Episode 53: Joani Blank: A Girl and Her Toys
Thirty years ago if a woman wanted to buy a vibrator to use to enhance her sex life, her choices were limited. Some men went to porn and peep-show shops and picked something out for their partner. Many women went to the local drug store and bought devices intended to massage muscle cramps (these devices were often surprisingly effective for clitoral massage, regardless of the photos on the box showing the device applied to a shoulder). For most women, it was all way too embarrassing. My guest, Joani Blank, decided to do something about this sorry state of affairs and, in 1977, founded “Good Vibrations”, the first woman-oriented, sex-positive, sex toy store (still in business today). Listen in as Joani and I talk about women and sex toys, men and toys, as well as men and their relationships with their partner’s toys. In an entertaining and informative half-hour chat you’ll learn a bit about how to find toys, how to use toys and how to make sure toys enhance your relationship. And, as always, don’t miss the exercise for you to try at home.
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Chip August: Welcome to “Sex, Love And Intimacy”, I’m your host Chip August and today on the show we are going to be talking about sex toys and vibrators. And we are talking to one of my favorite people in the world, Joani Blank.
Joani Blank: A lot of women who, particularly those women who have difficulty getting aroused or especially having an orgasm even though they can get aroused easily find that a vibrator gives a certain kind of stimulation that they themselves with their hand or their partner cannot possibly give them. It moves a whole lot faster and it has a lot of endurance, it can last for a really long time, as long as you keep it plugged in or have fresh batteries.
Lets say a woman typically uses her fingers and it takes her maybe ten minutes to get aroused and have an orgasm, well then she uses a vibrator and all of a sudden she can do it in forty five seconds if she’s really in a hurry. And if the stimulation is very intense and her orgasm usually comes much faster than it did when she used running water or her partner’s hand for that matter, or her hand.
Men do use vibrators, the biggest concern that men have about vibrators is that it’ll turn them into a gay man or a woman and certainly not to use them anally, which is a common way that men like to use vibrators. Hopefully not insertable vibrators, because most of them are dangerous to use anally. A cylindrical type vibrator can easily get stuck and that’s not a good thing.
Chip August: Joani is the founder, one of the founders of “Good Vibrations”, it’s a store in San Francisco that, I believe it was the first woman oriented sex positive, sex toy store, maybe ever, certainly on the west coast. She founded it in 1977. Joani also works as a co-housing activist; she’s very actively involved in building more co-housing communities. But to the point of our show here, Joani talks to hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people every year about sex toys. She is also, by the way, one of the first volunteers at the San Francisco Sex Information Hot Line, way back in the mid 70’s. She’s the author of “Good Vibrations, The Complete Guide To Vibrators” and she’s just a font of information about sex toys and vibrations and how to bring those things into your life.
Welcome to this show Joani Blank.
Joani Blank: Thank you so much Chip.
Chip August: I’m really happy to have you here and I really want to kind of just dive right into this subject. Why do normal, everyday, happily married people, why would they even be interested in the subject of vibrators?
Joani Blank: Well they might not [laughs]; I would hope that people who have never used a vibrator or tried a vibrator might consider trying one after this show. But not everybody likes vibrators and I have never claimed that everybody did. I would hope that everybody would at least give them an opportunity to show what fun they are and if they don’t find them fun then they won’t use them anymore right?
Chip August: Yes, so what’s fun about a vibrator?
Joani Blank: Well specifically for women, a lot of women who, particularly those women who have difficulty getting aroused or especially having an orgasm even though they can get aroused easily find that a vibrator gives a certain kind of stimulation that they themselves with their hand or their partner cannot possibly give them. It moves a whole lot faster, so fast it’s just vibrating. And it has a lot of endurance; it can last for a really long time, as long as you keep it plugged in or have fresh batteries.
Chip August: OK, when did you first discover vibrators?
Joani Blank: Oh, that’s an interesting question, I’m not sure that I can remember that?
