Porn Reborn?

*Adult Content, proceed with caution*

Recently I attended an evening conference entitled PORN REBORN – New Movements and Markets in Pornography presented by The Sexual Diversity Studies Student Union at the University of Toronto.

I guess I am going to have to admit to watching porn.  Yes, I have watched quite a bit.  Working in a retail environment where I am recommending movie to people seemed like a good reason to start.  Years later, I still like to watch it.  Sometimes for professional reasons, sometimes personal.  The one thing I have noticed is that there is a lot more choice available, especially for women.  We have more options than ever before!  It is true that the majority of pron is made with men in mind.  What if it was made with women in mind?

Tristan Taormino, the keynote speaker,  asks and answers this question. Tristan has contributed immensely to what is now considered to be “feminist porn”.  This term is often considered an oxymoron, impossible, or somehow threatening to how we perceive porn. Tristan took us on a journey through the history of feminist porn, from Candida Royalle, to Playgirl, and then on to Tristan’s own films which move away from the typical “soft and romantic” style associated with “women’s” porn. I just love history, especially when it has to do with sex and feminism! Through one of the largest mainstream porn companies in the U.S., Vivid, Tristan has been able to create instructional movies and unique porn that appeal to women as well as men.  She asks what if the porn stars get to decide who they have sex with, what they do and when they do it?  This gives the performers more control over their representation and control over their working environment!

While there is nothing wrong with the “softer” side of porn, a formula created by pioneer Candida Royalle in the early 1990’s, some women actually want to watch something more explicit.  As Tristan point out, most mainstream companies now have “couples” lines based on this formula, where story is the main focus, soft lighting and no up-close genital shots.

Some of us might like something a little more explicit, no?   Tristan’s line of Chemistry films are revolutionary.  I was calling them “cross-over” films for the last few years – porn stars, explicit sex, no scripts and *gonzo format make them a little mainstream.  But there is one main difference, the performers make most of the decisions! She even interviews them.  As Tristan puts it, these performers don’t need scripts, and should not be required to “act” in some made up characters, they ARE characters already.  And  “acting” is not what they are best at.  Why not let them do what they do really well – and we call guess what that is! Something happens when the viewer gets a chance to get to know them and we might get a little more invested in watching these people have sex.

*Gonzo is a way of shooting porn where the camera is acknowledged and the performers might actually speak to the camera.

I highly recommend watching one of Tristan’s Chemistry films, there are four volumes so far, #1 is my favourite.  Maybe it is the fact that the format was so new and groundbreaking, or the combo of the performers, who knows.  It was just plain HOT!

Tristan also has a full line of “Expert Guides” as well, and maybe next time I will post a full review.  They are sexy, full of great education, and might even turn you on!

Find Tristan’s films at your favourite sex shop.  Here are a few of mine:



I want to thank the Sexuality Studies Student Union, and the panel of speakers from the event for a fabulous evening.  I think I might need to look into seeing some on Bruce LaBruce’s films in the new future!

The Panel:

TRISTAN TAORMINO, an award-winning author, sex educator, and feminist pornographer.

BRUCE LABRUCE, a Toronto based pornographer writer, photographer, and artist.

SHERRIE QUINN, a 4th-year Philosophy and Sexual Diversity Studies student.

BRENDA COSSMAN,  the Director of the Mark S.Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies, and professor of family law, gender and law, and law and film.

And remember, not all porn is created equal!


You, me and the vulva puppet!

Yes, Vulva Puppet ! That is what I said. How does that sound? ludicrous? impossible? unlikely? or common? And perhaps the word Vulva is in question: Historically and medically this term has been used to define the outside genital structures of a women, clitoris, hood, labia and openings. Over the last several years it has been more commonly used as a term for women’s genitals in their entirety. Sounds better than “genitals” doesn’t it? We could use other terms such as “down there”, yoni, pom-pom, poonani, and recently I heard hoo-hoo. Regardless we could all use a little more understanding of what the parts are, how they are interconnected and most of all, how to have fun with them! I have been teaching workshops lately where my handy dandy Vulva Puppet is the main feature and tool to help women and men understand more about women’s bodies and sexy bits.

