Tag Archives: Sex

Betony Vernon and the Slow Sex Movement

Photo Courtesy of Ali Mahdavi.

As modern men and women, juggling careers, relationships, the fall-out from the recent financial crisis, and a bustling social life, it’s sometimes hard to devote time to nurturing yourself sexually. Sure, we’re all familiar with the quick bang, or the sex-laden morning shower, but how much time do we really spend pleasing ourselves, and our partners, without the distractions of our tech-obsessed existence?

It is this type of “fast sex” that sex educator and erotic jewelry designer Betony Vernon abhors. On a balmy Wednesday night, myself and thirty other lovely ladies (and two brave men) attended Vernon’s much-hyped sexual salon “The Art of Sexual Ceremony” at the exclusive venue Mister H, housed in the new Mondrian Hotel in SoHo. As we sipped on high-end cocktails, the beautifully statuesque Vernon enlightened us on the importance of taking back and owning our pleasure. By breaking down what she calls the “pleasure taboo,” Vernon believes that we can enrich our sex lives and as a result be happier people.

“Have you ever noticed how people walk down the street?” Vernon explained while fingering a leather crop. “We live in a stiff-hipped society. People walk around life with their sexual energies blocked.” Her solution? Treat the art of lovemaking as a sacred act, and embrace a slow, sensuous road to pleasure.

A former high-end jewelry designer, Betony Vernon was ousted from the fashion world after taking her erotic accessories to the mainstream market place. She now lives, breathes, and explores ways to enhance and educate people about the inherent joy of coupling, and encourages people to abolish categories in an effort to broaden sexual horizons. Employing philosophies of transcendentalism, tantra, and early Greco-Roman views on sensuality, Vernon pontificates on ways to prolong pleasure in a practical and user-friendly way.

In an effort to move away from the contemporary notion of what she calls “masculinized pleasure,” or the idea that the end of the sexual act is signified by ejaculation or orgasm, Vernon stressed the need to enliven the other parts of the body and to not place so much emphasis solely on the genital region.  To “masculinize” your sex, is to only work a small fraction of your potential, and according to Vernon the average sexual act in America last a mere three to fifteen minutes.

Photo courtesy of Michael James O'Brien.

While our overworked and undersexed society is a full of frustration and a general lack of sexual fulfillment, the Sexual Ceremony is a way to extend the time that we spend with our partner prolonging the pursuit of pleasure. Vernon insists that we must reprioritize our lives to leave more room for sensuality and satisfaction, and to move away from the type of “fast sex” that most of us are currently engaging in. And how can we make this transition? Accouterments that help to heighten and extend the lovemaking process—something that Vernon goes into great about in her upcoming debut book The Boudoir Bible due for release in 2012.

Another point, which Vernon stresses adamantly between delicate sips of Champagne, is the importance of breaking down the myths and misconceptions that affect our pleasure. One major example of this is pornography, with she says is the “worst teacher” when it comes to honing your sexual skill set and learning to please your partner. Vernon went on to explain what is called the “hysterical arch,” a term coined by the legendary sexologist Wilhelm Reich used to describe that iconic image of a woman arching her back in ecstasy commonly depicted in porn. This position may be aesthetically pleasing to men, but it actually cuts off blood from the pleasure center, hinders correct breathing, and inhibits sexual response. Instead of playing into some sexual role perpetuated by the male-dominated adult industry, Vernon advises that women should make sure to be comfortable, receptive, and ready to explore your pleasure and your lover’s pleasure openly.

As the evening comes to a close, Vernon leaves her salon attendees with one last point about the all-important Sexual Ceremony. “To gradually build tension, you have the body turned on so much that it becomes something that expands,” she explains about the importance of stretching out the pleasure process. “The arousal now will not be localized to the genitals and will move beyond to the whole body, which will leave you trembling.” I think we could all use a little bit of that.

For more information about Betony Vernon, check out her website.

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Behind the Brothel Doors: An Interview with Blogger Brothel Babe

Two ladies in the hallway of the infamous Moonlite Bunny Ranch.

During my time as a sex and relationship writer, and as the editor for the Lifestyle website iVoyeur, I have been able to meet numerous personalities and sex celebrities on the small and large scale. One blogger I am quite fond of—who I serendipitously met through a friend of mine who fancied her—is Brothel Babe, an ambitious young artist who works as a legal prostitute in a Nevada brothel. On her blog, she writes openly under her pseudonym about her life as a sex worker, the difficulty of keeping her secret, her job-related relationship woes, and pithy tidbits about her day-to-day travails, which would be the perfect fodder for a sexy cable television show. I have always been personally curious about what it’s like to be a woman who has sex for money—I mean who hasn’t had a secret fantasy about being a high class call girl?—and to find out what it’s like behind the doors of a house of ill repute. I recently interviewed my virtual pal and fellow sexy scribe Brothel Babe to discuss how working girls stay safe, the pluses and minuses of working in a “house,” in addition to a bunch of questions I’ve been dying to ask her for some time now.

So, without revealing too much about your past or your real identity, can you tell me why you chose to pursue a profession in the sex industry? What was it about working in a legal brothel that originally piqued your interest?

Brothel Babe: Lets get out the basics: I was never abused by anyone, I didn’t grow up living a hard life. My parents never went through an ugly divorce. I never had a boyfriend who hit me. I grew up in a loving home with creative and vibrant people.

Now lets get to the core of the matter: I got to a point where I felt like I was “cursed.” That curse was getting hit on—a lot. I was at a point in my work pursuits where all I wanted to do was work with people I looked up to, except their dicks kept getting in the way. They wanted sex, and when I said “no” they were complete assholes to me. There were places I enjoyed going that I literally started avoiding because I didn’t know how to deal with those assholes.

