Journalists, especially those not familiar with the adult industry, can sometimes make sweeping statements that aren’t exactly correct. For example, it is common for a mainstream journalist or blogger to off-handedly lament that there is no porn out there for women.
That’s what happened when Nikki Gloudeman wrote an article at Ravishly arguing that she couldn’t find any tasteful, well-acted porn for women. While she conceded that feminist porn does exist, she insisted that all of it was “decidedly low-budget and short on a truly compelling plotline.”
This isn’t true, and readers and porn filmmakers alike rushed in with evidence to the contrary. A month later, Gloudeman wrote a follow-up post. “I was wrong. Very wrong. Shamefully wrong,” she wrote. She was sent a box of DVDs from Jacky St. James, director of New Sensations’ Romance Series.
I immediately curled up on the couch to watch a rom-com sex romp called The Friend Zone. And, well . . . it was good. Like, really good. It had legitimate production values. The acting ranged from just fine to truly impressive. The script was funnier than most mainstream rom-coms in theaters today (Hollywood producers, take note). And . . . what’s this? Is that a sex scene involving people who actually seem to care about one another? Is that woman being respected as she’s being pleasured? Is that a condom I see?
The experience was, in a word, a revelation, satisfying in every desired way.
With this new world opened up, Gloudemen set out to interview several women doing great things within the adult industry. She talked to two producers of adult DVDs, Erika Lust and Jacky St. James, and two owners of erotic websites, Angie Rowntree of Sssh.com and Anna of FrolicMe.com.
Rowntree began in the mid-’90s, when everyone told her there was no market for women’s porn, and she has been steadily proving them wrong ever since. Anna started with an erotic blog, which then morphed into writing stories and making films with the same sensual aesthetic. Lust studied political science and took film directing classes before shooting her first erotic short, which was so popular it changed the course of her life. Jacky St. James, an avid porn consumer, happened upon a script-writing contest for New Sensations’ Romance Series. The company loved her submission, and she soon quit her corporate job to write and direct full-time.
Ultimately, all four women were dissatisfied with some facet of the erotic material they consumed (as Erika Lust put it: “when I first watched porn the feminist in me felt cheated, the activist in me felt mad and the sexual me felt . . . aroused”), and that is part of what drives them to make something different.
Gloudemen asked each of them about their personal histories with porn, their goals and ideals with their work, what they think about the word “porn,” and where feminism fits in with what they do. The interview is full of amazing and thoughtful answers, but Rowntree’s response to the question “why is it important for women to have access to adult films that resonate with them?” is particularly insightful:
One of the criticisms I hear the most about the porn industry is that its products objectify women and present us in a very unflattering way—and that’s true of a lot of porn. To me, though, the answer isn’t to protest the porn industry, try to get porn censored, or even to spend a lot of time and energy trying to convince people that porn is bad. To me, the answer is to make better porn. The answer is to make porn that does present women in a good light, that does depict true intimacy and that does emphasize mutual pleasure, instead of reducing the women it depicts to being mere objects of men’s pleasure.
All four women urged readers to always keep looking if they can’t find porn that appeals to them. Go beyond tube sites and rudimentary Google searches. Peruse the nominees and winners of the Feminist Porn Awards. Visit sex shops and ask questions. It’s out there, and it’s really well-done — you just have to dig a little bit deeper.
Thursday, April 23rd — 7:30 pm — $20
Even in 2015 the notion of sex between trans and non-trans people strikes fear and curiosity in many queer people. For trans people, how to come out and express one’s desire and physical/mental make up to a non-trans person remains a monumental hurdle. For non-trans people, how to acknowledge, accept and engage in a mutual sexual attraction with a trans person and risk rejection from various communities remains a hurdle. Within those concerns lie the issues of exoticization, race, class, and plain old sexual mechanics!
Our goals in this workshop are to provide an open atmosphere for people to address these issues, as well as to look at the state of sex-positivity in the queer movement. We encourage people to attend, learn, and go away from the workshop having gained insight into how to have responsible, meaningful and FUN sex!
Yoseñio V. Lewis is a Latino of African Descent female to male transsexual who has been a social justice activist since he was 13 years old. A health educator, speaker, writer, performer, trainer, facilitator and spiritual hugger, Yoseñio has been a panelist and keynote speaker at numerous universities and sexuality conferences. He was one of the inaugural honorees of The Trans 100 list.
