May 282014


This Friday for Sex Out Loud I feature one of my trailblazing influences, the “Mother of Masturbation”: Betty Dodson. Dodson is an artist, author, and PhD sexologist who authored the books Sex For One, Orgasms for Two, and My Romantic Love Wars: A Sexual Memoir. Her collaborative partner Carlin Ross is an entrepreneur and sex educator and together they are two intergenerational, sex-positive feminists whose dialogue on sexuality and feminism entertains and educates. This interview was recorded live at CatalystCon 2014 and Betty Dodson does NOT hold back about anything, so tune in to hear this unforgettable interview.

Betty Dodson, artist, author, and PhD sexologist has been one of the principal voices for women’s sexual pleasure and health for over three decades. Dodson had the first one-woman show of erotic art in ’68 in NYC followed by three others. For 25 years, she ran Bodysex groups where women learned about their bodies and orgasms through the practice of self-stimulation. Her first book, Liberating Masturbation: A Meditation on Selflove (’74) became a feminist classic. Sex for One (’87) sold over a million copies. Orgasms for Two (’02) embraces partner sex and My Romantic Love Wars: A Sexual Memoir details her experiences with America’s Sexual Revolution, the women’s movement and her feminist sexual activism with bodysex groups that she conducted for 25 years. In 1994, she earned a PhD in clinical sexology. Dodson has presented at conferences for sexual scientists, therapists, and psychologists.

Carlin Ross, entrepreneur and sex educator, has transcended her “ESQ” tagline to position herself at the forefront of female sexuality. She left her law career to create a lifestyle brand for women: cherrybomb. The site launch was featured on the front page of the NY Times on February 24, 2004. She has interviewed sexperts such as Ian Kerner, Helen Fischer, Candida Royalle, Dr. Judy Kuriansky, and Dr. Barbara Bartlik for the Sex Herald. And she has written/produced/directed several erotic features for Playgirl TV in addition to several original features – most recently Betty Dodson’s Bodysex Workshop. She has appeared on The Sharon Osbourne Show, CNN, MSNBC, and Dateline and radio shows including Afternoon Advice on Playboy Radio. She has been featured in national publications including Marie Claire and Esquire.

Sex Out Loud airs every Friday at 5 pm PT / 8 pm ET on the VoiceAmerica Variety channel. You can listen on your computer, phone, or tablet, find all the ways here!


Feb 262014


This week on Sex Out Loud, I talk with sex educator Shanna Katz about her passions around sex and sex education, specifically making sex education inclusive of all communities and how to get the information to people who often are left out of resources. She’ll also discuss her new women’s sexuality book, Your Pleasure Map, a choose-your-own-adventure style guide to hotter, naughtier, more adventurous sex.

Sex Out Loud airs every Friday at 5 pm PT / 8 pm ET on the VoiceAmerica Variety channel. You can listen on your computer, phone, or tablet, find all the ways here!

Shanna Katz, M.Ed, ACS is a queer kinky disabled femme and board certified sexologist, sexuality educator and professional pervert. From topics like relationship communication skills to non-monogamy, and oral sex to how sexuality and dis/ability intersect, she talks, writes and teaches about the huge spectrum of sexuality, both from personal and professional perspectives. She’s using her Master’s of Sexuality Education to provide accessible, open-source sex education to people around the country, and is currently working hard to bring sex education and positivity to the Southwest as well as online.

A member of the One Colorado Queer White Allies for Racial Solidarity Caucus, the American College of Sexologists, the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, and the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, as well as on the board of The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health (Pawtucket, RI) and Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (Denver, C), Shanna is actively involved in work towards equality and social justice for people of all identities. Teaching classes at colleges and universities (such as Brown University, Colorado College, SUNY-Purchase, ASU, Hofstra, U of A, etc) is one of her favorite ways to expand horizons. She also loves traveling to speak at conferences, sex toy stores, dungeons, women’s groups, LGBTQ centers, art galleries and more, and co-presenting with her partner on looking at privilege in sexuality education and LGBTQ inclusive medical practices.

