Take it from me: if you go to get your penis scanned and turned into a dildo, try not to think about the fact that your cock is patiently throbbing at the intersection of chemistry, sculpting, laser photography, sex toy manufacturing, 3D printing, American-made goods, and LGBTQ concerns. It will make you flaccid, and that's no way to pose for a picture.
Right now, in the heart of Manhattan, there is a big clean room full of 3D printers hard at work, buzzing and jerking, inviting you to come in and take a look at everything they can make. This is 3Dea, a popup store/printing lab that's trying to expose as many people as possible to the wonders of 3D printing. They offer classes, gifts, the chance to design and print an ornament for their Christmas tree, but most importantly, they have the ability to scan your penis with lasers and then print out a dildo with your exact length, girth, curve, and vein structure. That's why I went there.
If you want to do this, too--and I strongly suggest that you do--there are few things you should know about the process.
I. The Shaving
Before you go, there are three things you must do. One, buy a ticket for the event; they don't take walk-ins. Two, steel yourself mentally and emotionally. Three, rid your crotch of anything that may obstruct your penis, namely your pubes. It's a big step, I know.
I told my whole family about the assignment over Chinese food, particularly the part of the job that required me to shave my pubes off. My aunt works in public health and her only advice to me was, "Just don't try shaving them when you're stoned." Clear-headed, I still made a mess of everything down there and spent the next day wondering if people on the subway noticed my cold itchy crotch face.
II. My Kingdom for Caverject
3Dea is a perfectly harmless and particularly lovely place, so don't worry about bracing yourself for the first portion of your visit. Look around, stick your face up against some printers, smell the hot plasticky stank of the future!
Or do what I did: spy the section of the room hidden behind a curtain and the words "Sexy Objects" and sheepishly creep up to it. I figured that'd be the spot where one drops their drawers, but Greg--the nice gentleman who manages the popup space for Openhouse--informed me otherwise.
"Can we go in the sexy booth?" "Yeah," he said, "everybody walks in the sexy booth."
As they should, for behind the curtain lie shelves full of sex toys made with 3D printers, even one that has a bottle opener built in! However, there was no place to get my penis's picture taken. That all that goes down next door at the luxurious Eventi hotel where Greg says "soft air and sheets" make it all possible. If you don't know what that means, that's totally fine, because then you get to meet Chelsea and Parker and everything will become clear.
Who are Chelsea and Parker? These two ladies are co-owners and operators of New York Toy Collective, a local startup that's all about making sex toys that have never been made before--you will love them. They're fueled by sex positivity, curiosity, chemistry knowledge, and the fact that many people--especially those in LGBTQ communities--don't feel represented by the mass-produced sex toy market. If they can keep this laser scanning and 3D printing thing going, they'll be able to make any personalized vulva-bearing pocket pussy or custom fit cock ring with asymmetrical balls and bullet vibe you could ever want, and they won't have to worry about pushing a thousand other units in stores. Also, all of their toys are made in America. Also, Chelsea's parents are very proud of her for owning her a company: "My father says, 'Business is business.'"
And so they will take you up into a $500/night suite in the Eventi, the last available room in the whole damn building until after New Year's Day, where you get towels, two types of KY, Purell, baby wipes, tissues, water with strawberries it in, champagne, a terrycloth robe with zebra-print collars and cuffs, and free reign over the bedroom and bathroom so you could forge yourself a mighty erection for the lasers.
I wanted to jerk off in that room forever.
Obviously, one of the major advantages laser scanning your cock has over taking a plaster cast of it--as one must for those ubiquitous Clone-a-Willy kits--is that instead of having to maintain an erection for twenty minutes, you only need it for three seconds. Still, that can be long time given the situation. My situation consisted of me, the open robe, my poor shaving job, Parker, Chelsea, Jeff the 3D technician from Direct Dimensions, his giant Konica-Minolta 910 swooping lasers over my wang, and "Anchorman" on mute on the TV.
I don't need to tell you how long I spent doing my thing with the KY or how many times I had to excuse myself from scanning to go back to the bedroom, but let's just say all the blushing I did made it hard to keep my blood where it counts.
After five scans from various angles, I put my clothes back on and learned about the rest of the process. The images are combined to build one solid 3D model that gets printed in polyamide by the 3D printers at i.materialize. Then girls of NYTC do the rest by hand: they take that model, treat its surface, bring back any unique details lost in printing, make a mold, whip up some silicone, pour it in, and let it set. They even hand mix their own colors, and not only do they do four flesh tones (cashew, caramel, hazelnut, and chocolate) but they can also capture undertones, such as the reddish-purple luster of a swollen dong. They're true artisans.
III. Pencils Down, Scantron Forward
It will be hard to pull yourself away from the hotel room and all of the masturbatory amenities, but please do so in a timely fashion because others will be waiting to use the room. Get yourself together, choose the color of your dildo, and be on your merry way. When you get a block or two away, strange questions and anxieties will start creeping in your brain, but that's perfectly natural. Here are some typical ones:
What am I going to do with an anatomically correct recreation of my penis? Give it to someone you love! Brandish it at someone you hate! I'm planning on writing another article about what I do with mine; maybe I'll stick it in my butt. You have a lot of options.
I was the very first person to go through this process, but I later asked Chelsea how the rest of the night went, and she said someone asked for duplicates so he could have bookends. Want to one-up that guy? Get four or five dildos, put them on a pole, and you'll have a great place to hang your coat and hat everyday.
Did I just make people wait around while I choked the chicken? Yeah, you did, but it's cool.
No, really, do you think I creeped them out? Probably not! They're professionals, and as long as you treat them nicely, all is fine. I asked how the other patrons were and Chelsea said, "The guys were acting pretty much as I expected average naked men with erections to act."
If you're still worried about your boner behavior, take comfort in this story:
One person in particular struck me as an exhibitionist, not wearing the robe or towel offered, and even finishing himself off in the next room with the door open for myself, business partner, and the camera tech to see/hear.
See? That guy threw the curve on awkward situations. And as Chelsea warmly adds, "This sort of promotion tends to attract an interesting crowd, but that's one of the things I like about this sort of work. Everyone has their kink, you know? I actually find it interesting to meet all the customers. I'm in this industry because I want to create products to help people fulfill their fantasies. I'd like to think that people that sign up for this sort of thing have a similar outlook."
What's the point of all this anyway? We wouldn't be surprised if personalized sex toy production breathes life into 3D printing in the way that pornography changed the internet; these technologies will become more affordable, more common, and the sex toy industry will have to respond to this decentralization with creative solutions. The day may come when you browse Doc Johnson, Lelo, or even Etsy for unique dildo designs, fit them to your body's specifications, and print them out right in your own home.
All in all, there's nothing to stress about. The process is quick, you can sip on champagne, you'll have some good laughs, you'll contribute to the future of sex toys, and before Christmas rolls around, your penis will have a stylish silicone twin.
Don't delay, folks. Your last chance to get a custom 3D printed dildo is on December 10th--next Monday--and if you miss it, you'll be stuck with just one lonely penis.
· Purchase your ticket for your Personalized 3D Sex Toy (3dea_toy-eorg.eventbrite.com) · Many thanks to 3Dea (3dea.openhouse.me) · And special thanks to Chelsea and Parker of New York Toy Collective (newyorktoycollective.com)