On the Importance of Queer, Women Centered, & Feminist Sex Toy Shops (Map)

When I was traveling around to toy stores and bookstores across North America for the release of Say Please, I started keeping a list of the best of the best.

And eventually, I made a map of as many as I could find.

This is a totally US-centric map! Mostly because that’s where I live & work. I’d love to add more—what shops did I miss? Which should I add? Tell me in the comments + I’ll include it!

Link to the Google map of queer, women-centered, & feminist sex toy shops (just in case it doesn’t load up there)

I came out in Seattle in 1999, and I was lucky enough to be in close proximity to the first Babeland brick and morter store, where I started attending their workshops and smut readings, and I would go in with my scrimped ten bucks and get the best vibrator I could find. It took a long time for me to fully invest in quality silicone, or a real leather harness, but eventually, Babeland (which also has two stores in Manhattan & Brooklyn), and other stores, like Feelmore 510 in Oakland, became places that I frequented and invaluable resources.

The staff at women-centric, queer-friendly sex toy stores are often not just paid sales staff, but educators. The folks who work there know about safer sex practices, what lubes are good if you’re prone to yeast infections, and what kind of toys go with what kinds of lube or condoms. They can recommend different toys based on your body and your needs. I often find that they have a lot of knowledge about people of size, differing ability, body support, and other kinds of access needs. They often have tried out the newest toys and are up on all the latest goodies, so they can recommend all kinds of stuff.

These kinds of stores are well-lit, honest, out in the open, and sex-positive. There’s no flickering florescent blubs and weird backlit rooms for previewing porn videos (I don’t know about you, but that kind of thing was the sex toy store of my youth—and the only kind of sex toy store I knew about, until I found Babeland).

These kinds of stores often have all sorts of knowledge about women’s pleasure, about owning your own desires, about sustaining longer orgasms, about whatever kind of little pickle (ha ha) you might be dealing with in your own sex life. If you bring them your sex puzzles, they will help, is what I’m saying.

Good Vibrations has a Customer Service 800 number—(800) 289-8423 M-F 8am-5pm PST—which has made it into some famous erotica stories (see: this Herotica volume 3 collection from 1994 that I may or may not have read over and over and over and over. MAY OR MAY NOT), and which is staffed by sex educators who will eagerly help you figure out what toy to buy or how to get what it is you’re looking for.

This stuff goes way beyond “retail store” and far into the purpose of “community center” and “resource center.”

Plus, there are often classes and workshops, or erotica readings, at stores like these. If one of them is in your area, I highly suggest you get on their mailing list and keep up with their goings on.

I’m hoping that creating a map like this will be an easy resource for folks who are looking for the great sex-positive sex toy stores near them, and that also it will inspire us to keep patronizing these stores. They are so important + valuable to the sex worlds, and I really want to see them thrive.

If you’re not anywhere near one of these, you could check out some of these amazing shops online, too: Good Vibrations which has many different shops around the San Francisco Bay Area, JT’s Stockroom in LA, Early 2 Bed in Chicago, She Bop the Shop in Portland, Oregon, or Babeland.

Here’s the link to the Google map of queer, women-centered, & feminist sex toy shops that I have so far. Did I miss any? Please leave info on them in the comments & I’ll check them out! Make sure that they are:

  • Welcoming to all genders
  • Discerning about what kind of toys that they carry (e.g., they don’t carry toys made of plastics that are bad for the body)
  • Inclusive of and centered around women’s sexuality
  • Bonus points if they are queer- or woman-owned!

Review: Salacious Magazine #2, Voyeurism

The second issue of Salacious, a queer feminist sex magazine that sports “radically sex-positive thought-provoking super-hot porn,” is just as delicious as the first issue—and then some. The format is just a slight bit smaller, but—that’s not true, it’s just the same size, though for some reason as soon as it came I thought it was smaller. I guess the first one was just so bountiful I thought it was bigger than it really is— the beautiful color images don’t lose their luster. I love that they have incorporated illustrations and stories into their content, and I’m sure that’s at least in part because KD Diamond, one of the folks at the helm, is a visual artist, and her illustrations are some of my favorites in the whole magazine.

Issue #3 is due out soon, but you can still get #2, which focuses on the theme of Voyeurism, online or in stores.