She has written for many sexuality websites, had a sexuality centric radio show with widespread listeners, has had her erotica published in multiple anthologies, directed queer porn and three books; her first book “Oral Sex That’ll Blow Her Mind” is on cunnilingus for partners of all genders, her book Your Pleasure Map is a choose-your-own-adventure style of sexuality guide for women, and her book being released in February, 100 Lesbian Sex Positions. When not blogging, teaching, writing or tweeting about the oh-so-many interesting and awkward moments in her life, you can find Shanna drinking tea, eating cupcakes, and cuddling with her partner and their three rescued cats; Kinsey, Kali and Jasper. For more info, please visit her sexuality education site,


Feb 122014

heather corinna



The Valentine’s Day episode of Sex Out Loud focuses on sex education for young folks, featuring a live conversation with Heather Corinna – writer, activist, educator and founder of Scarleteen, the comprehensive sex ed resource for teens and people in their 20s. Heather and Tristan will discuss how sex ed effects everyone in society, what’s the legacy of generations who receive abstinence-only messages, and the definition of quality, progressive sex ed for young people. The show is live and they will be taking caller questions.

This week’s show is LIVE, which means we’ll be giving away a Sportsheets prize to a lucky fan. Find out all the ways to listen here so you can call in with questions and comments at 1-866-472-5788, join the discussion on Facebook or Twitter, or e-mail me via tristan(at) and I’ll read them live on the air – you could be chosen to win!

Heather Corinna is an activist, writer, artist and educator and the founder and director of, the most widely used online sex education resource for young people which has been online since 1998. She is also the author of S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-to-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and College.

Sex Out Loud airs every Friday at 5 pm PT / 8 pm ET on the VoiceAmerica Variety channel. You can listen on your computer, phone, or tablet, find all the ways here!


Dec 212013

Ask Tristan logo450

I got a letter from a guy who was just dying to make his girlfriend squirt. “I’m a bass player and have very strong hands and fingers. When I have fingered her before and really gone for it, she’s had a trickle come out. But I would love her to soak me in her juices!” he wrote. Some men are actually freaked out when a woman ejaculates; they may not understand it or they may think she’s peeing. I loved his enthusiasm, and I had plenty to say to him.

There are so many factors-and many unknowns-when it comes to female ejaculation. Every woman has a g-spot (also known as the urethral sponge), so, technically speaking, all women have the “equipment” to be able to do ejaculate. When stimulated, the tissue of the urethral sponge fills with blood, becomes engorged, and swells. The paraurethral glands surrounding the sponge fill with fluid and also swell. No one is sure why some women ejaculate often, some women do it occasionally, and some women never do. The majority of women achieve it through direct g-spot stimulation, but some can squirt via clitoral stimulation or anal penetration alone. When a woman is very aroused, (and especially when firm pressure is applied to her urethral sponge) the glands release the fluid through the urethra, and she ejaculates. The fluid is similar to fluid produced by a man’s prostate, and although it comes out the urethra, it is different from urine. The quantity of fluid and the way it comes out can also very widely. Some women produce a lot of fluid, others only a little; some gush like a fountain while others dribble. Many women fall in between the two ends of the spectrum, and, of course, some experience one or the other depending on the situation.

As we communicated, it was clear that the letter writer had a good grip on technique in terms of finding that spongy area about an inch and a half to two inches inside the pussy and using firm, deliberate motion with his fingers. I also encouraged him to get his girlfriend as turned on as possible before even starting to work her g-spot. The more aroused she is, the more her urethral sponge will swell and fill with fluid. Use a “come here” motion with fingers or a very firm toy (like one made of acrylic, glass, or metal) or act like you’re almost pulling down on the g-spot. If you’ve got something big inside her-four or more fingers, a large dildo, or your cock-you may have to pull out and switch to just two fingers. Something large can actually block the urethra and either prevent ejaculation or lessen its potential explosive delivery. The best way to get my ex-girlfriend to squirt was to fist her and work her g-spot with the knuckle of my thumb as I pumped my hand in and out of her pussy. But once she felt like she was going to squirt (and she knew, so she’d always tell me), I had to slide my hand out, and replace it with only a finger or two. Then, I’d basically press firmly on her g-spot and out the fluid would come!

