Thursday, October 16, 2008


I deliver sex toy parties for a living. In spite of the fact that this is my life, I've never actually been to a toy party delivered by any company other than my own, The Traveling Tickle Trunk. When I set up TTT, I did it based on some basic principles that are very important to me, rather than what anybody else in the industry does. These principles are:
- sell only high quality, safe products - don't sell garbage that your customers will be throwing out the next day
- don't bullshit people - tell them the truth about the products and let them decide for themselves if they want it or not
- let everybody see, handle and check out all the products first-hand (within reason of course)
- know what you're talking about when it comes to sex and give real information rather than the sensationalized stereo-typical crap that comes out of most 'sex experts'

So I've been following this model for many years and I hear from my customers all the time that TTT parties are very different, and much better, than the other toy parties they've been to. They will often give me examples of those differences. But I never get to see them for myself - I think it would be quite deceitful of me to host or go to another party knowing I'm only there to check them out, not to buy. That would certainly piss me off so I'm not going to do it to anyone else.

But today I was watching a show on Slice called 'Workout'. In this episode, the main character threw a Surprise Party for her girlfriends. If you're not familiar, Surprise Parties is one of the biggest adult home party companies in North America. So I got to see a few clips of how this particular sales rep. managed her party. Granted, it was on TV so it may have been a bit different. It looked like it was probably fun but I could pick out the products she had on the table and the things she was holding, and they were not good.

Here's some stuff that, judging by what they showed in that episode, Surprise Parties does that The Traveling Tickle Trunk would never do.
- deliver a party wearing an expensive suit and silk blouse - exactly who are we trying to kid here? you're selling vibrators in people's living rooms - for TTT, it's a comfortable casual setting and we dress to reflect that and that we see ourselves as on the same level as the people who are attending the party - who are usually very casual too
- call the vagina, vulva or clitoris the 'down there' or the 'hoo ha' - are you 5 years old? - there is no reason to use baby language. Everyone at the party is an adult and adults can handle the real words for their body parts - I sometimes see the initial shock on people's faces when I first use the word 'clitoris' or 'vagina' at a party but then they relax right away because they understand exactly what I mean, they know that I'm totally comfortable and that they can say whatever they want too and don't have to worry about offending me
- coerce or goad someone into trying a product - in this example, the hesitance on the part of the women was probably more for the camera than it was real, but I've heard stories from many people where they were told they 'had to' go to the washroom and try the arousal gel or they were made the one guinea pig for something that they were clearly uncomfortable with - if people want to try it, they will, it's never appropriate to embarrass or humiliate someone
- sell 'the tounge' - that toy is one of the most disgusting and most over-rated toys ever made - the sense of making a nasty cyber-skin toy that looks like a tongue is just beyond me - it looks like a cow's tongue - isn't that the sexiest thing you can imagine? - and just because it looks like a tongue, doesn't mean it feels like one - tongues feel nice because they are very warm, very wet, and very flexible and moldable - this ugly cyberskin cow tongue is none of those things.

Okay, that's my rant. If you want to see the clip, go to, and find the full episodes of the show 'Workout'. This was episode 9. (And yes, I do enjoy questionable reality shows. It's my thing. I have no defense for it. Everybody has their faults).

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Panties in a Knot about Tieing People Up

I was laid out for the last two days with a back problem and could do nothing but lay around and watch TV. Fortunately, you don't have to surf too many channels to come up with a show giving sex advice. On Monday, it was Tyra Banks. Tyra seems to be on a tyrade (I'm so sorry, I had to do that) lately about women who work in the sex industry. She's had several shows where she brings on women who are porn actresses, strippers or prostitutes and then she and her audience take turns berating them and trying to convince them to quit. She doesn't distinguish between any of these jobs - just labels them all 'sex industry'. I bet Tyra would say I'm in the sex industry too.

This Monday show was particularly bad because the woman she had on was a dominatrix. the point of the show was to try to make her see that she was humiliating her adult daughter and causing her untold psychological damage by doing this for a living. Important to add here that her 21 year-old daughter had no clue that her mother was a dominatrix until she decided to go on the Tyra Banks show. It was clear that her daughter, Tyra Banks, and the entire audience do not understand the psychology of BDSM and what a dominatrix does in spite of this woman's repeated attempts to explain it.

