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It's Erotic; It's Electric
by Adult FriendFinder with Eric Forbes
Eric Forbes tells us in his bio that by the time he was 16, he had a pretty large arsenal of single-purpose sex toys for himself. Cobbled together out of copper wire, aluminum foil, and various power sources, everything in the young Forbes' toy chest was designed to deliver electrical current to sensitive parts of the body -- especially his balls and cock. And when Forbes saw a Sears catalogue ad from 1900 boldly promoting a device dubbed the "Giant Electric Belt," Forbes began to realize that throughout history many other people have found electro sensations erotic, stimulating, or thrilling. Over the years, Forbes' obsession and tech instincts and training all came together in the development of the optimum gear for great electro-stimulation experiences. These days, power units delivering a steady, titillating current can be attached to nipples, cock, balls, pussy lips, and can be remote controlled -- exquisite for devilish love games between lovers. And as our Sexpert Paige White of Madam S Leather reported last week, these units are flying off the sex toy shelves.
During his busy Christmas rush, Forbes was kind enough to save out a little time to talk to us about his e-stim world. And so we're giving you the up-close view of this new sex play.
Adult FriendFinder: You run a company that provides equipment specifically designed for erotic electro stimulation. What is your equipment like in relation to some things we might know? For example, those muscle stimulators women use to firm their faces. Or the the violet wand, which gives a jolt, or the TENS unit, which can be quite shocking, also used by the BDSM community.
FORBES: Our equipment is most like a TENS unit in that it delivers short electrical pulses to various parts of the skin, and causes sensations to felt in and around the electrodes. Where the TENS unit is designed to block pain signals by generating a monotonous sequence of pulses, our units are designed to arouse and do so by automatically changing frequency, output levels, and other parameters. Ordinary TENS units and most commercial made-for-play devices need constant user interaction in order to feel erotic.
Adult FriendFinder: You basically started the business because of your own (roughly 20-year?) quest for the ultimate erotic self-stimulation package. What are some of the early developments, detours, contraptions, or mistakes you came up with or came across in your quest for the ultimate e-stim experience?
FORBES: I experimented with my own setups at first, from my beginnings as a teen, using power supplies I salvaged from old office equipment and then discovered the joy and danger of using a home stereo amplifier as the power source. I never thought that commercial devices like this existed, but saw some early "battery belt" examples in a reprint of the
1900 Sears & Roebuck catalog and realized that electricity and sex were not necessary new. As far as developments, I always had (and still have) an attraction to athletic and other gear, and made my first conductive hard cup at age 16, which lead to the current E-Cup sold on our site. I experimented with more powerful electro-muscle stimulation
(EMS) machines that took awhile to save up for, and continued stereo amplifier stim until I discovered a ground path to my bed frame that I almost could not pull away from. That got me thinking, and I employed isolation transformers and the like to prevent such problems again.
However, using a stereo amplifier is not safe, for a variety of reasons, and now that better and safer devices exist for erotic e-stim, I've abandoned that setup completely.
Adult FriendFinder: Along those lines, what are some of the wildest (read: unsafe) home-made estim contraptions you've seen or heard about?
FORBES: I experimented in my early days with a variety of power sources that are now understood to be very unsafe due to their inability to regulate current -- which is but one thing to consider -- but which can lead to more permanent nerve and tissue damage in the worst cases. By far the most dangerous homemade setup I can think of today is the easiest to make -- the home stereo amp connected to electrodes instead of speakers and used to create stim signals. Even with proper isolation on the outputs, there is usually no way to ensure that a safe amount of current reaches the body regardless of the audio program played. Of course, I've also heard of remote-controlled "fart machines" that are rigged to create a stimulation signal instead of the sound of someone farting, and I am sure there are other projects out there that fall into the "unsafe" category.
Adult FriendFinder: Did you have any horrendous experiences with e-stim in your early days?
FORBES: I've seen and experimented with a few inherently unsafe devices including hand-crank generators designed to ring Army field telephones, home stereo amplifiers, power supplies of various types, using a stepdown transformer in conjunction with a dimmer switch, and a few others. In many ways, I am lucky to be alive and to have normal use of my genitals after some of the experimentation I did. While others tried drugs, I tried e-stim, and looking back, even with my seemingly innate knowledge of electricity, I did some stupid things and survived. The transformer / dimmer switch toy worked fine until the transformer overheated and started smoking during a play session! Nothing destroys a hard-on for me faster than the smell of wires burning.
Adult FriendFinder: So basically the set up involves a power unit that generates the zap, an electrode that delivers the zap to the skin, and some sort of way to keep the electrode in contact with the skin, like a band or a jock cup or something insertable like a butt plug. Is this accurate?
FORBES: Yes, although the word "zap" isn't the best way to describe the sensation in most cases.
