to go in the Capital Region for sex toys and other supplies
do discerning Capital Region shoppers go for their erotic
goodies and safer-sex necessities? We surveyed a sampling
of the Capital Region’s very own establishments. Here’s what
516 River St., Troy. Nestled under the ramp of the Collar
City Bridge, Amazing from the outside projects the kind of
atmosphere of sleaze that makes towns want to ban adult-movie
stores from their limits. Not that Amazing is doing anything
wrong, mind you. But a windowless build- ing with a steel-
reinforced door and turquoise and purple signage that announces
“En hance your life!” and “Video Arcade” is less than welcoming
to many of us, shall we say.
But if you’re in the market for some of what Amazing sells,
take a deep breath and get over it. Inside, except for the
right-wing talk radio, it’s nothing to be scared of. True,
its expected clientele is clearly male, as evidenced from
the buxom models on all the sex-toy packaging and sign describing
its movie categories (gay/bi = anything with male-on-male
action. The men apparently don’t need to be warned about women
getting it on with each other). But that doesn’t mean others
can’t shop there in peace.
Amazing was definitely tops among the places we visited for
variety and selection in penis pumps and blow-up dolls. And
if you’re doing some serious dildo or vibrator shopping here,
you’ve also got loads of options; however, caveat emptor.
The selection includes a fair amount of cheap hard plastic
on which you may have to file down uncomfortable seams, and
jelly rubber, which gets tacky and sticky after a few uses.
Silicone, the highest quality sex-toy material, is barely
Adult World, 1100 Altamont Ave., Schenectady, has a slightly
more welcoming ambience than Amazing from the outside, just
for having windows (even though they are tall and narrow and
you can’t see anything through them, as they’re covered in
signs saying “videos,” “magazines,” etc.) and a normal looking
door. A sign outside the door lets you know you’re in a city
that’s had legal fights over “adult” stores: “Only persons
having a scientific, governmental, educational, or similar
reason for viewing or purchasing any of the items herein,
may enter.” Of course all of the items therein are very educational.
Take a deep breath after your chuckle, however—Adult World
reeks of smoke inside. It offers much of the same merchandise
as Amazing, with a slightly less varied selection, except
for a more complete (though still not too huge) selection
of kink supplies—crops, restraints, etc. No talk radio here—instead
the background noise is soundtracks of moaning women floating
out of the “video arcade” in the back of the store. You could
consider this free aural stimulation, or an annoying distraction,
but you’re not likely to ignore it.
Leather lovers of any stripe can’t pass up a trip to Russ
and Rebel, 922 Troy Schenectady Road (Route 7) in Latham.
They’ve got leather motorcycle jackets, handbags, wallets,
etc. in abundance. But in the corner one set of shelves also
sports a relatively comprehensive set of kink equipment: collars,
masks, crops, lashes, paddles, and gags, plus strap-on harnesses
and a few non-leather pieces of equipment, such as handcuffs
and nipple clamps. They have a few brands of lube to go with
it all, including one of silicone for the glycerin-sensitive.
They do have a very small selection of dildos behind the counter
(because of the kids. I know—it sounds weird at first, but
if you don’t know what the kink stuff is, you wouldn’t know
what it is, if you know what I mean, while the dildos are
all in X-rated packaging).
Also in the back of the first floor you’ll find a healthy
selection of fetish/drag/stripper clothing, from bikini underwear
in every color under the rainbow to thigh-high spike-heel
boots and feather-boa-edged robes.
The atmosphere at Russ and Rebel couldn’t be more different
from Amazing and Adult World: It’s just a classy, friendly
clothing store, with some bondage stuff in the corner.
If atmosphere is everything, nothing says sex is normal and
unshameful like having your sex supplies scattered among the
other merchandise. At Romeo’s Gifts on 299 Lark St.
in Albany, you can pick up a painting of a cluster of asparagus
for your kitchen, some X-rated greeting cards, earrings, statuettes,
dildos and butt plugs, classy home decorations, and a couple
of bottles of lube or a game of erotic dice. You get the picture.
Compared to the stores that specialize in the sex stuff, the
selection is not huge, but it’s quality, and for Albanians
who don’t want a drive, it’s probably your best shot.
If you’re as picky about your lube as you are about your food
(or about your sex toys!) you may want to check out the Honest
Weight Food Co-op, 484 Central Ave., Albany, which stocks
a few “all-natural” varieties in its health-and-beauty-aids
section. There you can find lube with all organic ingredients
(think aloe vera, for example), as well as homeopathic formulas
that are supposed to relieve irritation and provide some protection
against yeast infection and others that are supposed to help
with the effects of menopause. We didn’t, however, see any
sex toys—made of organic rubber or otherwise.
The closest thing to comprehensive the Capital Region has
may be Déjà Vu, in the Wolf Road Shoppers Park, amusingly
a neighbor of the Chapel of St. Francis. There the ambience
is one of fun and play. It has a normal storefront, from which
the front half of the store, full of hippie clothing and paraphernalia,
is visible. The back half is devoted primarily to sex supplies.
Sex novelties like bachelorette-party penis-shaped drink stirrers
and “koochy combs” mix with some pretty serious sex toys,
and their safer-sex supplies, unlike the other places we’ve
mentioned, actually include female condoms and dental dams,
not just condoms. Much of the merchandise is higher quality
here—silicone dildos are common, and they also carry high-end,
handcrafted solid glass ones. Your humble researcher even
saw something completely new to her: glass dildos with attachments
on the end for fitting into a power drill. I choose to believe
that the drills they have in mind come with a “low” setting.
Déjà Vu also has a wide range of slings and swings for creative
positioning, Kama Sutra sets and a good amount of kink supplies,
including some no-nonsense wooden paddles. (Please sir, may
I have another?) The staff is young and of both genders, and
the colorful signs saying “Buy a sex toy, get 30% off a lube”
and the how-to books placed next to the relevant equipment
reinforce the idea that the proprietors don’t feel that they’re
engaged in a seedy business.
If you’re looking for condom variety, drug stores like CVS
and Eckerd still have all of these shops beat, offering dozens
and dozens of types to the others folks’ average of three
or four. And the lube selection is picking up a little too:
The drugstores (or maybe it’s K-Y) have gotten a little less
uptight about pretending what K-Y is or is not for. New offerings
like K-Y “warming” jelly are really just this side of Kama
Sutra jellies. On the other hand, if price is driving your
search for safer-sex supplies, don’t forget Planned Parenthood.
Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood (www.uhpp.org, sites in Albany,
Troy, Latham, and Hudson) sells condoms, female condoms, and
dental dams priced on a sliding scale.
Of course, don’t forget to look in unlikely places as well,
from bondage rope at Home Depot to battery-powered “massagers”
at Sharper Image.