My ex knew a lot about her own ejaculation process, what worked and what didn’t. But if the potential squirter is a novice, the first thing she needs to do is relax-as much as one can relax when they’re really turned on! Then she should bear down slightly as if she is trying to push something out of her pussy. This is one of the toughest things for women to do because many are afraid they’re going to pee. But bearing down will help push the fluid out the urethra. In fact, often, just before a woman is about to squirt, she has that urgent “I’ve gotta pee feeling” and she may also have this sense of overstimulation. Sometimes, both these feelings make her stop. Once it feels like too much, that’s often the edge of ejaculation, and if you keep going, then you’ll squirt.

Some experienced squirters say that once they squirt the first time, if they continue the stimulation, they can do it several times more. In fact, the first time I ever saw a woman ejaculate was at a sex party. I ran into my friend Kim in the bathroom. She was obviously fresh from some kind of escapade, and she said, “Dave made me gush like crazy!” I was curious, so she said, “Wanna see?” She grabbed me and dragged me out of the ladies’ room to a corner of one of the playrooms. She slipped two fingers inside her pussy and made herself ejaculate. “Once I start,” she said, “I can just keep going and going!”

So, I gave this guy some advice and information, but there was another point I really wanted to stress. This is important in the wake of the increased discussion about g-spot stimulation and female ejaculation in books, articles, and on the Web. Sometimes women feel like if they don’t enjoy this kind of stimulation or they can’t ejaculate, then they’ve failed in some way. I want to caution you about any kind of goal-oriented sex. I think it’s fun to explore new things, but it’s also important to value your sexuality as it is. Maybe this guy’s girlfriend will only ejaculate occasionally and maybe she’s a “leaker” or a “dribbler” rather than a geyser of gush. That may be just they way her body works. That’s okay. I don’t want any woman to feel pressure to perform in some way or to do something that doesn’t turn her on. Sometimes, we really buy into the whole bigger-is-better ideal and lose sight of the fact that our sexuality can be amazing just as it is.

Nov 152013

The infamous sex toy reviewer and blogger Epiphora did a fantastic sex toy gift guide on the November 15 episode of Sex Out Loud, so we are sharing it here! –Tristan


LELO Mona 2 vibratorMy #1 pick is the Mona 2 vibrator from LELO. I’ve become so obsessed with this toy lately that I’m pretty sure everyone’s getting sick of hearing about it. But it covers all the bases: it’s rechargeable, strong, fully submersible in water, and the shape is just awesome. It has a bulbous end for great G-spot stimulation, but it’s also sort of tapered on one side, so it sits nicely between the labia when used clitorally. It also has incredible range in terms of vibration, so a person who doesn’t know how much power they need yet can find out.

As a bonus, it comes in a box that’s already perfect for gift-giving. You can literally just toss a bow around it and be done. Which is great because I’m already having flash-forwards to how much peppermint schnapps I’m going to have to drink while I wrap presents this year, just to make it bearable.

We-Vibe Touch vibratorLELO Mia 2 vibrator
If you’re looking for a solid clitoral vibe, my favorite rechargeables are the We-Vibe Touch and LELO Mia. The We-Vibe Touch is one of the most powerful rechargeable clit vibes I’ve ever tried, which, of course, I love, and the LELO Mia is USB rechargeable, so it’s basically the best travel vibe ever.

Pleasure Works Silver Bullet vibratorPleasure Works Diving Dolphin vibrator sleevePleasure Works Wild Hare vibrator sleeve
Pleasure Works makes a couple 100% silicone sleeves called the Diving Dolphin and Wild Hare, and those fit over any vibrator with a diameter of an inch or so. They fit perfectly over the Silver Bullet, which consequently is an excellent starter vibe, and they give it some extra grip, too, which is awesome.


Vixen Creations VixSkin dildos

Some of my favorite dildos of all-time are the dildos made by Vixen Creations. They have a dual-density pure silicone called VixSkin that is highly detailed, delightfully squishy, and will last a lifetime. I’m addicted to it, to put it mildly.

