Aug 012013


Pioneering Sex Positive Retailer Invites You to Get Cheeky with Educational Workshops & Timeline

SAN FRANCISCO (August 1, 2013): August is “Anal Pleasure Month” according to Good Vibrations, the trusted San Francisco-based company that takes pride in providing accurate information on sexuality and toys for grown-ups. In celebration of this theme they have put together an impressive timeline of the history of anal sex, along with a month of workshops and events in California to bring know-how and pleasure to the people.

“While anal pleasure is widely enjoyed, it is still considered taboo, so access to clear and accurate information about it is sadly limited. Good Vibrations declared August to be Anal Pleasure month as a way to illuminate the subject and make information available to interested adults. You can see how the cultural conversation around anal sex has evolved in our anal history timeline –- it’s fun and fascinating!” says Staff Sexologist Dr. Carol Queen.

Good Vibrations has also teamed up with famed sex educator and author Tristan Taormino to celebrate Anal Pleasure Month on her Sex Out Loud Radio show where she’ll be discussing the ins and outs of safe and fun anal play. Tristan directed The Expert Guide to Anal Sex and has her own collection of favorite sex toys at Good Vibrations, including “Back Door Beginner” kit and Beginner Pegging Kit and also contributed to Good Vibrations’ anal history timeline. This and other anal safe toys will be featured in the month of August.

Follow along online as Anal Sex Month highlights useful resources and information, normalizing and celebrating anal pleasure. Good Vibrations’ Social Networks including Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google Plus, and even Instagram and Vine with hashtag #analpleasuremonth.

Jun 152013

I was so sad to hear of Jack Morin’s passing. He was a true innovator and the author of two of the most important books on sexuality: Anal Pleasure and Health and The Erotic Mind. When I found out that Morin was dying, I wrote him this letter. I am sharing it here to celebrate his amazing life.

Dear Jack,

There really aren’t enough words to describe just how important your work in the field of sexuality is, but words are all I’ve got, so that’s what I’ll go with. I feel like none of my work could exist without yours. When it comes to anal sex and anal health education, obviously, you wrote the book. But it goes far beyond that: you broke the ground, you blazed the trail, you opened up the discussion, and you boldly put your name on all of it at a time when no one was talking about this taboo subject. By doing so, you made so many things possible. Anal Pleasure and Health has a pivotal place in the history of sexuality and sex education in the last century, and I am forever grateful that you wrote it. I still have my copy of what I think is the first or second edition, the one I read in the early nineties, with its dented baby blue cover and pages all marked up. I was interviewed last month for a full page article in Glamour magazine about anal sex, and that’s just one example of the tremendous cultural shift that’s happened in the dialogue about anal pleasure. You made that happen, basically. It all comes back to you. You made it possible for my book—and countless other books, articles, websites, videos, and workshops that discuss anal sex—to exist.

You’ve left a legacy of shame-free, sex-positive, holistic, pioneering work on anal pleasure. It inspired me to write my book. And I know it has inspired thousands and thousands of people to explore anal pleasure in their lives. And that’s just one of so many things you’ve done in your career. You are a leader and a light in the field of sex education. From the bottom of my heart, I want to express my gratitude, my respect, and my awe for everything you’ve done to make this world a better place. I promise to honor you by taking the torch you lit and setting the motherfucking world on fire. I’ll do my best, anyway.

May 242013
Madison Young as a pony girl on the set of Rough Sex 2

Madison Young as a pony girl on the set of Rough Sex 2

Last month, I gave a talk as part of an evening called
The Truth Behind Fifty Shades of Grey at University of Maryland in College Park. There was a lively audience discussion, and we gave students the opportunity to ask questions anonymously. I asked several of my colleagues to chime in and answer a few of those questions.

Can it be hard to enjoy “vanilla” sex once you’ve escalated [to BDSM]? I’ve heard porn indulgence can desensitize people until they keep needing to escalate–is this the case with BDSM?

