Browsing posts from the category Musings


The untold story of the donut/penis sex tip

donutChances are that at some point over the years, you’ve come across Cosmo’s infamous sex tip to put a donut on a penis and eat it off. It’s pretty ubiquitous. What you probably don’t know is how that tip came to be, how it has been recycled over the years, and how it plays out in practice.

Thanks to some rigorous journalism, we have the full story. Amanda Hess traced the donut/penis tip all the way back to 1995, where it appeared in a sexual recipe book called The Foreplay Gourmet, and then again in 2000, in a “sexual exercise” book where it was jokingly suggested as a tool to strengthen penile muscles.

But the tip graced the pages of Cosmopolitan for the first time in June of 2003. The cover of the magazine hinted: “99 Ways to Touch Him: These Fresh, Frisky Tips Will Thrill Every Inch of Your Guy (Our Favorite Requires a Glazed Doughnut).” An anonymous source elaborated: “My girlfriend gets a glazed donut and sticks my penis through the hole. She nibbles around it, stopping to suck me every once in a while. The sugar beads from her mouth tingle on my tip.”

The tip was repeated in future issues of the magazine and even in Cosmo-related books. Kate White, editor of Cosmopolitan from 1998 through 2012, admitted that sex tips could be recycled because “readers would age out of the magazine.” Plus, it was a different time, and even the silliest of tips represented an attitude shift:

. . . in 1998, young women had few outlets for reading about sex outside of the Starr Report. Crowding around a Cosmopolitan beat sneaking to the family desktop that moved at dial-up speed . . . only when White took over did the magazine actually get “very candid” about just what a fun, fearless female does when she hops into bed. [White says,] “We gave them permission to enjoy having sex.” For all its ludicrousness, Cosmopolitan presented a vision of limitless sexual experimentation, no shame.

The internet is faster now, and women are arguably more open about their sex lives. But still, the donut/penis tip lives on, joining the ranks of other strange household objects that Cosmo has posited as sex accouterments. Thankfully, there are brave souls in the world willing to test drive Cosmo’s ideas. Anna Pulley recently tried these five:

  • “Slip a donut around his penis, and slowly eat it off.”
  • “Sprinkle a little pepper under his nose right before he climaxes. Sneezing can feel similar to an orgasm and amplify the feel-good effects.”
  • “Feed each other ice cream [in the dark]. Not being able to see means more spilling, which means more licking up the mess.”
  • “Press a fork (firmly, but don’t break the skin or anything) into different parts of his body — his butt cheeks, his pecs, his thighs.”
  • “As you’re riding him, clamp down on his earlobes with your fingers, and pull on them to rock yourself forward and backward.”

So how was the donut tip in action? Well, it certainly resulted in some hilarious conundrums:

Since I love donuts, I thought this would be the most enjoyable experience to try, out of all the tips. But it turns out that being picky about the donuts you want to put in your face works against you when you want to put donuts on a penis. I first searched for a chocolate old-fashioned — not only because it’s delicious, but also because the hole is often bigger than the ones in yeast donuts. After going to three different donut shops and failing, I settled on a common chocolate glazed donut, whose hole measured three-quarters of an inch (yes, I measured it).

. . . What the advice doesn’t mention is this: It’s virtually impossible to consume food and blow someone at the same time. This extra work made the dough job last a lot longer than it would have otherwise because I kept having to stop to chew and swallow before I could take anything else in my mouth.

Meanwhile, the pepper and fork tips made for lackluster sexual experiences, while the ice cream tip was deemed the best: “Ice cream, it turns out, is something not even Cosmo can ruin.” And although Pulley found that earlobes don’t provide nearly enough surface area to grasp, she was just happy “to try a tip that didn’t hinge on Cosmo’s insistence that I have sex with as many household items as possible.”

Since Joanna Coles took over Cosmopolitan in 2012, the magazine has been making a concerted effort to phase out sex tips that are only about pleasing a man, while giving an extra wink to the tips that may seem a bit off-the-wall. Anna Pulley tried all the tips on her female partner, and although most of them were failures, none of them failed because of her partner’s gender.