Yoseñio is a co-founder of Big Boys’ Ink™ Productions, a theatrical writing and performing company, and he has been featured in several documentaries about gender identity and the trans* experience.
Yoseñio believes that there can be no art without activism and no activism without art.
Limited space available — sign up online!
Wednesday, March 18th — 7:30 pm — $20
You asked and we answered—She Bop presents a cunnilingus class for anyone and everyone who wants to learn how to give (or receive!) phenomenal oral pleasure.
She Bop educators, Amory Jane and Sid Need, will teach you everything you want to know about anatomy, arousal, hand tricks, and tongue techniques. They will discuss foreplay, communication, and finding your own cunnilingus style, as well as give pointers on how to incorporate toys, temperature, and g-spot stimulation. Additionally, our educators will talk about fun ways to kick it up a notch if you’re stuck in a muff diving rut (face sitting, anyone?)!
This class is open to all genders, experience levels, and identities.
Limited space available — sign up online!
Sunday, March 1st — 7:30 p.m. — $20
Are you intrigued by the idea of tying someone up and having your way with them, or perhaps being restrained while someone does delightfully kinky things to you? Well, this class is designed to be a friendly first step towards that goal!
This class will cover the many hot ways bondage can be used (it’s not just about dominance, folks!), address safety concerns, and teach three simple and functional ties. We will then experiment with creative ways of applying these basic techniques to put people in a variety of compromising positions. Handouts and online video links will be distributed to help remind you of key skills when you get home.
Please come wearing comfortable clothes that you can move around in. You may want to come with a practice partner, but it isn’t necessary (please note that the $20 registration is per person). People of all genders and orientations are very welcome.
Chris is a happy, sex-positive perv who has been grinning his way through the kink scene for about eight years. He helps organize CockCircus, Seattle’s only public BDSM party for men, and enjoys evangelizing about the many virtues of bondage.
Limited space available — sign up online!
Sportsheets International began quietly, as a small business operating out of founder Tom Stewart’s garage. It was 1993, and Stewart had already spent years teaching himself to sew. He had a vision, one that had been sparked years earlier as he watched David Letterman, decked out in a velcro suit, jump on a trampoline and stick himself to a wall.
What if you could stick your sex partner to a wall?
The result of this inspiration was the company’s flagship product — a soft velcro bed sheet called the Sportsheet. With the accompanying anchor pads and cuffs, users could strap their partners down anywhere on the bed.
The following year, Stewart asked his sister Julie to become his partner in the business. Neither had any formal business experience, and the company wasn’t initially making much money, but the tides quickly turned. There was a definite market for the Sportsheet. Eventually, more of Stewart’s family joined the business, and they now operate out of a 17,000 square foot building in Huntington Beach, California. They’ve developed more than 400 different bondage and positioning products, with half manufactured in the US.
Tom Stewart, you could say, has become an expert on encouraging sexual creativity and helping people achieve sexual positions. He also spent 20 years in the military. So it made sense when, five years ago, he was invited to show off his products at the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes Road to Recovery conference, which brings wounded troops and their families together. His straps, slings, and harnesses were a huge hit with attendees — so he kept going back, listening, brainstorming, and inventing.
That’s how he came up with the heavy-duty adaptive sling pictured above, designed for a quadriplegic veteran wanting to have sex in the missionary position. He also invented a strap to facilitate doggy style for folks who can’t bend over easily. Even something as simple as a thigh harness can change a couple’s sex life, as Stewart explains:
One of the products we came up with was what’s called a thigh harness, and it’s like a neoprene knee brace. If you slide that up your thigh with a dildo inside the little hole, all of a sudden you’ve got a dildo mounted on your thigh. I took this thigh harness and other strap-ons to a [retail sex] show in Canada, and there was a guy in a wheelchair who came up and said, “Hey, I want to try this.” We put this thigh harness on him, and we put this dildo on his right leg.
I said to his girlfriend, “Come over here. Squat down on this thing — imagine you’re naked and this dildo’s going inside of you.” So, she was kind of grinding on his thigh — you know, simulating — and she’s going, “Oh my God, this is phenomenal. We can have intercourse like this!” This was really the beginning of products for people who have disabilities.
As Sportsheets enters its third decade in business, they remain true to their motto of “Keeping Couples Connected.” Although the company began with only a single product, today they are known for their work with disabled veterans, their inexpensive bondage products such as paddles, feather ticklers, and handcuffs, their great beginner’s harnesses, and the ingenious Under the Bed Restraint System. Tom Stewart is currently working on a hollow dildo strap-on harness for folks experiencing erectile difficulties.
