Hard Up for a Harness

Two questions:

1. Do you know of any places where one can rent (rather than buy) good porn? I remember the old Pride and Joy in Northampton used to have a video collection.

2. Can you give me the low-down on the pros and cons of harnesses? I’ve used a few over the years, but it’s a little daunting to try to pick the best one, especially when they’re so expensive!

Thank you!
A Reader

Hello, Reader—

Love a to-the-point, no-bullshit harness-wearer!

First, the porn. If you’d rather come join us here in 2013, you can stream some fantastic, female-friendly, feminist, queer-inspired porn for decent prices from sites like CrashPadSeries.com and HotMoviesForHer.com. (I’m making assumptions here, but you want good porn, miss the old Pride and Joy, and are harness-shopping, so…) More of my porn advice can be found in past column “Feminist Porn,” (May 5, 2011).

Now the harnesses. Because you can’t exactly test-drive them and then return them, harnesses are a tricky purchase. Narrow down your selection by material, style and functional details.

Material: Leather harnesses like those by ASLAN Leather are high-quality, durable and bad-ass sexy. ASLAN produces beautiful, well-made work with details like corset-tied back-panels and super-soft leather in fun colors like cherry red and baby blue. Drawbacks are that their pricetags reflect these perks, and that leather’s porousness means it’s difficult to disinfect and therefore not the greatest for sharing with different partners. Animal lovers will appreciate ASLAN’s vegan leather alternatives that look and feel a lot like leather without the guilt.

Nylon harnesses are cheap. But also, they’re cheap. The Sportsheet’s Latigo Leather harness is just $30. Most nylon harnesses come in some sort of boxed set adorned with a stock picture of a “sexy” lady who’s clearly done too many drugs and probably isn’t even sure what a harness is for. But they don’t break the bank and are machine washable.

They fit a wide range of body types, but this also means your straps might have a lot of slack. Once you find the right fit, cut the extra strappage off, burn the ends so they don’t fray and tie knots close to the D-rings to prevent slippage during use. Most cheap-o harnesses come with swappable O-rings to accommodate different-sized dildos; some even have vibrator pockets to give the wearer an extra zing. They’re perfect for those who want to try out a strap-on but aren’t ready to commit.

Fabric harnesses, like my all-time favorite the SpareParts Joque, admittedly look like diapers on the rack. But once you put this baby to good use, you, too will see the light. I’m never going back! Machine washable without ouchy buckles, well-designed fabric harnesses are comfortable and functional. Once you adjust the Joque to fit, simply slip it on and off. Its pouch is great for packing during the day and two vibrator pockets are purr-fectly positioned. The jock style lends itself to stability and control and, when on, looks surprisingly streamlined.

Style: G-string-style harnesses aren’t for everyone, but their butt-flossing strap can help hold a butt-plug. Jock-style harnesses are most common and have two thigh straps for more control, comfort and leverage. Brief styles like the SpareParts Tomboi (impressively sized from XS-5X) look like a pair of Hanes and are form-fitting, discreet and perfect for pack-and-play without the strappy hassle.

Details: D-ring strap-adjusters are more variable size-wise but can slip during use and are tricky to adjust in the moment. Buckle adjusters don’t provide so tailored a fit, but are much easier to tighten. Make sure your harness can accommodate differently sized dildos either via interchangeable O-rings or a flexible built-in ring like those on fabric harnesses.

Shop for your harness in person, not online. Stores like Good Vibrations, Babeland and Oh My usually let you try on the harness floor model over your clothes. Harnesses should fit low and snug around your hips for optimal dildo positioning and control.

Crafty much? Head to DIYBDSM.com for instructions on how to make your own harness.

Yana Tallon-Hicks

Author: Yana Tallon-Hicks

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