Thursday, October 13, 2011

Part 26: Playing with electric fly swatters / electric paddles

This post is about Edgeplay

Please don't view if you
are not interested in:
electrical play

"start with an electric flyswatter.
The high pitched whine of its charging,
and sudden jolting shocks...".
perverted imp - Masochist Brain

One of the great things we brought back from Kinkfest was this "Bug Zapper". There are many different kinds of electrical play, including TENS units, Violet Wands, EMS and ... Electric Fly Swatters!

Here's Wiki on the latter:
"manual bug zapper or electric flyswatter, which resembles a small tennis racquet strung with wire. A high voltage is maintained between two adjacent grids by a battery-powered high-voltage generator operated when a switch is pushed; when an insect is swatted it touches both grids. These devices are not protected against touch (they are only live while the switch is depressed); if touched they give a sharp but harmless electric shock."

There are a few different types available. judygrrl writes on Fet:
"It's important to remember that there are two kinds of these units...the OLD ones (fun and evil); and the NEW ones (safe and boring.) Basically...if they have "layers" (separated by a plastic thingy in the center) won't have a lot of "fun" with them (except that you can make e'm give of an evil sounding "zap" sound...good mind-f@ck!)"
While KinkyRoly writes on IC:
"There's two sorts generally on offer, the safe sort and the dodgy sort. Needless to say, you want the dodgy sort. The safe type has the grid of high voltage elements within a protective wire screen which lets flies through, but not bits of people. It's very difficult to use them effectively on people. Most electric fly swatters have two buttons. One to enable it and another one to charge it up. Pressing the charge button for a few seconds charges it up and lights a lamp showing that it's ready for use. Releasing the button earlier will partially charge it and produce a lesser shock, which may be useful when trying it out"
You need to make your own mind up re the safety factor of these toys, and for that you need to read more than the few quotes I've posted here, so check out the various links in the References and Online Resources list at the bottom of the this post.

Some people absolutely do not recommend them for play. Prober writes:
"I have given a bit of thought on the use of this bug zapper as a playtoy. It could be used however the safety aspect is questionable. The advertisement is correct in its' description that with the battery source and the method for generating the high voltage there is not enough current to be dangerous. That part is correct.

"There are potential problems however which are equally serious being the voltage generated is likely pulsed D.C. which is dangerous to the skin (I have not confirmed this but based on the fact that this is a cheap consumer device I would doubt that they would go to the time and expense to include appropriate circuitry to create an A.C. signal). Some of this might be difficult to follow, however the important issue to note here is that direct current (D.C.) or pulsed D.C. is potentially harmful by burning the skin. Always use a system that uses alternating current (A.C.)

"The distance between electric plates on the bug zapper are designed to kill bugs. Therefore between electrodes you have only about a quarter of an inch. This small space is limited especially when you might wish to select a larger *grIN* area on the surface of the body to inflict your pain enjoyment.

"The last problem that I see is that there is no adjustment .... This means the intensity of the electric shock is fixed and only time of application can be changed. This is not good. Ideally you want adjustability and NOT voltage want current regulation so as the victums body changes characteristics (resistance) you are always generating the same current (stimulation).

"Would I use one? Would I recommend others to try them as playtoys? No. They are far too limited in ability and rather than turn you off of electric play I would rather see people use something specifically designed for the purpose"

We'll discuss "something specifically designed for the purpose" later, but let's look at some other opinions about safety. Marcus Strapp accompanies his text in "How to Build a Zapper Instructions" with this "Note":
"This is not a recommendation. This is a record of my experience. You copy what I have done, you do so at your own risk.

"Is it safe? I don't know! At least I have nothing in the way of hard evidence to say that it is. Although the Zapper is powered by two AA Batteries (1.5V each) the voltage at the business end is much higher. I put a digital multimeter with hold facility across the terminals and recorded an instantaneous peak voltage of nearly 1,500V! I would only use this on someone in A1 health. I certainly would not use it on anyone with any heart condition or someone using a pace maker.

"my decision to use it is based on lots of trying it out on me, and the fact that the fly swatter is available for sale without any restrictions on the purchaser (such as age). but then, matches are freely available too!"
Here Tanos discusses the safety aspects:
"If you're thinking about making or using one yourself, you need to understand the risks as they apply to you. You may get tiny electrical burns; high voltage toys can damage electronics, including pacemakers, etc. If in doubt, ask your doctor if it's safe for YOU to "use a fly swatter."
Finally, here's Malystryx from a thread on Fet about electric fly swatters:

"I have used electric fly swatters for a good period of time on a good number of people from the tips of noses to their toes, will nothing worse than a string of profanities being issued when it's used or a complaint that it still hurt, but subsided in two hours or less. Granted, nothing is 100% safe and yes, there are some risks which include startling someone to possible electrical burns, but if you play with awareness of the risks, all should be fine.

