In an arousing case of studying a “least anticipated to most wanted” sexual act, anal sex’s evolution to being the next hottest trend in the sex industry is intriguing. An act as old as the Bible, its development from being the most stigmatized of actions to a pop culture favorite deserves a…pardon the pun…deeper examination. In speaking with a maker (Tantus’ Metis Black) and a retailer (SheVibe.com’s Sandra Bruce), we learn how changing cultural mores and commercial innovation have brilliantly commingled to facilitate anal’s bright future. Here, a real sense of how this has occurred, why it will sustain, and where the movement is next headed is found.
Foremost, this is not a standalone moment. Anal sex’s popularity has long been on the rise: A 2010 survey found that instances of women trying anal sex aged 20 to 24 had risen 150 percent in 20 years. As for men, the number has reached 15%. Moreover, curiosity is peaking, too. PornHub data also shows that the number of searches for “anal” increased by 120 percent from 2009 to 2015.
Digging deeper into the boom, Doc Johnson’s Erica Braverman notes, “anal play devices are at the forefront of growth in the sex toy marketplace. We’re seeing consumers caring about better and safer materials, as well as if they’re innovative and effective, too. Adding technology to that is causing immense excitement in the industry. Artificial intelligence, better motors for automated products, it’s all-important.” SheVibe’s Sandra Bruce adds, “Interest in anal sex is as old as sex itself. The appearance of the current “surge” in interest can be attributed to decreased stigma and the availability of information on the topic. Bloggers and sex educators are essential! This generation of people has had access to this specific education. They are coming to the market more informed.”
Mainstreaming the industry of anal is undoubtedly linked to the idea that phallus-shaped toys dominate so much of the sex toy industry. In 2014, sex toy shop Adam and Eve revealed that 14 of their top 25 best-selling dildos were shaped like penises. And yes, given that phalluses and anal cavities are ideally anatomically suited as partners, if anal sex is going to be on the rise, then the sheer number of devices already existing in the marketplace that are suited for ideal anal use is essential.
“We’ve been in business for 21 years, and anal has always been the not-or-quietly discussed ‘hottest trend in the sex toy industry,” opines Tantus Inc’s founder Metis Black. “In the past, most anal toys were made by men, for men, to purchase for women, and honestly were more often than not left behind in hotel rooms. Now, with men and women involved, that’s shifting. As far as anal toys for men, male awareness that the anus has so many nerve endings and anal sex can then be pleasurable has benefited the market developing for them, too.”
Regarding this, Sandra Bruce says, “Small butt plugs or training sets which people can use to work their way up to larger sizes are consistent sellers. Innovative products like the b-Vibe have been instrumental in piquing folks’ interest in upping their anal play to explore rimming or vibrating toys. Also b-Vibe has really raised the bar with well made, weighted and vibrating plug models. ‘Bling’ Plugs have become very sought after [as well]. [These are] plugs that have a faux gemstone embedded in the base of the plug.” Concerning how this movement filters down towards more advanced anal explorers, she notes that “[t]here has always been a healthy market for the advanced player and lines such as SquarePeg and Tantus XL specialize in very large (but body-safe) toys.”
Metis Black notes concerning Tantus’ more massive toys that 2019 for the company has seen the extra-large toy line perform ‘phenomenally well.’ “People want more, and they want to [safely] push themselves. Once you discover these new sensations, you want more of them. We run the gamut as far as offerings for safe anal play. We have prostate toys, muscle band, and fisting trainers; all sensations are explored.”
Moreover, Black continues, “the larger toys are a market that has not mainstreamed. The texture of the material that we’re using in them allows for a level of compression, yes, but the form still maintains a certain level of rigidity and shape.” Tantus’ most significant claim to fame is a whole other issue regarding what ultimately leads to the company likely having a solid grip of control on the bottom line growth of anal sex as an industry.
“Tantus is best known as the company to mainstream silicone toys. Jelly toys made with PVC were once quite popular, but they smelled terribly, were putting toxins into your system, and were generally not safe for the body. Comparatively, Tantus wanted to create safe toys that were more mainstream marketable and accessible. Our success came from educating the buyers and salespeople, going to the trade shows, explaining to everyone why paying a little bit more for the quality raw materials that make silicone products was worth it.”
Regarding best practices for those wanting to partake in this developing-in-popularity marketplace, SheVibe’s Sandra Bruce notes the following:
- When shopping for anal toys, the #1 most important feature is to look at the base and make sure it’s flared enough to prevent it from getting lost in the body. Yes, unfortunately, all of those stories are true. The base should be 1.5 times the tip.
- Additionally, concerning the base, it’s essential to take note of the shape, if you are looking for long term wear, you may want something with a thinner or elongated base that would fit comfortably between the cheeks. Toys that have round bases may not be conducive to this.
- The taper is also an important thing to consider; for someone with experience, they may not need as much of a tapered head to aid with insertion, but for a novice, this feature can make insertion much more comfortable.
- Lube, lube, lube! The anus is not self-lubricating. The right lube will aid with comfort and insertion. Avoid numbing products! Although they may seem like a good idea, the anus is quite delicate, and pain or discomfort is a sign to slow down or stop. A numbing agent will cause you to overlook these critical signals from your body.
Ultimately, the growth in popularity for anal toys and anal play has a far more significant potential impact on an issue with just as much longevity as safe and enjoyable sexual exploration. Related to how this impacts censorship issues, Metis Black impassionately says, “[t]he greatest thing about the growth in popularity of anal play will be the ability to mainstream clear, concise, and real articles and conversations on Facebook and Instagram about it so that people that want and need to see them can do so without feeling shame. Allowing for greater acceptance so that this does not become a backroom joke would be great. Celebrating people who are fully in possession of their body and exploration is important.”
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