Mary Roach interviewed by Violet Blue, poses with Eroscillator

February 7, 2009

I took this photo of Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex author Mary Roach last Friday at Good Vibrations Berkeley right after our reading from Best Sex Writing 2009.

Now contributor and San Francisco Chronicle sex columnist Violet Blue has interviewed Roach:

VB: Was “Bonk” your pick for the book’s title, or did you want “Boink?”

MR:
Bonk was my choice. Boink is a cartoony, silly word, whereas Bonk is almost onomonopeaic, or however you spell that word. Norton actually did some market research on this point. Most people have heard both terms, though more know Boink, it’s true. Those people will simply have to puzzle out what the book is about using the subtitle and the f–ing ladybugs.

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How to make your own sex tape

February 3, 2009

From Patrick Strait at the City Pages blog The Wet Spot comes an amusing take on sex tapes, arguing that they’re not just for celebrities:

1. Find a partner who you think will be fun to watch on tape later. Let’s be honest – the best part of making a sex tape is watching it later (and by “later” I mean several years later after your girlfriend breaks up with you, gets married and Facebook messages you to make sure you destroyed the tape, which you assure her you did. Suck on that, Lindsey).

Sometimes you can tell that someone is going to be awesome on camera, and other times you need to give them a test run. As a word of advice, anyone that brags about their sexual prowess is going to absolutely suck on tape, while people (male or female) who still wear Scrunchies in their hair are going to be a sexual masters (Dog the Bounty Hunter, I’m looking in your direction).

2. Never let them know that you are filming them during sex.
This point is debatable, as some people consider this to be a “crime.” I, on the other hand, call this observing two people expressing their love for each other in their most natural habitat.

Face it; if someone knows they’re being taped, they’re going to be way more reserved and less likely to say something awesome like, “if you’re videotaping this I swear I’ll fucking kill you, Patrick.” Now that’s sex tape gold.

Dark Odyssey: Winter Fire is February 13-15

January 28, 2009

I taught a kinky erotica workshop last year, and met a very hot couple who I sadly didn’t get to play with cause it was at the very end.

I highly recommend Dark Odyssey! Also be sure to read the Shorty Q&A with Tristan Taormino at The Rumpus.

This is their latest email:

Dark Odyssey: Winter Fire
Valentine’s Weekend
Washington, DC
http://www.darkodyssey.com
February 13-15, 2009

We are pleased to tell you that the final list of presenters and workshops
is now online, and it includes:

BDSM & Anal Play with Tristan Taormino
Public Humiliation with Kink.com’s Princess Donna
How to Suck Cock Like a Pro with adult film star Penny Flame
Urban Tantra with Barbara Carrellas and Dossie Easton
Bondage with Hogtied.com’s Lochai
Sensory Deprivation with Lolita Wolf
Metal Bondage with Amanda Wildefyre
Practical Rope Techniques for the Impatiently Kinky with Graydancer
Edge Play with Mistress Constance
Fisting with Sarah Sloane
Poly/Mono Relationships with Anita Wagner
Taboo Play and Working Through Extremes with Mollena Williams
Pleasure as Spiritual Practice with Mark Michaels and Patricia Johnson
Topping Skills with Marc B.
Rough Body Play with Phantom
Objectification with FemCar
Hypnotic Roleplay with Lady Ru’etha
Knife Play with Elkor
Sacred Sexuality with Dan and dawn
Unstuck Your Sensual Self with Amy Jo Goddard
Age Play Discussion with British “Lucky” Paul

…and 47 more unbelievable classes!

Dark Odyssey: Winter Fire is an annual hotel event for people interested in
sex, spirituality, and BDSM that features:

-An amazing line up of nationally-known presenters, including sex educators,
BDSM masters, top-notch Tantra teachers, relationship experts, and
award-winning authors, activists, and community leaders.

-58 unique, dynamic workshops on identity, sex, relationships,
swinging, polyamory, BDSM, Tantra, spirituality, and lots more.

