Links & Hijinks: Leather, Smoke, & Buttholes

• When it comes to sex, you’re doing great.

• “Uptalk” – the classically millennial practice of ending sentences in a tone that suggests you’re asking a question – may actually have a conversational purpose.

• A couple big pieces about Pornhub user data: “Pornhub is the Kinsey Report of Our Time” (what a bold and fascinating claim!) and “What We Learned About Sexual Desire From 10 Years of Pornhub User Data.” God, I love this shit. #SexNerdLyfe

• More sex science: a Canadian researcher is trying to build a better female orgasm by studying what turns women on.

• Advice for a woman whose 49-year-old boyfriend has never performed oral sex before, but wants to.

Media images of sex and relationships shape the way we understand these things, and the way we pursue them. So we should pick our media influences carefully, if we can.

• The “French girl” as a style icon is a notion with a long and interesting history.

• “Who cares what straight people think?” asks the delightful Brandon Taylor about writing queer narratives.

• Clementine Morrigan explains how to accept emotional labor ethically. Important stuff!

• Could adding kink to your morning routine make it more enjoyable?

• Here’s how Tinder helps people come to terms with their bisexuality.

• Suz has some excellent advice on going to a sex club for the first time.

• Of potential interest to leather kinksters: the ladies of The Dry Down wrote about their favorite leather fragrances. (I am enamored with Leatherstock, ideally worn in combination with something girly like Demeter Raspberry or Tobacco Vanille.)

• Gotta love a tender, romantic story that includes repeated usage of the phrase “cum dump.”

• My friend Caitlin unpacked their smoking fetish. I find it so interesting that they have a negative physical reaction to smoking (as do I, as an asthmatic) but fetishize it nonetheless.

• When you write about sex for a living, you inevitably get flooded with messages from dudes who take your career choice as a personal invitation to be creepy. Sex columnist Maria Yagoda wrote about some of the “bizarre, horny messages” she’s received over the years.

• Is missionary secretly the kinkiest sex position?

• On learning to enjoy receiving cunnilingus after finding it stressful and embarrassing for years.

• Here’s a basic primer on consent in BDSM.

• Is Instagram the new “little black book”?

A new study found that drinks dates have better outcomes than dinner dates do, in terms of leading to a second date. Sam Dilling explains why drinks have replaced dinner as the go-to first-date activity.

• Here’s a video about why it’s probably silly to worry that you’re “bad in bed.”

• I loved this piece about women who write about the men they date/fuck/desire, and the nuances and ethics of doing that.

• A cultural history of autofellatio. My favorite thing about this article is the 14th-century statue of the Archbishop of Cologne blowing himself. Who the fuck authorized that?! And how can I be their friend?!

• Are people always interrupting you? (Spoiler alert: this is far likelier to happen, statistically, if you are a woman talking to a man.) Here are some tips for dealing with chronic interrupters.

Writing advice that is also good sex advice. I howled with laughter over this one.

• Eight women helped John McDermott craft the perfect Tinder profile. I agree with lots of the advice therein. “Every time a dude has group photos, he’s always the least hot guy in the group. So I’d steer clear, honestly.” “Take a shower and change your sheets, but also mentally prepare for going home alone. Either way, you’ll have clean sheets!” “Do your best to come up with a conversation starter that will, y’know, actually start a conversation.”

• Holly tried a new kinky dating app and it was terrible. (Where are all the good kinksters hiding?!)

• Speaking of good kinksters… Here are 8 ways to tell if your new dominant partner is consent-conscious and respects boundaries.

• Here’s what a 12-year-old boy genetically predisposed to friendliness can teach you about making good small talk.

• This article about non-monogamy made me burst into tears in public when I read it, soooo… yeah. Feelz!

Why aren’t female orgasms depicted in movies often enough or diversely enough? (That cunnilingus scene in Blue Valentine sure is fantastic, though…)

• Epiphora reveals the secret truth about sex toy reviewing. This post is so real!!

• I love the way internet culture shifts our use of language. Here’s a piece on the tilde as a sarcasm indicator. ‘Cause linguistics are ~ever-evolving~!

• On insecurities, attraction, and buttholes. “If we have been wildly turned on by you, then we have been wildly turned on by your butthole. If we have loved you, then we have loved your butthole. If we have married you, then by God, we have married your butthole.” (Apparently MEL faced a lot of backlash for this piece and I’m not sure why; I think it’s lovely!)

