Hello again! It’s me.

Since sometime post-college, when I became accepting of who I am, I considered myself open-minded sexually. Did I hide behind online ordering or pay my friend twenty bucks to go into an adult novelty store to buy my copy of Debbie Does Everybody? Nope! I drove my cheap little beat up car to the wrong side of town and held my head high when I walked through Midnight Blue’s front door. Even made polite small talk with the guard checking my ID. I grew a rep amongst my friends and I was bona fide proud of it.

One time a co-worker asked me to take her on one of my “little shopping trips.” She wanted to see inside just such a place, fulfill forbidden curiosities, and have something to talk about in the nursing home her kids shoved her into. My friend was significantly smaller than me, a mere speck of a girl, and I became aware of her slowly maneuvering behind me. “You can’t see anything over my head. I’m taller than you.”

“I know. That guy over in the corner by the magazines. HE GOES TO MY CHURCH!”

“Well, he can’t exactly tell on you, now can he?”

Needless to say, she left with a key chain compared to my big brown grocery bag full of everything I could afford.

But there were places even I never dared go. A good friend of mine told me his wife adored her new glass dildo. Glass was the thing. Easier to keep clean, can be heated or cooled for various stimulation. Way better than the Rabbit that, in my humble opinion, had no chance of living up to its rep.

Did I go out and buy one right then and there? No fricking way!!

The venders of this product actually expected me to take a big piece of glass and stuff it where? I don’t think so! Instead of fantasies fluttering away in the blonde brain, I had visions of good southern boy E.R. doctors questioning me, “So again, ma’am, how did you manage to get that much broken glass in there?” (I read somewhere, never stuff anything up in your happiest place on earth you don’t want a doctor to talk about, because they will. Gotta have something to do on coffee breaks.)

But the idea became like a pebble in my sandal. Wouldn’t go away. The last straw came with a news broadcast the day after Christmas. The reporter giving post-holiday news said, “Lots of people are out shopping today using all the gift cards they received. Christmas is shopping for others. December 26 is shopping for yourself.” I just happened to have a 50% off coupon from Adam and Eve. Got to looking around their website and clicked before the pictures of laughing E.R. doctors reappeared.

It arrived just a few short days later in one of those not-so-discreet manila envelopes. (But my mailman is used to me. Completely unshockable.) It sat in my nightstand drawer until sometime after Valentine’s Day when my vibrator batteries died and the economy-sized box they came in didn’t have an replacements. Oh fuck! I needed it bad, so I lubed up and went for it.

That glass dildo is now one of my favorite toys. I love it more than the vibrator. It has two fellow glass friends sitting next to it in my nightstand drawer. I love the ability to change its temp, the smoothness and heaviness of its length inside me. I can keep it clean when using it on my favorite guy victim of the month. (And its batteries never die.) After discovering my new favorite sex object, I did some research online. Yes, it’s glass but it’s not regular glass. I can vibrate through a mindblowing orgasm and it won’t so much as crack.

The point of this story, I was really impressed with my copy of The Adventurous Couples Guide to Sex Toys by Violet Blue because it puts aside the typical adult novelty toys that have become the overdone and cheaply made, fall apart in a month norm. It gives lots of valid, useful information about new and upcoming sex toys written in an entertaining, easy-to-read language. Like a girlfriend sharing stores, “You know what I found last week…” It opens the doors to ideas that make my eyes grow wide with wonder.

If you’re the kind of person who thinks that life’s pleasures should be a decadent indulgence to be truly appreciated, you’re not alone. While the rest of the sex toy business has been churning out the cheapest products made from disposable materials, a growing number of naughty entrepreneurs have taken on a different perspective altogether, creating super-exquisite haute couture sex toys. Many new toy manufacturers want to distance themselves from “novelties” as much as possible, and often have backgrounds in engineering, design, and art. Welcome to the wonderful and fast-growing world of highly refined pleasure instruments.