After 15 minutes of berating her, Tyra had a 'family counsellor' give her two cents. This counsellor, who gave no indication that she has an training or experience in sexuality, let alone kink and fetish, was able to diagnose this poor woman as having serious control issues resulting from her becoming a mother too early in life. That's why she needs to do this crazy job that allows her to feel in control. She was also able to tell her that she has a dominant/submissive relationship with her daughter that is dysfunctional. All this after only 15 minutes of knowing her - this counsellor is good!

I don't really understand what the point was here. I thought the woman was quite clear about what she did. She explained it, they showed a few little clips of some of her sessions (probably dramatized), made it clear that she actually doesn't have sex of any kind with any of her clients, and that she provides a services for them - a place for them to act out these fantasies and to get these needs met in a safe and controlled way. But there was no possible way that anyone there could accept that this might be true. Since it has to do with sex, it must be wrong.

They kept coming back to the point that her daughter was so distressed about it. I'm not surprised she was distressed! If I found out at 21 that my mother was a dom and was dragged to a national talk show and shown video of her whipping a guy in a mask, I'd be distressed too! But all she needs is a good heart to heart with her mother who can explain what's going on and allay any fears she has about her safety. If you don't have any exposure to BDSM, it can look very scary from the outside. You just need to have someone show and explain to you what's going on.

What really galls me about this whole thing is that Tyra Banks, of all people, stands there and judges women for using their bodies to get money from men. She even said several times that she thought is was so sad that they felt the only way for them to make a living was to get money from men by using their bodies. Exactly how did Tyra Banks make her fortune? She can try to convince herself that she made her money selling underwear and swimsuits but we all know that it's not women who buy Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition and the Victoria's Secret Catalogue. She sold her body. She was selling a fantasy. She was selling sex. So exactly who is she to judge an exotic dancer or a prostitute for doing the same thing?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Some sense about porn from Josey Vogels

I don't always love Josey Vogels' column, My Messy Bedroom, but I did like this weeks' column about heterosexual men and porn.

This is an issue that straight women usually have to deal with at some point in their relationships. Most men watch porn, at least a little. Particularly today because it's pretty hard not to, with so much of it around all the time. As I've said before, the woman who thinks her partner doesn't watch porn has a partner who is really good at hiding his porn. The common wisdom for women is that all porn is degrading to women and that a man in a happy relationship should have no need for porn.

These assumptions are both dead wrong. First, yes, a resounding yes, some porn is extremely degrading to women. In fact, quite a lot of it is. But certainly not all of it. And what is degrading is somewhat in the eye of the beholder. It's an extremely complex question of whether a particular depiction is actually misogynistic or degrading and part of the answer lies in the opinion of the person who looks at it. But films of women having sex are not, in and of themselves, degrading. That completely depends on the acts portrayed, the context of it, and the real-life situation in which that film was created. Some porn producers are quite respectful of women, and indeed are women who respect other women.

The second piece of common wisdom is the big issue. Many women believe that a man in a happy and sexually satisfying relationship should have no interest in porn. This could not be further from the truth. Any man, and indeed any woman, who is interested in sex will have some curiosity about porn. It depicts things that s/he may not be able to have in real life, but is interested in. Often it's not even that s/he wants a partner that looks like that or wants to do those things, it's just that the idea is interesting or exciting and watching a porn film is the only way to experience that, or more probably, the only way s/he would ever want to experience that. I am often surprised at the things that I am aroused by. I find it exciting to watch but would never in a million years want to do it in real life!

So I applaud Josey's take on this issue. If you look at the link you'll see comments from a lot of people giving her major grief about it. Oprah did a show about sex a few months ago and she had a woman on who expressed the same viewpoint - that in some cases viewing pornography and erotica can enhance rather than hurt a relationship. There was an absolute shitstorm rained down on her for allowing that opinion to be expressed on her show. The idea that porn is always bad is an ideological viewpoint that a lot of people are not ready to let go of. I believe it comes back to the fact that we have such a deep-seated shame about sexuality in our culture. And I also believe that the real taboo in our culture in not in the sexual things we do or do not do, but rather in being honest and open about it.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Talk Sex.......ual Stereotyping

This is a note I wrote a couple of months ago after seeing Sue Johansen on the Tyra Banks.

So yesterday I watched Sue Johansen on the Tyra Banks show. I'm sure most people know who Sue Johansen is, but in case you don't, I'll enlighten you. Sue is a nurse from somewhere around Toronto (I really don't know exactly where she came from originally). She started a radio call-in show about sex many many years ago. Over the years it has taken on a life of it's own until it became a national show and then a television show. She now does the show only in the U.S.A., she does regular speaking tours, and she is often on these very big national talk shows in the states.