• A Glamour reporter interviewed a doctor, an astrophysicist, and NASA (!) about what it’s like to have sex in space. Amazing.

• “Psychological halloweenism” – the practice of imagining you’re someone else – can make you more creative.

• Two data-based revelations from the OkCupid blog: weed helps you get off and kink is becoming more popular.

Links & Hijinks: Frumps, Friendship, & Fidget Spinner Porn

• There’s nothing wrong with being frumpy! I feel like I am constantly unlearning the idea that, as a woman, I have to be sexually desirable at all times or I am valueless.

• And on that note: there is nothing wrong with being ugly, like Medusa. Sometimes ugliness can even be a superpower.

• Some people really, really like giving massages. “I think part of the reason why is that you’re doing stuff, but it’s not sexual except for the fact that you have your hands inside someone else’s shirt and they’re making pleasure sounds.” Oooof. This article also contains the phrase “intense butt massage,” which you gotta love.

• On internet-connected sex toys, cybersecurity, and the future of teledildonics.

• It’s okay if you don’t always feel like reciprocating oral sex. Related: I love Tristan Taormino’s concept of distinguishing between sexual equality and sexual symmetry. You don’t have to receive exactly the same sexual favors you give to your partner; both of you just have to get roughly equal amounts of what you want.

• I’ve never been able to bring myself to watch “2 Girls, 1 Cup” but I found this history of that video interesting nonetheless. It’s certainly an artifact of the internet age!

• Why do I love the shrug emoticon so much?! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

• Bex gives good sexting advice. “A thumbs-up emoji is not an appropriate response to my ass. Seriously. I have an exceptional ass.”

• Sarah wrote a beginner’s guide to sexting, and it’s full of A+ tips.

• “These feelings will be over soon” is a great anti-anxiety mantra. (Or, as I’ve seen it alternatively phrased before: “No moment is unendurable.“)

• The one-night stand is so passé; we are in the era of the several-night stand. These have sometimes been exactly the type of “relationship” I needed, at times when I wasn’t willing or able to commit to anyone and neither were my paramours – but gosh, it’s frustrating when you keep ending up in casual arrangements while desperately craving something more.

• Helena Fitzgerald, one of the most beautiful writers I’ve ever encountered, explains why socializing on the internet isn’t distancing us from each other but actually making intimacy easier to achieve.

• What if you like someone, but you’re pretty sure you only want to be friends?

• I’d rather make good art than answer emails in a timely manner. Sorry-not-sorry.

• Useful to me as a person whose best friend lives hundreds of miles away: how to keep a long-distance friendship alive. “Treat it like a long-distance romance. (Because, in a way, it is.)”

• Sooo, fidget spinner porn is a thing now. Good god, what a world we live in.

Be your best self with the people you love, because “relationships are stronger and more satisfying when they make you feel like the best, most aspirational version of who you can be.”

• More people are exploring consensual non-monogamy, and more research is finding it has many benefits (“lower jealousy, higher trust, and higher sexual satisfaction,” to list a few). But stigma still exists, and we have a long way to go before these relationships will be considered normal, valid options anyone can choose.

• Here’s a pep talk for picky daters. Sometimes you just gotta round that 0.67 up to “the one,” as Dan Savage would say.

Queers can totally have long nails. Sometimes even in queer porn!

• Here’s several couples explaining why they opened up their relationship. I love so many quotes in this piece! Like: “We never place limits on emotions other than love, like we don’t say you can only be sad or happy about this one thing, but with monogamy it’s like only one person is allowed to feel your love. And love is such a crazy emotion, so why not experience it with a bunch of people?” And: “I no longer have the desire to control my partner. Control is just an illusion anyway.”

Kiss and Make Up: High School, BJs, and the Disappearing Act

Kiss and Make Up is my new series wherein I review makeup according to how it held up in a sexual scenario. I hope you dig it!

making kissy faces with my friend Cadence in 2010I sprung for Duwop’s Lip Venom in the winter of 2010, when I had a new boy to kiss and it seemed desperately important that my lips look good. I’d wear the cinnamon-y gloss layered over MAC Russian Red (as pictured) or just on its own, and it would do its signature magic of irritating my lips into a plumper appearance. I loved it: the sharp spicy taste of it, the telltale tingle, and most of all, those plush pillowy lips it gave me. What an amazing invention.

