Mmm, yeah, like that. Keep it right there, that’s so good.” Alba is telling me exactly how she likes to be touched. Alba is a brown-eyed New Yorker. And I am intent on her vulva. Like her, it is tan and youthfully rounded. “When I tell you I’m close, don’t you change anything. Hhhhhhn, that’s good.” Her sex is shuddering. As my finger circles her clitoris my whole body is poised to please her; my right foot rotates in time with my wrist – and OMG, yes! The screen reverts to its title page and, ladies and gentleman, I have mastered a new technique.
Sex education site OMGYes launched at the beginning of this year. Produced in San Francisco, it is based on detailed research of how 2,000 women reach orgasm through clitoral stimulation and has marvellously in-depth analysis of the 12 most popular techniques. This includes videos of women describing and demonstrating their approaches – as well as artificially intelligent reproductions of their vulvas, which respond to stimulation via your touchscreen. Fans include Emma Watson who, on stage at a London event with feminist Gloria Steinem, commented, “I wish it had been around longer. Definitely check it out. It’s an expensive subscription, but worth it.”
One detail that emerged from their conversation is that half the women prefer to be stimulated consistently (“Keep doing that, exactly the same”) and the other half liked to be kept guessing (“Switch it up”).
“We looked to see if there was research around these two different approaches, and were really surprised to discover that no one had ever researched it before.” So they set up a company and interviewed 2,000 women about what gets them off. “We found that certain patterns of stimulation kept re-emerging.”
Perhaps the numbers speak for themselves. Two months after opening, 40,000 people have joined, split evenly between men and women. And what are they learning? The first chapter of information – “Season 1” – opens with 12 techniques, such as “orbiting”, “edging” and “accenting”.
The orbiting page, for example, states: “Seventy-eight per cent of women build more intense pleasure with continuous motions around the clit. This is because each woman has ‘hot spots’ that feel best... And for most women, pleasure only builds when those hot spots are stimulated over and over. A circular motion covers the territory, even as the spots change.”
Now to the technique, surely the most remarkable and useful part of the project. First, via highlighted diagrams and illustrations, we look at the key orbiting variables: location of where you touch and pressure. The most stimulating combinations of the two are then depicted on a moving cartoon of a vulva.
So far, so thorough. But this is only the start. Next, the site introduces Diana. In a video, this well-spoken black woman with dreads and a hairless pussy explains and demonstrates double circles (one circle round the clitoris, the other in an opposite direction in the vaginal opening). Now it’s the turn of Sonya and Maria to show their preferred styles. And on to more diagrams – eight more variations, including “widening ovals” and “soft-hard figure eight”, are explained before you get to the simulation. And this is something else again. Yes, meet Maria’s vulva, which will move under your touch, provoking compliments or instruction until you please her right.
The simulation is remarkable. Much as an astronaut can practise going into space in a gravity-free pod in Milton Keynes, here alone on your sofa you can rehearse your next Casanova routine. Once Maria has shown you how she pleases herself with her “Daily Grind”, you go to her virtual pleasure zone and a small arrow will show the “half circle with clitoris pull-up” that she particularly likes.
Is it sexy?
Spending too long staring at a vulva close up and I find it less erotic than zoological. Furthermore, I am considerably more gifted in some areas than others. So accenting, in which you pay special attention to one area of the clitoris, comes easy (ahem). But edging, in which you let her get close then pull back, I find wholly frustrating (as I might in real life). “Work close to my clitoris,” Amber intones. So I am, I am... But there is nothing to feel, no obvious shape of the clitoris to follow. And I’m getting repetitive strain in my wrist. What a waste of sexual energy and interest to be pouring so much focus into an iPad. Amber gets cross if I stop. “Hey, where did you go? I was enjoying that.” It is interesting to imagine Ms Watson labouring away.
There’s another thing. Even amid the frustration, the disconnection imposed by the flat screen and the entirely unromantic shot of Amber’s genitals, I’m getting turned on.
OMGYes may be the first experience many of us have of a world where a great deal of sex is tech-enabled. From the radical improvements in remote sex – through a phalanx of new short-distance, remote-controlled vibrators or long-distance, internet-based toys – to the remarkable rise of artificially intelligent sex dolls, we’re entering the age of the Beast With Two Backs 2.0.
Then there is the erotic opportunity afforded by virtual reality. As Oculus Rift goes on sale – the company was bought for £1.4 billion by Mark Zuckerberg, who believes that “VR is soon going to be our most social platform” – it may be that your Tinder date will virtually test you before deigning to meet IRL. Indeed, it may be that the ability to manipulate digital genitalia becomes more relevant. Certainly futurologist Ian Pearson expects that by 2035 robot-human sex will start to be more prevalent than human-human intercourse.
For now, however, the real world vulva(s) you hold nearest or dearest surely merit an evening spent scrolling through this site. Casanovas may benefit from the patient feedback, and long distance lovers from the depth of ideas. Lydia comments that in their studies they found that couples who kept seeking new sensual techniques were 12 times more likely to be sexually satisfied in their relationship.
All of which suggests you pay your £19 in the pursuit of better pleasing the pudenda. “When I discovered edging I was shocked by how much it intensified my orgasm,” says Marina, a singer who lives in west London. “I dance closer and then further away... The results are astonishing.”
Original article published in GQ, in December, 2016