Nonetheless, the infamous donut-on-a-penis idea was revived again last month. Writer Krista McHarden admitted it was Cosmo’s “wackiest, craziest, most batshit battiest sex tip,” but actually, she clarified, it’s “suuuuper fun.”

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Altered consciousness for sadomasochists?


It may come as little surprise for those who regularly engage in BDSM, but researchers are proving why sadomasochism is so alluring: it may actually lead to a different level of consciousness.

James Ambler, a graduate student in psychology at Northern Illinois University, set out to understand why some people engage in sexual behaviors that others consider painful. He enlisted 14 “switches” (people who enjoy both giving and receiving pain), who were each randomly assigned a role for an ensuing sexual experience.

Afterward, participants took a cognitive test called the Stroop task and also reported on their “flow,” a state of focus and enjoyment that people enter when engrossed in an activity.

Both givers and receivers described similar levels of “flow” during the sexual experience, but pain-receivers produced lower Stroop task scores. Low Stroop scores are associated with short-term dips in function in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain that manages memory and control.

What does this mean? It means that during sadomasochistic activities, the brain is forcing blood flow away from the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex — facilitating an altered state of consciousness.

This conclusion is bolstered by another couple of researchers at the same university. They studied “energy pulls,” during which folks get temporary skin piercings through which hooks and ropes are looped, then pulled taut. Saliva samples from the 22 participants showed a spike in cortisol, a stress hormone, during the ritual — but participants reported feeling both less stressed and more connected to others.

Researchers believe this disparity is due to an altered state of consciousness, as well as a reduction in function in that same dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Among other things, that part of the brain is responsible for distinguishing the self from others, so less blood flow to the area can cause a sensation of oneness.

These results may be fairly general, but they lay the groundwork for future studies. Down the line, researchers hope to enact real-time monitoring of participants to examine the physiological and psychological components of BDSM and how they mingle during a sexual experience. Now that would be really interesting.

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Decades later, Dr. Ruth still dispensing great sex advice

Dr. Ruth Westheimer’s career as a sex educator began in the early 1980s, when she was enlisted to host a radio show called Sexually Speaking. NBC was worried about allowing live phone calls, so they began by taking listener questions via letters. Later, when the show went live with a 7-second digital delay, Dr. Ruth was already becoming a household name. Listeners were enamored with her jolly demeanor and frank answers.

Soon after, Dr. Ruth launched her own TV show, which was nationally syndicated and led to more and more TV appearances. She taught and lectured at colleges, wrote a whole host of books, endorsed a sex toy, and continued to dole out sex advice. With her relaxed approach, she helped usher in a new age of openly discussing sex.

What you may not know about Dr. Ruth is that she has transitioned into the digital age remarkably well. Not only does she have a website (which, of course, has a Q&A section), she also has a YouTube channel and Twitter account. And yes, they are just as delightful as you might imagine.

On her YouTube channel, which has over 1,500 subscribers, Dr. Ruth posts pithy, adorable answers to questions that online fans ask her:

The channel also includes footage from her old TV shows, movie and book reviews, musings about getting a kiss from President Obama, and more. Her video review of Fifty Shades of Grey is particularly good:

On Dr. Ruth’s Twitter account, she tweets about the latest sex-related news and studies. Reading through her timeline, you get the sense she just wants to encourage people to have more, satisfying sex. A valiant goal!


In the 55th anniversary edition of Playboy in January 2009, Dr. Ruth clocked in at #13 in the list of the 55 most important people in sex from the past 55 years. We must agree! It’s pretty awesome that she has continued to bring her signature sex advice to the masses, even 30+ years after she began her career. Only now, she’s answering tweets rather than letters.


A peek inside Crave’s vibrator factory

Crave Duets in the factoryHave you ever wondered what goes on in a vibrator factory?

A writer from Gizmodo recently visited the factory of Crave, a small luxury sex toy company based in San Francisco. They are perhaps most known for the Duet and Solo, swanky USB-rechargeable clitoral vibes, but they also make high-end accessories such as nipple tassels, cuffs, and nipple vibrators.

