Afternoon Adventures with the Baci Robotic Massager

Weighing in at 5.4 ounces, Lora DiCarlo’s Robotic Clitoral Massager, the Baci, looks a little like a miniature humidifier and sits nicely in the palm of your hand.

Lora DiCarlo herself is the daughter of an engineer with a health-care background that, perhaps unsurprisingly, coalesced into a thriving sex-tech entrepreneurial career. If you’re unfamiliar with DiCarlo, both the brand and the person, be sure to read about the stir caused by her aptly named Osé toy at the 2018 CES, the Las Vegas trade show organized by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA). The Osé won a CES Robotics Innovation Award, an award subsequently rescinded by the Association (they also briefly banned DiCarlo from CES) and reinstated after public campaigning on the part of DiCarlo. Bear in mind that the CES had previously featured sex tech aimed at men, robots and VR porn both. The Verge pointed out the astounding irony of DiCarlo and the Osé’s removal from CES: “Lora DiCarlo is founded and almost entirely run by women. It also came to and was removed from the show the same year the CTA launched a $10 million venture fund for “women, people of color, and other underrepresented startups and entrepreneurs” to improve representation.” 

So, what’s better than getting to try out and talk about a new sex toy? Trying out a new sex toy whose design and production is part of an ongoing conversation around gender bias, empowerment, and sexual health in the tech milieu.

At first glance

The Baci is more or less the clitoral-only part of the Osé (which stimulates the clit and G-spot simultaneously). When I asked DiCarlo why she chose to seemingly split the Osé into two products (the Baci and the Onda, which mimics the “come-hither” motion of a finger on a G-spot) my initial assumption was that she had intended to make two more affordable options (the Osé 2 is sold for $395 CAD), but as a data-driven sex tech company, the move was in fact simply prompted by a survey of over 1500 people, many of whom wanted either type of stimulation on its own. 

The colour of the Baci may at first seem strangely tasteful – somewhere between mauve and taupe, yet this is very much in the DiCarlo ethos and aesthetics of health and wellness. They are decidedly not brash. I may envision some erotic reboot of the clear plastic phones of the 80s and 90s, so you can see the micro-robotics at work, but this really is designed for any adult with a vagina, and the 75-year old who wants to lounge about massaging herself might be less into high-gloss neon. In other words, this aesthetic neutrality is very much in keeping with the idea of appealing to as many people as possible. As DiCarlo points out, “we are born sexual creatures and we die sexual creatures, so we want to be there for folks throughout every point in life.”

Testing, testing

Perhaps after describing to my three partners (all of whom I live with and one of whom also has a vagina) how you can easily lose an hour or more to the Baci, they grew nervous, and in fact my bullish insistence over several dinners that everyone in the house try out “the robot” for “science” and also for “my article” has fallen on deaf ears! What are they, busy or something? Woe as me left to experiment with one hand and take notes with the other, alone while everyone else goes about their days!

Initially, the sheer efficiency of the Baci to make me orgasm was nothing if not impressive, but if the strength of your orgasm is commensurate with the time it takes to get there, it’s easy to move the opening to be clit-adjacent rather than hovering so directly overhead, and to achieve a more gradual and diffuse effect as the thrumming vibrations pass through your body. Take it from me that if you intentionally miss the mark you too can probably edge yourself into oblivion for the whole afternoon. Though, the Baci is so precise that you can basically decide exactly when you want to come. After 5 minutes? 2 hours? Your call entirely. 

A postscript for those without clits: you can totally use this to mimic that getting-your-ass-eaten feeling. That might also be a good opportunity to use the upper buzzing echelons of the Baci, which are, to this correspondent, very strong indeed.

In keeping with the know-thyself spirit of Lora DiCarlo, the Baci could also be an excellent way for people with vaginas to play around with something akin to oral alone and then later communicate that to a partner should they so choose. Easier, perhaps, to glean some insights experimenting solo rather than trying to squirmingly adjust someone’s face with your hands?

One can also imagine a whole host of opportunities involving other people. The Baci sits very easily in your hand and the buttons make ergonomic sense without looking at them, so if you want to really focus on your mouth or some other part of your body, the Baci can be happily nestled without taking up too much mental space. 

A holistic approach to sex

The Baci clearly emerges from DiCarlo’s beliefs in sex as a wholistic aspect of health, rather than as something pleasurably extraenous. The company’s blog content is diverse and also reflects this, from articles about “the orgasm gap” to those on prostate health, workplace gender inequity, and activism. Perhaps most intriguingly, they also offer free sexual wellness coaching online.

The Baci may be targeted at people with vaginas, but the company is expanding to include a roster of products that aren’t just for “people with vaginas; we want to widen that in terms of age demographics are concerned, as far as identify graphics are concerned, and you know a plethora of other ways of just being.” If we’re increasingly speaking about consumer responsibility, DiCarlo’s inclusivity is notable and important. Moreover, their growing lineup is nothing if not fun and enticing, with a variety of wearables for partner-play. The Sway, a double ended warming toy, and the Tilt, a "dual vibration warming plug", can both stay in place while you do other fun things with other fun parts of yourself. Don’t take Tilt’s wearability from me, but from DiCarlo herself, who tested it out one day “at the lab” while taking a jog. (Both new warming toys are coming to Nox soon!)

A final note on the Baci:

When not in use, the Baci has a sweet Polly Pocket-like quality to it sitting on a shelf, and unlike many other toys actually sits unobtrusively and firmly on a surface rather than rolling about on a counter. It appears discrete but not too discrete. In fact, under the nice clear cover it reminds me rather pleasantly of an astronaut in cryogenic sleep, hurtling not towards Mars, but somewhere warmer, softer, and closer to home. 

Nora Rosenthal is a writer and filmmaker. She was a writer-in-resident at the Can Serrat International Art Residency in El Bruc, Spain, as well as at the inaugural Momus Emerging Critics Residency in Montreal. She was formerly Cult MTL’s Arts & Culture Editor, and her nonfiction work has appeared in Cigale, The Editorial Magazine, and in re:porter, Porter Airlines’ inflight magazine.

Her darkly comedic documentary about a family confronting age and death, Family Death Trip (2018) screened as part of Art POP in Montreal, and her work as a producer on the official music video for Basia Bulat’s “Your Girl” was recognized in the Prism Prize Top 20 for Best Canadian Music Videos in 2020. Nora will begin her Masters in Expanded Documentary Film at York University in September 2021.