Around this time of year, I start to get nostalgic. It’s not Christmas, New Years, or anyone’s birthday… No, around this time two years ago (2012), I bought my very first luxury vibrator, and a whole new world was opened up to me.

The way I feel about my first luxury toy is the way some people feel about their first love. Just thinking back on those first few orgasms puts a smile on my face and a spring in my proverbial step. But how did I get to that point? What pushed me make that purchase? A double-whammy UTI and bacterial infection, a breakup, and a lot of time spent scouring the internet.

In August 2011, I became a Pure Romance consultant after hosting a party. I loved it. Finally, an outlet for my perviness! And I actually did make money. I did about 1-2 parties per month, and averaged $600 in sales per party. Then, I got a horrible infection from a product I had never thought to question. At that time, my interest in sex toys and other adult products became deeper. I started digging, and I wasn’t happy with what I found.

For as much as those massive party companies (Pure Romance, Slumber Parties, Pleasure Parties, etc.) want you to think that they rigorously train their consultants, I’m here to tell you, the training material never covers the most important topic: real, scientifically-based material and ingredient safety. You might get lucky and hear “phthalate free,” but in an unregulated market, that means nothing. My personal pet peeve is one particular creamy emollient Pure Romance lubricant (Whipped) that’s made with ingredients which are completely unsuited to the vagina, including oils and glycerin – something consultants are never warned about. The emollient nature makes it easy for the product to be pushed into the urethra, and the ingredients simply do not belong up there. Unlike a simple water-based formulation like Sliquid Sassy, your body has a much harder time eliminating Whipped with an after-sex pee. That’s how I wound up on a bevy of drugs, peeing blood, and begging the good Lord to cease the pain. Oh, and did I mention that because consultants get a 30-50% cut, and the company itself still has to make money, everything is egregiously overpriced? I’m talking $30+ for a gross jelly cock ring with a watch battery bullet. (You can get a pure silicone ring with a bullet vibrator from my loves at SheVibe for $10.99.) Thank God for the Internet.

So, armed with new knowledge (extra special thanks to Epiphora and Lilly!), I rebelled. I quit, I continued my search for knowledge, and I purchased my first completely body-safe vibrator: the original JeJoue Mimi, which now also comes in an intriguing soft version.

At the time, I bought my MiMi from the godawful wasteland that is EdenFantasys, where I also took advantage of their review program. Besides their horrid disrespect for the English language, they also have terrible ethics. If you’d like to learn more about why you should avoid them at all costs and why I and many others left their program a long time ago, please check out Epiphora’s post on the matter.

In March 2012, I started blogging in earnest, and a while later began reaching out to companies for products to review. I’ve had the good fortune to work with some amazing, fantastic, big-hearted people at SheVibe, Vixen Creations, We-Vibe, Tantus, Bad Dragon, and Vibratex. I really hope to grow that list in 2014. I know there are people out there working to change this industry and turn it into what it should be: pleasure- and health-based, open to all. I’ve made a lot of blogging friends (shit, I ran out of words!). I’ve tried a lot of toys, both really good and really bad. I’ve even spent a weekend with some of the most inspiring folks alive.

If you’re interested in doing what I do, it’s entirely possible to start right now. Don’t let anything intimidate you. You don’t have to be a size queen, but it’s okay if you are. You don’t have to be kinky, but you will be welcomed with open arms if you want to write about BDSM. If you’re willing to learn, to be completely honest, and to treat masturbating like it’s your job, then you can do this, too. It’s not always an easy job, but it is rewarding.