I looked up an escort agency online and was about to head off to Boston to work for an upper class agency when my brother (who I tell everything to) informed me that brothels are legal in Nevada. He gave me the name of a brothel there, I emailed their manager, and one-week later I was on my way to turn my “curse” into a blessing.

You’ve made mention that you are looking to publish a book all about your adventures at your chosen profession. How much of what you do is for the purpose of research, and how much is just general curiosity?

BB: The greatest “mystery” about the brothel lifestyle to me, is that to those of us who are in it there is little mystery. We’re so much clearer about our wants than most women I meet outside of here. Nearly every woman I speak with is incredibly clear on her reasons as to why she is working here. She has a purpose. She has a goal. She sets out to do these things by working in a brothel. She accomplishes these things.

If a woman’s story is really interesting, I’ll dig deeper and ask more questions.  I’ll often ask a co-worker if I can write about it. Sometimes they ask for anonymity. Some I have even emailed questions about working in a brothel and they have let me put it in my blog. I hear some crazy stuff that you know from how they tell it is true. Like a girl who hit the streets at age thirteen and cross-dressing trannies took care of her till she got older, or somebody who gets raped and drugged by the Hollywood elite. A lot of shit happens to these girls.

Here we know we are safe. We know we are taken care of. My real research will come in time when I start traveling to brothels in other parts of the world. I have plans to head to Amsterdam to see the biggest and oldest brothels, and my list of brothels I’d like to explore grows every few months or so.

Do you find that you’ve been empowered by your job? And if so, in what way?

BB: Having seen at least a couple thousand men pass through the brothel doors in the years that I’ve worked here, you develop an instant sense of knowing who wants to fuck you, who will pay a lot to fuck you, and who needs emotional nurturing. That is a priceless skill to have. I’d say the most valuable skill I’ve learned is being able to instantly identify a “no bullshit guy” or whether he’s a “full of shit guy.”

Before I started this job, I had no clue as to who was “full of it” or not, and I think I got taken advantage of often for that reason. Applying the bullshit detector to my daily life has been extremely empowering. I wish all women could possess this skill, as they could spare themselves many a bad one-night stand, or a mediocre relationship.

I know that you make great attempts to keep your true identity under wraps. What has been the response from your friends and acquaintances that have found out about your job? How do people usually act when you’ve been publically “outed”?

BB: I went through a big phase where I told a lot of people. Close friends, randoms in bars, people I wanted to date. Telling your guy or girl friends usually leads to a lot of questions. Some think it’s “fucking awesome” and some are surprised. Nobody has ever given me a disgusting face. Not once. Acquaintances and randoms just act surprised, mostly.

I will say that the nature of how I socialize has changed. I don’t hang out with any “loose canons” any more. Now, I can usually be found in a small, protected social circle. I have a circle of friends who all know, and a small circle of friends who don’t know. With those who know, it is treated much like an inside joke. I hang out with those people because I can trust that they would never publicly embarrass me. They protect me.

I guess you could say that I protect the circle that doesn’t know. I try to keep those social circles separate. It’s sort of my refuge to have those friends who don’t know me as Brothel Babe. I feel like I can be myself to some extent, but I can never let down my guard like I can with the friends who know about my job.

I know one or two people in my hometown who insist on telling everyone, whenever my name comes up, that I’m a legal prostitute. I have a very loyal group of friends, who take great care to tell me, “oh hey, this person brought up how you were a prostitute to me at lunch today. I pretended like I didn’t know.”

I also have an archenemy on the Internet who seems determined to out my real identity. Strangely enough, a lot of people think I’m her, and vice versa. She thinks I’m a fraud. Oh well.

You write at length about the difficulty of being able to maintain a romantic relationship on your blog. What have been the hardest hurdles for you to overcome with partnerships? What advice would you give other people who have risqué jobs but still want a steady relationship?

BB: It’s taken me a year at least to learn that I shouldn’t tell my friends exactly when I go to work in a brothel. It puts a weight in the air that weighs me down. I don’t need people checking up on me to make sure I’m OK. There was a guy I started dating while holding this job who knew about my job from day one, but it was a month or two of us dating before I actually went to Nevada. When I left he fell apart and so did the budding relationship. I don’t think even he knew that he would take it that hard.

That was the worst. Going from talking to someone every day to literally having this great new relationship fall apart in a matter of 48 hours. It broke me bad. I tend to think that serious relationships are best to be avoided. If you’re choosing to work in a brothel it’s because there is something in your life you are pursuing that is more important than your relationship. You have to accept that no man is going to be able to predict how they will react when they find out you are a prostitute. You can’t predict the outcome, and neither can he. No matter how much he says he can handle it, you really don’t know until you get there.

My advice? If you meet a guy you think you could get serious with keep him on the hook but don’t ask questions. Go on dates. Be mysterious. Be busy. Be seemingly unavailable. It makes you more attractive, and you can take your time to figure out whether or not he’s worth your trouble. If you meet some liberal dude who’s gonna be okay with your job, chances are, you will know right away.

What are some weird things that you encounter in the brothel on a daily basis?

BB: Chihuahuas and kittens running around, vibrators out in plain sight, or people walking back and forth with sheets—and I am talking about sheets that have jiz on them. Girls in thong teddies with their asses hanging out and fishnet tights in all styles. Nervous men. Daily plays of “I Am Not A Whore” on the jukebox. Pole dancing for breakfast. Good cop/bad cop. I could go on for days.

brothel, bunny ranch, sex for money, legal prostitues

The all-important line-up at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch.

Can you give me an idea of what your day-to-day life is like? What time do customers begin to arrive? Are you on-call most of the day and night? Or are there different shifts? Typically how many people do you see a day?

