Interview: Kenton (Founder of Funkit Toys)

What goes in to making a sex toy? What inspires the wonderful individuals who work tirelessly to produce our next reciprocal of pleasure?

Well, while I can’t answer that question personally I do know someone who can give their own personal perspective on these questions and more.

When I first saw what Funkit Toys had to offer you could colour me one impressed Peach. I mean, clear body-safe silicone is enough to make most people marvel in awe but clear silicone with rainbow swirls inside of it? Yes.

And that’s not to mention the ethos that Funkit Toys promotes: Ingenuity, fun, and (above all else) safety. Funkit Toys produce a new design every month and do their best to offer you individually made Sexperiments to order.

Plus have you seen the shape of some of these toys? I swell at the mere sight of the Swell.

The creator of Funkit Toys, Kenton, truly is one highly imaginative and deeply passionate individual. Taking 8 years of training in various fields and swiveling it together he has managed to forge an amazing line of sex toys that aren’t to be missed. And, to top it all off, Funkit Toys is also running a crowdfunding campaign right now to try and re-realize the full potential of finger fucking. This new product is called the Funkit Signet Ring and I urge you to go and check it out.

With all that’s been going on, I’m surprised that Kenton even had the time to sit down and natter with me so please do show him, Funkit Toys, and the Signet Ring some well-deserved love after reading what this Fucksmith among sex toy sellers has to say.

Thank you for agreeing to this interview. Firstly, let me say that I adore your range of products—which seem colourful, practical, and eye-catching.

You describe your creations as ‘Body safe experiments’ and ‘anatomy-focused’. These are two terms that really caught my attention. Could you perhaps elaborate on them?

Sexperiments! Body-safe refers to my commitment to use materials that have been rated as safe for mucous membrane contact, anything food-grade or above, in all my insertables and toys that come in contact with genitals. FDA certified food grade silicone is the main one. The paddles are coated with food grade oils, or Polyurethane, which is safe once it’s dried.

The sexperiments bit refers to the ongoing process that is designing these toys. I’ve been in business for half a year and already overhauled three of my products based on suggestions or ideas. It’s all a work in progress.

The anatomy-focused part refers to my design process. Rather than seeking to imitate a penis or go for a certain look, I think about what I want the toy to do. So for example, with the Swell, my one and only penis-shaped toy, I reinforced the curve on the underside of the toy so it wouldn’t bend as much when the base was pushed down, to allow the head and coronal ridge to apply more pressure to all the lovely spots on the anterior wall of the vagina, such as the G-spot, anterior fornix, and cervix, and the toy is narrower at the base to give some variation in thickness for extra sensation during thrusting. Different people’s bodies have more sensitive spots, but pleasure doesn’t begin and end at their borders.

‘Sexperiments’ *not* ‘Experiments’

Oops! My apologies on the slip up! Another thing that is immediately noticeable when looking at your products is the beautifully clear silicone that you utilize. Clear silicone is such a rarity, what made you decide that it was the right choice for your products?

It was actually just the first food-grade silicone I found at the durometer I was looking for. I did early prototyping with a few different silicones to find the firmness I liked, then found a food-grade one that was close to it. Complete luck. Once I saw it was clear, and while I was still looking for information on the safety of the pigments, I decided to err on the side of caution and swirl the color in the middle rather than mixing it all the way in. After some practice, this ended up being one of my main selling points, to my minor irritation, but it’s gotten people’s attention and it’s a fun skill to practice, so it’s stayed! In addition, that particular silicone is unusually stretchy and resistant to tearing, so it can be pulled out of the molds more easily. It’s a huge boon to my work.

In your About Us page you mention a huge variety of backgrounds for your work—including graphic design, sculpting, sex education, 3D modelling, moldmaking, woodworking, and more! Which one of these fields would you say was the most rewarding or interesting to explore? Or perhaps the most influential?

I’ve always been a firm believer in peripheral learning. Most of what I know about figure drawing I learned from massage textbooks, for example. If I had to choose a most influential skill, I’d say HTML. It really taught me to troubleshoot and persevere when something isn’t working, which is how I got through a four month period this summer where every mold I printed cracked a few days later. As for the most rewarding, it’s been all my sexuality education thanks to the conventions I’ve been going to for a couple years, and the friends I’ve made along the way. A special shout out to my fellow Sex Geekdom emissaries, who have been enormously formative and generous with their time.

“Fucksmith” rightly goes on your business cards, but how does one earn this title? Is it exclusive to you or are their others that you would considered as worthy of the status?

One doesn’t earn the title of fucksmith. One steals it from the sex-comedy webcomic Oglaf, and acknowledges they are using it incorrectly. The Fucksmith is a character who has a vast collection of props and costumes and uses it to bring his customers’ most elaborate sexual fantasies into real life.

I just make silicone fucksquiggles, and am unworthy. Still, I stole it. It was too good not to use.

Would you be able/willing to walk us through the process of making a Funkit Toy? What is the most challenging part? Which bit do you enjoy the most?

First, I take a walk. A lot of ideas solidify on the same stretch of path behind my house. Sometimes ideas pop into my head fully formed, but even then, I usually walk on them. There’s a whole collection of ideas that are either wholly scrapped or set aside in a design folder because of the limitations of the 3D printer I use, and I’d say I’ve designed about three times as many toys as I’ve release, but many either bore me, can’t be done within my current limitations, or just don’t live up to my standards. I try not to make something that’s been done a thousand times before if I can’t add at least one new thing to the genre.