Tantus Rocket dildoPleasure Works Siren dildoLELO Ella dildo
I’m also a big fan of G-spot dildos. If your gift recipient is new to G-spot stimulation, a really simple silicone dildo with a good G-spotting head will do the trick. I really like the Tantus Rocket, the Pleasure Works Siren, and the LELO Ella.

njoy Pure Wand dildoNobEssence Seduction dildoJopen Key Comet G Wand dildo
But if they’ve already found their G-spot and want to up the ante a bit — perhaps even learn to squirt — I absolutely adore the njoy Pure Wand, which is stainless steel, the NobEssence Seduction which is made of wood, and the Jopen Key Comet G Wand, which is half-glass and half-silicone. All of them are basically G-spot homing missiles, so you can’t go wrong.

Fun Factory Stronic Eins pulsatorTantus Splash dildoCrystal Delights Crystal Twist
But what if the person you’re buying for already has a hefty sex toy collection? I’d suggest a toy that offers a truly unique sensation, and I would know which ones do because I have a very discerning vagina. I suggest you check out Fun Factory’s Stronic line. These toys do not have traditional motors; they actually contain weights that move back and forth. Yes, like a Shake Weight. Except for your vagina. And a lot more useful. The Stronics are not cheap, but I think they’re worth it. And I don’t say that a lot about $200 toys.

If $200 is a bit much, and I don’t blame you there, look up the Tantus Splash or Crystal Delights Crystal Twist. These two dildos are oddly shaped, yet feel so wonderful because of it.

Anal Toys

Fun Factory Bootie butt plugnjoy Pure Plug butt plugNobEssence Romp butt plug
If your gift recipient has never tried anal play, I would suggest the Fun Factory Bootie, a little silicone plug with a curved tip. It’s cute, small, and it has a great base.

If they’re more well-versed in anal, they’ll love the njoy Pure Plug, which is stainless steel, or the NobEssence Romp, which is wood. Both feel amazing and really have that “wow” factor when you open them because they’re so gorgeous.

Kegel Balls

LELO Luna Beads kegel balls

My favorite kegel balls — and I’ve tried quite a few — are the LELO Luna Beads. These are inserted vaginally and can be worn around, to make mundane tasks less excruciating. Oh, yeah, and they tone the PC muscles, too. But mostly the sensation of the inner balls rolling around is just really fun.


Fleshlight line-up

Fleshlights are awesome. My boyfriend is super picky about sleeves, but he loves the luscious material used to make Fleshlights… as do I (you can sometimes find me casually fingering one). There are about a million to choose from, from basic orifices to extremely detailed porn star vulvas. There’s even a build-your-own option.

Other Stuff

Sportsheets Under the Bed Restraint System

If you want to veer off the traditional sex toy path, there’s always the Sportsheets Under the Bed Restraint System. This thing basically turns any bed into a bondage playground, complete with both wrist and ankle cuffs. And when you’re done, you can just toss the straps and cuffs under the mattress, effectively hiding them away from your kids… or in my case, my cats.

Sliquid lube is the best

And finally, I must mention lube! It’s the best. Everyone should use it. My favorite brand is Sliquid, because all of their lubes are glycerin- and paraben- free. I say get some lube samples and stuff them in a stocking. Plus then you can do a lube flight and find out what both of you like.

Can’t decide?

If you can’t decide, and if I’m overwhelming you with suggestions, see if your favorite sex shop does gift certificates (hint: Good Vibes, Babeland, SheVibe, Early to Bed, Come As You Are, and Tantus all do). One thing you can do is make a list of potential toys to show your partner — you could even put together a sex toy brochure or menu or something — but leave the final say up to them. This shows that you put some effort and research into it, but ultimately you’re giving them the reins. People love having the reins.

Oct 282013


Tristan Taormino welcomes Dr. Joycelyn Elders and Jackie Strano to Sex Out Loud on Friday, November 1, 2013 at 5:00 pm Pacfic time, 8:00 pm Eastern time on the VoiceAmerica Talk Radio Network. Taormino interviewed Dr. Elders in person at CatalystCon West in Woodland Hills, California, where Elders gave the closing keynote talk last month.