I asked my friend and colleague Felice Shays, a sex and BDSM educator, to take this one on. Listen to my fantastic interview with her on Sex Out Loud here. Felice says:

So, you are afraid to try things other than missionary positions, kissing, and other sexy acts because pot always leads to crack? And spanking always leads to bestiality? No, friend, don’t worry about escalation, as you call it. When you try out different things you’re figuring out what you like. Keep experimenting—add to what you and your partner enjoy; keep what works and don’t keep what doesn’t feel so good. But don’t be afraid to try something again down the road—what may feel eh today might feel off the charts next week. Watching lots of porn isn’t a bad thing unless it interferes in the healthy functioning of someone’s life (see Hernando Chaves’ discussion of sex addiction). People don’t get desensitized when watching lots of porn, hopefully they keep getting turned on. Their interests might shift over time, so what may have been a fantasy last month, may not be as hot this month. And yet other people love to watch the same kind of images throughout their lives. The good news is that sex is not like a runaway car, careening down a side of a mountain into the tiny town about to destroy the innocent townsfolk who live there. No. Instead, you get to make decisions about what you want, and when you want it. That includes if you want to gently kiss someone on their neck or press your teeth in a firm way against that flesh. Or if you want to be on top or you want to give or get it from behind. The other good news, is that no one gets to hold the truth to what vanilla or kink actually is. I can hear you say, “You know what I mean. Like spanking and dirty talk and like that.” And I say, what is someone’s “vanilla” may be someone else’s ‘you’ve gone a bit too far, pal’.  And vice versa. My friend says she and her husband are vanilla, yet he holds the back of her head as she’s sucking him off. He’s not forcing her or choking her, just getting off on how pretty she is, how good he feels, his hand in her hair, his cock in her mouth. And she loves it too; feeling just the right amount of pressure on the back of her head that makes her feel high and hot.

That’s playing with power right there. And they consider themselves vanilla—not kinky.

So I can’t tell you what vanilla is. And frankly, I don’t really give’s a rat’s ass. I want you happy and turned on, not bored.

It’s about what turns you on and what your desires are.

Desire, like other tastes, change and morph as we gain experience in the world.  And just because you love pizza, doesn’t mean you want to eat it every night.

Worry less and EXPLORE and EXPERIMENT more.

So when you add new ways of being sexy and sexual to getting it on, you might want to keep those new ways—plus any of the other ways you used to—whatever make you happy. And you probably won’t want to make love or fuck exactly the same way every time either. Mood, partner, time of day, if you’re high or drunk, all these things will affect what you want.

So if you try slapping someone’s face and realize you both really like it, the doors to vanilla are still yours to walk through. Cuddling, sex without an edge or ferocity, are still yours whenever you want it.

Keep open and curious—and don’t let fear run your sex, or your life, for that matter.

You are allowed to experiment explore and discover what you like.

ADD to your sexual vocabulary, don’t limit it.

Just think of the stories you will tell with all that new language.

It’s worth repeating: Worry less and EXPLORE more.

Felice Shays, Sex and BDSM Educator. Follow Felice on Twitter @FeliceShays

May 242013
Mark Davis, Chayse Evans & Adrianna Nicole from Rough Sex 2

Mark Davis, Chayse Evans & Adrianna Nicole from Rough Sex 2

Last month, I gave a talk as part of an evening called
The Truth Behind Fifty Shades of Grey at University of Maryland in College Park. There was a lively audience discussion, and we gave students the opportunity to ask questions anonymously. Here are those questions with my responses. Note: I asked several of my colleagues to chime in and answer a few of the questions. Because several of them inspired longer answers, I will post those separately under Ask Tristan.

What is caning?

I’m going to quote an expert, Lolita Wolf, from her chapter, “Making an Impact: Spanking, Caning, and Flogging” in The Ultimate Guide to Kink:

Caning was traditional for severe punishment in the Victorian era and in the British school system, so canes can be the center of some great role play opportunities. Because of their perceived severity, canes have developed a reputation as the “scariest” of all BDSM impact toys, but a caning can be light and sensuous or heavy and painful—it’s all about how you wield the cane… Traditional canes are made of rattan, not bamboo or wood, and should be able to bend significantly.

Are there any races/ethnicities/religious groups that are members of the BDSM community?

People of all races and ethnicities practice BSDM, although some people of color have critiqued kink communities for being overwhelmingly white. Mollena Williams writes eloquently and teaches about the challenges of being a person of color in the BDSM community. There are some organizations and groups that cater specifically to kinky people of color including Poly Patao Productions and BlackBEAT.

Does the BDSM community have a higher percentage of LGBT people than mainstream sex?

People who practice BDSM comes from all walks of life and represent a diverse sampling in terms of gender, race, ethnicity, class, age, ability, and sexual orientation. LGBT people have varied sex lives, just as heterosexuals do; some are kinky, some aren’t, and some fall in between.

Do BDSM people date and marry, or just hook up?

BDSM folks are like everyone else in with regards to their sexual, romantic, and emotional relationships: they hook up, they date, they marry, they divorce, they have kids. In my research for my book Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships, I found that there was a lot if overlap between BDSM communities and non-monogamous communities, so I think it might be that a higher percentage of BDSM people practice some form of consensual, ethical non-monogamy than the general population.

