HBO’s Sex/Now: A “Real Sex” for Our Time?

**The following is intended for readers over 18**

Like many people, I was a somewhat regular watcher of Real Sex. When I didn’t have HBO at home, I looked forward to those Thursday nights while at conferences in hotels where HBO was offered to guests. The next day, it was interesting to talk with coworkers who sometimes attended the same conference to find out that we all had been watching the night before. When you work in sexual health and sexual communication, it’s all part of the job.

Sometimes hot, sometimes really strange, sometimes featuring people I really had no interest in getting to know while featuring others who were quaintly sweet while performing oral sex and masturbating, Real Sex was usually at the least entertaining and sometimes illuminating. Clearly,  all were from California since we didn’t have those folks doing those things here in Texas. Of course not.

Now HBO is coming out with a new sexually-oriented show, Sex/Now—something of a Real Sex reboot intended for an audience in the 2010s, a time when sexually oriented material is all over the Internet.  It will be interesting to find out the story that accompanies sex in this new program, with the pilot of a possible series previewing January 2 at 11:00pm Eastern Time. I’ll be checking it out. How about you?

UPDATE: After a busy fall, with holidays and new writing projects, I’m back to a regular schedule, every 7-10 days, of posting to the blog. In the next couple of weeks, look for information on how you can download an erotic short story, the story I wrote for the winner of the personalized erotic short story contest and which I am posting with her permission. And this spring, stay tuned for the sequel to Song of the Balalaika, Balalaika in Paris.

Movies: At the Drive In

Drive In Movie Poster

When I was a teenager, we had a drive-in in our relatively large town, a drive-in that showed pornographic movies.  Large trees blocked the screen (mostly) from the well-travelled freeway behind it. Some weekend nights, my boyfriend and I would take his van and go to the movies and, well, do what couples in vans almost always do. He enjoyed the movies more than I did. I enjoyed his enjoying them.

The first movie I remember during the few visits we made was one called “Beach Blanket Bango,” a bad retelling of the 1964 movie, “Beach Blanket Bingo” with Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon.  The busty female with big bubble hair performs sex with her beach bunny friends on the Frankie Avalon character. The second film I recall involved “doctors” and “nurses”. That film, with a name that escapes me, shows up in my novel, Song of the Balalaika, when Cilla’s current lover, Tom, brings it home from the video store, telling her, “I hope you don’t mind a healthcare theme.”  I didn’t mind, but the movie didn’t do much for me or for Cilla. A brutally violent movie with an early exit ended our trips there.

The drive-in is long gone, a victim of the VCR, DVD, Internet and, probably, endless complaints, maybe even complaints from other patrons of the choice of movies. The boyfriend is long gone, too, with no regrets.

Have you ever visited a drive-in at all, or one that showed similar movies? Would you go if you could?

A Welcome Break

I’m back again after a welcome retreat away from technology, just me and my books and a completely different place. If you’re a writer, there’s nothing like getting away and seeing things in a literal new light. I look forward to be back on a regular blogging schedule in the next few days, continuing the stories and tips. And I’ll be out with a free short story and am currently working on the next installment of the Balalaika series.

Meanwhile, a little hint where I’ve been. Alexa


Good Days on the Job

For a time, I worked as a health educator and counselor in a maternal health and family planning clinic at the same time that I did outreach in the field identifying women who were not receiving well women care. [See my posts on my visits to a topless bar or two.] Some days were a challenge, listening to all the difficulties the women in and outside the clinic were having that were difficult to address. There were a few successes I remember in my work. One was a woman who returned to the clinic to let me know that the time we’d spent together six months before, when I counseled her about relationship violence issues, that she had turned her life around. She’d used the numbers and information on leaving an abusive relationship to help her go in a new direction in her life.

A second was a young 15-year-old girl who told me that she didn’t mind if she was pregnant and didn’t need birth control that visit. Rather than lecture her, I asked to think about her child, if she was pregnant, and ask herself if she would want to be her own baby in the life circumstances that she found herself in.  When she went in to see the nurse and found out she wasn’t pregnant, she asked for birth control, though I don’t know what happened to her after her clinic appointment as I didn’t see her again.

But the one woman I remember most, who I did see more than once in the clinic and on outreach, was Veronica (not her real name). I met Veronica in a “tanning salon”—a place on a street filled with sexually oriented businesses that had a broken tanning bed and a towel on the floor for sex with clients. Veronica started by coming in to the clinic to be treated for a sexually transmitted disease and a well woman visit. Returning again several months later, she was disease free and appeared less altered by drugs or alcohol. The third time, a very different Veronica visited the clinic—smiling for the first time and accompanied by a sister. She credited my coworkers and I for helping turn her life around, but I knew we had contributed only slightly, with most of the credit going to Veronica’s family and to Veronica herself.

So even though I sometimes sat out in my car before going into the clinic and had a “moment,” wishing I could do more, I often thoughts of those times of hope and firmly committed myself to doing what I could to make women’s lives better, or be there to support them when they made their own lives better.

Celebrating the Female Anatomy

**A post for the more mature reader**

A recent article in the Huffington Post on the clitoris made me want to write this post to expand upon it a little more.  It’s about a recent art installation that addresses that most misunderstood of the female body, yet, in my mind, the most important. Sure, some women find intercourse pleasurable, and there are some who prefer stimulation of the “g spot” through intercourse, than stimulation of the clitoris. I trust that to be the case if a woman actually has experienced clitoral stimulation hopefully to orgasm.

