Pain, Punishment, & Pretty Girls at The Ritual Chamber

My inbox is a perpetual blur of unappealing offers, but there are some propositions you just don’t ignore. Like, for example: “Would you like to come try out our funky upscale queer-positive dungeon?”

It was an email from the Headmistress of The Ritual Chamber, and I practically started salivating as I read it. Yes, of course I wanted to play around in the dungeon. The only question was: with whom?

See, I’m between partners at the moment, and you can’t exactly jump on Tinder and ask a random fuckboy, “Wanna come beat me up in a dungeon?” Well, some people probably could, but I can’t. The very idea makes me hideously nervous. Plus I wouldn’t trust a Tinder bro to know my ass from my elbow if I put a flogger in his hand, know what I’m sayin’?

But then, of course, a perfect solution floated into view: my friend Suz volunteered to be my play partner for the day. I asked our friend Taylor J. Mace to come photograph the proceedings. And just like that, we became a trio on a mission: to trek to the dungeon, bruise Suz’s ass, and get some beautiful photos in the process.

The Ritual Chamber is a gorgeous space that you can rent for you and a partner (or up to 3 partners, if you please!). It’s set up to make a broad range of fantasies come true: there’s a medical clinic room, an elegant Victorian boudoir, an ageplay room for littles and caregivers, and a traditional dungeon space. But what interested me most, when I perused The Ritual Chamber’s website, was its “school detention room.”

I have a thing about teacher/student flirtation. It’s haunted my sex-brain since the days when I was a literal student, sitting at my hard, uncomfortable desk and staring dreamily at whatever babely instructor I currently had a crush on. Of course, I wouldn’t have wanted them to respond in kind, because that’d be gross IRL, but in fantasy, it was thrilling.

So when Suz asked me what she should wear to the dungeon, I told her to “dress like a subby good girl for me.” And when we arrived at the space, the detention room was our first stop.

I had brought some impact implements of my own to use, but ended up not needing them; the dungeon is extremely well-stocked with equipment. I bent Suz over this authentically vintage-looking schoolhouse desk and selected a paddle from the collection arranged in the corner. There were several frat-style paddles like this one, as well as a few wooden rulers for that legitimate mean-teacher aesthetic.

It was fun to make Suz write lines about what she’d done wrong, and then punish her accordingly. But I must admit I got a little distracted when I realized that those lockers behind us are actual, functional lockers. Oh, the school-bully roleplay possibilities!

(By the way, if you’re wondering, my dress is by Vesper and my flower hairclip is from H&M years ago. I don’t often dress in this “businesslady femme” style, but it seemed appropriate for the domme role I was playing!)

From there, we moved on to the ageplay room, which reeeeally appealed to my inner little girl. The toys and stuffed animals everywhere would be so great for comfort during and after scenes, and the impact toys laid out on the bed were perfect for punishment in an ageplay dynamic. One of them was painted to look like a lollipop. Aaaamazing.

I continued Suz’s spanking on the adorable little pink bed in this room, alternating between a wooden hairbrush and a paddle carved in the shape of a bear. Conveniently, there was even a pink footstool for her to rest her knees on. The creators of this space have truly thought of everything!

This room is super authentic-looking, not really a sexy, tarted-up version of a child’s room but more like an actual child’s room. I felt that way about the medical clinic room, too; every detail, from the scratchy paper on the exam table to the dingy fluorescent lighting, felt pitch-perfect. Those details are crucial when you’re trying to fulfill a fantasy – you don’t want to be taken out of the moment by a pervasive sense of artifice. So I really applaud the decorator(s) of The Ritual Chamber for taking so much care in the creation of this space – it looks fantastic, and every single room made me feel dirty in the best way.

The boudoir room is stunning. It reminds me of rich people’s parlours I’ve seen in films set in the Victorian era, like Hysteria. (Which, by the way, if you – like me – have a lot of sexual feelings about Victorian doctors and hysteria, the medical clinic room would be a perfect space in which to enact that fantasy…)

There’s an actual goddamn spanking bench in the boudoir, so obviously I had Suz “assume the position” on it and made her stare at her own face in the conveniently-placed mirror while I hit her with a crop.

As you can see, there was a lot of giggling. I am not exactly a serious domme.

