Sexy Sex! Newsy News! October 25-31, 2013

The Buzz on Sex in the News with Dr. Carol Queen
Good Vibrations Staff Sexologist

Week of October 25-31, 2013

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Dia de los Muertos
I’m writing the column this week from Aguascalientes, Mexico, where tonight there will be a traditional Day of the Dead celebration. In this tradition, as in Paganism, tonight the veil between the worlds is thin and we can commune with, or feel closer to, those we have lost. Not only will I remember deceased sexuality community members Jack Morin, Carlos Batts, Iain Turner of the Society of Janus, and irreplaceable performance artist Frank Moore — also an icon of the disability community — I’ll also be all broken up at the loss of Lou Reed. First in the game-changing band The Velvet Underground, hanging with the likes of Andy Warhol and his Factory habitues of every gender, later as one of the most creative and risk-taking solo voices in contemporary music, Reed will be missed by more than just his partner (the revolutionary-in-her-own-right Laurie Anderson), colleagues like Patti Smith, the other acts he inspired (the Velvet Underground’s first album only sold 30,000 copies, said Brian Eno, but everyone who bought one of them started a band), and rock fans in general. But sex people will also have a special place in our hearts for Reed, partly for what Rolling Stone called his “ambiguous sexual persona”: reportedly his parents subjected him to electroshock “therapy” to try to “cure” his bisexuality when he was still a teenager, which must have made having a top 40 hit with Walk on the Wild Side seem like pretty sweet revenge. Many of Reed’s songs explored sexuality, but my favorite is the Velvet’s Venus in Furs, about sadomasochism, with the haunting final line “Strike, dear Mistress, and cure his heart.” Bonus factoid: Venus in Furs is the title of the late-19th-century novel whose author, Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, earned the distinction of having masochism named after him. Lou clearly knew his literature.

RIP, Lou Reed: Your success was proof, as well as an engine of, the sex and gender revolution, and you will never be forgotten.

Related to Day of the Dead, celebrating Hallowe’en was pretty easy this year, huh? Many Miley Cyrus costumes abounded (I loved loved LOVED it that Hugh Hefner and his lovely wife Crystal dressed as Miley and Robin Thicke: they are never more attractive than when they’re working the irony.) Miley herself apparently went as Lil’ Kim — that’s right, not only are we lowly humans always potentially inspired to dress up as famous people, but even the famous people do that! But for my money, Jenny McCarthy scored highest with her “Miley’s Tongue” costume. Google-search it and thrill to the sass.

Lou Reed obits appeared in Rolling Stone (it links to a “20 Most Important Songs” piece), the New York Times, PBS.org, and many other publications. The AP’s excellent obit was reposted in full on HuffPo. Celebrity Hallowe’en madness was chronicled in USA Today.

Sexual Orientation in the News
Did you know that the New York Times has a gay etiquette advice columnist? Well, blogger, anyhow, and last week he tackled the burning question, “If Neil Patrick Harris [a gay guy] can say ‘It’s so gay’ about something, why can’t I?” This is a fine and thoughtful question; thanks, straight guy, for asking about gay etiquette! (I feel like this would not have happened without Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, by the way. Just sayin.’) The reply: Insider language that appropriates opprobrium and hate speech with campy flair is one way we separate ourselves from the hate! We’re the ones who have battled homophobia and earned the right to the irony that fights it. Straight people are not In the way queer people are In, so we don’t want to hear any straight people saying stuff that kids on the playground say to cause harm. But if you want to use insider speech with us it means you’re trying to be friends, so thank you for your support!

Well, I totally just riffed on that. It isn’t exactly what he said. Um, at all! I just gave a lecture on PoMoSexuality in Mexico this morning and it affected my ability to express queer-theory-as-etiquette. Read the original too, please.

Also via HuffPo we have a slightly tetchy personal essay by a gay man about a cute straight guy who asked him out on a date — to network! Well, it does beat working with homophobes, darling. But the future may be full of interesting conundra of this kind as we increasingly leave behind our “gay ghettoes” and signifiers. In a world where being gay or straight or bi is no big deal, will we be (or become) comfortable with increasing intimacy across the boundaries that used to seem so defining? I sort of hope those two will have a brief affair just to pave the way for a pomo future, but… ooops! that’s my agenda, not theirs.

Kurt Cobain — like Lou Reed before him — rassled with sexual orientation issues, we learn from Huffington Post. As Lou proved, even teen years full of homophobia can be survived and you can gender-bend, wear sexy makeup and still wind up married to a kick-ass revolutionary woman rocker, and make-up and slips will (thanks to both of them and all they influenced) forever be appropriate alt-rock — and sometimes stadium rock — attire. RIP Kurt, too, while we’re at it — I know those Pacific Northwest backwaters where he grew up, and I’m glad he got out for the brief moment he did; he, too, indelibly changed us.

I Knew We’d Hear from Katy Perry Eventually
I mean, sure, Roar and all, but what does she have to say about Miley Cyrus’s breasts, and other important pop music issues?

Well, she is suspicious of nudity, that’s what. Why is everybody getting naked? And she is not, of course, the only person to ask this question; it’s a good question! If you’re not currently kicking it around the dinner table with your teenaged kids, I suggest you start. No time like the present to critique and deconstruct sex and gender norms, or even fads!

An entertaining angle to this story, at least to me, is that Katy herself got naked a while back. So really, one suspects that she does know the answer to this question. Might as well talk to the kids about “rhetorical questions,” while you’re enjoying that casserole.

The Pippi Longstocking Sex Tape* is Embargoed, But…
… you can have a look at the sex tape that features the all-grown-up version of the child actress who played Pippi in the 1980s, Tami Erin. Yep, on the heels of her ex threatening to release their private tapes, she says (note to all such exes: HELLO! CONSENT?), she decided to seize the bull by the horns. Bonus: She’ll get some cash, not Bad Ex, and she will not be the first former child star to appreciate a little dinero. I know you’re wondering if this involves freckles and pigtails. Apparently not, so Astrid Lindgren, bless her soul, need not roll over in her grave. (Assuming she would, and I have to tell you, being Scandinavian and all, it’s possible it wouldn’t faze her.)

*Sorry. There IS no Pippi Longstocking sex tape. To my knowledge. But I can just picture the look in Courtney Trouble’s eyes when we point that out.

Catching Up with Previous Stories
Apparently we have a recently-released story about a different research project looking at sex as a calorie burner; thanks, Livescience, from those of us who now realize we are getting some decent exercise after all.

Finally…
I missed seeing this story last week, but my friend Jill sent it along (and Midori, whose class Pink Japan explores Japanese sexual cultures, endorsed it as spot-on): the Guardian did a feature on young Japanese and their alienation from not just reproduction, but sexual relationships altogether. Whether it’s future shock, the impact of the country’s recent travails with quakes, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown, or something else, many Japanese youth are not feelin’ it. As the home of three of the most important vibrators in recent history — the Magic Wand, the Rabbit Pearl, and the Pocket Rocket — not to mention all the innovative gear from Tenga, we hope that at least the sex-alienated people in Japan are happily solo-pleasuring. Remember, Japanese friends — orgasms are good for stress!

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 carolqueen.com.

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