Whether you think “only the best will do” for your sexual escapades, or you see yourself as needing a solid rose quartz dildo reposing in an exquisite locked box on your bedside table, or you’re a couple whose fantasies only begin in vistas of decadence that require the proper accessories, or you want to get your lover the most mind-blowing sexy gift imaginable, there’s likely a high-end sex toy to fulfill your desires. If you can imagine it, it’s probably available—though not without a hefty price tag (of course). Yet for people who want their sex toys ringed with real diamonds and gleaming with personalized monograms, money isn’t the object: Pleasure is.

While in the rest of the sex toy world, silicone is the expensive, most-desired material available, in the world of high-end sex toys you can find playthings crafted from exotic materials like steel, silver, platinum, gold, glass/Pyrex, and wood, or even carved from precious stones. Anal beads made from freshwater pearls? No problem. Real fox-fur tails for your butt plug? Sad for the fox, but available with the click of a mouse for your foxy little ass.

Glass and Pyrex Sex Toys

Toys made of glass and Pyrex look and feel incredible—and as for an extravagant plaything, they’ve got the form and function part down pat, too. Looking more like modern sculptures or works of art you can hold in your hand, glass toys are perfectly fashioned into ultrasmooth and deliciously heavy sex toys. Glass sex toys might make you feel as if you’re “living on the edge” as far as breakage goes, but in fact these toys are crafted with an advanced process that makes them incredibly difficult to break—and no orifice of yours has the power to break them. Of course, if you drop them on a hard surface or they knock against each other, you might need a new glass toy. But they’re amazingly resilient, and should be, after going through heat-curing processes averaging 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Glass toys are readily available through a variety of retailers, and for value, you get what you pay for; expect prices of up to $400. Glass toys come in all shapes, from small butt plugs to far-out curved alien penetration toys, solid glass police nightsticks (the “Night Shift” at blowfish.com), and outrageous things like “The Juicer,” a glass insertion toy with a hand-crank handle that lets you rotate the toy inside someone, literally like turning a winch. Another exciting creation is the Black Light Responsive glass dildo, an amazing-looking creation that safely holds a suspended liquid inside that refracts and glows under a black light. All glass toys are clear and made from hearty stuff, and many have ribbons of color that catch and refract light at different angles. This makes each and every glass toy a unique creation, no two alike.

By far the most discriminating glass creations are from Clear Ecstasy (clearecstasy.com). This company takes its self-pleasure (and its glass) seriously, coming up with some of the more outrageous glass toys in existence. There you can find a variety of glass toys (like the aforementioned “Juicer”) and, time and money allowing, you can even have the company create a custom glass dildo for you. The “Don Wand” is its version of a make-a-dildo, though in stunning glass and with a variety of customizable options. For instance, you can simply have a glass dildo made to your size and shape specs, or go the distance and opt to add colors, internal monograms (cost is per letter), embedded quartz crystals, opals, Herkimer (quartz that simulates a diamond), or dichromate chips (iridescent diachronic glass chips). Clear Ecstasy also proffers the “thousand dollar dildo,” called The Venis: a gorgeous, handcrafted glass dildo whose handle resembles a female torso.

Hot and Cold Running Sex Toys

As you might imagine, glass and metal toys feel cold and smooth, yet they warm up nicely and retain heat well. Some people like to make them even cooler—or hotter—for intense temperature play. Never freeze or boil glass or metal, as you’ll harm the integrity of the toy and harm the user’s sensitive skin. Instead, warm these toys in hot tap water for a few minutes, or dip them in ice water.

Heavy Metals, Stone, and Precious Gems

Like glass, metal dildos and butt plugs are perfectly smooth and wonderfully heavy, making them ideal for G-spot and prostate play. Stainless steel sex toys are widely available at retailers that specialize in kinky toys (such as stockroom.com and blowfish.com); they come with a fat price tag and range from basic shapes and designs to outrageous creations with huge jewels and gems embedded in them, handles to simulate Baroque door-knockers, and Chinese dragon heads; some even have fanciful (or frightening) faces cast into the handles. Metal toys are made of stainless steel on metal lathes, which spin the metal at mind-boggling speeds to remove material in precise measurements, and then are finished to create a perfectly smooth, seamless, nonporous surface. Aluminum sex toys are out there but difficult to find and expensive, as their material is very valuable in large chunks.

