I admit I don’t know much about Watchmen — the comic book series, the 2009 film, or the new HBO series. There is one detail, however, that somehow has penetrated my otherwise superhero-ignorant brain: .
The latest episode of the HBO series, pays homage to the much-discussed cock. The scene features , known as Laurie Juspeczyk in the comics. To condense an entire character arc into a paragraph: She and her mother, Sally Jupiter, shared the superhero name/persona Silk Spectre. Laurie and Dr. Manhattan dated and broke up, and between the comics and the HBO show, she gave up being a superhero and joined the FBI.
Part of the way through “Space Junk,” Laurie opens a briefcase to reveal a huge, cerulean-blue vibrator — clearly a tongue-in-cheek model of her ex’s penis, complete with detachable testicles. It looks like a small replica of a and appears to be larger and sleeker than a real already on the market.
Seeing as the vibrator came from the minds of the Watchmen production team and not actual sex tech professionals, I spoke to several designers about how the prop would make as an actual sex toy — and how they themselves would design a better Dr. Manhattan vibrator.
Let’s start with the toy’s larger-than-life size. While society has long associated penis size with masculinity, and thus a huge dick is seen as the ideal, that is actually not the case. Even if sex toys are trying to provide the user with some kind of fantasy, the same is true: Bigger is not always better. “Based on some of the user testing we did early on, we found that there were folks looking for a smaller sized, penetrative toy because there aren’t that many available in the market,” said Liz Klinger, co-founder and CEO of , speaking about research when designing their namesake product.
Klinger made another point about the vibrator’s size, which she described as like two soda cans glued together: Laurie would likely need some lubrication. “I didn’t see any lube inside that briefcase,” she noted, “You probably would want to have some kind of water-based lubricant with this.”
In terms of mechanics, the angle is also not the best for an actual penetrative toy. Klinger said, “A lot of vibrators end up having more of a curvature for g-spot or internal clitoral stimulation, which can make the experience more pleasurable.”
Beyond the actual tech behind the Dr. Manhattan vibrator, it’s just not aesthetically pleasing — which is actually a big factor when selling sex toys. According to Lora Haddock, founder and CEO of , customers want something more elegant. “Considering the character, it’s perfectly appropriate. But I find that objects that look physiologically and anatomically-correct generally aren’t as aesthetically pleasing,” Haddock said. “We do a lot of products that just don’t look like cock. They generally sell more. You want something a little bit more artsy. Just appealing on an inclusive level, we went with something far more artistic.”
While her team does not sacrifice function for form, they still strive to make their products both beautiful and effective. “That and also — I don’t really need my sex toys to be metallic.”
Finally, there was no fun involved! The thing was totally utilitarian, and not as true to Dr. Manhattan as it could have been, according to the designers.
“I would have done it with LEDs on the inside and a blue transparent silicone on the outside,” said Alexandria Fine, CEO of . “This would have been a more life-like replica of what Dr. Manhattan’s penis would theoretically look like.”
One of Klinger’s colleagues at Lioness was surprised that there were no special effects to make the product change size, as Dr. Manhattan himself can change size. “Maybe it wasn’t in the budget, in a classic case of sex tech not getting proper funding,” the person added.
Fine is on-board with working with HBO to craft a better sex toy. “I think this is a great idea,” she said. “We could totally make a few very expensive ones for HBO next time they need help.”
Regardless of how the toy looks, though, the fact that a sex toy was shown on mainstream TV is a positive in itself. There are so few examples, and the one top of mind to many is the from over 20 years ago. “It is cool that they have women masturbating, and the idea of it on the show,” said Klinger. “I would give them a lot of credit for that.”