Slutever Hosts “Streets by VICE: Los Angeles”

Hi, it’s Karley! I hosted this new documentary for VICE about the history of Sunset Boulevard. Slightly random…. but interesting! This is part of a new series called “Streets by VICE” which looks at a city through the history of one iconic street. For this doc I got to meet and interview one of the most iconic sex workers ever, Norma Jean Almodovar, who left her job at the LAPD to become a prostitute, and is now a legendary sex worker activist. Oh and I also shadowed a paparazzi lol. Watch it below :) Continue reading “Slutever Hosts “Streets by VICE: Los Angeles””

London’s Female Drag Queens

Vice just posted this awesome video, which I wanted to share with you. It’s about female drag queens and gender performance, which is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately, after recently reading Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble, which was the first book to theorize that gender is a cultural construct, and that we’re all performing our gender all the time. 

Drag has been a gay man’s art for decades, but women can be queens, too :) I highly recommend this 8-minute doc about a group of super cool female queens in London, directed by Adri Murguia

People Who Just Had Sex: Deep Gay Love

The new episode of People Who Just Had Sex is out, yay! If you’re unfamiliar with the series, the idea is simple–we go to people’s houses and talk to them before they fuck, wait around while they fuck, and then interview them again after they fuck. 

In this episode I meet Tobias and Brian, a Brooklyn couple who have had particularly unique and experimental sexual histories—from gay porn auditions, to Tobias losing his virginity on a plane, to three-way relationships, to a stint of anti-gay therapy prompted by the Mormon church. The couple met during pride in San Francisco five years ago, and after years of friendship they began dating seven months ago.

And if you’re still thirsty for more after you’ve seen the video, below, Tobias and Brian discuss all the juicy details of their sexual past and present that you didn’t see in the video.

Slutever: So, you guys both had pretty unique experiences when losing your virginities.
Tobias: Well, yeah, the first time I had sex was with a woman… on an airplane. I was 15, flying back to San Francisco from my boarding school in New York, and I was sitting next to this woman who seemed around 30. We were talking, and she got really drunk, and she eventually started slipping me drinks and rubbing my leg like “Oh, you’re so handsome.” She asked me what I did, and I said “going to school,” so I guess she assumed that school meant college. And then she just said “meet me in the bathroom.”

And you managed to full-on fuck in that tiny stall?
Well, she went to the bathroom first, and then I joined—she started to rub my chest, and I touched her breasts. And ya know, when you’re a teenager you get rock hard right away as soon as anything remotely sexual happens. She gave me a blow-job, and then she sat me down on the toilet and got on top of me, and in like 5 seconds it was over.

That’s a hard story to beat. Brian?
Brian: Well, I didn’t really do anything sexual with anyone before college. Then at college I worked at the gym on campus, and one day these two guys came up to me and said, “We’re going to a club tonight, do you want to come with us?” I was so nervous—I don’t think they knew that I was so new to this “gay thing,” but I was drinking my way through it. So they drove me downtown to this club and we were waiting in line to get in, and the one guy literally just put his arm around me and instantly I was rock hard. It was so embarrassing. I was wearing khaki pants and trying to cover myself, but he noticed, and I think it excited him. We ended up not even making it into the club, we just went back to his friend’s studio apartment with a couple other guys. So his friend took out a literal chair pad and put it on his kitchen floor and was like, “You guys can sleep there.”  We started making out, and soon his friends start watching. One thing led to another, and I ended up losing my virginity while two other guys were watching, jacking-off.

Did that turn you on?
At the time it was amazing. It’s so funny though, because when I look back, I never had that whole “romantic, losing my virginity” thing. But in a way I think it was a good thing to just get rid of it, ya know?

Yeah, I guess virginity is sort of like a disease. So you mentioned that you both auditioned for porn, but eventually decided against it. Have either of you ever considered other forms of sex work?
Tobias: I’ve done sex work before. I worked as a stripper, and as a naked cleaning guy, so when I auditioned for porn I’d had experience in the sex industry, but it’s completely different when you go on camera.

Naked cleaning guy—how cinematic. What were your clients like?
It varied. I had “stereotypical” guys that were huge and disgusting. I also had this one guy who had a totally filthy house. I walked in and was like, “Oh my god, am I really going to have to clean this?” And he was just like, “Whatever, just jack-off.” But then this other guy had a house that was eerily spotless, and he just wanted me to walk around naked wiping the clean counters while he jerked-off.

