Choosing A Name

One might think, that finding or choosing a name is one of the first steps. And it kind of was. When I started out thinking about a website which tests BDSM toys, I came up with some crazy ideas. Sadistic Material Review and Pervert’s Private Parts were some of the better. Fairly soon the name Ruff Reviews grew on me. A few weeks later I discovered Ruff’s great blog and even though I admire his blog and even more his body, calling my site Ruff Reviews would never be an homage but always have a trace of a cheap way to profit of his well established name. Due to the logo design which I have roughly finished today I wanted an alliteration. The last days I have tossed around Toy Torture. I am feeling more and more comfortable with the term even though it doesn’t feel as right as Ruff Reviews. But every child needs a name which shapes a bit of its identity and I think Toy Torture fits the project and has a little twist in it. You can tell from the URL which got you to this side if I have choosen TT or switched to something else – maybe FF 😉

Teaser idea and photo problems

Some entity doesn’t want good pictures to happen for this website but I will bravely soldier on. Anyway, please don’t be too harsh on the pictures until I have decent equipment.

As written yesterday, I drove to Essen in order to get myself a new light tent which I got. Afterwards, I have been a good gay guy and took a stroll through IKEA. While enjoying my hot cocoa afterwards I developed an idea for a series of teaser pictures. I hope to realize them until middle of next week in order to get the URL online.

But back to the photo problems: The tent I got had the backgrounds folded neatly together in order to fit inside the packing. So I had to iron them. But it turns out that I haven’t cleaned out my iron not well enough after the last decalcifying so I ended up with a big brown spot on a white cloth which meant: Washing, drying, ironing which took until the middle of the afternoon. When I finally was able to start taking pictures, it turned out the due to large objects and lightning, I would have to use the tent upside down. That does not only look stupid, but you can see black lines in the background. But as written at the beginning: For the beginning the pictures will do. Someday there will be new and better.

Taking Pictures

Yesterday I nearly finished writing all the texts I want to have online for the lunch. There are one or two small pieces I might have to write, but overall I am done and it feels good to have gotten something done. Awaiting the work vacuum (well… since I have procrastinated on the technical implementation, I can’t really call it a “vacuum” :D) I ordered a lightning cube and asked the seller if the item would be shipped the same day which he confirmed. Well… I have gotten the mail and it isn’t here. But I got my new “photo light” aka an LED array which is dimmer than my desk lamp. So I’ll send it back leaving me to worry how I will light the light tent. Three new flashes (a master and two servants – no pun intended) would be the perfect solution but is way out of my already exhausted budget. But since this not (yet?) the CNet of BDSM toys I hope that despite the inflation of expectations due to the internet the picture quality will be sufferable.

Anyway: It is Saturday, so I would have to postpone the photo stuff at least until Monday. So I probably will go out and buy myself another one. This might actually make sense anyway since the ordered one is really huge and a smaller one for smaller objects light clamps might be easier to lit.

On Social Media

This is a very delicate topic and I have given it a lot of thought which I would like to share with every user in order to enable them to understand why certain things on this website are the way they are.

One of the initial things some friends have noticed when looking at this site was “Where is Facebook?”. And the second question was “Why going through all this trouble of setting up an own website when you could just paste a custom skin on blogger and have it the easy way?”

The quick and easy answer is: I am a privacy obsessed, probably paranoid continental European.

The long answer: Despite working and marketing, I am actually afraid of the potential which big internet companies have to trace our life, our desire and our dreams. I probably should get liquid dreams by the marketing potential, but instead it gives me goose bumps – the bad kind of them. I know, I live a kinky lifestyle and google knows way too much about it and me, but in the end, I want to know and control what information to share with whom. So until now I successfully resisted Facebook and Google+. I even sort of closed down a Gmail mailbox just to keep as much private of me as possible. And as a webmaster I take the liberty of enforcing this quite political point of view on the user. Of cause, this website would get know way faster if I had a like button, but I want people to think before they get active regarding BDSM. If you copy and paste the link of this site on Facebook, great. If not, the people who are interested will somehow find their way to this domain.

