Ask the Doctors: A Partner for Mutual Masturbation?

I’m a 25-year-old guy in San Francisco. Two months ago, I started a blog about my sexual development. I want to find a way to masturbate with women, but without them actually being women I’m dating at the time. Are there ways to fulfill this desire outside of a relationship?

You’re looking for sexually adventurous women here, possibly of a different stripe than the sort of adventurous woman you might date. You find these in two main places: those venues where the sexually adventurous gather for fun and interesting experience, and those places where they gather on a business level. I am going to start by discussing the latter and move to the former.

San Francisco has a Palace of Fine Arts, and it has a Palace of Fine Masturbation: it’s called the Lusty Lady Theatre. At the Lusty, you can visit the Private Pleasures booth, where one or two people can fit into a small booth and masturbate while watching an also- masturbating woman through a pane of glass. It’s quite a fabulous venue for people who like this sort of thing; I’ve written about it in Real Live Nude Girl and Exhibitionism for the Shy, and I recommend it highly as a good example of what it is. (And it’s practically the only example of what it is that exists anymore; there was a LL in Seattle, too, which is just closing this month, with a nice and rather moving not-quite-post-mortem in The Stranger about it.)

Now, not all women who work in peep shows are created equal, and I hope you understand that in saying this, I am not talking about the color of their pubic hair (if any).  Some of them are really into it, and others are desultory actresses, sometimes extremely lovely but not having toe-curling orgasms before your eyes — perhaps they don’t do that at work, only at home. You don’t say exactly what kind of experience you want in your mutual masturbation experience/s, but chances are some of the women who work in the sex industry will provide them, and some won’t. So please feel free to ask any relevant questions to the peep show worker in the booth that might help you determine whether she’s the person you want to spend your money on, providing the kind of experience you want to spend your money for.

Without a pane of glass separating you and a lady masturbator, you might find opportunities at some of the strip clubs in town — some make private-ish space available for such things — and it’s always possible to hire a masturbation-positive sex worker to make a house call. Generally none of these women make a career of masturbation, so some will be more into it (and better at it, even), than others. Some will not, in fact, be up for doing it, feeling that it’s too private. Again, negotiate and communicate.

Now, I do not want to assume that you’re even willing to pay for this adventure. So let me move on to the other sort of woman who might be up for having this experience with you. Where do you find her? Sexually playful events, for starters. Sex parties, swing parties, Jack-and-Jill-Offs, a Masturbate-a-Thon, possibly even kinky events (if you can work up a BDSM vibe, it’s not out of the question that some lovely submissive would think such a scene was big fun). Some likely places to look in San Francisco include the Power Exchange (I belive this link gives you the current address as of June 2010–it’s moved a couple of times recently), the Kinky Salon community, and the Jack-and-Jill-Offs that are occasionally held at the Center for Sex & Culture. Swing clubs will almost always be couple-only, which means you might want to find a gal-friend to go with you, then split up for adventures. Outside of San Francisco you’ll need to find where the sex-positive and/or sex-frisky scene lies and check any places you find for appropriateness.

A word about masturbation and sex spaces: It’s not always OK (or even allowed) to masturbate at sex parties, BDSM clubs, etc. Many of these places maintain what we at the Jack-and-Jill-Offs used to term “energy vampire” policies, and no, that has nothing in common with the brooding, sexy undead so in vogue with teenagers these days. Now, there is a difference between the person who wants to do mutual masturbation, offering an energetic give-and-take that lets both people feel seen and engaged, and a person who wants to jerk off at someone (or over them, or behind them where they don’t know it’s happening). Whether or not people are touching each other physically, they are doing so energetically, and mutuality can absolutely exist in such a context — an astonishing amount of it, in fact. Energy vampires don’t get this: they’re like the guys who rub their dicks on unwilling strangers on the bus. I am hoping you wrote me interested in a mutual connection rather than a vampiric one; if not, paying a sex worker allows a kind of balance that isn’t present emotionally.

(Oh, and apologies to all the vampire fetishists who don’t appreciate their term of art hijacked to talk about this phenomenon.)

Two more thoughts: In some sex-connected spaces such as workshops and even the Tantra community you might find women who like the idea of mutual masturbation. Just not all the women there will like this — but as you have hopefully gathered, there isn’t a context anywhere, even including the Masturbate-a-Thon, where all the women who’ve made it into the room will get off on this. The women who dig it will generally really dig it, if you bring none of those vampire vibes with you, but sometimes a gal just wants to jill off in a room full of people for her own reasons. Making eye contact with somebody else (or showing off for them) isn’t what brings everyone to a venue like that.

Finally, you could look for women who want to do your fantasy the same place everyone these days seems to look for people to fulfill theirs: Craigslist (or any of the other sites that specialize in putting people together to have various kinds of assignations). There you can spell out exactly what you’re interested in, and see who writes back. (It’s true that more men put out their sexual desires there than women; it will help to deploy all your charm when you write your ad.) And if you’re already competent getting anonymous or hook-up sex when you want it, at least sometimes, you can always pitch this idea to those willing women when you meet them at the bar or bus stop. Again, they won’t all bite. But once in a while you’ll find a gal in a totally random place who’ll be up for any sort of new adventure. It never hurts to ask –nicely– unless you can’t stand to be told no. The only place you’re really better served not do this sort of cruising is at work.

One last thing. How to avoid the person with whom you get into a hot self-pleasure-fest thinking you should now, since you’ve had such a good time together, date? You’re going to have to be clear about that upfont, I think. There is no bright dividing line among sexually adventurous people who just want to have new experiences with many different people (it is, as I pointed out at the Oxford Union, our culture’s most accessible form of sex education) and those who want to put their extreme sex-positivity into action but are at the same time keeping an eye out for Mr. (or Ms., or whatever) Right. You can, for your own reasons, whatever they may be, decide to limit these co-onanist exploits to people with whom you don’t have an ongoing relationship. Don’t be surprised, though, to find friendly fuck-buddies who are open to anything, even love. (That’s how I found my own darling co-conspirator, in fact–at a Jack-and-Jill-Off in 1989, back when dinosaurs ruled the earth.) If you are not open to such extreme sports, it’s polite to inform people early on. Even when no skin meets skin, it is surprising sometimes to find how much intimacy and emotion can accompany random acts of erotic friskiness.

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Dr. Carol Queen

Carol Queen has a PhD in sexology; she calls herself a "cultural sexologist" because her earlier academic degree is in sociology: while she addresses individual issues and couple's sexual concerns, her overarching interest is in cultural issues (gender, shame, access to education, etc.). Queen has worked at Good Vibrations, the woman-founded sexuality company based in San Francisco that turned 35 years old in 2012, since 1990. Her current position is Staff Sexologist and Good Vibrations Historian; her roles include representing the company to the press and the public; overseeing educational programming for staff and others; and scripting/hosting a line of sex education videos, the Pleasure-Ed series, for GV’s sister company Good Releasing. She also curates the company's Antique Vibrator Museum. She is also the founding director of the Center for Sex & Culture, a non-profit sex ed and arts center San Francisco, and is a frequent lecturer at colleges, universities, and community-based organizations. Her dozen books include a Lambda Literary Award winner, PoMoSexuals, and Real Live Nude Girl: Chronicles of Sex-Positive Culture, which are used as texts in some college classes. She blogs at the Good Vibes Magazine and at SFGate's City Brights bloggers page and contributes to the Boston Dig. For more about her at

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