-Our infamous special events including nightly parties, a banquet and
burlesque show, hospitality suite, incredible vendors and, of course, a
huge, fully equipped dungeon and other intimate play spaces.

Registration and Hotel rates go up after February 1st, so please register
now. Visit our website, http://www.darkodyssey.com for more details. We
hope you will join us for this exciting event!

Best Regards,

The Producers of Dark Odyssey:
Greg, Tristan, Karri, and Colten

Panel, “Sex in America: Can the Conversation Change?”

January 24, 2009

This looks really interesting. Though why they want you to call for the location, I’m not really sure. I know and like everyone on the panel except Leonore Tiefer (by that I mean I don’t know her, not that I don’t like her!).

Sex in America: Can the Conversation Change?
Co-sponsored with Huffington Post
Esther Perel, LMFT, Leonore Tiefer, PhD, Ian Kerner, PhD, Amy Sohn and Cory Silverberg
Adultery, abortion, homosexuality teen sexuality, abstinence campaigns, sex education, pornography and family values are all active items on the national political agenda. Despite living in a time of unprecedented sexual freedom in America, the practice of policing sexuality has continued unabated since the days of the Puritans and the profound national discomfort with sexuality is all around us. When we are taught that sex is dirty, but we should save it for the one we love, is it any surprise that so many couples become erotically alienated? How do the politics of sex enter the American bedroom?

Join some of the most bold and distinguished thinkers on sex in America in a thoughtful and provocative conversation about sex, pleasure, desire, eroticism, infidelity and monogamy.

AN EVENING SYMPOSIUM
Friday, February 20, 7:30pm
09WPX04P
Members: $18 / Nonmembers: $20
Please call for location. 212 219 2527 x. 2

Esther Perel, LMFT, Couple and family therapist, is the author of the international bestseller Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence which took the 2009 Society for Sex Therapy and Research Consumer Award. Fluent in eight languages, Esther addresses audiences worldwide. She is a clinical instructor in the department of psychiatry NYU medical center.

Ian Kerner, PhD, is a sex therapist and best-selling author of numerous books, including She Comes First. His most recent book, Love in the Time of Colic, is a sex guide for new parents.

Leonore Tiefer, PhD, is associate clinical professor of psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine, has a private practice in clinical psychology and sex therapy, and has lectured worldwide. In 2000, she initiated a campaign to challenge the medicalization of women’s sexual problems

Amy Sohn was “Naked City” and “Mating” columnist for New York magazine for six years. She is the author of the novels Run Catch Kiss and My Old Man.

Cory Silverberg is a certified sexuality educator, author and the Sexuality Guide for About.com. He has facilitated many workshops across North America on subjects ranging from male sexuality and sex toys to feminist pornography and sex and technology.

Is good solo sex possible?

January 24, 2009

That’s pretty much what my friend Twanna Hines asks, or, as she puts it, “Bad Sex With Others or Good Sex Alone?” As a single girl, I feel her, but I am very wary right now of having sex with someone until I really trust them, until I know we are something more than casual. At the same time, well, I too have my urges. My solution? Lots of flirting, and lots of vibrator-ing.

I guess this is a simplified version of how my “Twanna Wants to Have an Orgasm” flow chart works … I’d rather have good sex with a boyfriend. Lacking a boyfriend, I crave that mind-blowing, trusting, delicious and breathless sex that only comes from committed, one-night-hookups with male friends. (Fuck buddies.) If I don’t have a fuck buddy, I’ll pull out my vibrator. Got it? “Boyfriend” trumps “fuck buddy” trumps “vibrator.” Not too long ago, it used to be: “boyfriend” trumps “random dude I’m dating” trumps “fuck buddy” trumps “vibrator.” I’ve stopped fucking random dates. I’ve been dating a long time and I’ve gone on so many dates that I’ve noticed the sex usually isn’t as good as I expect it to be. I’ve had the “fuck for fuck’s sake” days. It’s too easy, sometimes unexciting and usually unsatisfying. So, if the choice is between masturbating or having awkward sex with a stranger I’ve only known for a date or two, I’ll leave the dude with a kiss and pull out my vibrator when I get home. Because, that way, at least I’m guaranteed an orgasm.