My boyfriend, however, was less enthused. “What is on your lips?” he whined one day, mid-makeouts. The Lip Venom, he said, was stinging his lips. I apologized and wiped it off, as if this pretty pink gloss was the only obstacle between us and high-quality kisses. Truth be told, he was a distressingly bad kisser (by my tastes, anyway), and I wished he could’ve upped his game as easily and quickly as I upped mine by taking off that painful gloss.


I wore NARS Schiap lipstick the last day of Playground Conference in 2015. It paired well with my blue dress, pink handbag, and pigtails. In fact, my outfit was apparently so good that when I walked into a panel session late, I immediately got a text from my dom fuckbuddy, sitting across the room: “Oh god, you’re wearing thigh-high socks and a short skirt. I’m going to be thinking about eating you out all day.” This is a very good text to get at 11 in the morning.

NARS semi-matte lipsticks smell like clean laundry (so sayeth Sofie, who is correct). They go on satiny-smooth, and usually look good for several hours, even if you’re quaffing coffee like I was that day at Playground. However, put to the makeout test, they cannot hold their own. I discovered this when, later that day, I gave a hotel-room blowjob which morphed into an impromptu threesome – by the end of which, there was absolutely no lipstick left on my face. I smoothed on some peppermint lip balm to soothe the irritation I’d accrued from kissing a scruffy boy all afternoon, and that helped.

In my post-sex debrief with Bex over mac and cheese that night, we talked about how kissing someone who’s wearing lipstick is a lot like going down on someone who’s on their period. It’s messy, and maybe embarrassing, and I can completely understand why you wouldn’t want to do it. But I’ll like you so much better if you do.


me in pigtails and Pink Pong lipstickI fell in love with Bourjois liquid lipstick in Pink Pong at a drugstore and bought it on the spot. It was everything I most want in a lipstick: an eye-gougingly bright cool-toned pink, an opaque formula, a pleasant scent (pink grapefruit?), even a punny shade name.

Unlike many liquid lipsticks, Pink Pong felt comfortable once dry, and didn’t render my lips dry or cracked, even after many hours of wear. However, that dry texture is what allows truly long-haul lipsticks to stay put (and why Make Up For Ever Aqua Rouge comes with a clear gloss you’re supposed to wear on top of it). My new Bourjois treasure passed neither the makeout test nor the blowjob test.

That was the month when I was seeing both a boyfriend and a beloved fuckbuddy, alternating between them like my life was a buffet of good dicks (which, let’s be real, it often is). I wore Pink Pong to boyfriend’s house one afternoon and blew him while he sat on his couch like a king, arms spread wide, head dropping back in quiet pleasure. When we were done, I ducked into the bathroom and saw that there was no lipstick left on my mouth. None whatsoever. There sure was a lot on my hands, though. (Uhh, my BJs are pretty handsy.)

Later that week, I wore Pink Pong to my fuckpal’s place and we made out like teenagers in his cheap, squeaky bed. When he served us a post-canoodlin’ snack of spicy salmon sushi and Magnum ice cream bars (quelle gentleman!), he wiped his mouth on a napkin and the white scrap came away pink. “Aww, Kate, look, your lipstick’s all over my mouth,” he said, with an affection I had never known any boy to feel about my lipstick before. It made me want to kiss him a whole bunch more.


me in Maybelline Rich Ruby lipstickIn the late summer I briefly had a “spanking buddy.” It was a sweet deal. I’d go over to his place, we’d talk about the Adventure Zone and MBMBaM and other fine McElroy products, we’d vape some weed, and then he would spank me. The spankings were excellent: rhythmic, firm, and merciless. He always left both my sets of cheeks blushing.

One such night, I showed up with a full face of makeup, and by the time we said goodnight, there was none left at all. My lipstick of choice for the evening was Maybelline’s Rich Ruby, a creamy, matte, cool-toned red that normally holds up pretty well through food and drink. But it did not hold up through a spanking. Granted, when I get spanked, I typically bury my face in pillows/blankets/couch cushions, and sometimes I cry, and that combination of friction and fluid is not kind to makeup.

“How’s my lipstick looking?” I asked my spanking buddy when I raised my head off his bed, post-beating. He peered at me curiously and said, at last, “It’s not bad… it’s just… not there.” Indeed, it was not. My lipstick was gone.

After I left his place and went home, I got a text from him. “I found your lipstick,” he said. “It’s all over my blanket.” I laughed and apologized, and we said goodnight.


When my FWB came over to our sunny Airbnb in July to shoot BJ porn, I was nervous to the point of pacing and raving. “Hey, shh, it’s gonna be okay,” he told me. “You’re gonna be great.”