During the interview, Dr. Elders recalled growing up in rural, segregated, poverty-stricken Schaal, Arkansas and how it ultimately impacted her lifelong dedication to public health. Dr. Elders talked about her appointment as U.S. Surgeon General by President Bill Clinton in 1993 and how she was forced to resign over a controversy about her public statements about safer sex, masturbation, and sex education. Elders and Taormino discussed abstinence-only sex education, the current state of HIV/AIDS, and how we can empower young people around their sexuality.

dr eldersDr. Joycelyn Elders, the first person in the state of Arkansas to become board certified in pediatric endocrinology, was the sixteenth Surgeon General of the United States, the first African American and only the second woman to head the U.S. Public Health Service. Long an outspoken advocate of public health, Elders was appointed Surgeon General by President Clinton in 1993. In 1995, she returned to her alma mater, the University of Arkansas School of Medicine, as a faculty researcher and professor of pediatric endocrinology at the Arkansas Children’s Hospital. In 1996, she wrote her autobiography, Joycelyn Elders, M.D.: From Sharecropper’s Daughter to Surgeon General of the United States of America. Now retired from practice, Dr. Elders has teamed up with the University of Minnesota Medical School, which has created The Joycelyn Elders Chair in Sexual Health Education to advance the design, evaluation, and dissemination of essential sexual health curriculum for all individuals as well as training for allied health care providers and education professionals.

“It was an honor and a privilege to speak to Dr. Elders,” says Taormino. “She is such an inspiration to sex educators everywhere. She’s bold, unapologetic, and fearless about her commitment to comprehensive sex education in our country. Plus, she’s very feisty—I can’t believe some of the things she said!”

The second half of the show will feature Jackie Strano, Executive Vice President of Good Vibrations, the presenting sponsor of Sex Out Loud. Strano was at CatalystCon West for Dr. Elders’ keynote. “Dr. Elders is one of my personal sex positive icons for her bravery and for telling a simple and necessary truth during a climate of intense fear around sexuality in this country’s history,” says Strano. “For the last 19 years, Good Vibrations has dedicated the month of May as ‘Masturbation Month’ in homage to Elders’ bravery and commitment to pleasure, sex positivity and sex education.” In their interview, Taormino and Strano talk about the state of sex education in America, why sex-positive retail stores are so important, and how Good Vibrations has paired with various non-profit sex-positive organizations to raise money and awareness.

jackie stranoJackie Strano is the Executive Vice President of Good Vibrations the legendary feminist sex positive adult retailer founded in 1977. Strano is an award winning and best-selling adult filmmaker of explicit and non-explicit sex-ed movies, a sex educator for over 20 years, author, performer, producer, and has lectured at conferences, universities, and appeared on HBO, various documentaries, and featured in Cosmo, Playboy, Self Magazine, Salon, The Village Voice, and various independent newspapers throughout the country.

“Tristan continues to deliver high quality shows week after week on Sex Out Loud,” says Karen Dana, Executive Producer of the show at VoiceAmerica. “Not only does she have top-notch guests from a variety of fields, but her conversations with them are thoughtful, provocative, and inspirational. That’s what makes Sex Out Loud the highest-rated show on the entire VoiceAmerica Network.”

Sex Out Loud airs live on Fridays at 5 pm Pacific / 7 pm Central / 8 pm Eastern on The VoiceAmerica Variety Channel. All shows will be available in Tristan Taormino’s Content Library on The VoiceAmerica Variety Channel for on-demand and podcast download. It is sponsored by Good Vibrations, Astroglide, We-Vibe, and Sportsheets.

About Sex Out Loud®:

Sex Out Loud explores the world of sexuality from every angle with host Tristan Taormino®, who interviews leading authors, educators, artists and icons and gives listeners an uncensored, inside look at alternative sexual practices and communities. Guests have included Dan Savage, Susie Bright, Jessica Valenti, Kandi Burruss, and Margaret Cho. Sex Out Loud airs live on Fridays at 5 pm Pacific / 7 pm Central / 8 pm Eastern on The VoiceAmerica Variety Channel; it is the number one rated show across the entire VoiceAmerica Talk Radio Network. Tristan Taormino is an award winning author, sex educator, speaker, and filmmaker. She is the author of seven books and editor of twenty-five anthologies. She has appeared on Melissa Harris-Perry, Joy Behar: Say Anything, HBO’s Real Sex, Ricki Lake, and The Howard Stern Show. She lectures at top colleges and universities and teaches sex and relationship classes around the world.