Did Santa forget to put a sexy gift in your stocking? Perhaps you received a She Bop gift certificate that’s burning a hole in your pocket? The holidays have gone by in a flash, but we still have some presents under the She Bop tree.
From today through Wednesday, December 31st, we’re putting some amazing toys, books, and other fun stuff on sale at 15% off. Come by the shop to get 15% off on:
- All Bswish vibrators
- All Happy Valley Fuze toys, including butt plugs and dildos
- Fun Factory Pearly and Semiliino
- From the LELO Insignia line: Alia, Isla, and Soraya
- Pocket Toyfriends
- Tenga Flip Holes
- All erotica books (in-store only)
- Sliquid Sea lube
See all our online sale items right here!
The first issue of Playboy came out in December of 1953. The pioneering models who graced its pages in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s are now entering into their golden years. NY Mag caught up with a handful of them to ask them their thoughts on the experience — and take beautiful new photos of them.
Compared to other magazines of its day, and particularly compared to the landscape of erotic material these days, Playboy is pretty tame. In the early days, Playboy didn’t even publish full-frontal nudity, but competition from Penthouse and Hustler changed that:
In 1972, Playboy published its first full-frontal nudity, a shot of centerfold Marilyn Cole Lownes. But to Cole Lownes — and other Playmates of that era — the photographs didn’t feel like they were about getting men off so much as they were about celebrating women. Cole Lownes’s father told her the photograph that ran in Playboy was like a Rubens painting. Using the language of the era, she now describes the whole experience “liberating.” (At the time, she wrote to her parents that she’d be a rich old lady, since “every time they change the backdrop I make $300.”)
All the women interviewed for the piece echoed the same sentiment: modeling for Playboy made them more confident. They were drawn to the idea of being both the object and the objectifier, although there is debate about whether the end result was simply objectification. Candace Jordan, now age 60, was in Playboy in December of 1979. She’s now a society columnist. She says:
I was the valedictorian of my high school in Dupo, Illinois. I had a scholarship to St. Louis University but I was absolutely bored to death and swore I had to find a different path. A girlfriend of mine told me they were hiring at the St. Louis Playboy Club. I’m an only child so all these girls were like the sisters I never had. Feminists always say, “I can’t believe you’re objectifying yourself.” And I would say, “Do you think I was forced at gunpoint to do this centerfold? No, it was my free choice, and that’s what women’s lib is supposed to be about.” After Playboy, I worked as a model, and I was in Risky Business with Tom Cruise . . . A lot of us still go to these autograph shows. Playboy fans are very, very respectful.
Most of the early Playboy models did not continue modeling. Instead, they became stylists, journalists, public relations people, doggie-day-care counselors, and real estate agents. One gave birth to a daughter who would later become a Victoria’s Secret model. But their power as Playmates has not faded, and they remember those years fondly.
There is a grace that comes with aging. You can see it — a knowing look — in the eyes of the models in their new photos. Cole Lownes, the first full-frontal model for the magazine, put it this way: “When you look at pictures of yourself from long ago, you see this young girl. You look into the eyes of the model, and you realize she doesn’t know what she knows now.”
Throughout the month of January, 10% of our proceeds made on Tuesdays will be donated to In Other Words, a non-profit, volunteer-run, feminist community center in NE Portland. Their mission is to support, enrich, and empower the feminist community through literature, art, and educational and cultural events.
In Other Words’ bookstore includes books on feminism, queer and transgender studies, sexuality, and activism/politics, as well as alternative children’s books that are not easily found at other bookstores. Their resource center offers information on topics such as health and wellness, therapy and counseling, sexual and reproductive help, transgender issues, LGBTQ support and advocacy, birth and parenting, education, housing, activism and social change, and places to contact in crisis situations.
In Other Words also supports local artists, craftspeople, musicians, performers, and writers by providing a venue for events and a space for selling art. They are one of the few spaces in Portland where artists and musicians can hold events for free and where people can attend all-ages events for low, sliding scale costs.
Most recently, In Other Words has created a free lending library, which enables everyone to find radical books in a space that is accessible to all economic demographics. Go sign up for a library card today, and come visit us on any Tuesday in January to support In Other Words!