If you’re looking for some really specialized stuff—thigh-mounted
dildo harnesses, violet wands, male chastity belts—you may
still need to take a trip to Boston (www.grand opening.com)
or New York City (www.babe land.com) or turn to the Internet
(www.goodvibrations.com, www.stockroom.com). But the good
news is, if you want something to have fun with tonight in
the Capital Region, you’ve got a pretty good chance of finding
it in your own backyard.
highlights of Metroland’s 2005 sex survey
Describe the circumstances of the best
sex you’ve ever had.
an experimental arts event next to a giant flaming sculpture,
the love of my life and I sat on the ground with her in my
lap wearing a dress but no underwear. We pulled my pants down
just enough so that her dress would still conceal our private
bits. In the height of our passions a few people noticed and
came over to sprinkle fresh rose petals all over us.
Completely in love, outdoors in the spring, in back of Olana.
First time with my then-new girlfriend. She came into the
bedroom; I figured she’d have a nightgown or robe, but she
was totally naked. It was such a vulnerable act, it gave me
Brand new porno, 10 minutes jerking it, no talking, no cuddling.
Blow job in back of Dodge Omni.
My girlfriend at the time called me at 3 AM drunk and horny.
She promised to let me do anything I wanted to her if I picked
her up right away. It was a crazy night, and the best part
was she asked me to do it all over again when she was sober
the next day.
I was 16; I went bar hopping in Schenectady with a 23-year-old
hottie. None of the bartenders questioned my age because I
was with such a looker. We ended up back at her place. Probably
because of my age and level of excitement I never ended up
losing the wood. We went for two hours and I must have come
at least five times.
A penthouse studio in Manhattan . . . long rainy Sundays .
. . silence but for the motions of our bodies . . . smoke
. . . wine . . . hungry natural instincts sated.
Fucking my love in the ass while she was masturbating with
a vibrator. She turned into a 5-foot-4 warm, squishy, writhing
vibrator for me.
69 with wife tied to the bed.
Both of us married (not to each other), a motel room, and
a long lunch.
My place, longtime boyfriend, Apocalypse Now in the
background (sound turned down), living room floor and sofa,
deeply, deeply in love.
one fulfilled sexual fantasy.
with someone I looked at for 20 years.
Being fucked in the ass, while on Ecstasy, by a sexy girl
in a pretty strap-on.
I was having sex with my girlfriend when my roommate walked
in on us. We asked him to join and we all took turns fooling
Having sex outside while it’s snowing, just outside our condo
in Lake Placid.
My husband hired two guys with incredibly big dicks to pleasure
me for two hours while he took pictures.
I had a threesome with two of my roommates. It wasn’t all
I thought it could be. The two girls were so into each other
that I felt like a third wheel.
Sex on a tropical ocean with a man I love.
Being with two bi men.
Coming on my wife’s tits while she played with her pussy.
Once my love and I discovered a waterfall, took a dip in the
pool at its base, and then made love in the dirt and mud on
the bank of the stream.
Anal. . . . The young, conservative, Ivy League, suburban
woman insisted. What could I do?
fantasy of yours would you most like to enact?
threesome—myself and two men.
I would really like to have my wife taken by another man.
I want to do Albany River Rat Ilkka Pikkarainen after a game
with his skates still on.
Two cops at the same time.
Double penetrating a girl with another guy or a girl with
a strap on.
To have a bunch of good-looking guys masturbate into receptacle
and then mix all the semen together. Refrigerate it and use
it as lube when I’m masturbating.
Photographing Teri Hatcher nude in her shower.
Sex on public transportation.
I don’t have fantasies, I make plans.
fantasy of yours is best kept a fantasy?
a rock star—I’d die of AIDS.
With a porpoise.
The “training” of a virgin guy of 16 or 17.
Fisting the wifey.
Watching P. Hilton having sex. Those lips are annoying.
Having sex with many many many many many male partners as
a woman. (I’m a guy.).
It involves 10 women.
the worst situation sex has gotten you into?
full-scale divorce with all the trimmings.
We were attracted to each other, had much in common, and got
along real well. All of which was perfectly obvious to her
glowering, big husband watching nearby.
My current lover and my just-dumped lover wound up getting
jobs at desks facing each other three feet apart. My office
was 30 feet away.
When I was 39, I fucked nine college guys on a boat in Cancun
until their girlfriends came back from shopping and caused
a major scene. The pictures ended up on eBay.
I once fooled around with a couple who I thought were old
hands at the multiple-partners thing. They weren’t, and were,
in fact very uncomfortable about the whole thing and they
had some real problems afterwards.
Seven days of antibiotics.
When she said “There’s something I have to tell you. . . .
I’m a she-male.”
Feeling like a creep after fucking an ex-girlfriend while
visitng her as “a friend.”
the most inappropriate sexual situation you’ve ever been in?
sex while driving down the freeway. Made me realize why people
have tinted windows, and why I need them.
A one-nighter with a man I despised. Ugh.
Having intercourse up in a loft over the living room at my
girlfriend’s parents house during a family get-together. The
living room was filled with all of her extended family, kids
and old folks alike.
I was with a married man who was the father of one of my students.
We were both out one night and ran into each other. Not
appropriate, but very hot.
Sex with a much-older professor in college.
Having sex with an intern at my company who was nine years
younger than me.
A friend and I started getting really physical at a party,
in the host’s bedroom, with a woman we just met. He threw
us all out.
Banging the girl next door who just happened to also be my
older brother’s girlfriend.
the best come-on you’ve ever heard?
can’t wait to tell you how good you feel inside me.”
help you move” (as in, to a new apartment).
I might not be the cutest one here. . . . But I am the only
one talking to you.”
A guy spoke Russian to me—I had no idea what he was saying,
but it really turned me on!
I flip a coin, what do you reckon my chances are of getting
in our [girls’] locker room and staple papers for us.”
not into the whole bar scene. I enjoy a good movie and a bottle
of wine.” (Only to later find out he has been kicked out of
every bar in the Capital District.)
you have a Band-Aid? Cos’ I just scraped my knee falling for
really drunk, but if I were sober, I’d rock your world.”
we just lie together naked, no touching?”
honey—sex is like pizza. Even if it’s bad it’s still pretty
At a Chinese restaurant, while I had a mouthful of food, another
patron walks past, drops a business card and says, “Call me.”
I beat you at pool, I get to shave you.”
want to wrap your legs around my head and wear you like a
your craziest sex story that your friends still don’t believe?
man walked nearly a mile, barefoot, to get to me.
A guy I knew was a detective and took me on a “sting” as part
of his cover. We were at a bar, hanging out with another “cop
couple,” and after they busted the guy, we had hot sex in
the bathroom of the place.
Sex in Washington Park many times, never caught.
us your best story about getting caught in the act.
by a cop with my legs wrapped around my partner’s face—and
I knew the cop.
I’m a senior in high school, and haven’t come out to my parents
yet. I live in a dorm. Mom comes for an unannounced visit
and walks in on my girlfriend and me making out in my room.
We jump apart and stare at her like deer in headlights. She
runs away. My girlfriend is still there when Mom comes back
a few minutes later. My girlfriend, terrified, literally HIDES
IN THE CLOSET for the entire time I process with Mom.