BB:  My shift is typically spent in the bar, or in my room, and when the bell rings we all line up. At some brothels you are required to hang out in the bar and socialize. At others you can go back to your room, so long as you make it out for line up. Shifts are 12 hours, sometimes 14 hours on weekends. At some places, you can have your own day off. Closer to Vegas, you get one “out day” where you can go out for four hours to run errands, and that’s it. The rest of the time, you’re in “pussy prison” format—meaning no ins or outs. Since I am closer to Reno, and things are less strict, I’m able to have my car and go places if I want. At some brothels you will draw for your shift every week and some girls will trade shifts with each other. At my home brothel, I just tell them what shift I want and the manager decides whether it’s OK or not.

You can see anywhere from zero to ten people a day. You might talk with more than that, but they don’t end up buying. A brothel is like any sales job—there’s dead days, busy days, in-between days. I don’t have a vagina made of steel, so I tend to max out earlier than some of the veterans. There was only one time when I took things too far. That Push Pop in the freezer? Guess where it went.

What have you learned from your time at the brothel?

BB: With the advent of Facebook and whatnot, you really can’t go back to “life before being a prostitute” unless you want to work hard to completely make over your social life and get an entirely new set of friends. Surprisingly, this is not that hard to do.

I just got tired of sex being such an active part of conversation. When you get down to the core of me, I’m actually more conservative than a lot of people my age. I don’t like to purge details about my personal relationships, and I don’t like to talk openly about my sex life. It’s incredibly isolating when people treat you as if working in a brothel is some huge roadblock that prevents you from living your life, like I’m a sex slave. There’s no way they could ever understand the level of respect we receive from the staff that works in a brothel.

I am a valued employee. My needs are met. If I need an hour of sleep because I stayed up late with a client, they will allow it. If I am feeling sick and need to see a doctor, I’m allowed to be late for my shift. If I bullshit them, they put me in my place and they address the issue, but this doesn’t mean I am fired on the spot. They allow room for error in ways other businesses do not.

I have a chef to cook me good food every day. Even if I didn’t make any money that day, there is still food on my table and a roof over my head. Here, the opportunity to make money exists 24/7. You can work extra hours if you want. You can dedicate yourself and reach your goals sooner than you could at any other job. This is why I am here.

What is the hierarchy or power structure like within the brothel? Is there a level of status or prestige that comes with seniority?

BB: If you are a bad person, there is an incredible sense of teamwork on driving out bad people who do not belong in this industry. If you don’t belong here, letters get written, phone calls get made, and the girls call the owners till the “bad person” gets fired.

There are girls who are idolized to some degree. Girls who have perfect figures, or this sexy allure to them when they walk. This sexiness has been earned. These girls possess a glow about them because they are the top bookers and their confidence shows. If you’ve been there longer, there is some seniority, but mainly your worth is determined by how good of a salesperson you are and whether you are working hard or are goofing off on your shift. Seniority comes from hard work, not tenure.

brothel, legal prostitute, bunny ranch, sex worker, belle du jour,

A Moonlite Bunny Ranch worker putting on her makeup.

How often do you get tested for STDs? Do you ever get freaked out that your customers could give you something? How do make sure to keep yourself safe?

BB: I get tested once a week. With more in-depth testing happening once a month, and an even more in-depth test happening once a year.

For your own protection, you must personally inspect every penis under good lighting before the client pays you and before the penis goes inside of you. Condoms are required by law, even for blow jobs. If you stay safe, and you inspect every customer, the odds of contracting an STD are incredibly low. Of course I get paranoid when I get an ingrown hair and I worry it’s herpes or something. I’ve honestly had more problems from my regular sex life than I have had from my sex life here. I self medicate and I’ve been known to stock some extra treatments for yeast infections. Some girls have bought kits off of me before. Really though, the trick to safety is condoms, lots of condoms.

Do you have repeat customers? What happens if you have a customer you catch a bad vibe from? Have you ever said “no” to a potential john?

BB: Repeat customers can be fun when you know how it’s going to go—especially if they have a funny thing about them such as a quirky accent or fun demeanor. I avoid people I catch a bad vibe from. I’ve said “no” probably more than I have said “yes.”

Do your parents know what you do?

BB: Yes, they do, and they’re cool with it. They just don’t want some of my immediate family to know. My mom talks about it. I’ve worked other jobs in between working in a brothel, and my mom tells me she’s proud of me when I do that other stuff.

How long do you plan on working at a legal brothel? What is your next move career-wise?

BB: I’ve always been one to have some zany business ideas. I think I can get out of this business before I turn thirty. Next move is launching a couple business ideas and oddly, putting more trust in other people than I ever have before.

Do you have a special persona that you conjure for your customers? Or do you act and sell yourself for who you are?

BB: I’ve been known to dumb it down a little, or flirt a little more, or speak some Spanish, or French. I’ve also been known to play the therapist a lot. All I’m selling is various shades of myself. I figure you can’t come up with it unless it’s already in you somewhere. Most girls become more extreme versions of themselves and will crank up the charm and crank up the sexy. I tend to do this less than some girls, I think.

Do you have any recent work horror stories?

BB: My recurring nightmare scenario, which has thankfully never happened, is where somebody I know from real life comes into the brothel and sees me and probably I’m wearing some thong with my ass hanging out. That to me would be a nightmare. However, that’s never happened. Usually the biggest horror is that the cook made fish and the kitchen smells, or we’re all out of Frosted Mini Wheats.

Have you ever caught feelings for a customer?

BB: Once I hit on a guy because I thought he was cute and I got his number and we went on a real-life date. He turned out to be the dullest tool in the shed. Then my feelings for him quickly went away. I’ve never really felt a “love connection” happen in a brothel. I think the whole Pretty Woman scenario is so cliché that it’s never happened to me.