About Good Vibrations:
Good Vibrations is a diverse, woman-focused retailer providing high-quality, sex-positive products and non-judgmental, accurate sex information through our clean and comfortable stores, catalog, web site, wholesale division, product and movie production lines in order to enhance our customers’ sex lives and promote healthy attitudes about sex. We recognize that sexuality touches on every aspect of our lives and that many people face challenges around positive sexual expression. Our goal is to help everyone we come into contact with to discover ways to experience sexual pleasure, health, and well-being. Since sexual diversity is a core component of the human experience and each person’s sexuality will change over the lifespan, we welcome all forms of consensual sexual expression, desire, and fantasy. Good Vibrations strives to be an agent for social change, through the lenses of sexuality, diversity and ethical business practices. Both within our organization, and throughout the communities we serve, we are committed to fostering respect, promoting supportive communication, providing access to educational resources and strongly advocating for women in leadership roles.

About VoiceAmerica/World Talk Radio, LLC:

World Talk Radio, LLC is the world leader in online media broadcasting and the largest producer and distributor of live internet based talk radio and TV, delivering more than 200 hosts broadcasting to eight niche community based channels and over 1,000 hours of programming weekly on its VoiceAmerica™ Network and WorldTalk Radio Network as well as live and on-demand video content on VoiceAmerica.TV. World Talk Radio, LLC is one of the pioneers in internet broadcasting, producing and syndicating online audio and video, offering an innovative, effective and comprehensive digital broadcast platform.


Oct 212013

The fabulous students who work at the Pollock Theater at University of California-Santa Barbara created this video of the Feminist Porn Mini Con, which happened in May at UCSB. It features many contributors to The Feminist Porn Book: The Politics of Producing Pleasure, including UCSB professors Constance Penley, Celine Parreñas Shimizu, and Mireille Miller-Young, Professor Kevin Heffernan of Southern Methodist University, directors Tristan Taormino and Carlos Batts, and performers Jiz Lee, Dylan Ryan, Sinnamon Love, and April Flores. Watch it now: Feminist Porn Mini Con on UCTV.

Sep 202013


Tristan Taormino talks to Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen about the recent HIV scare in the adult industry and her decision to go condom only. Check out the video piece here and the longer written article here.

Sep 202013

Skin Diamond and Derrick Pierce from my new movie, Tristan Taormino’s Guide to Bondage for Couples

Recently, three adult industry performers tested positive for HIV, and there are unconfirmed, conflicting reports that there may be other performers who’ve tested positive. My heart goes out to all of them because it’s a life-changing diagnosis. I’m not interested in debating whether they contracted it on or off set, and I’m dismayed that people within the industry continue to engage in assumptions and finger-pointing about the now HIV positive performers. The important thing is that in the (albeit short) window of time between contracting the virus and receiving a positive test, they could have exposed other performers. These revelations—along with the recent syphilis scare and rumors that a male performer with Hepatitis C has been working without disclosing his status—have once again stimulated the public discussion about condoms in porn. These events, along with feedback from performers who said they’ve felt pressured not to use condoms in the past out of fear of losing work, have caused me to rethink my position.

From now on, I will require all performers I work with to test for STIs according to industry standards[1] and to use condoms in their scenes. Until now, I have adhered to industry standard STI testing and my sets have been condom optional, which, for me means that performers truly can choose to use condoms or not and I always have condoms available. I’ve shot several scenes with condoms (and other safer sex barriers), but the majority of the scenes have been condom-free. Because I want to empower performers to make decisions about all aspects of the work they do, I have respected their decisions in the past not to use condoms. I still want performers to have choices, and they can choose not to work with me if they don’t want to use condoms.

