“Christian vibrators, Christian clit-ticklers, Christian jelly rings”

January 20, 2009

Best Sex Writing 2009 contributor and Sex in Crisis author Dagmar Herzog (BSW09 reprints part of her “Soulgasm” chapter) examines the subject for the Utne Reader in “Sexing up the Religious Right:”

Evangelical writers even coined a catchy new term, soulgasm, to describe the joys that await the evangelical wife: incredible orgasms plus intimate emotional connection with the husband plus the presence of God. They detail how the husband can become a “Superman-lover” and make his wife come repeatedly and how breasts and penises can be most sensually caressed. Websites such as My Beloved’s Garden even offer Christian sex toys (Christian vibrators, Christian clit-ticklers, Christian jelly rings) and pride themselves on marketing these items without any offensive pornographic images.

Repression just isn’t a very good marketing tool. It’s the promise of pleasure (and lots of it) that is building a new following for the religious right. Even more insidious, though, is the fact that the evangelicals haven’t confined their erotic message to religion. Instead, they’re moving into the realm of psychological health, even taking over the language of New Age therapy.

Suddenly the mainstream conversation in women’s magazines and on daytime talk shows is not so much about physical danger as about self-esteem. People who sleep around have low self-esteem. Porn use is a sign of low self-esteem. Even the supposedly kinder, gentler homophobia that has replaced the ugly old disgust-mongering rides on the self-esteem theme. Children of gays and lesbians are likely, we are now told, to suffer from low self-esteem.


Are Magnum condoms a scam?

January 20, 2009

That’s what Amelia McDonell-Parry says over at The Frisky, with quite a bit of heated commenting disagreeing with her:

Seriously, there is no bigger marketing scam than Magnums, except maybe New Coke, only New Coke failed, and Magnums, for whatever reason, are still on shelves.

Designed to make guys with slightly bigger than average penises feel like they’ve got a giant’s schlong between their legs, the truth is, even King Kong could fit his willy in a regular ol’ connie. I’ve had sexual relations with a few gentlemen who felt that their junk was worthy of a few extra centimeters of latex, and while, yes, they were admirably large in the penis department, their insistence that they “needed” Magnums made them look oh-so-small in my eyes. It all goes back to 6th grade sex ed. Remember when the teacher demonstrated the strength of a latex condom by blowing it up with air like a balloon or shoving her whole hand inside and flexing her fingers? Yet a regular condom feels “tight” and “constricting” for guys who are eight inches as opposed to six when fully erect, huh?

Tokyo’s Kabukicho district to get cleaned up and desexed like Times Square?

January 20, 2009

from The Guardian (UK):

As the sun dips behind the skyscrapers on a bitterly cold evening, hordes of shoppers swarm towards subway entrances, a blaze of neon flickering in their wake. Within an hour the streets reverberate to the banter of the inhabitants of Tokyo’s hedonistic milieu: hosts and hostesses, hawkers, touts, prostitutes and carousing salarymen. Kabukicho, the Japanese capital’s red light district, has come out to play.

But for how much longer? With Japan eager to host the 2016 Olympics and the city’s proselytising governor keen to clean away sleaze and crime, the ramshackle collection of ageing buildings housing bars and clubs catering to every sexual proclivity is in the authorities’ firing line. Armed with this political mandate, police are zealously enforcing a new law requiring sex clubs and hostess bars to close their doors at midnight and turf out their last customer by 1am.

A handful of clubs flout the law by dimming their lights and paying protection money to yakuza crime syndicates, but law-abiding owners say takings have plunged. “The police crackdown has halved the number of customers here, and the recession isn’t helping,” says Hiroshi Iwamoto, a doorman at the topless Glamorous Lovers’ Cafe. “I’ve been in Kabukicho a long time and I’d hate to see it change. This is where people come to make something of themselves.”