Chip August: Well we don’t need the exact date. [laughs]
Joani Blank: I can say it was rather late in my life.
Chip August: OK
Joani Blank: And it was long after I had started having sexual intercourse, which was kind of late. I guess considering my age it wasn’t that late but I think I had intercourse for the first time when I was almost 25 years old. Actually my very first partner showed me how to stimulate myself so that I could have an orgasm, which I am eternally grateful to him. For some reason I had never discovered that myself, I’m not quite sure why.
And I had been using my hand to masturbate for many years and running water and then some how or other I bought a large headed massage vibrator, specifically for massage because I really have tension between my shoulder blades. And it just occurred to me to try it on my clitoris, and guess what, it worked fine!
Chip August: A whole new world opened.
Joani Blank: A whole new world opened up and I’ve been a vibrator enthusiast ever since.
Chip August: So you really are one of those people who actually tried it on your shoulders and tried it on your neck before you actually used it anywhere sexually.
Joani Blank: That’s quite true, that’s quite true. And then my ex husband and I, we were great garage sale and flea market shoppers and we started collecting old, a few antique and some just plain old vibrators. And that’s why I actually had to open the store at first. Because I had all these old vibrators in a suitcase under our bed and I thought it’d be kind of fun to show people. So half of the display space in the first store was taken up with antique vibrators.
Chip August: So lets talk for a moment about the store, I want to talk much more about vibrators and personal stuff but just a moment about the store here.
Joani Blank: Sure.
Chip August: That’s a pretty big leap in the 70’s to open up a sex toy store. How does one, you know, my experience with sex toy stores are kind of a little sleazy. How does one make a sex positive sex toy store?
Joani Blank: Well I was working in the sex counseling program at UCSF, University of California San Francisco, which is the medical center and the sex counseling program there was working with women who had never had orgasms with any means by themselves or with a partner. Most women, we were working with them in groups and encouraging, at home of course, to look in the mirror at themselves first, look at their genitals and then start stimulating themselves with their hands. And some women started doing that and still had a really really hard time getting quite over the top to an orgasm. So we recommended that they try vibrators and the only place to buy them were these sleazy shops that you’re talking about. Or sometimes the back of a women’s magazine where the woman is shown holding this plastic battery operated vibrator up against her cheek, and as I said in my little book years ago, how on earth anybody ever had an orgasm holding it there beats me.
But I just decided that there should be a place where women could shop for set toys that didn’t have vibrators and other kinds of sexual paraphernalia without having to deal with the usual marketplace which was directed, you’re right, towards men. And even then kind of, a lot of men didn’t like those stores either.
There was at the time, one place that ended up being similar to “Good Vibrations” but it was mail order only and that was “Eve’s Garden” in New York. And, yes, you’re right, “Good Vibrations” was really the first in the country that was actually a retail store. And it was still only one of two, “Eve’s Garden” being the other.
Chip August: Yeah, we’ll give a shout out to Dell Williams and some of the great work she did with “Eve’s Garden” which is certainly in the same vein.
Joani Blank: Indeed. That’s what gave me the idea, was Dell.
Chip August: Cool, cool, terrif. So lets talk about women for a moment here. The whole idea of even trying this, for women who love their vibrators, they already know they love their vibrators, my partner and I, her vibrator is actually starting to wear out, she’s gotten a good life out of it but it’s starting to wear out and we were actually shopping. And I just noticed how attached she is to getting exactly that same vibrator, you know this works . . .
Joani Blank: It must be a Hitachi Magic Wand.
Chip August: Of course, of course it an Hitachi Magic Wand. [laughs]
Joani Blank: I’m on my third one but not because any of them have worn out, I’ve just loaned them to people and they never came back.
Chip August: You know, well one of them got lost to a relative who seemed to be borrowing it surreptitiously so . . .
Chip August: But in any event, we were shopping and I was noticing like, you know her concern is, “Well what if I try something and I don’t like it.” And they were talking about getting money back and switching things and all that kind of stuff but how does one start in this, how do you pick a vibrator as a woman?