Our last stop was the dungeon proper – a dimly-lit room in the middle of the space, where the walls are lined with floggers, whips, paddles, restraints, and pretty much everything you’d ever need for a kink scene. Even Taylor, a seasoned kinkster, found something in the collection he’d never seen before: a pair of gloves where each finger has flogger-esque falls attached to it, so you can hit someone by swinging your open paw like some kind of werewolf.

We cuffed Suz to the Saint Andrew’s cross in this room and then proceeded to beat her up in several different evil ways. Taylor hit her chest with the aforementioned flogger gloves, I flogged and whipped her with other implements from around the room, and then I scratched “BAD GIRL” onto her pale chest with some metal talons Taylor had brought along. Hey, when you’ve got a cute sub consensually chained to a cross, you make good use of that opportunity!

While this beating was going on, I noticed that the space felt blissfully private and safe. I couldn’t hear any noise from neighbouring houses or apartments, so I could rest assured they couldn’t hear us either. We could be as loud as we wanted or needed to be, and all our cavorting was safely contained in this tidy, well-appointed little dungeon. (And yeah, we got pretty loud at times.)

Our time at The Ritual Chamber was certainly an eye-opening experience! In the past, I’ve occasionally gotten into situations where I needed a private spot to have sex but there wasn’t one immediately available to me. We could’ve dropped by our local sex club in those situations, or tried to rent a hotel room or a last-minute Airbnb, but none of those are entirely ideal: the club might be crowded, an Airbnb might leak sound to its landlord, and a hotel room won’t come equipped with kink implements galore!

If you are in need of a sex-positive, queer-positive, kink-positive space to bring a scene to life, I can’t recommend The Ritual Chamber highly enough. It has just about everything you’ll need, all carefully arranged in a clean, comfortable, private space. It’s the perfect spot for a kinky getaway into your darkest fantasies!

 

Thank you so much to The Ritual Chamber for sponsoring this post, to Taylor for taking all the photos, and to Suz for being such a good girl for me!

Monthly Faves: We-Vibes and Teams of Tops

So hey, I’ll get to the sex stuff in a minute, but what’s really exciting me today is my new website design!! It was done by Jessica Mullen and Kelly Cree, some smart and savvy babes I’ve known online for years. They totally understand my brand and my vision, and I feel like my site is so much more aligned with what I want it to look and feel like now! Hope you dig it. (Make sure to click around a bit; there are four different headers that randomize, and they’re all gorgeous.) Now, here are the sexxxy thingz I liked best in February…

Sex toys

• GOD I LOVE THE WE-VIBE NOVA. Bex gifted me one over a year ago, and I’m pretty sure I tried it once before retiring it to the depths of a drawer somewhere. But this month I kept noticing the Nova at the sex shop where I work, and explaining it to curious customers, and a coworker told me Erika Moen had reviewed it well, so I decided to give it another shot. And damn, it is good. My review will be up soonish!

• Speaking of We-Vibe… I’m also loving the Touch lately. (They sent me the Dreamy Desire Collection to review, and the main appeal it held for me was that it contains a limited-edition dark blue Touch.) It hasn’t unseated their Tango as my favorite rechargeable clit vibe, because the Tango’s hard plastic conducts vibration just a leeeeetle better than the Touch’s squishy silicone, but it’s definitely a new “starting lineup” toy for me.

• Shall I give We-Vibe the hat trick and rhapsodize three of their toys in this post?! Yep, looks like it… A We-Vibe rep came to my work to teach us about their toys, and several of us got gifts. Mine was a We-Vibe Sync, the much-anticipated latest version of their flagship couples’ vibe. It’s very fucking excellent. The motor is strong and rumbly, the adjustability rules, and using the We-Connect app to give myself hands-free orgasms using my PHONE makes me feel like a badass sex-spy. My heart’s all aflutter for the Sync!

Fantasy fodder

• When crushing on fellow sex toy nerds, sometimes I fantasize about bringing them to my room, showing them my sex toy collection, and telling them to choose a few toys to use on me. It’s interesting (and hot) to imagine which toys each person would choose, and why – and then what they’d do with them. (Some of my fave toys for partners to fuck me with, FYI: the Double Trouble, Eleven, and S-Curve!)

• At a party this month, I got spanked by three different people, working in tandem like a relay team. It was hot and cute and I proceeded to ponder it for weeks afterward, sometimes substituting different people into the fantasy and seeing what that felt like. One person pulling my hair and scratching my thighs, one person checking in with me occasionally and bringing me icewater, one smacking my ass, and the three of them periodically rotating roles… Unf.