The facelift is being led by Renaissance Kabukicho, a network of public and private bodies. “We don’t necessarily want to get rid of all of the local colour,” says Mitsuo Hirai, who leads the project at Shinjuku city hall. “Of course we want to preserve the character of the place and strike a balance. If we can do that then it’s not going to do the Olympic bid any harm, although we were always determined to clean up Kabukicho and make it a place where people can walk around in safe and pleasant surroundings.”

Literary erotica from the 19th century is back

January 19, 2009

I must admit to not having read de Sade or even Anaïs Nin. I’m always “meaning to” but haven’t yet. I should, especially because I can’t get enough of James Joyce’s dirty letters. This sparked my interest. from The Times (London):

You might have thought that the move to a visual culture that has taken place over the past 200 years would have put paid to the pleasuring pen, but far from it. Today Belle de Jour’s blog is still delighting her followers, and Tracy Quan’s Diary of a Manhattan Call Girl has its devotees. But when is pornography erotic? And when is erotica literary?

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, HarperPerennial is releasing new editions of ten “erotic tales” under the flag Forbidden Classics. Two of the titles date from the 18th century – John Cleland’s Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (1748 and 1749, generally known as Fanny Hill), and the Marquis de Sade’s Justine: ou Les Malheurs de Vertu (1791). Funnily enough, both authors were in prison when they wrote these books, so it is easy to guess at the spur to their creativity. But the print explosion of the 18th century had also resulted in rising demand. Gentlemen who had money collected them. Those who did not went to the coffee house where you could while away an hour or two with a choice selection of rude books (and such well-handled copies are still to be found carefully preserved in august university collections).

It is a curious episode in the history of literary sexuality. New ideas to do with the value of the individual life, and new democratic freedoms meant an astonishing lack of prudishness that is hard for us to grasp even now. True, you had to be pretty brave to live a sexually liberated life in the way of Mary Wollstonecraft or Percy Shelley, but it was possible. And the number of explicit publications dating from this time – both in words and pictures – still accounts for many a scholar’s enthusiastic interest in the period. But there were also dangers. Cleland was prosecuted in 1750, largely because a pirated version of his book included an unauthorised scene between men. And while de Sade was cracking his whip in France, Marie Antoinette’s reputation was destroyed (in part) by a scurrilous publication that depicted her in flagrante with animals, with women and with her own son.

Bisexuality in The Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica, volume 8

January 16, 2009

My friend Thomas S. Roche, one of the most talented and prolific erotica writers around, wrote about his contribution to the latest collection edited by Maxim Jakubowski, The Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica, Volume 8:

“Matching Skirt and Kneepads” is one of those special stories about apparent homosexuals having sex with apparent homosexuals of the opposite sex, a thing once upon a time called “bisexuality” with some frequency, and at other times called “not bisexuality!” in voices both strident and calm, and called many much less polite things, in heated debate and bitter backstabbing shit-talking… leaving shell craters and lingering pockets of mustard gas across the Klein grid.

My fellow survivors of late-80s Santa Cruz and early-to-mid-90s San Francisco will perhaps remember these arguments, in the days while another non-abstract threat was taking far too many lives from the communities for which this debate most mattered.

Now people I know tend to call themselves “queer,” and do whatever the fuck they want. As a heterosexual who’s always been irritated by the very concept of consensus reality, I would be a little bitch if I didn’t applaud that with somewhat terrifying fanaticism. “Queer” is a powerful world because nobody quite agrees on what it means — except the people who feel it describes them. People couldn’t always seem to agree on what a “bisexual” was either (still can’t!) but “queer” by its very nature, and due to its pedigree as an insult, doesn’t ask for consensus.

That said, I so very much appreciate it when people of any gender do things in bed (or, in this case, in a photo booth at Folsom Street) that piss other people off, or perhaps more accurately that they’re not “supposed” to do. That, quite possibly, is my principle turn-on. What can I say? I’m a bad man.

I believe that “Kneepads” is very much an homage to the days when it felt radical to me to imply in my work that there were more than just a few choices here. If you read it, I hope it will inspire you to have sex with someone you’re not supposed to have sex with, even if it’s only in the sleazy motel bed that is your brainpan.