"You can get the "zap" from quickly touching it to the skin and removing it(a little more severe than a good static electricity shock," or you can hold your finger on the charge button and run it over a person's body which gives a tingly, kind of like a violet wand, feeling. The voltage has little to do with their use and effectiveness IMO, but I would look at local or online farm suppliers for one without safety grids which is where I've found them most recently."

Electric fly swatters or zappers are used in BDSM play in several ways. Some people leave the swatter in the form they bought it and use it as an "electric spanking paddle", for either spanking or related play.

Here's an incredibly hot quote from
My Not-So-Secret Self posted on the Spanking Blog:

"The wires hot with electricity touch the tender flesh of my inner thigh and I feel it surge along my body; unlike the cattle prod it doesn’t echo deep into my body but rather seems to travel along my skin, like waves in the ocean slipping away into calm nothingness.

"She pauses, waiting for my response; it really doesn’t hurt all that much, and I tell her so, giggling quietly. As she agrees with me, I jerk involuntarily at the unexpected touch of the fly swatter on my other thigh.

"This time, I give in to the electricity – letting the incredible feelings wash over me. I feel zippy light pain, almost indistinguishable from the floaty mindless pleasure that overwhelms me. But before the sensations have a chance to dissipate, I feel it starting all over again as she touches the fly swatter to the first thigh, yet again.

"The intensity of the electricity becomes harder to control as she gently touches the fly swatter back and forth between my inner thighs. I lose control quickly and she coos at me calmly that I need to stay still. Despite my best efforts, my legs are thrashing and my body won’t stop moving – I can no longer defeat the current..."

Greta Christina advises in "Shock Treatment", her in depth review of "electric paddles":
"I should tell you right off the bat -- "paddle" is a bit of a misnomer. Yes, the size and shape of the toy are very paddle-like. But the feel as it lands on your skin couldn't be more different from a paddle. This is not a "thud" toy at all. This is a serious "sting" toy. It discharges onto your skin with a sharp, sudden, cruel bite, focused on a very small area.

"The pain is erotic, even sensual in a way, but it's not hypnotic or massage-y like a spanking or a flogging can be. This toy wakes you the hell up. The first time I got zapped with it, it scared me half out of my skin. I almost thought it was too much. But by the third or fourth time, I was squealing when the shock hit and begging for more. It doesn't feel quite like any other play toy I've used, but if I had to compare it to something, I'd say it's like being hit with a riding crop or a single-tail whip. But it gives you that sensation without any actual impact at all..."
However it's not all good news, in Greta Christina's review:
"The big downside is that you can't control the intensity of the shock. If the intensity is too much, you can't dial it down, and if it's not quite mean enough for you, you can't crank it up. The shock level does vary somewhat within a small range, but that variety seems to come more or less at random. Also, the round racquet shape makes it difficult to use on hard-to-reach parts of the body. If it were shaped more like a wand or a rod, it'd be more handy as a sex toy. But then you couldn't swat flies with it, which is after all what the damn thing is made for.

"What's more, you really cannot use the Electric Paddle as a paddle. Well, you could, but I wouldn't recommend it. It's far too flimsy. If you hit someone with it hard enough to actually have an impact, it seems like it wouldn't hold up for long..."
I think the flimsy factor, together with the fact its hard to actually use in it's "tennis racquet" form factor is in part why many kinksters adapt their electric swatters. You might recall my first experience of playing with one of these modified swatters: Mistress Tara's "sub zapper", which I first used during the "predicament" tableau MzAntonina and I created during our Victorian themed high protocol tea party. Here's what I wrote about the scene at the time:
"As our guests drew, I walked about the tableau with Mistress Tara's subzapper. I first heard of this toy after sol attended MistressTara's "Sadistic play" workshop at The Gathering. I couldn't attend because I was moderating another workshop but sol was full of talk / possibilities re MistressTara's fiendish creation. I'd asked MistressTara to bring it today and the guests had already enjoyed seeing it used on solipsist and wolve.