Sexcetera

• This month I had sex at a sex club for the first time (not counting that time I did so for a porn shoot, because that’s quite different!). It was pretty fun, although I don’t know if my anxiety would ever let me relax enough in that kind of situation to actually have an orgasm.

• Some of my work elsewhere this month: I wrote about sexist tropes in pop music for Teen Vogue (!!) and warming up for big penetration for Ignite. On our podcast, Bex and I talked about humor, attraction, romance, and sex toy retail.

• February orgasm stats: I only had 21 orgasms this month, versus 30 in January. My mental health sort of dipped a bit in the middle of the month, which usually results in fewer orgasms for me, plus I worked longer hours over Valentine’s week and didn’t have a lot of spare energy for jerkin’ it. While I did have some partnered sex this month, all the orgasms I had were solo. (Womp womp.)

Femme stuff

• This is boring, maybe, but winter sure makes me appreciate excellent lip balms more than I usually do! My current faves are the Nivea Lip Butters; I have them in a few flavors and they’re delightfully moisturizing.

• I finally did it: I bought a pair of heart-eyes emoji earrings. Mine are from FandomVerse Shoppe and I love ’em.

• Fellow retail workers and other folks who have to stay on their feet for long hours on the regs: I would love to hear your recommendations for cute shoes/boots that will support my feets properly! Currently I’m rocking my ol’ faithful Frye harness boots as per usual, but I’m thinking about maybe getting some Danskos or something. What say you?

Little things

Big tough cis dudes who make good use of their privilege and ability to intimidate other men into better behavior. A work-date with Taylor and Andrew over coffee and pizza. My favorite dancey jams of the month: Do You Love Someone, Talk Too Much, and Mother to a Brother. Coworker crushes. Steak and martinis with my mom. Customers who find my jokes amusing. Bursting into tears unexpectedly at a beautiful story someone told at Body Pride (that link goes to naked pictures, FYI!). Kink-flirting. Fancy cocktails with Anais. The sheer euphoria of palpable attraction. My new “I Heart Blowjobs” embroidery from Crass Stitches. Pre-drinking/femme time with Rosaline. Making out in a heated swimming pool under the stars. Myq Kaplan’s life-ruiningly funny comedy album No Kidding. The folks at Sili Saddle hand-delivering one in my favorite colors to my doorstep. People for whom punning is flirting. A photoshoot with Taylor and Suz at the Ritual Chamber (photos and story coming soon to a blog near you!). Having lots of cool new sex books to read (most notably: Closer by Sarah Barmak and Becoming Cliterate by Laurie Mintz). The zen calm of sweeping and mopping a floor. The Adventure Zone, fucking always (the cliffhanger ending of the latest episode killed me!). Punning and giggling with Brent over Facebook Phone at 2AM after a long, difficult day. Cleaning and reorganizing my entire sex toy collection, as a sex spell of sorts.

5 Bruises I Loved and Lost

Heads up, babes: this post deals with bruising and other visible signs of (consensual) injury, as well as self-harm. If that’s tough subject matter for you, please feel free to skip this post!

 

“I’ve never spanked anyone before,” Dane mentions offhandedly as we’re hanging out before our porn shoot.

“Oh,” I say, and my stomach drops. “Um, that’s fine, it’s not too hard to learn. I trust you.” I take my Tantus Pelt paddle out of my bag and show her how it works: the momentum, the swing, the snap. It’s been a few weeks since a partner’s used this mean little thing on me and I’m excited to bend over for my hot new friend in front of a rolling video camera.

What I don’t say, and later wish I had: Start slow, and work your way up. Warm up the area with gentle smacks til it’s red and glowing, before you progress to harder wallops. Spread out the impacts, instead of focusing on one spot. Rhythm and consistency are good, but give me time to breathe. I think these things but don’t communicate them. I said I trust her, and I do.

The scene goes better than I ever hoped or expected, given how nervous I was when we began. She teases and spanks and fucks me over a wooden coffee table in the airy afternoon light. But that paddle. Oh, that paddle.

There is a point, somewhere during most spankings, when I cross the threshold between safe, tolerable pain and pain so intense it scares me a little. This threshold is the reason I can’t spank myself effectively: I’ll never leap across that line myself. I need someone to push me.

Dane is bossy and authoritative and mean, and gets me crying within minutes. The silicone paddle rains down relentlessly on my reddening ass. And then she picks a spot on my right cheek and just wails on it. One hit after another, til the pain is a white-hot emergency alert in my brain. I think, I can’t take much more of this. Then I think, No, really, this has to stop. And then a deeper, stronger voice in my head says: No. You can take it. You can take just a little more.