The puppet is made of hand-sewn velvet and silk…and has a g-spot too! Something about the puppet that causes surprise, discomfort, laughter and questions. Perhaps we do not see enough visuals of female genitalia that exhibits taste and style?

What if we all had the chance to slip a hand into a puppet such as this and spend some quality time getting to know all of the structures, feeling, exploring, and relating it to our own bodily experiences?

For the puppets:

what is a vulva:

A little this and a little that…

The last few weeks have been a time of reflecting and learning, refining and defining, and opening and expanding for me and my understanding of sexuality.   I’ve been honoured to be attending workshops with world-renowned sex educator Midori, participating as an ally in the first ever Trans Pride March, stomping my feet with a local sex worker organization in the Dyke March, and then taking in bits and pieces of Toronto Pride.

My output has been a little lax lately and I seem to be in an “I want to learn” mode, particularly seeking opportunities to increase my knowledge, get into student mode and take it all in.

As I said recently at a work meeting, “more sex education is always welcome”.

While teaching the popular Rock His World workshop earlier this week, I shared my perspective on sex and learning: there is always more to learn.  If any of us received any “official” sex education through the formal school system, it was most likely reproductive education, void of pleasure spots, orgasm how to’s, and creative ideas to heighten pleasure.  Where are we supposed to learn about sex?  When? How?

What about how some of us avoid even learning from ourselves, with ourselves (yes, masturbation included).   Taking the time to get to know yourself is not seen as fruitful or worthwhile in many circles.  More often seen as something “odd” or what other people do.  In all of the hustle and bustle, how dare you take the time to touch yourself?

We have to learn how to ride a bike, boil and egg, sew a button or change a light bulb. Sometimes sex knowledge is assumed to be something we are born with or that will just happen ever so perfectly if we are with the right person.  I might know the right person to go on a road trip with but we have to figure out who is going to drive and who is going to read the map and decide together if we are going to take the scenic route or the most efficient one.

Cheers to all of your road trips this summer!

Communication: Are you asking for what you want?

Something that has been on my mind a lot lately is the art, challenge, ease and trials of communicating.  Asking for what you want may be the best and easiest way to get it, so why do we avoid making a direct request?  What stops us from “using our words?”  Most of us know that reading minds is not possible, regardless of how much we wish it were so (and I am aware of “The Mentalist” but have yet to meet one in real life).

I have noticed that people tend to try many things to create a situation where they can get t he outcome they wish but want to do it without direct, honest communication.  What have we got to lose?  Is letting someone know our true feelings really that bad?

What has this got to do with sex, some of you may ask?  The easiest way to get the pleasure/ touch/simulation you want from a partner is to actually ask for it. *Gasp*, yes I am encouraging actually talking about sex!  The realm seems one of the most taboo to dare to name your wants.  Understandably, since even in a society obsessed with sex, we are not actually taught how to communicate about it.  If we are not taught how to communicate in general, where does that leave our sex lives?

I understand the struggle and I am aware of the stakes, but I also know the payoff.  It is so gratifying to say “can you touch me there” and have someone willingly do it!  Leaving our egos at the door, and the idea that we should be able to read someone’s mind and know what they want without asking. Asking another what they want and keeping an open mind is just as important as asking for yourself.

Something to ponder next time you know what you want but are afraid to ask.  Comments welcome!

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Get Your Flirt On!