Salacious issue #2, Voyeurism, was sent to me from Salacious to review. Thanks!

What Are Some Sex Positive Words for Women?

Looks like this came from the Dallas Slut Walk—but I’m not sure of its exact origin. I found it on Tumblr.

Since I feel like we’ve been pretty good at actually creating some language after having a need for a word that means something specific in the past, that I’ve incorporated into my vocabulary, I wonder if y’all would like to brainstorm some words with me.

Seriously, what words to we have to describe women in a sex-positive way? Slut, whore, cunt, pussy, seductress, mistress, vixen, cougar … they all have some sense of sexual manipulation in them. I would argue that some of those words are AWESOME, and that there’s been some serious reclamation done with many of them. But still, I want to know: when you meet a woman who owns her own sexuality, who plays with it how she wants to, who has unashamed sex and unabashed desire, what do you call her?

That there is not even a word for that type of woman in our language says something.

So, poet and armchair linguist that I am, if there is not the exact right word for something, I say we make one. Or we reclaim one. What can we use for this?

For the record, it looks like Toronto was the first city to do a Slut Walk, and there is a Slut Walk NYC Saturday, August 20 at 1pm, kicking off at Union Square. There are quite a few in other cities on the list too, if you want to get involved. I’m going to be at the Butch Voices conference in Oakland that weekend, but Kristen already has it on her calendar.

Review: Barcelona Sex Project (DVD)

bsp

The fabulous Blowfish has just released the Barcelona Sex Project, a documentary-style porn which interviews subjects about their lives, their interests, their sexualities, their turn-ons and turn-offs, before filming them (beautifully, in fact) while they masturbate.

Kristen & I watched it a few weeks ago, after the DVD arrived, and I have to say, I was not so impressed. We fast-forwarded through the last few because we lost interest. It is beautifully filmed, and a really interesting idea that gives the viewer much more of an intimate experience with the visual erotic images of this person getting off than most porn does, which is new and interesting. Yet … I guess my main complaint is the lack of diversity represented. ALL five of the people in the film – the guys and the girls – are completely clean-shaven, for example. Everyone is very “ideal” in terms of body size – pretty slim and fairly muscular. There wasn’t much a range of gender representation, either – the girls were girly, the boys were masculine.

I do admit that I fast-forwaded the end, though, so perhaps there was some content that I missed, more queerness or genderqueerness that I didn’t catch because I got a little bored. So maybe there’s more on here than I realize.

It’s beautifully filmed, I do have to say that. The interviews are interesting, the cinematography is sparse and quite beautiful. I like the way the masturbation scenes were filmed, mostly with very minimalist props or furniture, which was visually interesting – and at times stunning. The girls did use some vibrators, but I didn’t see any actual dildos or much kinky stuff. But hey, what about a range of age? Everyone was so young. What about a range of race or ethnicity?

This brings up the question for me, though, which I think about in terms of Sugarbutch a lot – what responsibility do artists have to represent many experiences or a wide range of diversity? I know I have a fairly slim representation of girls on my site, for example, partly because I know what I’m attracted to and I tend to write about my experiences with those girls (who are femme, duh, and bottoms, duh again, and tend to be smaller than I am). I explain that by saying that this is a personal project – so maybe I should look at Barcelona Sex Project the same way? As a personal representation of what the filmmaker would like to see, and not necessarily as a representation of all of Barcelona or all sexualities and genders or all folks who are into sex. Of course, it couldn’t really be a representation of all of those things, there is way too much inside of sexuality & gender to fully represent anything.

Maybe diverse representation of human bodies and sexualities is not a realistic expectation for a DVD … folks like Pink & White do it, but they also have dozens of clips and dozens of models and actors involved in their work, which makes it easier than working with only six.

Interesting things to think about, I suppose. Regardless, it’s quite unlikely that I’ll be watching this again, and I wouldn’t really put it on for jack-off material or in the background to set a mood. Still, it’s beautifully done, and a new interesting concept which combines a lot of intimacy and destigmitization with erotica/porn and masturbation, which I’d like to see more of in general. Perhaps that makes it worth checking out.

erika-lust
Swiped this image from Urban Junkies Barcelona (thanks!)

