Browsing posts tagged with Susie Bright
Jul
26

When dildos came out of the closet

sex-aids-for-women

In the 1970s, dildos were a point of contention in the feminist movement. A 1974 issue of Lesbian Tide warned: “anyone admitting to using a dildo today would probably be verbally castigated for enjoying ‘phallic’ pleasure.” Some activists thought dildos were too reminiscent of the patriarchy. Others felt that since dildos specifically didn’t require men, using them could actually be a subversive act.

The debate was more about what the dildo represented than precisely how it looked, but looks mattered too. Hyper-realistic vein-ridden dildos were the order of the day, and they tended to emit a strong chemical scent. It would still be a long time before the harms of plasticizers such as phthalates would come to light, but it was obvious that rubber was not the highest quality of dildo materials.

In her thought-provoking piece for Bitch on the early history of silicone dildos, Hallie Lieberman explores not just the feminist debate about the dildo, but also how dildo innovation in the ’70s came from an unlikely place: a humble man named Gosnell Duncan. After becoming paralyzed from the waist down in a workplace accident, Duncan began attending disability conferences and pondering how to enrich his (and others’) sex lives. Conference attendees were intrigued when he mentioned dildos as an option, and so began his journey into dildo-making.

Duncan had a hunch that he could improve upon the dildos of the time, because he was in talks with a chemist at General Electric to formulate the perfect formulation of silicone. Silicone was far more body-safe than rubber: it had no smell, no taste, and wouldn’t melt when exposed to heat — so it could be sterilized between partners. After 9 months of discussion, they discovered the ideal silicone and Duncan began making molds and manufacturing dildos in his basement.

Of course, manufacturing is only half the battle. Marketing was another hurdle. Duncan quickly found that placing ads in disability publications wasn’t enough to keep his business afloat. He renamed his company, from Paramount Therapeutic Products to Scorpio Products, and called up Dell Williams, founder of Eve’s Garden in NYC — the first ever feminist sex toy store.

But Eve’s Garden didn’t stock dildos. Only vibrators.

eves-garden

“Why did a dildo have to look like a cock at all, I asked Duncan,” Williams wrote in her memoir. “Did it have to have a well-defined, blushed-pink head, and blue veins in bas-relief?” Williams wasn’t sure that her customers would buy dildos, no matter what they looked like. But she was willing to find out. She sent out a customer survey asking her patrons what they would want in a dildo. Williams’s customers said that it wasn’t about size, it was about substance: They wanted “something not necessarily large, but definitely tapered. Not particularly wide but undulated at its midsection. Something pliable and easy to care for. Something in a pretty color.”

. . . When he poured his first vat of liquid silicone rubber into a penis-shaped mold, Duncan did not think of his dildo-making as a political act. He was seeking to solve a problem that he, and thousands of other disabled men and their lovers, faced. But in the 1970s dildos were imbued with politics, so to enter the dildo business was to make a political statement. Duncan could have refused to design nonrepresentational dildos in fanciful colors like blue and purple. But he chose to hear Williams out.

So Gosnell Duncan invented, for perhaps the first time, a dildo that represented what women actually wanted. It was called the Venus. Cast in chocolate brown or pink silicone, it resembled a finger — and it was made of a material that wasn’t toxic to the body.

Around that same time, in 1977, Good Vibrations opened in San Francisco. Founder Joani Blank only stocked 2-3 dildos and didn’t display them outright; they were hidden in a plain cabinet in the back. Customers were only shown the cabinet if they asked whether the shop carried “anything else.”

The dildos were brought out permanently in the early 1980s, when Susie Bright began working at the store. Bright was outspoken about dildos, writing in the inaugural edition of her lesbian erotica magazine On Our Backs, “ladies, the discreet, complete, and definitive information on dildos is this: penetration is as heterosexual as kissing!”

In small, feminist sex shops, the conversation around dildos was changing. They were coming out of the closet. And when Bright went to stock the store’s shelves, she knew just who to call: Gosnell Duncan.

Jan
31

She Bop’s Picks: Valentine’s Day

Is it any surprise we’re big fans of Valentine’s Day? Of course, we believe in love and pleasure all year round, but it’s nice to have a day set aside for celebrating in style. In fact, Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to scout out something new for your bedroom adventures. Here are our recommendations for sexy items to make this Valentine’s Day memorable (and pleasurable!). Check out last year’s picks for even more ideas.

