Meet Hardware Los Angeles, the Instagram artist putting dildos all over LA, for a good reason of course! The California based Instagram that features photography of sex tools as a way of decreasing stigma surrounding the industry and cultivating more positive conversations about sex.
What inspired you to start Hardware LA? How would you say your own experiences played a role in that?
I was first inspired to start Hardware after my own negative experiences trying to buy sex tools. I would go into stores or shop online and be overwhelmed by the branding, packaging and products themselves -- Vibrators, dildos, butt plugs etc. would be placed next to something that was given as a gag gift or a joke. I was tired of my sexual expression feeling like a novelty. I decided I wanted to rebrand sex toys as tools, because I believe these objects, despite some of their branding and marketing, have tremendous power to help people build pleasure both with themselves and others. While I’m working on how exactly to implement my mission, I’m using Instagram to start the conversation.
How would you describe the current sex toy industry, especially when it comes to gender?
The sex toy industry is evolving and I’m constantly inspired by the work people are doing . For example, Buck Angel created the first toy designed specifically for transgender men. That’s so important. We are starting to see people create tools that are designed with REAL people in mind, not products created on a big companies (often misguided) interpretations of gender and sexuality. Still, there’s a lot of work left to do. As it stands now, I find that a lot of sex toy companies are marketing within a pretty archaic and rigid gender binary and I think that’s really hurting a lot of people in a myriad of different ways. Sex with tools has the potential to be an empowering and validating experience of someone’s identity, but people can’t experience that if there aren’t tools that are representative of who they are. By making vibrators exclusively in hot pink and bright purple, you are 1. Saying that these toys are for women 2. Giving a pretty narrow scope of what it means to identify as a woman.
Why do you think it’s important to normalize conversations around sex?
I believe that communication is the cornerstone of great sex. Normalizing conversations, allows people to feel comfortable talking about what feels good for them, things they want to try, feelings, etc. It’s also so incredibly important when it comes to consent. If we can give permission to people, young people in particular to voice how they feel about sex, and masturbation -- conversations about consent will start feeling like more of a given.
If you had to give your younger self sexual advice for the future, what would it be?
I would probably write my teenage self a novel if I could. There’s so much I want to say. I think the biggest thing I would tell her, is to get in touch with her own pleasure. So much of my youth for me and for many people around me, was about trying to keep up and be relevant. We didn’t want to be left out of the conversations about sex, so we engaged without really knowing what we wanted, thus creating a pretty toxic and uniformed sexual culture among our peers. I would tell her to become an advocate of her own body and her own sexual experience. Knowing what you want, allows you to say no to what you don’t want.
Where do you see the evolution of Hardware LA heading?
The future of Hardware will always be about creating more constructive conversations about sex and sex tools, which could take it down so many different avenues. My focus right now is on growing the Instagram and evolving it into more of a community. That being said, I’m also working on creating my own line of sex tools with a focus on artistry, inclusion and education.
Check out Hardware Los Angeles on Instagram @hardwarelosangeles