Hot Safer Sex

When I think of a “Super-Inclusive” resort, where you literally don’t bring any cash because everything is already paid for up front, I think it takes a LOT of money. And I also tend to think that people with LOTS of money are better educated about the dangers and practices of safer sex – no matter how kinky. Which is why I was surprised to read this part of Midori‘s review of Kink in the Caribbean for Eros-Zine:

Immediately adjacent to the pool and the swim-up bar was the ginormous Jacuzzi – or the “Jiz pool” as some of us referred to it. After dark it was usually full of men and women screwing or humping in various ways. Since I didn’t seen condoms around much during the whole week, and I didn’t smell much chlorine or bromine in the water, I wouldn’t want to hazard to guess what the health safely level of the water or the damp, warm hard surfaces around it and the bar must be like…

Speaking of condoms, I didn’t see any available within the resort during the week, except at the nearly invisible nurses’ hut and the gift shop just at the main gate, beyond the clothing-optional section. Given the amount of alcohol-lubricated and multi-partnered sex going on, it did make me wonder what the post-holiday sexual infection and yeast infection rates were. Fortunately people were really excited to learn about hands-free sexy-as-hell condom application techniques in the fellatio workshop. I am sure there were lots of late night homework and studies going on for this particular lesson!

Kind of makes me glad I’ve not ever gone to Kink in the Caribbean…then again, that may be a bit of sour grapes, as my budget would never afford it.

Or am I being judgemental? Classist? Is there any reason to think people aren’t making risk-aware decisions that I’m not aware of, or that access to better health care means they can take more risks?


{November 28, 2007}   Porn: the Anti-Unsafe-Sex Drug

It’s true, no one has ever been infected by more than a dirty idea or two from porn – and even then, the ideas tend to be, well, as a pirate might put it, more along the lines of suggestions. Personally I’ve never been all that big a fan of the video format – much more of a literary person, and give me a copy of “The Way of a Man with a Maid” before “the Fashionistas” any day. However, as a videographer and a sexual activist I do find porn entertaining from a cultural and technically challenging standpoint. I’m fascinated by the ways they try to blend plot and titillation (sometimes) and the way they don’t (such as Tristam Taormino’s Chemistry series, which I’m really curious to see).

Audacia Ray Reviews the Berlin Porn Festival in Eros ZineAudacia Ray, one of the top five people I’ve never met but would like to, has written up an interesting account of the Berlin Porn Festival in the new Eros Zine. One of the surprising things coming out of the town that inspired Sally Bowles is this:

“Apparently, it is still 1985 in Europe — there are still a lot of arguments about whether or not women want to see porn and whether or not women enjoy blowjobs. Some of the audience members were really really concerned about the blowjob issue and wanted answers, dammit! How can blowjob giving and filming of blowjobs be a feminist thing if it’s all about pleasing a man?”

I’ve been lucky enough to be involved almost exclusively with people who enjoy fellatio, but I can understand certainly why some might not like it. But why would they then try and put that preference on others? It boggles the mind…any other sex acts that are considered “un-feminist”? Or how about “un-masculine”? Personally, if the goal is pleasure, I figure that as long as there’s consent (or consensual non-consent) anything goes. Am I being chauvinist from thinking that?

It’s very hard to write a “review” of something written by one of your heroes. And Violet is definitely a role model; her tireless blogging, her snarky style, and her generous hospitality (showing me around the Castro when I was visiting for the first time) have been inspirations for my own entry into the sexblog world. But more to the point, I share with her a desire for “Sex-positivity for all genders, orientations, operating systems and devices.

Cheering her on with her own e-book imprint, I was excited to see that among the titles offered for sale on the site is a free e-book: “The Modern Safer Sex Guide.” In keeping with the DRM-free nature of the site,  when you click on the link you get it in three different formats – PDF, PDB (for palm-based readers) and an unlocked text file. This is radical; what, you mean I can actually print it out if I want? I can send it to other people if I want? Good lord, Violet, what are you trying to do, singlehandedly take down the edifices of the publishing industry? (In my mind, I hear her dry chuckle. “Yep.”)