The most challenging part is probably deciding what to focus on for any given month. I release a new toy every month, but with my process it’d be possible to crank out a new model every five days, without tweaking. So my attention is all over the place.

So many toys, so little time!

After that, it’s getting testers. sending prototypes off to reviewers is fine and all, but having someone local whose genitals don’t match my own would be really helpful to the process. I can’t test a g-spot toy on myself, and I don’t have a vulva. Getting instant feedback is the best part of running my own company, and not having that for a crucial part of the process is nerve-wracking at times.

My main enjoyment is in coming up with ideas and coming up with something really new. One of my favorite things I’ve done is the grooves at the base of the toy that allow the suction cup to fold into a handle. I’ve never seen that before, and I don’t know why. That, and the looks on people’s faces when I put two toys together to make a whole new way to use both. that was a really fun part about vending at Sex Down South, just connecting with people and seeing firsthand what really resonated with them.

Have you ever been inspired to make a product after a particular individual?

The very first time I made a paddle was because I had a partner who was into butt stuff of all kinds. I ordered a paddle online, but decided I wanted to play NOW, so I made one. Then another for a kinky friends birthday, then an idea I had to improve on that design, and one day long after my enthusiasm had scared off the initial partner I was sitting in a sex club with a bunch of homemade wooden paddles when someone asked how much I sell them for. To which I so eloquently cocked my head at them and replied “Sell?” That was early last year, and I started experimenting with silicone at the beginning of this year.

But to be more direct, most of my toys are inspired by a need I’ve heard from someone. Al the textural stuff I do is for friends I’ve heard talk about not liking vibration. Not a lot of options out there for that, so I decided to make some.

Of course these fine beauties are worth paying for!

You’ve been learning about the adult industry for a long time (over 8 years, by your count). Tell me, where there any personal highlights or memorable moments along the way that you’d like to share?

I’ve been learning on and off about sex toys since 8 years ago, but I wouldn’t say the whole time has been devoted to that. That’s ,mostly been the last three. The rest is all my other contributing skills, mostly art school and my culinary arts certificate, plus my many crafty hobbies.

What do you look for yourself when choosing a sex toy? Has making your own products changed your criteria or the way that you view the market?

Something I can’t just make myself. So like nJoy toys, or really well-programmed vibrators. I can work with wood, I can cobble together a rechargeable one speed or turn-dial vibe, but I haven’t made anything out of silky smooth steel or figure out multi-setting vibration modes yet. I’m working toward both.

Unfortunately, I can’t actually afford to buy other people’s toys at the moment. Starting a company is expensive, and I put so much time into the design, creation, and testing that I don’t really get out much to meet new people to use toys with anyway, so my existing collection is all I’ve got, plus my army of exclusive prototypes. Anyone who meets me at a convention should ask why the Rhino is called the MK.II.

Funkit Toys is currently crowdfunding for the Signet Ring—an ingenious invention that’s aimed to make hands-on fun all the more tactile. Would you care to tell us more about this product and where the inspiration came from?

The Hello Touch, by JimmyJane, and how much I wanted to love it, is a strong influence. It numbed my fingers and turned them purple, so instead of adding to the fingering fun, and I couldn’t tell clit from cloaca with it on. I wanted something that could enhance hand sex that wouldn’t just be better as a bigger vibrator, and that was a smaller scale version of the textures on the Nib and Groove. If you look back through the pictures on my website and instagram, there’s an early version of the Signet idea that’s still in the first silicone I ever tried, a shore 40A one. It’s a problem I’ve been working on in my head since before I’ve been making toys.

The design and premise of the Signet Ring seems very exciting and it certainly got me thinking: There aren’t that many sex toys out there that focus of the art of finger fucking. Why do you think this is? Has finger fucking simply gone out of fashion or is there something more to be said on the topic?

Good finger fucking is a hard skill to master. In fact, modern electric vibrators came into being because doctors were tired of manually stimulating “hysteria” patients and wanted an easier way. So up until the last 20 years or so, toys have mostly either vibrated, been penis shaped, or both. Conservation of energy is not just a law of the universe, it’s essential to life on earth, but we’ve created societies that can produce more food than needed and some are lucky enough to still have free time after that.

In addition, there’s this escalator model that a lot of people look at sex with, and finger fucking is barely above fondling breasts and butts on it. Many people view it as something you graduate past on your way to “real sex”, and abandon it as adults. Now, when you’re queer, you learn really quickly that penis-in-vagina intercourse isn’t “real sex”, but most people aren’t queer. So it’s largely not seen as a sex act on its own.

Hand sex is awesome. I personally prefer it to oral, giving or receiving, and I want to get the general population to realize how great it is. It’s very low-risk, gloves are cheap, readily available, and innocuous, and hands are incredibly dexterous with practice. To tout peripheral learning again, most people can’t write their name with their tongue, but lots of people can type. Many people play instruments. That’s all good practice for hand sex.

It’s all part of the fun!

And, lastly, more of a challenge than a question. You have a background as a classically trained chief. Care to create (and share) a vegan recipe inspired by one of your very own Funkit Toys? I’d love to see what you come up with!

So the first time Sex Geekdom International organized a retreat for the emissaries from all over to meet, I did the cooking. There’s been talk of writing a cookbook from the trip, but it never went anywhere.

Recipes take time to write, so I’ll work on one and put it up when it’s done! I’ve got an idea though, and I think you’ll enjoy it. Ever heard of Raindrop Cake? Let’s see if Raindrop Cock works…