Tenga Lover’s Egg

The ridiculously cute Tenga Lover’s Egg is a limited edition version of the very popular Tenga Egg. Tenga Eggs are self-contained, stretchy pleasure sleeves that each come with a pouch of lube. This sleeve has a special heart inner texture unlike any other egg before it, and a heart-patterned casing to match. There’s a sense of playfulness and spontaneity about Tenga Eggs, making them perfect for solo or partner play.

We-Vibe Touch

The We-Vibe Touch clitoral vibe is many things: made of 100% silicone, rechargeable, waterproof, magenta-colored (although it also comes in teal)… but above all, it delivers deep, rumbly vibrations that will surprise and delight whoever uses it. It also has a unique shape — a lightly-pointed tip and an indented scoop on the underside — that will satisfy those who enjoy pinpoint stimulation and those who prefer wider pressure.

I Dare You: 30 Sealed Seductions

This seductive product, created by sex guru Susie Bright, urges you to have some mischievous fun with your partner. Open the elegant box, select a sealed envelope at random, and open it. The card inside will reveal your next course of action — a sexy dare or prompt — that can bring you and your partner even closer.

Gossip Ring

A finger vibe that looks like a rose — how much cuter can you get? Well, how about a finger vibe that also doubles as a cock ring, and still looks like a rose? The Gossip Ring is all of that and more! Made of phthalate-free TPR, the Gossip Ring is also waterproof.

Pink and White Silicone Ball Gag

If you like to get rough with your lover, we haven’t forgotten you! This impeccably-constructed, candy-colored ball gag from Aslan Leather may look sweet and innocent, but it’s really a heavy-duty bondage implement. The leather strap features a snap-out safety design with a sturdy buckle closure, and the ball is 100% silicone, ensuring that it is entirely flavorless.

Love is Art

Everyone hopes to to have a memorable Valentine’s Day, but with the Love is Art kit, you’ll definitely never forget — because the proof will be on your wall! That’s right: this kit includes everything you need to create a permanent piece of artwork from you and your partners’ body movements. Pour the non-toxic, washable black paint on the large white cotton canvas, then let your bodies do the painting. This kit leaves no stone unturned: it also comes with a big plastic sheet, two pairs of disposable slippers, and a body scrubber for the shower.

Kissing: A Field Guide

Kissing: A Field Guide

An entire book on kissing? Oh yes! There is much to be learned about the art of kissing, and Violet Blue tackles the subject with honesty and sass, not to mention tons and tons of tips, from the overarching (how to hint at a kiss with your body language) to the smallest of details (how to keep lipstick from smudging). No matter how much kissing you’ve done, you’ll learn something new and be inspired to put your knowledge into practice.

Double Heart Slapper

Making a lasting impression on your lover with this heart-patterned paddle. This sturdy, double-layered slapper is split down the center, creating a magnificent slapping sound and feel. Perfect for a light bit of fun — or to ensure that your playmate will feel the aftermath of Valentine’s Day on February 15th.

Double Decker Love Ring

There is probably no cock ring in existence that has more Valentine’s Day spirit than the Double Decker Love Ring. Bright red and adorned with raised hearts, the Double Decker has two powerful bullets for stimulation of both partners at once. The bullets each have three speeds and can be controlled independently. The ring is stretchy and comfortable for maximum satisfaction.

ON Clitoral Arousal Balm

Need to jump-start the sexy times, or give yourself or your partner something to squirm about during dinner? With its lipstick-like presentation, ON Clitoral Arousal Balm is easy to apply, and you’ll start to feel the effects immediately. This balm creates a warming and tingling sensation that you won’t be able to ignore. ON is a natural product, with ingredients such as cinnamon bark extract and white beeswax. It is glycerin-, paraben-, and menthol-free.

Gothfox pasties

Keep the Valentine’s Day spirit going year-round with these incredible handmade pasties from Gothfox. The Couture Valentine Rhinestone Pasties are literally covered in rhinestones — approximately 140 rhinestones per pastie, depending on size! — and feature bright red tassels for epic twirling. The Couture Rose Pasties resemble a beautiful bouquet of red satin roses. Gothfox pasties are made with a soft rayon and cotton backing, and cupped to contour with the breast’s natural curve. They’re made to last a lifetime.