He had brought some underwear options, and asked for my help deciding which ones to wear – possibly as a tactic to distract me from my own jangling nerves. We eventually settled on some turquoisey boxer-briefs. “They’re moisture-wicking,” he commented, for no apparent reason, because he is a weirdo.

Just before filming was to begin, I knelt in front of him, my face all done up. On my lips was a combo of ColourPop’s lip pencil in Heart On and Bite’s fruity lipgloss in Bellini. I wasn’t at all confident it would stay on my face, but then, smeary lipstick is a selling point of BJ porn for some people. “I’m gonna kiss your dick through your underwear a bit before I start,” I jabbered nervously at my FWB. “Sorry in advance if I get lipstick all over these beautiful boxer-briefs.”

“It’s okay, they’re moisture-wicking,” he replied, and so there is a moment in the final porn scene where I giggle like a dork, and that is what I am giggling at.

By the time we finished, my face featured almost no lipstick but a euphoric, nervous-no-more kind of smile.

Links & Hijinks: Blowjobs, Dopamine, & Carmen Miranda

• Girl on the Net wrote about rediscovering the real joy of sex after stressing yourself out thinking that sex “should” be joyful. I love pieces like this which acknowledge the sometimes unglamorous realities of sex, which many people feel broken for experiencing.

• Here’s some men talking about their sex toys. There’s lots to like about this article, but I particularly lost my shit over this line: “Men can orgasm at the drop of a hat, generally speaking (at least if it’s a particularly sexy hat — I’m thinking a Carmen Miranda fruit hat, that big wide-brimmed one Beyonce wears in the Formation video, one of those ones that has a beer can on either side).”

• Is mocking a man’s small dick on par with the body-shaming experienced by women? To me, the answer is “obviously yes,” but this article is still worth a read, if just for the absurd story therein about two Instagram models whose post-breakup drama played out online in the form of passive-aggressive dick snipes.

• “I can’t stop thinking about penetration” is one of the best opening sentences I’ve read in a while. Here, the Establishment’s Katie Tandy writes beautifully about penis envy and power dynamics.

• The great Alana Hope Levinson’s thoughts on “the cuckboi” made me shriek with laughter. “The cuckboi understands that there’s no ethical consumption under capitalism, unless you’re eating pussy.” TOO GOOD.

• On the loquacious raving and “intrusive thinking” that happens when you have a new crush: “When the object of your desire isn’t around, and therefore you lack that dopamine rush in your brain, you might feel like you’re in withdrawal. So, you may try to achieve small dopamine rushes from talking about your crush to your friends.” Gawd, I am so guilty of this. Sorry, friends.

• My bestie wrote about why they love blowjobs*sigh* Why am I not blowing anyone right now?! (Well… this post was prewritten and queued up in advance, so I guess it’s possible I am blowing someone right now, as you read this. Who can say?)

• Bex also wrote about sex ed, sex-positivity, and meeting people where they’re at. I love this. I’ve only been working in sex toy retail for two months but I already feel like I’ve learned so much about these concepts from working on the “front lines.”

• This piece on anxiety and productivity is haunting and important. Read this if the current state of the world makes you anxious and so do thoughts of resisting, standing up for what matters, making change.

Trans kink porn is important! God, this article reeeeeally made me want to watch The Training of Poe…

• Depression may actually have a positive evolutionary purpose. Certainly puts things in perspective! “This framing of depression as a space for reflection is empowering, and lends a degree of agency to the person being pressed down,” Drake Baer writes. “Like anxiety, depression might be trying to tell you something.”

• A “boyfriend dick” is the kind of dick you could see yourself settling down with. I must say, though, I prefer the more gender-inclusive phrase “good dick,” which really says it all! (Incase it wasn’t obvious: the concept of a “good dick” is very subjective. Please don’t worry about whether your dick is good or not. If you keep it clean and use it respectfully, there are lots of people who would consider it a “good dick,” I promise.)

• What happens when best friends control each other’s vibrators?! (I think me and Bex should try this sometime.)

• Maybe we need to reject body-positivity and embrace body-neutrality. I love this idea! “Neutrality is the freedom to go about your day without such a strong focus on your body,” says one of the people quoted in this article.

• JoEllen wrote some spot-on guidelines for having good, ethical casual sex.

• This piece about Trump and BDSM argues that consent education, and the communication skills one can learn through practicing kink, are more critical than ever in our current political climate. Interesting stuff.

