Manginas and Shenises

Whew. I have barely had a moment to sleep, let alone write entries, and that’s tough when I have entries piling up in my brain like the piles of my panties next to my closet that need to be washed.

The art show last Tuesday was great, though I worked a 13-hour day to make it happen. The Valencia store was packed until 10:30 pm, and many beer-drinking revelers listened to Extra Action music, watched their videos, and had dueling matches with sex toys. The band’s favorite sex toy by far was the Audi-Oh, the sound-controlled vibe, and they wanted to be official promoters of the toy, or maybe sponsored by the makers or something. That’s kind of perfect — skaters are sponsored by skate companies, snowboarders by snowboard companies, the Extra Action Marching Band sponsored by a sex toy company. Oh wait, that’s what my company is doing.

I went to a terrific party last weekend where I had an actual drunken exercise in anger management. Every year we have an unofficial SRL party in Oakland at the warehouse/shop belonging to two of our members, a female and male blacksmithing duo (who are not a couple). It’s not really an "SRL party," but lots of us attend and do what we do at parties, which is drink a lot and play with fire. Fireworks that is. This year there was a theme, a high school theme, which was really a transparent excuse for us all to dress like schoolgirls, teachers, school nurses, principals, janitors, cheerleaders, jocks and nerds. We all had to get "shots" (jello) and build homemade rockets, which were lit off and went in every imaginable direction. My thumb is still numb from getting it too close to a fuse. I dressed as a cheerleader with a really rotten attitude. I got to pester the very sexy nurse with questions like, "Can you get pregnant if you blow the football team?" I faked SARS to get more shots.

My attitude came to the fore when I went to pee in the unisex bathroom (for the second time that day). I was in there alone, did my business and was standing at the mirror fixing my lipstick when these two older guys walked in. They saw me and shouted, "whoah," and went out, slamming the door shut. They started talking about me outside the door and I could hear every word they were saying. They remarked about me being there, how they just can’t "do it" with a girl right there, because "it’s not like they’re handing out Viagra at the door or anything." I felt my anger rising — what the fuck does that mean, anyway? I mean, duh, what fucking dinosaurs with 1950’s mentalities still only see women as nonhuman sex objects? Who invited them? Clearly all the irony of the party was lost on them. So I slowed down my lipstick fixing and pretty soon they started pounding on the door. I told them to come in, that they were waiting for nothing, there was no line. That they could pee with me in there unless they had some kind of a problem. They came in and one rushed into a stall while the other stood in front of the urinal staring at the wall. I said, "I heard what you guys were saying out there, heard what you said about needing Viagra." Urinal guy said, "What!?" "I said, I heard you talking out there about needing Viagra. It’s not like when you come in to pee in here anyone’s going to be looking at your dick or anything." He said what again, so I repeated myself and left. Then I realized I had just berated a scared man with his dick in his hand while I was wearing a cheerleader outfit, pom-poms, pigtails and all. Next time I hope those guys barge in while I’m in a cheerleader outfit standing peeing at the urinal with my pee shooter. Then I can punch them both in the eye and run around them in tight little circles with my pom-poms shrieking "someone get the Viagra, these guys have to pee!"

I took my pee shooter to work at the Good Vibes store so that all could marvel at the wonders of urinary technology. It was clean and in plastic so no one would get hyper about germs. There was much excitement and exchanging of knowing looks, and someone asked me if I had bought a "shenis." What a gross name, I thought, then I said, "What a gross name. What’s a shenis?" Mother Mary in a sparkly rubber thong — they showed me. Then they made me look at a mangina. Then I found out that all the floor staff surveys had been turned in (see entry from 5/22), and I did not win the stupid prize for the stupid survey, and that someone else did, and I wanted to find the goody-two-shoes who won the prize and give them a wedgie while they wore latex panties.

There is a very underground group of boys and girls my age here in SF that have a very underground sex club. They have a secret mailing list that is absolutely hard as hell to get on, and their sex parties happen sporadically every few months at undisclosed locations and you can never find out where they are until you actually end up there (nor are they free). It’s pretty cool when you think about it, and it’s a nice way of keeping out gawkers and guys who are freaked out about peeing in front of women, and also creating a safe atmosphere. I called in a favor about a year ago to get on the list, and I’ve been on the list for some time but have never gone to a party, sort of being a virtual email list voyeur. From reading posts on the list I know that they’ve been making porn for a while at their parties, then showing the footage at the next party as loops. This is all done in the spirit of sexual adventure, affectionate pleasure seeking, equality and respect. I know this from reading everyone’s intelligent, mature, thoughtful and heartfelt posts on the list. It has made me feel really good about people seeking higher, smarter and more fun ways to express themselves sexually, which I really needed to be reminded of while I was researching my next book about the porn industry. Because sometimes during my research over the past year I saw things that made me upset, made me question my ability to honestly tell people that porn was a place where people with a brain and integrity could explore their sexuality, or at least feel good about jacking off to it. I got in a discussion that went sour with a close colleague in which I realized that she still sees women (especially women in porn) as sexual victims, not as wholly sexually autonomous people, and I realized that the minute everyone stops seeing women that way (and treating them that way), women will stop believing it. I went to porn conventions where I saw that the "mainstream" porn industry was suffocatingly conservative and homophobic, racist and sexist. I saw men and women at their worst, at the heart of which they all relied on the notion that sex is bad and shameful. That men are sexually simplistic. That women are sexual marionettes. C’mon people, what are we, ten years old? I had the hard hard job of seeing all this, clashing with my peers, and still telling people from my heart that porn is a fucking fantastic sex toy, which I actually believe because I still love to use it, and enjoy watching it. When it’s good, that is.

