Which condom is best?
Trojan Extended Pleasure
Price: 12-pack $12.99
According to the box, Trojan's new Extended Pleasure contains "a special lubricant that helps control climax and prolong sexual excitement for longer lasting lovemaking." (This "special lubricant" is benzocaine, a common anesthetic.) A little glob of gel sits, rather conspicuously, at the tip of the condom. While a little scary-looking, this numbing agent is a good idea. Short of getting a pre-coitus shot from your dentist, Extended Pleasure probably offers the most effective short-term solution for early ejaculation, a common problem. The sex does indeed last longer. But I advise washing your hands after application, though, as the desensitizing lubricant spreads. (Two words: numb lips.) The extra lubricant also helped with Trojan's dryness problem.
Price: 12-pack $12 to $18
The Pleasure Plus condom is not related to Trojan's Pleasure line. Its maker is the Global Protection Corporation of Boston (no connection to the Pentagon or Rand, as far as we could find). The company has managed to get gushing advertorials placed in magazines like Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and GQ. At the Hustler Store on the Sunset Strip here in Los Angeles the salespeople are agog over Pleasure Plus. The buzz, it must be said, seems justified, at least where the woman is concerned. I thought it was just slightly above average, but my partner insisted the Pleasure Plus was the best condom she'd ever used. To the touch, it felt to be only barely lubricated, she pointed out, but the moisture was more than adequate and long-lasting. It was also odorless. My partner was so enthusiastic about it that at a certain point I became jealous of the condom. Her final assessment: "It doesn't feel like there's anything on." (And she wasn't being paid by Global Protection.)
12 pack $9 to $12
The Trojan Supra is billed as "ultra-thin" ("ultra" being Trojan's second favorite word, after "pleasure") and for once the superlative is apt. This condom, made not of latex but of microsheer polyurethane, was my favorite. Its airy feel—like a diaphanous tunic—transported me to an earlier, unjaded time, when sex was new and condoms were fun. What's more, it had an almost sweet odor to it. My partner said it was agreeable enough (she was still dreaming about the Pleasure Plus, I think). One major drawback: The Supra is only made with Nonoxynol-9.
You can read James Verini's other work at www.jamesverini.com.
Photograph of condom in wrapper on the Slate home page from Royalty-Free/Corbis.