Although less so than in the past, the problem has often been that women don’t really understand how the clitoris works, and how for most of us, it is the main (although not exclusive) pleasure center of the female body. When a woman tells me that she “thinks” she’s had an orgasm, we discuss clitoral knowledge and certainty: if you’ve really had an orgasm, there’s no doubt what’s happening. That intense feeling is unmistakable.

When I wrote “Song of the Balalaika,” I wrote of a main male character who derives pleasure from bringing his partner to orgasm as creatively as he can. Much of what he does with her is to attempt to “learn” what pleases her, how and where she likes to be touched, how and when to stimulate her clitoris.

This is the reason that I’m adamant about properly naming the female anatomy.  If we keep referring to the external genitalia as the ‘vagina’ instead of ‘vulva’ and ‘labia’ (external and internal), then we confuse the internal organ of the woman, and her main instrument for intercourse, with the place where that premiere organ of arousal and orgasm is nestled. My post on the confusion on Project Runway’s frequent incorrect use of ‘vagina’ is a case in point.

Keeping Your Latex Safe

Trojan-CondomsHe’s wearing a latex glove for protection, or for fun. You’re using that square of latex, also known as a dental dam, when his mouth is on your lower body-genitals, between the thighs, or “between the cheeks.” A nice bit of water based lubricant works to add that nice slippery felling, but when it’s mouth against latex, there are other choices that won’t damage the material and will add a bit of extra taste to the tongue.

Say yes to honey. Jelly—strawberry, grape, orange marmalade. A dusting of powdered sugar. Some good quality maple syrup. Or perhaps Mrs. Butterworth for a threesome.

But just say no to anything with oil or animal fat—the natural enemies of latex. So don’t top the syrup with butter or use it alone. Avoid the chocolate sauce with or without whipped cream. Or whipped cream alone. Peanut butter should not accompany the jelly, no matter the flavor.

Still want to use the chocolate sauce and whipped cream? Just wash it away thoroughly before reaching for the condom or dental dam. Your rubber will thank you.

Product Review 2: Lubricant, and “A Tip About the Tip”

Tip-tipOne of the most basic products for safer sensuality is water-based lubricant. It reduces friction by providing moisture, and because it’s water-based, it does not damage latex. That’s latex condoms, latex dental dams, or latex gloves. Some condoms come with their own lube, and unlubed condoms are useful for performing oral sex on a guy.

Another option is silicone-based lubricants which are also useful and can retain their “slipperiness” longer than water-based lubricants but can also be more difficult to wash off the body and other materials or objects. No matter which you choose, definitely choose one. Research has shown that lubricants can enhance pleasure in relationships, whether or not you have to practice safer sex.
One of the most popular safer sex tips I give is just that: pay attention to the tip. Place a small amount of latex-friendly lubricant into the tip of the condom before placing it on the head of the penis. It returns that “natural” feeling to the condom experience, as many men have told me who tried it. And when a partner places the lubricant on the sensitive head of the penis before placing the condom (an alternative) or the condom on the penis with the lube inside, it’s a nice experience for both partners.

What Sandro’s Parachute Really Revealed

**Read only if you are over 12 years old**

I don’t like to be superior, but aside from the perpetual practice of naming women’s lower regions after small furry animals, I get most frustrated at how we mislabel the female anatomy. More specifically, the misuse of the word “vagina.”

On Project Runway, when one designer’s design revealed his model’s external genitalia, several commented that her “vagina” was showing. Unless Sustainable Timothy had his model in stirrups and wheeled onto the runway instead of dancing, including special lighting and a speculum, it would be impossible for anyone to see a vagina there. And it seems that few of us use the more accurate “vulva,” for the external genitalia preferring to let vagina do double duty for that.

But, in reality, what the designers and judges saw on Sandro’s model were likely (and I’m only speculating since we got that lovely little electrical tape placed over the offending part) labia majora, or the “major lips” which actually hide and protect the female vulva. So the next time a designer decides his/her model should reveal that pillowy part of the body, take in a sharp breath and whisper, “Oh, no, the big lips!”

Product Review 1: Honey Dust

Honey DustOne of my favorite sexual products is honey dust. I like the smell, the way it makes your skin feel. And, if that weren’t enough, it’s edible and actually made of honey.

And if you’re using latex for protection, honey is okay. (I plan to post soon on what you can and cannot use with latex to avoid damage; honey is on the safe list.)

So a splurge of between $20 and $25 can get a nice addition to lovemaking. Who could ever resist a feather duster against the skin, applied liberally and by the right person?

Fifty Shades and Women’s Sexuality “Manifesto”

Fifty Shades CoverAs a women’s health and sexuality educator, I spend lots of time working with women on how to be more assertive sexually. Communication skills are important when telling a partner what you want. No beating around the bush (unless that turns you on). No assuming he/she knows what it is that makes you aroused. Saying it isn’t easy, but once you get the hang of it, you’re in much better shape.

When Fifty Shades of Gray made it big, there was a plethora of essays by female writers I respect (I won’t name names because I’m commenting in general) about how the female curiosity about and interest in being submissive to a partner as a sexual practice meant that we’re all willing to return to the bad old barefoot and pregnant and “lie back and think of England”* days. Why is it, then, that many powerful men enjoy being dominated. Is there something about that surrender to surprise and enjoyment of the link between pain and pleasure that appeals to both genders? Of course there is, but why should we be ashamed of it while men are just “exploring,” even those who return to their day-to-day work dominating others.

Are there some practices that some women embrace that trouble me? Sure. (More about that later.) But as human beings we more often than not embrace a range of sexual feelings about all kinds of things we never thought we’d be into. And that’s okay. As long as our sexuality takes place in a safe, consensual space, we have nothing to be ashamed of. And it’s about time.