Simply Blown G-Glass

There’s just something alluring about glass sex toys, and Simply Blown’s G-Glass is a stunning example of that, with its contrast of clear and colored glass. This piece has a gentle curve and a rounded handle, so both ends can be used for sensual G-spot stimulation, and the frictionless feeling of glass only adds to the pleasure. Of course, we recommend red for Valentine’s Day, but purple is nice too.

Hot Sex: Over 200 Things You Can Try Tonight!

This book is described as “hip” and “contemporary,” so we’re pretty sure that it’s perfect for Portlanders! Hot Sex: Over 200 Things You Can Try Tonight! is an in-depth guide to having awesome sex. It’s fresh, comprehensive, and bursting with ideas for igniting passion and having fun.

X-Rated Candies

Do you or your partner have a sweet tooth — and a somewhat profane sense of humor? Then you’ll definitely like X-Rated Valentine Hearts and the I Fucking Love You Candy Heart Box. Both contain candy hearts that look exactly like regular conversation hearts from afar, but once you read their messages, you’ll notice the difference.

Oct
17

Steve Jobs and the lesbian erotic revolution

It was 1984 when On Our Backs, the first ever women-run erotica magazine — and geared toward a lesbian audience, to boot — debuted. The magazine was groundbreaking in many ways, and it played a major role in the development of sex-positive feminism.

What does this have to do with Steve Jobs? Well, as Susie Bright recounts on her blog, the magazine was originally composed via typesetting. Then one day, publisher Debi Sundahl hauled a big box into the living room and, in one fell swoop, thrust On Our Backs into the digital world. Sundahl was convinced that the computer was about to change everything about publishing — and she was right.

Within a year, our “entertainment for the adventurous lesbian” magazine took PageMaker 1.0 software, tossed out the typesetter, and published On Our Backs completely on Mac software.

We didn’t realize it at the time, but we were the first magazine to do so. We printed our 13,000 copies, and sent them all over the country.

Our On Our Backs Winter 1986 edition was what the first magazine — on any subject, anywhere — looked like, built on a 1984 Apple machine with Pagemaker.

The kerning is atrocious. You could only choose from Helvetica or Palatino fonts. I remember crying about that, too. But we could afford it; it was the only thing we could afford. And considering our content, which no one else in the printing industry would touch, that was saying something.

. . . I am very sad today about Steve Job’s passing. I know many of us are thinking about how his life touched ours, through good times and bad. For authors, artists, and publishing outlaws of every description, the Mac revolution was the puzzle piece we had pressed for, longed for, and finally achieved.

Susie Bright’s blog post is a lovely ode to the far-reaching influence of Steve Jobs. And you have to read her account of bewilderment, trepidation and intrigue as she assembled that first computer; it’s a reminder of just how foreign computers seemed not that long ago.

Take a peek at the On Our Backs Winter 1986 edition as well — it’s a piece of history all in itself.

Mar
17

Mom’s Sex Diary: Your Pregnancy to Their Puberty

How Raising Kids Changes Your Sex Life… and Foretells Theirs

Saturday, April 30th — 7pm — $25

Susie Bright opens up the sexual revolution of parenthood, from when you first become pregnant, to the baby and little kid years — and finally, the real marathon: kids reaching puberty and you hitting menopause.

What’s a sex-positive mom to do? There’s your own life as a lover and a mother, and then there’s seeing your children develop their own sexual perceptions and values.

Yes, this IS the place to talk about things you won’t hear on Oprah! There’s physical and practical information to share, and emotional and ethical questions that can’t be ignored. What are the most important things you can do, as a parent, to give your children sexual sanity? How do you nurture and enjoy your own mojo as the years go by? Come with your questions— Susie has plenty more, plus some answers you won’t hear anyplace else.

Susie Bright is the author of the national bestsellers Full Exposure and The Sexual State of the Union, as well as The Best American Erotica and Herotica series, which ushered in women’s erotic publishing. She is the host of Audible’s In Bed With Susie Bright, the longest-running sex-ed show in the history of broadcasting. She was co-founder and editor of On Our Backs magazine, and was the first journalist to cover erotic cinema and the porn business in the mainstream press. A progenitor of the sex-positive movement, Bright taught the first university course on pornography, and brought lasting sexual influence to her role in films like Bound and The Celluloid Closet, as well as playing herself, “the famous feminist sex writer,” on Six Feet Under.

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