That sounds like a good job.
It’s a great job.

So do you guys ever use sex toys?
Brian: We have. I own a dildo, and we have wrist constraints that we use a lot. Tobias has a cock ring.

We gave you a double-hole sex toy from TENGA to try. I know at first you said that it was a little bit tight for Tobias but now there’s an ultra-sized version of the toy which is bigger. What I think is cool about it is that it’s a masturbation toy, but you can use it together, so it’s creates a different way of interacting with each other. I like to use a couples vibrator for that reason.
Yeah, that’s why I really enjoyed the toy too. When we first started dating, we did a lot of just mutual masturbation, which I think can be really intimate.

Brian: Yeah, when we started dating we waited almost two months before we had full-on sex. We fooled around, but it was important for us to take our time, because the goal was for this to be a serious thing. But masturbation with eye contact can be just as intense as sex. It’s hot watching someone give themselves pleasure—watching their movements, and learning what they like it. I personally really liked the egg masturbator too. It looks like your dick wouldn’t fit in it, but it’s actually really stretchy. It’s this really weird, squishy, stretchy material.

Tobias: I was using the egg on him, but I had to stop because he was about to cum, and we’d only just started fooling around.

Have either of you ever experimented with non-monogamy in the past?
Brian: I was in a three-person relationship for a year in college. The other two had been together for a couple of years before I joined, so I guess I was their “secondary parter,” as it’s called. And then sometimes we would bring even more people in, so I’ve had a fair amount of group sex.

Is that complicated?
It was fun, but yeah, it can get complicated. I ended up breaking up with them, but they stayed together.

But you guys are monogamous now, right?
Yeah, we’ve both had a lot of partners and casual sex, and what I’ve come to realize is that, when you’re in a relationship and building a life together, or even just building a sexual relationship together, the more you get to know that person, the better the sex is. And yes, I can find someone on my phone or go to a gay club and just have random sex, and it would probably be good, but our sex is better because of the level of intimacy we’ve established. I know that I have flaws, physically or whatnot, but I also know that Tobias is very accepting of me, so I can just be myself and not have to worry about ‘does my butt look good from this angle’ or whatever.

Tobias: Yeah, I think in terms of casual sex, you’re always trying to look good—to present a certain experience. But we’ve gotten to know each other on a very intimate level, and we’ve talked so much about our physical and emotional flaws. It did actually take me a while to get out of my head, but eventually I felt comfortable enough to Brian to let go, and that’s when sex becomes truly amazing.

A Sugar Baby Flirts with Foie Gras & Ménage à Trois

The blow was originally written as part of my “Sugar Babies” column for VICE.

Claire is a 24-year-old fashion assistant from LA. While in college, she briefly dabbled in the sugar baby lifestyle, traveling to both Boston and Cincinnati to be pampered by sugar daddies, and to be fed fine French cuisine by a fashionable French couple attempting to lure her into an ambiguous ménage à trois. The reality of Claire’s situation wasn’t as fun or as glamorous as she had originally hoped, however, but it still makes for a good story.

So, how your adventures in sugar babying all start?
Claire: Well, I was 22 and at college in Ohio, studying psychology. I was home in California for summer break when I read something on Jezebel about sugar daddy websites. At the time I was working two part-time jobs, trying to save up money before I went back to school, but it just wasn’t cutting it, so I joined a website. At first I kept telling myself it was just “for research,” but eventually I realized that I was actually going to go through with it. But then I thought, Well, that will just make my research even better!

What happened?
Well, after talking to so many guys, I eventually got a message from a guy in Boston, and I liked him because he just seemed really normal,  and he was Googlable—he had founded a big company and was high profile-ish, so he seemed less likely to murder me. I knew I didn’t want to do sugar stuff in LA, because I know so many people there, but I never thought I was going to travel across the country to meet a sugar daddy. But he offered me $3,000 to come to Boston for a long weekend, plus flights, so it seemed worth it.

So what happened when you got there?
We went to dinner at an African restaurant in the South End called Teranga. I’d never had Senegalese food before—the menu has a lot of really delicious grilled fish and meat. But it didn’t take long for things to get weird. Basically, I had known previously that his ideal arrangement was to have a live-in girlfriend, but over dinner he confessed that he had a wife and two kids who he lived with in the suburbs, and I immediately loathed him for having lied to me. And then he told me what he actually wanted was for his sugar baby to live in his house and work as a nanny to his kids, and basically fuck him behind his wife’s back.

