Owning Porno Used to Mean Something, Damnit
1. When I was in high school I kept my porn in a white box. Inside the box was a stack of magazines—almost entirely Playboys, because I liked the clean stuff—as well as a purple folder full of the images I liked best, so that I could spread them out on my bedroom floor and sit in the middle of them, kind of like a crude manual version of Tumblr.
2. The internet really changed the way people masturbate. Today, if you want to see someone naked you just press the buttons and poof, there’s a boob. But as a teenager I remember thinking of pictures of naked women as a kind of secret relic, something you had to search out, anticipate and covet, which made them that much better when you got them.
3. I saw my first porn magazine in fourth grade when some kids in my class were passing one around under the lunch table. I remember feeling a weird sense of doom, like I was going to get caught the second I touched the paper, even though everyone else was laughing about it. I’m not sure what magazine it was, but the pictures were of naked women holding automatic weapons, dressed up like military personnel. I remember the feeling of seeing more than I actually saw.
4. The kid who owned that magazine briefly ran a business where you could buy a page out of other, similar magazines for a dollar. He carried them around in a duffel bag with a padlock on it. They were his dad’s magazines, he said, and there were more where those came from, if you had the money. I never bought one. Eventually he was caught and suspended.
5. I used to occasionally go to work with my dad. I remember feeling an insane sense of agency whenever he would stop at this one gas station that had a rack of tattoo magazines with tits in them. I would stand in front of the rack and wait until I knew I had half a second with no one watching, and then I would open the magazine as if I didn’t mean to, in case someone caught me. So instead of full visions, I caught flashes and tried to embed them deep in my memory so that I would be able to see them for a long time afterward whenever I shut my eyes.
6. A very brief, insanely vivid memory from when I was probably four or five, of picking up a magazine my dad’s friends were passing around at a camp in the woods, and the men laughing as my dad took it away from me before I could see. I remember my uncle saying something to the effect of, “one day you can have that,” and everyone laughing. I don’t remember many other things from that early stage in my life.
Examining the Pull of Group Masturbation Parties
Of the various group masturbation parties 30-year-old nudist Kyle Rudd has attended over the years, the biggest one drew a dozen-odd men, predominantly over 50. He was the third to arrive that night, and when he walked inside, the host and another guy were already naked. As the remainder of the guests sauntered in, conversation centered on things like work, how the week had been, and the bodies and penises on display. Rudd did most of his masturbating—a blend of group and solo—from the vantage point of the organizer’s couch and managed to ejaculate on himself three or four times in six hours. In the breaks between these bouts of industry, Rudd, a Melbourne-based arts-sector employee, spent his time socializing, drinking beer, and eating pizza.
While some men might prefer to spend their weekends watching the game or relaxing with the family, Rudd says he had a great time.
“I find genitals to be very erotic—ten out of ten,” he says. “For me, I think being exposed and on display is very erotic. It’s knowing that others are admiring your genitals as they mutually get off on it.”
For anybody entertaining the idea of attending a group masturbation party, the grassroots DIY scene is a fertile field of opportunity, according to Rudd.
In his own words, Shubin was a “mad scientist” in his pursuit of the ultimate synthetic fuck buddy, “Because – as a man, you know this: if something doesn’t feel real, we’re not going to be excited about the physical contact with it. So that was a first priority.”
—Meet the Man Behind Fleshlight, the World’s Most Famous Fake Vagina
Meet the Man Behind the World’s Most Famous Fake Vagina
Steve Shubin wants us to talk more about touching ourselves. The inventor of the world’s most successful sex toy, the Fleshlight, a polymer vagina housed inside something that looks a bit like a fat torch, said that it’s a man’s duty to masturbate frequently. As such, he’s baffled as to why dildos have become an acceptable brunch conversation topic while male sex toys remain taboo.