Joani Blank: Well I actually encourage women, and men for that matter, who are shopping either for themselves or for woman, to buy something very inexpensive, probably even battery operated, just to . . . if they’ve never used a vibrator before, even though most of those battery operated vibrators, some of them are shaped like little eggs, or some of them are sort of cylindral shaped, sort of dildoish, but not really dildos and they’re not, even though men often assume that women use them internally, most women use them externally on their clitorises. And it doesn’t matter what it was designed for, just to get the sensation of a vibrator against your clitoris, for some women it seems like, unfortunate to invest forty or fifty dollars or more in a plug in vibrator when they can learn what it feels like with a really cheapy throw away vibrator.
So sometimes I suggest that, other times I suggest that people will just go for a good plug in vibrator, not necessarily wand type, sometimes the kind that looks more like a hairbrush, I would guess to describe it, with multiple attachments. Sometimes those are better for some people because they’re very very quiet, they’re silent so they don’t have any moving parts in there, electrical parts in them, so they’re very very quiet. And for people who are nervous about thin walls or even having their partner hear when they don’t want them to and they happen to be in the house at the same time.
Other than that just go for one of those stronger plug in vibrators and at first use it through a folded up towel or through your hand, in other words putting the vibrator on the back of your hand and letting your fingers touch yourself. I would think that would be the better way to go until they find out whether they want the more intense sensation right against their genitals.
Chip August: So I love that idea, touch yourself the way you usually touch yourself but place a vibrator against a hand that is touching you and just notice if you like that sensation.
Joani Blank: Right. And that’s a really nice thing to do if a person is introducing a vibrator to their partner, to do it through their hand first, or through a folded up towel or sheet or a light weight pillow or something, just to get the sensation, if they’re nervous about it or how it would feel directly on them at first. You can use it through the partner’s hands too.
Chip August: That’s a terrific idea. I want to talk a little bit about vibrators and partners in a moment but I want to take a break.
So we’re talking to Joani Blank, Joani is an expert on sex toys and vibrators. She has written a wonderful book, “The Good Vibrations, The Complete Guide To Vibrators” and you’re listening to “Sex, Love And Intimacy”. I want to say as we go to this break that listeners if you go to the website, personallifemedia.com and look at my episode pages there are links to audible.com, to ice.com and there are all kinds of products that you can get online that you can get a discount for just for listening to this show. Where it asks for a promo code use the word love, l-o-v-e and you’ll get a 20% discount at audible, you’ll get a 20% discount at ice.com. My wife actually took my daughter on the ice.com site to pick out a Father’s Day gift for me this year and she saved some money and I got a really nice gift, you can do the same. So please listen to the spots and you might want to often check the website for a good deal. We’ll be right back.
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Chip August: Welcome back, you’re listening to “Sex, Love And Intimacy”, I’m your host Chip August. Today we’re talking to Joani Blank and we’re talking about sex toys and vibrators.
As we went to the break, Joani you mentioned something about one way to introduce a vibrator into sex play is for your lover to actually place the vibrator on their own hand in the way that they normally touch you and just notice if you like that sensation. And that just brings me to the whole question of lovers and vibrators. I hear frequently men are pretty jealous of vibrators, do you also hear that?
Joani Blank: I’ve heard it but I’ve rarely heard it expressed. I mean, if they’re that jealous of vibrators they are going to try to avoid having their partner have one or use one or they’re going to be very negative about it.
Chip August: Yeah, that’s kind of what it is.
Joani Blank: And they’re not going to want to know about it and there’s not really any way that I’d ever find out about it because those are the people who don’t shop at “Good Vibrations”
Chip August: Of course, then they’d have to talk to you.
