Maria Yagoda‘s review — What It’s Like to Ride a $2,000 Vibrating ‘Sex Machine’ — was first published on Broadly.
As sex tech becomes teenier and teenier, I wonder: Is bigger actually better?
‘Hey, bb girl did a torso-sized vibrator come in the mail for me?”
I sent this text to my roommate while at work, worried that The Cowgirl: A Premium Sex Machine would somehow get lost in transit. Living with me comes with its perks, like unlimited Twizzlers because I hoard hundreds of them in cupboards around the apartment, as well as its oddities, like sex toys arriving at the door with nary a warning. The vibrator had, in fact, arrived, and I couldn’t wait to get home to try the latest $2,000 innovation in dick-less, hand-less, tongue-less orgasm because I just re-downloaded Hinge and it is not going well. (Last night I lashed out at a match for saying his “Dream Dinner Guest” was Tom Brady.)
I’d first encountered the 25 lb. device at New York’s Museum of Sex, presented alongside an exhibit on the somewhat brutal history of riding-style sex toys, which, for decades and decades, have been designed by men for women. The Cowgirl—which is sleek and, as I’ve mentioned, enormous—was designed by veteran sex educator Alicia Sinclair (founder of The Cowgirl, b-Vibe and Le Wand), who is smart to tap into this new trend of people no longer feeling compelled to hide sex toys in shame drawers along with their condoms and back-up Twizzlers.
“In general, people are now more accepting of sex toys,” Sinclair tells me. “I think we’re going to see more people investing in larger sex toys, whether it’s this one or sex furniture or larger vibrators. Especially folks who are at that point in their sexual timeline asking, ‘What else is there? What’s next?’”
That’s right—vibrators can be unapologetic statement pieces; they can be high-end and luxurious and so, so clearly for sex. A far cry from those looks-like-lipstick or could-just-be-a-ring vibrators; you put the thing on a couch or a bed or the floor, and you ride it, on top of any number of pulsating phallic attachments you adjust to your liking. It looks like a giant, sturdy saddle, atop of which you put the dildo or vibrator. And it’s fucking loud.
Pictured: The Cowgirl alongside book for scale. Photo courtesy of the author.
“In the riding-style machines category, it feels like nothing’s been done differently in 35 years,” Sinclair says. (She’s referring to the advent of The Sybian, which I’ve never used so can’t comment on, and its subsequent imitations. The Sybian saddle was developed by Dave Lampert in 1983.) “This is the ultimate vibrator. I wanted to make it look like something that I would put in my own bedroom and use myself. I wanted to make the attachments look nice and add interactive capabilities. You can play remotely.”
The Cowgirl can be controlled in three ways: via remote, which you plug into the machine and hold as you ride it, via its app, and via FeelMe, a site that allows for remote control—as in, your Instagram crush lives across the country and things have escalated and you want him to get you off. (Sinclair says the remote functioning has been adopted enthusiastically by the camming community.)
I put off trying the Cowgirl for a week after it arrived, for two main reasons: 1) It’s called the Sex Machine and that freaks me out; I get scared sometimes, too 2) The process of assembling it—the cords, the screws, the dick-shaped attachments—felt far beyond my intellectual capacities. Yet one recent Sunday night, after a few swigs of whiskey and a couple cry-for-help tweets, I felt emboldened to assemble the thing, and fortunately, the instructions are very clear, even for someone like me, who consistently opens cereal boxes in such a manner that they can never be closed.
The only thing left to do was…get on it. The Cowgirl comes with two attachments—one, the Wild West Silicone attachment, which has a big phallic protrusion, allowing for a more life-like sexual experience for a hetero-leaning lady like myself. With the remote and the app, you can adjust the silicone dildo’s vibration frequency, as well as the speed with which it rotates in circles. (It rotates in circles!) The other option, the Rawhide Silicone attachment, has a little bulb where the dildo was on the other one, making it more comfortable for bumping and grinding if penetration isn’t so much your scene.
I decided to try the most extreme one first—the dick one—because it scared me the most. I lubed it up with a water-based lubricant and hopped on, perching in front of the dildo and on the buzzing textured part as I got situated. I turned the nob to the medium vibration setting and immediately had to turn it to the lowest, as the vibrations are intense—and loud. I guess with such a high price point, they assumed buyers would live alone, without any roommates from which to hide their loud mechanical masturbating. Whatever, I knew my roommates would be happy for me if they heard the garbage truck vroom sound, which they definitely did.
As I got into a bit of a groove, I tried to ease onto the Wild West dildo part and found it…very awkward. With a similarly shaped hand-held vibrator, it’s much easier to ease the toy inside of you at the pressure you want because you’re holding it, but with your body and gravity looming above a flailing penis, it’s a bit hard to pull the insertion off delicately and pleasantly, as you have to control your entire body to adjust the intensity. (You can’t just flop onto it. Or maybe you can. I couldn’t.) I found it a little tricky to balance my weight in a way that felt good—if I completely relaxed on the machine, the motions were too intense, so I had to prop myself up a bit. I ultimately removed myself from the dildo part and swapped with the Rawhide coarse vibration part, which I really enjoyed. The overall machine, which can hold up to 400 lbs. of body weight, is extremely comfortable; the material feels good on the skin. And sitting in that position on the vibrations, once I got the hang of it, felt incredible.
The “Rawhide” attachment was way more my style—the vibrating bulb, I found, was much easier for me to control and throw my weight on without an overwhelming intensity. I played with the pattern settings – opting for the BUZZzzzzBUZZZ zzzz BUZZZZzzzzzz one – and eased into a higher intensity vibration, which, well, yeah, it worked out.
Would I pay $2,000 dollars for it? Probably not, but bear in mind I’m someone who won’t pay $5 for sushi that doesn’t make me sick. Should a rich person buy this? Absolutely yes, especially if they live in a real home that has place to store things. As much as Sinclair wants to position this as a statement piece, I feel that it should still be tucked under a bed or in a closet, not propped on a coffee table.