Whoa, that’s super-dark.
I know! I was like, “OK, that’s never going to happen,” but he was really pushing for it, saying stuff like, “We can make it work, you can finish school in Boston.” Not to mention that in real life he looked way older and less attractive than the photos I’d seen of him online—he was sobald that he literally had no eyebrows.

Yikes. So what happened at night?
Well, he had told his family that he was out of town—his life was clearly a giant web of lies—so we stayed in a hotel downtown called The Fairmont Copley Plaza. I insisted that we get separate rooms. I had said ahead of time that I wanted to take things slowly, and he said he respected the “good girl in me.” But I was still so nervous that I felt constantly on the verge of vomiting. But I knew I didn’t have enough money to get myself out of the situation—I literally had $30 to my name—so I had to stick it out.

So what happened the next day?
We had lunch at OAK Long Bar + Kitchen, which is in the The Fairmont Copley Plaza. It’s a really nice farm-to-table restaurant that would be really romantic if you were eating there with someone you actually liked. I got a turkey sandwich that was really good. I remember thinking that I didn’t want to get a salad, because I didn’t want to be one of “those girls,” but he got a full-on dinner steak, at lunchtime. It lo0ked really delicious but for some reason it made me think, Fuck this guy.

Afterward we went shopping at Barney’s. I wanted to shop, but I was worried that anything he bought me would be deducted from the $3,000, and felt uncomfortable asking about it. Also, he kept trying to hold my hand in public and I kept having to say “I don’t do that!” I ended up buying a pair of $500 Chloe sandals–they’re so cute, I still have them today actually—but I literally only chose them because they were the cheapest thing in the store. Then he bought me YSL perfume, and it was the most amazing smell, but I couldn’t bring myself to wear it until three months afterward because the smell just reminded me of him.

The smell of shame. God, this sounds like the trip from hell.
Well, the next day was slightly better. We went to the Christian Science center where they have a huge indoor globe, and you can stand inside the Earth. That was the best part of the trip. Afterward we went on a booze cruise around Boston Harbor—it’s called Mass Bay Lines—and that was really beautiful, and I got drunk on fancy cocktails.

Did you guys eat out that day?
Yeah, we went to Quincy Market, which is a very famous market in Boston. There’s a food section with lots of foodie stalls and they basically have any kind of food you could ever want. He handed me some cash while he left to take a work call, and I was kind of drunk so I literally stuffed my face with pizza, a burger, and fries. Then, when he came back he seemed in a really bad mood and was like, “I don’t how to do this, but we’re clearly not working,” and I obviously agreed. He was clearly annoyed that I had refused to do as little as touch him for two days. So we went back to the hotel and he changed my flight to leave that evening. In the hotel he was like, “I have this envelope for you, and I don’t feel comfortable handing it to you so I’m just going to put it in your suitcase.” It was $2,800—so I guess the $200 was deducted because I left early? I don’t know. But then weirdly, when I got back to LA, he wouldn’t stop calling and texting me, asking to meet up again. I ended up blocking his number.

OK, well that was clearly a bad experience. But you still decided to try the sugar baby thing again, right?
Yeah. Honestly, the money was really helpful, and I thought I could find a guy who I liked better, so a few months later, when I was back at college in Ohio, I got back on the site. I started messaging a guy who seemed really sweet, and pretty soon he mentioned that it was actually him and his wife who were looking for a sugar baby together. They were French, from Paris, and were living in Ohio temporarily. He never explicitly said anything about a threesome, but he said they felt that something was missing in their relationship, and that they were interested in the idea of an open relationship.

That sounds kind of hot, actually.
Yeah, I thought it sounded interesting, and that maybe I could write a paper on it one day, or at least that it would make an entertaining story for my friends. So I drove to Cincinnati to meet them, and they insisted that I have an entire spa day before meeting them for dinner. When we finally met I was surprised that I felt pretty comfortable around them. They were in their early 50s, and the wife was beautiful in a clean-cut way, and was an executive at Louis Vuitton. The guy was a writer and was less good looking, but an artistic type. They had never had kids, and he seemed depressed.