But Steve hasn’t always been so concerned with the ins and outs of sensual self-flagellation. One of jerking-off’s wealthiest advocates was raised in a blue-collar house with 13 siblings. Football took him to college, which he followed with a brief stint in the Army before seven years with the Los Angeles SWAT team.
"Police work’s a great career, but it doesn’t pay much; you can’t look forward to buying anything significant, and I’ve always wanted to do that," he told me. "I’m one of 14 kids and I grew up having nothing. I was obsessed with having everything." So, aged 32, Steve left the force to open his own small business.
It wasn’t until he was in his 40s that his tennis-pro wife’s pregnancy pushed him toward the industry he now dominates.
"The doctor said that, because we were 40 years old, we had to be very careful and should probably not have intercourse for the duration of the pregnancy," he explained. "And we were at the beginning of the pregnancy. So, for me, that was a problem. Tell me I can’t get laid for nine months; that’s a problem for me."
While out to dinner to celebrate the pregnancy, Steve turned to his wife Kathy and asked, “Tell me, would you think I was a total pervert if I told you that, in your sexual absence, I would use something to replace you sexually? Would you think I’d be a total creep?”
Should the FDA Regulate Sex Toys?
It’s the most wonderful time of year—the time when we jam a bunch of random crap in an oversized sock in hopes that the person we love will sleep with us. Family members aside, nothing quite says I care like sex toys, right? Whether it’s a vibrator for your eternally single roommate or a cock ring for the dude you pork on the reg, sex toys stuff stockings (and other things) in all the right ways.
Except when they’re toxic. Nobody wants anaphylactic shock for Christmas, but the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates an average of 2,100 sex toy-related emergency room visits a year. Getting off just became pretty high stakes.
On the whole, sex toys hang out in regulatory limbo. The FDA only pays attention to them if they fall under the category of medical devices, which means the tiny handful of vibrators that are presented as therapeutic massagers. It’s the manufacturer’s decision to classify their toys as therapeutic or not, so the majority of vibrators—not to mention all other sex toys—elude the FDA’s gaze.
I Spent a Month Living in a Romanian Sexcam Studio
Until July I shared an apartment in England with two cousins, Lorenz and Alessandro. When I moved out at short notice, I was worried that I’d left the pair in the lurch, but as it turned out my timing couldn’t have been better. “We’re moving to Romania to open a catering business,” they told me. That plan seemed a little unusual, not to mention completely economically unviable, but they assured me that they had it all worked out. They knew a guy who was already running a similar operation in Bucharest, they said.
Come September, I got a message from the cousins asking if I could help out writing up some sales copy for their business. “Sure, tell me more about it,” I wrote. “Well, it’s a secret,” replied Alessandro. It’s tricky to write about secrets, I told him, and after some coaxing he revealed, unsurprisingly, that it wasn’t really a catering business they had opened at all, but a studio full of stripping, pouting, masturbating camgirls and camboys. I told the pair that I didn’t feel comfortable writing sales copy for that kind of thing. Not to worry, they said, before inviting me out to stay with them. Which is exactly what I did at the beginning of last month.
The Sperm Selling Business Is Super Competitive
Pretty much every guy at some point thinks about participating in a cum-for-cash scheme. Guys cum all the time. In fact, I bet you’re cumming right now. So why not get paid for it?
After some googling, I found out that there are general criteria for selling your sperm, including having, or pursuing, a college degree, being over 5’9’’, being free of drugs, being from a family that’s free of mental illness, and possessing a high sperm count.
I have a BA, I’m neither mental or a drug addict, I’m tall, handsome and charming, and quite the virile man (ladies?), so I figured this would be as easy as rubbing off a log.
I sought out the bank that would pay the highest possible amount for my tadpole kin. The most remunerative group for my rudiment is Cryos New York. They offer $500 a pop, and up to $600 for an “open donation,” where your kids come and find you later in life.
If I am going to be a dead-beat dad, I don’t need to know about it, so I filled out my application for closed donations only. After filling out my 10-page application form, I sent it to Cryos Bank, and I was thoroughly excited to begin my career as a freelance masturbator.