I am aware that denying Facebook is getting more and more difficult. A couple of month ago I read an article in Mate that Facebook is becoming the next gay dating portal and someplace else I read that some people are already setting up fetish profiles there in order to date. Maybe at some point in the future, people will not use Recon, Gayromeo or what else to date anymore. But as long as I can find session partner there and take advantage of the more or less useful search engine for this task, I will NOT use a social network which avidly tracks its user. This also causes a couple of problems for running this site. For instance, I got the impression that Mister B only publishes news on their Facebook website which I refuse to use (please correct me if I am wrong). So if anything interesting is happening at Mister B, you will probably not read it first on this site.

But there is one social network I am using: Twitter. In my opinion it is a use- and powerful way of distributing information and getting in touch with people without selling ones soul. I know, Twitter has to make money and thus it is uncertain for how long they can stick to their more or less open concept. But as long as they are as open as know, I will use Twitter and will implement Twitter on my site. I am not sure if I will manage by the lunch but sooner or later you will find Twitter buttons all over the place 😉

Being a controversial topic I hope I have not offended anybody too deeply and hope that everybody can enjoy this site as much as I would like them – despite lacking certain web “standards”.

Testing Modus

A few days have passed, the exam went quite well and the texts I wrote about the last time have been written. They are not brilliant I have to admit, but they will do. I don’t want a Pulitzer Prize I just want to get as many people as possible good information about BDSM toys. And if they are a little bit interested in the origin of this project or me, fine. If not, I am also cool with it.

In order to provide useful information I need a system to judge the toys I will be testing. As you can see from the picture over the last month I have collected quite a lot of thoughts on that matter. The first draft included different rating systems for pain and restriction gear which at first made sense because regarding usefulness you can’t compare a clamp with pair of handcuffs. But these drafts also included criteria which I find difficult, like the pain strength or the tightness of the restraints. I know from my BDSM speech that pain is a very complex matter.  Every pain has an affective and a sensory component which might be measurable quite objective. But due to pain memory, training, situational factors, etc. pain will be felt different every time somebody gets exposed to the pain source. Not to talk about that not every pain at applied at every part of the body makes everybody equally horny. So writing that a “clamp provides a mild, jet prickling sensation” might be ludicrous at best, at worst putting an eager beginner into agony harming his pain memory badly. Same works for the tightness of restraints. What one person finds pretty harsh and making his extremities fall asleep is just a slow start for a true bondage sub.

Another, quite technical approach was to measure how many Newton a clamp provide and how much force can be applied to restraints before they get torn apart. This would be very intersubjective and scienecy – and probably useless because nobody knows how many Newton one can bare per square millimeter clamp-skin-contact or how much force a sub develops. Also: This testing would mean the destruction of at least my bondage gear. If I would be rich, I might do such stuff even though I won’t provide practical information. But being a student with a very limited budget, it is impossible. Not to think about the investment in the testing facilities.

So, when doing groceries today (I know, I have weird thoughts at even weirder place), this system of criteria came to me:

Build Quality (10%)

Is the toy flimsy, does it feel cheap or has it a quality feel.

Security (15%)

It there anything which might cause a severe harm when handled badly or even worse when handled right.

Flexibility (10%)

In how many ways and on how many different body parts can the toy be used.

Being up to the Task (25%)

Basically: Can the toy do what it promises.

Handling (10%)

How well handles the toy? Does it have a good grip, is easy to understand and can be released quickly in a case of emergency. How does lub, gloves (if anybody want to get me leather, latex and industrial rubber gloves in order to get a wider array of testing gloves, just contact me ;)) or sweaty hands effect the handling.

Glamour/ Coolness (5%)

We are all queers to a certain extend and love showing off at the Vanity Fair. So having a cool toys might just be the right mean to score a certain hot looking guy thus it influence the decision for a toy.

Long term Potential (10%)

How long can a sub be exposed to the toy. I know this is also an experience thing but sometimes pure medical factors speak against long term use.

Marks (15%)

Does the toy leave a mark? If yes, how heavy is it? I know that this is an important factor for newbies, people in non-SM relations and for hard players who have daytime jobs and who might get in problems when a welt is across their forehead. But on the other hand, some tops are looking for toys that mark their subs and leave them with something to remember the session for a couple of hours or days. So I am not yet sure if a toy should score high or low when leaving a distinctive mark for a long time. UPDATE: I Decided to award high scores when the marks are low.

