Sep 202013

This past Friday we kicked off the second season of Sex Out Loud with an amazing guest, Metis Black from Tantus Inc. We had so many questions from listeners that she didn’t have time to answer them all on the air, so she graciously wrote them up for us afterwards.

Q: Who makes the silicone toys that are the very healthiest for people to use?

I like to think Tantus does. There are only a few raw silicone manufacturers and for some reason they have all come to get Tantus’ business from time to time telling us who else they sell to- so I’m pretty much in the know about who uses what. But Tantus actually doesn’t buy off the shelf silicone- we actually do have a unique formula . If a company wants our business, they have to meet our standards. Not all of them are able to.  When I saw we are the largest silicone toy maker that information comes directly from the raw material companies. We buy more RTV silicone than anyone else in North America including Fleetwood RV or Fisher Price. I was actually stunned by this news.

Q: Silicone toys are expensive compared to other types of toys. Is it very costly to make them? What is the manufacturing process? How much does the material cost, and what factors go into the pricing?

First off silicone raw materials are at least triple the cost of RTV or Latex. Then as any manufacturing business, you need to account for overhead (the building, electricity, and most of all labor). If you choose to manufacture in the USA rather than say China or other  third world manufacturing facilities, the labor expense is included in the  pricing. Tantus also gives our employees health benefits…. that goes in there too.

Q: When did silicone sex toys first enter the market?

Thank you for asking this because I love to share this information. Gosnell Duncan created the first silicone dildos in 1971 for the disabled community. He went on to create the company Scorpio who took it to Eve’s Garden, the first feminist sex toy store in the world. I first heard about Mr. Duncan from Susie Bright who was the manager for Good Vibrations at the time. GV was a tiny hole in the wall store with books and 3 vibrators (ok I don’t think that number is really accurate), but Susie saw dildos and she instantly recognized that this was something she wanted for the store.

Q: What prompted you to explore aluminum as a material (the Alumina line)?

You know I am a sex toy slut. I love toys and I have an amazing collection of some of the most original amazing designs. One of my favorite designers is Ray Cirino who made Inner Space Toys. He was the designer of all the toys in the Penthouse centerfolds. He specialized in hard acrylic toys but he also made several into metal toys, and I own a few of them. I love playing with hard toys like these and so we created Alumina.

Q: My packer, which I wear outside my body all day every day, is made of silicone. I notice that sometimes it leaves a little bit of a greasy stain sometimes. Why is that? Is it normal? Can it hurt me?

That oil is Dimethicone. It is silicone and won’t hurt you at all. Dimethicone is used to soften the silicone. You’ll find it in every silicone lubricant. Beautifully body safe.

Q: I use a cyberskin packer and clean it with soap most every day but also boil it once a month. My friend said this isn’t a good idea. Is it ok? Will it destroy it?

Cyberskin is a SEBS material and won’t stand the temperature of boiling. If you’ve been able to boil it once… than it shouldn’t have any difficulty being boiled again but I’ve yet to see a super soft material that was boilable and wasn’t silicone and I’ve been looking hard. Santiprene is boilable (it’s the soft material on toothbrushes) but it’s still too hard for most sex toys.

Q: Are there any sex toys you have a dream of creating but cannot physically manufacture? Are there limitations?

Well, there used to be. And I still can’t manufacture all the toys of my dreams in my facility, but there is technology now that allows companies to make just about anything out of silicone- being able to afford the R&D, now that can be a problem. Most toys made that are intricate have a molding expense that is pretty prohibitive of making small changes to. It’s hard to proof your toys and make certain they play to your specifications, before bringing them to market- but we’re still evolving.

Thank you all so much for listening and sharing with me your questions. I’m available on twitter if you have any more. – Metis Black  Listen to the full episode here.

You can find Tantus toys at Good Vibrations, and if you use code “TRISTANGOODVIBES”, you’ll get $20 off any purchase of $100 or more!


Jan 182013

Ask Tristan logo450

[Ed. note: This question is a legal one, so I asked my awesome expert, Davis from Sexquire to answer it.]

So, I was just reading a Coyote L.A. article that talks about what Prostitution is defined as, and I noticed that one can
define Prostitution as masturbation for pay. Would that mean that webcam modeling could be included in that definition? Is there an exception for cam, because I am using my camera?

To be sure I was answering the right question, I did some research to find the Coyote LA article you mentioned. After reviewing it, I can see how the issue might still be a bit confusing. The answer to your question is most likely no, but let me add a few caveats before getting in to too much detail.

Caveat 1 –The article you cited discussed California laws regarding prostitution, and each state (and often city or town) has its own specific rules that govern what is/is not illegal there. I’m going to answer your question under California law, but if you’re wondering about another state, or even an area in California other than LA, you’ll need to do some additional research.

Caveat 2 – Some places don’t have very specific laws, and often whoever is in power (mayors, council persons, sheriffs) dictate what types of things are more vigorously pursued at any particular time. If you’re new to an area, be sure you learn about the prostitution and sex work laws that govern, but also find out a bit about the area’s political climate and whether local governmental authorities are particularly active in this area.

Caveat 3 – Your question was about prostitution laws, but obscenity laws may also govern cam or fetish video work. Just because a local government agent can’t fit what you’re doing into the definition of prostitution doesn’t mean you’re necessarily in the clear, as obscenity and “lewdness” laws vary quite a bit from state to state.

Okay, with all that being said, let’s dive into your question. The article you mentioned discussed how dancing nude and masturbating oneself might meet the definition of prostitution under California Penal Code Sec. 647 (which defines prostitution). The actual language of the law is long and confusing, but the article is correct that the law includes in its definition of prostitution “a lewd act for money or other consideration” which is “the touching of breast, buttocks or genitals for the purpose of sexual gratification or arousal.” The article goes on to say that since the law does not define WHO is doing the touching, that one who dances nude or masturbates oneself as part of their act could, if their customer achieves sexual gratification, be found to have committed an act of prostitution. However, your question was not about someone dancing nude or masturbating themselves in front of someone IN PERSON, it was about cam work, where you are far removed from, and indeed may not even have any information at all about, your client. And this is what, at least for now, removes cam work from the definition of prostitution. It does not take place between two persons in public or private, as the California statute states for every definition of prostitution. It may seem a bit fuzzy, but because you have the barrier of the computer, the internet and space/time between you and the person purchasing your services, it simply doesn’t fit the current definition of illegal sex work. Of course it may fit under a pornography or obscenity definition, and with the recent laws and referendums in California one never knows how laws may change, but for now, at least in California, cam work does not likely fit the definition of prostitution and to my knowledge, no cases have been pursued.

One final caveat though – despite not technically fitting the definition, nothing prevents local law enforcement from claiming that a particular act is illegal, so know that although a case would likely not prevail, an overzealous officer and prosecutor could certainly charge someone with prostitution simply for cam or other work. So be careful out there regardless of what your local law currently says.


Davis is the founder of Sexquire, a complete sex-positive business services company. Davis is the legal arm of Sexquire, having advised brick and mortar sex toy stores, sex educators, sex workers and other sex positive business folk on all manner of legal issues for over 7 years.   In addition to legal matters, Sexquire also provides bookkeeping, accounting, personal assistance and other business services all with a sex-positive spin.  You can find them online at their website, as well as Twitter and Facebook.