Monthly Archives: July 2010

Our Sex Toys, Ourselves

What the world needs now is not more vibrator reviews.

Although I’m just a baby on the sex toy review scene, I’m already bored with the content produced by my contemporaries. Regular readers must have motion sickness from the oceanic rhythm of scrolling through short paragraphs interrupted by original photographic documentation of the consumer process (getting the package, opening the package, removing the object from the package, etc.). As a whole, the sex toy review space is monotonous, heedless, and suggests more experience working with a thesaurus than with a clitoris.

Reviewing vibrators means more to me than getting a free toy and a few bucks. I reflect on and share my sexual experiences as a way to develop my understanding of my own sexuality and to provide other women and men with a unique ground on which they can begin their own ruminations and join the conversation. Learning is a community process, and each slant, twist, spin and flip contributed to an idea is necessarily expansive to how we understand ourselves and each other, and potentially revolutionary to any one individual.

This critical trajectory of thought began during a video review I did for the Lelo Gigi vibrator. I’ve read that orgasms help spur creativity, but until now I’ve only been using that idea as an excuse to masturbate in the middle of the afternoon. Fake it ’till you make it? Perhaps…

Geotagged! Photos of Hand Model Holding Lelo Gigi Vibrator

The featured images in my Lelo Gigi Vibrator review were geotagged as being taken in China…

I know for a fact that Lelo is headquartered is in Sweden, and that the photos in question were taken in Royal Oak, Michigan.

Maybe because 70% of sex toys are produced in China, someone (or something!) just jumped to conclusions. Time to put on my asymmetrical shadow-casting detective hat and do some work…

From Savage Love to Sacred Sexuality

Recently in Savage Love–the sex advice column syndicated weekly in our own Metro Times–esteemed author Dan Savage answered a question about female ejaculation. Under the alias WET (Wasting Endless Towels), this week’s featured long-time reader/first-time writer represents a distinct population of what common nomenclature identifies as a squirter: a woman who responds to certain sexual stimulations (re: arousal via that oh-so popular G-spot) by emitting fluid from her urethra. Amazing, right?

So what’s the problem? Well, like so many other squirters WET is concerned with how to handle post-ejaculatory boudoir clean-up, not to mention how to rescue her mattress from becoming totally saturated from the copious amounts of love-making that her and her boyfriend do. Savage advised WET to go to a sports supply store and buy a wrestling mat and hide it under the bed so that way the next time her and her fella start getting frisky she can “get out of bed, pull the mat out, throw some towels down” and ejaculate as much as she wants, worry free.

It’s a shame for WET that Savage isn’t a Detroiter. If he was, he certainly would have attended the Mystery School of the Temple Arts’ Sacred Sexuality and Female Ejaculation Workshop, where founder and sex educator Leslie Blackburn hipped us to a far less awkward and conspicuous water-proofing accessory: the Liberator Fascinator Throe–a washable, fluid-resistant blanket.

Plus, she calls things "juicy!"

In all honesty, introducing Blackburn via a retail suggestion is a cheap move on my part. However, the contrast between her throe blanket and Savage’s wrestling mat so succinctly illustrates the distinctiveness of Blackburn’s perspective that I just couldn’t help myself. While so many sex educators (particularly those who include female ejaculation in their core curriculum) use a language that is chillingly medical, highly intellectualized, or harshly excerpted from the commercial raunch culture that flavors so many articulations of contemporary sexuality, Blackburn speaks from a place of joy, giggles and wisdom. Circled up with the other workshop attendees in Eastern Market’s etherial Detroit Fly House, I felt like I was cuddling with a blanket. Cozy. Wondrous. A little giddy.

Blackburn teaches sacred sexuality, an approach that begins not with squirting but with healing. Sacred sexuality emphasizes emotional intimacy and absolute safety; gentle, attentive movement through perception and self-discovery. Ejaculation is not the goal. Rather, it is an evidential byproduct of a spiritual growth related to your ability to deeply connect with another human being. This workshop introduced me to perspectives that are nearly as significant as my initial introduction to female ejaculation, and from my observations, everyone else in attendance had an equally as positive and strong reaction.

Through Mystery School of the Temple Arts, Leslie Blackburn offers private sessions, individual and couples coaching, and group classes, workshops and retreats for individuals of every comfort level. Read more details here.

How Can We Cultivate a Sex-Positive Detroit?

If you’ve been keeping up to date on local headlines, I’m sure you’ve heard something about the city crime lab closing its doors. In brief, the Detroit Police Department crime laboratory was shut down in 2008 when a state audit discovered a 10% error in firearms testing. It was recently announced that the crime lab will be taken over by the state of Michigan and reopened, possibly to be relocated in the MGM Grand casino.

What hasn’t been in the news either lately or over the past two years is that the crime lab’s fatal audit also revealed a backlog of 10,500 unanalyzed rape kits, dating back to the early 1990s. While this enormous archive of bodily evidence has remained stagnant and ignored, 10,500 victims of sexual assault continue to wonder inside of their Detroit homes.

Though the existence of the rape kits was unveiled nearly two years ago, I myself only just now became aware of them. In the short time in which I have been privy to this information, I have been preoccupied with how to make sense of this catastrophic situation. What does the hidden existence of these rape kits mean to the rest of us? To the near-1,000,000 individuals who reside in the city of Detroit, of which over 600,000 are female? Or to the 4,000,000 Metro Detroiters who regularly head to the city for sporting events, concerts, festivals, education, and any other engagements that nurse economy and strengthens community? Where does Detroit stand in relation to sex and sexual politics?