What are some arguments you can make for and against working in a legal brothel?

BB: I would only make an argument for working in a brothel if you have a strong enough personality for this business. You have to be so psychologically strong to work here and to maintain your sense of self in the real world while doing this job. A regular, everyday woman does not belong here. Only the strongest do.

I don’t think this is the kind of job somebody should go for when they are wandering about life, unless their plan is to save some money until they figure out what they want. If you can manage to work two regular jobs, or a job that will give you over-time, I’d tell you to go do that before you come here. If you can manage working at a restaurant, or bartending, I’d encourage you to work there. If there is specialized training of any kind that you could go to school for, and you could get a loan, and that stuff interests you, I’d say definitely take that opportunity before you come to work at a brothel.

If you have a summer off and you’re a student and you want to make a few grand to put away, then it could be a good idea. But, if you choose to walk down this road, be careful about your lies. If you have a Facebook page that you frequently update, don’t say you are going to Hawaii. Your friends will want to see pictures of you drinking a Mai Tai in a bikini, and you won’t be able to give them one, and then you’ll be caught. Find an alibi, someone who will lie for you and cover for you. Just don’t be stupid about covering your tracks. If you’re a horrible liar, it will never ever work. I’m the best example of that.

Highways and Bi-Ways, Part II

It might be a common stereotype that many women (and men, too) discover different facets of their sexuality while attending college, but the campus environment seems to harbor a palpable undercurrent of sensual energy. The different sexes experience this differently: Men are fascinated by the amount of hot and willing chicks, while women are enticed by the freedom of living and loving away from the constraints of their hometown and normal social environment. In my case, I was feeling a newfound sexual freedom that was further enhanced by a Female Sexuality class I signed up for. I wasn’t exactly sure what was in store for me when I arrived the first day to the non-descript classroom in the General Studies building, but the first thing I noticed was a petite Latina named Lupe* with a radiance that made me temporarily immobilized.

As we all gathered into the classroom I realized that I couldn’t take my eyes off of her, and I felt my cheeks burn with innocent embarrassment. In passing, I noticed a tiny rainbow pin affixed to her backpack, so I was left with the impression that she preferred women over men. As the semester progressed, and the small group of female students got to know each other on an intimate level, I got to know Lupe, who wasn’t just incredibly attractive, but was also smart and funny with an intoxicating laugh and a sardonic sense of humor. I guess you could say that she held my attention and interest all semester long. I would constantly daydream about her during class; imagining what it would feel like to touch her soft breasts, first delicately cupping them with my hands and then teasingly stroking her nipples with the tips of my fingers. I would vividly imagine working my way slowly down her curvy, petite body to place my eager hand between her thighs, only to watch her close her eyes and utter a breathy moan.

My Female Sexuality class had developed a strong bond, the kind that was forged by bearing our innermost secrets and our sometimes-rocky sexual pasts. We all cried as one or more of us recounted stories of being mistreated by men, or congratulated each other when we would have a sexual triumph, or when we collectively as a class found our elusive G-spots. As the term came to a close, we geared up for the big end of the year party where our group would meet the other Female Sexuality classes for an anything-goes soiree that was notorious for its racy Spin the Bottle games. It was a tradition that at the end of the semester all of the classmates had to reveal if they had a secret crush on a fellow student. I was a little nervous about the possibility of coming out to Lupe, but for some reason it felt right.

We had a pre-party at Lupe’s small apartment off-campus. As we sipped our drinks from red plastic cups and made jubilant small talk, the conversation quickly shifted to sex—as it so often does—and the topic of our secret crushes. As my classmates continued their candid discussions, I leaned over to Lupe, who was cradling a cup in her hands and nonchalantly leaning in the kitchen doorway. I softly whispered in her ear, “I have a crush on you,” and she looked at me and smiled and answered, “I know.” She put down her cup and stealthily touched my left breast that was subtly peaking out of my ’70s halter dress, oblivious to the others in the room. I looked at her intently as I felt the surge of arousal.

As we assembled the group to make our move over the party, Lupe and I walked together lagging behind the rest of the group. While the class headed briskly to the house party in the December frost, Lupe grabbed me and playfully threw me against the wall of an apartment complex and began furiously kissing me. She leaned her body onto mine and pushed her ample breasts onto me. Defenseless and shocked by Lupe’s boldness, I completely gave over to her advances, uttering slow moans as the curve of her body merged with mine. Out in the open for all to see, Lupe and I hungrily kissed each other until a group of male students caught wind of our heavy petting. In a barrage of hoots and hollers, and misogynistic banter, Lupe and I composed ourselves and made our way to the party. I was dizzy and my lips felt swollen in a good way.

At the time, I was hung up on a much older portrait photographer and poster artist who lived close to campus. I had plans to meet him after the holiday party and Lupe told me she would walk with because it was on her way home. With a bottle of Vanilla Stoli in tow, we tipsily made our way to Justin’s apartment, stealing passionate kisses along the way. “I made a promise to myself to never go for straight girls,” she slurred, “but for you, I’ll make an exception. I have a feeling you’re going to break my heart, girl.” At his door we said our farewells and I watched her walk away. I entered his apartment and took off my dress. As he began to touch me in the spacious living room his top-floor apartment my mind wandered. The entire time I thought of her.

