Halloween brings plenty of talk of monsters. There are debates over who is more classic: Frankenstein or Dracula. There are important costume decisions betwixt aliens, ghouls, and zombies. There are questions of classification, too: Is a “scary clown” a monster, really? What about the Invisible Man?
But there is not nearly enough conversation about monsters’ dicks.
I do not mean “monster dicks”—as in generously sized members, although they might also be that—but, specifically, dicks belonging to monsters. Classic Halloween films fail to address pressing questions regarding the penises of, say, a zombie (just how reanimated is it?) or a mummy (is it wrapped against the body?). Fortunately, where Hollywood has neglected such questions, sex toy makers have come to the rescue. (The answers, by the way, are fully reanimated, albeit partially decomposed, and individually wrapped, respectively.)
Research quickly reveals that zombie and mummy dicks are kinda basic? Consider there are five-eyed monsters with twirly rainbow peen and demons with six-pack abs and horned balls. Classic monsters’ dicks raise practical questions of function on the level of “Can vampires get erections?” But the more fantastical creatures raise somewhat more fantastical questions. (Could a tentacled member get...stuck?) Who better to answer the deeper questions about monster dicks than Meesh Oglesby Cunningham, the creator behind Strange Bedfellas, a Texas-based sex toy company that makes monster dildos (also: “MONSTER FUCKER” pins).
Jezebel spoke with Cunningham about molding silicon, ball-horns, and monsters who are “just looking for love.” Our conversation has been edited for clarity.
JEZEBEL: First of all, how did you end up sculpting your own monster-themed sex toys?
CUNNINGHAM: I kind of collected them a little bit. I had been an artist for, well, forever. For a while, I was doing personal commissions for furries or for people who liked having their characters drawn. I’ve done erotic art for commission. I’ve always been pretty comfortable with adult material.
I lost my job at a video game studio when it closed down and I didn’t have anywhere to go after that. I worked at home for a while and I thought, well, I’ve done two-dimensional illustrations. Why don’t I try 3D stuff? My friend had gotten a 3D printer, I’d seen some people talk about being able to do this, and I thought I’d give it a try. It started very small on my kitchen table and, as it picked up steam, I kept expanding to whatever space I could find. Now we have a separate workshop. It’s grown a lot since then.
How do you come up with the designs? What are your inspirations?
I’ve always really liked drawing monsters and creatures—that goes back to my childhood. I was into dinosaurs and dragons. I have just always been into comic books. I like thinking of anatomy for monsters, not even necessarily sexually. It’s fun to think: Here’s a monster, how does it move around? That translates into the work.
I’m a collector of some of these things, because it’s nice to see what else is out there. When you’re running a business, even though everything is very unique, it’s still nice to see what’s out there, what people like, what’s interesting. I try to look for shapes people like and approach them in ways that haven’t been done before.
There are pretty basic shapes you want to stick with when you’re designing sex toys, just because there are certain shapes that just work. You start with: Am I going to do something top-heavy? Am I gonna do something with a knot? Am I gonna do something that looks more human? And just go from there.
It seems like at the various fantasy or monster-themed shops there are different degrees of interest in referencing real-world animal anatomy.
There’s some very specific animal anatomy that is kind of a staple in the fantasy community. Horse shapes, long with a blunt tip. Dog shapes—they’re pointy and have the knot. But a lot of people who are designing toys, and a lot of customers, don’t want that association and would rather have an interpretation that doesn’t connect as much to an animal, which is where I land.
I like to take these ideas of “what nature has to offer,” but let’s put this into a space where it’s clearly not an animal. It’s something sentient that you can connect with as sort of a person—a monster that has a way to consent.
Are there any classic monster facets that you stay away from? It seems that horns and claws could be…uncomfortable?
You would think that, but you design a toy for the comfort and safety of the user. We do have a dragon claw that’s just a finger that’s a claw, but if you get that claw up close, it’s not pointy and it’s very blunt. The silicone we use with fantasy shops, compared to more mainstream stuff, is much softer. Customers tend to want things that are very squishy. It does look like a menacing claw, but it’s made out of marshmallow, basically.
Which comes first: The monster dick or the monster? Do you think of the monster and then design the dick or vice versa?
A lot of times I start with the dick first. I think of the shape: “OK, we need something that’s top-heavy. What kind of designs do I have in my notebook?” Most of the time, I just start with the shape of the whole dick and then you build the character out from there. Sometimes it changes while you’re sculpting. I tend to sculpt in very fast sessions that take maybe two hours. A lot of times it happens as I’m sculpting, the character kind of comes out as I’m working.
How are you sculpting it?
I use Blender, a 3D program. I’ll sit down with a blob and start working on it with my computer.
On your website, you craft personas, or dating profiles, to accompany each of your toys. How come?
I’ve never used a dating site, but I really like the idea of friendly monsters. Even though they’re big and scary-looking, I like them to be friendly and nice. The idea of a character that is consenting and actively looking for a partner, I find that to be more welcoming. There are some shops that are rougher—they cater to different markets. But I like the idea of: These are just friendly monsters looking for love. It’s easier for some customers to approach it when it’s not: “[Growls] I’m here to take you and ravage you.”
Which monsters are most popular?
Usually werewolf types. Big, furry. Our most popular one is a toy with a knot. I call him a chimera, but he looks like a werewolf.
Is it popular because of the monster attached or the design of the toy itself?
I think it’s the knot. Knotted toys sell very well in this market. There’s not a lot of analogs in regular, typical sex toys. In the mainstream market, you don’t see that specific feature.
Tell me about your customers. How do monsters fit into their sex lives?
There’s a lot of different customers out there. Some people I know just want something that’s not necessarily human, that’s more approachable. Either they’ve come from a rough past or just haven’t really connected with a human. They find the shape that will work for them and they can build the character themselves. They don’t always use the same characters we present. I’ve had a lot of different people redesign the character and show me drawings of their characters that they’ve attached to the toys, which is always really nice. Whatever they can connect with. A lot of them will change the gender around.
It’s Halloween time, which is monster time. Both Halloween and monsters are associated with fear and horror. How do these things overlap: fear, horror, and pleasure?
My brand is a little softer. It’s more focused on consensual relations with a big creature who is just looking for love, but some of that stuff is exciting. There are brands that have leaned into horror and are really, really cool. It’s a safe way to engage with those exciting things, but it’s silicone. It’s not gonna cause any problems for you.