Orchestre L’Pow! producer Madison Moone is back by popular demand with a sultry class sure to awaken your inner diva!
Students will be guided through a sexy burlesque movement study including bumps, grinds and struts, followed by a tantalizing round of peeling techniques. We will explore classic tools of the trade such as nylon stockings and opera length gloves while learning graceful transitions to help you tease with ease! Class will conclude with a sassy group striptease, leaving you and your girlfriends feeling like glamazons!
Students should dress in comfortable clothes; shorts or a skirt are preferred. Please bring your favorite heels (slip ons are best), nylon stockings, and elbow length gloves for peeling. Miss Moone will have extras on hand. All levels of fitness welcome; no dance experience or nudity required. Please avoid alcohol consumption before attending and arrive by 7:15 p.m. Class will begin promptly at 7:30 p.m, with no late entrance after 7:45 p.m. No photographs are permitted.
Limited space available — sign up online!
Wednesday, February 25th — 7:30 p.m. — $20
Are you interested in anal pleasure but not sure where to get started? Already tried anal play but wanting to learn some fun tricks and techniques? Whether you’re brand new to the wonderful world of anal or already have some backdoor experience, this class is sure to teach you something new!
In this educational and humorous workshop, AJ will confront taboos, go over anal anatomy, prostate, and the G-spot, discuss anal penetration for beginners, and show great positions for anal sex. She’ll also cover safety and hygiene and give you the inside scoop on all the best lubes and anal toys! This class is open to all genders and sexual appetites.
AJ (aka Amory Jane) is one of She Bop’s in-house sex educators. She graduated with a master’s degree from Lewis & Clark College, where she studied Sex Therapy and Marriage, Couple, & Family Counseling. She has facilitated multiple discussion groups and taught dozens of sex education workshops around Portland and the Midwest. She also moonlights as a sex-positive relationship coach.
Limited space available — sign up online!
Welcome to She Bop’s blog!
She Bop is a women-owned sex toy boutique specializing in body safe products and education. Our mission is to promote healthy and safe sexuality by offering quality products and educational workshops in a fun and comfortable environment. She Bop welcomes people of all genders and sexual orientations.
- February 5, 2015 – The Joys of Toys!
- February 19, 2015 – Even More Pleasure, Power, and Pain: Expanding Your BDSM Experiences
- February 25, 2015 – Back That Ass Up!: Anal Sex 101
- March 1, 2015 – Let's Play with Rope Tonight!: A Friendly Introduction to Bondage
- March 11, 2015 – Tease a Peel: Classic Burlesque Peeling Techniques
- March 18, 2015 – Bon Appetit!: The Fine Art of Cunnilingus
- April 23, 2015 – Renaming Desire: Trans/Non-Trans Sex Revisited
- Rad interview w makers of tasteful, well-acted porn for women: @ErikaLust @JackyStJames @AngieRowntree @Anna_FrolicMe http://t.co/qShPu0Ee4K
- Portland reigns supreme when it matters most. ;) http://t.co/VEKQttJRJM
- Date night doesn't have to meet going out to dinner or taking a stroll in the park. This is a great list. http://t.co/wIfqtE6pWc
- Last day to support @IOWBooks this month while shopping with us. 10% of your purchase will go directly to them today! http://t.co/ON049Bd5xd
- "My body is a road map of everything I've lived through. Do I mourn my body? Yes. But now it's just a new chapter." http://t.co/y0bpJxT3YT
- It's about damn time. http://t.co/WmqnJbTy1Y
- Want to support the incredible work done by @IOWBooks? Shop with us today and 10% of your purchase will go to them! http://t.co/ON049Bd5xd
- YES, we are open today! Regular hours at both locations, which means we're here until 7 p.m. Come peruse our wares!
- Today on our blog, we delve into the interesting history behind @Sportsheets, makers of inexpensive bondage products. http://t.co/K6MEQNqVoF
- Basic Rights Oregon
- Bitch Magazine
- Bradley Angle
- BUST Magazine
- Dirty Playground
- In Other Words
- Mississippi Studios
- Orchestre L'Pow!
- Pants-Off Productions
- Portland Oregon Women's Film Festival
- Portland Women's Crisis Line
- Progressive Pleasure Club
- Pucker Up
- Q Center
- Queer Resource Center
- Quest Center for Integrative Health
- Raphael House
- Sex Worker Outreach Coalition
- The Portland Mercury