I will probably use this system for the first couple of weeks and will be waiting for the feedback of the reader. Maybe it will prove useful maybe everybody else but me it is complete crap. We will probably see.

Design

After having finished my current book surprisingly early tonight and since I wasn’t in the right mood to stark with Walden, I sat down and developed an overall design for the website, developed categories und under categories and tried to set the tone for the entire project in Photoshop. Currently I am a bit ambivalent towards the color scene: The dominant colors are black and grey with red as an accent color. It is very fetishy, pseudodungeon and looks light nearly every BDSM shopping website I know. This might be good for recognition and instant associations but on the other hand I don’t want this website to be and maybe look like every other BDSM site. But since in my opinion content is more important than looks, I might settle for this “classic” design until the next relunch.

There are three major issues left:

  1. The text background color: Currently the background is white which is good for readability due to the high contrast. But this is also bad because the overall contrast between the navigation elements and the text element is too harsh. I might change the background to a light grey and wait for the feedback over the first few years.
  2. Font: I know I am mental about this and probably nobody cares. However I think the font is one of the most important factors of a written medium. It sets the mood, conveys an initial message and with factors light wellbeing and readability vitally influences how long people stay on a website. I have to admit after 6 hours of looking at fonts I haven’t found the right one yet. Neither for the texts nor for headlines, logos, etc. I might stick to Arial because it is clean but yet again: I don’t want to be that boring.
  3. Protection of minors: I want this website to be as accessible as possible which of cause might get me into problems. Even though this website should educate and provide information one might think that at best that it is erotic at worst pornographic. I have talked to a friend of mine who is a lawyer and read dozens of laws and I am pretty sure that I have found the right compromise between interestingly presented information and obeying to the law. So when you wonder why certain elements of BDSM are not shown here explicitly, you know why. Hopefully despite that inconvenience, everybody will enjoy the website.

Starting to Write

Starting to write is always the hardest things. Most authors were so terrified by a blank sheet of paper that they had to be drunk in order to start writing. I however don’t have the privilege to booze myself. There is still an exam ahead and I take writing this blog entry to take my mind a bit off the stuff which hopefully will help me to get a new perspective in the matter afterwards.

For month I have made notes, jot down thoughts and sketched design ideas and I know: If I don’t start now there will be enough excuses with working fulltime and the semester abroad that I will probably not start at all. So today is as good as every other day to start. In order to provide some content at lunch of the site I will write every couple of days about the process of working on the project.

When reading this or every other piece on this website, a word of warning: Despite having lived in the USA and consuming a lot of Anglophone media, I am not a native speaker. Furthermore I am suffering from dyslexia. So if you find any weird wording or spelling mistakes, don’t get mad but be kind enough to send me a notice. I will correct the mistake as quickly as possible.

But back to the project: Tonight when I have finished learning, I will start to write the “frame” texts: Something about me, about this website and maybe a short introduction to my toy collection. Even though I have been doing creative writing for quite some time, I am not sure how quickly and how well I will make progress. At the end, there will be enough judges to tell me.

McHurt Light Suspension Bar

Vendor: McHurt

First Impression and construction

The 80cm and 100cm bars

The 80cm and 100cm bars

When I first picked up this suspension bar, I was surprised that how light it is. Otherwise there is not much to write about it: It is a metal tube (probably chromes steel) which comes in length of 60cm, 80cm or 100cm with shackles on the ends. They are attached to the tube with rather short butterfly nut like screws. Sadly the ankles of the ears are quite thin and thus the screw thread is very short.

These restraints have a minimum diameter of ca. 10,5cm and a maximum of about 16cm.

Playing with it

Despite being light, I haven’t had any problems concerning stability. What’s more of a problem are the screws and the short screw threats. Just through movement of the sub the screws got loose. At best the entire shackle gets off. But I have times when it was half off. I haven’t tried it out but the metal seems not to be strong enough to withstand large force when being hold on a small area thus leading to bending and trashing of the bar. Also the shackles could be a bit larger. Especially when you work with professional carabiners it can get a bit fiddly getting them through the loop.