Soon after Justin stopped talking to me. It was obvious that, to him, I was just a young party girl who would be easy to use for sex. In the midst of my rejection haze I called Lupe to see if she wanted to get a drink with me. She was underage at the time, so I snuck her into a dark corner of a nice wine bar. We laughed over too many dark rum-infused daiquiris, and I decided to drive her home so I wouldn’t indulge in any more. Double-parked outside of her apartment, it was obvious neither of us wanted to leave. She invited me in and I accepted the offer without a second thought. Once inside the apartment I kissed her and we quickly moved to the bed. I took the lead at first, as I hoisted myself on top of her, my face completely immersed in her full breasts. My kisses moved down her body; slowing mimicking the arch of her stomach, and down to her hips. I lightly bit the inside of her thighs, looking back up at her from between her legs to see that she was hypnotized by my touch. Her body rocked and undulated as I pleased her fully, her moans growing louder, her seductive murmurs transitioning into dirty talk.

“I’m going to make you forget about Justin,” she said once I came back up for air. Lupe delivered on her promise, her intuitive touch sent shivers down my body, my legs shaking in ecstasy. I woke up the next morning with a love hangover. I kissed her as I left and walked to my car. As I turned around to look at her I knew it would be the last time I’d ever see her. She never did call me again—although I was her straight girl exception, she knew that it would never work. I often think about Lupe and the brief time we spent together, and I wonder if she ever thinks of me.

Teen Sex: Not Suitable for TV

Sex is an important part of life, but for impressionable teens, the explicit nature of modern television could be adding fuel to the peer pressure-laden fire.

Hey, I am all for sex, romance, dating, wild trysts, and whatnot. This is part of growing up, experimenting, and trying out different types of lovers and relationships to see what fits for you. We all have a list of youthful exploits, and while some of us have longer lists and more bedpost notches than others, these unique experiences have helped to form the adults (or almost-adults) that we are today. They are also choices we made out of curiosity or out of a deep-seeded passion we were always looking to explore. Perhaps it’s because we currently live in an age of extreme narcissism, where social media-obsessed kids plaster their every conquest and boozy night out for all the world to see, and reality TV “stars” hookup with wild abandon in front of American audiences, but I have to admit that these NSFW displays of sexual behavior make me uncomfortable. Even worse, I hate how adolescents are outwardly flaunting their budding sexuality, which I feel is a response to the unsavory images found on television and in the media. I am far from a prude, but I think a line should be drawn. Teenagers need strong masculine and feminine archetypes to pull and learn from, not attention-seeking drunks on cable television copping feels and exposing their breast implants.

I am guilty of watching these same television shows that promote this type of reckless behavior—my ultimate guilty pleasure is reality TV dating shows, the dirtier the better! But the difference is, I am an adult who has already formed a concrete sense of self and a firm (though always morphing) sexual identity that I have created for myself through trial, error, and healthy experimentation. Kids today are watching these debaucherous scenes play out on the small screen, and sadly, they think this is the social norm. Casual sex at age fifteen? Why, not? That’s what I saw on MTV this weekend. And, all my friends must be doing this, right? Think about the new Brit-imported phenom Skins, which, while fictional, is supposed to be a mirror image of what teenage life is like in its most extreme form. Pill-popping, panty dropping, and rebellious, the kids depicted on this program put me and my late-twenty-something friends to shame with their lascivious antics.

Peer pressure is a dangerous thing, and something that I felt when I was a young teen looking to make my mark and find a way to channel my self-expression. This is a hard time for young women especially, because we are discovering the power of our sexuality—something you can choose to use either for good or for bad, for empowerment or for submission. We quickly learn that our attraction is loaded. To possess such a weighty responsibility is sometimes too much of a burden to bear, and mistakes are expected. Ultimately, it’s your decision to own up to these mistakes and grow from them. But as these young women watch floosies on television, and in the tabloids, making mistakes and being reinforced positively for them, it skews this sense of what is acceptable behavior.

While I am far from conservative, I do believe that many television shows, and B-list celebrities, are conveying the wrong message to the impressionable youth of today. Instead of wanting to be successful, career-minded professionals applauded for their incredible work ethic, teens put more emphasis on the quick road to fame and stardom, complete with sex tapes, drugs, and free-flowing bedroom romps. It greatly troubles me that the people on TV and in magazines—fame whores prancing around in spandex, flaunting their barely-there attire and loose morals—are sadly considered role models for teens and tweens everywhere. While you might be shaking your collective heads thinking that kids can easily see past the slut-tastic behavior that’s prevalent in the media, it’s a fact that young people—whether they have a good head on their little shoulders or are impressionable and easily swayed—emulate behavior and social mannerisms that they see before them.

I grew up in the ’90s with my less-than-perfect role models being Kurt Cobain, Kate Moss, and Courtney Love. I didn’t choose to emulate their questionable behind-the-scenes behavior; instead I tried to channel their art, their unique craft, and the revolutionary movement they stood for. Kurt Cobain gave a voice to the underdogs of awkward youth, Kate Moss proved that cookie-cuter beauty was bullshit, and Courtney Love fused femininity, sexual power, and rock n’ roll in a way that had never existed until that moment. Like other angst-ridden teens, I was enamored with their talents and what they stood for as cultural arbiters shaking up the established norms. It’s hard to imagine what it’s like growing up in this age of tech-obsessed instant gratification and social media. Kids are exposed daily to things that were taboo during my youth. Perhaps parents should institute a “slow life” movement, to help teens learn crucial life lessons from guided experience rather than on TV or online.

In my teens, I also experimented with my sexuality and found myself in more than a few scary situations because, at that age, I was letting my Lolita-esque libido do the talking. After many troubling experiences I realized that being an oversexed disco dolly was the furthest thing from empowerment. I wanted to be taken seriously, and going underage to clubs wearing micro-minis and tattered slip dresses was not earning me the respect from the opposite sex. It became clear that the power I possessed came directly from me and how I carried myself, which is a crucial lesson that has helped to inform my thoughts on female sexuality. We, as women, can’t expect to get treated like equals if we are always playing into the misogynistic notion of what’s sexy that’s promoted in popular media. Those images picture women as sexualized playthings not the powerful sensual beings that we are. I just really hope that these young women will wake up and realize that you don’t have to look like one of those barely legal babes on the trashy American Apparel ads to be sexy, desirable, or attractive. The real allure of a woman is in her mystery and what she chooses to reveal.

