Sex toys have come a long, long way in the last few decades. However, the unfortunate reality is that the industry remains very much unregulated, mostly because politicians don’t want to touch the subject with a ten foot pole. Therefore it is imperative that we educate ourselves about the processes and materials involved when choosing our toys.
Many toys are made from sub-standard materials and make false claims such as being water-proof, while the companies avoid responsibility by adding “sold as a novelty only” to the package. Luckily, consumers and manufactures alike have been becoming more and more aware of the importance of using non-porous, body safe materials, particularly for internal toys. Phthalates are a chemical added to poly-vinyl chloride (PVC) and other once-popular plastics, in order to soften and give them a cushier, more flexible feel. Studies in recent years have shown that phthalates actually have a toxic effect on the body, particularly the reproductive system. Today most industries, including automotive, food storage, electronics and medicine, have replaced sub-par plastics and rubbers with silicone, a non-porous and hypoallergenic polymer-based material.
One of the first companies in North America to see the merits of silicone in sex toys was Tantus. Founded by Metis Black and ex-husband Kris Victor in 1998, Tantus Inc. designs and manufactures a premium line of dildos, plugs, vibrators, cock rings and strap-ons made from a platinum-cured silicone. Tantus boasts some of the highest-grade silicone on the market, being not only non-porous, hypo- allergenic and phthalate-free, but also odourless, boilable, bleachable and dishwasher-safe. This makes cleaning a breeze using whatever method you prefer, whether it be a toy cleaner, anti-bacterial soap and water, boiling water, a 10% bleach solution, or even just a quick spin on the top rack of your dishwasher (without detergent). This also means your new toy will last you a lot longer, while maintaining its quality.
By their third year, and with only three employees (including Black and Victor themselves), Tantus had already managed to sell over 30,000 units. A mutual love of art, as well as an entrepreneurial spirit brought these two together to create a line of products that would one day be seen in adult shops all over the world. The company had very humble beginnings as retail manager and grad student, Black, and artist, Victor, teamed up and pooled their savings to rent a warehouse in Colorado. They lived in the warehouse itself for the first year, surviving on limited plumbing as well as the hospitality of friends and neighbours.
Having made what was then the largest silicone mold in the world, (for the redwood trees bordering Universal Studios, Orlando’s ET ride) Victor designed and created all of the initial molds while Black was primarily in charge of sales and marketing. At the time only ten other companies in the world made silicone toys and as most of the others were using a lower grade tin silicone with a white base filler, their products came only in pale pastels and whites. Tantus’ vibrant colours and high-grade material quickly caught the eye of buyers all over the country. While Black and Victor proved to be a dynamic duo when it came to business, turning their company into an international brand, they found their partnership fell short in the romance department and the couple eventually split with Victor selling his interest in the company to Black.
Today Tantus has an expansive line of products, coming in a variety of colours, shapes and sizes, accommodating everyone from the beginner to the advanced user. Many of their original designs are still in production, with slight modifications, while new designs maintain the same artsy flare they have come to be known for. Their dildos range from smooth and sleek to curved and ridged, short and slender to long and broad, and many combinations therein. Some are even curved with g-spot or prostate stimulation in mind, while others feature a soft, fleshy surface for a more realistic feel. Tantus has an impressive selection of anal toys as well, including various sizes of plugs, probes and beads. Many of their toys have handles making them easy to use either solo or with a partner, while most have suction-cup bases which can attach to any flat surface, as well as being harness-compatible. Several designs of all types of toys come with a removable vibrating bullet, making easy cleaning consistent from vibrating to non-vibrating. Although the bullet is inserted into the base of the toy, the density of the silicone allows the vibrations to transfer completely from base to tip, providing a deep and penetrating sensation. Best of all, if the bullet ever does wear out, it is easily replaced.
Accompanying its collection of harness-compatible toys is an assortment of beautifully designed harnesses. Each harness is fully adjustable and includes interchangeable rings, making it adaptable to any sized toy. Tantus has also packaged several kits which include a harness and two different sized toys, aimed at beginner, intermediate or advanced users. However, what is possibly their most famous toy is what is known as the “strapless strap-on”, or as Tantus has dubbed it: Feeldoe. Coming in multiple colours, lengths and thicknesses, Feeldoe is made up of a bulb which is inserted into the vagina or rectum, attached to a dildo with a vibrating bullet inside. The device allows the wearer more control than a traditional strap-on, while providing simultaneous stimulation to both partners. Made popular by Tantus, the original design was patented in 1997 by Melissa Mia Kain and has revolutionized sex for many couples, most significantly same-sex females.
Tantus, Inc. has come a long way since its inception in 1998, and today they have become the largest manufacturer of silicone sex toys in the United States. With the exception of the vibrating bullets and some of the packaging, Tantus is proud to say that all of its products are still made in the USA, maintaining their commitment to quality as well as providing jobs for Americans in a still struggling economy. So the next time you are in the market for a new toy, consider a Tantus. With a reputation that speaks for itself and a product for everyone, you won’t be disappointed.