Finding, evaluating, and using ‘pervertables’ for impact play

Photo collage of various everyday items that can be used for impact play

If you’ve ever browsed a sex toy store online (or offline), you will most likely have seen a section of impact toys — that is, spanking paddles, riding crops, floggers/cats-o’-nine-tails, canes, straps/slappers/tawses, and perhaps also batons, single-tail whips, and rubber-balls-on-a-stick (that don’t seem to have an industry-wide common name yet). And I for one am very happy that toys specifically made for consensually hitting people are super easy to buy these days and that there is such a variety of materials and design available.

But what if you can’t or don’t want to buy these made-for-kink items and still would like to play with impact toys? Well, you can either make your own toys (which is usually rather time-consuming but may appeal to the crafty types or those who like to adapt their toys to fit their unique tastes — and which I may write about more in the future). Or you can use “pervertables” (also spelled “pervertibles”), that is, objects that were originally meant to be used for something other than kinky activities. There are potential pervertables for almost every BDSM activity, but today I’m going to focus only on implements to hit a consenting partner or partners. (Today’s #Kinktober prompt is “impact play,” after all.)

Reasons for using pervertables

Why would anyone want to use pervertables in the first place?

We may not be able to afford the ready-made impact toys that are on sale at all of these lovely stores. Especially when they’re made of leather and/or require a lot of time-intensive manual labor to produce (like braided floggers or single-tail whips, wooden toys with intricate inlays, or anything else with complex details or many different parts), they can become quite expensive. And many of us don’t have a lot of money to spend on toys.

We may find that the available impact toy selection (varied as it is!) doesn’t quite fit the theme or mood of our (role) play or it doesn’t go with our outfit, and we like all the details to be as authentic as possible.

We may be traveling or moving somewhere else and all the suitcase space is already occupied with other necessities, so we need to purchase our toys at our destination (which may not have any sex toy retailers).

Or we may not have expected to play at a travel destination and now there’s an opportunity and we want some toys right now and can’t wait for any mail-order deliveries.

We may want to minimize potential embarrassment or outright harassment at airports or any borders we cross and therefore don’t want to travel with any obviously kinky toys in our luggage. (This is especially relevant for anyone who experiences racism based on other people’s interpretation of their appearances, names, and/or language skills, for people who don’t visually fit neatly into other people’s gender binary or whose appearance doesn’t seem to match the gender stated in their ID documents/passports, and for disabled and/or mentally ill people who may have limited spoons to begin with or deal with things like anxiety or autism that make security checks and other border controls even more stressful than they already are for everyone.)

We may not be out about our kinks to the people we share our home with (including roommates, children, or partners who we haven’t confided in) or the people who have regular (and possibly unsupervised) access to our homes (including friends and relatives, cleaners, and caregivers) and therefore only want to own toys that don’t look like they were made for BDSM purposes.

We may just like the creativity involved in going to a regular shop, browsing their goods, and finding as many unusual items to use in an impact scene as we can (make it into a kinky scavenger hunt with a partner or a group of friends or a challenge for your bottom, if you like!).

Or maybe we just like collecting as many toys as we can and have already bought everything that is available in the stores (or at least everything we’d like to play with).

As you can see, there are many reasons for people to use pervertables, either instead of made-for-kink toys or in addition to them.

Where can you buy pervertables?

Pretty much everywhere! I’ve found pervertable impact toys in dollar/euro shops, hardware stores, the household equipment section of department stores, craft supply shops, and stores that sell riding equipment and other sporting goods.

Once you’ve started to train your eye to recognize a pervertable, you may start seeing them all over the place!

How do you evaluate the kink usability of a pervertable?

Sure, you can hit your lovely, consenting partner with almost everything you can hold and swing (or tap), but some materials and design elements lend themselves more readily to a kinky use — and others may come with too many risks for you to use them comfortably.

When evaluating a pervertable (or ready-made toy, since those also come in wildly varying qualities) to decide whether it’s safe (enough) to use, you can consider these aspects.