Three’s Company

Here’s why threesomes are sometimes better in theory and tips on how to make them hotter!

Threesomes, ménage a trois, lascivious love triangles, or a sexy triumvirate—whatever you may call it, inviting a third party into the bedroom activities of a couple is a cultural fascination as well as a pervasive fantasy. From classic literature to TV shows and movies, the trio is a constantly recycled symbol of the sexual pinnacle, the ultimate hookup sandwich scenario where two is most definitely better than one. While the media glamorizes this type of inclusive tryst, there is more than meets the eye when it comes to the three-way. I mean, if it was that simple wouldn’t we all be indulging in the touch of multiple lovers? Plenty of my polyamorous pals and my acquaintances in the swinger scene have the group thing down pat, but it’s the everyday folk that have a harder time divorcing their emotions and insecurity from the hands-on action, or being ready for this kind of extreme sensual stimulus. Threesomes can be confusing, frustrating, and most commonly jealousy-inducing. Once you bring another person into your bedroom, you can’t expect your current relationship to remain the same—for better or for worse.

Whatever permutation of group sex you enjoy—whether you have a female-male-female (FMF), a male-female-male (MFM), or a female-female-female (FFF) three-way—it can get complicated. If you’re the couple who are looking to spice things up, it’s always smart to first evaluate why you guys want to invite in a third party. This will help to eliminate any unnecessary emotional baggage when the big moment comes—or when it’s over. Is this a fantasy that you both share? Is one of you more gung-ho about the tryst than the other? Will you two be the main focus of the pleasure or will your mystery guest be the recipient of the dual attention? What do you both want to get out of the experience? One thing that I have learned from my peripheral pals in the swinger set is that, although it may seem to be the antithesis of what is spontaneous and fun about sex, laying the ground rules before you initiate adult “play” guarantees better results. If you don’t fully explore the motives behind your decision to have a threesome, or don’t figure out how you want the action to play out, there’s a greater chance of drama, resentment, and someone’s feelings getting hurt. Come to the situation prepared and with a plan, that way when the action gets underway you both won’t be overwhelmed by the experience and lose the script or cross the boundaries of your relationship.

It’s important to live out your wildest sexual fantasies, but make sure you’re doing so without hurting each other’s feelings or compromising your primary relationship. Having another girl in your bed should not be an excuse to cheat on your girlfriend with her in the room. Include her in the action, and if you want some personal time with your play partner for the night, make it known. Test the waters by conveying to your girlfriend that you’ve always wanted to have her watch you get off with another woman, and gauge her reaction. If she’s adamantly opposed to the idea you need to start off slow and keep her in the mix at all times. If she seems into the idea of letting you two have alone time, then keep checking in with her throughout the process. At the end of the night your sexy guest star will have made her boudoir cameo and will disappear into the night, leaving you two to clean up the emotional aftermath, so it’s essential to be on the same page at all times.

If you’re a lady who’s always fantasized about having two men, bring this up with your boyfriend. There’s a terrible sexual double standard about female sexuality, and especially in the realm of threesomes. While it’s culturally acceptable—and even encouraged—for men to have two women at the same time, women are seen as oversexed if they want the same experience with two men. In addition, there is the issue of your male partner not being comfortable with another man in your bedroom—unless he’s of the bi-curious sort, that is. And don’t forget, because he will not be the center of the action, the presence of another man getting off with his girlfriend could make him very insecure. It takes a very, very confident man to handle a male-female-male ménage a trois. But ladies, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bring it up if this is something you truly desire. Just remember to tread lightly, because you don’t want to bruise his ego in the process of pursuing your own pleasure.

Female threesome, photo by Terry Richardson.

Being the “guest star” of a three-way also comes with its pros and cons. What if you’re only really attracted to one person in the couple? What if there’s no sexual chemistry? How can you make sure you’re giving both people enough attention? How can you make sure you’re not a physical symbol of a failing relationship? How can you tell if someone is jealous? What about STDs? While you might have questions like these swirling around in your mind, remember that first and foremost threesomes are supposed to be fun and you should only do it if you think you will get something positive out of the experience.

On the upside, as the third, you are the person who can enter into this romp without the emotional repercussions—that is unless these are good friends of yours, then that’s a whole other story. Also, because this couple already knows what to expect from each other sexually, they will be excited to have you in the mix, making for an almost guaranteed multi-orgasmic experience for you. On the flipside, be cautious of couples in turmoil. Oftentimes, as a last resort, people think that inviting another person into their bed will spice things up or help them rekindle their fading love for each other. This is a warning sign, and most times it’s a symbol of the impending end.

During a threesome it can get confusing. Who’s touching who? Who is further along in the process? Who should I be focusing on? While there’s not a paint-by-numbers way to predict which way your trio session will go, you can make sure to be aware and attentive as much as you can. There are more people, and more factors to deal with. This can be really exciting, but also incredibly overwhelming, especially for a man that is called to perform multiple times. Pace yourself, and if you get carried away and finish too early, just focus on getting your other “teammates” to that same place. Like the cheeky Interpol song suggests,  “There’s No I in Threesome,” so be prepared to please everybody.

