“We definitely live in the worst timeline, but I’m glad I get to see things like this,” my friend messaged me, along with a link to the Balldo. It took me a minute to comprehend what I was looking at. It’s a sex toy, and that’s about as clear as it gets. The company’s site described it as a “ball dildo” that allows you to “penetrate your partner with your balls,” which not only raised new questions, but unanswered so many questions about sex that I thought I previously understood.
I had to know more.
For anyone who doesn’t want to go down same rabbit hole, which includes multiple NSFW videos featuring both cartoon and real phalluses—the latter of which we won’t link to–here’s the short version of how the Balldo is supposed to work, according to its creators:
The skin of the human scrotum has a surprising number of nerve endings across its surface–an amount “comparable to the vulva,” Balldo’s marketing materials repeatedly remind the viewer. And yet, again according to Balldo’s marketing, said nerve endings have gone underutilized in sex. What—an exuberant voiceover asks two excited cartoon scientists and one inexplicably more excited cartoon naked man—could be done to solve this egregious oversight!?
The answer, Balldo contends in its YouTube video, is a bullet-shaped sex toy that transforms the testicles into a penetrative member like a phallus. A person can slide their balls into this harness, as well as a pair of accompanying spacers, in order to form an object rigid enough to be inserted into an orifice. However, the Balldo also is intended to leave the scrotum exposed, at least on the sides, so the wearer can still feel stimulation.
This, Balldo claims, results in a form of orgasm “so new and different that it will take years for the possibilities of Ballsex and the associated Ballgasm to be truly understood.”
After trying out the Balldo, I’m convinced the utter nonsense of this sentence is the point. Or, at least, it’s the point I’m choosing to take from the experience.
A Brief but Somehow Necessary History of Dadaism
If you’ve ever had a conversation about what “art” is, Marcel Duchamp’s urinal called Fountain has almost certainly come up. One of the most influential pieces of the early 20th century, the entire piece was a urinal, turned on its side, and signed with a nom de plume. It was initially set to be displayed at an exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists, an avant-garde organization that was ostensibly so open-minded, that it would not reject any artwork from its members.
Nevertheless, the Society voted not to display Fountain, kicking off a debate over what even counts as art and where the lines of decency lie. A debate that, depending on who you’re talking to, continues to this day. Regardless of where one finds themselves in said debate, Fountain had an undeniable effect: it held up a mirror to our collective artistic sensibilities and asked us to interrogate why we see art the way we do.
More broadly, the dadaist movement, of which Duchamp was a part, rejected logic and rationality and instead leaned more into nonsense and chaos, with a strong undercurrent of anti-bourgeoisie themes. Rather than adhering to the artistic standards that a small group of wealthy people decided on, dadaist works aimed to force the art world not only to consider what defines “art” but what role art has to play in the world.
Yes, somehow this is relevant to my experience testing the Balldo, a sex toy designed to use the testicles and scrotum for penetrative sex—but more on that later.
There are actually two experiences one can have with the Balldo: using it, and showing the YouTube video to other people. The latter I found much more fulfilling. Paying forward the gift my friend gave to me, I showed the videos and website of the torpedo-shaped ball cup to a few others. In every instance, the reactions were pretty much the same:
“How would that even work?”
“Who asked for this???”
However, there was one much more specific question that every single person I showed this to had. At one point in the video, the cartoon scientists ask aloud, “But how can we use the balls to have sex?” In response, every person independently had more or less the same reaction:
“Do these people think penetration is the only way to use balls during sex?”
It’s a valid point! It’s also a challenge that sex toys designed for penises and testicles have always run into. Not only do we question whether a toy can provide some new form of stimulation or sensation, but is it really going to provide a better experience than a hand, mouth, or any other orifice can provide? Is it going to improve the time you spend with your partner, or is it going to be an awkward mess that’s not worth the time or energy it’s going to take to convince someone to try with you?