At a hotel in Saratoga, fucking a friend of my husband on
the pool stairs, in heels, while my husband took pictures.
Then all the lights came on and the night manager and security
guard confronted us, and pointed out that the security cameras
were running 24/7. They kicked us out and told us never to
use the hotel again.
In high school I was eating out a female friend when my mom
got home. We managed to get our clothes back on, but I had
to explain why my face was all crusty.
My mom telling me she had to turn up the television to drown
out the noise of my boyfriend and I having sex.
What is your most common source for new fantasies and new
ideas of what to do in bed?
Bisexual Erotica series.
X-rated videos, especially ones that are polished and inviting.
I’m never monogamous, so I am always learning from new people
and disseminating the information gleaned.
DVDs, videos, and Savage Love.
The Metroland sex survey.
Reading “letters” supposedly sent in by subscribers to mens’
My own dirty mind.
Books of old erotic art.
the minimum sexual activity that counts as cheating?
Contact with penis or vagina.
French kissing and petting without partner’s permission.
Oral sex without a condom.
It depends on what you and your partner are OK with. To some,
full on intercourse is not cheating but to others not keeping
every part of your skin covered when out of the house is a
betrayal, let alone a small smile.
Kissing with sexual intent.
If your partner knows and is OK with it—do anything you want!
If you haven’t talked about it, anything shared by both “cheating”
parties that really turns you on is going too far.
you have an “arrangement” with a long-term partner that allows
for sex with others under limited circumstances, what are
anal sex. Oral sex is OK, but with a condom.
Everybody has to use latex. Our family is top priority, and
any outside involvements that would destabilize the family
are not OK. But low-intensity sexual relationships outside
the family are OK.
Be honest. Don’t like them better. Don’t bring any STDs home.
As long as the other one gets told about it, it’s not cheating.
My husband makes all the arrangements for me to have sex with
other men. They must be willing to allow him to be in the
room and to take photos or they do not get me.
It changes all the time depending on how we feel and what
the specific situation is. Basically we just talk about how
we are feeling and do what we are both OK with.
No $$ paid.
your most embarrassing masturbation story?
mother wondered why the water bill was so high, and then she
caught me masturbating with the water spigot in the bathtub.
I was driving home from college and it was a long ride so
I decided to play with myself. Everything was going good until
I noticed a truck driver staring at me. I freaked out and
sped away and he gave me a “honk honk.”
That I never masturbated until I was 20.
Watching porn and masturbating to it when my grandma walked
in and thought I was playing guitar. The porn had a really
cool, new-age guitar background sound.
One of my roommates walked in on me masturbating and I managed
to cover up for the most part. He stood there chatting for
about half an hour then went “Oh my” and walked out.
Friend knows about how I masturbated into socks (and I don’t
know how he knows).
I went to the hot tub outside our hotel in Myrtle Beach. It
was closed and no lights were on, so I took off my bottoms
and had a good long orgasm to the forceful jets. When I got
out, clapping and cheers broke out—there were 20 or more golfers
out on their balconies watching. Turns out, with the full
moon reflecting off the ocean, they’d been able to see everything.
us about the best sexual surprise you’ve ever had.
boyfriend in red underwear on Valentine’s Day—with a hole
The first time I was with two lovers at the same time and
it was easy and comfortable. I figured it would always be
a little awkward. But when you all know each other well enough
sometimes it’s just simple and sweet and yummy.
I went to use the bathroom, and came back to my boyfriend’s
room where we had been chatting and having wine and he was
gone. All of a sudden his closet doors open and he jumped
out wearing a wolf mask and boxer shorts! It was great sex
with lots of laughter too.
Straight-laced-seeming girlfriend using quite erotic language.
That a woman’s orgasms after I come can be extremely intense,
so keep going at any cost or method.
We were both camp counselors. When we finally “got down to
business,” I found out he was like Billy Fucillo—HUGE!
us about a dream come true that went bad.
with another girl. No go.
My first experience with two guys together. It turned out
they were so homophobic that they were worried about even
touching each other. I ended up kicking them out.
One evening after a romantic dinner, my girl decided to treat
me by eating me for dessert. She had me wear a condom. Then
the metalwork on a tooth bridge hooked on the top of the rubber,
slowly pulling it off. So it became a race—would I come before
it came off? I did, but it turned a great time into a tense
race, and a tricky clean-up job.
the strangest place you’ve had sex?
a deserted baseball diamond.
Airport ladies’ room in Phoenix on a very short break between
Roof of Exit 9 Denny’s.
An airplane lavatory at 30,000 feet.
In a porta-potty with the stench of old piss.
In an above-ground swimming pool with her little brother nearby.
Outside Harris Bay, Lake George, on an old dock on the opposite
side of a boat slip on Mother’s Day while people were walking
to their boats, just enough lower that passersby would have
to look down to see us.
On a car hood.
the strangest place you’ve masturbated?
subway, midday, vibrator inside my jeans.
At work, in the beer cooler, with a green pepper.
The tanning hut. I just can’t help myself: I’m naked, and
it’s so hot.
The grocery store.
While fishing along a beautiful trout stream.
In the arboretum in my undergraduate colleague with a straight
(or at least I think he is) friend.
In the john at the Chicago airport.
your favorite sex toy?
lovely little black-rubber dildo.
dildo from Good Vibrations. Mine is sparkly gold.
A leather cock-and-ball harness.
My good old-fashioned vibrator.
your favorite sex toy that wasn’t intended to be a sex toy?
Plastic zigzagged swizzle stick.
The glass stopper to a fancy antique bottle. The end that
fit into the bottle was smooth and about the size and shape
of a penis head; the other end was a sphere a bit bigger than
Roll-on deodorant. When I was about 10, I used to rub it on
my penis prior to pulling the pudster. For some reason I got
it through my head (no pun intended) that the deodorant is
what made me come.
Corn on the cob with a studded condom.
A one-pint plastic Poland Spring water bottle. Fill with warm
water to the top and put the cap on tight. Remove the green
label and clean. If it begins to lose its effect, move up
sexual discovery has changed your life?
That everyone is completely different sexually
in what they like to do and how they feel and respond to different
Being exposed to gay sex and muscular, hot guys.
Monogamy isn’t necessarily the only way.
I went through a period of about two years, after a painful
breakup, when I’d all but lost interest in sex altogether.
Fortunately, and occasionally unfortunately, I found it again.
Unlocking the back door.
A member of the clergy recommended that I meditate and masturbate
daily as part of my spiritual practice. That cleared
up any residual shame I might have had about masturbating!
The fact that I come extremely quickly if someone plays with
That sex is the perhaps the greatest gift God gave us.
Sex is not a technique learning like cooking, but an expression
of one’s emotions toward your partner.
is your favorite kink, and why does that turn you on?
be tied to the bed, a chair, etc. You can’t get involved,
and it’s all about you.
Anal sex, because it’s all about trust.
Role-playing. Most of the roles I choose are ones where I
am submissive. I love being dominated.
Double penetration. I think it’s because I love to see women
come really hard and I also love anal sex.