Everyone just loves Sue because she's about 178 years old, she's cute, and she talks about sex! The problem with Sue is that she doesn't really know what she's talking about. These are the three things, in summary that really piss me off about Sue Johansen:
1. she gives out misinformation, rarely seems to check her facts, and doesn't give a crap that she's doing it
2. she does not know one single thing about sex toys but she talks about them on her shows like she's an expert
3. and this is the one I have the biggest issue with - the advice and information she gives is absolutely rife with sexual stereotyping, personal value biases and judgments, and generalizations.

Even I have to admit that sometimes she says good things and that just talking about sex openly is a good thing. but people think she is the goddess of sex information and she's just not. I cannot even tell you the number I times, at toy parties and presentations, I have had to correct someone who says to me 'Sue Johansen says that .......'.

So anyway, there were many things she said on Tyra that pissed me off but this is the big one. She was talking about how guys falls asleep after they have sex and how this makes women feel used and lonely. According to Sue, there are five things a man has to say to his partner after sex and they are:
1. I love you
2. I needed you
3. I wanted you
4. I respect you
5. I will never leave you

For the purpose of some further exploration about what sex is really about, let's break this wonderful instruction down. Sue is assuming many things here when she says this:
1. The woman needs to feel loved and needed and the man really doesn't give a shit and doesn't need to hear that from the woman.
2. The man is having sex with a woman, not another man who has promptly just fallen asleep as well and can't hear what he's saying.
3. Only men fall asleep after sex. Lots of women do too. It's a physiological response to the quick and extreme release of tension and endorphins that happens when you have an orgasm.
4. The woman wants to hear all that stuff. What if this is a booty call or a hot guy she brought home from the bar? That's the last thing she wants to hear! You don't want your booty call to tell you that he will love you and never leave you, you want him to say 'That was awesome. Where did you throw my underwear when you ripped them off with your teeth?'
5. Women are so insecure that they need to hear that after having sex. I think the underlying message here is that women don't have sex for their own pleasure, they do it because to feel closer to a man and to get him to make and keep a commitment to them. I have been in my current relationship for seven years now so yeah, I'm in a long-term relationship (and don't let this get out but I am actually married). I don't need my partner to say this stuff to me after sex. I already know all that stuff. Having sex doesn't make me feel insecure about it. It's just fun and a nice time with him. If he says stuff like that to me after sex or any other time, it's nice but I don't need it. Usually what I want to hear after sex is 'thanks sweetie - here's a tissue' (I'm usually saying the same thing to him). He oftens falls asleep right after because that's just what he does. Sometimes I do too. And that's just fine with me - I know that he's happy. and it give me some space to relax too.

Right after she dispensed this wisdom, one of the male viewers said that his girlfriend doesn't talk to him after sex and that he feels used when she does this. This totally stumped Sue. She said it's unusual and asked if he's talked to her about it. He said no because she just falls asleep. She was baffled and implied that there was something deeply wrong with this woman - that she had some sort of emotional block. 'Well, I don't know what could be going on there', she said. I do! Perhaps she is having awesome sex, is completely wasted when she's done, and she falls asleep. Maybe he's a really good lover! Or maybe he's a bore and that's all she wants from him. I don't know. But the point is, this isn't cause for alarm. And there is a very easy solution to it that never occurred to Sue. He could ask her, sometime other than when they've just finished having sex, why she falls asleep right after. He could tell her that he would really like a minute or two of cuddle time with her. If she can't do that, they can probably work something else out where they will both get what they need. It's called communication.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Clueless about Cowgirl

I saw few minutes of Talk Sex with Sue about a week ago. It baffles me that people cannot figure out from her answers that Sue really doesn't understand a lot about how sex works.

One question was from a woman who was concerned about causing her partner pain during their favorite sexual position. She enjoyed the reverse cowgirl position (on top of him but facing his feet), and she liked to bend her upper body quite far down and forward so his testicles rubbed her clitoris. She said that this made him somewhat uncomfortable and she wanted to know how to fix that.

First of all, Sue had a heck of time understanding what she meant and had to get her little dolls out to make sense of it. She said she'd never heard of this before. I have a hard time with that. It's a pretty common thing. Lots of women, and indeed, lots of men, enjoy that position.

Then, she focused on the fact that she was handling her partner's testicles. She was sure this was what was causing his pain. So she told her to stop doing that and use a vibrator instead.

