Coming for a Cause at the 2006 Masturbate-a-Thon

Since Good Vibrations created National Masturbation Month and the Masturbate-a-Thon back in the last century I, as GV’s primary spokesperson for Masturbation Month-related press, have given about a zillion interviews extolling monkey-spanking, pink-salad-tossing, Surgeon-General-firing, and Coming for a Cause. I helped develop Good Vibes’ NMM taglines, and am especially proud of “I’d Rather Be Masturbating” and “Think Globally, Masturbate Locally,” though that was a little controversial at first. I’ve talked to shock jocks who couldn’t take wanking seriously (even though what they do one the air often gives wanking a bad name), and I’ve talked to the Canadian version of NPR (not the US version yet, though, sad to say, because I live for the day when I can chat with Terry Gross about jilling off. Terry, are you listening?).

But I’d never been followed around by a spritely director from the UK while planning my own annual National Masturbation Month hoedown: the public Masturbate-a-Thon, which we host at the Center for Sex & Culture, with the kind permission of GV. Now, it seems, we are to be Part One of a two-part series on the UK’s esteemed Channel Four. Perhaps it will be called A Tale of Two Masturbate-a-Thons, because we’re following our usual San Francisco event with one in London!


You’ve been meaning to go to London, you say? You feel moved to book your flight right now? Hurry up, friends, so you can join us! The date is August 5th, or 5. August as they so efficiently say over there, and I will certainly follow up here for those of you who can’t make it across the pond to participate. It’s a charity ‘thon just like ours, with HIV organization the Terrence Higgins Trust and sexual health nonprofit Marie Stopes International as our beneficiaries. Look for detail at

Meanwhile, here’s how this year’s live Masturbate-a-Thon, benefiting and hosted by the Center for Sex & Culture, went. Please note that Good Vibrations still sponsors the private version of this event, where people self-pleasure at home, or wherever they usually do it, generally by themselves, or perhaps with a partner. The CSC event is, yes, held in public (that is, at CSC, with the door closed, but with plenty of people in attendance). This year, as was also true in 2005, there were around 100 people in the room.

We have a new world record: a very, very self-possessed gentleman broke last year’s “Longest Time Spent Masturbating” record, which was about 7.5 hours — roughly an hour longer than the previous year’s, which was won by a woman writing the event up for Marie-Claire magazine. This year the record future masturbators must beat has been set at eight and a half hours! How, you ask yourself, did he manage this? I believe his secrets were going veeeery slowly… and lube. Can’t go for the time record without lube, matey.

We also added an entirely new trophy category this year, inspired by the entry of a woman who had just that day arrived from Hong Kong! So now we will forever after bestow the “Furthest Distance Come to Come” award.

The “Most Orgasms” award, again claimed by a woman, went to an intrepid female who, well-stocked with sex toys, came 36 times.

We’re still figuring out who won the “Most Money Raised by an Individual” trophy, and consequently the amount raised by the event as a whole, because one woman is still collecting her pledges. We’ve given her extra time, since it’s clearly in our own interest to collect all the money raised. You know how this works, right? The Masturbate-a-Thon is like any other whatever-a-thon: you get pledges from like-minded friends, participate in the event itself, and then collect the money you raised. In the case of a walk-a-thon, you generally collect for each mile you walk. For a masturbate-a-thon, you’d get money per minute or hour you masturbate — or, alternatively, by the orgasm, but we feel this might put pressure on people to fake orgasms so as to raise more funds, so we don’t really recommend doing it that way. Another clear difference between walking and masturbating: usually the feet have a more prominent role in one activity than the other. But, I suppose, not for everyone.

A gang of volunteers helped set up a large room full of nice, cushy nooks. We webcast the public Masturbate-a-Thon, so we needed a room that could fulfill multiple roles: part had to be a studio from which our webcam crew (from the lovely and generous, Liz Friend and her UK documentry crew, and various other media folk could broadcast. Then the rest of the room needed to be sucessfully off limits to them, so non-media masturbators could get down to it. There was an area in the studio for people who wished to jack or jill off on-camera, on their own steam or with a toy — perhaps even a fucking machine! Several fuck-machine folks were on hand; the lovely duo from even donated a machine to the cause. And also in this studio area were chairs for me, Your Host, and porn stars Nina Hartley and Michael Soldier, Your Celebrity MCs — though I noticed that midway through the event Michael had gone AWOL and was later found out on the floor, masturbating with a bunch of guys. Nina, too, went missing for a bit, and I was delighted to discover her walking aroud the room being followed by a gaggle of masturbating men. I swear, they looked like duckings. Well, ducklings with hard-ons (I don’t think Konrad Lorentz ever had to deal with that).

We had a women’s area, hosted by the super-adorable Tassy Pink, who spent a lot of time webcamming for the viewing pleasure of our international online audience. Then a men’s-only space, hosted by our good friends (and charter Masturbation Hall of Fame members) the San Francisco Jacks. A mixed-gender space, of course, for everyone else, plus a Voyeur’s Corner for people who wanted to come watch, but not masturbate. Oh, and clothes check, because at erotic events, it harshes our mellow to have people in street clothes wandering among us. This has, in the past, given some members of the press pause (we made Human, from Alice Radio, take off his britches once; he retaliated against me recently at the DNA Lounge, cornering me and trying to get me to sing).

A good time was had by most. I don’t think everyone actually had orgasms (which, after all, is optional in any sexual situation, though it’s also true that if you want something done right, do it yourself). One couple left, peeved, when an overzealous monitor asked them not to touch each other while masturbating; we later ruled that was appropriate behavior, so if that couple reads this, we hope they’ll accept our apologies and come back next year and touch each other all they want. There are, after all, many ways to accessorize masturbation, and if your favorite sex toy is your girlfriend’s hand on your nipple, who are we to judge?

Oh, and we found a lovely man to provide background music by playing the piano. It’s hard to come up with sexual firsts, you know… hasn’t everything already been done?… but it is just possible that we convened the first room in the history of the world full of people wanking to live piano music. I realize Fats Waller may have done something similar, but surely not just to masturbation.

The point of the public Masturbate-a-Thon, if I have to spell it out, is promoting masturbation pride, not to mention open discourse about that which is usually one of the most hidden elements of a person’s erotic life. That’s why we’re going to London in two weeks — because the chance to promote public discussion is worth the trip. My only regret? When you’re running the party, as Robert and I are on Masturbate-a-Thon Night, you get too damn busy to masturbate!

Good Vibrations

Good Vibrations is the premiere sex-positive, women-principled adult toy retailer in the US. An iconic brand and one of the world's first sex toy shops to focus specifically on women's pleasure and sexual education, Good Vibrations was founded by Joani Blank in 1977 to provide women with a safe, welcoming and non-judgmental place to shop for erotic toys. Good Vibrations has always included all people across the gender spectrum, and is a place where customers can come for education, high quality products, and information promoting sexual health, pleasure and empowerment. Customers can shop Good Vibrations' expertly curated product selection across any of its nine retail locations or on the website, where they can also find a wealth of information pertaining to sexual pleasure, exploration and education.

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