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Tentickle Toys: The Notts-Based Sex Toy Specialists Offering Something Different

4 May 21 words: Bridildo Squirts
photos: Fabrice Gagos

In a year when human-to-human interaction has been strictly forbidden, the sex toy industry has boomed, with more and more people finding pleasure without a partner. With a long and successful career in film prosthetics under her belt, Jayne Hyman took the opportunity to create her own brand of customisable, manga-inspired sex toys, Tentickle…

Dildos. Never as good as the real thing, are they? I’ve had my fair share of Netflix and Chill sessions with the umpteen sex toys of my drawers and, yes, I’m ever-grateful for their vibrational qualities, but I’ve always thought they’ve fallen short in the penetration game. The main issue being that they’re too damn hard. Nobody wants to feel like they’re shagging a broomstick.

They’re pretty uninspiring, too. There’s not much new or out-there going on with the big, pleasure-focussed brands. Wand? Too easy. Cock ring? Neither use nor ornament. French Maid outfit? Give me a break.

Imagine the intrigue when I came across Tentickle – the sex-toy brand that provides customisable silicone dildos for the budding frigger. Not only do they cater to the hungry-for-dick laymans among us, but they specialise in fantastical, monster-inspired pieces – their signature being an octopus tentacle named Tenton.

I had to know for why, so I dialled in the brains behind the business – Jayne Hyman – for a recently-out-of-lockdown pint in a Carrington pub garden. Jayne said she would pack me up a couple of samples. Buzzing.

Jayne’s background is in making props and special effects – mainly gory prosthetics – for film and theatre, she tells me over a cider. Following a drunken conversation with a friend, making sex toys was always on the agenda for the silicone specialist, but it wasn’t until lockdown that she found the time and space to start her own small business. 

Plus, the world got freaky in quarantine. The Guardian reported a spike in sex-toy sales during 2020, with several companies claiming increases of up to 40% following the moment the world decided to shit its pants.

I must admit, when I first unearthed the whole concept of banging an octopus’s arm, there was a vag-jerk reaction of WTF going on

“I thought it was as good a time as any to take the leap,” says Jayne. “As a freelancer, I was working 16-20 hours a day and starting to burn out. Lockdown really put things into perspective for me. In the creative industries, everyone’s a bit of a martyr, but life is too short. I thought that if I design this small business, I can control my working week and have a comfortable life. I’ve never slept so well as I have this past year.”

Jayne already had a 3D printer, so she set it up in the spare room of her new apartment and decided to take the plunge into learning how to use it.

“It’s amazing technology,” says Jayne. “I remember feeling a little threatened by it at first, as someone who makes something with their hands, but there’s still a lot of creativity in the process. You can’t just plug and play. You need a certain level of skill with it. Using my background, I’m relating a lot of the software and technology to sculpting tools I’ve used in the past, so it feels much more creative than I imagined it would be. It can be quicker, but it’s not holding your hand and doing it for you. It still needs someone to guide it.”

Peering into the box and squidging the tentacle suction pads of my “candy red and interference gold” Tenton, I ask Jayne about her early prototypes, and she raises a moral question I had never considered: “A lot of sex toy companies out there have got dildos which are quite anatomically correct as an animal penis. It borders on the line of bestiality. Some people are into that, some people think it’s representative of something too close to the bone. It’s a grey area – on the one hand you’re satisfying your kink in a safe way, on the other hand you might be escalating it. It depends on the individual: some people will be able to disconnect, some might treat it as level one and ask ‘Where do I go from here?’. I experimented [with canine] but I realised I didn’t want to go down that route – I wanted it to be fantastical and monstrous. Something that doesn’t exist and comes in bright colours, is appealing and cartoonish. Fun-looking.”

Tentickle toys are made from medical-grade, body-safe silicone, all completely customisable in terms of their colour and texture. Jayne made my cock-shaped mini Woodsman with a medium firmness, and my mini Tenton with soft silicone “because it’s a bit girthier”.

I must admit, when I first unearthed the whole concept of banging an octopus’s arm, there was a vag-jerk reaction of WTF going on, but apparently tentacle erotica has appeared in Japanese artwork since the early 1800s, and has found its way into contemporary hentai, anime and manga. Jayne tells me that obscenity-prohibition laws in Japan make exposed genitalia illegal, and further reading shows tentacle-porn industry leaders like Toshio Maeda say much of their work is a way of getting around the policy.“It doesn’t have to be part of your kink, or something you’re interested in sexually,” says Jayne. “It’s just a different form, a different shape. Because there are the extra suckers on the front, that adds something extra to it. Plus, there are lots of different juicy colours. It’s catching on more with people who don’t necessarily have the kink but are up for experimenting with different forms. The number-one-selling fantasy toy is the tentacle.”

Tentickle Toys creator Jayne Hyman

Jayne tells me most of her sales are coming from America, where tentacle sex toys are much more popular, and she can see it’s starting to catch on in the UK. As well as fetishists, there’s a whole online community of dildo collectors out there forming her customer base. 

One unexpected plus she’s found from the toys is the benefits to the queer community: “I think a lot of the reason these fantasy sex toy companies are becoming popular is that penetration has always been assumed to be heterosexual – penis in vagina. When you introduce an object that could be anything, it takes away that ownership. I’m finding it quite validating to make toys that appeal to people when penises aren’t their kink, people who’ve always wanted to grind on an octopus dildo. I first designed them because I was interested in monsters. Now it’s become something else. Monsters are asexual. They’re a blank slate. I’ve not gendered any of the toys apart from the Woodsman. Apart from that, I don’t want to gender them. I don’t want to force a fantasy onto the toy.”

When I got the toys home, I didn’t wait around. I won’t go into too much detail, but the Woodsman blew me away. It’s so realistic. I still have some work to do with the Tenton – it is a beautiful, fantastical object with an interesting texture. One that I strongly feel has a place in my arsehole moreso than anywhere else.

But out of fear of getting a bit hot under the collar on my next trip to Birmingham Aquarium, for now I am admiring it intermittently. Pulling out the drawer like Peep Show’s Mark Corrigan peering over Kenneth, pushing it back in. One day, you tease.

It’s opened a door, for sure, and Jayne is keen to further get the word out to the city and beyond: “I’ll be interested to see Nottingham’s reaction to this. However, I think my mum is still coming to terms with it all.”

tentickletoys.com

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