About the Barcelona Sex Project, new from Blowfish Video:

Barcelona Sex Project is a smart, funny documentary about half a dozen sexy twenty- and thirty-somethings living in Barcelona, Spain. Director Erika Lust is adept at drawing them out, getting them to tell their life stories (including cross-continental moves, divorces, sexual fantasies fulfilled, career dreams and career realities, etc.). While there’s a fair bit of talk about sex, the emphasis isn’t exclusively erotic… until the sex scenes, of course. These are people you’ve gotten to know through their interviews, making it that much more real when they strip off their clothing and masturbate. There are three men and three women, all of them quite beautiful and relaxed when it comes to self-pleasure for your viewing pleasure. Cute, pierced, and tattooed, 20-year-old Silvia is adorable in stripey stockings and oversized headphones, while Brazilian transplant Dunia has a delectable dark and luscious body, and geek-girl Irina enjoys herself with a toy. The boys are all buff, smiling, and well-hung. Stripper Joel is the most theatrical, stroking himself before a full-length mirror and finishing with a cumshot on his own reflection, while the unselfconscious Joni has a sweet session and finishes by spurting on his own belly. It’s a masturbation video with a twist, providing a fascinating look into the psyches of the subjects before you get a look at their more physically intimate moments. Nominated for the 2009 Feminist Porn Awards.

Trailer: QuickTime formatWindows Media Player format. (2008, 112 min.)

Also check out Barcelona Sex Project.com for more information, clips, and photos from the film.

Body Electric School 2008 Spring Programs, NYC

I’ve been to many of these Body Electric workshops for women over the past 8 years or so, and I can’t recommend them highly enough. They’re terrifying, and life-changing, and amazing. I recommended last year’s CBE here and wrote about some of my revelations and experiences after the workshop as well.Two workshops for were just announced for the 2008 schedule. Highly, highly recommended, I can’t say that enough.

Safe, playful and profound workshops for women of all ages and sexual orientations
Taught by two very gifted teachers

Celebrating the Body Erotic for Women
March 29-30, NYC, Sat-Sunday 9am-7pm
with Isa Magdalena
(back teaching at Body Electric after many years)

• Feel comfortable in your body
• Improve your body image and self-esteem
• Expand awareness, sensation and pleasure through conscious breath,
movement, touch, and communication
• Release fear, shame and old patterns that hold you back
• Communicate your desires and boundaries more clearly
• Learn to give and receive without losing yourself
• Explore the power of sexual energy / ibido / life force / kundalini
• Learn from your own and others’ experience
• Enjoy sex more
• Have more fun

Isa Magdalena was the first woman teacher at Body Electric (1993-98). She teaches sexological bodywork at the Institute of Advanced Studies of Human Sexuality in San Francisco, is author of Libido: Where Sex, Science Spirit Meet (2006). Isa is featured in several sex education videos from the New School of Erotic Touch, is a practitioner and leads classes in Taos, New Mexico. For fuller information, visit www.xtasia.info

*

first time in many years!

Power, Surrender and Intimacy for Women
June 20-22, NYC, Friday 7-10pm, Sat-Sunday 9am-7pm
with Alex Jade

* Learn BDSM techniques and develop skills
* Discover and clarify issues of empowerment and liberation
* Recognize how you engage in power dynamics in your everyday life and exercise more conscious choice
* Heighten awareness of your body’s capacity for sensation
* Explore power and sensation games for fun and healing
* Experience the joy of surrender and trust

Presequisite for this workshop is Celebrating the Body Erotic

Alex Jade has been a leading teacher at Body Electric for a decade and has developed several courses for the School. She is a gender-fluid sex activist, community organizer, shadow explorer and body-based therapist living in Seattle. She uses her training as a massage therapist, movement therapist and masters degree in social work to teach experiential sexual education classes and has a private healing practice.

Both Isa and Alex are profiled in Reclaiming Eros, Suzanne Blackburn and Margaret Wade, editors (2007).

Tuition: $395 per workshop. Recent CBE grads receive $50 discount on repeat workshops. Register with minimum $100 deposit. Full tuition is due three weeks before start of workshops. Contact Debi Soler, NYC coordinator, 212-726-0679, passionjustice@gmail.com

http://www.thebodyelectricschool.com