I’ve never heard of Dr Sadie Allison before, but then she is described as America’s Pleasure Coach, so I’m not sure I’m expected to have heard of her. In any case when I was offered this book for review, I was intrigued. In the Fractal days I engaged in anal play a lot more: I both gave and received rimming, fingers were inserted into anuses, I took his cock up my arse now and then and I also gave him one or two prostate massages with a toy. Crush isn’t into arses. At all. So all that stopped with him. But I’ve been curious about getting back into what I can by myself.
So Tickle My Tush: Mild-to-Wild Analplay Adventures for Everybooty (yes, that is what it’s called) was very interesting to me. And, hey, it’s for “everybooty”, right? So no matter my ‘level’, I should find it useful.
We’ll start by judging it by its cover. Yeesh. It’s not discreet and looks like a copy of Heat magazine. It’s pretty garish and all kinds of cheesy, but we’re more interested in the contents here. Tickle My Tush is 135 pages long and has a lot of white space, so it makes for light reading. And I was making notes, so you should get through it even quicker.
Tickle My Tush covers a wide range of anal play, including massage, fingering, rimming, anal sex, prostate massage, strap-ons and anal sex toys. She mentions spanking a couple of times in a positive way, but it’s never given any further treatment in the book. Nothing. As someone who enjoys a good damn spanking and knows how well it works as arse-based pleasure, I found that a glaring omission.
She rightly dismisses the idea that anal play is “kinda gay” by pointing out that “it’s the gender of your partner – not the sexual activity – that defines your sexual orientation”. She tries to cater to differing levels of enthusiasm and urges that no-one should do anything they’re uncomfortable with, while calmly laying out the benefits. She never pressurises the reader and states that it’s perfectly possible to have a fulfilling sex life without any bum stuff.
There’s lots of information on safety, which is all very good. She also makes a very necessary fuss about taking your time and how important it is to relax and prepare. The condom dos and don’t are great and she extols the virtues of lube and plenty of it (even telling readers to avoid awful numbing lube). She also frequently calls on the reader to keep communicating with their partner and advises a sort of trial-and-feedback method of finding out what you like. Sure, there’s a bit of unnecessary repetition, but it’s not a massive deal and it’s better over-said than under-said.
The section on hygiene left me a little wanting. Dr Sadie says that you don’t really need to anally douche before engaging in anal play but does say that if it’d make you feel more relaxed or if you enjoy it, then go ahead. However, there’s no information on how to do it if you do want. I’d have loved more detail and more advice on this. You hear a lot of mixed messages on whether or not it’s a good idea to douche and for the unexperienced it can be very confusing.
It’s split into sensible chapters and is illustrated with cartoons which really help to show how certain positions and techniques work. One of the things I really liked was how she will occasionally mention that a particular position is good for lovers of different heights and weights or someone who is pregnant. In the strap-on section she even mentions that harnesses that sit elsewhere than the crotch may work well for disabled users, which is brilliant.
I particularly liked the section on anal sex toys, but for an unusual reason. I was reading this page and looking at the picture when suddenly I recognised a familiar
face cock. Second from the left, it was obvious! That’s the Fun Factory Bandito! I own that! And looking at the rest I noticed that I could identify a bunch as toys made by Tantus! You can see my little annotations above. Yup, I was playing Identify the Sex Toy again. So that appealed to the toy geek in me.
What didn’t was that although she mentions the importance of flared bases on numerous occasions, she made no mention of anal toys needing to be non-porous for safe sharing or of how to sterilise toys. She also suggests that you should check your toys before use and if they have any “sharp edges or rough seams”, you should “file off any burrs”. No. You shouldn’t. You should send it back to the shop. Please don’t start filing your toys.
The book claims that it is for “everybooty” and this is where I started to get kinda miffed. It isn’t. Tickle My Tush is painfully heteronormative. All the illustrations are heterosexual and so is the advice. It is assumed you are a straight couple (no, you can’t be poly either). One page even gives a table showing the differences and similarities between men and women arse-wise and says that the G-spot can be stimulated with “fingers, penis or curved-tip sextoy” but in the prostate column only mentions ” fingers or curved-tip sextoy”.
Sure, not every advice book needs to cover ever possible permutation of couples (and groups), but don’t say your book is for everyone when it blatantly isn’t.
But let’s finally acknowledge the elephant in the room, shall we? Not a single review of this book I’ve seen has been able to ignore the language. Some have called it “conversational”, others “too American”. I don’t think it’s either of those. It is ridiculously chatty, ridiculously “Cosmo”, just plain ridiculous and very, very unhelpful.
I’m not sure how well you can read that, but that’s the page in which Dr Sadie abolishes the English language and sets up her own. She says “Wouldn’t you agree, that some of the hesitancy you may feel toward analplay has a lot to do with the hideous language we’ve been given to describe it?”
And I’ll take rectum over “pleasure tunnel” any day. Listen, the A-spot is already a thing, O-rings are already things (she makes it hard for herself in the strap-on chapter and is forced to go with ” the opening on the front of the harness ” instead). And the rest are just unhelpful or laughable. And there’s more: “vertical smile”, “shejaculation” and “ninja fingers”. She glues words together at every opportunity: “analplay”, “fingerpad”. At least twice she writes “slowly” as “s-l-o-w-l-y”. There is absolutely no need to emphasise that the adverb “slowly” should be performed slowly. That’s why it’s an adverb.
Throughout the book she insists on calling the prostate the “He-spot” and uses all the alternate terms on the page shown above. Why not use the real words? They’re not hideous, they’re what those things are called. Being coy about it and creating a daft code is not good. Surely it reinforces the very taboos she’s trying to break? If Dr Sadie can’t say rectum and thinks words to do with anal sex are “hideous”, how is the every day Joe going to feel OK saying them? Just say what you mean. In an advice book, that is crucial. Because when it turns out that I want to find out more or I want to discuss this with my friends, I’m not going to able to do that if they haven’t read this book. “I want to shejaculate from getting fingerpadded in the pleasure inch” will not mean one single thing to them.
Tickle My Tush by Dr Sadie Allison is a short, but comprehensive book of advice and techniques for all kinds of anal play that is sadly marred by its insistence on using pathetically cutesy language to save us all from having to say “anus”. I like the word “anus”. It’s a good solid word. But the phrase “butt cleavage” makes me wonder if I’m reading a copy of Cosmo written by a 13-year-old lunatic (so, a copy of Cosmo then). Dr Sadie has some very fine advice and really seems to know her stuff in techniques, consent issues and safety worries.
Really all this book would need to do to win my approval would be to get rid of the silly language and overly jazzy tone and either drop the façade that it’s for everyone or be a little more inclusive (preferably the latter). As it is, it does contain some worthy advice that you will probably find useful, but I can’t get around the way that information is presented. It makes me laugh and rage at the same time. That said, if you feel the good information here outweighs the, well, “butt cleavage”, you can pick up a copy from Tickle Kitty. ♦
Why not read some more of my sex toy reviews?