Ms160 - Tableau photo
original post here

"Now, as I moved quietly around the tableau, none of the subs knew where I'd apply it, and the whole tableau rocked away from me as I walked around and around. Hmmm. How to strike, to cause the most damage. I looked down. Of course! After silently conferring with Mistress Meg I zapped nickzwa on the backside. He flinched and the whole tableau shook. He later wrote:
"Whenever a subbie was zapped i felt the pressure shift on my back. my arms were growing tired and i started to drop lower because the weight on by back kept flinching and jumping and whimpering. i felt a sudden zap on my arse and then another! i felt the entire sculpture move. i was zapped again but i did not flinch ... Then i was told to reposition myself properly. i had lowered myself too much!. i pushed on my arms again and made my back level. it was hard being a table"
"I was really delighted to read later that nickzwa enjoyed the tableau and found "it was hard being a table". In fact, nickzwa had been placed in that position at the bottom of the tableau for a very important reason - he had mentioned a particular objectification fantasy in his ClubFEM - NSW server's questionnaire, so I had discussed with his Mistress the possibility of making it come true, although perhaps not in a way nickzwa had visualized!

"I was still walking around the tableau looking for good places to strike. "Try the balls" said someone. I could reach nickzwa's .... but "you didn't say WHO's balls" I replied as I inserted the device up the back of desertstorm's skirt. He too flinched and moved forward, and the tableau rocked again.

"I moved to the other side. By now I was becoming hyper aware of slavegirl_M's response to my movements. She was breathing fast and flinching away. Now I knew, and her owner Mistress Tara knew, as we'd discussed all this, that the subzapper was only to be used on slavegirl_M for severe punishments. But slavegirlM certainly didn't know that. From her point of view she had a strange dominant roaming around her who may not understand how the toy was usually used. I looked up at Mistress Tara. "The flinching, the scent of fear ... it's intoxicating", I said. She grinned. I touched the underside of M's right arm with a finger tip and the whole tableau nearly toppled..."
I'm sure you can understand after reading that why sol and I have been looking for an electric fly swatter of our own to adapt since that scene *grin*.

There are lots of different ways to adapt your electric fly swatter. As Mech wrote on Fet:
"I have a couple of them i have modified , one is a rivet studded leather paddle , the other is made like a stun gun with two protruding rivets , they are fun"
Here's some ideas:
  • If you prefer a cattle prod style implement, I highly recommend Tanos's instructions ("[I started] thinking about cattle-prod like adaptations, with the business end on a long metal shaft. This has obvious uses for "moving" slaves around woods") (final photo here).
  • thisgirlsub posts her Dom's instructions for "converting a flyswatter into a 'cattle prod' type item...the contacts become smaller and this will make it hurt more than using it as a bat ... [these are] very basic instructions and depending on your level of skill you should be able to adapt these instructions to make a fairly effective "subby prod" on this Fetlife thread.
If you like the cattle prod style but don't want to do any modifications you might like to track down a TAZapper:
"Made from durable plastic and a circuit board that has undergone rigorous testing ... Like a miniature cattle prod, the TAZAPPER delivers a concentrated spark of differential, non-penetrating static electricity across its gold plated contacts. The contacts are 5mm apart and are looped back into the nose housing to prevent snagging. The unit will deliver an impressive sounding and looking spark repeatedly until the batteries run down..."
snakeman describes the TAZapper on Fet as:

"an electric flyswatter modified with a voltage regulator and has two contacts about 5mm apart instead of a grid for more precise targeting on the recipient. I own one and find that it makes a bigger brighter spark and a louder pop than it’s cousin the fly swatter but with less bite"
.TwistedView agrees this Fet thread

"I've played with both the Tazapper and a converted fly swatter and they are almost identical. I wouldn't spend the money on a Tazapper when you can take a fly swatter and use that. The Tazapper/swatter is a single shock. One quick pulse"
However perhaps the TAZapper is the kind of "something specifically designed for the purpose" that critics of playing with electric fly swatters like Prober would be happier to recommend.

Once you've adapted your new toy you need to read up on how and wear to use it - the Fetlife and IC threads in the References and Online Resources list below are useful to find direct experiences and advice, but here's a few quotes to start.

Marcus Strapp writes in "How to Build a Zapper Instructions":
"How do you use it? Charge it up (you need to hold down the "on/off" button and the "Safety" button). Go in quick, make contact, then immediately pull back! if you maintain contact with the victim you run the risk of repeat sparking and that will cause burning. a quick contact will cause a spark, but in my experience, provided you avoid sensitive AREAS there is little or no sign of burning. where can you use it? so far i have tested it on myself on arms, legs, feet, hands, arse, and lower torso.

"Personally i would not go anywhere else. as tempting as it is, i'd avoid nipples, and other sensitive bits and bobs. i'd also stay away from the face. what this delivers, is not nice. you simply do not need to over use it. it's a great head fuck to let someone see it, then blindfold them, shock 'em once, and just prod them with the thing without charging it up! they're going to jump anyway!"

