The 2011 Masturbate-a-Thon — Rapture, Possibly Even Earthquakes

Well, at least the earth moved for many of the participants at the Center for Sex & Culture’s Live Masturbate-a-Thon, held on Rapture Day (Saturday, May 21, for those of you who are not keeping track of the End Times schedule) and Sunday, May 22 (in case the world didn’t end and people felt they wanted to celebrate). Forty people on Saturday evening and another 30 on Sunday afternoon helped CSC raise funds and celebrate National Masturbation Month in a decidedly wank-positive atmosphere.

There were two days of festivities this year because of CSC’s recent move — we weren’t sure how people would configure and fit into the new, somewhat smaller space — but it turned out that there was ample room for everyone. The first day was open to solo women plus couples, mixed-gender groups, and transfolk, and Sunday was the same set-up except it welcomed single men instead. San Francisco has had a flourishing men’s group masturbation culture for nearly 25 years, thanks to the presence of the SF Jacks, and so Sunday’s solo-men-inclusive event was pretty much all male. (Though we did have a visit from one of the beautiful Lusty Lady dancers, who purred, “Well, hello, boys,” before she did a two-song set, pleasing the bi guys and possibly confusing some of the gay ones!)

CSC’s live Masturbate-a-Thon has always been a mixed event in terms of gender and orientation — part of its mission is to make this kind of inclusive explicit space possible, like its predecessor events of twenty years ago, the Jack-and-Jill-Offs. Separating the women-only and men-only events made a few guys unhappy — it turns out they wanted to wank in public only with women to look at, and of course some of the women who attend are happy to be exhibitionists while others would prefer not to be looked at at all. On Saturday night we closed the doors to voyeurs for a while because one of the women, participating with her partner, felt uncomfortable being viewed by others who weren’t actively participating. Inventing the wheel, though, is still going on with these events — there are only a limited number of open-to-the-public masturbation-friendly places to learn from or emulate, so we’re hoping to get it right each time.

In years past, the Masturbate-a-Thon has been webcast live, but this year that was too much to take on, though we may return to the tradition next year. Also suspended, just this once, was the option for people to try to set new world records in duration of time masturbated, number of orgasms, and so forth. We’d have had to stay open for 10 hours to allow the standing men’s time record to be broken!

As we gather our press mentions, we’ll share them on the official masturbate-a-thon.com website, where you can also read about past ‘Thons, be amazed at the records set over the years, and learn about Masturbate-a-Thon history — the live ‘Thon is the rowdy love child of Good Vibrations’ National Masturbation Month festivities, and the Center for Sex & Culture is, as ever, so grateful to be able to develop the concept and use it for fundraising — and, of course, consciousness-raising: that’s what the Masturbate-a-Thon, whether live or private, has always been about!

If you missed the live event or lived too far away to enjoy it, never fear — there’s always next May in San Francisco! But you can still set your own Masturbate-a-Thon time this month with your partner, a few close friends, or solo. Get some pledges, pleasure yourself, and donate the money to the Center for Sex & Culture or your other favorite sex-positive or health education charity. It makes you feel so great about self-love to come for a cause!

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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 carolqueen.com.

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