Joani Blank: So from a scientific point of view I’d have to say it’s something that’s often raised but we don’t have any evidence of it. And this is one of the reasons why, in the olden days, I haven’t worked at the store for a number of years, but in the olden days when a man would come in and say he wanted a vibrator for his partner it was like he wanted it but he wanted to be in control of it. That way he could be sure that his partner . . . or he wanted it for his partner to use when he was out of town but only when he was out of town.
We often turned people away and said, “Please either take a catalog home and talk it over with your partner and then come back or call us up and make a mail order or actually better yet than that bring her into the store if she’s willing to come.” And then we would talk to them both as a couple if that happened and that kind of took away this kind of like this vibrator is designed to come between you and going to threaten your relationship and all that kind of stuff.
And the other thing to do is to point out to men that there’s no way a vibrator can . . . a vibrator may actually be used to help with arousal and trigger orgasm but there’s no way . . . I think Betty Dodson said it best, she said a vibrator never put its arms around me and told me it loved me. It’s so not a relationship thing. I didn’t say that very well but . . .
Chip August: No, no, I think you said it just fine actually.
Joani Blank: It’s a mechanical device that can enhance a relationship but it doesn’t replace a relationship. You know somebody called me once when I was on a radio show many years ago and called in and said, “It’s so mechanical”, and I thought, “Hmm its electronic and so mechanical”, and I said, “What is that thing you have in your hand while you’re calling me on the phone, like if you really wanted to talk to me in the studio today and you didn’t have something mechanical to help you you’d have to run over here or you’d have to shout really really loud and since you have a telephone”, well that was kind of fun. And we were on the radio, I said, “you wouldn’t have even heard me talking if you hadn’t had a radio”. He was using two pieces of mechanical things to communicate better and that’s kind of what the vibrator can do.
Chip August: Yeah, I think though, I don’t want to argue [xx], yes it’s true when I’m trying to have communication over long distance I want mechanical devices, now when I’m trying to communicate over the millimeters that separate our bodies while we’re lying in the same bed and the method of communication I’ve used up until now has been kisses and caresses and stokes and now you’ve added this extra element. I really do get that it’s not just so simple as, I’m a ludite, I don’t want technology. It’s just a fear; you know I want technology in my phone, I don’t know if I want technology in my bed?
Joani Blank: I’m glad you raised that Chip because you’re absolutely right in that sense; it’s a really bad metaphor. However its also true, just like you described, you know the kisses and the words and the stroking and the touching of any single part of my body besides my clitoris is still up for grabs. Hopefully you’re grabbing a lot.
Joani Blank: For example, and I’ll be very explicit about this, I’m quite devoted to my vibrator. I’m not orgasmic with intercourse as many women are not; perhaps two thirds of women are not orgasmic with intercourse only. And I really enjoy, I can easily have orgasms with oral sex on me and one of my most common ways of enjoying . . . making sure that I have an orgasm is to have a vibrator which I put pressing against my clitoris and I really like it if my partner has his fingers or his penis in my vagina at the same time, and that’s just perfect.
Chip August: Yeah, I think the thing that . . . when men come to me and say, “I think my partner loves her vibrator more than she loves me”, the thing we need to talk about is specific mechanical aids that encourage arousal versus that I believe that every human being’s erogenous zone is that big gray matter between their ears. That what arouses my partner is not the Hitachi Magic Wand, though Hitachi Magic Wand does something for her body, I’m doing something with our emotions and with our connection and with our intimacy, which the Hitachi can enhance, but it cannot substitute for it. Yeah, but that’s hard for some people.
Joani Blank: It is difficult for some people to acknowledge that for sure. I just think the more the couple can talk about that and express that the better. And anything, those of us who are in the field can do to encourage that and help that and support that, that’s where it’s at.
Chip August: Now when I was a young horny man I think I had the belief that once a woman learned to cum with a vibrator she would never ever be able to cum without one. That it taught your body, that this is what was really wrong with it, that once you came that way you could never cum any other way. Is that true?