She completely missed the point. What's likely causing the discomfort - and the caller may have even known this and just not wanted to say - is that when she's bending that far down, she's forcing his penis to bend back away from his body which is an unnatural position for it and it can hurt. There are two simple solutions. One is actually what Sue suggested. She can sit up and have him use her hands or other one can use a vibrator on her. Or he can sit up a bit so that the angle is less extreme for him. He can even prop an triangular pillow, like a liberator, behind him so that he can lean back and relax and still be comfortable.

This is not rocket science, it's simple anatomy.

Cheery O's

Here's a repost of a note a wrote about an Oprah show last spring featuring one of the newer self-declared experts, Dr. Oz.

I was watching Oprah yesterday. This was a health show and they had an 'ask the doctor' question. A woman was asking if there was something wrong with her because she can have many multiple orgasms - anywhere from eight to eighteen! Of course there was raucous laughter and a lot of discussion about how this was not a problem. I'm not going to pick on that. I don't think it's a problem either - neither did she. She was just wondering if there was something weird about her.

What I did pick up on was that the doctor said 'only 15% of women have multiple orgasms'. Okay - I hate it when 'experts' trot out these kinds of statistics. They never explain the stat to you or where they got it from. This guy seems to know a lot, sure, but he is not a sex therapist. Contrary to popular belief, doctors, even urologists and gynecologists, get very little training in actual sexual health functioning. Pleasure and healthy sex is not their game. Bodies and whether they are working right is their game. So they actually don't know a lot about sexual response and everything that is involved. They often know enough to be dangerous and to spew meaningless and scary statistics at people. But anyway, my point is this, that is a stupid thing to say unless you are prepared to explain it.

I have no idea where he got that stat from (my suspicion is that it came from somewhere in the vicinity of his ass). But my guess would be that what it really means is that on that particular survey, 15% of women reported that they have had multiple orgasms. He made it sound as if only 15% of women can have mo's. My firm belief is that every woman can have them, the other 85% just haven't learned how yet.

Some women just have the brain and the body working for them right off the bat. They are comfortable and in touch and easily sexual. They have orgasms early in life and easily. Most women, however, have to learn how it works and have to practice at it to learn how to have orgasms on their own and with partners. It is not as natural as it's made out to be. Once we start learning how it feels and how it works for us, it becomes easier and more comfortable.

I think it's the same with multiples. There is an art to the multiple orgasm. Some women will just have an easy time of it and it will happen without effort. Most will have to work at it. And here is the key. If we want to have mo's with a partner, we need a partner who wants that to and is willing to work for it. I never had multiples until I was with a particular partner who knew (from previous experience) how it can work for women. If a partner pays attention, he/she can tell where a woman is at, what part of her rhythm, if another one is likely to happen, and what is needed to help it along. Of course, we can do this for ourselves, but it's important that the partner is wanting to go for this ride too. All it takes is some willingness to depart from the known and venture into the possible.

Now 18 orgasms in a row is a bit extreme. As she said herself, it's exhausting. So we may not want to aim that high. But certainly two or three is not too much to ask. Don't let anyone tell you that it's not possible.


Welcome to Talk Sense! I'm Brenda and I am the owner of a sex toy party company in Edmonton, Alberta, called The Traveling Tickle Trunk. Our company focuses on honest, real sexual information free of sexual stereotypes and biases.

At my parties, I often hear questions and comments from our lovely party-goers about things they heard supposed 'sex experts. These 'sexperts' are everywhere, giving out all kinds of advice in magazines, on TV shows, and on-line. And yes, some of the 'sexperts' do actually give out good advice. But I've spent a lot of time looking at these things now and what I've found is most of the very popular, big name 'experts' have no education or work background in sexuality whatsoever. They just lucked into a good job and they can write well or make cute comments on TV. Their advice is rife with sexual stereotypes, and is often just a re-hashing of decades-old information and 'common wisdom'. Yet because they are so popular, and are tauted as experts, we think what they say must be true. I spend a significant amount of time at my parties talking with people about what they're heard from these experts and dissecting these pearls of wisdom.

And so, I've decided to start 'Talk Sense' to have a place to record these conversations and to give some alternate views to the 'common wisdom'. If you've ever seen 'Talk Sex with Sue', you'll know where the title comes from.

If you have a question about a piece of sex advice you've seen or heard, or if you want to give your viewpoint, write to me here.