In the new millennium, the city of Detroit has become increasingly sexualized. In 2002, exotic dancer Tamara “Strawberry” Greene was allegedly attacked by x-mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s wife, Carlita, at the infamous Manoogian Mansion party. A year later, Greene was killed by multiple gunshots from the same variety pistol that is issued by the Detroit Police Department. This story was resurrected in the text-messaging sex scandal between Kilpatrick and chief of staff Christine Beatty. This year the city of Detroit initiated new zoning laws for strip clubs as well as outlawed lap dances and VIP rooms. Grosse Pointe South High School hockey coach Robert Bopp was sentenced to 22 years in prison for producing kiddie porn and Detroit Red Wings executive Matthew Brown resigned after he was charged with possession child pornography. Most recently, President of Detroit Public Schools Otis Mathis resigned after allegations that he unzipped his pants and fondling himself during a meeting with DPS superintendent, Teresa Gueyser. Just a few days ago, Detroit “gentleman’s club” All Stars was ordered to shut their doors for one year for employing a fourteen-year-old girl as a topless dancer. Are these headlines representative of the sex in our city?

Certainly they are not encompassing of Detroit’s entire sexual culture. This June, the annual Motor City Pride Fest was once again a success. After a decade of popularity as a Detroit Valentine’s Day tradition, The Dirty Show hit the road this summer, taking its collection of international erotic art to Chicago and Cleveland. The Detroit Erotic Arts Collaborative continues to provide a safe, private environment for artists and models to explore eroticism in their work. After receiving Oprah’s Angel Network Use Your Life Award in 2002, Alternatives for Girls continues to expand their community services providing assistance to young women at risk for unwanted pregnancy, STDs, and careers in commercial sex. And on the web, Erin Rose and Sean O’Brien–co-founders of Positive Detroit–recently launched Pick MI Date, a social media-slanted match-making game show for local lovers-in-waiting. But are these achievements indicative of a recognizable standpoint on Detroit’s sexual politics or culture? As cultural forces–individually or together–do they pronounce Detroit’s sexual identity? Does Detroit even have a sexual identity?

My answer to these questions is “no.” Any political consciousness or community alignment grounded in sexuality would not allow 10,500 rape kits to be kept hidden for twenty years. These handling of these rape kits represents the local government’s blatant disregard for our sexual health. It also represents Detroit’s dire need to forge a sexual identity.

Detroit has never been a sexual city. Nor has it ever been known as a hub for women’s rights, feminist politics, or otherwise female-friendly movements. And perhaps with the exception of being mother to the modern retail experience (the department store and the strip mall), neither has Detroit ever been associated with pleasure. But that doesn’t mean it has to stay this way. How can we cultivate a sex-positive Detroit?


Lelo Gigi Review

Pre-Review Confession:

The Lelo Gigi is the best vibrator I have ever used. This has far less to do with the actual product than it has to do with my historically stingy ways. Besides my Gigi (which I received for free as part of the review incentive), I own four vibrators, none of which I have spent more than $20 on. Honestly, after using the Gigi I’m ready to say goodbye to my old loser friends. Whether or not my new preference for the Gigi will sustain after reviewing more high-end sex toys is something only time can tell. The one thing I can say for sure is that I would have rather spent $80 on one good vibrator than on four predominately disappointing vibrators. Anyway, on with the review…

Some super-creepy chick with HORRIBLE nails and jewelry holding an object of beauty. I think we need a new hand model.

First off, this thing is a looker! From the packaging to the toy itself, the Gigi–and in fact the entire Lelo line of sex toys–is so damn cool looking that not only does it overpower those pesky feelings of embarrassment associated with vibrators, the power of Christ my show-off ego its beauty compels me to show it off to my friends whenever possible! This desire for show-and-tell translates to something far more important than making my girlfriends jealous: I can bust it out when I’m in the sack with a fella, funny-feeling free (have you ever seen the look on a dude’s face when you reach into your pillowcase and pull out your multifunction-infested, glitter-decorated, facial-feature-having, inner-tube-scented, larger-than-life, double-knobbed Wabbit? There aren’t enough blow jobs in the world to repair that damage).

To be a little less hypothetical (you didn’t think I’ve actually had a boy in my bed recently, did you?), the get-off potential of the Lelo Gigi is top-notch. It has five different modes that I switch through smoothly while I skim all of the “tubes” of porn I want to, without going numb or missing my chance to orgasm. Why so smooth? Because the Gigi’s intensity doesn’t adjust incrementally like most vibrators–it increases subtly like the volume knob on an old car radio.

Related to the Gigi’s brilliant modes and intensities, there is one thing that I not only dislike, it’s something I fiercely hate: the interface.

Remember The Simpsons episode when Homer purposefully gains weight so he can go on disability? Remember when his assistant drinking bird messed up big time and Homer frantically dialed the phone to alert the power plant? The operator says, “The fingers you have used to dial are too fat. To obtain a special dialing wand, please mash the keypad with your palm now.” That’s kind of how I feel when I use the Gigi.

Check out those cuticles! They’re worse than mine!

The Lelo website describes the Gigi’s interface as a “dial.” It’s not so much of a dial as it is four buttons in a circle, similar to those on earlier generation iPods. Maybe practice will make perfect eventually, but the kind of concentration I require during masturbation does not allow for much energy to be put into operational decision-making. In the five or six times I’ve used it so far, I have yet to be able to experience a nice zoned-out orgasm–there is always at least one setting transition that I screw up, leaving me freaking out and mashing the keypad of my special dialing wand.

Dear Lelo designers: Bravo, but can you please, please, PLEASE re-think the buttons and release a Gigi 2.0? It’s an inch away from perfect!