While many of us spend our days counting down the hours until we finally get off from work, Cara Sutra spends her days getting off ― at work.
Sutra earns her living in part by testing and reviewing sex toys. Her eponymous website, Cara Sutra, boasts over 2,000 product reviews and features sex and sex toy advice and even giveaways.
She came to this line of work from, believe it or not, banking ― a career she dropped in 2005 to focus on her blog. There she offers frank talk about sex, erotic writing, relationship advice and a whole lot more.
Sutra began commenting about her own purchases on sex toy manufacturer Lovehoney’s website in 2009. Later the company started sending her products to evaluate as part of its reviewer program, and since then she’s expanded to testing a variety of brands.
In 2010, Sutra took a job with SexToys.co.uk while still working on her site on the side. Two years later, she left to go freelance full time. Now, she rakes in the money in a number of different pleasure-filled ways.
“The majority of my income is from on-site banner advertising, sponsored promotional copywriting, product development consultancy and helping toy shops marketing their business online, not from sex toy reviewing,” she told HuffPost. “Although this is one of the services I offer. I also write for other sex toy websites as an advisor/blogger, as well as having a bi-monthly column in the U.K. adult industry trade magazine, ETO.”
Suffice it to say that we had plenty of questions for Sutra about her job, if we could have her job and if, when it comes to sex toys, more expensive is actually better.
Check out the buzz below.
Your job sounds pretty much like a dream to us. Do you always get that reaction?
Online, I tend to get fantastic responses, mostly as the question will be from people already aware of the circles I hang with. Face to face, I usually ease into it gently if someone asks. I start by telling them I write about sexuality matters, gauge their response to that, then bring it around to sex toy reviews if the conversation has a friendly flow. I’ve never had a negative response to it. Reactions range from surprised, then never mentioned again, to absolutely fascinated and actually rather envious!
What are you specifically looking for when you’re testing a toy?
A sex toy I’m testing needs to, first of all, be safe. So I’ll check what material it’s made from and that there aren’t any rough areas which could hurt me. If it’s a vibrator, I’ll then be looking at how it’s powered ― battery, rechargeable or mains-powered [i.e., plug-in] ― and then what the power output is like. I prefer stronger, rumbly vibrations, but others may prefer gentler types. When writing sex toy reviews, I need to keep in mind that although I prefer a certain type of stimulation, if that particular toy isn’t doing it for me, then it may still appeal to another sort of person.
The main feature is, of course, whether it works for me personally. Did I reach climax with it? That’s what my readers want to know! If I did, then fantastic. If not, then could that type of sex toy still be beneficial for someone else? I aim to give a fair and balanced perspective in my reviews.
There are so many sex toys on the market, and they range from affordable to super expensive. Is it really worth it to buy something that’s pricier?
You’ve hit on one of the main questions which keeps inspiring me to write about sex toys. Is the worth of a sex toy purely down to its price tag? Is it really a case of “you get what you pay for”?
Often, a cheap sex toy will be rubbish, and an expensive one will be fabulous. But there’s a whole world of bad ― and fantastic ― sex toys with various price points available, and it’s not always as simple as more expensive equaling a better sex toy.
I’d recommend clarifying exactly which boxes you need a sex toy to tick as a starting point. Decide what type of toy you’re after. If you need it to be waterproof or not, vibrating or not, ensure it’s made with a body-safe material, and double check the measurements. After you’ve applied those filters, you can drill down to what will hopefully be the perfect sex toy for you, whether it’s a no-added-frills super-slim silicone butt plug or a designer, rechargeable clitoral vibrator with remote control and smartphone app.
“Sex toys and sex are two entirely distinct routes to pleasure. One doesn’t negate the need for the other. In fact, I see sex toys as the seasoning to a sex life.”
What about DIY toys? What are your thoughts on those?
First of all, I would strongly advise people not to use just anything they see lying around for penetrative pleasure. Don’t stick that bottle, hairbrush or cucumber inside yourself just because you get the urge! You could get internal irritations, grazing or even cuts from rough surfaces and bacterial infections from perishable items.
It’s tempting to try and save a bit of cash by getting crafty and kinky all at once, but the very real risks are not worth it. Too many have already ended up being rushed to hospital with items “lodged,” sometimes still vibrating! Sex toys have been made specifically for intimate use, and with a bit of research through honest sex toy reviews, like the ones on my website, you can find affordable and safe options for your pleasure sessions.
Have you experienced any particularly bad issues of your own while testing?
I hate watch-type batteries in vibrators, because not only are they annoyingly small to try and grapple with when you’re changing them, but they have a tendency to explode when overheated. In the same vein, I was once charging up a vibrator and the plug exploded in the socket.
I’ve broken a few sex toys during use. Years ago, the inner rod of a cheap rabbit vibrator broke. More recently, I snapped an anal vibrator while I was testing it. Not sure if that says more about the sex toy or my own anatomy.
What about with other people, specifically men? Do you think they are still intimidated by sex toys for women?
Sadly, yes. The recent comments I’ve received from men in response to press coverage of my work proves that very point. So many still attempt to perpetuate the notion that if a woman uses a sex toy, it’s because she’s dissatisfied with the sex from her partner and/or that the woman wouldn’t use a sex toy if she had ever experienced the wonders of “the real thing.”
Obviously, that’s not the case at all. Sex toys and sex are two entirely distinct routes to pleasure. One doesn’t negate the need for the other. In fact, I see sex toys as the seasoning to a sex life. My partner and I enjoy including sex toys in our varied sex life, as well as enjoying their features for solo pleasure, too.
“I’ve broken a few sex toys during use. Years ago, the inner rod of a cheap rabbit vibrator broke. More recently, I snapped an anal vibrator while I was testing it. Not sure if that says more about the sex toy or my own anatomy.”
That notion seems to stem from the unhealthy way we continue to talk about sexuality in society. What are your thoughts on that?
Although [discussions about] sexuality issues and sex education are becoming more widespread and mainstream, I agree that there’s a long way to go. It is still unfortunately seen as “taboo,” with many adults embarrassed or otherwise unwilling to talk openly about any issues they have or to research the answers to sex-related questions and concerns.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
To read Cara Sutra’s reviews and learn more about sex toys, visit her website.