I Did It For Science

I Did It For Science: A Stranger Remotely Controlled My Vibrator

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Hypothesis

A stranger I met through Tinder would remotely control my app-based vibrator and I would, strangely and awkwardly, find some way to get off.

Research

Last week, I attended Babeland’s OhMiBod blueMotion launch party — a festive occasion full of champagne, Caprese sandwiches, and a playful round of sex tech trivia. I was there to celebrate the release of the blueMotion, the latest in wireless remote technology for couples trying connect in new ways. If you’re not well-versed in teledildonics, the blueMotion is an app-based bullet vibrator that connects to your phone through both Bluetooth and Wifi. It comes with preset patterns and touch control, so that someone in the next room or in another country can control your toy with their own phone (and dirty mind).

One of the questions I always ask myself when thinking of the latest innovations in sex tech is why we are incorporating technology more and more into our most human and natural behaviors. Are we becoming more or less connected? “Phones have infiltrated every part of our lives,” Suki Dunham, creator of OhMiBod, explained at the party. She detailed how phones impact our exercise, our work, and our loves lives. “This is an answer to our intimate lives… The phone’s a piece of technology that, whether you love it or you hate it, it’s there,” she reflects. Suki’s husband and business partner, Brian, was talking with me about how our “firsts” have changed with technology, “My first romantic experience was holding hands in a movie theater. Probably yours, too.” “Actually, it totally was,” I agreed, laughing. “But today, a lot of kids’ first sexual or romantic experiences are going to be virtual. Instead of rejecting that, we need to just embrace it.” Claire Cavanah of Babeland, also in attendance, agreed. She called it “a really awesome toy from the future.” It all sounded exciting. I wanted to try it.

That night, I walked home with an OhMiBod blueMotion under my arm and one mission: I needed to find someone who would remotely control this vibrator.

Materials

blueMotion-and-iPhone-Android-541x403

  • 1 OhMiBod blueMotion Vibrator
  • iPhone
  • OhMiBod Remote app
  • 1 one-size-fits-most pair of lacy blue underwear
  • Tinder app
  • 1 Obliging stranger I met on Tinder
  • An internet connection

Methods

Okay, so I wanted to have remotely controlled sex with someone, but I didn’t want to actually meet with a real, live human being. I wasn’t interested in having a half-hearted dinner and drinks with someone, plodding along with polite talk, just to ask them by 10 pm, “Hey, so, want to come back to my place and try to see if the Bluetooth in my new vibrator works through the wall?” That wouldn’t fly. And this was hyper sophisticated sex technology, after all. The whole point was I didn’t need a human being in the same room. It’s a boon for long distance relationships, a new tool for the kinky. What I was looking for was a socially exploratory, sexually progressive, emotionally neutral, and fairly anonymous man I could meet within about… a day. So, naturally, I turned to Tinder.

How should I narrow this down? Do they have to be really attractive? “He doesn’t have to be that hot, he just has to be hot enough to operate a remote controlled, long distance vibrator you stick in your underwear,” my roommate suggested when I told her about my experiment.

I started sending out a litany of completely uncharacteristic and relatively uncreative messages to men who had made the mistake of swiping right on my photo. “Hey. You swiped right. What’s up with you?” I asked some dude named Jon. No answer from Jon. “Hey. How adventurous are you?” I asked a handsome man, this one named Glenn. He answered generously in an abundant paragraph about the different degrees of his multi-faceted adventurousness. He would go skydiving, but was socially reserved at parties. He was entirely too sincere for me to go any further. “You adventurous?” I asked another named Adam. It was creepy. I could nearly feel a fedora sprouting from my head, a silken, patterned button-down draping around my shoulders, maybe a thin pencil mustache blossoming. Soliciting strangers wasn’t my usual go-to, but it was surprisingly easy. It was as unsettling as it was ineffective.