Crave is one of the only vibrator companies that manufactures and assembles their toys in the US. They make almost all their components on-site. Without the need to acquire prototypes from an overseas facility, they are able to tweak their designs with much more specificity than other companies:

. . . each stage of the process is marked by lots and lots of hands-on trials with a wide range of real life women. Chang follows-up with volunteers with online surveys or one-on-one interviews to figure out what worked and what didn’t. Models get refined, and tested again. And again. And again.

“Factory,” it seems, may be a strong word, since Crave is still a small operation. Their machinery includes a CNC mill, which is used to machine parts and molds, and a hot pink compression molder (or “vibrator waffle maker”) which presses two heated plates around some silicone. A piece of paper taped to the side of the compression molder hilariously reads “FUCKING hot.”

Upstairs, in the workshop, the toys are assembled by hand. Each vibrator is charged, depleted (Gizmodo reports: “when all of the vibes are switched on, it sounds like a massive hive of amorous bees”), and re-charged, then vacuum-tested on a special device to confirm waterproof capabilities. Next comes a hit of antibacterial spray, a cloth wipe-down, and finally, each toy is tucked into its leather travel pouch and packaged up.

Crave also hosts Build-a-Vibe workshops around the country, letting folks get a hands-on look at the assembly process — and build a Duet in the process. A lot of meticulous work goes into the design, manufacture, and assembly of Crave’s toys. It’s really interesting to see all of the tiny steps involved with the creation of these beautiful vibrators.


Help Courtney Trouble deck out their new studio!

Help Courtney Trouble deck out her new studio!

Awesome news from queer porn filmmaker Courtney Trouble:

For the first time in all the twelve years I’ve been producing porn and making art my business with QueerPorn.TV and, I will FINALLY have my very own art studio and place of business!! A REAL STUDIO!!! A place for screenings, performances, workshops, meetings, salons, play parties, readings, photo shoots, and art receptions. A place where new pornographers can come and shoot, a place where queer porn can be made every day, a place where my DVDs can be stored, my sets built, my paperwork kept safe. A place where people can learn and play and be safe and have fun and be serious and make money and build projects and keep this queer porn movement going strong in Oakland!

To furnish the studio with all the necessary accouterments of queer porn (such as the extremely important espresso machine — oh, and beds…), Trouble is running their own indie crowdfunding campaign. Chip in, and you can get rewards such as membership to their sites, digital downloads/DVDs, and banner advertising. The big ticket rewards include spending a night in the studio, a Skype date with Courtney Trouble, and having your name painted on the wall of the studio.

Here are the ways you can contribute:

Once you’ve made your purchase, email courtneytrouble at gmail dot com with the receipt and which reward tier you’d like.

We can’t wait to see the porn that is yet to be made in this exciting new space!


A big year in porn for women

A screenshot from Ms Naughty's site Bright DesireMs Naughty is an Australian blogger, educator, and porn producer. She runs Bright Desire and For the Girls, porn sites that offer well-made erotic content such as videos, documentaries, and fiction.

Having worked in the industry for 13 years, Ms Naughty is a strong voice in the landscape of female-produced porn. Recently she published her yearly Porn for Women Retrospective, which tirelessly tracks all the developments in the world of female-friendly porn in the past year.

In her retrospective, Ms Naughty notes a boom in feminist porn specifically, including the publication of The Feminist Porn Book, the eighth annual Feminist Porn Awards (and other great awards shows honoring feminist and queer porn), the inaugural Feminist Porn Conference, and the addition of Feminist Porn Release of the Year to the roster in the mainstream Xbiz Awards.

2013 also saw the untimely passing of Carlos Batts; the release of Courtney Trouble’s Lesbian Curves, Tristan Taormino’s Guide to Kinky Sex for Couples, and Erika Lust’s X-Confessions; the publication of What Do Women Want?: Adventures in the Science of Female Desire; and the launch of a new academic journal called Porn Studies. Meanwhile, several surveys attempted to discern how many women watch porn — with no clear-cut answer.