• I loved this short piece about pain, mindfulness, and transcendence. It spins a whole world out of a few moments of intense (consensual) pain, which is indeed what those experiences feel like to me sometimes.

Links & Hijinks: Sex Robots, Moneyshots, & Bart Simpson

a chair, a table, and a latte

Me: “Why did I start doing link round-up posts again?! I don’t even read that much!”

Also me: *reads a ZILLION articles, wants to share and talk about ALL OF THEM*

The Establishment posts so much good stuff – although I will say, I am extremely biased, because they’ve published my writing on multiple occasions! I just discovered this old piece on there called Online Dating in 7 Vignettes which gave me so much poignant food for thought. It’s one of the more thoroughly philosophical pieces I’ve ever read about dating.

• Soon, sex robots will have personalities. Hilariously, one of the 12 personality traits you can choose from is “sexual,” which makes me wonder about the kind of person who would buy a sex robot and not want her to be sexual. The always-whipsmart Tracy Moore writes: “I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure ‘sexual’ counted as a personality type in a woman, so I asked the man standing nearest to me in the MEL offices if men think it is, and he said ‘Sexual?’ and thought about it for a second. ‘Yeah,’ he said. ‘Horny.'”

• Social psychology is fascinating. Here are some science-tested tips on making friends faster. The “misattribution of arousal” is one of my favorite social-psych phenomena; one day I’ll write a post about it…

Don’t say “but” when you apologize to someone. It undermines the sincerity of what you’re trying to say. Cari Romm reports, “According to one 2014 study on the subject, a well-executed apology requires the offender to make it clear that they understand what they did wrong, take full responsibility, offer a plan to fix things, and promise to improve in the future.” So simple and yet sometimes so difficult!

• Some sex-magic practitioners weighed in on how to cast spells with your orgasms. (Years ago, I wrote a piece about this for the Numinous, if you’re interested. It is some truly crunchy/hippie/witchy stuff; you have been warned!)

• An old friend of mine started a sex blog recently and she’s been writing some fabulous, smart pieces. Her and her boyfriend tried a bunch of wacky sex positions; the ensuing post makes me want to work on my sexual acrobatics!

• The evolution of porn tropes is so interesting to me. Here’s an oral history of the moneyshot. Personally, I’m not really a fan; it turns me on most in porn when a dude’s orgasm happens inside his partner’s mouth or other various orifices, not on their face. The palette of human sexual desire is so wide and diverse!

• Ever wondered why “shrinkage” happens?

• Here’s a piece on people whose kink is giving and/or getting tattoos. I thought about this a lot while getting my kinky thigh tattoos last year. I don’t think I could ever get a tattoo that was mentally tied to a specific partner; I’ve never liked anyone enough to want to be with them for-literally-ever! But maybe someday I will…

• S. Bear Bergman has been one of my favorite writers for many years, and after the 2016 U.S. election, he wrote an advice column answering the question, “What do we do now?” He touches on political action, self-care, and countering social isolation in tough times, and he calls Trump “Pumpkin Spice Mussolini.” It’s a much-needed half-laughing pep talk for this weird and worrisome era we’re in.

• The ever-articulate Andrew Gurza wrote about his recent experiences with disability and masturbation. I admire Drew’s candidness and thoughtfulness so much!

• This article is old but I only just discovered it: a Playboy reporter interviewed the founder of the Orgasmic Meditation movement about how she gives blowjobs for her own pleasure. I am always wary of narratives which frame blowjobs as an endeavor of empowered women (including when I myself write that kind of narrative!) because they feel dangerously close to patriarchal tropes repackaged as female empowerment. But if Joanna Van Vleck genuinely gets direct pleasure from giving head (a feeling I know well), I say, more power to her.

• Here’s two of my favorite women writers in conversation: Tina Horn interviewed Alana Massey about the latter’s new book, as well as sex work, internalized misogyny, and gold glitter.

• C. Brian Smith – one of my fave writers over at MEL – hired a masturbation coach for an afternoon and wrote about his experience.

• More excellent pieces from MEL this month: why “performing partnership” on social media complicates relationships, the potential queerness of Bart Simpson, how men feel about hookup culture, saving exes’ nudes after a break-up, and saving exes’ Clone-a-Willy dicks after a break-up.

• Queer tarot wiz Carly wrote a column about how to date/flirt/socialize if you’re shy. So much useful and affirming stuff in here!

What did you love reading on the internet this month?