Has BDSM been shown to lower divorce rates?

There is limited research about BDSM and the people who practice it. There is no data that I know of that correlates BDSM with lower divorce rates. What I can tell you from personal experience is that many kinky folks have open, expansive views on sex, pleasure, relationships, and love plus above-average communication skills, and those elements can all contribute to the success of a marriage or relationship.

In the book Fifty Shades of Grey, when Christian and Anastasia communicate on a daily basis, Christian is always in charge. Do BDSM couples talk like that normally?

It depends. Some people adopt the roles of dominant and submissive during a scene (a scene is when people practice BDSM), but once the scene is done, they interact without those roles. Others may stay in role for a weekend. In those cases, when they are in role, the dominant takes charge and dictates how things go. Some people have dominant/submissive relationships where the power dynamic is always (or almost always) present. In all cases, as part of the negotiation process, dominants and submissives may agree to certain rules or protocols which dictate behavior. One such protocol could be that the dominant is in charge of what the submissive wears or the dominant decides what they eat for dinner. Another protocol could be that the submissive has to ask permission before speaking or always use an honorific when speaking to the dominant, like Sir. Protocols vary wildly, are particular to the people involved, and make sense to them; they are meant to represent and reinforce the power dynamic.

Is there a book or books that are more accurate to the BDSM community than Fifty Shades of Grey?

The Ultimate Guide to Kink: BDSM, Role Play and The Erotic Edge, 50 Shades of Kink: An Introduction to BDSM, SM 101: A Realistic Introduction, Playing Well With Others: Your Field Guide to Discovering, Exploring, and Navigating The Kink, Leather and BDSM Communities, The New Topping Book, The New Bottoming Book, Screw the Roses, Send Me The Thorns, as well as books by Jack Rinella, Lee Harrington, and Midori.

How do you find kink friendly professionals like doctors or therapists?

There are two great resources I recommend: Kink Aware Professionals and The Open List.

Is rape performed by BDSM people?

The word “performed” threw me a little because my interpretation of that word could lead me down two very different roads. On the one hand, are you asking, “Do BDSM people act out consensual rape fantasies?” The answer is yes, and a stellar resource all about those kinds of fantasies is Mollena Williams who wrote the chapter “Digging in the Dirt: The Lure of Taboo Role Play” in in The Ultimate Guide to Kink. But the other interpretation is, “Do BDSM people commit rape?” Unfortunately, the answer to that question is also yes. While the vast majority of folks who practice BDSM consider consent the cornerstone of their kink, that doesn’t mean that every kinky person is immune from sexual coercion, trauma, abuse, and violence. These things are still far too common in our society. For an excellent discussion about consent, sexual assault, and BDSM, I recommend Thomas’ series of posts on the blog Yes Means Yes.

Can BDSM be addictive?

This question inspires a longer response, so it has its own post here by therapist Dr. Hernando Chaves.

Can it be hard to enjoy “vanilla” sex once you’ve escalated [to BDSM]? I’ve heard porn indulgence can desensitize people until they keep needing to escalate–is this the case with BDSM?

For this one, I asked my friend BDSM educator Felice Shays, and here is her response.

Apr 252013

Ask Tristan logo
How can gender identity affect a sexual experience or a sexual relationship (even mentally)? How can we avoid gender identity becoming a point of contestation? We are both doms.
If you are trans* or your gender identity is complex, non-normative, fluid, genderqueer, or your body doesn’t entirely reflect your gender expression, it can absolutely affect your sexual experiences and relationships. As you begin to figure out your gender identity (knowing of course that it’s still not fixed and can change), share as much of that information as you can with your partner. This includes your relationship to your body, your preferred words for your body parts, how you want to be touched, and your sexual boundaries. Communicate with your partner about words that feel authentic and sexy in relation to your body and certain sex acts—words like dick, cock, cunt, pussy, as well as “fucking” or “making love”—can be loaded for people, no matter what their gender identity is, so ask your partner what words they use in regards to their own body and then respect those choices. It’s also helpful to stick to gender-neutral adjectives instead of nouns (hard, tight, wet, open, etc.). Your gender identity should not be a “point of contestation” between the two of you. The more comfortable you are with your gender identity, and the more you can talk about it with your partner, the more likely they are to understand it. Gender identity with regard to sexuality and sexual dynamics can vary for everyone, not just trans* and genderqueer people. For example, a straight man may want to be dominated and treated like a bad girl by his female partner, a lesbian may like to imagine she’s a straight man who’s seducing another man for the first time. We often get turned on by gender and sexual dynamics that don’t match our everyday gender on the street. Even when people aren’t explicitly roleplaying, there’s a certain energy dynamic that goes into the act itself that connects to our gender identity. Make a list of what gender identities you connect to in the bedroom (and which ones you don’t), share it with your partner, then have them do the same thing and find where you overlap and connect.
Recommended: Take Me There: Trans and Genderqueer Erotica, PoMoSexuals: Challenging Assumptions About Gender and Sexuality and Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation

