes in an elaborate, three-sectioned black box with its name embossed in a silvery-pink on the lid. Open that, and there’s the SaSi itself, about the size of a cell phone. On one side are the controls, while at the front, the "tongue" protrudes slightly. This SaSi was purple, but it also comes in pink and black. There’s a natty carry case, and the charger comes with adapters, lest you find yourself in need of it in Europe or elsewhere.
The SaSi has two modes: “Favorites” and “Customize.” The first mode takes you through five different movements (up and down, side to side, and others less easily describable.) Users can chose from three different speeds and six levels of vibration. But the customizing mode is the really natty part. It also has some kind of artificial intelligence (the designer explained it to me, but I’m an English graduate); the machine "learns" what you like and what you don’t. SaSi will take you through the different movements – if you like one, you can hit the ‘don’t stop’ button until you’re, er, done. When you turn it off, the SaSi will store the movements you liked best for use in favorites the next time you turn it on. If that wasn’t enough, there’s also the option to make the whole thing vibrate.
In hindsight, I recommend sitting down with the instruction manual for five minutes. In our eagerness, we kept turning the thing off accidentally, or slowing it down too much. Unlike real oral sex, it’s harder (but possible) to bring the right amount of pressure to bear. Also, the next SaSi model should try and emulate the feeling of breath on flesh. All in all though, it’s good weapon to have in your clitoral stimulation arsenal: follow it up with a Trojan fingertip massager or a Lelo.
Penis-shaped toys, it seems, are on the way out. Walk into any Babeland, Pleasure Chest or Pink Pussycat, and the veiny penis-shaped dildos are now tucked at the back, out of sight. At the new Babeland, which opened in Park Slope last month, there’s a sleek row of toys of various shapes – balls, cones, curvy pebbles – but no rods. The Lelo is a shiny black stone of a toy, with an Aubrey Beardsley-esque picture of a stem of pink flowers set against the black. Like ipods and the SaSi, it comes with a charger. This sets it apart from older vibrators that need their batteries changed or, like the wand, have to be plugged in, leaving your pleasure at the whim of your extension cord.
Je Joue, the company who designed the SaSi, decided to design a toy that “rather than just vibrate, should be more like foreplay,” said Duncan Taylor, a member of the team that designed the toy. Like an iPod, the SaSi has a kind of playlist function. Using the “Customize” setting, you can list one movement after another, building up to your (literal) crescendo and finale. The “Favorite” mode, said Taylor, “is more like putting it on shuffle.”
Unlike the vibrators of the Manhattan Electrical Co., this one does not promise to cure anything: “do not use SaSi as a substitute for medical attention,” the instruction manual warns. Je Joue has picked Babeland to be the sole distributor of the SaSi in the U.S. Taylor said that his company was impressed by Babeland’s track record: “they’re female run, big on education. They’re the future for how sex toy shops should be.” He said that the industry has “moved away from seedy sex toys behind closed doors – the products don’t look like hideous black phallic objects.”