Diana Vilibert defends first date sex

January 24, 2009

Whether or not to have first date sex has been a hot topic of late.

Marie Claire‘s Diana Vilibert weighs in with a very strong argument that women should…do whatever they want to do! This reminds me of Tracy Clark-Flory’s piece in Best Sex Writing 2009, called “In Defense of Casual Sex,” leading me to ask why women must always be defending our sexual choices? Men almost never have to, unless it involves paying for sex. But we are guilt-tripped and made to feel like the weight of the world rests on when we put out, and who we do it with, and how many lovers we’ve taken…geez! It’s 2009 already people.

Did I miss the memo that the decision to have first-date sex (or not) is now a statement you are making on behalf of all women? Empowerment comes from control and power over your own sex life and decisions, and confidence in those choices, whether or not they align with popular opinion. I happen to be a fan of first-date sex — but I don’t really expect or want a standing ovation for feeling this way. But neither Emily’s viewpoint or mine makes either of us a lesser feminist, and neither of us, I’m sure, means to speak for all women. If I wake up tomorrow morning to find that celibacy is all the rage, I wouldn’t feel empowered by keeping my legs closed — and there’s no reason anyone should feel empowered by treating sex as a fun, casual thing if they don’t feel that it is for them.

But according to Rich, I’ve been going about it the wrong way, since “Guys like to pursue and feel like they’ve accomplished something when courting a girl…You are a prize, but no one out there deserves to be an instant winner!”

You know, I don’t think I want to date a guy who pats himself on the back when he finally wins the “prize” of having sex with me. Newsflash: women like to have sex, too. We don’t begrudgingly disrobe after you’ve passed a series of tests during a “courtship” period, so please refrain from giving yourself a mental high-five when we sleep with you.

Violet Blue (aka @violetblue) on Twittersexuality

January 22, 2009

from Violet Blue's column on Twittersexuality

from Violet Blue's column on Twittersexuality

Best Sex Writing 2009 contributor Violet Blue (who is reading with us on January 30th at Good Vibrations in Berkeley and February 2nd at Booksmith, see my calendar for details) covers all things Twittersexual, meaning the social networking site Twitter and sex. Violet is @violetblue and I’m @raquelita – who are you on Twitter?

The above examples are from Violet’s column. Here’s a snippet:

So the thought of sending a message out to the Internet (the world) while having sex might seem a bit rude. Or, it might be a turn on. For some, it just sounds weird; on the verge of orgasm can you send a coherent text message? Now that sounds like something a cyber-dominatrix might have a field day with.

And it seems, they do. Sex and the Tweet isn’t a new idea, and it’s on the rise – perhaps even moreso as sex workers, international fetish models, dominatrixes, tech savvy porn stars, adult companies with marketing departments, hip porn directors, sex toy makers, and yes, even sex educators have created accounts and sporadically tell the world what’s on their mind (or other bits) in 140 characters or less. Not to mention all those other “normal” people who use the service, too. The normal people tend to be the dirtier ones, by the way – they’re just harder to find.

The Girlfriend Experience starring Sasha Grey screens at Sundance

January 22, 2009

Sasha Grey, starring in The Girlfriend Experience

As you probably know, porn star Sasha Grey (link to Wikipedia) is starring in Steven Soderbergh’s new film The Girlfriend Experience, which just screened at Sundance.

More on the film itself from Defamer:

Starring 20-year-old porn princess Sasha Grey amid a strong cast of non-actors (including former Premiere movie critic Glenn Kenny in a hilarious, disturbing cameo as a talky sex-trade connoisseur), Experience follows elite New York escort Chelsea through the routines and rigors of ambition, love and lifestyle. While she and her gym-trainer boyfriend Chris (Chris Santos) strive for a more sizable slice of the American Dream — even as the economy contracts violently around them — their relationship erodes to a stalemate. The presidential election, the recession and each lover’s unwavering career-mindedness coalesce into a nonlinear cocktail of modern dread, made all the more potent by Soderbergh’s still, chilly camerawork and Grey’s compounding vulnerability.