Using the spread bar with McHurt restraints

Using the spread bar with McHurt restraints

Furthermore, keep in mind that these are light bars and week shackles. So when it comes to hanging people using the bar or really heavy action I would not rely on them. In the end it comes down to the simple question: Do you want something light and cheap (maybe for travelling or just getting to know the kink) or something really professional.

Conslusion: A very basic and simple suspension bar which need a bit of attention when playing with
Pro Cons Where to get Price
Light weight A bit shakily McHurt  (Manufacturer) 60cm: 19,40€

80cm: 21,60€

100cm: 23,50€

 

 

McHurt Ihsan Boot Restraints

Vendor: McHurt

Restraints put around a boot

Restraints put around a boot

First Impression and construction

Basically they are the same as the hand and ankle Ihsan restrains I reviewed here.

Playing with it

The main difference when playing is that they are not only longer but have a fold which makes them as long as the normal hand restraints storage wise. Also this fold makes them easier to handle and put on a sub. That is if the sub has a very thick ankle or is wearing boots, otherwise the restraint is way too loose. But even if you don’t play with boot wearing subs, they can serve as a collar substitute.

Restraints folded together for easier transportation

Restraints folded together for easier transportation

Conslusion: Useful addition to every restrain set when playing with booted subs
Pro Cons Where to get Price
Fairly cheap Hole distance to wide for tight bondage McHurt  (Manufacturer) 64,50€

 

Thick padding Piping can lead to unwanted injuries
Good overall quality

McHurt Ihsan Hand and Ankle Restraints

Vendor: McHurt

First Impression and construction

Ankle and wrist restraints next to each other

Ankle and wrist restraints next to each other

When picking up one pair of the restraints you instantly get a good feeling: The swine leather is soft, the padding has generous 12mm thickess, the leather strap 3,5 mm thick and even though the used metal doesn’t appear to be stainless steel (I think it is chromed steel)  it seems to be up to the task. On the outside is a little McHurt flag and at the inside one which indicates the size which both can be cut off easily without damaging the restraints.

The size M restraint has a minimum diameter of ca. 4cm and a maximum of about 8cm. The size L restraint has a minimum diameter of ca. 5,5cm and a maximum of about 10cm.

Details of how the d-rings are hold in place

Details of how the d-rings are hold in place

Playing with it

Due to the thick padding and leather, the restraints don’t bend as easily as other ones I had in my hand. The same effect comes into play when you want to tighten the restraints. You will need a bit of force and a hand to squeeze both ends together in order to get the buckle in a tight position. So fettering a sub who struggles is not easy. Also, this “inflexibility” can cause problems when you need to get a sub free quickly. You might want to rely on panic carabiner instead of loosening the restraints. If you are a fan of really tight bondage, this might not be the right pair of restraints for you. The whole distance on the belt is 1,5cm which is standard. I have seen belts with 1,2cm or even only 1cm but it is always a compromise between sturdiness and tightness.

Detail of the roller buckle

Detail of the roller buckle

But once fitted, the restraints are performing very well. The buckle and the one D-ring sit safely between two riveting under the strap. After a few sessions the leather will get a bit loose due to being a natural material which expands. But I have tried the restraints with beefy ex-soldiers under heavy torture and the restrains never let me down so they will not fail you if cared for properly.

Padding and piping of the restaints

Padding and piping of the restaints

Because the padding is quite thick the restraints are good for long time bondage. Even after a few hours there were no sore parts or pressure marks. However this very much depends on the pair you are getting. The two leather covers and the padding are held together with a rugged leather piping. On the upper side on all my Ihsan restraints the single seam stitching creates a smooth transition to the leather cover. On the inner side of the restraint the piping is loose and thus sometimes creates a sharp or scraping edge which can lead to nasty scratches and even wounds when heavily twisting while being tortured. I can only guess that the “better” stitching is on the outer side for good looks but in the end this is a toy not an accessory. So carefully try out whether you can life with the inner part of the piping when you get yourself a pair.

Conslusion: A pair of basic restraints which do the work properly
Pro Cons Where to get Price
Fairly cheap Difficult to handle McHurt  (Manufacturer) Wirst: 59,50€

 

Ankle: 59,50€

 

Thick padding Hole distance to wide for tight bondage
Good overall quality Piping can lead to unwanted injuries
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