Does the item have any sharp edges or points? Can the item break easily, and if so, would it splinter or shatter into sharp pieces? If you’re not sure, try hitting something hard (like a piece of furniture, a door frame, or a tree) with the same force you want to use on your partner (or yourself — solo play is a thing!) to see how your pervertable (and the object you hit with it) handles that. It’s usually a good idea to pick items that only hurt your partner in the ways you intended. If there is a risk for unintentional damage due to an unknown or unpredictable material or finish, please make sure everyone involved consents to taking that risk and perhaps have first-aid materials nearby.

Can the item be cleaned, and if so, how? Can it be washed with water and soap and dried out without breaking, disintegrating, or rusting? Can it be disinfected with alcohol, bleach solution, or a medical disinfectant without surface damage? Can it be sterilized by boiling it for several minutes? Does it have a finished/smooth surface or is it porous? Since pervertables usually aren’t made to be used on skin or mucous membranes and therefore aren’t body-safe, you may want to clean it as well as you can before you use it to remove any dirt from storage or leftover substances from production. Nobody needs an allergic reaction when they want to have fun! If your pervertable has a porous surface, you won’t ever be able to fully clean it (even if you can’t see any dirt, it’s still there). The surface of some synthetic materials may become sticky or dissolve when treated with a disinfectant — in which case you may not want to use it at all, or at least not on anyone’s bare skin. Any item that can’t be disinfected properly should be used on one person only or even thrown away after a single use to prevent infections (which isn’t great for the environment but still probably better than spreading infections).

Does it have a size and shape that fits the bodies of both top and bottom? Do the parts that are supposed to hit the bottom land fairly evenly (and if not, is that something both of you like?)? Does the size of the toy fit the body part you want to hit (e.g. wide paddle-type things are usually not suited well to hit someone on their genitals with any kind of accuracy)? Is there a part of the item that can comfortably be used as a handle so the top doesn’t hurt themselves when holding it tightly? If there are any sharp edges to the “handle” part, you may also want to buy something to use as padding (like duct tape, a squishy bike handle cover, a piece of fabric you can secure around it…) or pick another toy altogether. Can the top control the toy easily? That is, is it at least somewhat balanced, and do all the parts move as the top intends them to? Does it move differently if you swing it slowly or quickly? If in doubt, swing the item around a bit and maybe hit something other than a human first to check. And if you only have limited space to play in (such as a small apartment, hotel room, camping van, or crowded play party): does your pervertable fit that space?

How does it feel? What kind of sensation will it most likely produce? This is something you will ultimately have to try out because you can never tell precisely how any toy (pervertable or not) will feel to a particular bottom just from looking at it. However, you can make some educated guesses about the kind of sensation your toy will probably produce based on it’s shape, density, and weight. Anything long and thin is probably going to feel similar to a cane: very sharp and stingy. It may also leave marks very quickly. Anything with a wide, flat surface is likely to feel similar to a paddle: the sting will be more spread-out than a cane-type toy, and it will have varying degrees of thud, depending on how smooth the surface is and how heavy the hitting part is. Anything that is made from a bundle of strands or strips will probably resemble the sensations of a flogger: more thuddy and less sharp, but possibly still quite stingy, depending on the width and hardness of the strands. As a rule of thumb: The heavier and wider/softer an item, the more thud it produces (which often leads to deep bruises). The thinner and harder an item, the more sting it creates and the more likely it is that the skin will break. Sharper edges or points also create more sting, and anything with a soft surface make the impact more dull and thuddy. If in doubt, try it out on yourself first (even if you’re a top) or ask a bottom with some experience with different impact toys to give you feedback. And start with less intense strokes until you and your partner have a feel for the toy before you hit any harder.