What does it mean to flirt?  How do we do it?  It seems to be one of those things that you know what it is when it is happening but very difficult to describe.  This was my task at my first ever Flirtation Workshop last night.  A group of eight women wanted to know all there was to know about flirting, and more!  I called the workshop Get your flirt on! An experiential approach to the fun, sexy, exciting world of flirting! I wanted to provide an opportunity for the participants to discover for themselves what flirting is and how they do it.  A few things I discovered when developing the workshop and through observing last night: there are many elements to making a great flirt AND we also need  to know how to respond too.  It’s like compliments, which can be part of flirting – some of us find them easier to give than receive, or we immediately feel uncomfortable when we get a compliment and want to give one back, or dissect and discredit the one that was given to us. There were moments when it seemed like we were discussing social norms and how to navigate around them. What makes someone attractive?  How do you know when you want to interact with someone and what makes you worth interacting with?  For starters, a positive outlook, cleanliness and playfulness go a long way.  We talked about how this might play out for people who find themselves on the shy side…and perhaps we can all be shy sometimes?  There are ways to work your shyness and be coy and just have fun.  The main thing to remember with flirting is that it is just that, fun!  Flirting with someone is like a little gift or compliment, it makes them feel good and makes you feel good too.  It can elevate your mood, get you out of a rut and make the world around us seem a little more friendly.  We get so worried about sexual innuendo that we think we cannot even start.  How about “Hello”?
For more information about workshops with me, please contact me at or check out the latest listings for general public workshops at

Sweet 16?

I have just confirmed a workshop for a young woman’s 16th birthday.  I am SO exited!  I was contacted by her mother about possibly topics and content that would be appropriate for these girls.  My workshop “The World at Your Fingertips: Self-Pleasure for Women” was the workshop that spawned her original email! I have been dreaming of doing a workshop like this for years…I have attempted to run a “Girl Talk” workshop for teens before but something about the fact that it woud take place in a sex shop seems to deter the parents and guardians, I wonder why?

I have spoken directly to the birthday girl and she is into it!  Then we had to compose an email to send out the girls and their parents to let them know what kind of stuff we would be talking about.  I commend this mother for taking an active step in educating her daughter and her friends.  It reinforces the fact that talking about sex does not make youth go out and do it.  They are already doing it whether we educate them about it or not.  If educators, parents, care givers, and all adults that have influence over youth start taking a more active approach and provide information, then youth can make informed choices.   What I also appreciate is that sometimes it is easier to have someone else come and do the talking…some one more distanced from the youth, this saves everyone some awkwardness and usually makes for greater participation and a more exciting workshop.

I will write about how it goes after I do the workshop in mid-March.  Maybe this will be the new birthday trend?  I remember slumber parties, movie nights, going to a comedy club, and even a roller-skating party or two from my youth.  Giving youth life skills in a fun way might one of the new options for how to spend out time and celebrate.

Sex skills are life  skills, learning about our own bodies is a life skill!  Knowing what we like and what we don’t like when it comes to sexuality is a survival skill.  Learning about how to set boundaries, negotiate, and ask for what we want is something that many of us are still  learning as adults.  Kudos to those who take a step to give youth a head start in the right direction!


I taught a G-Spot workshop tonight.  I have taught G-Spot workshops for over 6 years now and I don;t seem to get tired of it.  Tonight it was “couples”, just in time for Valentine’s Day (aw).  A room full of couples hoping to learn something new, spice things ups, and learn how to squirt (yes, like in the pornos).

One lovely gentleman commented afterward “great presentation, you must have done thins before once, twice or many times”.  So true!  I cannot even give an accurate number of total workshops.   If I guess at 4 -8 times per year, times 6 years…that is 24-48 workshops on G-Spots alone.  Not to mention discussing G-Spots as often as possible!

In case you were wondering, the ” G”  actually stands for Grafenberg, Ernst Grafenberg, a doctor who studied this spongy tissue around the urethra in the 1950’s…it was named after him by the authors of  “The G Spot” (circa 1980’s).  I like to re-name it the goody-spot, goddess-spot…or perhaps “right there” might be appropriate and the most exciting.

There were a few seasons where it seemed that G-Spots were out of style, the workshops were not filling up.  I was surprised since I knew that not every women, let alone every man, knew where this spot was and had given it a fair shake.  I am glad to see that they are back in and a room full of folks were eager to learn.   Welcome back G-Spot…I know you are here to stay, and there is always more to discover.

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