Do you remember your first sex toy? Do you remember how you acquired it? How was the experience—both buying and later playing?

Chances are... it don’t go well. And you’re not alone if that is your experience.

My first sex toy was a terrible, black dildo. No base. Some awful rubber material. I was commuting for school, taking night classes and had noticed a small, seedy sex shop near the bus station. I had been in to browse a bunch of times before finally spiriting up the courage to make a purchase.

Being a devout goth punk, I had to go with the black one. Knowing absolutely nothing about sex toys, I chose one I could have lost in my body and was probably full of nasty chemicals. I’m not going to say the toy didn’t serve its purpose, but, with 25 years of hindsight, it wasn’t a good purchase.

We may be living in the Golden Age of sex toys, but we’re still crawling out of the dark ages of attitudes toward sex. So, as much as some things change, such as better quality toys, great shops and sites to browse through and more resources to help make an informed choice, there are still lots of issues that can make the experience less-than-erotic.

We asked folks from the sex community to share the stories of their first sex toy. Their memories are both cautionary tales and inspiring. We can learn so much from their experiences that will hopefully inform your sex toy purchases.

A Rubber Duckie

"My first sex toy was one of those cheap “rubber duckie” vibrators, bought for $26 at a sex shop my then-girlfriend took me to when we were 16. I wanted something discreet, that my parents would never suspect was a sex toy if they found it. That vibe served me well for about a year until I upgraded to something with a better motor – and a less cloyingly cutesy aesthetic."

-Kate Sloan, Girly Juice

Read: 5 Daring Places We've Used Our Vibrator

A Beer Bottle (Do Not Do This!)

"My first “sex toy” was an empty beer bottle. In my early twenties. In hindsight I can’t believe that the idea of a dildo being a toy for men too was not even in my mindset.

As I mentioned before, I started in college with an empty beer bottle. Before that I would use a finger or a couple fingers anally. I would occasionally edge masturbate for a couple hours, and the anal stimulation offered a new sensation, and allowed me to give my penis a break.

At some point in my thirties, started trying butt plugs. As odd as it sounds, at that point I still didn’t realize the prostrate was an erogenous zone. Or, that little nugget was what made anal penetration feel so good.

After a while I realized I enjoyed three main sensations with anal play; caressing the anus, deep penetration (the feeling of fullness in me), and stretching the anus. Once I realized this wonderful trifecta, I started considering a dildo. I bought my first few online, but was disappointed with quality of construction, material, and things. So I started shopping at brick and mortar shops where I could inspect the products more closely. Once I did this, and got quality products, I really started embracing anal play, both with partners and with masturbation.

When I started webcamming, and selling videos, I realized a lot of male masturbation scenes were focused on the penis. So I started performing with dildos and have had a huge success with that."

-Drake Hardy, performer

Read: Things People Use to Masturbate (and Why You Shouldn't)

A Hot Pink Vibrator

"I got my first sex toy the day I turned 18. It was a hot pink vibrator. I loved that it was veiny with three vibration settings. The flexy penis-shaped covering could be removed from the actual vibrating device for easy cleaning. Only thing I didn't like about it was it wasn't waterproof (I eventually ruined it by using it in the shower).

I was very modest and shy at that age, so I was pretty much humiliated when the sketchy old guys looking through the porn flick collection by the check out counter made comments about me being a young girl buying a fake dick. However, the person working the counter, who told them to shut their pervy mouths, made me feel a little better. I was in and out of the shop within 5 minutes and didn't take the time to thoroughly browse. Pretty much grabbed the first dick shaped vibrator I laid eyes on.

I kept that toy in a shoe box beneath my bed and used it daily until it broke. My first real love, Long Duck Dong."

-Alex Lee

A Talking Gyrator

"First sex toy was a rather disappointing gyration thing that made sounds of a guy saying about three variations of ‘you like that? Take it! Take it! Take it!’ I didn’t know it spoke and felt like my lost orgasms should have been accompanied by a sad trombone.

The toy was bought about 15 years ago from an own brand shop in York. I can’t remember it’s name, unfortunately. It definitely stopped me using off brand places."

-Kris

Read: Our Top Tips for Buying Your First Vibrator

A Jelly G

My first sex toy was a jelly G vibrator. It was long and purple and hooked at the tip. I bought it locally at Come As You Are, a progressive sex shop that I’d end up working at a couple of years later. I was just 18 at the time. I didn’t know much about sex and I knew even less about sex toys. Embarrassed, I accepted the help of the cool, but friendly clerk, bought the cheapest thing she recommended and high-tailed it out of there.

At home, I laid stiffly in bed and tried using it on my clit. It felt ok, but it was no big shakes. When I tried it internally, I was even less impressed. I figured that either it didn’t work, or my body didn’t. Either possibility was demoralizing and I didn’t play with it much, past my initial experiments. It was incredibly frustrating because I had truly hoped it would give me the kind of magical mind-blowing orgasm that I’d heard about, but had never yet experienced. No such luck.

Fast-forward about a year, I had acquired an older and more experienced lover, and a lot more curiosity and confidence. Suddenly, sex started to become a passion that was exciting to discover, rather than an awkward exchange that made me feel endlessly self-conscious. One day, my lover asked me to bring a sex toy to our next play session. Without a lot of options to choose from, I dug out the failed jelly G - hoping that we wouldn’t actually end up using the thing. A squishy purple representation of my sexual inadequacies.

Despite my misgivings, my lover was excited to use the toy on me. We were already in the throes and I was extremely turned on. A toy was the last thing I wanted. I took the jelly G out of my bag and handed it over, explaining that it didn’t work properly, in an attempt to dampen his enthusiasm. Unfazed, he turned it on and gently worked it inside me. To my complete shock, with a few flicks of his wrist my knees locked up, my muscles spasmed and some very funny and surprised sounds came out of my mouth. Was this the same toy that I had banished to the bottom of a drawer?

“I guess it works” he said, smiling. Uh, yeah, I guess.

That experience taught me how much more I needed to learn about sex, about my body, and about pleasure. The pursuit of that knowledge ignited a lasting passion that I turned into my vocation. I've enjoyed learning about myself through toys, and helping others to get over the fear and uncertainty that I once had. It's been over 20 years since my young adventures with the jelly G and I’ve since moved on to more elegant and sophisticated devices. Despite this, my first halting experiments with that simple, squishy vibe are among my most unforgettable sexual experiences."

-Lorraine Hewitt, aka Coco LaCreme

Read: Scared to Buy Your First Sex Toy? Here's What to Do

A Crappy Vibrator

"My first sex toy was a crappy little purple vinyl vibrator. I'd done all the research, read about material safety, and made a choice that was safer for my wallet than my orifices. The thing was terrible, and I would have been better off saving up for something nicer."

-Kenton Johnston, Funkit Toys

A Matching Vibe

"My first ever sex toy was a birthday from my best friend! On my 19th birthday, the two of us went to visit our first strip club, but found a sex shop on the way. We stopped in (again, a first for us!) and he bought us matching bullet vibrators, his blue mine and mine pink.

The vibe was only $10; it was made of ABS plastic and took watch batteries. It was cheap and buzzy, but I loved it. I used it that night and came three times in a row. Vibration changed my life.

I remember being pretty anxious when he bought the vibes; what if my mom found it? Or my little siblings? What would they say? How would I explain myself?

But after using it for the first time, I felt liberated. I was finally an adult, and I had used a sex toy. That was the beginning of a sexual awakening for me."

-Leona