In addition to the retrospective, check out this compilation video about the Feminist Porn Awards and Conference, with many clips from Ms Naughty’s work as well as Tristan Taormino’s Expert Guide to Pegging:

Can’t get enough or want to delve further into the past? Read the rest of Ms Naughty’s retrospectives, dating all the way back to 2006!

2012 – Fifty Shades of Grey, romance porn, After Pornified and the growth of feminist porn.
2011 – Younger women using porn, more hot movies, sites and festivals.
2010 – “Hello Ladies,” queer fun, more hot movies and anti-porn crusades.
2009 – Oprah, awards, and increasing censorship.
2008 – Goodbye Playgirl, more queer porn, erotica book covers, The Porn Report and more.
2007 – That housework book, Daniel Craig in togs and blowjob debates.
2006 – Inaugural Feminist Porn Awards, CAKE and Ellora’s Cave.


Innovative condom prototypes given funding

A condom with pull tabsThe future of condoms is looking bright. Back in March, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation dangled a $1 million carrot in front of anyone who could invent a condom that “significantly preserves or enhances pleasure.” Now, after over 800 entries were submitted, the Foundation has chosen 11 to receive grants — and unveiled their prototypes.

Many of the condoms are crafted of new materials, such as thermoplastic elastomer (durable and stretchy polymers that don’t tear or deform as easily as latex), graphene (a carbon material currently used in cell phone screens that is one atom thick and virtually indestructible), polyethylene (a material that “wraps and clings rather than squeezes,” making it less restrictive), and even collagen fibrils from cow tendons (which feels like skin and enhances heat transfer).

Other innovators aim to make application more intuitive, as in the case of a condom with pull tabs, and the “Rapidom,” which is applied in a single motion, without the user ever touching the condom itself.

One of the inventors to be awarded a grant is a chemistry research professor and scientist at the University of Oregon. In his grant application, Richard Chartoff explained how he will use polymers to construct polyurethane condoms that are not just stronger and thinner than current condoms, but also one-size-fits-all — body heat will cause the molecules in the condom to contract, conforming it to the wearer. Additionally, Chartoff’s condoms will be embedded with nanoparticles that contain STI-fighting drugs.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has dispersed $1 million among the 11 grant recipients, with the promise of an additional $1 million more for those who show the most promise after further development. Inventors now have 18 months to show that their condoms are safe, effective, and can be easily manufactured. Then they can apply for a second grant to scale up production and launch clinical trials.


A nuanced look at rimming

Six donuts with icing in two rowsIt’s probably too much to call an article about analingus hard-hitting journalism, but Amanda Hess did a great job in her piece for Playboy called “Tongue in Cheek: The Men Who Want This Sex Act Aren’t Kidding.”

While other sex acts (such as anal sex) have become more commonly accepted as the years have gone by, male anal play still lags behind. Yet when Esquire asked 500 men what they wanted more of during foreplay, 12% named rim jobs — two times the number who desired “a little rough play.”

Charlie Glickman, author of The Ultimate Guide to Prostate Pleasure, explains that the taboo surrounding male anal play has a lot to do with shame — and a perceived loss of masculinity. Rimming is much more prevalent among gay men, which probably explains the (untrue) myth that male anal play is solely a gay activity.

Michael reasons that rim jobs might be more common among gays because they are “a logical precursor to anal sex.” But they also just feel good. Psychological roadblocks to butt play mean that men who opt out are missing out, pure and simple. The anus has “got all of this exquisite sensitivity—it’s similar to the nerves in your lips,” Glickman says. When licked, “It kind of tickles,” Michael adds. “But it also stimulates other erogenous zones, like my penis and my nipples. It’s the whole body package.”

There is also a choice quote from Tristan Taormino: “The asshole is the most democratic of all orifices — we all have one!” It’s true: aside from the physical pleasure it brings, rimming can also empower partners and open up the lines of communication.

Read the whole article on Playboy.

Interested in learning more and perhaps trying out analingus? We suggest Tristan Taormino’s Expert Guide to Anal Pleasure for Men, Charlie Glickman’s The Ultimate Guide to Prostate Pleasure, and dental dams always come in handy too!