Joani Blank: I’d like to respond to it and say that it’s not true but before I do I want to say that I think the real threat behind that is, she’ll not only never be able to cum any other way, is that it’s now that it’s easy for her to cum without me and she won’t need me anymore. So I think its very focused on what happens if she . . . you know . . .
Chip August: Yeah there was probably . . . definitely, given how old I was when I first heard that story, yeah I’m sure there was some ego in there which was sort of like, “Oh, my God I’m being replaced by this tool”, yeah, which I think we just talked about.
Joani Blank: I don’t think it has much to do with your youth or hormones, I think that would be true for significantly elder people too. However my response is this, and I prefer to use the masturbation experience rather than sex partners because some people are concerned about that even if they don’t have a partner, they don’t have any prospects of a partner and their only experience was with a vibrator, they’re worried that they will not be able to cum using their hand anymore.
Actually there’s another piece I want to mention before that and that is that a lot of these men that feel this way or are concerned about this are also men who think that once she learns to cum with her vibrator she’ll never learn to cum with intercourse by itself. And she may never learn that anyway. So that’s a really hard lesson for a lot of young horny men. And it’s not encouraged by porn, at least old porn which basically said that’s the way women cum and if a woman doesn’t come that way something is wrong with her.
Chip August: Pretty current porn also.
Joani Blank: Yeah.
Chip August: I want to pause just for a second, not to take a break, I just want to say this whole idea of valuing, that if you have your orgasm when my penis is stimulating you that is a better orgasm somehow or other then if you have your orgasm when my fingers are stimulating you and you’re using a vibrator, or my penis is in you and you’re using a vibrator somehow diminishes the orgasm. All of that I find an amazingly foolish mental trap you know. Like I notice that what I want for my partner is that she really really enjoys sex with me and that what I want is that I really really enjoy sex with her and if I make it a requirement that we can’t use any toys to make it better than I’m really limited to how much fun we have. And once I agree we can use toys to make it better, I really encourage men to stop for a moment and think about this, and so if she likes using her vibrator and she’s having great sex with you and she’s having screaming orgasms, wasn’t that the point, wasn’t that what you set out to do?
Joani Blank: Well unfortunately I think that, I hate to say this, I almost hate to say this because it may be misinterpreted but I think that actually it’s a reproductive bias that says that women should have their maximum sexual pleasure with whatever it is likely to most impregnate them, and that’s intercourse. So I think that it is not surprising that we have this biological urge, which is encouraged, particularly, I mean it encourages male pleasure, right, obviously, and secondarily now that we’ve become feminists, we’re insisting on women having pleasure too. But up until the point where it mattered whether women had pleasure it just sort of wasn’t important that a lot of women didn’t cum with orgasm - with intercourse, excuse me. And now that we recognize that it is important for women to have pleasure the biology hasn’t changed, the rules have. A societal thing has.
Let me get back though to the question about once you use a vibrator you won’t be able to cum any other way. What happens is that, lets say a woman typically uses her fingers, hopefully with some lubrication, either saliva, or some artificial, I hate to use that term, some other lubrication and it takes her maybe ten minutes to get aroused and have an orgasm. Well then she uses a vibrator and all of a sudden she can do it in forty five seconds if she’s really in a hurry. The stimulation is very intense and her orgasm usually comes much faster then it did when she used running water or her partner’s hand for that matter, or her hand for clitoral stimulation. So what happens is women who use the vibrator sometimes will go back to using their hands and at first they’ll say their clitoris feels a little bit numb, I’m not talking about right after orgasm, I’m talking about the next day. And yes you’re giving it much less lighter stimulation than the vibrator does, so duh, by comparison you’re not going to get as much sensation because you’re not getting as much sensation.
Chip August: Right, right.
Joani Blank: And then so some women will try that again, their hand, and guess what, they don’t cum in two minutes or three minutes or five minutes, it still takes them ten, maybe even the first few times it will take them fifteen or twenty minutes because they’ve gotten accustomed to the other kind. It doesn’t mean that they’re “addicted”. And if people can relax around that and if a woman can relax around that and just pay attention to how aroused she does feel and not trying really hard to get more aroused typically it will come back after a few times.