Mar 112013

Down and Dirty Sex Secrets

My latest audio book Down and Dirty Sex Secrets: The New and Naughty Guide to Being Great in Bedis part of the The Bright List. Susie Bright has this to say about it:

I’m picky about sex advice, but this is one of the must-have’s.

Whether you’re happily vanilla or the type who’ll try anything, this book will probably give you a few ideas to make it even more satisfying and fun, either alone or with a partner (or two).

Read more:

If you’re a fan of audio books in generally, you definitely need to be following The Bright List, Susie’s blog on the topic is excellent.


Feb 042013

The Feminist Porn Book: The Politics of Producing Pleasure
is co-edited by Celine Parreñas-Shimizu, Constance Penley, Mireille Miller-Young, and me
and is published by The Feminist Press

The Feminist Porn Book brings together for the first time writings by feminists in the adult industry and research by feminist porn scholars. This book investigates not only how feminists understand pornography, but also how feminists do porn—that is, direct, act in, produce, and consume one of the world’s most lucrative and growing industries. With original contributions by Susie Bright, Candida Royalle, Betty Dodson, Nina Hartley, Buck Angel, Lynn Comella, Jane Ward, Ariane Cruz, Kevin Heffernan, and more, The Feminist Porn Book updates the arguments of the porn wars of the 1980s, which sharply divided the women’s movement, and identifies pornography as a form of expression and labor in which women and racial and sexual minorities produce power and pleasure. Check out the book’s official website to read the table of contents and see what people like Melissa Harris-Perry, Laura Kipnis, Jack Halberstam, Lisa Duggan, Carol Queen, Annie Sprinkle, and other luminaries have said about it. I am so unbelievably excited that The Feminist Porn Book is here! This is a project that is five years in the making, and I cannot believe it’s in print.

Inspired by the book, I am producing The Feminist Porn Conference, a one-day event on April 6, 2013 at the University of Toronto during the Good For Her Feminist Porn Awards festivities. Speakers include Lynn Comella, Ariane Cruz, Loree Erickson, April Flores, Kevin Heffernan, Tobi Hill-Meyer, Shine Louise Houston, Jiz Lee, Nicholas Matte, Mireille Miller-Young, Ms. Naughty, Nenna, Bobby Noble, Celine Parreñas-Shimizu, Constance Penley, Carol Queen, Dylan Ryan, Tristan Taormino, Courtney Trouble, Madison Young, and more to be confirmed soon. Registration is now open, and Early Bird Registration Rates are good through March 1, so register today! Our host hotel is the Holiday Inn; get our special discount code here. Special thanks to our sponsors Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies, Good for Her, The Feminist Porn Awards, and The Feminist Press.

Jan 242013


Even with its flaws, Fifty Shades of Grey has become a worldwide phenomenon that simply cannot be ignored. It has sparked broad discussion and exploration of BDSM among mainstream media and everyday folks. My book, The Ultimate Guide to Kink: BDSM, Role Play and the Erotic Edge came out at a perfect time last year just as the Fifty Shades craze was taking hold. But I realized that The Ultimate Guide to Kink is not necessarily geared for beginners, so I wanted to write a prequel to it. That book was just released by Cleis Press: 50 Shades of Kink: An Introduction to BDSM. It’s an e-book available for the Kindle and the Nook. It’s the perfect book for anyone who’s been inspired by Fifty Shades of Grey, is curious about kink, wants more information, or is just beginning to explore it. 50 Shades of Kink is a practical guide that moves beyond the fantasy and gives practical advice and techniques based on real world experience. You’ll learn techniques and creative ideas for bondage, spanking, flogging, sensation play, and rough sex and how to eroticize power, cultivate deeper connections and incorporate kink into your sex life.

