A few weeks back, I posted Part 1 of this epic interview with the amazing Liz Klinger, founder and CEO of Lioness. Her company makes a super-smart vibrator that tracks arousal and orgasm patterns in users, then feeds that data back in the form of handy charts. In the process, it teaches consumers about their bodies, their pleasure, their preferences, and more. In Part 2 of the interview, we go deeper into how pleasure impacts health, orgasms as art, and more! And, when you’re finished, check out Part 3!
Lynsey G: I think that for most people with vulvas like, the lack of pleasure is not usually seen as a problem, as an indicator of a health problem. It’s just like, well, this is life.
Liz Klinger: Yeah. It’s very interesting that you bring that up because on the side of all the ED pills, there’s Viagra and Cialis, and a bunch of others that came after. When I talked to some of the folks who had launched those products during the nineties, they were talking about how one of the things that came out of the whole experience that made the state of men’s health a lot better was that, because by Vigra and Cialis came out, a lot more guys are going to see their doctor to get the pill.
And then, because the pill is basically for blood-flow issues—you know, you don’t get a blood flow issue just to your penis, like it doesn’t just stop there, usually you have blood-flow issues more broadly. The doctors knew that, okay, if you needed something for erectile dysfunction, you probably need to get checked out for circulation issues. And they’re finding that they’re diagnosing a lot of guys with having heart issues. If they stayed the way that they were before [seeking help for ED], and they didn’t really, didn’t know that they had this issue, they could have had heart attacks. They could have had other medical issues come up. But because they came in to see their doctors—because they were concerned about their own pleasure and being able to be intimate with their partner, they got healthier as a result of that.
LG: We can learn a lot from that.
LK: Yeah. That was a really cool thing that I’ve learned. But yeah, we’re starting to see that pleasure is indicative of health for people with penises. And because of that, it’s not a huge jump to think that people with vulvas might also have same sort of deal where pleasure also affects their health and vice versa.
LG: Right. Maybe if we took pleasure more seriously, we’d also be healthier all around.
LK: Exactly. Yeah. That’s been something I’ve been trying to push, promote with our brand since the beginning. It’s not something that is necessarily intuitive to a lot of people, which is one of the challenges.
LG: Right. It might go back again to the fact that it’s unseen. For people with penises at least if you’re not getting an erection that’s very visible. It’s something that’s easy to point to and say, “Something is wrong because this isn’t working right.” But for people with vulvas, it’s like, “I don’t know, maybe something’s happening down there.” So the Lioness is really giving people the visuals and the data to put what they’re experiencing into words. It’s almost providing a vocabulary.
LK: Visualizing what you cannot, what’s hard to see or notice sometimes. Especially trends, longer-term trends, which are more broadly hard to notice for people. And then making it easier to talk about what you are experiencing.
LG: One thing that I was seeing on the Lioness website is all these testimonials from users, and it seems like providing people with this data and this ability to talk about pleasure is reducing a lot of anxiety. About whether or not they’re going to orgasm, how long it’s going to take. Are you seeing that people who are using the Lioness are actually taking less time once they learn their bodies?
LK: In addition to what I mentioned before about visualizing, it helps people get to know themselves and how their body works. What is your baseline for you? Because we get that question a lot. What’s the best orgasm? Is it [based on] how fast you have an orgasm? Is it how strong it is? Are certain orgasm patterns better than other patterns? Things like that. And we’ve been finding that there isn’t one measurement for everybody or even for an individual of what is considered the quote unquote best orgasm. It’s stuff that you hear sex experts talk about, but we’re finding that there isn’t really anything that you can say, “This is the absolute measure of that.”
I think the role [of the Lioness] has been more in getting to know more about your own body, what works for you, what you like. And having this resource on hand that you can turn to instead of looking outside, at what other people are saying. What are other people thinking? And what are other people’s experiences like? What does this experience seem like on TV or in books or things like that? Especially with our customers who are receiving our content, who have our app and things like that, they’re seeing [that] there is actually a lot there, and they’re able to kind of delve into information about themselves and not have to worry about what other people like. Because they’re learning that people are pretty different from each other, and what might be good for you may not be great for someone else.
There’s something that you might find interesting, too, with a newer thing that we’re working on. It is so important for us to show people how different everyone is in their experiences. How all experiences are great in their own way. So we launched an orgasm art gallery. It’s basically using a data visualization of a an experience of pleasure and visualizing it in a more artistic way, and setting it up in a more art-gallery format, to be able to show and talk about these sorts of conversations with the public.
We’ve done a couple of smaller ones like around here in the Bay Area because we wanted to test-drive things and make sure that process is working in terms of setup and programming and all that stuff. And for the first time, we’re working with Pleasure Chest on this. We had three different galleries in Pleasure Chest where Lioness users were able to submit their own session to become art if they wanted to.
Yeah. So for the first time we opened that up to anyone who had a Lioness can choose to submit their own session to be turned into artwork. We did this because we saw that the experience of pleasure most parallels art. For art, there isn’t one definitive factor that makes for a great art piece. A Picasso piece is very different than a Murikami piece. There’s so many different factors that go into art. You can’t really point at one thing and be like, “That everyone’s favorite artwork.” That would be crazy.
I thought that was a great parallel, and it moves away from the trend that a lot of products have. You know, with FitBit: Who’s the fastest? Who’s the strongest? Who’s the whatever? There’s a lot of competitions, but not really for pleasure, I’m sure. Going in, sure, people might look at who’s the fastest or whatever. But it doesn’t really indicate what makes a great experience. Some experiences are really long and drawn out. Some are very gentle, some wild. There are so many different experiences that could be great. That is more like art.
LG: I like that so much. I met these people at AVN who were making a cock ring . I don’t know if it actually measured how many calories you burned, but I think it measured your speed and the number of your thrusts, so that you could compare to other people.
LK: Before we had our products manufactured, with all the fund-raising, I got—from three different investors, always middle-aged men—all three of them proposed something like that. In the same way. Like, “I had this idea that I think you should really consider. What if you made a vibrator that could be controlled by anyone in the world? And what if there was like a leader board for the best vibrator controllers!”
LG: Oh my god.
LK: It’s just like, “Is this is what you’re asking me? Because we’re not making a product for you.”
LG: That is amazing. “Okay. So, stick with me here. So, sex, but competitive!” I’m glad that you didn’t go that direction.
LK: Different product, different use case.
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