It seems like sex would be so much easier if we could eliminate the head-trip that comes with it. In a perfect world, threesomes would play out the way they do in the movies and in porn—and in some circumstances they do.  Similar to any type of physical intimacy, communication is the key to a successful group session. Take the time to plan, engage, and discuss. Sometimes it helps to “court” your potential playmate. Taking them out on a date so you can all get to know each other in a no-pressure environment first can really help solidify a connection that will translate to the bedroom. Flirt, kiss, touch, and see if there’s a spark or even good chemistry in the first place. I have found that diving into the sex isn’t always the best move, and oftentimes it’s hotter to go in stages—just like you would with a potential partner that you’re getting to know. Like ordering in a restaurant, you don’t want your main course first, so relish in all the moments—both sexual and non-sexual—that lead up to the experience. If done right, a three-way can be monumental—just ask all of my sexually satisfied swinger friends who have perfected the art of the ménage a trois. Now that you’re ready to embark upon your three-way adventure, just remember to have fun and love equally!

The Lost Art of Matchmaking and Why Patti Stanger is a Fraud

Patti Stanger, the Millionaire Matchmaker

It should come as no surprise that I am irrationally obsessed with sex and romance. In addition to writing tirelessly and reading voraciously about all-things amorous, I also enjoy watching television programs that tackle the strange and wild world of dating and love. From The Bachelor to all of those awful reality TV celeb-dating fiascos (I even wrote an article about reality TV dating tips because I am so obsessed!), I spend a considerable amount of my time glued to the small screen, fully immersed in televised romantic highs and woes. Two shows that I am particularly taken with are Bravo’s Millionaire Matchmaker and VH1’s Tough Love. Both programs focus on successful matchmakers who help eligible singles break their bad dating habits and then subsequently set up these rough and tumble singles with their “perfect match.” The premise of both shows is slightly similar: Tough Love deals with everyday women who want to break free from their hang-ups caused by past relationships, while Millionaire Matchmaker is much like what its name suggests; A millionaire is paired with less financially fortunate arm candy in the hopes of forging a legitimate romantic connection. I was instantly drawn to both shows because I consider myself to be very intuitive when it comes to who will pair well with whom. While I am not a practicing matchmaker, I do instinctively understand the intangible elements to consider when hooking two people up. I became interested in studying these two self-proclaimed matchmakers and paid close attention to the rules and tricks they preached to their single clients.

I don’t love either show, but I am always captivated by these two relationship “experts,” Tough Love’s Steve Ward, and Millionaire Matchmaker’s Patti Stanger, who have basically made a lucrative career out of something that interests me. Steve Ward went on to expand his Tough Love brand to Tough Love Couples, a show that forced troubled twosomes to confront their issues from intimacy and trust, to fighting and lack of sex. While flawed, I found Tough Love Couples to be honest, endearing, and actually kind of helpful in a vacuously superficial TV kind of way. While it’s hard to achieve depth on reality television, Steve Ward has a way of breaking people (and their terrible conceptions of love and romance) down only to build them up better. And it’s his big heart, not his sound bite-worthy tough insults, that keep me coming back to the show season after season. I’m not positive that his matchmaking skills are perfect—it’s really hard to gauge what his success rate is in a 12-episode season—but you get the sense that this guy cares about connecting people and making their existing relationships blossom.

Patti Stanger and Steve Ward.

On the other hand, Millionaire Matchmaker’s Patti Stanger seems like she’s just out to capitalize on the chronic relationship problems of the rich. Similar to Steve Ward, Patti Stanger dishes out some pretty hurtful and harsh tidbits to both her millionaire clients and their would-be daters. While she claims to be a dating guru, the emphasis she places on looks, money, and just superficiality in general, calls into question whether she should be the person dolling out advice. It’s obvious that a huge part of what makes us attracted to members of the opposite (or same) sex is based on physical appearance, but there is obviously so much more than that. Recently a good friend of mine was complaining about how people just match her up with “good on paper” single guys that seem like a great catch, but have nothing in common with her as a person. This reminds me of Patti’s approach. Her mantra “the penis does the picking” might ring true in the sense that sexual attraction is a huge factor in all of our romantic relationships. But what happens after the sex?

This brings to mind my dad’s great dating theory. He once told me that when he was single he would meet a lot of women who he would connect with physically, but he couldn’t imagine the thought of having breakfast with them the next morning. His system of figuring out who he was compatible with involved finding a girl he could stand to take out for a meal post-coitus. He recounts that when he met my mother—after getting hit by what he calls “the thunderbolt”—he wanted to take her out to breakfast, then lunch, then dinner, and the rest is history. My big problem with Patti’s system of matchmaking has to do with her inability to spot true magnetism between two people that’s deeper than just hormone-based attraction. Instead she’s bound by rules that only apply to the superficial set, who aren’t in search of a long-term partner and instead are beckoned by the promise of a quick fix.

Sure, I get it. These guys are millionaires and they want the biggest, best, and most ostentatious thing available (read: breast implants, big Barbie hair, and a size-2 frame with a brain). But isn’t that the very reason that these guys (and gals) are in fact single? Their unrealistic wants, expectations, and insecurities have informed their physical type, versus looking for real compatibility or connection. Unfortunately, instead of toning down these very surfaced tendencies, Patti plays up to them by rooting out potential suitors based solely on looks and nit-picky rules that only exist in Patti’s narrow-minded world. Patti champions unrealistic ideals, asks women to change their looks to tailor to the millionaire’s specific taste, and even tries to dictate how they should dress to her exclusive cocktail mixers. I have seen her bring women to tears, rip apart perfectly attractive people, and dish out cold-hearted advice during her “screening sessions.” In addition, while she verbally assaults the single women who hope to be paired with a millionaire by constantly telling them they’re not pretty, skinny, or stylish enough, Patti treats the men who are auditioning to be matched with a female millionaire like her own personal Chippendales dancers. She has no qualms about asking men to take off their shirts as she giggles like a schoolgirl at their perfectly sculpted abs, and flirts with them relentlessly until a new group of bachelors are ushered in for their screening. Perhaps it’s this kind of subconscious sexism that impedes her process—she’s so caught up in enforcing her arbitrary rules and reinforcing archaic notions of romance that she can’t spot a real, honest love connection.