I do. And eventually it ends. I’m left with the best bruise I’ve ever had, a crimson emblem of what I faithfully endured. A blotchy splotch that proudly announces what a very, very good girl I am.

Dane cuddles me on the couch. Caitlin brings me a cupcake. I’m grinning, glowing, good.


Depression comes in waves, arcing over the shoreline of my mind so ominously that I usually see it coming from yards away. I can arrange my schedule so the worst of it will hit when I’m alone, sobbing in bed, shoulders shaking, self-worth crumbling in polite privacy. I mask these desperate spells from my friends whenever I can. But sometimes I can’t.

One night in July, I’m at a party with Bex, Georgia, and a few other friends. But it’s the saddest party I’ve ever been to – even sadder than the surprisingly jovial secular shiva we held when my grandmother died – because I can’t stop crying.

Depression tells you lots of lies, the most pervasive one being that you are unendingly sad, have always been, and will always be. It tells you the tears you cry are justified, because everything is terrible and life is pain. It tells you the glimmers of happiness you once knew have been extinguished and were illusory anyway. It wrings the light from your spirit. It takes everything from you, most crucially, your hope.

So as I cry in front of my friends and they attempt to comfort me, none of it really works. “We love you,” they say, and my depression-brain says, Yeah, but the people you WISH loved you still don’t love you. “You’re a good person,” they say, and depression whispers, Bullshit, you’re garbage, they’re just humoring you. “You’ll feel better in the morning,” they predict, and depression insists, You will never feel good again.

What I need, when I’m like this, is to cry very hard for a while and then to be jolted out of my sad, salty rut. I need a distraction, a shake-up, a gear-change. So when Georgia says, “Do you want me to hit you?” some part of me perks up because I know that has worked in the past and it might work again.

I bend over the end of the sofa like a good girl, and Georgia – armed with my KinkMachineWorks Lexan paddle – begins to knock the sadness out of me via my ass.

When I’m sad and I don’t want to be sad anymore, sometimes I think of the saddest thoughts I can possibly imagine, in an effort to push the sadness through my veins faster so I’ll be rid of it sooner. If I’m crying over a boy, for example, I might force myself to think, “He doesn’t love me, he’ll never love me, he doesn’t want me the way I want him and he never will, I’m not good enough for him, I’ll be alone forever, and it’s only going to get worse from here.” Crying harder speeds up the process so I can get on with my life sooner – and spanking can serve a similar function for me. The pain gives me a tangible reason to cry, so I cry harder, feel my feelings deeper, and move through them quicker.

“I love you, babe,” Bex says to me while Georgia spanks me. “You’re being such a good girl,” Georgia says between hits. One friend holds my hand; another strokes my hair. I keep my face planted in the sofa’s upholstery and I cry and cry and cry.

And when it’s all done, I feel a bit better. And I have some epic bruises to remind me that I helped myself by letting my friends help me.


One night by myself in my room, depression sneaks up on me. I didn’t see you come in, I tell it, and it hisses back, That’s because you’re a stupid, silly girl who doesn’t know anything. I can’t argue with that.

Sometimes my depression comes alongside a restlessness: I know I need to do something to alleviate the uncomfortable feelings in my body and brain, but it’s not immediately clear what. When I’m coping well, I get out my journal, cry in a hot bath, go see a friend, or curl up with snacks and an episode of Sherlock. When I’m coping less well, I think about hurting myself.

The jury is out – by which I mean, my therapist is unsure – whether my self-spanking counts as self-harm. I don’t really do it to punish myself, to feel more alive, or to enact suicidal ideations, all common reasons people self-harm. I think I do it because it distracts me from the “bad” thoughts and feelings in my head, and because I know spanking has historically alleviated my mental health symptoms. It’s a last-ditch effort to snap myself back to stability.

On this particular night, crying numbly in my desk chair, I just start smacking my thigh with the back of my hand because it feels like the right thing to do. I do it so hard, and for so long, that I worry I might break my hand. I switch hands, and do it some more. I keep going until I’m sufficiently bruised, and the dark whispers in my head have calmed.