Chip August: Oh, that’s great. We need to pause and take a break here. I’m having a great time and I’ve got lots more questions. You’re listening to “Sex, Love And Intimacy”; we’re talking to Joani Blank, who’s an expert on sex toys and vibrators.
As we go to this break I just want to remind my audience if you like what you’re hearing here, if you’re interested, if you notice you want to send this to your friends, just know that every one of our shows we make a complete transcript of. So if you’ll go to personallifemedia.com and go to my show, “Sex, Love And Intimacy” on each episode you’ll find a transcript. You may want to cut and paste things that caught your attention and send them to friends; you may just want to send a link to people so that they get to listen to this. It’s one of the ways the show grows and its one of the ways you get to help spread some of this really good information. We’re going to take a break and we’ll be right back.
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Chip August: Welcome back to “Sex, Love and Intimacy”, I’m your host Chip August. And I’m talking to Joani Blank. Joani is an expert on sex toys and vibrators. And we’ve been having a wonderful conversation about vibrators and toys and how to use them and do they hurt you and do they help?
One thing that I know this hardly ever gets talked about, although I’m in business of sexology so I probably hear about it more than anybody else does, is men and sex toys. Do men use vibrators?
Joani Blank: You know it’s interesting, I don’t believe the book ever came out but Good Vibrations was planning to publish a book called “The Good Vibrations Guide To Toys For Boys” I know that it got written, apparently it never was published. But men do use vibrators and other kinds of sex toys. The biggest concern that men have about vibrators, using vibrators for themselves, is that it’ll turn them into a gay man or a woman, that only women, you know, it’s a girly thing.
Chip August: Right, somehow it’s not manly to like this.
Joani Blank: Right, or even try it, to even experiment with it and certainly not to use them anally, which is a common way that men like to use vibrators. Well actually hopefully not insertable vibrators, because most of them are dangerous to use anally.
Chip August: Wait, wait, wait, say more about that.
Joani Blank: Well a cylindrical type vibrator can easily get, depending on how careful one is with it, I mean if you’re holding on to it with your fist and you’re not going to lose it there’s nothing wrong with inserting it a little way into the anus. But there are men will put things in that, its amazing to men what large things can go in there and then they get stuck and that’s not a good thing.
Chip August: Yeah, that’s way I wanted to say more about it because I want to say to men, devices for anal play usually have a very flared or wide ending that your hand uses so that it cannot slip into your anus and get stuck. If something does get stuck, men or women, if something gets stuck inside you please go seek medical attention. I know it’s embarrassing but you just go to a doctor or clinic, they remove it, it’s not a really big deal. But left inside it’s a really big deal and just hoping somehow or other your body will automatically force it out is a bad plan.
So it’s just my health concern for my listeners. If you’re playing and you’re new to this use anal toys for anal, they usually have a big end for your hand so they can’t slip in, you know, yeah, thank you.
Joani Blank: They actually have a really wide flared base and you can actually let go of them once they’re in and the anal sphincter closes around the narrow place and then they have a flange at the bottom.
Chip August: But some people will use, for instance a dildo that has sort of a bulbous end for their hand, there are all kinds of toys that you can use in all kinds of orifices but just don’t use the ones that can get lost up in there, that’s kind of the point.
Joani Blank: So the issue of anal use of vibrators or just plain objects, any object or things that are specifically designed as dildos that either do or don’t look like penises, there are some of each. Is it sort of a different question than the experience for men to use a vibrator on their penis?
Chip August: Right, that’s really what I was actually asking about but I was glad that we took this detour.
Joani Blank: I figured you were but a lot of men, since they assume that the cylindrical shape vibrators for women are used internally, in and out in the vagina, they assume that that’s what, you know, since they don’t have a vagina they assume that that’s where it’s going to go.
