Your sex life will quickly reach new heights in 2006. How do we know for sure? This top 10 list of trends, new releases and factoids is certain to keep your bedroom racy and your fantasies running wild.
Marketing expert Bernice Kanner confirms it: Male primping is no longer taboo. As she published in her survey compilation, When It Comes to Guys, What's Normal? 63 percent of men take a half hour to get ready; one in 10 take an hour or more. A sneak peek in your man's medicine cabinet might reveal that he's a proud contributor to the $5.5 billion men's grooming market. Major beauty lines like Neutrogena, Nivea, Clarins, Adidas, and Bath & Body Works all have gotten in the game. As a result, guys smell better, look sharper and actually care about the niceties that ‑- for too long ‑- were woman's domain. And if that's not good for sex, we don't know what is.
If you give a mouse a cookie, he'll ask for a glass of milk. And if you give a woman a clitoral orgasm, she'll ask for a G-spot orgasm. Luckily, there are products like the Liberator (www.liberator.com) to help you find what you're looking for. You may have seen it in Neil Young's Grammy gift bag or laughed at it during Meet the Fockers, but have you tried it? Last year, more than 60,000 of these props popped up in bedrooms nationwide. The ramp-and-wedge combo sells best; the "scoop," which resembles a teeter-totter, and "esse," which "can double as a chaise longue" (um, okay), are the newest shapes. Or try a G-spot-specific vibrator or any curved toy, like the Crystal Wand dildo. If you're quite satisfied with your own vibe, thank you very much, you may want to find out if it has a compatible G-spot attachment.
8. Get Home Safely
In 1998, the Consumer Product Safety Commission published a report that led most manufacturers to remove phthalates (chemicals that make hard plastics soft) from items like pacifiers and soft rattles, because overexposure can affect fertility. Finally, big kids' toys have caught up. Vibratex is leading the charge with phthalate-free versions of their best-sellers (available most everywhere toys are sold). You're only at risk if your exposure is significant, but do you really want to limit the time you spend in the bedroom?
7. Toys "R" Everywhere
Sex toys are the new stilettos ‑- or at least they're being marketed that way. Enticing, unintimidating storefronts, helpful salespeople and straightforward displays make for such a fun, blush-free shopping experience, there's no need to wait for the next bachelorette party for an excuse to explore. And since pharmacies (even Wal-Mart) have started carrying sex toys by Trojan and Durex, you don't have to go out of your way to pick up a little somethin' somethin'. The Web has cleaned up its act, too, offering an explosion of well-done retail sites, ranging from pretty (jimmyjane.com) to tongue-in-cheek (agentprovocateur.com) to friendly (bootyparlor.com) to educational (babeland.com) and even wholesome (goodvibrations.com).
6. The New Frontier
In the big bad world of cyberdildonics, you can control vibrators anywhere in the world via the Internet. Log onto highjoy.com and click on "are you a couple" to find out how to spice up your long-distance relationship. Truly adventurous Internet daters also can use the site to find new partners. To purchase Internet-savvy sex toys, look for the High Joy Bunny (think of it as the cyber Rabbit) at highjoy.com or babeland.com, or try sinulator.com for more variety. And while you're at it, you might want to pick up a Webcam... and a dead bolt for your door. Not recommended for office use.
5. Let's Sweat It On
The parallels are obvious ‑- racing heart, sweating, heavy breathing, the odd groan ‑- but not since the heydays of Jane Fonda and Suzanne Somers have exercise and sex been so obviously linked. "Aerobic erotic" has arrived. Whether you're undulating that belly, strip-teasing your sweat suit off, prancing around a pole or rocking the latest Bollywood moves, the gym is hotter than ever. And when you pair libido-liberating cardio with the yoga/Pilates craze, you get healthier, better-looking bodies with more endurance, confidence and flexibility. You do the math.