What are other relevant characteristics of its material? Wood is often hard to clean (unless it’s well-varnished) and may break or splinter, but many people like it for its look, “warm” touch, and affordable price. It can easily be cut shorter, sanded down, and varnished, so it offers a lot of customization options for the crafty-minded. Metal is usually very hard and comes with a naturally cool surface. Most types can be cleaned and disinfected easily (or even sterilized). Items made entirely out of metal can also be cooled down or heated up with water before use for an added element of temperature play. Metal is normally hard to break, so such tools tend to be pretty sturdy. Watch out for weak rivets or other breakable points of connection. Metal toys can also cause serious damage if you hit the wrong spots hard enough, so consider your level of experience and your bottom’s pain tolerance as well as everyone’s comfort with risk-taking. Plastic (which I’m using as a short-hand for all man-made materials here) is by far the biggest category and the hardest material to predict in terms of kink use because it comes in so many different varieties. Generally, you can wipe down plastic items with a disinfectant although you may damage the surface. Plastic is usually the cheapest material, so it’s very easy to find plastic pervertables. I would generally recommend careful testing of plastic items because you usually can’t tell what exactly they’re made of and how durable they are. Plastic is also the most likely to come with a degree of inherent toxicity, so be aware if you or your partner have sensitivities there. Kitchen-safe plastic is probably your best bet in terms of that. There are many more materials your impact play pervertable can be made of, such as rope or other textiles, leather, or certain edibles. If in doubt, refer to information about kink-specific toys made out of that material for safety and cleaning instructions.

Perhaps you also care for characteristics like color, pattern, overall style, and potential associations. Playing with a cute pink hairbrush with a Japanese kitten design may be someone’s hard limit — or exactly what they want. And people who have been non-consensually hit with belts or wooden spoons may want to avoid them in their voluntary play — or seek them out precisely because of these associations. If in doubt, discuss this with your partner.

What items can be used as pervertables for impact play?

After considering all these questions, we have now arrived at my suggestions for items that you can buy outside of a sex toy store and use for impact play. I’ve added customization ideas to a few of them that may turn your pervertable into a craft project (if you like), but most of these can be used as they come. I’ve also added some additional safety considerations and some ideas about the sensation these items may produce. Please also refer to the above section about evaluating a pervertable as I haven’t repeated all the relevant information here.

Please make your own risk-assessment before you use any of these items or anything similar or inspired by them. I cannot accept any responsibility for any harm caused by you hitting anyone (including yourself) or anything with any of these items. Since none of these objects are made for hitting a human being, there is an inherent remaining risk to using them for that purpose in addition to the general risk of doing impact play. Make sure you are aware which parts of the body are safest to hit and which ones should be treated with the utmost care (if you have no clue at all, you can adapt some of the info in my post about biting or search for safety information elsewhere — don’t let this one post be all the information you have). Know (and practice) how to scale the force of your strokes with every different toy you use and pay attention to any verbal and non-verbal feedback you get from your partner.

I have deliberately included toys for all degrees of masochism (and sadism) and for all degrees of experience. Many people, tops as well as bottoms, may find almost everything on this list too scary or too painful to use (and that’s okay). Please remember that BDSM is not a competition and leave the things that don’t appeal to you. However, some of us are heavy masochists and really enjoy very intense impact, so I wanted to make sure there are also some suggestions for this group of kinksters. This means that I would consider several of the items on this list unsuitable for beginners (especially the very heavy toys or those made of metal, because you can easily cause serious and even irreparable damage with them if you don’t use them with the necessary caution and skill). It’s always okay to slowly work up to things and save some for later — or to decide that certain things are forever beyond your comfort zone.

As with any BDSM activity, make sure you have your partner’s ongoing consent (this goes for tops as well as for bottoms) and establish an appropriate way of communicating with each other during the activity. If your judgment is impaired by tiredness/exhaustion, (new) medication, recreational drugs or alcohol, or any other causes, maybe save the impact play (particularly with a new toy and/or new partner) for a situation where this is not the case.