[To be continued...]
Conclusion: It's Erotic; It's Electric
by Editors with Eric Forbes
This is the continuation of last week's interview with Electro-Stim pioneer Eric Forbes.
"Adult FriendFinder: So basically the set-up involves a power unit that generates the zap, an electrode that delivers the zap to the skin, and some sort of way to keep the electrode in contact with the skin, like a band or a jock cup or something insertable like a butt plug. Is this accurate?
FORBES: Yes, although the word "zap" isn't the best way to describe the sensation in most cases..."
[And now for part 2:]
FORBES: Yes, although the word "zap" isn't the best way to describe the sensation in most cases. Where "zaps" last for a short time and tend to surprise the one they are delivered to (I think of the violet wand's high-voltage sparks, for example), our units produce more of a "buzzing" or "tingling" sensation which changes over time, but basically repeats with some regularity. Most people get an idea of what electricity feels like from bad experiences (static zaps from touching a metal object after walking across a carpeted floor, or coming into contact with line voltage through a household appliance or lamp socket) and I'm doing my best to show that electricity takes a variety of forms and can feel very pleasurable when applied correctly.
Adult FriendFinder: When buying the power unit, what are some things people want to consider? (For example, what kinds of versatility is available? Is some equipment more likely to give beginners unpleasant results? Explain.
FORBES: There are a few commercial units available, and most are based on medical TENS units which produce a numbing sensation if left unattended. In my mind, these kinds of units would be the least versatile for most purposes. There is one unit I can think of that was made specifically for pain more than pleasure also (the Folsom Max) and I have customers now that had one as their first unit and almost abandoned e-stim entirely based on the sensations produced by it. When it was released years ago, it was the first of its kind to offer completely isolated outputs that toggled back and forth so that nipple stim could be done more safely. Unfortunately, most new e-stim users find its output to be too sharp and usually painful more than anything else. And while TENS units are very inexpensive, they are somewhat lacking in excitement and leave most users wanting more.
When considering the power unit, there are a few things to consider: price, safety, portability, and expandability. We've positioned ourselves to lead in all of these areas, although some find the price of our top of the line ET-312 out of their range. The fact is, there is nothing like the ET-312 and we have customers that regularly use theirs for 3 years and more, due to the variety of sensations available, software for additional stim routine download, portability and power output available.
Adult FriendFinder: Other than issues of personal taste, what should people consider when they look at various adapters and other toys?
FORBES: One thing that gets little attention is material safety. I recall early anal electrodes made of plastic and lead foil tape, or now, sharp aluminum foil and refuse to use or sell these types of constructions.
The best material I can think of for toys is solid polished aluminum, since it is non-toxic, lightweight, and easy to clean up. [Forbes' jock type ball cup is aluminum]. Other materials including lead, aluminum foil, thin-walled cigar tubes (that can collapse and turn into razor dildos in the process), chrome-plated steel (that can chip off and create razor shards) have been or are still widely available in e-stim toys, but I refrain from using them or recommending them to customers. Conductive rubber materials are very safe, and can be molded into a variety of shapes, but are much less conductive than aluminum, and don't heat up to body temperature which I think makes aluminum toys feel more erotic even when not powered up.
Adult FriendFinder: Have you heard of people having occasional phantom after-effects sort of like tics or muscle twitches, particularly in case of long-term use or excessive use?
FORBES: I've heard of a handful of people that reported less than normal sensation or phantom tingling in their cock and balls, for example, after a long uninterrupted e-stim session at high power levels. In every case that I know, these sensations subside in a day or less, and are not thought to cause long-term damage or dulling of sensitivity.
Adult FriendFinder: Your information talks about how with "low overall power level, ErosTek products can create very intense sensations – more intense than most other erotic e-stim devices available today." How?
FORBES: The power delivered to the body is very important, and without some sort of feedback circuit that monitors and controls the power at every moment, it is possible to impose too much energy into the skin or internal tissue which can cause problems. The fact that our units create some of the most intense sensations while always staying within known power limits is a bit confusing, but it has a lot to do with the voltages and shapes of our stimulation waveforms which deliver very narrow pulses (and thus, low power) which seem much more intense than they are actually on for. It's analogous to the light we see from a fluorescent lamp which is in fact, turning on and off very quickly, although our eyes sense that it is continuously on.
You can find all you need for Forbes' basic remote rig at our shop for ALT.com members (just click on "shop" in the menu bar of your ALT.com screen). You can of course find Forbes' complete offerings (he's merged with Eros Tek the creator of versatile power units) and some descriptive information at his web site www.sextek.com. And you may find Eros Tek/SexTek and other e-stim equipment sold through www.mr-s-leather.com. These days, even your favorite local sex or fetish shop may carry this gear -- just ask.
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