I saw some really hot porn tonight. I finally decided that I had to see why I’m still on this super-secret mailing list, so I went to a screening of scenes from several of their parties. And I have to say, I was astounded at the high quality, superior camerawork and incredible sex I saw onscreen. You could say it surpassed my expectations, which it did by far. I thought it would be spycam kind of stuff, and though one or two scenes were obviously in a room with other people around, it was excellently edited, storyboarded, had music that fit the mood perfectly and the people were laughing, playing, kissing, smiling, loving each other like nothing I’ve ever seen. It put all other amateur porn to shame, especially the porn made by my own company, which I think sucks by the way. The atmosphere of the screening was casual, lots of people, but they were all friendly and relaxed. I left early to come home and work, and when I left I noticed that I was walking through several of the people I had seen onscreen, who smiled politely at me as I thought "wow, I just saw you do that to him, and they did that to you, and…" I left with a smile on my face that brought me all the way home, one happy rotten cheerleader for porn.

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Will Someone Please Tell Paypal to Get Out of my Bedroom (Unless They are Bringing Some Good Porn)

A cute horn player from the Extra Action Marching Band wrote me recently with a letter he received from online money processing business PayPal:

Dear (tromboner),
You are receiving this email because you have asked to be notified of PayPal policy updates. Please read below to learn about PayPal’s most recent policy updates.

User Agreement Update
Notice Date: April 10, 2003
Effective Date: June 12, 2003
PayPal has updated its Acceptable Use Policy to simplify the policy on transactions of adult items. After June 12, 2003, PayPal will no longer process transactions for adult items through the Mature Audiences category on eBay.com. As a result, after June 12, PayPal will no longer process payments for adult items anywhere on the Internet.

PayPal strives to find the right balance between serving our community and minimizing our financial risk. We feel that exiting the Mature Audiences category with a clear and consistent policy for all adult items best achieves this balance.

As part of this effort, we are extending the deadline for when PayPal customers must stop sending and receiving payments for tangible adult products, including magazines, DVDs and videocassettes. Originally May 12, this deadline has now been extended to June 12 to correspond with the phase-out of PayPal service for these items on eBay. The deadline to stop sending and receiving payments for digital adult products and services, including online photos, streaming video and audio services, will remain May 12. For more information on our Mature Audience Policy, log in to your PayPal account and click on "Policy Updates" in the What’s New box. You will find a link to the Mature Audience Policy under the April 10, 2003, User Agreement Update.

I responded to (tromboner) with:

(tromboner), thank you for sending me this, it is definitely of interest. Just what exactly is the rationale behind this decision, I wonder? We can only guess. PayPal cannot legislate the morality of its customers, but it seems that surely they will try. Are they being pressured by a "family values" group? Maybe — I know that these groups have recently declared a war on porn and are attempting to amass "god’s army." Not kidding, it’s scary, and they’re doing this with grassroots-style church letter writing campaigns to cable companies like Viacom to make them stop broadcasting cable porn. Buncha sickos — they’re clearly obsessed with pornography.

But here is, I think, the rub: PayPal may cut off everything and all adult, but surely this is where a large amount of their revenue comes from, and as all in the adult biz know, sex accoutrements are an ever-growing, recession-proof source of revenue. Especially as more and more people become comfortable with enjoying their sexuality, and see the benefits of occasional experimentation. Then what for PayPal? Shot in the foot? That would be a nice irony, much like the male adult store owner who "found god," burned 10K worth of his stock (it’s bad karma to destroy sex toys, BTW), and turned "Love World" into a christian store called "Mike’s Place." Since then, he’s foundering on the brink of financial devastation, save for the donations he’s been getting from other sexually repressed god- (and orgasm-) fearing christians (which are not the only flavor of christian out there, but nobody seems to know that, either). But it was a nice way for Mr. Former Love Shack to skirt his pending obscenity charge.

So PayPal cuts off and alienates a sizeable number of their customers, while some other savvy entrepreneur cuts in and grabs the business that is "too immoral" for PayPal to soil themselves with… It’s like giving away free money to another business. These sexual moralists are so shortsighted — a consequence of not having any good sex, perhaps?

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