Other people’s kinks. Everybody has something they are afraid
to ask for because people might laugh, or be disgusted, or
just not care enough to want to do it. I love it when people
trust me enough to tell me what they want, and I love doing
for them what most people won’t. Maybe I’m just a romantic
trapped in a pervert’s body.
Being peed on.
Watching a guy’s dick spurt come. I love having control in
my hand, knowing I control the outcome of when he comes and
Bald beavers. Nothing interrupts cunnilingus.
My wife acting like a sex-crazed slut.
Being used by two or more people. I think I like it because
it becomes much more, for lack of a better term, organic,
Ejaculating into a used condom that my partner ejaculated
into. Saves money, and allows my semen to mix with his, creating
an “out-of-body” union.
the most unusual thing you do to get yourself in the mood?
vanilla pudding, in a hot bath.
Wander around unlikely places (someone else’s house, a grocery
store, etc.) looking for things whose shape would be fun to
Listen to a Social Distortion CD.
Save up sperm for three days. (Abstinence.)
Answering the Metroland sex survey waiting for my lover
to get ready for bed.
I’m almost always in the mood.
Go to Thruway rest stops and engage in “dick peeping” in the
men’s room. I hate bathrooms with partitions between urinals.
your best story about watching or being watched?
invited to watch my boyfriend’s best friend jerk off in the
kitchen. His dad came home and almost caught us.
I was once dating two girls; one liked to watch, it worked
out well. It was like her own little interactive porn.
One of my girlfriend’s friends is an artist and wanted to
do a charcoal of us nude. While she was drawing us I started
eating my girlfriend out. When the friend was done drawing
us, she masturbated and we all came.
I was at college on the fourth floor of the student union.
A couple went at it in the woods below, then went at it again.
I doubt they realized they could be seen from above.
Being hired out by my husband for a bachelor party to fuck
the groom on stage. All the guys then chipped in $25 for a
chance to have their name drawn out of a hat for a second
show. The best man’s father was the name drawn.
the best response you’ve gotten to delivering challenging/unexpected
news to a potential sex partner (e.g. you’re HIV positive,
married, or passing for a different gender)?
wife told the guy she had a crush on that she was interested
in him, but also married. He said “Oh, that means you’re polyamorous!
I am too!” and they hooked up. Later I joined in.
A blow job.
would your utopian sexual society look like?
all be allowed two partners—one for every day and one for
in the City and all the soaps combined.
No STDs, coupling upon arousal.
Less concern about sex and sexual activity and more concern
about relationships between people. The friendships, love,
and trust are the things that make the sex worthwhile.
Everyone being considered sexy and desirable regardless of
race, size, orientation, etc. Then safe sex for all!
Rooming with 10 to 15 “free” single women.
Everyone in shape and mature enough to handle sex in a nonjudgmental
There would be “sex rooms” in virtually every building, just
as there are restrooms, and people could have sex whenever
they wanted in those rooms (provided they were of legal age
and it was consensual).
An embedded bar code in the body that could be scanned for
sexual profiles for ease of hooking up.
Universal nudity, so you wouldn’t be so curious what’s under
The most important values would be honesty and caring for
how our actions affect others.
You Feel It?
By Jo Page
of cinema’s most erotic scenes could score a PG rating—sometimes
it’s what you don’t see that turns you on
mother had big knuckles, so when she clapped her hand over
my eyes there was still enough space between her fingers for
me to get a pretty good glimpse of what was happening.
They were doing it, though I didn’t know what “doing it” was.
If there was skin I didn’t see any. What I did see was a close
up of Anouk Aimee’s face. She looked distraught, as if something
was hurting her a substantial amount. Or maybe it was just
that she looked sad. Either way it didn’t seem to me that
doing it had all that much to recommend it.
I have never been able to figure out why my mother brought
me to see A Man and a Woman. It was already a few years
old, its reputation well-known. Maybe she figured I’d forget
what I had seen. Maybe she figured I’d forget what I had heard.
But I didn’t. That was my first erotic scene—though I didn’t
have a word for what to call it—and it stayed with me. Very
early on I began to discover that there is a difference between
the erotic, the explicit and the romantic.
A romantic scene charms you—John Cusack with his boom box
in Say Anything, Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll
handcuffed to each other in The 39 Steps.
An explicit scene startles you, but also distances you: Think
of the mechanistic orgy in Eyes Wide Shut, where more
is really less, or the pretentious brutality of Blue Velvet.
But an erotic scene invites you right into it.
Erotic scenes are nearly tactile, often wordless. There may
be a lot of skin involved, or little. There may be sex or
not. That’s all beside the point because an erotic scene is
more participatory than voyeuristic. It’s not about what the
characters show or what the characters do; it’s about what
the viewer feels.
So where will you find some truly erotic scenes?
It isn’t necessarily to be found in what you see.
You won’t see anything at all in A Very Long Engagement.
That’s because Audrey Tautou removes one article of clothing
at a time—and that happens only in the darkness between the
matches that Gaspard Ulliel, her lover, strikes. We hear the
rasp of the match. We see a flash of light. She has taken
off another garment. The match goes out. But the darkness
itself promises more.
That’s the funny thing about genuinely sexy movies: They leave
you hungering for more. So often sex in movies seems like
the plastic sushi in the windows of Japanese restaurants:
bright, perfect, fake.
By the time Nicole Kidman and Jude Law finally get the chance
to have sex in Cold Mountain, the Civil War has destroyed
their lives. Plus, they’re supposed to be dirty. They haven’t
flossed, brushed or put on clean underwear in a dog’s age.
And on top of all that, they’ve never even done it together
So why do they move around that cold twig-and-wattle hut as
if they were old hands in a featherbed at the Ritz-Carlton?
I didn’t believe a bit of it. And so it wasn’t erotic at all.
(On the other hand, watching Sam Neill wash Nicole Kidman’s
hair aboard their sailboat in Dead Calm is totally
erotic. I’ll have some of that shampoo, please.)
But unlike the single-wrapped sliced-cheese feel of the sex
in Cold Mountain, Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant in
Indiscreet manage chemistry fully-clothed, with their
characters on opposite sides of the English Channel.
In the split-screen scene they lie in bed talking to each
other on the phone between London and Paris. She rests her
hand on top of where his would be if he were lying beside
her. He reaches out and pats the place where her bottom would
be if she were lying beside him. You know what would happen
next if they were side-by-side.
And there is no on-screen kiss as plainly erotic as Cary Grant’s
and Ingrid Bergman’s in Notorious.
They stand on a balcony in Rio. It’s dusk. You can hear the
ocean. They’re talking about dinner. About eating in instead
of going out. She’s talking about making a chicken. You can
tell she’s no cook.
But all the while their lips are touching, moving, kissing
as they speak. It’s a very long kiss, a breathy kiss, a talky
kiss—not that any of the talking makes any kind of sense.
Because it’s all prelude. A literal amuse-bouche, as
the French call their appetizers. And by the time they are
finished kissing we—and they—are hungry for so much more than
Everybody knows that not all nudity is necessarily erotic.
