Electro-play or “electro-sex” is a broad spectrum of play in the BDSM community! One of the types of play involves using toys similar to stun guns or mild cattle prods to give your partner a playful (or painful!) zap. Guest reviewer Salem and I try two of the most popular zapping toys, the Tazapper and the Stinger, and give you all the details you need to know to make a decision for yourself!
The toy has a simple design consisting of a black handle with a push-button that sends an electrical current up a red wand to the tip, where two metal prongs are exposed. When the button is pressed and the prongs touch skin, they release an electrical discharge. This discharge has a loud zapping noise and a flashing spark, making it a rather scary kink toy.
Quite frankly, I’m terrified of this toy. That’s not to say I won’t use it (because I will!) but I will kick and scream the whole time. The pain, surprisingly, is only moderate–sometimes even mild. The real terror comes from the sight and sound of the electric discharge, rather than the pain it causes. This is, in my opinion, a fantastic intimidation tool in a scene–especially with someone who may not like severe pain, but likes to play along!
This new model is produced by Doc Johnson, a partner of Kink.com. Their website boasts that it delivers the same powerful sensation at $10 cheaper than “the leading zapper toy.” Sounds good, right? I thought so, too.
The problem with this toy was really difficult to ignore. Its zap was about the same intensity as the Tazapper (not surprisingly since they both took two AA batteries), however it wasn’t as reliable. Unlike the Tazapper, which discharges after the button is released, the Stinger holds onto the charge. This means that even when we let go of the button, it was still able to zap someone. This is obviously a dangerous structural issue. In addition to multiple discharges being an issue, the Stinger produced hot electrical burns when used on Salem and I. While these were still mild in the grand scheme of things, it was not an enjoyable sensation for either of us.
How do they work?
Salem explains the science behind these electro-toys!
While both the Tazapper and Stinger look and sound intimidating, they are actually a simple circuit with a capacitor. A capacitor is any two pieces of metal separated by some distance. In this case it is the two metal loops at the ends of the prods. A capacitor will store electric charge from the current within the metal pieces until it can be discharged on something.
The metal loops on each device are about half a centimeter apart so they don’t penetrate skin too deeply. It is a pretty superficial shock and therefore safe to use on the majority of the body, exceptions being anywhere with piercings and metal implants. The button on the handle of each device is a switch that allows current to pass through the circuit when the switch is closed. When the button is pressed, current travels up to the capacitor and it stores the charge. As long as the button is held down, the capacitor will store that charge until it comes into contact with something that it can discharge on, like your skin! This discharge is the loud, scary zap that makes up the majority of the zapper’s fear factor.
With the Tazapper, when the button is not pressed, the capacitor is able to discharge onto some sort of load within the circuit, most likely a resistor, until there is no charge left on the metal loops. A resistor is a device that slows down current, ensuring that not too much current passes through you when you get shocked with the device. So right after you take your hand off the button, you can touch the metal loops and you will not be zapped. You’re pretty much insured to not get any accidental shocks. The low voltage and low current also ensures that the shock is not very harmful, so there isn’t really any lasting pain with the Tazapper. Its bark is worse than its bite, but it is a pretty satisfying bite–at least for a masochist.
As for the Stinger, something else is going on with that current–at least in the one SF and I used. Unlike the Tazapper, sometimes when we had our hand off of the button, the capacitor would still shock us. This leads me to believe that the load (most likely a resistor) the capacitor is supposed to discharge on when the button is not pressed is not working correctly. There was also a more lasting pain, specifically a burning sensation. This tells me that there is probably more current going through the Stinger, which could be directly related to the fact that the resistor is not working correctly since resistors are meant to decrease current. We are not sure if the device is meant to act this way, but after using the Stinger, we were wary to try it again because of the accidental shocks and the burning sensation.”
Final Thoughts: The Clear Winner
Salem: “After testing both of them, I found myself more comfortable with the Tazapper because there was never a case of shocking myself while the button was not pressed. I felt uncomfortable using the Stinger because of the surprise shocks when the button was not pressed and my suspicion that there was a broken circuit element. For these reasons, I definitely prefer the Tazapper over the Stinger. I feel safer using it and I’m confident that the circuit is working correctly, but I can’t say the same for the Stinger. I’ve had some wonderful times with the Tazapper and although it looks scary, I promise its lots of fun! Although, I think the scariness is a big part of the fun.”
SF: “I absolutely favored the Tazapper, hands down! The Stinger seemed great in theory–the same toy for just a little cheaper–but it just didn’t prove worth it. The glaring structural flaws left me reluctant to use it at all anymore. With the Tazapper, I knew what I was getting every time we used it. However, with the Stinger, I wasn’t sure if I was going to get a single shock from the button-press, or two, or just a really hot electrical current that just concerned me more than anything. Surprises are usually fun but not when it has me doubting the actual safety of the toy. Do yourself a favor and splurge the extra $10 for the peace of mind in knowing your toy is safe and consistent with the Tazapper.”