Now, aside from the cover photo (three of my personal favorite things, Violet, teeth, and a Magnum condom) I wouldn’t exactly call this a “hot” ebook. It’s a book of facts, and it very precisely nails down the risk factors involved in pretty much every permutation of sexual contact, without any hetero-centricity and also with a thorough nod towards the use of toys. Going down the list, I was impressed with its thoroughness, as well as amused by some of the side notes (under the risks for “Nasal Ejaculation”, for example, there is the note: “Yes, it is possible to get nasal herpes.“) I could see this e-book being a useful icebreaker, especially since there is a lot of room for discovering personal quirks in your partner (“People do that?” “Um…I guess…actually, I think that’s kind of hot…”) or ways to enjoy risky behaviors in a non-risk way (for example, rimming with a barrier lets a couple try out something “taboo” without either the risk or the ick factor getting in the way.

In all fairness, I did find that the descriptions were a little inconsistent. While the various methods of barriers were thoroughly discussed (and kudos to her for including that something as simple as plastic wrap can be used as a dental dam) the actual activities weren’t – “rimming” in particular comes to mind, with the thought that if someone needs to have a condom defined, they would probably have to have rimming defined as well. I would have liked to have a glossary that precisely described what is meant by “female sexual organs” (is there a risk for ejaculating on breasts? Does the anus count?).

Then again, this is nit-picking. She gives links right up front to the SFSI and CDC sites, and this is really designed, as far as I can tell, as a sort of quick reference (scenario: “We end up at her place. She really wants to give me head. We don’t have a condom. Quick, while she’s in the bathroom brushing her teeth, check the guide…shit! She’s opening up microabrasions in her mouth! What to do?” “Hey…you know what I’d really like? I’d like to watch you masturbate, so I can learn how your pleasure works…and I’ll show you mine, too. Got any candles?” “Thank God Violet’s let me know that I can kiss, at least…says right here on page 6, ‘Making out is not a high-risk activity’“).

One thing I really, really like about it is that it emphasizes the idea of “safer sex”, and personal responsibility to make informed decisions. She acknowledges that “Lots of us want to have unprotected sex. Just know the facts so you can make the best choice for yourself each time you engage in a sex act.”

So, while I don’t have a scale for reviewing things (any suggestions for units of measure for hotness?) while this isn’t going to directly stimulate your gonads, it is one of the clearest and simplest tools I’ve seen for being able to make your own decisions when you venture out into the game of pleasure. And it’s free; you’ve got no excuse not to click right now and get all eight pages (including the awesome photo) and bring yourself up to date. While you’re there, check out the other books (like her How to Kiss) and why not write a review for this site? Hmmm?

This has been one of those fine Saturday evenings that you just can’t plan. We invited some good friends over for dinner — I cooked meatballs, and the other man of the party made marinara sauce, while the women joked about sitting on the couch and watching football until we served them. After dinner we sat in the hot tub and relaxed, and someone floated the idea of putting in the Intense Games DVD from Sexploration Games. This game was designed by Kidder Kaper, host of the Sex is Fun podcast, and has been marketed extensively on their show. It costs $50 plus shipping, and consists of a single DVD in a jewel case and a score sheet.

The game, which should run in any DVD player, is billed as “a party game for monogamous couples.” It’s rather like a video version of Truth or Dare, with a lot more dare than truth. You need at least two couples to play it properly (my wife and I tried it alone once, and it didn’t work at all), but there’s no upper limit except for room size. The way the game’s _supposed_ to be played, each couple is a team, and the women control the remote and decide which challenges to take.

Judging is also entirely up to the women. There are four categories of challenges, from fairly tame 1-point tasks (“Pass an orange around the circle without using hands or arms“) to very explicit 15-point encounters (“Lube or oil your man’s back and give him a massage with your vulva.“) There’s a clever escalating scale built into the DVD where you can’t pick 5-point challenges until enough 1-point ones have been completed, and so forth, to keep everyone from jumping straight to the 15-pointers. Some challenges are timed; some are solo and some have couples competing against each other; some require blindfolding or sending the men out of the room while the women conspire. The game ends when everyone says it does, and then you get your pick of a series of final games — most of which close things out with everyone having sex.