From an interview with Sasha Grey by Las Vegas Weekly:

“I never sought any of these projects out,” she said Friday at the Adult Entertainment Expo, “and I’ve been very fortunate enough and very, very, very grateful to have people come to me and seek me out, I believe, because of my own interest in film and music, because it stretches much further than a James Bond (film) or radio music.” …

“There might be more people who are career-driven, who realize this isn’t just another job,” she said. “It’s something that really can go further. And people with a desire like that, nothing can stop them. It’s only a matter of time before more and more acceptance happens. More and more of the girls getting in the business these days are smarter and have this drive in them. It’s a select group, but there are a lot more of them than there used to be.”

BlackBook interviews Soderbergh:

Did you feel like you trained her as an actor at all?
Oh, absolutely. She was really smart about it. She found exactly the right balances. Sort of doing her homework and being prepared, but not imposing … It’s a tricky thing, the way these movies (like
Bubble) are made, because I want as much of them as I can get. But you’re working from sort of a detailed outline. You’re doing these sort-of improvisations that have bullet points. When we were done with something, she would immediately go into her notebook and write down everything that she heard and everything that she said. ‘Cause she knew that a couple days later there might be some reference to it, and you need to remember the world of movies as we do in our lives. And she was really diligent about that, and it really paid off.

When did you get the idea to start working with Sasha?
I read this article in
Los Angeles Magazine two years ago. She’s seen a ton of movies, and she’s really inquisitive. She’s interesting, she’s really interesting. She’s got a quality that’s totally unique. I mean, she really delivered. She was great.

from the MTV Movies Blog:

Given that Grey is experienced in having sex on screen, was Soderbergh tempted to have the actress perform unsimulated sex acts in the movie? No, says the director. “I guess I felt like that’s been done. That boundary has been broken. I don’t want that to distract. But I was looking for someone who was comfortable in scenes that were sexual. There’s a scene early on where she’s watching a guy get undressed and she’s standing there. She’s almost undressed already and the look on her face is fantastic. I don’t know how to describe it. She is absolutely in her element. That only comes from being in situations like that and being in control. She looks comfortable and in control. You can see it on her face. Its kind of awesome.”

Vulture on sex flicks at Sundance:

Before each screening at Sundance, one of several short promos, featuring various filmmakers being interviewed about the festival, runs. One of these has John Waters saying, “You could probably make a porno film and get it into Sundance!” This is ostensibly meant to be funny and sorta hyperbolic, but the fest has indeed shown some films in the past that came pretty damned close: 2006’s Destricted, for example, was an omnibus film with various auteurs taking a stab at erotica. And who can forget 2005’s fuck-fest, 9 Songs?

Luckily, this year’s festival is no slouch in the sex department. We can confirm that the Bret Easton Ellis adaptation, The Informers, handled the downturn in the indie-financing arena by entirely excising Amber Heard’s wardrobe from its budget, and that the competition title Unmade Beds gives us exactly the kind of naked-young-polyglot bed-hopping that we had hoped to find when we backpacked to Europe back in [date deleted]. The Ashton Kutcher gigolo flick Spread was apparently no slouch in the T&A department, either. And, of course, there’s Humpday, the dudes-make-a-gay-porn-flick that’s been one of the big hits of the fest. We can’t confirm that there’s that much explicit sex in the gay-prison-love movie I Love You Philip Morris, but it does feature Ewan McGregor, whose schlong once had its own development deal, so who knows.

And to bring this back around to Best Sex Writing 2009, contributor Susannah Breslin recently ran an American Apparel ad on her blog Reverse Cowgirl featuring Sasha Grey (the new American Apparel ad features someone else). Here’s Sarah Estrella at Examiner.com on Grey and her mainstream potential:

There have been porn crossovers before Sasha Grey, some of them finding huge mainstream succeess, but the self-proclaimed “existentialist porn star” is somehow different, in ways that (yes, please) threaten to bring down all kinds of barriers and taboos. Hell, having seen some of what else she’s capable of in her other work I feel silly even having to label these images NSFW and crop them for the Examiner.com audience but, then again, where do you draw the line?