Then there was Patrick. We started talking on Tinder about ice cream. This approach was better. Ice cream! Ice cream emojis were passed between us like illicit middle school notes. The thing about this experiment, I soon realized, was that the person couldn’t be entirely anonymous. We had to have some rapport, or he’d never actually say yes. The process was going to involve an app download, a Wifi connection, a 4.99 app fee, and a bit of patience and trust. I needed to find out where he was from, what color his eyes were, and what he did that day. All of which I did with Patrick. We exchanged a few jokes, he opined that I was a “QT.” Around 11 pm, I started to gather enough chutzpah to ask a stranger to fuck me through my phone.

“Want to do something really experimental and weird?” I suddenly brought up, our conversation now on text. “This is weird. This is going to be the weirdest question I’ve ever asked. I’m nervous to ask it. I’m really nervous.”

His “is typing” dots rumbled for a few uncertain moments. Then he wrote, “what?”

“So, I have this remotely controlled vibrator that you can hook up to another phone via an app. I’m not dating anyone and looking for someone to try it out…”

“Wait, are you asking me to use a sex app with you? Whaaaa”

“hahahahaha. Yeah. but, like, it doesn’t need to be sexual. Like, you don’t necessarily have to get me off. I just want to try it. it will be cool.”

“ok, sure. lol.”

It was decided. Patrick would control my vibrator. We chose the next day at midnight — “the stroke of midnight” I texted, leaning into the absurdity and cheesiness. We padded our conversation with enough “hahaha”s for the occasion, to distance ourselves from the very serious reality of having to get a stranger off through an app. I was trying to be adorable, somehow still pique this person’s interest despite potentially outing myself as a huge pervert. He was down — I appreciated it. (If you’re reading this, I appreciate you.)

Then we had to get into the completely unsexy logistics of downloading the app, syncing together on Google+, as the app requires, and testing out the functionality. At about 11:30, I texted him, “Doing my laundry now, but pls download and connect with me on Google+.” “lol friggin google plus i don’t know if i have that.” He had a point. Google+ only ever popped into my head when Google prompted me, about every few weeks, that an aunt wanted to connect with me, still. I made a circle for him called “cute people” to ease the weirdness.

“Let’s do this.”

Getting there took a while. We started trying to sync somewhere around midnight. He was in Massachusetts and I was in New York. It was a perfect diorama of a long distance relationship. For the next hour, yes hour, the questions posed between us included: “Are you on wifi?” “did you add me to your google plus list?” “okay do i need bluetooth on too?” “is that heart thing lit up?” “did you pay the five bucks?” “quit the app and then reload it and see if i’m on your friends list?” “Why am i not on your friends list?” “wait, i think i got it?” “should we really do this?”

My phone began to overheat with app overuse and we started a g-chat conversation to talk it out. We’d never met, and already, our relationship had some serious issues. “I feel like this is like tech support,” I told him. “lol. ya,” he replied kindly. Luckily for me, Patrick was much more adept at using the technology than I was. It was to his credit that he stuck with the experiment and didn’t just get frustrated with the setup and log out of chat. It had taken an hour of mulling over directions and trying to communicate, a little ineffectively, but we were connected.

“Are you on wifi?” “Did you add me to your google plus list?” “Quit the app and then reload it and see if I’m on your friends list?” “Wait, I think I got it?” “Should we really do this?”

“Now that the Genius Bar session is over, what’s your favorite part of the body?” I segued.

“hips.”

The app has a lot of uncanny settings and features designed to help imitate and build upon the wonders of physical human touch. There’s a feature where a user can record their voice and corresponding vibrations will buzz out into the other user’s vibe. There’s a tap function, where the controller has full domain over the pattern and longevity of the pulses. Then there are custom patterns, built-in vibrations, and wave settings. I had only told Patrick, who had never used a vibrator with a woman in the bedroom before, that he should, “You know, start slow and then build up in a steady rhythm. Like you would in person. Then you’re golden.” We talked a little bit about porn and what he liked about it.

“Feel free to touch yourself,” I told him. I’d caught myself off guard. This hadn’t been a part of the plan. But doing this now, really doing it, made me realize that I couldn’t just jump from Google+ set up to orgasm. I had to think like I was going to have sex, I couldn’t just have sex  — even remotely.