Chip August: Right.
Joani Blank: So it’s really important to raise that issue. So this time I can speak a little bit from my own experience of introducing men to vibrators. I had the opportunity to do that several times and what I have discovered for many men, at least the very first time, and I’m talking about using a big Hitachi, because that’s what I’ve got, if we’re at my place that’s what’s available.
So it mostly has to do with holding their penis with my hand in a way that is comfortable to them and putting the vibrator on my hand, on the back of my hand because some men, believe it or not, find the intensity of a vibrator, many men find the intensity of a vibrator directly on their penis very . . . to much, to strong. Even if it’s at the base of the penis, not too near the scrotum so it’s not getting the hair and it’s not getting anywhere near the head of the penis which is very sensitive, most sensitive of course. So, just basically running my hand back and forth on the man’s penis with the vibrator either on my wrist or on that little soft space between your thumb and your forefinger, that’s a more comfortable place for you, for the woman who’s holding it because if it’s on the back of your hand it’s kind of bony there and the vibration might not feel too good to you. Usually it’s extremely effective, can I say that, and most men who have tried it have really liked it.
I know from at least two cases of men who have told me that now that they’ve been introduced to vibrators they have one at home and they use it, not always but occasionally for masturbation. It’s interesting we know something interesting about men and masturbation and women and masturbation. Women will usually find a way that holding with the vibrator rubbing with their hand works really well but they often are a little more flexible in terms of what they can learn to like on their clitoris. Men tend to be very very, what’s the word, focused and set on the way that they first started to masturbate when they were twelve, or thirteen or fourteen or fifteen and there are some men for whom if their normal hand is injured they literally can’t get off using their other hand. So I don’t know how consistent that is, I think in this day and age probably men are a little more adventurous and are willing to try other things.
Chip August: So I wanted to say, a moment to men, so men if you’re hearing this and you never thought about using a vibrator I hope this is opening up a whole avenue. Women if you have a man partner and you’re thinking, “Gee what can I get this person for their next birthday?” there are all kinds of toys that are designed for men, to vibrate men. And a great thing to do is actually go, there are several good websites and places you can go to shop and try things and you’d be amazed that you can introduce a whole new area into your partner’s life.
Well Joani you’re doing terrific here and I’m just curious, if people wanted more information about this or they wanted to talk to you about this or they wanted to know where to go shopping or any of that, can you give people advice here on how to reach you and how to read your book and that kind of stuff?
Joani Blank: Sure. My book is, unfortunately, out of print and as far as I know the only copies left are several hundred that the store, “Good Vibrations” still has and you can reach them on the web at www.goodvibes.com, g-o-o-d-v-i-b-e-s.com and I believe they still have a couple hundred copies of the book. I am seeking a new publisher for this book, I’m kind of hoping I don’t find one because then I have to revise it and I don’t feel like doing all that editing work. But I read it over not too long ago and most of the advice in there is still pretty sound and it doesn’t have to do with new fangled kinds of vibrators that have been invented since the last time I wrote it. I mean human anatomy hasn’t changed that much and human sexual response hasn’t changed that much so a lot of the stuff still applies. As well as relationship stuff still applies.
Although I have to say since “Sex In The City” people have, in fact that’s had an enormous effect on people and their ability and willingness to talk about sex, which is a good thing.
As far as contacting me is concerned, I’d be happy to give my email address and people can write to me. Its joani, spelled without an e, that’s [email protected], this is like the bird, the swan, s-w-a-nsway.com.
Chip August: I didn’t think of a bird I thought of Proust’s novel.
Joani Blank: Well apparently Proust’s had two n’s.
Chip August: Oh, that’s true it did.
Joani Blank: And I live in a co-housing community called Swans Market Co-Housing. So that’s why we have that domain name.
Chip August: It makes perfect sense.
Joani Blank: Yes.