The bruise I’m left with is a chaotic mass of speckles, and I instantly hate it. It’s ugly, but I know I wouldn’t think that if a partner had given it to me. Each time I catch sight of it, I’m reminded of how I failed myself, how I let myself down by coping poorly with the feelings that rain down on me. I try to forgive myself, but in the meantime, I wear boxers around the house instead of my usual bikini briefs, so I never have to see the evidence of what depression wrought on my body.


When I was younger, I thought I’d hate one-night stands because sex felt too intimate to share with a near-stranger. As I’ve grown up, I’ve learned so much: sex doesn’t have to be intimate, and there are other valid reasons to hate one-night stands (which I kinda do). But it turns out that for me, kink feels too intimate to share with a near-stranger. It feels like an infringement, a mild violation, an incongruent aberration.

One cold night in December, I go out for drinks with a passably smart-‘n’-sweet Tinder boy. Our hours-long conversation brings out the details of my life that usually emerge on dates like these: I’m a sex writer, I review sex toys, I write about my kinks, and those kinks include spanking.

When I invite him over to my place after drinks, he makes a logical leap that any reasonable person could make: I like spanking, therefore, I want him to spank me. During our lukewarm hookup, he lands a few hard smacks on my ass, and I make noises of delight – because, physically, this feels like something I’ve enjoyed before. Emotionally, less so. He is nobody to me. I don’t care if he wants to punish me, or thinks I’ve been bad, or wants to make me feel good, or wants to give me what I want. I give zero shits what he thinks of me, and therefore, with him, kink feels irrelevant.

In the morning, we chat a bit via text, and he asks, “Is your butt even in the least bit sore?” It’s a vanilla-dude question, designed to determine whether his untrained hand even made a dent in my seasoned-kinkster ass. I look in the mirror and there is, faintly, the outline of a handprint. Red finger shapes against my creamy white skin. I text him a picture, though I doubt he even cares.

The bruise is mild, and only lasts a few days. So I spend those days thinking about how gross it feels to be bruised by someone I barely know. One-night stands are okay if I can hop in the shower afterward and wash away their sweat, their spit, their cum. But a bruise stays, and remains both mine and theirs until it fades. I love bruises when they make me feel “owned” by someone I want to own me – but a random-ass stranger from Tinder does not own me and should not bruise me. I glower furiously at the handprint for days, wishing it had come from someone else’s hand.


My fave fuckbuddy is extremely vanilla, but he’s also what Dan Savage calls “GGG“: good, giving, and game. He doesn’t “get” the whole spanking thing, but he’ll still do it if I ask – often quite enthusiastically – and I love that about him.

One night in a New York hotel room, we can’t figure out how to open the bottles of apple-ginger cider we brought with us – and we’re high, which makes this quandary even harder. “Let’s go to the front desk and ask if they have a bottle opener,” I suggest, reasonably, to which my FWB replies: “Okay, but you have to do the talking, because I am way too high to talk to a stranger right now.”

We make a giggly pilgrimage to the front desk; the attendant there doesn’t have a bottle opener either. So it’s back to the drawing board (after a meandering journey through the hotel lobby, mezzanine, and basement, laughing maniacally like the stoned delinquents we are). Once we find our hotel room again, we scour it for any and all objects that might function as a bottle opener: a pair of tweezers, the edge of a countertop, a thick bedsheet crumpled in a palm.

Eventually, grasping at straws, my gentleman-friend opens the wardrobe in the corner and pops out the silver metal bar holding up the clothes-hangers. “Oh no, you broke it!” I chirp, my high-brain momentarily unable to process that he did this on purpose. He grins at me in that roguish way he has, and jokes, “Those were load-bearing hangers.” I collapse into ganja giggles on the bed.

The metal bar works. He’s able to push the gaping end of it against the ridged edge of a bottlecap until the cap pops clean off. He hands me the bottle and gets to work on opening one for himself. I sit cheerfully, sipping my cider, one leg dangling off the bed and one draped over his thigh. We clink our drinks together and sip in the comfortable silence of two people who like each other – two people who just simply, uncomplicatedly, happily like each other.

And then I pick up the hanger bar and start whacking myself on the thigh with it, because of course I do.

He laughs darkly in his throat, because he knows me and he knows what’s coming. “Oh, you kinksters and your pervertables,” he says out loud, or maybe just in my memory because that’s the sentiment I sensed from him in my periphery. I take another swig of my cider and put the silver bar in his hand. “You should hit me with this,” I say.