Where was the dinner?
We met at a Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse, which is a really classic, New York-style steakhouse. The steak was amazing—they were clearly people who cared about food. But I was aware that I looked like their college-age daughter, and was internally trying to get over the fact that they were my parents’ age. I remember thinking that my roots were bad, and that I looked like a scrub, and that they probably didn’t want to be associated with me because they were quite chic.

So did things get sexy after dinner?
No, we went back to their house and they just put me to sleep in their guest room.  I could tell that the husband wanted the situation it to be more seuxal, but the woman’s motives were more ambiguous at first. It was almost as if they were treating me like a daughter—the daughter they never had.

Strange. So did you see them again?
Yeah, a couple weeks later I drove back to Cincinnati and met them at a French restaurant called Jean-Robert’s Table, which had just opened a few months before. It was very classy, and at that point I had dyed my hair, and dressed up, so I felt more appropriate. They ordered everything for me in French—it was very traditional French food like pâté, foie gras, and steak tartare. It was incredibly good. As the night went on, however, it became more clear that the wife wasn’t into it.

What do you think her motive was?
I think she just wanted someone to come in and fix their marriage… somehow. The husband clearly wanted a sex plaything, but from the way she treated me it seemed like she wanted a daughter, and somehow they were trying to combine those desires by meeting me. Unfortunately, I don’t think I fulfilled either of those roles well.

Did they pay you?
Yeah, they gave me $500 each time. Then, a few weeks later I got a message from the guy saying they were getting a divorce, and asked me if I wanted to meet him on his own, but I didn’t respond. After that I stopped the sugar baby thing. It was just too much for me.


Religious Fashion: So Sexless It’s Almost Sexy (Pt. 1)

I recently interviewed a series of people who grew up in strict religious communities about clothing, sex, and how those two things sometimes overlap. Over the next week or so I’ll be posting the interviews one-by-one. Here’s part one!

Sex and religion have both been around for a pretty long time, and since the beginning they’ve had a love-hate relationship. At certain times their marriage has been more civil than others–the pagan orgies of ancient Rome come to mind–however for the most part, almost unanimously, religions have viewed modesty, in both behavior and appearance, as inextricably linked to holiness. And modesty isn’t generally thought of as being super sexy.

But then again, sometimes covering-up has its own perverse appeal. Clearly, a primary objective of religious dress–particularly that of women–is to strip away any notion of sexuality–to “hide the goods,” so to speak. But in doing so, the wearer can become a symbol of the forbidden, or the hidden, which has its own allure. It’s a catch 22: the ambition to negate the body puts the focus on the body. It’s about having what you’ve been told you can not have, eating the apple you’ve been forbidden. It’s for precisely this reason that religious clothing has become so widely fetishized and appropriated in the secular world, from Lady Gaga’s translucent pink burqa, to Jean Paul Gaultier’s collection inspired by Hasidic apparel, to Madonna’s entire career.

Thirty or so years go, the religious blended far more seamlessly into society, both in their philosophy on sexuality and in fashion. Even in the 80s, a decade of sexual provocation and excess, there was still the implicit understanding by society at large that lewd or promiscuous behavior was “naughty,” and not done in polite company. However, as the Western world becomes increasingly secular, modesty is beginning to look a lot more alien. Miley publicly masturbates in latex underwear; Rihanna gives lap dances in a leather harness onstage; the average girl on the street wears either a Kim-Kardashian-inspired microdress or an American Apparel see-through crop top… and no one bats an eye. In a world where skimpy is the norm, our gaze naturally shifts to the most covered-up person in the room, thus isolating those in religious dress more than ever before.

I recently interviewed a series of people who grew up in strict religious communities about how their religious clothing has impacted both their sexual development and their personal identities. We also discussed the various ways that certain people bend the rules of their religion, in order to look more attractive or fashionable–from Muslim fashion bloggers creating stylish ways to wear hijab, to Saudi women wearing designer dresses under their abayas, to the special wigs Orthodox Jewish women wear when (almost) no one’s watching.

Part 1: Amish Fashion

Saloma Ferlong

The Amish like to think of themselves as humble pilgrims passing through Earth on their way to eternity, and therefore don’t get attached to the things of this world, like Louboutins and Instagram. Most of us know the Amish as the guys in the plain clothes who drive around in horse-drawn buggies and refuse to accept the greatness and convenience of modern technology. But for the Amish–a group of traditionalist Christians–plain dress is a symbol of their humble way of life. Although individual Amish communities differ in accepted dress, the style in each community is uniform, generally hand-sewn, and never flashy. Most sects believe that even buttons are too decorative, favoring plain, functional hooks or pins.