Chip August: So I want to thank you, I think you’re a terrific guest. Before you go, before we wrap up this interview, I like to ask my guest, is there an exercise, is there a thing that people can do at home to improve the love, intimacy and sexuality in their life? You got a suggestion?
Joani Blank: Well I’d actually like to make two suggestions, one is for women in particular who have never used a vibrator and this suggestion doesn’t have much to do with improving, or it doesn’t have much to do with your partner’s status, whether you have a partner now or whether you don’t have a partner now and you’re hoping it’s possible. I think it will improve your sex life in general because it will give you one more way to have an orgasm if you’re already orgasmic and one way to have your first orgasm if you’ve never had one. And that is to find a way to let yourself use a vibrator for the first time, just give it a try. It’s not a big deal to do that if you can get a hold of one. I think a really good exercise for women is to ask their friends if they have a vibrator that they would be willing to loan them, just to try it. That in itself will open up some interesting conservations. Now you may not be a person who feels comfortable doing that so if you’re not you have to buy one over the Internet or in a local store if you can. The Internet does provide a lot of anonymity and buy yourself the cheapest, smallest vibrator you can find and give it a try.
Chip August: Do you have favorite sites that you would send a woman to on the Internet.
Joani Blank: Well goodvibes.com that I mentioned for the book is a good one. There’s another one that I highly recommend called babeland, it used to be called toys in babeland and now it’s just called babeland, b-a-b-e-l-a-n-d.com. And another one which I had some involvement with but I don’t know a whole lot about their current status, it’s called libida, like the word libido except with an a, libida.com, that’s oriented particularly towards women. And there are many others, it’s a welter, but those three that I mentioned are definitely focused on women’s stuff. There are a number of others that are women focused too. There’s a store in Madison, Wisconsin, it’s called “A Woman’s Touch”, I’m quite sure that they have a website although I don’t know their url, and I’m quite sure they have a significant mail order department as well.
Chip August: Excellent. Ok, so one exercise was to get a vibrator and give it a try. What was the other idea?
Joani Blank: The other one has to do for women with partners about, who have used a vibrator either occasionally or previously and they may or may not use it now by themselves but have never used it or haven’t recently raised the idea of using it with their partner. And for that, depending on how much they’ve told their partner about their vibrator use in the past, in any event or whether they have or haven’t, to say that they heard this wonderful podcast recently and it gave them this notion that maybe in fact it wouldn’t be so terrible to introduce the vibrator even to what they assume will be a very reluctant partner. And if worst comes to worst, if a partner is just really rejecting, which is possible, but I don’t think likely, but if happens one of the things they can do is they can do the exercise of just inviting their partner to watch them use it on themselves. That’s a really hard thing to do. I have to tell you years ago I had to do that as an exercise in preparation for training therapists who were going to have their clients do that. And the first time was really really hard but my partner enjoyed it so much that I really changed my feeling about it. And actually the second time I did it, I remember he asked me, is there anything he could do and I said yes you could play with my nipples you could kiss me, you could stroke my back, you could do lots of things. Just keep those hands on me somewhere. [laughs]
Chip August: It’s very intimacy encouraging.
Joani Blank: Building, yeah. And by the same token some women are not all that comfortable watching their partner’s masturbate but I think it’s fine to invite your partner to watch you masturbate and just do that and have you watch.
Chip August: I agree.
Joani Blank: And I’m one of those people who doesn’t particularly enjoy watching a man masturbate but I don’t object to it and I’m glad to say it doesn’t work the other way around, most men really enjoy watching their partners.
Chip August: You have been a terrific guest, those are terrific suggestions. I want to thank you very much for being on the show.
Chip August: Thank you Chip, it was fun.
Chip August: Listeners if you have ideas, show comments, show ideas, please feel free to send me an email: [email protected], that’s all one word, personallifemedia.com. Or you can actually call and leave a voicemail at 206-350-5333.
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Thanks for listening; this brings us to the end of another show. I hope you will listen again, but goodbye for now.
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