He does. The cool metal lands stripes of pain along my thigh, still hitched over his. His thwacks are more earnest than I’ve ever felt from him; I think he’s finally figured out that when I ask to be hit, I want to be hit. Stoned, tipsy, gettin’ beat, and sitting beside one of my favorite people, I can’t recall many moments as purely, perfectly happy as this one, right here.

a thigh bruise“I want you to give me a bruise,” I tell him, but he’s vanilla and probably needs a little more instruction, so I continue. “Pick a spot. Hit that one spot again and again, starting soft and building up til you’re wailing on it.” I wrap both my arms around the one of his that’s not holding our impromptu impact implement, and press my face into his shoulder. “I might scream, but it’s okay.”

He does exactly what I’ve asked him to do, just like he always does; it’s one of the reasons he’s my favorite FWB I’ve ever had. As the bar slices through the air and onto my thigh again and again, my man-friend mutters in my ear about the way jazz drummers hold their drumsticks. He’s playing me like an instrument. His tone of voice reminds me of a doctor who tells you a cheerful story about elephants or fairies to distract you while he sets your broken bone. I don’t want to be distracted from the pain being rhythmically administered to me, but I like the sound of his voice, the closeness of it, how completely and totally safe I feel with this man who is hurting me at my request.

There you go,” he says, and stops. “Look at that. Wow!”

I glance down at my thigh and see a thin streak of red, set in beautiful relief against the paleness of my skin. I’ve never seen my thigh look so gorgeous. In the days that follow, I keep hitching up my skirt to take a look, running my hand along the slightly raised mark, pressing the painful spot through my leggings on the subway to remind me that it’s there.

It makes me feel owned, and small, and safe, and happy. It fades, and I want it back. I want it to last forever, like a tattoo. But the nature of bruises is that they don’t last. Like the tumbling petals of a dying flower, they are perfect in their life and in their death. I am always sad to say goodbye to a bruise, and always happy to have had it at all.

12 Days of Girly Juice 2016: 4 Fun Events

This year I was officially diagnosed with social anxiety disorder – a pronouncement so obvious to me and anyone who knows me that it was hardly necessary at all. My friends have seen me hyperventilate on the stoop outside a party, walk around the block six times before feeling ready to enter a gallery opening, smoke weed on my way to a networking event to make my presence possible, and break down crying in a busy Starbucks because I physically couldn’t walk into the newsroom at my school. Suffice it to say, events can be hard for me.

While social anxiety is moreso a curse than a blessing, it does make me extra grateful for events where I actually feel comfortable. It helps to have friends accompanying me who understand the anxieties I deal with, and I’m fortunate that wonderful friends accompany me to events more often than not these days. All my favorite events this year were favorites because of the fun, kind, welcoming people I got to hang out with – some of whom may not even know how much I appreciated having them there. Here are those events…

cg0oidxugaawrk0

#HaveDildosWillTravel is the official name and hashtag Taylor, Caitlin, Bex and I gave to our cross-country road trip in the springtime, after rejecting other options like #CarOfQueers, #RoadTripOfBabes, and #HitTheRoadJackOff.

Planned meticulously in Google Drive documents (mostly by Bex, my hero) over the course of several weeks, our trip began in New York, then meandered through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin, until we reached our destination, Minneapolis. Along the way, we attended a sex conference, bought kink implements at a toy store, oohed and aahed at the Leather Archives, introverted at queer cafés, ate artisanal donuts for breakfast every day, shopped at the Mall of America, ogled Colin‘s sex toy studio, and visited multiple queer-owned sex shops. On the morning of my 24th birthday, I woke up in Bex’s sister’s femme-as-hell bed in a Pennsylvania farmhouse; that night, I went to bed in a swanky hotel in Chicago.

The cast of characters on our wacky trip included, among others: a diner owner’s mother who didn’t understand our collars, an enthusiastic leather archivist who complimented my vulva ring, a helpful moustachioed hotel clerk, a hot domly dude who owned a kink-themed coffee shop, a beardy Tinder boy who owned far too many nerdy snapbacks, a self-identified radical fairy named Dragon who had once made “consent-based vegetable porn” on a commune, a friendly Tinder stranger nicknamed Face Tattoo, and a lifelong hero who kissed me on a sunny side street.