But Nicolas Roeg’s murder mystery Don’t Look Now, based
on a Daphne du Maurier short story, has the sexiest nude love
scene I’ve ever watched. With Pino Donaggio’s moving score,
it’s a series of jump cuts between Donald Sutherland’s and
Julie Christie’s candidly naked bodies in bed and the domestic
gestures of their shared bathing, dressing, grooming, We are
drawn into these intimate moments as if they were our own
moments, shared with someone well-known and well-loved.
We don’t see any sex in The Girl on the Bridge. Here
the erotic is unfolds as metaphor. But what a metaphor: Daniel
Auteuil is a sometimes blindfolded knife-thrower and Vanessa
Paradis becomes his human target.
Because he loves her, Auteuil’s character must be at his best—keen,
strong and accurate. Anything less could kill her. But for
him to be at his best she must trust his ability no less than
she trusts his love.
With each knife he throws we feel almost palpably the pattern
of trusting and risking that makes love so strong a bond.
And maybe that’s what makes a scene truly erotic: to feel
that ultimately there is safety in daring to find sanctuary
in the body of the lover.
are an ever-present fantasy—and for some, they’re a living
had a threesome with two of my roommates,” says Mike, a 32-year-old
computer engineer. “The two girls were so into each other
that I felt like a third wheel. As they were gratifying each
other, I attempted to enter one of them, and really just felt
as if I was getting in the way.”
Two girls at the same time—it’s every straight man’s fantasy,
they say, although relatively few actually get to fulfill
their wet dream. When and if they do make the big score, they’re
oft left less-than-thrilled with the results. (Obviously,
it works in other ways, too—two guys and a girl, three guys,
three girls—but none of the women we spoke with shared any
negative memories of their experiences, and we didn’t reach
any all-male threesomes, so for the sake of the argument .
. . )
That’s not to say the concept of a good, steamy, Penthouse
Forum-worthy group-shag is a complete fallacy. Django,
a 26-year-old ad executive, recounts his own experiences.
“I went home with one girl and . . . her roommate was home
when we got there. The next thing I know, the two of them
start making out right in front of me. One thing led to another
and . . . well, it was pretty great. I’d do it again anytime.”
Of course he would.
The two girls, on the other hand, had a slightly different
view. “We planned the whole thing out,” recalls Staci. “We
just wanted to have some fun with a boy.”
Michelle (Staci’s roommate) continues, “Yeah, I think he got
the wrong idea. He called, like, five times after that.”
Others who have not had the experience themselves relay a
more utopian vision of what their ultimate threesome would
be like. Alejandro, a 45-year-old novelist, says, “The true
ménage-a-trois fantasy? I’m having sex with someone who’s
really hot, while the third person is cleaning my house and
taking care of my bills.” Not necessarily a P.C. point of
view, but perhaps he’s onto something.
While many folks might think of a threesome as a one-night
stand, a growing number of relationship risk-takers have adapted
the concept into a lifestyle. Dear ol’ Dubya might have a
coronary imagining this, what with that whole “sanctity of
marriage” business he’s been going on about, but three-partner
relationships (triads, triangles, triples, triumvirates, threesomes—all
the terms sound awkward, really) tend to thrive, in part due
to the very concept of a “third wheel.”
Scott, Harry and Jenn have been involved in various romantic
permutations for almost 10 years. Scott’s version of the brief
history: “Jenn and I went to college No. 1 together. Harry
and I went to college No. 2 together. Jenn moved to the Albany
area and things slowly coalesced over a number of years. Jenn
and I got married in 1998. Harry and I shared various dwellings
between 1997 and afterwards. Harry moved in to Jenn’s and
my house in 2001.”
Things were more complicated than that, of course. Jenn explains,
“Scott and I did great at school for one-and-a-half years
until he moved to a university here (in Albany). . . . We
had about three years of this long-distance thing. . . . Then
I moved to the Capital District to be closer to a woman I
was planning on living with. That didn’t work out at all,
but Scott and I spent a ton of time rebuilding our emotional
(and sexual) ties.”
In the 18 months that led up to Scott’s and Jenn’s wedding,
the couple began spending more and more time with Harry. “We
remained very close, and a few times I would make out with
one or both of them,” says Harry.
gave us matching hickeys two weeks after our wedding,” Jenn
Harry continues, “One day Jenn asked me to move in, since
I was looking for a new place, so three months later I moved
in with them.”
realized I wanted Harry to stay,” says Jenn, “that he was
a part of the family, and I’d be devastated if he left.”
Horace explains the circumstances that led to his relationship
with Stella and Rachel. “The girls were together for years
before they met me; we were all living in or around NYC. They
and I had independently found and hung out with the polyamorous
network down there.” (Polyamory is defined as “the theory
and practice of openly maintaining multiple sexual and/or
romantic relationships,” according to romanceopedia.com.)
The relationship began with Horace’s romantic overtures toward
Stella, and shortly thereafter, a bond also blossomed with
was spending tremendous amounts of time at their place. After
a couple of months, the travel time . . . just became an annoyance.
. . . [They] found they were both feeling the ‘center of gravity’
of the relationship shifting to somewhere between the three
of us. So from a very early stage, I was kind of let in as
a full member of this household.”
A three-way relationship has the built-in potential for plenty
of three-way sex, but, as Scott points out, there are many
more reasons why it works. Finances, for example, and “one
more person to take care of the kids, one more person to send
out to do errands, another car.”
hoping that] splitting child care three ways [will] help avoid
parenting burnout,” says Horace. “[Having] more role models
for kids is better, too, in my book.”
He continues, “Beyond that, it keeps you sane. A third person
is . . . an extra perspective that can stop crazy ideas before
they take hold. If both your partners are saying ‘no, really,
you’re just completely off base,’ you kind of have to start
listening. I’d say upward of 85 percent of arguments between
couples come down to communication issues—people are talking
past each other, not really answering each other’s concerns.
. . . A third partner [can] spot those misunderstandings and
That seems to be the common thread: honesty and communication.
(Funny, those things are generally regarded as the cornerstones
of any relationship.) Scott says, “From an emotional
standpoint, the other two people serve as a reality check.
If one of us gets way out of line, the other two can have
for disadvantages, there are plenty of those. At this point,
introducing one’s same-sex partner is not necessarily as completely
alien as it once was, but introducing two partners is looked
at somewhat askance.”
Horace adds, “Lots of negotiation—couples may get by without
really talking about anything . . . but that can never fly
for us. We spend a lot of time working things out.”
Is polyamory for you? Everyone interviewed agreed that it’s
something that needs to happen completely naturally, that
can’t be rushed into or forced, but if you’re curious to find
out more, or perhaps become involved in a three-or-more-partner
relationship, there’s plenty of information available online
at alt.polyamory. Also, the PolyLiving 2005 conference will
take place in Philadelphia Feb. 18-20 (more details at Polyliving.com).