Amish women and girls wear conservative long dresses, and must cover their hair in public. Their hair should never be cut and is usually worn in a braid or a bun and covered by a white prayer cap, and sometimes with a bonnet as well, if they’re married. Amish men wear dark shoes and pants, and use suspenders instead of belts, as they’re considered less flashy. They wear practical straw hats in warm weather, and dark-colored felt hats during the winter. Single men shave their faces, while married men must grow an untrimmed beard, although mustaches are never allowed (they associate mustaches with military officers, and the nonresistant Amish refuse to perform military service).

Saloma Furlong grew up in an Amish community in Ohio, in a family of seven children. At age twenty she escaped her community, seeking freedom and higher education (the Amish tradition is to stop formal schooling in 8th grade). However, she was soon found and brought back against her will, only to leave again nearly three years later. Now in her fifties, her memoir Why I Left the Amish was published in January 2011, and the sequel, Bonnet Strings: An Amish Woman’s Ties to Two Worlds, was released in February of this year.

When you’re young, what are you taught about the significance of Amish clothing?

Saloma: The Amish have a very humble and quiet faith. People don’t moralize about things, or even say, “women should have their head covered because the Bible says so.” It’s more about tradition–you learn what’s expected of you based on what people have been doing for generations. And if I questioned it growing up, I would hear, “Oh Saloma, that’s just the way it is.” That’s a very common way the Amish explain things. You never get any satisfactory answers, so eventually you just stop asking, and that’s really what those answers are designed to do–to shut down a child’s desire to be informed or curious. But as a child you do understand that your clothes set you apart from the rest of the world. When I was five I entered public school because there wasn’t an Amish school near us at the time, and I became keenly aware of the beautiful dresses and patent leather shoes that I couldn’t have.

But did you understand, to some extent, that the look was about modesty?

Well, even though Amish clothing is meant to be modest, that doesn’t prevent someone from stripping you of your clothes with their eyes. For the Amish, a primary element of the clothing is that it removes any element of individuality. A big emphasis in the Amish community is on humility–they believe that individuality equals pride, and to be proud is selfish and wrong, and therefore everyone should look the same. In the dominant culture, being an individual is valued, but in Amish culture being a good person is equated with fitting into the group.

Right, but it seems to be a natural human instinct to define oneself. It’s like when girls in Catholic school wear accessories even though it’s against the rules. Do you find that in Amish communities at all?

Yeah, it sometimes feels like there’s a competition of who can be the most different while still keeping within the rules. Like some girls open the necklines of their dresses more than others, or wear shorter, more form fitting dresses, or lighter colors. That’s more common when people are young, in the rumspringa years. Rumspringa is when you start dating, and sometimes during those years parents will get more lenient, and will look the other way if you have a radio or something. Some parents don’t, and would certainly smash a radio or bury it if they found it. There tends to be a hierarchy in Amish communities, and people at the top get away with a lot more than the people at the bottom.

What were you taught about sex when you were growing up? Is it similar to most other forms of Christianity–basically, “Don’t have it until you get married”?

No, it’s literally just never even talked about. At all. There have been stories of young women who left the Amish and knew absolutely nothing about the facts of life. They would know that babies appear, but not why or how, and once they were out in the real world they were raped, and they had no idea what was happening to them. That same thing also happens within the community, which is even worse, because the predator could be you brother or father or cousin, etc. And sometimes sexual knowledge is used as a way to get close to you, by saying, “Do you know how babies are made?” As if it’s some kind of a secret that’s being passed around. And then it becomes, “Well, may I show you how it’s done?” In many Amish families, if girls weren’t sexually abused, they may not know the facts of life until they’re married.

So is sexual abuse more prevalent within the Amish community than outside of it?

I’ve been asked that question many times, but it’s hard to say. There’s so much secrecy that shrouds abuse, and in a culture like the Amish, the secrecy that shrouds abuse becomes so thick, you can’t penetrate it at all. The only thing I have to go by is that if you talk to people who have left the Amish, usually, not only can they tell you their own abuse stories, but they know of many other victims as well, and they often talk about how rampant it was in their communities. There’s research showing that the more male dominated a culture is, the more prevalent abuse is. In that regard, I would say that the way Amish girls are taught to obey their brothers, fathers, uncles, and elders of the church, which makes them vulnerable to abuse.