Labia Library emphasizes genital diversity

The Labia Library

Women’s Health Victoria, an Australian non-profit health and advocacy organization, was frustrated with the rise in popularity of female genital cosmetic surgery. So, after receiving funding from the Victorian Women€™’s Benevolent Trust, they developed a website showcasing the natural diversity of vulvas: the Labia Library.

Not only is it great alliteration, but the Labia Library is an awesome and empowering resource. The site includes an in-depth photo gallery of an array of sizes, shapes, and colors of vulva, with photos from both the front (while standing) and below (with legs spread). There is also an anatomy page and a page called “are my labia normal?

The site seeks to reiterate that what you see in magazines and mainstream porn is not what many vulvas look like. Especially in Australia, where the Classification Board requires that the labia minora and clitoris be airbrushed out of photographs in unrestricted publications. Women’s Health Victoria hopes to influence this damaging phenomenon, as explained in an interview with Cory Silverberg:

We’re going to be doing further advocacy with the Classification Board in Australia, in an attempt to influence the application of the guidelines in Australia. We’re hoping that they will cease applying the guidelines by removing the labia minora and clitoris, or that they will start acknowledging that they’re doing this with a statement detailing how images have been altered.

That is definitely a worthwhile endeavor. So go, support this excellent project and take a stroll through the Labia Library. (Sorry, we just had to say that.)


Salon writer attempts to “think off”

Barbara Carellas, photo by Barbara NitkeIs it possible to “think off”? Ask Barbara Carrellas, and she’ll tell you yes. She believes we should expand the definition of an orgasm beyond the traditional, genital-focused one — she deals in “breath and energy” orgasms.

59-year-old Carrellas is a sex coach and the author of Urban Tantra. She contributed an essay to The Ultimate Guide to Kink and wrote the foreword to The Big Book of OrgasmsShe was in an episode of TLC’s Strange Sex, being wheeled into an MRI machine to demonstrate her ability to have an orgasm with no physical contact. Sadly, the results were inconclusive — according to the Rutgers researcher, Carrellas “moved her head violently during her session in the scanner, precluding data analysis.”

As the idea of erotic breathwork is still fairly new to most people, we enjoyed reading the experience of Tracy Clark-Flory, staff writer at Salon, who visited Carrellas and attempted to “think off.”

She walked me through each chakra, all the way up through my head. When she wasn’t guiding me through visuals, she breathed along, letting out exhalations that sounded like bedroom moans. “You’re turning yourself on in a molecular sense,” she purred and suggested that I make a bit more sound. “It can be a sexy sound, it can be a power sound.” I let out an “ahh” that barely registered on my tape recorder.

Before long, she instructed me to take “fuller, faster breaths.” My lips were dry, my mouth tight and vomiting seemed a distinct possibility. I began to notice that my hands were tingly. My three outer fingers felt curled tight, like I was involuntarily pointing . . . While my hands didn’t feel particularly good, the sensation was remarkable and unlike anything I’ve ever felt. It was an out-of-body experience or, more accurately, as Carrellas puts it, “a deeply in-body experience.” I liked it and was scared by it, all at once.

She had me take three deep breaths and then hold my breath while clenching and pressing my body into the floor. “No expectations. Exactly the right thing will happen in exactly the right time-space continuum,” she said. “When you’re ready, let go.”

Turns out, a lot of what Clark-Flory experienced are classic symptoms of hyperventilation — over-breathing. But researchers believe that hyperventilation can lead to altered consciousness. In fact, a few have even made the connection between hyperventilation and enhanced arousal levels. In one study, women who hyperventilated prior to watching an erotic film had “significantly higher levels of genital sexual arousal” during the screening than those who didn’t hyperventilate.

All Clark-Flory knows is that she experienced something unique. Carrellas, meanwhile, has a rebuttal for the hyperventilation claims: “People say, ‘Oh, well, isn’t this just hyperventilation?’ And I say, ‘If it is, it’s the good kind.’”

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