Jan 212013

UPDATE! The show is currently re-airing, here is a full schedule:

January 22, 9:00 pm; January 26 at 3:00 am; January 28 at 8:00 am; January 31 at 9:00 pm; February 3 at 3:00 pm; and February 5 at 9:00 am

Bestselling author and sex educator Tristan Taormino is a featured expert in “The Real 50 Shades of Grey,” the latest edition of the E! Special series, which premieres on E! Entertainment Television on January 22 at 9:00 pm. This documentary special looks at the lives and relationships of real dominants and submissives and features commentary from BDSM experts. Taormino is a sought-after speaker and commentator on a range of sexuality issues, including alternative sexual practices and communities. Her groundbreaking collection The Ultimate Guide to Kink: BDSM, Role Play and the Erotic Edge published by Cleis Press in 2012 features the work of leading kink experts from around the country. Dan Savage calls it “more than just a guide to kink, more than just a sex manual…everyone can learn from this collection.” Her latest book (also from Cleis Press), 50 Shades of Kink: An Introduction to BDSM, offers readers practical advice and techniques based on real world experience about how to eroticize power, cultivate deeper connections and incorporate kink into your sex life.

Here’s the full show description:

Whether shock, excitement or simply curiosity, it seems that everyone has a strong reaction to the bestselling erotic book trilogy that includes Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed. Having sold more than 60 million copies worldwide, the series set the record as the fastest-selling paperback of all time. What is it about the provocative lifestyle of the protagonists that has readers throughout the world riveted? Is it the non-traditional sex, the excitement of the unknown, or simply the story of love between two people expressed in a unique way? Hosted by E!’s Alicia Quarles, this one-hour special features commentary from therapists, authors and other experts about the practice, and also profiles the real-life experiences of couples who follow this lifestyle. Don’t miss a fascinating look at what used to be a very secret world in the E! Special “The Real 50 Shades of Grey” premiering Tuesday, January 22 at 9:00pm ET/PT, only on E!

In this special, real-life practitioners open up about the BDSM lifestyle. Viewers find out how they got involved, what the challenges of this lifestyle are and what they tell their families and friends about their choices. The show also looks into a high-profile case in which the sex game turned dangerous for the players, and experts weigh in on the risks and dangers of the lifestyle, and what participants must do in order to remain safe, both physically and psychologically. Find out how the “business” of bondage is growing too, as an instructor discusses the popular classes that are filling up with individuals and couples eager to enter this sexually-charged world. E! Entertainment Specials explore the hottest trends, the biggest stars and breaking stories, and “The Real 50 Shades of Grey” is part of its White Hot Winter programming in January.

Jan 152013

Sometimes She Lets Me: Best Butch/Femme Erotica
I am so thrilled to announce the release of the audio book version of my Lambda Literary Award-winning anthology Sometimes She Lets Me: Best Butch/Femme Erotica. It’s available on Amazon and Audible (you can even listen to a sample at Audible). First, I am just excited that the audio book market has really exploded recently, and audio book versions of several of my books have already been produced, including Best Lesbian Erotica 2007, Best Lesbian Erotica 2009, Best of the Best Lesbian Erotica, Hot Lesbian Erotica, and Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships (and coming soon: Down and Dirty Sex Secrets!). I think erotica books make especially good material for audio (of course) and queer erotica is where I got my start so it’s close to my heart. But what makes this one extra special is that I co-produced and narrated it! That’s right, here’s your chance to hear more than 7 hours of me talking dirty to you, reading smutty stories by folks like S. Bear Bergman, Toni Amato, D. Alexandria, Peggy Munson, Sinclair Sexsmith, Elaine Miller, Amie M. Evans, Alison Smith, and more. You’ll hear tales of the new femme in town and the butch pastry chef, the cop who passes as a guy and picks up straight girls at hip hop clubs, porn-watching butches who can’t keep their hands off each other, a sexy game of hide and seek in the woods, what happens when a femme trolls the personals for a date, one girl’s revenge on sweet-talking butches, a threesome with a power couple, girl-on-girl lipstick smearing, poetic public sex and some particularly incendiary roleplay. The stories are filled with dominant Daddies, butches with swagger, fierce femmes, strippers and sex workers, longtime lovers, femme tops, and plenty more. I promise you: it’s a good time! My producer and engineer on this project is a superstar in his own right: Dylan Keefe. Dylan is part of the team of geniuses who work on public radio show Radiolab and the bass player for Marcy Playground, an awesome 90s band famous for the song “Sex and Candy.” Dylan and I had so much fun in the studio together recording this, and we hope to collaborate on more projects together. I hope you’ll check it out, tell your friends, and enjoy this porn for your ears!