Are there occasionally people who learn about sex, or the ways of the outside world, through secretly having a radio, like your mentioned, or through conversations with an outsider?

Well nowadays some people have technology on the sly, like smartphones, and some Amish will actually have a TV in their basement that they rig up with a car battery. So some people are very well versed in sexual stuff. The people who don’t know anything about sex come from the strictest of the strict–the Swartzentruber groups. They wouldn’t dare have a cell phone, even on the sly. People can be really in the dark. There are a lot of young women who don’t know what’s going on when they get their period for the first time.

And you allowed to wear tampons?

Well when I was young, we had homemade pads made from cloth. Today, some Amish women may wear tampons, but in the strictest groups they still wear homemade cloth pads.

I guess a homemade pad is not that much worse than a regular pad, though.

I disagree. I’ve tried both, and believe me, having to wash your pads is way worse than throwing them out.

You win. Is it common for Amish people to have sex out of wedlock?

Okay, now you’re getting into the area of Amish culture that’s one of the biggest secrets. Some Amish communities, including my home community, still practice something called bed courtship. This was practiced back in Switzerland, where our ancestors came from. They were being prosecuted for their faith, which meant that sometimes young people would hide in the attick of their home, and in Switzerland it’s very common to have a haymow above your living quarters. So they would lie up there in a bed and talk, and they would place a board down the middle to separate the man from the woman and that was basically a “date.” Today, some Amish still do this, except the board has long disappeared. And even though you’re supposed to remain chaste until you’re married, it’s very common for girls to get pregnant beforehand, partially because of this practice. I personally think the reason bed courting is still done is because it traps the woman if she does get pregnant. Entrapment is one way of maintaining the culture.

What about the clothes Amish men wear–are they intended to desexualize, and convey modesty, in the way the women’s clothes are?

Kind of, yeah. There’s nothing really attractive about their baggy pants suits. I mean, they look like grizzly bears because of the shaving restrictions, and their hair has to be long. And Swartzentruber men don’t bathe often. Men get more privileges though, like they’re allowed to have buttons on their shirts but women have to use straight pins.

Are there variations in the way women dress in different Amish communities?

Yes, in the most conservative communities they’re not allowed to wear underwear with elastic at the waist, and it has to be homemade, so the only choice is cotton bloomers with a button at the waist. They’re not allowed to wear bras, and they have to wear these long, baggy slips underneath their dresses, even in the heat of summer.

When and how did you leave the Amish? Was it a hard choice to make?

It was hard, because for the Amish, the ultimate judgment is against those who leave. They don’t condemn anyone else to hell, not even murderers. But my life had become really unbearable. My family was dysfunctional–I had a mentally ill father, a mother who did not protect us, and an abusive older brother. I felt I had two choices: I could commit suicide or leave the Amish. And I thought, “Well, if I commit suicide I’m going straight to hell, and if I leave I’m told I’m going to hell too… but at least I’ll get a whole lifetime on Earth before that happens.”

Very rational.

I know, right! I was twenty when I left the first time, and I escaped in secret. But after four months I was blindsided when a van load of Amish came from Ohio to Vermont, where I had moved, and took me back. The bishop was in the van, along with my uncle, who is a minister, and his wife, my sister and my older brother, who had a great deal of influence over me at the time. I didn’t trust that if I refused to go my brother wouldn’t physically grab me and put me on the van. There are many stories of people being surrounded and physically prevented to leave. But the second time I left, I told my mother and my sisters what I was about to do, and I left with a lot more confidence, so they let me be.

Now that you’ve left, do you think any of the Amish philosophy has stuck with you?

Well, now that I’m part of the dominant culture, I kind of resent the modern fashion that is shoved down our throats. In the Amish you have to conform, yet in the dominant culture, if you don’t keep up with fashion, there’s a stigma that goes along with that too. We think we’re so free, yet who’s to say we’re not as conditioned as the extreme religious people? And it’s largely not even women who are determining what’s in style for women, which today tends to be very revealing. I have a Catholic friend whose theory is that the new fashion of showing so much skin is like giving someone a gift without the wrapping on it, and I kind of like that image. And if you look at it from a slightly different angle, you could say that actually, the Amish are the one’s who are refusing to comply.

Do Gurls like Toys More than Boyz?