All of the challenges in the main game are strictly one-on-one — you may be doing explicit things in front of your friends, but you’re doing them with your own partner. Hence the ‘monogamous’ tag that’s all over the game, and it’s very safe by design as long as you’re practicing proper safe sex with your own partner. However, the setup menu has one option, a “female bi-sensuality” filter, which puts some extra challenges into the mix for women to do things with each other. There is no equivalent option for males, and many of the challenges would be unfeasible for gay or lesbian couples. So the game appears to originate from the ‘swinger’ mindset where everyone’s straight, except that women can play with each other from time to time for amusement. I found this moderately annoying.

We had fun with the premise of the game, although we didn’t quite play it through the way it was intended to be played. For one thing, we didn’t have the right group composition: rather than being neatly paired into couples, we were three women and two men, in a fairly relaxed poly arrangement. We decided to try it with a house rule that the women could pick either man as their partner for any challenge. This mostly worked, but screwed up the scoring, and it was a problem for a few of the group challenges that could only be done in pairs, leaving a woman sitting out.

And then there were the challenges we decided to skip: not because they were too risqué for us, but because they seemed tedious. Some required materials we didn’t have or didn’t feel like getting. (“Pass a strawberry around the circle with your cleavage.”) Some seemed like too much work for the laid-back mood we were feeling. And some were deemed by consensus to be just dumb. (More than one challenge awarded points by penis size; it was the women’s unanimous opinion that it didn’t matter and shouldn’t be scored.) As soon as we realized that the no one cared about the score any more and motivation for more
challenges was waning, we simply called an end to it and checked out the end games — which we were then feeling too relaxed to play.

Was it a success? Yes, in the sense that it got everyone fooling around and Having Fun. If you can “lose” a sex game you’re probably not playing it right, but we did feel that _not_ being explicit couples threw off the vibe of the game in unusual ways. It made it harder to move the game forward or feel satisfied by its mechanics. We can’t really blame the designers for our playing outside the rules, however. We decided that we’d try it again sometime, with a larger crowd and a more deliberate 1:1 boy:girl ratio, and hope that it flows better. (We might still let the women choose their partners for each challenge, though. Our friends are that sort of poly network.)

Overall, based on just one evening, I’d give it a qualified thumbs-up. There are some annoying deficiencies, some iffy challenges, and some underlying assumptions that play right into stereotypes. (Would a male bi filter have been that hard or offensive?) It didn’t make us feel super-excited, or that it was the best $50 we ever spent. But considering the evening at a whole, I’d have to give a compliment that I suspect Kidder would appreciate: it got the group into a mood such that, after a while, no one really cared about the game any more.

It’s hard to call that a failure.

Have Fun,
Steve Eley
ESCAPE POD – The Science Fiction Podcast Magazine

{November 16, 2007}   Review of Kimono Microthin

Welcome to the new blog promoting hot safe sex between consenting adults. We’re just gonna talk about our experiences with having safer sex, and touch on issues of safer sex practices. Check out the blogroll for many more educated and entertaining people to learn from and with; this is just our particular corner.

Last night, thanks to a contribution of a condom sampler by a fan of Mr. Danger, my lover and I tried out the Kimono MicroThin Large. Pulling it out of the package (your typical plastic square pouch, easily tearable from the side) it didn’t look very large to either of us. Usually our brand of choice is the Trojan Magnum, and this was definitely smaller. One thing that I liked about it, though, was that it did extend all the way to the base of the penis, which is something that occasionally is not the case with standard condoms (My lover thought that perhaps that was what the “large” referred to, length rather than girth).

“It was really thin, I think…it felt really good,” was my lover’s opinion. “I give it an A+ – no, an A. There may be others that deserve that extra +.” The sheerness of it made it transparent, and there was no noticeable color to the condom and only a bit of lubrication. If I have any complaints, that would be it – that the tiny dab of lubricant didn’t really make any difference in the grand scheme of things. Of course, we always have lots of lube handy anyway, like any good Hot Safe Sex Practitioner, right?

“It was very smooth,” she added. “There didn’t seem to be much friction. Sometimes I will need that extra lube, but not this time.” She laughed. “Of course, I don’t know how much of that was you, and how much was the condom…”

That’s kind of the point of this blog though, right? That hot safer sex is not about the person OR the safer sex supply, but about both working together – scratch that. All those involved working together to make it a great experience.

She’s still musing about it, though. “Hmmm…maybe we should just try it again?”

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et cetera