4. Comeback Crushes
Just when you thought you were going to have to page through old issues of Tiger Beat to recapture your first crush, he's back ‑- on your TiVo. Right on, casting directors of the world, for understanding that things do improve with age. The O.C.'s Tate Donovan sailed off into the sunset, but not before reminding us to rent Love Potion No. 9. Neil Patrick Harris proved that diary-obsessed medical protégés do indeed grow up in How I Met Your Mother. Jason Bateman was the frosting on the scrumptious Arrested Development cake (which we're still craving). And who wasn't delighted to see Ralph Macchio in season two of Entourage? A definite improvement over Cop #2 in 2001's Popcorn Shrimp. Of course, our favorite '80s resurrection is Patrick Dempsey (a.k.a. Dr. McDreamy). He alone is reason enough to watch Grey's Anatomy, which we all know is just ER with more kissing. (And thank you for that.)
3. Equal Op-PORN-tunity
Women do too get turned on by porn. A 2004 Emory University study showed that, although men's and women's brains react differently to erotic visual stimuli, both genders report equal levels of arousal. Playgirl TV has taken a running start at the female market. A year and a half after its launch, this 24-hour channel chock-full of erotic fantasy sequences, such as the piano teacher who tickles more than the ivories, is available in more than eight million households, including hotels. If aural erotica is more your scene, download MP3 files from iPod-friendly (but unfortunately named) eroticshiver.com, or look for free podcasts on iTunes. If you still haven't chucked your CD player, head to soundserotic.com, which offers sensual stories ranging from tame ("Sugar") to decidedly not ("Spank!"). And for an updated companion to your Anaïs Nin, check out prolific best-selling author Zane, whose erotic fiction series has made her a cult celebrity.
2. Style-High Club
You wouldn't wear something glow-in-the-dark and faux-watermelon flavored, so why buy it for your bedroom? It wouldn't match those Egyptian cotton sheets. At Myla (www.myla.com), a London-based lingerie-and-toy shop, designers have blurred the line between back-of-the-nightstand-drawer vibrator and coffee-table objet d'art. Our favorites are Bone, by Tom Dixon ($380), and Pebble, by Mari-Ruth Oda ($190). Jimmy Jane's Little Something ($250) is another gem: Silent, bubble-bath-friendly and effective, it comes in platinum, gold and stainless steel (www.jimmyjane.com). For lubes fit to mingle with your perfume bottles, try Add Magic Lubricant ($16, www.bootyparlor.com) or Pink Lube, in a handblown Italian glass bottle ($25, www.babeland.com).
1. B-Cups vs. Teacups
With Pure Romance and Passion Parties ‑- the Coke and Pepsi of the industry ‑- taking the lead, home parties have moved out of the kitchen and into the bedroom. At press time, Pure Romance's 2005 sales were projected to hit $55 million. Passion Parties' sales have doubled every month for the past 40 months. Their Websites (pureromance.com, passionparties.com) list "consultants" nationwide who will show you and your friends how to get Charlotte York results from the Rabbit Habit. C'mon, even Jessica Simpson had a home party, and that makes it officially mainstream.
A Look Ahead... Easy, Tiger
There's even better sex on the horizon, if you can stand the wait. For flagging libidos, PT-141, an inhalable, gender-neutral "lust drug," is in Phase 3 clinical trials. And though the FDA rejected Intrinsa (the so-called female Viagra) in 2004 on the basis that its long-term effects were unknown, Proctor & Gamble is still optimistic that this testosterone patch for postmenopausal women will make it to market and be a hit. STD vaccines could be the next flu shot: Merck's Gardasil, the first shot designed to prevent human papillomavirus or HPV (the leading cause of cervical cancer), is set to go up for FDA approval by the end of 2006; a vaccine for genital herpes is in its final research stages at GlaxoSmithKline; and pharmaceutical companies are exploring gonorrhea and chlamydia vaccines. And the male birth control "pill" (actually a subdermal implant, like Norplant for women) is in the midst of a promising Phase 2 clinical trial in Europe, the results of which should be available in June. Still, the product is at least five years from release ‑- which might be how long you need to persuade him to use it. Johnson & Johnson's premature-ejaculation pill, however, merely awaits a final FDA nod. We're already planning the party.