But now, have a list of potential pervertables for impact play! In no particular order:

  • Ping-pong paddle (or any other paddle used for sports/games) — Some such paddles have one smooth and one textured side that create different sensations. You can also glue a piece of something flat with an interesting texture to one side. This may make it harder/impossible to clean.
  • Slippers/shoes/boots — You can either hold the shoe in your hand and hit with it, or you can wear it and kick with the toe, heel, or side (yes, kicking counts as impact play). Separate leather or rubber soles can also be used.
  • Cooking utensils (like spoons or spatulas made from wood, metal, or plastic/silicone) — If your item is wooden and the surface is rough, you may want to sand it down or even apply a coat or two of varnish (maybe in a color that coordinates with an outfit or in rainbow stripes?) to make it easier to clean. Think about whether you want to use the same item to prepare food and do impact play and consider hygiene issues in either direction.
  • Hairbrushes — You can use either side for impact or hit with the flat side only and brush with the other one to vary sensations.
  • Shoe brushes — They also have two different sides. If you also use the brush for actual shoe polishing, I would be mindful of shoe polish residue stuck to the bristles because that can stain clothes or sheets or cause a skin reaction in sensitive people.
  • Baseball/softball bats — As far as I know, these can be made from wood or aluminum and also come in different sizes. If you’re just starting out, you may want to get in some experience with different impact toys first.
  • Belts — The doubled-over leather belt is pretty much a pervertable classic. To adjust the length, hold the buckle and wrap some of the belt around your hand, fold it up in three layers instead of two, or cut it to a size that works for you if you don’t want to also wear the belt as an actual accessory. Studs and other decorations may add intensity to the strike and may also have sharp edges. Every standard BDSM manual tells you to never hit anyone with a belt buckle. If this isn’t your first time playing with a belt and you still want to do this, I highly recommend hitting only well-padded body parts (such as fleshy butts) and carefully staying away from any bones, including the tailbone. For extra safety, you may want to add some protection (like a folded-up towel or sweater) on any bony bits. I also recommend making sure the top has a secure aim and enough experience in handling a flexible and badly balanced impact instrument. Shorten the length between buckle and hand for more control. You won’t need a lot of force for a strong impact. The bottom should really be into heavy, deep impact (which usually requires some experience to know) and has to be absolutely fine with bruises. And of course everyone involved needs to consent to the remaining risk. You can fracture bones if you hit them with metal things.
  • Pieces of licorice/candy — Licorice and other candy sometimes comes in narrow strips or flat pieces that are long enough to hold and hit someone. Since these strips tend to be rather stretchy, they can be surprisingly painful. This is definitely a single-use toy! If you want to eat it afterwards, be aware of any infection risks (e.g. if you have hit someone’s genitals or if you’re uncertain whether their skin is abraded/broken; or if the licorice/candy has been in touch with a surface you wouldn’t want to eat off).
  • Riding crops — Another pervertable classic, so much so that some people forget they are available outside of sex toy stores. (In fact, the riding crops sold at sex toy stores are often exactly the same products you can buy in a shop that sells sporting goods — only the ones sold in sports shops can be noticeably cheaper.) They come in three basic versions: with a flap of flexible material folded over into a loop attached to the tip, with a more solid piece of material sewn around the tip, and with a thin strip of flexible thread attached to the tip. The ones with the wider tips are often easier to aim and to use more softly, the string type is very stingy and can hurt quite a lot. You can find riding crops in different colors and lengths and you can also buy ones with a tip shaped like a star or heart in regular riding stores — thank teenage girls for that variety (seriously)!
  • Newspapers or magazines — You can roll them up and slap your partner with them. They may break easily, which can be made a part of the scene, and their impact is influenced by how many pages they have and how heavy they are. If there is a chance that they have soaked up any bodily fluids (including sweat) during your play, I’d throw them out or at least avoid using them on anyone else. Or you can use one of these porn magazines that already come wrapped in plastic and wipe it off afterwards.
