Interview with a Sex Blogger – Hey Epiphora
The world is full of sex toy reviewers. Some review privately to partners and friends. Others post anonymously on shop sites. Then there are those who posess enough talent, ingenuity, and dedication to touching themselves to turn sex blogging into a full time job. Of these, Epiphora is one of the most well-versed and thorough and definitely the snarkiest. Her website, heyepiphora.com is chock full of helpful toy reviews and witty sex blogs. As both an English major turned porn peddler and a woman horrified by the Taffy Tickler, I was eager for some one-on-one. Here are my questions, her answers, and a few links to some very worthy reading.
When you publish a new blog or review, my inbox announces “Fresh snark on Hey Epiphora.” You are indeed adorably snarky. Is snark an angle you chose, or is that all you?
It’s really all me! I’ve always been super opinionated and unapologetic. There’s no other way. I can’t hide the truth if I try. It wasn’t until a few years into blogging that people kept labeling me “snarky,” though. It became the most common descriptor for me, so I grabbed it and ran.
One of the first things I wondered after browsing your blog was if you have day job. Your dedication to your site is impressive and it’s obvious you put a lot of time into it. Recently, I noticed buried in the “about” section, that you work at a local adult boutique. While most of your blogs and reviews are heavily peppered with links (keeping me engaged for hours, damn you) there’s no link to the shop. Do you purposefully keep it unnamed?
Yes. My bosses prefer that I refrain from flamboyantly broadcasting where I work, because my reviews can be kind of biting and they don’t want it to reflect back on them as a business. I work on the floor in the shop two days/week. The rest of my time is spent slaving over my blog.
What came first, working in the boutique or blogging and reviewing toys?
Reviewing! I started reviewing in 2007 when I was still in college, and I started working for them in 2010 after I graduated — so I had three years under my belt at that point. That’s how I wormed my way into the shop, actually… by regaling them with my sex toy knowledge.
Not only do you have a “very discerning vagina,” you’re an excellent writer. What did you want to be when you grew up, before you discovered sex toys? How did you end up reviewing toys?
I wanted to be a writer. My vision didn’t extend too far beyond that. If I had to pin it down, I probably would’ve said I’d end up a short fiction writer, sending manuscripts to literary magazines.
I was studying English in college when I saw a call for sex toy reviewers on a sex shop website. It sounded fun, so I applied. I spent a year writing on-site reviews for them before I established my own blog. It was just a hobby for a couple years, then it became financially successful and allowed me to rely on it as my main source of income.
It makes a lot of sense for me to run a sex toy review blog. I was a nerdy kid who stayed in at recess to build my own websites. I’m also a somewhat egotistical writer who always found ways to imbue my “fiction” with non-fictional details, and I’m fiercely passionate about sexuality. Sex toy reviewing is a great conglomeration of things I like.
photo by Epiphora
What was your first sex toy?
Ugh, a silver bullet that came with a horrible soft purple sleeve. Luckily, I didn’t use it with the sleeve. Even clueless 19-year-old me knew that was a farce.
What is the worst sex toy you’ve tried?
My brain immediately jumps to “what caused me the most pain?” and by that measure, probably the LELO Ida or Taffy Tickler. In terms of utterly useless vibrations, though, this phone app and the PicoBongKiki were quite dismal. A few months ago I tried something from Vibratex’s The Girls line and it was honestly one of the worst orgasms of my life. I also strongly feel that “strap-on vibrators” and the Cupcake are abominations.
I love how organized you are with your toys and your toy reviews. I could spend a lot of time marveling at your virtual “toy box.” Do most of your toys get fair play or do the marginal ones rarely see the light of day? When you hate a toy do you trash it?
Thank you! The marginal ones tend to stay tucked away. I have my all-time favorites in my desk, and the rest are in my sex toy closet (yes, that is a thing I have now!) Most of my masturbation sessions are spent trying new toys — things I’m reviewing next — so I don’t really have time for mediocre sex toys of the past unless I’m feeling particularly nostalgic.
I’ve only thrown away a few things that were truly broken. I try to find homes for stuff I hate, or I keep the toys around if I think I might need them in the future for comparison purposes.
How do you choose and acquire the toys you review?
I follow my instinct. I learned over the years that I have to be careful — simply requesting something because it looks mildly interesting isn’t good enough. There must be either something unique about the toy that I can explore in my review, or I must be inordinately excited about it. Otherwise the result will be a mediocre review, and nobody wants that.
photo by Epiphora
Your writing extends well beyond heyepiphora.com. You’ve been published in Best Sex Writing of the Year, and you’ve been featured in magazines and on radio shows. Do you work hard to promote yourself or did you just get noticed?
Most of the time, I just get noticed. Folks approached me for the radio stuff and magazine features. The only exception was Best Sex Writing of the Year, which had a submission period. I do tend to make myself as useful as humanly possible when I’m contacted by someone writing for a major news outlet (sometimes to my detriment when the piece comes out with no mention of me in it.)
What’s the biggest misconception about sex toys?
There are two equally annoying ones: that they’ll replace partners, and that they’ll numb you for life. First of all, to compare humans and sex toys is absurd. I actually got an email recently asking me if I “discriminate against guys that aren’t big” because I like larger dildos. Really? There is no need to feel threatened by a sex toy.
Second, vibrators cannot permanently numb you or ruin your orgasmic response. Just as your hand will become temporarily numb if you hold a really strong vibrator against it, so will your vulva. Of course, you can become accustomed to certain types of stimulation — so with repetition, your body will come to expect certain triggers in order to orgasm. But these triggers can always be re-established by switching things up.
Do you love porn or does watching it just come with the territory?
I love porn! I have over 700 GB of it. I watch it almost every time I jack off.
Did learning how to squirt change your life?
I think finding my G-spot changed my life.
Before my blog and before sex toys, my masturbation routine consisted of clitoral stimulation only, no deviation. Penetration was painful and distressing. I had never heard of female ejaculation. If I hadn’t become a sex toy reviewer and tried so many different toys, I doubt any of that would have changed.
Now, I yearn for penetration whenever I masturbate, and I can feel my G-spot being stimulated in some fashion by almost every dildo I use. Learning to squirt was just the cherry on top — it makes me feel so powerful and magical. I’m very fortunate that I am so in tune with what gives me sexual pleasure, as I know many people go through life without that knowledge.
You’re polyamorous and pansexual. Is life complicated or just extra full of love?
Both! It certainly isn’t the easiest thing in the world, but it’s worth it. My sex life is better for being able to experience partners of many genders and genital configurations, and my regular life is better for having a newer partner who actually enjoys shopping and nerding out about sex toys!
photo by Epiphora
Tell us about your recent Dildo Holiday. Most fun ever?
YES, it really was. I spent half a year planning that sex blogger retreat and it was absolutely the most fun I’ve had in years. My friends and I spent our days teaching each other new skills, watching hot feminist porn, BLOWING OUR OWN GLASS DILDOS AT A LOCAL GLASS STUDIO, and basking in sex-positivity. It’s truly an honor to have these people in my life.
What (in life or sex) do you want to do more of?
I’d like to love my body more. I’d like to explore dominance and submission. And I’d always like more coffee, please.