Perhaps Sasha Grey can help move this imaginary line in the sand which all businesses must eventually dance around to determine how much sex really does sell versus how far societal buttons can be pushed in some new way? This isn’t just some sexy model wearing some socks, after all: Sasha Grey is one of the most foul-mouthed females in hardcore porn, and she’s somehow managed to take ownership of her own exploitation and twist it around into something like a feminist statement.

Natalie Dylan and her virginity auction

January 22, 2009

CNN examines Natalie Dylan’s bid to sell her virginity:

Is a woman’s virginity worth $3.8 million? That’s how much Natalie Dylan, a 22-year-old from San Diego, California, said she has been offered through an auction she announced in September.
Natalie Dylan, 22, said she has put her virginity up for auction through the Moonlite Bunny Ranch.

Natalie Dylan, 22, said she has put her virginity up for auction through the Moonlite Bunny Ranch.

Her private auction through the Moonlite Bunny Ranch, a legal brothel in Nevada, has given her lots of “business opportunities,” she said.

Her top bid comes from a 39-year-old Australian, but she has no immediate plans to settle the auction, she said in a recent interview with CNN.

Some men may seek virgins because they want them as trophies, or desire purity. But as to why men would bid so much money on virginity, she said she has no answer.

“I honestly don’t know what they see in it,” she said.

If you think Dylan’s auction amounts to prostitution, she completely agrees. She also said she’s not breaking any laws — after all, prostitution in Nevada is legal.

“I feel people should be pro-choice with their body, and I’m not hurting anyone,” she said. “It really comes down to a moral and religious argument, and this doesn’t go against my religion or my morals. There’s no right or wrong to this.”

The idea that virginity has a high value harkens back to the days of early humans — if a man has sex with a virgin woman, he knows for sure that her children will be his, anthropologists reason. In early civilizations, women were also considered the property of men, said Laura Carpenter, assistant professor of sociology at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee.

The link between sex and depression, a doctor’s perspective

January 20, 2009

from “Sex and Depression: In the Brain, if Not the Mind” in The New York Times, by Dr. Richard A. Friedman:

Recently, a psychoanalyst colleague — a man known for his skill in uncovering psychopathology — called me about yet another case. He was puzzled about a 24-year-old man whom he viewed as psychiatrically healthy except for intense depression that lasted for several hours after sex.

There is nothing strange about a little sadness after sexual pleasure. As the saying goes, after sex all animals are sad. But these patients experienced intense dysphoria that lasted too long and was too disruptive to be dismissed as mere unhappiness.

Still, the temptation to speculate about psychological explanations of sexual behavior is hard to resist. Psychiatrists like to joke that everything is about sex except for sex itself, which is another way of saying that just about every human behavior is permeated with hidden sexual meaning.

Perhaps, but I wondered whether in these cases, it might be nothing more profound than a quirk in the neurobiology of sex that made these patients feel awful.

Little is known about what happens in the brain during sex. In 2005, Dr. Gert Holstege at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands used positron emission tomography to scan the brains of men and women during orgasms. He discovered, among other changes, a sharp decrease in activity in the amygdala, the brain region involved in processing fearful stimuli. Aside from causing pleasure, sex clearly lowers fear and anxiety.

The anthropologist Helen E. Fisher, of Rutgers, used functional magnetic resonance imaging to look more broadly at the neural circuitry of romantic love. She showed a group of young men and women who reported being passionately in love a photo of their beloved or a neutral person. Subjects showed marked activation in the brain’s dopamine reward circuit only in response to the beloved, similar to the brain’s response to other rewards like money and food.

Could it be that some patients have particularly strong rebound activity in the amygdala after orgasm that makes them feel bad?