High estrogen = more sex?

January 15, 2009

I’m not sure what I think of this:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Women with high levels of estrogen not only look and feel prettier — but they may act on those feelings by moving from man to man, U.S. researchers reported on Tuesday.

Estrogen, the so-called female hormone, affects fertility and has been shown to make women dress more provocatively and show more thrill-seeking behavior.

Dr. Kristina Durante of The University of Texas at Austin and colleagues found that young women felt more attractive when they had high levels of an estrogen known as estradiol, and they acted on those feelings.

“Women with higher estradiol reported a greater likelihood of flirting, kissing and having a serious affair with someone other than their primary partner and were marginally more likely to date another man,” Durante’s team wrote in the Royal Society Journal Biology Letters.

“Results provide support for the relationship between physical beauty and fertility and suggest that women high in reproductive health engage in opportunistic serial monogamy — being open to affairs and moving on to a new relationship if a higher-quality mate becomes available.”

Durante’s team tested 52 female undergraduates aged 17 to 30 who were not taking hormone contraceptives. They took two estradiol samples from each, as hormone levels fluctuate from week to week.

They had the women rate their own attractiveness and showed their photographs to others to rate, as well.

“High-estradiol women were considered significantly more physically attractive by themselves and others,” Durante and colleagues wrote.

The high-estrogen women also reported more sexual behavior — especially outside of a relationship, although it was not linked to one-night stands.

“Our results are consistent with the possibility that highly fertile women are not easily satisfied by their long-term partners and are especially motivated to become acquainted with other, presumably more desirable, men,” they concluded.

The findings fit in with many other studies showing that hormones influence the behavior and success of both men and women. Earlier this week, U.S. and British researchers showed that male financial traders whose finger lengths indicate high testosterone levels in the womb made more money.

Two of my favorite topics: Food and Sex!

January 15, 2009

And you can be sure I will submit something. Thanks to Audacia Ray for the call.

Speaking of which, I’m reading Sarah Katherine Lewis’s book Sex and Bacon: Why I Love Things That Are Very, Very Bad for Me right now and it’s excellent. There was a chapter called “The Bacon Quotient” (click through to read it) in which she sees just how much bacon she can eat (answer: a lot!). I’ll post a review when I’m done. See sexandbacon.com (what a killer URL!) for more info.

Food + Sex | Call for Contributions

We are pleased to invite writers, thinkers and artists to contribute works of
unpredictable lengths and a wide variety of subject matter for our
forthcoming preview issue of Food + Sex—a new independent quarterly that
explores the history, nature and culture of food and sex.

With the goal to expand and elevate expectations of food and sex, we seek
compelling ideas that foster critical thought and reflection about the world,
the beauty of nature, primal desire and elementally, what it means to be

Through a multidisciplinary approach we seek subject matter from the fields
of Gastronomy and Food Studies, Cultural Studies, Natural and Social History,
Gender and Sexuality, Philosophy, Religion, Anthropology, Classics, Culinary
Art, Visual Art, Design, Photography, Drawing, Architecture, Painting,
Conceptual Art, Literature, Music, Dance, Film, Theater, Agriculture,
Biology, Earth Science, Environmental Science, Chemistry, Physics, Astronomy,
Sociology, Psychology, Communication Studies, Economics, Public Health,
Political Science and Mathematics.

Preferred works include journalism, interviews, personal narratives, prose,
poetry, photo essays, original artwork, graphic compositions and cartoons.

Please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any questions.

Please forward written and/or visual contributions in digital formats along
with a brief bio and contact information to gravel@bouwerie.com and
poorhousepictures@gmail.com by 1 March 2009.