  • Books  — Books may be a bit uncomfortable for the top to handle for an extended spanking and you can also damage them. But it can be great fun to find the right book to match the scene you’re planning (try second-hand shops or library sales for cheap hardcovers). Some people may have strong limits (or at least strong feelings in general) around damaging or destroying books, so be mindful of that.
  • Rubber hammers — They feel very thuddy, will leave bruises, and need extra care to protect any bones. Like with any other really dense, heavy toys, you probably don’t want to take a full swing because a little force can already have a lot of effect. Not a toy for newbies on either end of it.
  • Cutting boards — They can be made from wood or plastic and often come with a useful handle already attached. See above for thoughts on hygiene and consider separate ones for food and play.
  • Rubber bands — I’m counting them as an impact toy because you can put them around arms or legs and then pull them away from the skin and let them snap. The wider ones are sturdier and hit a bigger surface. Before you put them on anyone’s body, please stretch them out to check for any weak spots (they tend to disintegrate quickly). Rubber bands are also one-person toys, but luckily they’re cheap enough to throw away after use. They can hurt a lot and leave deep bruises, so don’t underestimate them.
  • Rope — This can be used bundled up or be made into a makeshift flogger (or a very nice flogger if you have the time and skills). Most types of rope can be washed, but you may want to keep any rope that has touched genital fluids or blood for this one person. You can of course also use rope to tie people up, so it’s a multi-purpose toy.
  • Freshly-cut willow switches, birch twigs (with or without leaves), pine branches, and other plants — With any plant materials, make sure no one has any allergies and be prepared for unexpected skin reactions. Plants usually come with sharp bits and pieces, and they may break or shed as you use them. Pines in particular have a strong smell and may ooze resin/tree sap that can stain your skin and clothes. I’d throw these out after one use for hygiene reasons and because they dry out quickly and then break.
  • Towel — You can tightly roll up a towel, or just drench it in water and fold/gather it up. Wet towels hurt more than dry ones, and the more fluff a towel has, the more thud will be in the sensation. Tight seams around the edges may add sting, for example on dishtowels. Towels can usually be washed at high temperatures, so they’re easy to clean.
  • Dustpans  — Probably best for butts and thighs because they tend to have a large surface. Can be made from plastic or metal (watch for sharp edges). You can also use the brush to spank or brush over the places you’ve hit. For hygiene reasons it’s probably best to use a separate, new one for kink.
  • Boxing gloves — Almost pure thud. Will make it hard for the top to do anything that requires fine motor control and may require assistance in putting them on or taking them off, so plan ahead. Perhaps use just a glove on one hand.
  • Meat tenderizers — They can be made from wood or metal and usually have differently-textured sides. Like rubber hammers, these are a pretty heavy impact toy with a lot of thud, so I recommend extra care in selecting places to hit with them and a lot of caution about the amount of force you use. The metal ones are probably the toy with the most potential for serious damage on this list. Absolutely not recommended for people who are just starting out.
  • Shoelaces — Another item than can be tied into a makeshift flogger. Works with leather or textile shoe laces. Plastic-coated or metal tips can have sharp edges, so you may want to cut them off or just file off the sharpness and keep them on for extra sting/pain. Laces that are thinner, harder, and/or square will hurt more than thicker/wider, softer, round ones.
  • Carpet beaters — Traditionally made out of rattan but also available made out of man-made materials. Cleaning might be difficult due to overlapping pieces. Otherwise similar to care for as canes of the respective material. Stingy.
  • Shoehorns (especially long ones) — They often have two different sides, one rounded to the outside and one rounded to the inside, that can be used to create different sensations. They are usually made out of wood, plastic, or metal.

Of course, this is not a complete list. Please feel free to add more ideas for other impact pervertables in the comments! (I’m planning a post on non-impact pervertables for the future, which I will link here as soon as it’s been published.)

Image sources: Flickr/Stephen Dann, CC BY-SA 2.0 (spatula), MaxPixel (shoes, glove), Pixabay (brush, spoon, book, bat, belt), Pxhere (paddles), Wikimedia Commons (rubber bands, shoe laces, meat pounder, carpet beater, dustpan, licorice) (photo collage by me)

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