Few metal dildos come in traditional penis shapes; mostly you’ll find sleek silver wands with a bulbous, perfectly round ball at the end, “barbell” shaped wands, and heavy, simple rods with ridges. Metal butt plugs come in standard (and even extra-large) shapes and some dastardly looking anal-bead-style graduated plugs, but the main differences are in how the base is finished—with a gem, a cast metal face or even a skull, a movable ring that acts as an extra handle, and more. Because metal is so strong, manufacturers can craft a variety of shapes and items, knowing that the items can withstand all sorts of play. More unusual metal sex toys include an aluminum “tuning fork” suitable for double penetration, a steel “vagina hook” for use in BDSM and intense bondage play, and bondage devices like a “nose hook,” used to hold the head at a certain angle during bondage play.

For top-of-the line metal insertables that excel in form and function, point your browser to njoytoys.com. Njoy Toys’s finely crafted beauties were conceived by a fellow with a background in the engineering and design of consumer products. Suitably for toys that will help you blast off, they’re fabricated in a facility that also manufactures aerospace components. These toys impart equal amounts of beauty, thoughtful design for use, and an understanding of the pleasure potential in stainless steel. Expect to pay at least a hundred dollars for one of Njoy’s stunning Philippe Starck–looking sex toys, and know that you’re getting something worth way, way more.

Like glass and metal sex toys, stone dildos and butt plugs provide weight, smoothness, and temperature transmission (and retention) like no ordinary sex toy—but with the added delight of being shaped purely for pleasure from elements formerly deep within the earth. Stone dildos, available in kink-friendly and upscale sex toy boutiques, are typically made from a smooth, highly polished black (or dark green) granite; the result looks like a museum-quality work of art, or maybe what we might imagine dildos were like thousands of years ago—at least, the ones treasured by kings and queens. Granite dildos are either representational (they look like a penis) or shaped like wands with gently undulating waves for extra sensation, while granite butt plugs come in plain plug shapes. Because granite is stone and prone to lose its strength when drilled or decorated, it’s uncommon to find anything other than smooth polished granite toys in classic designs.

One company has taken the notion of dildos and butt plugs in precious materials to the limit: Mi-Su (mi-su.com) is a U.K.- based company that retails very few items, but the ones it does sell are right at the edge of sexual decadence. At Mi-Su, you can get stunning butt plugs in obsidian or rose quartz that resemble chess pieces, or a nonrepresentational, sumptuously curved obsidian dildo. The same dildo is available in solid titanium and finished in a variety of colors, with a handle that can be custom inlaid with a selection of twenty precious stones, including diamonds and sapphires (or Swarovski crystals). Not wanting anyone to feel left out, Mi-Su also has a line of titanium cock rings in solid and adjustable styles; these are customizable with engravings, plus inlaid diamonds, rubies, or any precious gem that tickles a gentleman’s fancy.

Not to be outdone, Coco de Mer (coco-de-mer.co.uk), an online sex boutique in London, offers a full line of wonderfully debauched sex toys crafted from truly exclusive materials. Even if decadent window shopping is all you can afford, visit its online store and check out the black glass-and-silver dildo; cock rings, butt plug, and dildo hand-carved from jade; and ingenious anal beads and cock rings in freshwater pearl. Keep looking, and you’ll find a diamante-encrusted handle and leather whip named the Diva, and another whip called the Bombshell, whose tails are 100 percent human hair (available in blonde, redhead, or brunette). Kinky big spenders should match the Diva whip with a diamante and leather T-Shaped Strap with Detachable Cuffs (a stunning body harness), or the pony fetishist’s dream: the leather corset Horse Tail Belt, made with real horse hair.

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Want to win a trade paperback copy of this wonderful book, leave a comment below and I’ll randomize a winner on Friday, October 18, 2013. Your sex life will never be the same again!