In the hilariously over-pedantic penultimate chapter of Ulysses, Joyce describes human copulation as the “energetic piston and cylinder movement necessary for the complete satisfaction of a constant but not acute concupiscence resident in a bodily and mental female organism.” Everyone is interested in sex, but only some concentrate on the pistons, and by pistons here, I am not being metaphorical, but literal. The inventors depicted in Sex Machines: Photographs and Interviews (Process / Daniel 13) by Timothy Archibald are almost all piston men. Archibald stumbled upon their works when doing research on independent inventors in general, and found that though the community of sex-machine inventors may be small, it has some cohesion. There are sex machines for sale on eBay, for instance, and web circles of specialists who invent, sell, and collect the machines. The invention of such things has gone on for centuries, as Archibald discovered in browsing Patent Office files, but current technology within the machines as well as within communication between the inventors has brought this particular endeavor out into the open. The result here is a funny book of pictures and interviews that is a small celebration of a peculiar American endeavor.
The photographs, color and full-page in a large format book, do not show any of the machines in action; there is a little tasteful above-the-waist nudity in the pictures, but most concentrate on the machines and the inventors. (If you are interested in seeing the machines actually do what these machines actually do, you are within a large crowd of similar voyeurs, and you have probably already found the websites devoted to such displays.) The pictures often have the machines in just the right environment, the garage or workshop where they were born. Many sit on workbenches as if awaiting the next tweak that will bring the device closer to perfection. Some are on beds. One is on the living room rug, with sawdust and power tools around it, as if we can just anticipate the (one hopes) mixed reaction of the woman of the house when she gets back. The inventors are there, each welding on his machine, or adjusting it, or leaning against the wall with an “Aw, shucks” modesty.
Even if you have never seen machines like this, it will be quite obvious what each one does. Every one of them has at its action end some sort of phallus, and perhaps because men are the ones tinkering with them, the phalluses are substantial in length and girth. (All the inventors are men. A wife of one of one of them says, “Dan is a man. I mean, I don’t think he can help but think about these things, the sexual, the mechanical, the craftsmanship of it all. Men are wired to think this way.”) The phallic ends are generally anatomically accurate latex or silicone, although they might come in fanciful blue or pink colors. Most of them are on rods, often connected by a universal joint to a shaft that is attached to an electric motor; the motor goes around, and the shaft goes in and out. Some have obvious connection points that change the depth of the movement back and forth, and surely the speeds of the motors can be variable. Some are obviously powered by motors from household appliances, and one uses the motor of a KitchenAid mixer. This has the advantage that you can detach the sexual attachment, put the mixing blade back on, and make cookies. A few of the machines are made to be sat upon, or ridden like saddles, with the phallus extending upward. There is one photo here of an inventor who looks like an executive behind his desk, and that’s because he is; he is the inventor of the famous Sybian machine, I think the only recognizable name brand here. His gadget vibrates and goes round and round, rather than in and out, and he is curt about machines of reciprocating action: “Stroking has nothing to do with intercourse as far as women are concerned… In my opinion, these other inventors haven’t figured out what the hell is going on sexually at all.”
One inventor says that he works carefully with his clients in making his custom machines, matching not only speed and stroke length, but even color, and one of his models was matched for other colors in his clients’ house. He donates his work to people who want it. Another inventor is just as eager to get his gadgets to couples, but He’s a dedicated Christian, and insists, “I will require anyone ordering a machine from me to provide proof of marriage and a signed statement of intent to use only within that marriage.” He isn’t the only religious inventor of such things; the inventor of The Ultimate Ride ended his follow-up interview with the author by saying, “I realize when you were out here I never asked you about your relationship with the Lord. Have you thought about it?” Many use their machines within their own marriages, but the inventor of such gadgets as “Ram-a-Lot” and “Man-in-a-Can” gave his first prototype to his wife, and she said, “You are not touching me with that thing.” So he put it on eBay:”We [note the plural here] got $250 for it easily and the rest is history.” The Cadillac of such machines is the Orgasmo, selling for $6969. The inventor is proud of his work: “I’ve heard the other guys bragging. I’d be glad to take on their machines anywhere.” He describes a highly successful product: “It does everything you want it to: it angles, it raises, it lowers, it vibrates, it thrusts, it’s fast, it’s slow… it does everything but snuggle with you.”
Which, of course, is the ambiguity of success with machine sex. In this book, few women are quoted as reflecting negatively on the devices; one says dismissively, “Here you can just get yourself off, you don’t need anyone else… Working through problems helps us grow as a species.” None of the women seem disposed to give up men, men who might be too tired, out of Viagra, or otherwise indisposed, for a machine that never tires out. Machines featured on films on the websites often look intimidating, as if they are just one more power thrust (sorry) by males over females, but most of the women quoted in the book are appreciative of gadgets that are meant to deliver nothing but fun, and the inventors seem intent on making gadgets that deliver fun reliably and efficiently, Plenty of the men seem devoted to their own marriages and to marriage as an institution. If the machines are bizarre, that just shows in contrast that the inventors are, as good tinkerers in garages ought to be, optimistic. Let the world beat a path to their doors.
For more intriguing information about sex machines, try the following:
a href=”http://www.fuckingmachines.com/?3964″>Fucking Machines is all about sex machines, sultry girls and what these amazing gadgets do to them. Includes thousands of incredibly sexy pictures and videos with custom made mechanical fucking machines. Check out the extensive free previews of this unique, wild, toe-curling site.
© 2006 Rob Hardy. All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without written permission from the author.