Of course, if you’re just going for one of those Penthouse
Forum type of things, we kindly recommend saving up some
money, because odds are your bar tab is going to skyrocket.
the Wild Barley
from the stereotype of ultra-monogamous lesbians, college-age
dykes are experimenting with open relationships, and with
new perspectives on monogamy
landed on the East Coast in 2000, a naïve 18-year-old dyke-in-training,
flown in from the tropics and ready to absorb a liberal-arts
education. When I moved from Honolulu to New York for my freshman
year of college, not only had I never experienced a winter,
I’d never experienced a woman. I had XXX-tra curricular activity
dancing on the back of my eyelids when I dreamed at night,
but by daylight, my sex life was fresh from the closet and
smelled of clean laundry. My budding sexuality glowed as white
as a blank canvas begging to be splattered with rainbow paint.
myself in the company of other dykes my age, I felt giddy
and excited to try new things in this permissive atmosphere.
And lo and behold, before my first year was complete I owned
my very first pair of long underwear, and beneath those, my
very first (and thankfully, only) glow-in-the-dark mail-order
Liberal-arts colleges are generally a safe setting for young
queer folk to define and express their sexuality as they see
fit. During my tenure as an undergrad, Skidmore College threw
an annual DIVA night, where all students were encouraged to
express sexuality through costume, and dance the night away
in a gymnasium with gay, straight and lesbian porn projected
on televisions in the corner, while being showered with condoms
and dental dams by scantily-clad contraceptive fairies. I
arrived at DIVA with an entourage of penis-packing girls in
drag. We proceeded to gyrate and proudly shake-what-our-mommas-didn’t-give
us, and I thought, Eureka! This is it! We were brilliant because
we were kinky, perverse, and pushing sexual boundaries.
These brazen exhibitions only symbolized the real stuff, however.
The juicy stuff was the boundaries my friends and I expanded,
retracing them between the sheets. We challenged not only
the idea that sex should be limited to after heterosexual
marriage, but the idea that it was even limited to any sort
of long-term partnerships or exclusive partnerships, or that
casual sex would “ruin” friendships.
In the interest of admiring our exploits, a friend of mine
and I once sat down sketched a web, similar to the one (for
those Showtime fans out there) drawn by the character
Alice on The L-Word, which mapped, through liplock
or more, all the dykes we could think of in our community.
As we stepped back to observe the final product, my friend
exclaimed “Good God! You’re like Chicago O’Hare!” But when
I looked closer, I saw that most of the lines growing out
of my name united me with friends with whom I’d had no “real”
romantic relationship, just casual erotic encounters or a
I felt a surge of pride when I looked at the marked-up sheet
of yellow construction paper. The climate of my social life
was brilliantly charged with sexual energy. It brought me
back to the early 90’s, when I was playing doctor with my
friends and telling girls on my soccer team to call me Pierro
the Lovah, only now I had the added advantage of having
gone through puberty. A game as adolescent as Spin the Bottle,
when initiated in the right setting, allowed us to test the
boundaries of our comfort zones, and expectations about how
we should or should not act with our friends.
It generally worked well. At one such party the atmosphere
overcame me and I ended up in bed with a visiting lover I
had met while traveling in Spain, and a couple made up of
two of my best friends. The mood of the party said “You’re
attracted to these people, you know you’re safe with them,
now scoot to the bedroom lickety-tit!” Luckily, these good
feelings translated to the next morning, and I think the sex
enhanced my friendship with the couple, by allowing it an
added intimacy. And as far as their relationship is concerned,
what we did contributed to their developing a polyamorous
element to it.
We didn’t just do this stuff; we theorized about it. One woman
decided that she has many hearts with which to love. In that
way, she can give her whole heart to her girlfriend and express
love to other friends and family without ever diminishing
her love toward one person. “There is always a part of me
that is not accessed by one person,” she explains.
Consciously or unconsciously, we were trying to shatter the
stereotype of queer women as knee-jerk masters of monogamy.
“What does a lesbian bring on her second date?” “A U-HAUL!”
Ha ha, hoo. Ha. I’ve heard that one before. Doesn’t apply
All this freedom from the pressures of enforced monogamy is
great. But sometimes it can become its own kind of pressure.
As young queer women, we exist in a world where gray boundaries
are not only accepted, but often encouraged. I know girls
who desire monogamy, but admit to it in hushed voices, like
it’s a dirty little secret. “My name is ***** and I like monogamy!”
It’s as if they’re in an AA meeting admitting to a psychological
Perhaps it’s because our freedom to fuck openly as young queer
women was fought for so dearly. Am I not taking advantage
of the doors that opened so that I could live outside of tradition?
Should I feel ashamed if I don’t choose to push boundaries
further? I say keep this discussion alive.
To those queer women out there having sex that works for them,
as traditional or otherwise as it may be, I raise my glass
up my ass, stomp my handcuffed feet and smack my vaginal lips
to you. As for me, after four years of college, I finally
settled on a sensible strap-on, and one beautiful girl who
understands how I work on many levels. For now, at least,
we are monogamous, and I’m not distressed by that. Somebody
cue the organ music, please!
Sometimes I wonder if I should still be out there strapping
it on for a plethora of ladies and sowing my ovarian seed,
but I’ve learned to appreciate comfortable and creative as
well as hot and sexy. I still have eyes, I still have an imagination.
And I still get butterflies in my stomach when I look at her.
And that’s still awfully radical.
guys aren’t the only ones who enjoy watching female strippers
been to the same bars over and over again for months now.
The scene has gotten stale, and somehow you keep seeing the
same damn people again and again. There has to be an alternative
that still involves the booze, but has nothing at all to do
with bowling—something exotic, exciting. You call up the guys
They suggest a strip club. You say, “Hell, why not a strip
is more or less how it went down for Alexis, who has been
to two other strip clubs since the first time she went with
her ex-boyfriend and some male friends of his.
not that I’m attracted to girls, I’ve never even kissed one,”
Alexis says. “I actually wanted to go before my boyfriend
at the time even invited me.” The curiosity was built on hearing
the guys talk, movies, and the Sopranos.
This may seem odd at first, but Alexis has her reasons. She
went to a club again with male and female friends on two occasions.
She says it’s more about the atmosphere and the music. It’s
“like a bar, but with entertainment.” Not so much for the
dancers themselves, but the general feel of the place.
The dancers weren’t the only entertainment. She got a kick
out of watching her guy friends around them. “One of them
had never been to one before, so he was like a shy, little
boy, when this girl came up and hopped on his lap,” she remembers.
That’s a situation most women haven’t seen their male friends
in, and it can be revealing, or amusing.
Alexis isn’t sure if she’d go without any of the guys though.
“I think it wouldn’t be as fun. I really like watching them,”
she says. She explains that it’s often obnoxious when a man
is making passes at women in bars, but in this particular
environment, the dancers are by far the dominant ones, turning
the tables somewhat.
Alexis is far from alone—in fact, most accounts pinpoint the
mid-’90s as the beginning of a trend, still going strong,
in which women began visiting strip clubs in much greater
numbers than they had previously. “I’d be curious to see what
it’s like, I’ve never been before,” says Abbie. “I might go
with only other girls, but I think it would be better with
guys.” She doesn’t believe it would be preferable to going
to a normal bar, but rather it would be a “different experience.”