Although I’m 24 and have therefore theoretically been an “adult” for quite some time, it’s only within the past year and a half that traveling without my parents has become a frequent and normal thing for me. This feels like a rite of passage, a bastion of grownupdom, a milestone in my journey toward self-sufficiency. But though it makes me feel independent, I don’t have to do it all alone. Traveling with friends is so damn much fun. We laughed practically all day every day during #HaveDildosWillTravel, about everything from sex to scenery to selfies, and it’s a trip I will always remember fondly.

Photo from Smut in the 6ix’s Facebook page.

Smut in the 6ix sounded like a literal dream come true when I first heard of it. A collaboration between Playground and Spit, Smut was a day-long celebration of the burgeoning indie porn scene in my hometown of Toronto. During the day, porn nerds gathered for panel discussions about the technical, social, artistic, and political facets of porn creation. At night, there was a big gala with live performances, porn scene screenings, and lotsa dancing. Told you: a dream come true.

I was lucky enough to be asked to moderate a panel at Smut, and was also invited to perform some music at the gala. It was a terrific honor to be involved. I’m so grateful to Caitlin K. Roberts, Samantha Fraser, and Claire AH for organizing the whole shebang; as always, it was a delight to convene with my fellow sex-positive weirdos and get nerdy together!

In 2015, it made me super sad to see my favorite sex bloggers social-media’ing about all the fun they were having at the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit. I resolved to do my very best to make it to the Summit in 2016 – and I managed to save enough money to make it happen. Hooray!

I flew to Washington by myself without having an anxiety meltdown (success!) and checked into the hotel, where I was sharing a room with Sarah and Artemisia. I hadn’t met either of them in person before, but they were so delightful, and totally ideal roomies for me!

Sex-positive events are where I feel most able to be myself. My anxiety mostly melts away and I throw caution to the wind: I dress weird, speak my mind, laugh loudly, and go on adventures. It helps that people actually know who I am at these events, making me feel like a powerful little starlet! Woodhull had also thoughtfully set up a “bloggers’ lounge,” perfectly appointed with coffee galore and sex toys to fondle. I felt truly in my element.

I wish I could’ve gotten to know everyone at Woodhull, but like many bloggers, I’m an anxious introverted weirdo and could only do what I could do. Luckily, though, I did make several new friends. April offered to let me borrow her lipstick for blowjob purposes; Mandi‘s laugh lit up my life; Lorax‘s dark sass slayed me; Sarah was so adorable and clever I wanted to high-five her constantly; I quaffed wine with Mary and Harry; I cooed over Crista‘s killer eye makeup and bought an Ethical Misandrist sticker from her; Polly‘s sex stories kept me on the edge of my seat; I finally got to ogle (part of) Lunabelle‘s epic dildo collection in person; I delighted in Girl on the Net‘s hilarious sexy poems; and Sugarcunt frequently made me laugh so hard I thought I might choke to death. Plus I got to spend time with several treasured blogger friends I’d met before: Suz, Piph, Lilly, CaitlinHedonish, JoEllen, and of course, my bestie Bex.

I spanked a beautiful butt, learned about sex ed and sexual freedom, attended a fancy gala, and snapped selfies with femme friends. It was truly – to steal a phrase from Lilly – “like sex-blogger Christmas.” I’m already daydreamin’ about Woodhull 2017, and it can’t come soon enough.

Photo via Taylor J Mace.

Bex wanted a spanking party for their 25th birthday, and so, #BirthdayBruises was born. It was lovely to celebrate this milestone with sex-savvy friends both local and far-away. I put on a ridiculous outfit and pranced around our cozy Airbnb playing hostess – a role which involved everything from serving drinks to administrating the livestream to spanking the birthday bean. When Bex had taken all they could take, they were accosted by cuddles on the couch and I brought them some refrigerated mint-chocolate truffles. Sex bloggers really know how to party, y’all.

I’m so glad that this experience was affirming and uplifting for Bex. It was for me, too, even though I barely got hit at all. It’s always comforting to marry my sex blogger life with my IRL/offline life, to blend those two friend groups together, to embody all my favorite parts of myself without needing to compromise or hide any of them. This party also demonstrated my friends’ immense generosity: guests helped us with tech troubles, took over hosting duties when Bex and I were otherwise occupied, and (of course) harnessed their brawn to make Bex’s birthday-spanking fantasies come true. Gosh, I love my friends.

What were your favorite sex-positive or sex-adjacent events in 2016?

12 Days of Girly Juice 2016: 9 Best New Sex Toys

img_5260

I am a lucky, lucky babe: companies are always sending me new sex toys and sexual products to try. However, my genitals are picky as hell, so it’s rare for me to deviate from my tried-and-true favorites and fall in love with something new. However, here are 9 toys I received this year that I liked a lot.