He told me he was going to touch himself and I sent a smiley face. I said, “okay. try it out.” Suddenly, with the vibrator slotted into the lacy blue underwear that had come with the OhMiBod, I felt the first little throbs of vibration. He must have been on the “Tap” function. It felt good. It felt a little dull too. I could tell that if this experiment was going to “work,” or if I was really going to get off, eventually the vibrator would need to come out of the underwear and in contact with me.

He was on the tap function for what seemed a while. He followed the “start slow” direction, and I was pretty grateful. He was g-chatting me during all this, asking things like “What about this?” “Is it any good?” Looking up at my g-chat was a bit distracting, but we needed some form of communication. The app came with a chat feature, but I didn’t feel much like holding up my very hot phone. “It’s good,” I typed prosaically. I was fighting a battle: I was now turned on and needed to get off, but I also needed to communicate with my lab partner, tell him the rights and wrongs, and help him finish. If anything, we were communicating more than I ever would with a random drunken hookup. I don’t even go into some random drunken hookups with the expectation that I will get anything out of it. Here, I was getting everything.

I took the vibrator out of the underwear and slid it further down, applying some pressure. Suddenly, Patrick stumbled upon a “Wave” function. It was pretty incredible. I knew that if he kept at it, I was going to come. I tried to hold it off, though. Thinking, “Hey, I should keep this thing going, because he’s putting in the effort.” It had the same feeling as a normal first hookup, when someone’s hands are all over you and they’re not exactly going at your rhythm, but it’s part of the fun. He was in control. I wasn’t picturing his side of things. Perhaps a well-lit room where he was absentmindedly pressing a smartphone screen. Maybe eating a snack or watching TV in the background. His world didn’t have to be sexy. Mine did.

But I couldn’t wait that long. “Is it good?” His g-chat was left hanging while I no longer paid any attention to my screen. I couldn’t respond. I finished. I felt a huge wave of relief that the frustration of the last few hours had built. And then I began to laugh to myself. “ok stop,” I g-chatted. I pressed disconnect on the phone’s app. Now that I was done, I no longer wanted the tech in my bed. “what happened? did it work?” “Yes,” I said. “For me, too,” he replied. Surprising to me, but not that surprising to him, he’d been jerking off the whole time and had come somewhere along the line when I was still enjoying taps. I told him I gave him an “A+.”

He told me, “It was fun. It was novelty. I’m not sure I’d normally seek it out, but it was kinda hot.” Our biggest complaint, if we had one (besides the setup fiasco) was that he didn’t get a lot of my feedback during the experience. We weren’t talking on the phone and I’d been too preoccupied. “I kinda wish it happened in person,” he admitted. He then sent me a heart emoji. I sent him “xo” back. Like any normal hookup, it was a quick kiss after sex.

Conclusion

The actual connection experience took a a full nine minutes [I can tell from our chat logs], which really isn’t that bad. If I’d known him better, I would have asked to drag it on longer. If he seemed a little less enthusiastic, I may have finished in two.

It was 1:52 am. Curled up in my pajamas, I asked Patrick, during what I might call our exit interview, how he felt about everything. “very. 2014,” he said succinctly. “I might quote you,” I told him honestly. “This is corny, but it’s weird you don’t get to cuddle after,” he added.

It was interesting to see how our texts had evolved post-remote sex. Somewhere along the line, I had turned from “hey,” to “bb,” during his text exchanges. Our jokes were more at ease. We teased about cybersex and wondered aloud if this is what they were talking about in 1995.

“I wish I could see you. Next time I’m in the city, I want to see you,” he said. “We’ll see,” I replied. When I went out to have long distance remote controlled sex, I wasn’t really asking for a date.

What I was really asking for was a suspension of disbelief. I was asking for a stranger to have a one-night stand with me without ever seeing me, touching me, or even, at first, getting anything out of it physically. And he accepted, happily and graciously. It hadn’t been as absurd as I’d thought. It’d been completely enjoyable, in most ways. At the end of the day, we were still two libidos on the end of a phone with one another. We were still just two people who had shared the fits and starts of a first sweaty, complicated night sharing our bodies together. We just weren’t together. But it’s really not that strange. We were in the same circle, after all.