On Bettie Page’s sex appeal

January 14, 2009

From a great piece by Juliet LInderman at The Rumpus:

Pin-up images had become wildly popular during the war, but female sexuality was considered to be for the benefit of male onlookers, instead of a vehicle through which the women in the photographs were allowed to express their own sexual desires. The sexual icons of the era occupied very specific roles at polar opposite ends of the social spectrum. Marilyn Monroe, for example, perhaps the most famous of all pin-ups, portrayed sensuality, seductiveness and undeniable sexuality, albeit one of naiveté. Her brand of sex was seemingly accidental, pure and coquettish. On the other end of the spectrum was Doris Day, the eternally virginal figure, whose sexuality was safe, tame and appropriate. Feminist scholar Maria Elena Burszek, author of Pin-Up Grrrls: Feminism, Sexuality, Popular Culture, explains this as the “Doris Day/Marilyn Monroe Binary,” which Page would eventually defy, setting herself apart from all other pin-ups of her generation.

“Page presented a possibility of a range of female sexuality between the traditional binary of virgin and whore,” Burszek said. “The fact that she made such a profound impact with a career that ranged from underground S&M photography to silly gag magazines by doing the exact same thing in all of them, which was being herself, based on the range of personalities and identities she brought to those images.”

According to Burszek, in a time when one was either a sex symbol or a virgin, Page managed to create a public persona that encompassed both identities and everything in between. Her ability to pose for such a wide range of photographs, and to allow different aspects of her personality to penetrate each image, was a testament not only to her unwillingness to be typified in other people’s terms, but also her insistence on owning, defining and enjoying her own brand of sexuality that, as her photographs suggest, was varied and complex.

Though Page’s modeling career was over by the time the 1960s rolled around, her image and influence had a great impact on what would later be referred to as the “sexual revolution.”

He’s Slept With 30 Women; Is That a Dealbreaker?

January 13, 2009

That’s what Virginal Virginia asks Dear Sugar. Click through to read the response. I say – who cares? If he’s a good guy, he’s a good guy (and hopefully good in bed too).

Dear Sugar,

I recently ended a very long relationship and marriage. My husband was my first and only sexual partner, and I was his. We started dating in high school and we lasted 16 years. I’ve started to get back out there again, but everyone I encounter has had much more of a past than me.

Having recently discovered the number of partners the guy I’m currently dating has had (over 30), I was shocked and crushed. How do I get over this and not have it affect my feelings for him? — Virginal Virginia

Women’s hair length and sexuality, or, does having short hair make you read as a lesbian?

January 13, 2009

photo of short-haired Rumer Willis by Sheryl Nields for Page Six Magazine

Suzanne Reisman at BlogHer explores the connection between women’s hair length and sexuality. If cutting off your hair gets you mistaken for gay, does having long hair signal heterosexuality? It’s crazy that we are still talking about this in 2009, but we are.

As Rumer Willis, pictured above, told Page Six Magazine last year:

There’s also a prevalent Internet rumor that Rumer is gay, which she laughs off. “If people call me a lesbian because I have short hair and I wear jeans instead of dresses, then by all means, run with it. I think it’s hilarious. I like guys,” she shrugs. “I was joking with my publicist about how I need to come out with a press release where I’m like, ‘I like d–k.’ ”

Here’s Reisman:

When I cut my hair short almost three years ago, I didn’t mean to send any messages; I just wanted to look nice. Since then, however, I seem to be radiating some signal that I am a lesbian. If I am confusing people, I do not mean to, so apologies for any mix ups. However, I certainly hope that I am projecting that I am a dried up prune.

An anonymous letter writer posed the following question to therapist Pamela Stephenson Connolly in The Guardian: Is it true that a woman with a short hairstyle is subconsciously indicating that she does not want sex?

Dr. Connolly’s wise answer (“Cutting one’s hair does not necessarily point to an avoidance of sex, although deliberately reducing one’s attractiveness in a spouse’s eyes may well signal some desire to push them away”) set off a flurry of media attention to the “issue.” In The Daily Mail, five out of six people interviewed confirmed that long hair is sexy and feminine, although some admitted that short hair is liberating because it shows that the woman doesn’t only style herself to please men. (The one dissenter is a male celebrity hair stylist who said that men who don’t like short hair on women are “unimaginative beast[s].”