TheProf advises on IC:
"Seriously, do keep them away from soft tissue, nipples or the head of the penis, especially. The discharge is enough to actually cook thin flesh, causing burns that never heal well."
Finally, an extended quote from V and G of Erotic sushi who write of their oh so very erotic experience with a TAZapper:

"Sir had me bound, gagged, blindfolded, spreader bar between my ankles, vibrating nipple clamps in place.... he moved around the room silently, making occasional deliberate noises to heighten my anticipation. I knew it MUST be coming, but when? Where? and HOW would it feel?

"I was on the brink of a delicious squirting orgasm courtesy of a glass dildo and the Eroscillator... when he did it. It sent me plummeting away from my orgasm as quickly as anything ever has. ZAP!!! Right on my inner thigh ligament... the one that helps form the hollow between my pussy and my leg... a supremely sensitive spot. Zowie.

"And..... mmmmmmm...... It was followed almost immediately by another matching ZAP!!! on the other side, then one on the side of my breast: that one seemed to shoot down my arm a bit. OuchDammitFreakyCoolYowza. More please....

"He did this several more times, just as I was cresting orgasms, until I was dying to cum. It was one of the best orgasms of my life.

"So what does it feel like? Hmmm... hard to describe. Imagine someone takes a little rubber band and snaps you with it. Close, except that the sensation travels outward from the point of impact a little, sort of slithers under your skin... and the sting goes away almost instantaneously, unlike the aforementioned rubber band. Or just imagine a static electricity shock times about 25. Oh, and you know its coming"

V and G of Erotic Sushi commented about the strength of the TAZapper:

"Now I think I have a fairly high pain tolerance, but ... I would imagine that there are some out there who might think it just barely tickles. It only has one power setting. So it would take some serious electrical pimping-out to make it do anything more."

Snakeman agrees:

"When I have used the tazapper on myself I have found the sensation to be less intense than a non-modified electric flyswatter and everyone who sampled it to date concurs"
So it's definitely up to each individual to work out their own responses, to both electric fly swatters and the TAZapper.

UPDATE 19 OCT 2011:

Here's sol creating our new zapper:

We used this plug, which came off an Indonesian appliance:

It really only took about half an hour:

And here's the end result:

It's certainly painful. We'll keep you informed of any future scenes in which it takes part. I find I agree with V and G of Erotic sushi that these devices are:

"a novelty and a nice addition to our toybox... and just knowing its in there makes putting the blindfold on all that much more interesting"

I'm always amazed what devices - electric or otherwise - we kinksters end up "perverting". As Spanking blog observed:

"Somewhere Thomas Edison is smiling in his grave"


You can purchase one from a BDSM store:
  • Extreme Restraints - "Electric Zapper Paddle For Spanking" - "This really give them a jolt without much stress on your pocketbook! Originally this lightweight plastic and wire tennis racket shaped paddle was intended for use as an electric fly swatter or bug zapper. Activate the paddle by pressing the button to turn the paddle on and then apply it to the target. This electric zapper paddle emits a really intense electrical shock."
  • The Stockroom - The Zapper: "We believe these electric paddles were originally intended as bug zappers. Leave it to us kinksters to come up with an equally cruel but consensual use for them. ... These paddles are constructed of lightweight plastic and aren’t well-suited for heavy swats, but can be used lightly and don’t require any force once the electricity is flowing. These paddles put out an intense spark and will probably mainly appeal to heavier players"

But some stores are extremely pricey. I saw one fly swatter priced at nearly 40 Euros. So you might like to check at local cheaper stores or markets. We purchased ours for a few bucks at a Melbourne market.

You might also like to look at the TAZapper, although it seems to be mostly out of stock these days, in various stores.

Peter Boots and Dirk - Electricity Reference
BDSM Electrical Stimulation - Can Hand-held bug zappers be used safely for electric play?

Greta Christina - Shock Treatment: Electric Paddle Review
Caged Heart Publishing - BDSM Scenes & Electrical Play: Violet Wands, TENS Units and Bug Zappers
Tony DeBlase - The Difference Between Violet Wands and TENS Type Units
Erotic Sushi - The TAZapper
Fet Electric play group
perverted imp - Masochist Brain
Spanking blog
Sparks - Information on Electric Play
Marcus Strapp
Tanos - Making a "flyprod"
Wiki - Bug Zapper

electric fly swatter on pussy -
photo from Spanking blog
(permissions obtained from
everyone in Tableau photo ...
original post here)

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