Abbie says she expects she’s probably get a lot of attention
from the guys she went with, their hormones raging from the
dancers. “I’d even get a lap dance, why not?”
Kelly also has been to a couple of strip clubs, but just looks
at it as something to do. “I don’t necessarily go out of my
way, but if other people are going and I’m not doing anything,
I’ll go.” She went to an all-nude club once and didn’t find
it as entertaining as the topless bars. “I like there to be
a bar. Otherwise, all it is, is sitting around watching some
girl.” She can see how men may enjoy it only for the show,
but according to Kelly, “If a woman is going to go to a strip
club, she should really go to one of the ones with a bar.”
Again, viewing the guys’ responses is one of the attractions.
“I wouldn’t go to pick up guys,” adds Kelly, “but it is interesting
to see their reactions.”
While some straight women may not be sexually attracted to
the dancers, making their experience different from the male
clientele, something about the sexually charged atmosphere
of a strip club seems appealing in its own right. The female
form is considered by some to be more aesthetically pleasing
than the male body, which may make the idea of a straight
woman watching female dancers and enjoying it more plausible
than a straight man heading out to an all-male revue. (One
straight woman puts it bluntly: “Breasts are nicer to look
at than scrotums!”)
And some women, straight women included, do get an erotic
charge from the experience—sometimes unexpectedly. In the
uninhibited and sexually heightened atmosphere of a strip
club, women who already enjoy looking at other beautiful women
can find themselves swept away in the sensuality of the moment.
Furthermore, it’s an open secret that some female strippers
get “friendlier” when performing lap dances for women. Consider
this, from a dancer writing in the June 2003 Private Dancer
looked over more than once while dancing for a woman and seen
a look of awe on her husband’s face that told me he was seeing
a side of her he hadn’t realized existed. Sometimes the look
on her face tells me that she hadn’t realized
it, either. More and more women are realizing that sex play
is a delicious part of life, and that the erotically charged,
lively and libertine atmosphere of a topless bar can be exciting
and oddly freeing and not the den of degradation they had
Liana has been to a strip club and says she wants to go again.
She has no problem going, but thinks it is partly because
sexual politics make it not as much of an issue for women
to explore same-sex interactions as it is for men. “It’s not
shameful for a woman to be curious about women, but most men
still find it way too much of a stigma,” she says. The idea
of a straight woman being in a club where other women are
naked doesn’t pose the same social obstacles that would arise
from a man visiting a club with male dancers. “Plus, even
men reinforce it themselves, by approving of women and women,
but scrutinizing men and men,” she adds.
If exploring the world of strip clubs seems like a relatively
new and daring approach by straight women, remember that burlesque
shows and cabarets, where women would be expected in the audience,
offer a similar sexually charged atmosphere with less stigma.
The roles the human body can play change under what context
the anatomy is portrayed in and who is observing it. Whether
it’s for a night of entertainment laughing at the guys, a
chance to hang out with some friends, pure curiosity, or a
sexual charge, some women do enjoy strip clubs. They are comfortable
with the idea and unashamed. Bring on the ladies!
and other sex toys are very, very far from being newfangled
results of the sexual revolution
quiz: Which was invented first, the wheel or the dildo? You
guessed it: The wheel could wait. Our remote ancestors clearly
had, well, more pressing concerns. Ever since the prehistoric
discovery that certain objects could enhance sexual pleasure,
people of all times and places have used them. And while a
look at the history of sex toys can amuse as well as dismay,
it above all shows us something about ourselves.
Upper Paleolithic art from more than 30,000 years ago clearly
depicts penis-shaped objects being used as dildos (the wheel,
in case you were wondering, was invented in Mesopotamia around
3500 to 4000 B.C.). Some archeologists speculate that these
troglodyte prototypes were made of dried dung coated with
resin. By the fifth to third centuries B.C., dildos—now crafted
of stone, wood, leather, ivory, or ceramics and used with
olive oil as a lubricant—had appeared in Greek art and literature.
Surviving examples include a vase emblazoned with a double-ended
model and a third-century play in which two women extol the
unrivaled quality of dildos produced in the city of Miletus,
then the sex-toy capital of the classical world.
Dildos—it’s not certain whether the term derives from the
Latin “dilatare,” meaning to dilate or open wide, or the Italian
“diletto,” meaning “delight”—and other toys were widespread
in other ancient cultures as well. Roman women are known to
have turned to dildos when their husbands were off to war.
In China, dildos dating back to the New Stone Age (12,000
B.C.) had been found before the recent discovery of seven
cast bronze examples in a Han dynasty (206 B.C. to A.D. 25)
tomb in Xian. Evidence collected there by archeologists suggests
palace maids used the finely wrought tools to satisfy neglected
imperial concubines or noblewomen. And the Kama Sutra
(A.D. 200 to 300) mentions that metal cylinders were used
as penis extenders in India.
During the Middle Ages (500 to 1450), new devices debuted,
proving that human ingenuity is as limitless as lust is enduring.
Ben-wa balls, invented in Japan around A.D. 500 to provide
women with prolonged stimulation, originally consisted of
three small spheres linked by tiny chains and tied to a silken
retrieval string. Some models had clappers that rang the balls
like bells as they rolled about their merry way. Over time,
Japanese women used them in pairs to strengthen their pelvic
floor muscles, much as Kegel exercises are done today.
An old Turkish proverb holds that “If man had created man,
he would be ashamed of his performance,” and some in medieval
China clearly would have agreed. To increase staying power,
the cock ring was introduced there around 1200. The earliest
known ones were made from goats’ eyelids with the eyelashes
left intact and then hardened to increase the mans’ pleasure
during intercourse. By 1600, they were made of ivory and often
elaborately carved in bas-relief to depict dragons. Some rings
even sported a nub on the dragon’s tongue that a skilled lover
could apply to the woman’s clitoris.
By the Victorian era, in the English-speaking world at least,
popular understanding of female sexuality had sunk to a level
that might have appalled even a Paleolithic-era cave dweller:
Conventional wisdom held that women had no carnal desires.
Lust in females was termed “hysteria,” a Greek term meaning
“suffering uterus,” and treated as a medical condition. Women
complaining of irritability, anxiety, sexual fantasies, and
“pelvic heaviness,” sought relief from physicians, who treated
them by massaging the clitoris until “paroxysm,” or orgasm,
was induced. Not unsurprisingly, many doctors’ offices became
de facto massage parlors as repeated visits for such attention
became immensely popular among the ladies.
To better alleviate hysteria (and probably save his fellow
practitioners from repetitive-motion disorders as well), an
American doctor, George Taylor, invented the steam-powered
vibrator in 1869. Battery-driven models with attachments allowing
the physician to vary the sensations were in use by the 1890s,
and by 1921, magazine ads appeared promising men they could
keep their wives “young and pretty” with home vibrator treatments.