You Can’t Just Walk Around Masturbating in Public, Swedish People
Last week, the Swedish newspaper Mitt i Stockholm reported on a sexual assault case brought against a 65-year-old man who had been seen touching himself on a local beach. Weirdly, he’d been acquitted because “the masturbation wasn’t directed or aimed at any specific person.” No one seems to know what the man was looking at while he pumped away at his groin—the horizon? An empty boat? A gull—but nevertheless, over the weekend, the story started to ooze its way out to international media outlets.
When the English-language Swedish news website the Local picked up the story, however, something was lost in translation—they messed up one of the quotes given toMitt i Stockholm by the case’s wonderfully named public prosecutor, Olof Vrethammar.
The English translation of Olof’s quote, according to the Local: "The district court has made a judgement on this case. With that we can conclude that it is OK to masturbate on the beach. The act may be considered to be disorderly conduct."
The English translation of Olof’s quote, according to me, a Swedish person: “The district court has made a judgement on this particular case. Consequently, you CANNOT imply or draw a conclusion that it’s OK to masturbate on a beach. This deed could possibly be considered as offensive behavior.”
Fucking Hysterical: A Timeline of Vintage Vibrators
Not far from San Francisco’s favorite trans bar in the heart of the historically gay-friendly Polk district you’ll find the Antique Vibrator Museum, a vivid exhibit of vibrators dating from the early 20th century through the 1970s.
The museum opened last year inside a sex-toy store called Good Vibrations, where therapist and educator Joani Blank had been displaying a few old vibrators since she opened the shop in 1977. Gradually, customers started to donate their own, then eBay came along, and 36 years later, her small collection has evolved into the Antique Vibrator Museum—home to more than 120 vintage vibrators, along with packaging materials, manuals, print ads, and other vibrator-related ephemera. It’s the biggest collection of orgasm-inspiring devices open to the public today.
The curator of the museum, Dr. Carol Queen, who we interviewed last year, gives regular tours of the old-timey vibes, which are arranged chronologically inside a dozen glass cases. A lot of her info comes from from Rachel P. Maines’s book, The Technology of Orgasm: “Hysteria,” the Vibrator, and Women’s Sexual Satisfaction. But while Maines’s historical research forms the backbone of the Antique Vibrator Museum, Dr. Queen is the one who fleshes things out.
"It’s one thing to know about vibrators as sex toys, and quite another to see how many types there were throughout the century," she says. "It’s also a great example of design and industrial changes in one particular household implement."
The vibrator itself has a long and storied history rooted in female hysteria, a so-called physical illness that disappeared from medical textbooks in 1952. For centuries, though, hysteria was a legitimate and common diagnosis for women who just needed to get laid, or, at the very least, treat themselves to a few mind-blowing orgasms. But since most women in the old-timey days didn’t even know they could have orgasms, they needed someone—or something—to help. Thanks in part to the Antique Vibrator Museum, here’s a timeline chronicling the evolution of vibrators in history.
200 AD: The Genital Massage
Physician and philosopher Galen of Pergamon prescribed “genital massage” to treat hysteria, which comes from the Latin for “womb.” He wrote that the disorder, as it was known then, was caused by a wandering womb or something. “It certainly was thought of as primarily a women’s disease,” says Dr. Queen. “Some commentators talked about it in nearly sexual terms — it affected virgins and widows more than married women, for instance.”
1650-1660: Coming Along
By 1653, Petrus Forestus started fingering his patients with essential oils so they could achieve a “paroxysm,” which British surgeon Nathaniel Highmore soon figured out was really just a fancy word for orgasm. To treat symptoms of hysteria, doctors would massage the vulva and clitoris until the woman had a “hysterical paroxysm of relief.” But according to Dr. Queen, “Very few doctors said in so many words that they were instigating orgasms through these treatments.”