9. I don’t really consider myself a “size queen.” True, some of my favorite toys are big – most notably the Double Trouble and Eleven – but I like those more for their curve than their size. So I’m a bit surprised that the Tantus Sam snuck onto this list. It’s pure girth, and doesn’t really bring much else to the table. But gosh, sometimes I just want something thick and meaty inside me and nothing less will do. And when that craving hits, all I can do is sigh, roll my eyes, pull out the Sam, slather it in lube, and get ready for a good solid fuckin’. Available at SheVibe, PinkCherry U.S., PinkCherry CA, and Peepshow Toys.

8. Dammit, Lelo; I can’t believe I kind of like your Mona Wave. Its come-hither motion is still just as torturously slow as it was when I wrote my review, but I must admit that sometimes I’m in the mood to be edged like that. (God knows I’d never have the self-control to stroke my own G-spot as languorously as the Mona Wave strokes it.) Though I’m hesitant to support Lelo anymore because they’re the worst, admittedly I don’t have any other toys quite like the Mona Wave. Available at SheVibe, Come As You Are, and Peepshow Toys.

7. I bought my hot pink California Exotics mini clit pump impulsively, while taking a friend shopping for sex toys, and I’m so glad I did. Previous shitty cheap pumps had failed me, but this one – while still affordable – actually does what a pump is supposed to do. I find it pairs especially well with weed; when I’m high, the intense suction on my clit feels like almost enough to get me off. And it’s certainly enough to get me extremely wet and turned on. Available at Come As You Are.

img_52396. I’ve owned an Aslan Jaguar harness for a while, but this year I traded my black one for a pink one. Still haven’t had occasion to actually use a harness, despite owning three of them (what am I even doing with my life?!) but my raspberry Jag makes me extremely happy nonetheless. One day I’ll fuck someone while wearing this, I promise. Available at SheVibe, Come As You Are, and Early to Bed.

5. During our road trip to Minneapolis in April, my best pal Bex visited kink-themed coffee shop Leather & Latte without me and came back to our Airbnb with a brand new stone lollipop crop. I tried it out on my arm and then on my thigh, and before too long, decided I needed to pay a visit to the café and buy my own crop ASAP. I’m so glad I snapped it up while I had the chance! It’s the stingiest, bruisiest impact play toy I own, and was an oft-requested hit at our spanking partyAvailable… fuckin’ nowhere except in-person at Leather & Latte, apparently. Sorry!

img_52464. Speaking of impact play toys… My KinkMachineWorks Lexan paddle is my favorite one of all time (at least so far). I bought it after eying it on Etsy for quite some time. The first night I got it, I brought it over to Georgia‘s house and she left some impressive bruises on me. What I like about this thing is that it’s bruisey and pleasantly thuddy without being overly painful. Yeah, it hurts, but it’s rarely too much for me to take. Not to mention, there’s something to be said for a see-through paddle, especially if (like me) you like to look at beautiful butts as you smack ’em… Available on Etsy.

3. I don’t have much to say about the Doxy Wand, ’cause it’s just a good vibrator that does its fuckin’ job. You would be surprised how few vibes I can actually say that about. This thing is rumbly and dependable; it was an easy choice for this list, even though I still favor my Magic Wand RechargeableAvailable at SheVibe, Tantus, and Early to Bed

img_52322. I knew the Liberator Jaz would upgrade my sex life, but I didn’t realize quite how much! I’ve used it countless times during sex and masturbation, to boost my hips for a more comfortable and pleasurable angle of penetration. It also works great for spanking, blowjobs, cunnilingus, and all manner of other fun things. I’m glad I made the investment in this firm little workhorse! Available at SheVibe, Come As You Are, and Peepshow Toys

1. Hands down, my favorite new toy I acquired this year is my Eroscillator Top Deluxe. I’ve said it all before and I’ll say it again: it makes me come super hard, super fast. It fits neatly between bodies during sex. It pairs well with dildos, partners’ fingers, and/or partners’ dicks. It’s quiet-ish, well-made, slightly less ugly now than its previous copper iteration, and a definite conversation starter. It’s remained on my nightstand ever since I got it, which is the highest compliment I can give a sex toy, truly. Available at SheVibe, PinkCherry U.S., and PinkCherry CA.

What were your favorite sex toys this year?