(To its everlasting shame, the medical profession considered
hysteria an ailment until 1952.) In the 1940s, though, the
vibrator had to go underground, as its appearance in pornography
had made its true function obvious. It later resurfaced during
the sexual revolution of the 1960s.
The Victorian era also saw the advent of butt plugs, which
were originally egg-shaped and prescribed to “help prevent
loss of sperm through wasteful ejaculation,” and the first
rubber dildos. Modern versions of these became available after
the invention of latex rubber in the 1930s.
Sex toys made headlines last July when a three-judge panel
of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 decision,
upheld a 1998 Alabama law banning their sale in the state.
To the dismay of civil libertarians, the judges ruled that
the Constitution doesn’t include a right to sexual privacy.
Similar laws have long been on the books in a few other Southern
states, including Georgia and Tennessee.
In another recent development, a hardy group of Russians gave
a whole new meaning to the phrase “whatever floats your boat”
when, for the second year in a row, contestants in the Bubble
Baba Challenge near St. Petersburg competed in a whitewater
rafting race using inflatable sex dolls. Some priceless photos
of last year’s event can be viewed online at www.design boom.com/contemporary/sexdoll.html.
One suspects that our Russian rafters, as well as the ghosts
of those virile Chinese ringmasters and lonely Roman women,
would agree that a few moralists like the state legislators
of Alabama will always try to spoil everyone else’s erotic
fun. But the long and varied saga of sex toys reveals the
popularity of the belief that when it comes to how consenting
adults choose to pleasure their partners or themselves, the
ends justify the means.
of an Aphrodisiac Tester
I took this assignment, I began to prepare to write a standard
piece on what foods are considered aphrodisiacs and find research
on each individual item, to provide me with reasons to either
dispel myths or support theories on effective foods. But I
figured it would be a more useful piece if I were to test
out all these so-called aphrodisiacs myself.
One: Spanish Fly
sexperts at honeymoons.com say:
fly (cantharides) is a substance made from pulverized beetles
found in southern Europe. For centuries Spanish fly has been
considered an aphrodisiac. Spanish fly poorly mimics arousal
by irritating the urogenital tract and causing the genitals
to burn, swell and itch. Side effects can include pain, nausea,
vomiting, and death.”
sandwich on marble rye. Yum. After experiencing said burning,
swelling and itching, and the astonishing pain each brings,
I nearly forgot about the death I was expected to experience.
Sadly, death would have been welcome compared to the retching
that came instead.
Level: -3 (Death as a side effect just isn’t sexy.)
sexperts say at sexuality.com say:
scoffed at oysters’ sexual reputation until nutritionists
discovered that they are rich in the essential trace mineral,
zinc. Zinc is not a magic love mineral, but it’s crucial for
men’s sexual health. Men with zinc-deficient diets are at
risk for prostate problems. Men and women with zinc deficiencies
suffer infertility and libido loss. University of Rochester
researchers have restored sperm counts in infertile men using
zinc supplements. Processed foods are often low in zinc. In
addition to oysters, whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables
contain this mineral.”
a near-death day-one experience, I decided to take myself
out to dinner to try to forget about my miserable Spanish
Fly incident. I headed out to the local seafood joint to chow
down on the raw oyster bar. The oysters were mighty tasty,
but there was a setback. I found that I happened to develop
a near-deadly allergy to shellfish. Fabulous. At least my
sperm count is restored. Oh, wait a second . . .
Factor: 5 (The oysters get points for resembling female genitalia.)
sexperts at iVillage.com say:
ubiquitous treat contains mild central nervous system stimulants
that help heighten mood and yearning. According to legend,
Montezuma drank 50 cups of chocolate every day to boost his
virility before visiting his harem of 600 women. A small amount
of quality chocolate can set the mood just as easily.”
say diamonds are a girl’s best friend. They lied. Any girl
will tell you it’s chocolate. And after days, I decided to
stick to my tried-and-true snack and raided my secret stash
of milk-chocolate Hershey Bars I keep in a shoebox under my
bed. Arousal jackpot! No need for oysters or dead beetles,
one bar of this blissful treat and I was beating down the
door of the Republican next door.
Factor: 8.5 (So what if he voted for Bush?)
sexperts at health.discovery.com say:
is another substance that most people believe increases their
sexual responsiveness. This is partly because alcohol has
a disinhibiting effect—it lowers the sexual inhibitions a
person may ordinarily have, thus allowing sexual desire to
emerge. Alcohol’s reputation as an aphrodisiac also stems
from advertising and cultural myths.”
sex with a Republican. Beer for breakfast, anyone? Martini
for lunch? And maybe a Mai Tai for dinner. What can be better
than washing the mem- ory of my choco- late-induced semi-
nightmare than a few cocktails? Alcohol. I drank myself into
a stupor on day four, leading to very arousing dreams, but
not much more.
Factor: 6 (Diminished by the impending hangover.)
5: Powdered Rhinoceros Horn
sexperts at sweetecstacy.com say:
belief in the potency of rhinoceros horn has brought the single-horned
African rhinoceros to the brink of extinction. In fact, the
horn consists of fibrous tissue, similar in construction to
hair and nails. Like them, rhino horn contains the protein
keratin, and the minerals sulfur, calcium and phosphorus.
The addition of these elements to a poor diet might improve
vigor, but a cheese sandwich would do just as well.”
five called for a much-needed break. Powdered rhinoceros horn
was on the menu, so I ground up a horn I had handy and added
it to my daily dose of green tea, and waited to see what would
happen. Nothing much. . . . All that came of day five’s test
was a surge of guilt for helping contribute to the diminishment
of the species. I’ll stick to the cheese sandwiches.
6: Ginger Root
sexperts at lifenetwork.ca say:
served raw, cooked, candied, or crystallized, ginger root
is a circulatory system stimulant that adds tangy flavor to
any meal. Because ginger increases circulation, it improves
sensitivity to your body’s erogenous zones. Candied ginger
is a light, delicious way to complete a romantic dinner while
simultaneously improving post-meal breath.”
threw together a stir-fry heavily laced with ginger. It was
a good meal, but not a turn-on by any means.
sexperts at lifenetwork.ca say:
Aztecs called the avocado tree Ahuacuatl which translated
means “testicle tree.” The ancients thought the fruit hanging
in pairs on the tree resembled testicles. This is a delicious
fruit with a sensuous texture.”
was scheduled for my seventh and final day of testing. I took
it easy and ate a whole lot of chips and guacamole. Not much
of an effect here, except for bloating from overeating. Avocado
is a tasty snack, but it won’t do much for your libido.
Factor: 4 (At least it’s got the looking-like-a-testicle
thing going for it.)
Well, it was a great seven-day aphrodisiacal whirl. I almost
died, hate-fucked a Republican (which is worse), was responsible
for the death of a rhino, drank myself into a stupor, overate,
and in the end, all I had left was bad breath, and a strange
itch I’m hoping the oysters can explain. My conclusion? Don’t
depend on food to get you in the mood. It’s just too risky.