Patti is also doing these men and women a disservice by playing into antiquated gender roles. By reinforcing this old fashioned notion of relationships and dating, she is forcing people to play by a code that no longer applies to modern society. She has a strict rule of making the man plan the date, and forbids sex before monogamy, which is one thing I completely agree with. But the vulgarity in which she conveys her strong feelings on abstinence (“Not in here,” as she points to her mouth, conveying oral sex, “or in here, or here,” alluding grotesquely to anal and vaginal intercourse by pointing like a child to the corresponding orifices.) This is a great lesson that we can all try to stick to—don’t have sex before you really think the courtship has a strong foundation and a future—but when Patti is basically prepping all of the girls to be blow-up dolls with a pulse, how can these millionaires NOT think about sex? Her system is deeply flawed and surfaced, and her hotheaded temper may make for good TV, but it gets in the way of the true purpose of the show, which is to create matches and make people happy.

The Love Below: The Power of Going Down

The Love Below, image courtesy of S Magazine.

A very wise man-friend of mine once told me that a good blow job should be like a very wet and messy hand job, and not the gag-defying cock Olympics most men and women think. While the notion of a wet and wild hand job might sound unappetizing, I have a feeling that this statement alone will make many women sleep better at night. There are a lot of unrealistic expectations put on the ladies when it comes to oral sex—this is mainly caused by the hyperbolized depictions of women that the porn industry creates and reinforces—and I think it’s time to set the record straight. We, as women, should want to please our male counterparts without feeling disempowered or afraid of not being able to deep throat with the best of the porn set. There is also a societal stigma placed on the act of fellatio. While well-practiced sexual prowess in men is celebrated, a woman who is happily pleasing her man on her knees is seen as debased, degraded, and subservient. It wasn’t until recently that giving head was seen as a power play, a way to literally grab a man by the balls. But for many women, going down still feels like something that’s unclean, disempowering, and unpleasant. Gender politics aside, I wish that more of us knew that the very act of handling a man’s member, putting it casually in your mouth, and enjoying it, is the ultimate joy for your lover. It’s time for women to take back the blow job and own it— doing so will allow us to subvert society’s sexual double standard while simultaneously getting our men off. Think of it as getting back your power, one blow job at a time.

Free Your Mind and the Rest Will Follow
One of the many misconceptions about blow jobs is that ladies need to be a deep throat champ to please their partner. While I do know a handful of talented men and women who have mastered the art of this advanced form of cock-teasing, most mere mortals like myself are not able to avoid the dreaded gag reflex. Early attempts at such seasoned lip love left me dry heaving, which is never sexy. Therefore, many women are deeply afraid—pardon the pun—of performing oral sex because they are so intimidated by what is perpetuated by the practiced porn starlets taking monster-sized cocks in their dainty lip gloss-frosted mouths. Most women are programmed to think that this is the only way to give a blow job, or if not the only way, we believe it’s what men expect. Instead of fixating on how they do it in the movies, try to form a technique that you’re comfortable with. Start off slow—believe me, he’ll just be happy to get the attention. Try to hone in on how your partner reacts to your every touch, lick, suck, and don’t forget to make as much eye contact as possible. Once you up your game on (and open your mind about) going down you’ll wonder why you ever had a complex in the first place. Want more info? Check out the selection of educational books, videos, and even classes at Good Vibrations and Babeland.

Go Down and Be Proud
Another major hang up that women have about performing oral is a feeling of being slutty or degraded. This was always a big issue for me. I take female equality seriously and for a long time I was under the impression that not giving into the blow job fascination would empower me and raise me above men’s latent desires of keeping a woman down, on her knees. I thought that receiving pleasure while not returning the favor was a way of turning the paradigm on its head—by playing the game the way men had for so many years I felt like I was subverting the system and making a huge step for womenkind. Regrettably, I realized that instead of making a difference I was merely emulating the selfish men that I loathed. By withholding oral pleasure from my partners I wasn’t beating them at their sick, sexist game. On the contrary, each blow job I denied made me miss out on an opportunity to experience great excitement and pleasure with my partners. It’s so easy to get stuck on reversing established gender roles, but make sure that your strong ideals don’t get in the way of your sex life. Once I stopped being a taker and made sure that the foreplay in my life was reciprocal, I felt an inherent strength in being able to please. A good blow job can render even the strongest man defenseless—talk about gaining back your power.

Men, Say No to Porn
Want to make your lady-friend a bona fide cock lover? Then stop expecting her to recreate your favorite adult movie and stop taking your cues from webcam girls. So many men—mainly from the inexperienced end of the sexual spectrum—think that the sexual acts in movies and porn should be played out in real life, no matter how visceral or unrealistic they are. Sure, if you watch a steamy movie sex scene with a Kama Sutra-inspired position that you know will be a winner, try it out! But if you think that pushing your girlfriend’s head “down there” or blasting her face with your man-juice is going to get her hot, nine times out of ten you’re dead wrong. While there’s plenty of cum-loving misses out there, in the general scheme of things women don’t want your love lotion all over their face, hair, and especially not in their eyes. Ouch! Men, if getting head is something you want more of, be sure to make the experience as pleasant for her as possible. If you create this safe environment for her to experiment with pleasing you, she will respond positively, which will result in more frequent penis worshiping sessions. Sounds like a win-win, right?