This was originally written for

On the most recent episode of VICE’s People Who Just Had Sex, I interviewed a dominatrix named Samantha and her longterm boyfriend about bondage, love-making and masturbation. What didn’t make it into the edit was our conversation about how, judging from our own sexual experiences, women tend to be more comfortable using sex toys than men, both during sex and masturbation.

But why is that? I literally have a giant bag full of fake vaginas in my apartment right now (thus is the life of a sex writer), and I can’t even give them away. My girl friends all casually have vibrators on their nightstands, and swap sex-toy recommendations, but many of the guys I’ve dated have seemed embarrassed by the idea of sexual paraphernalia. Also, some have felt threatened by my wanting to use a vibrator during sex. I decided to consult my favorite sex therapist, June Tomaso-Wood, to ask her if it’s true that girls like toys more than boys.

So, is it true?
June Tomaso-Wood: Well, it’s true that some men find it emasculating to admit that they want or need a device in their sexual pay—even if it’s a girlfriend’s vibrator, which could potentially be stimulating to him as well—because young men want to be viewed as virile, sexually self-confident, and capable of satisfying a woman. There’s a lot of shame around sex for men in this culture, so even though masturbation is not necessarily taboo, because of course everybody masturbates, a lot of men choose to keep their mouth shut about it.

But are some of your male patients interested in toys?
Some are, yeah. I just sold an 82-year-old man a vibrator. He has a 92-year-old girlfriend, and he called me up and said, “The previous vibrator you sent me broke. Can you send me something better that’s going to last longer?” I kid you not. His girlfriend loves sex, but he can’t get as hard as he once could anymore, so to enable intercourse they use a product which decreases performance anxiety in the male, then he uses a bullet to get as hard an erection as possible, and he uses cock rings to keep the blood in his penis. During this she stimulates all her nerve endings down there with a dual stimulation vibrator, and then they have intercourse.

Wow, that’s amazing, but also seems really laborious. But I guess that’s OK because they’re old, and probably don’t have many other plans. Anyway, what about masturbation? The vibe I’ve gotten from some guys is, “I don’t need to jerk-off because I get laid all the time.”
What that signifies to me is cultural problem. Masturbation and sex are separate desires. Some men feel like it’s a feather in their cap to have many sexual conquests, and feel they need to be presenting themselves asa Don Juan and therefore don’t need to be masturbating.

When I’m having a lot of sex, I actually think I masturbate more. I always say: sex is like carbs, if you cut it from your diet, eventually you stop craving it. But as soon as I eat a bagel, all I can thinking about is eating another bagel.
Right, so often if you’re in the courting stage of a relationship, or really just in any exciting relationship, your dopamine receptors are very acute, so you’re sexually responsive, which means you’re thinking about sex all the time. And when you’re having a lot of sex you can remain engorged in the vaginal area, so you want to climax again and again.

As a girl, what are you supposed to do if your boyfriend gets weird about you wanting to use a vibrator during sex?
Well, that’s just an ego thing. He’s thinking, “What, I’m not enough?” They feel that their penis should be the be-all-end-all of your sexual life. But in reality, a vibrator can stimulate all of your 8,000 nerve endings very quickly, which gets you very wet and engorged with blood, and your muscles down there tighten, and a penis just can’t do it all—it can’t stimulate the woman on the outside. So you just have to explain to your partners that the toy isn’t a threat or a replacement, it’s just an added bonus. Of course, nothing can ever replace the penis, or the closeness of being with a partner.

Do you ever suggest to your make patients that they should use sex toys?
I’ve had men come to me addicted to porn, who are having trouble getting excited about intercourse, or who can’t reach orgasm during sex. See, when we watch porn, the dopamine receptors in our brains become very stimulated, so it’s exhilarating. Men know exactly how quickly and tightly to stimulate themselves while watching porn, and can reach orgasm quickly. But the problem is, when they then have actual sex, a real woman’s vagina doesn’t feel as good as their own hand, and they’re so depleted of dopamine that sex doesn’t feel as exhilarating. They’re used to holding their penises so tightly that it becomes less attractive to have intercourse than to masturbate watching airbrushed pornstars. So that’s when I transition men to male masturbator sleeves, because the sleeve is not gripped so tightly.

Yeah, Dan savage is always telling guys not to hold it so tight when jerking-off, because no vaj or butthole or throat will ever going to be as tight as your death grip.