As a feminist pornographer, part of my mission is to support fair labor practices and create a positive work environment on my sets. The health, well being, and safety of the performers is my priority, and I believe that using condoms in addition to rigorous testing is the best way to prevent STI transmission. In the past, I have publicly spoken out against Measure B (as in this piece for The Huffington Post). I am still against mandatory condoms and government regulation of the adult industry. I still believe that the current fight is all about politics, not workers’ safety and rights. But my position on the use of condoms in my own productions has changed. I am not leveling judgment against producers, directors, or performers who choose not to use condoms. I am making the best decision I can based on my dedication to feminist and ethical production practices.

Condoms are not the only answer and not without issues. Performer, registered nurse, and activist Nina Hartley gives a compelling argument about why she believes that condoms can do more harm than good (briefly: she argues that condom use on porn sets causes “condom rash” leading to internal tissue damage that could increase the chances of STI transmission). Condoms don’t protect against every STI including herpes, chlamydia, and HPV, but they are an effective barrier for others STIs including HIV. Some people have latex allergies or sensitivities, and some can develop an allergy after repeated exposure to latex. There are several non-latex condoms, which many people report don’t have the same abrasive qualities as latex. Unfortunately, these alternatives don’t come in the range of sizes that latex condoms do, and, let’s face it, one-size-fits-most doesn’t apply to porn guys. I have always consulted with performers about what I can do to make their job safer and better. I will do the same when it comes to working with condoms. I will strive to find creative ways to decrease the amount of intercourse they have, thus decreasing wear and tear on their bodies (especially the bodies of female performers). I will consider requests by fluid-bonded couples who don’t want to use condoms. I will be a part of an open and ongoing dialogue and adapt as testing technology changes and safer sex practices evolve.

Safer sex issues have been a part of my professional life since I became a sex educator. But the news of HIV in the industry has a very personal dimension for me. My father, a gay man, was diagnosed with AIDS in 1993, and he died in 1995. That was before the good drugs, the cocktail, when AIDS was a death sentence. This hits far too close to home for me, and I’ve got to make a change as a result. Plenty of people say that no one wants to see condoms in porn. That no one cares about the safety of the people who make the images they masturbate to. I hope to prove them wrong, and I hope you, my audience, will help me do it.

P.S. On this subject, I’m quoted in this piece by Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen on CNN.


*   *   *   *   *


Because this is ultimately about the sex workers, their bodies, and their labor, I think it’s important to feature their voices in this discussion. This week, I publicly asked performers to anonymously respond to this question: If the choice was entirely yours—not a mandate, not law, not what viewers want, just completely up to you—would you use condoms when you perform? Why or why not? Here are some of their responses. Some of them have been edited and excerpted for length.

“Perhaps I was delusional, but there was a time where I really trusted everyone in porn. I thought we all had this secret handshake, like none of us would ever jeopardize each other’s health and we all agreed to the same code of conduct off camera. I will admit I was pretty sexually irresponsible before porn; I had a lot of partners and I rarely used condoms. Once I started doing porn, all of that behavior stopped. I knew I couldn’t do that anymore because I didn’t just have to think about myself anymore. For some reason, I assumed everyone else was the same way. I felt really safe in the industry for a long time and if anyone were to ask me about using a condom on set I would have laughed, and said they would be uncomfortable and unnecessary. Condoms to me were things that you used if you were having a one night stand with someone you didn’t know—not things you used with people you knew and trusted. Unfortunately, I don’t feel that way anymore. I think condoms are necessary now. I wish it wasn’t that way but it is. I blame a lot of this on piracy. All the tube sites and the torrent sites have made all the studios make less money. A lot of people feel less inclined to adhere to a certain code of conduct, because they just aren’t working that much or they are working for less than what they want, etc. It’s a bad domino effect. I don’t love the state that porn is in at the moment and perhaps these HIV outbreaks were a good wake up call to anyone who is irresponsible, but I think we have to adapt with the times, and now, I think condoms are necessary.”

“I don’t think this question can be answered in a vacuum. If you were to ask me whether I prefer to have sex with condoms in general, the answer would be, ‘No.’ It’s not even the sensation. I don’t like the smell. That said, I’ve had plenty of condom sex. Prior to porn becoming a significant part of my life, I always used condoms. They were never a deterrent from sex. I feel like porn has allowed for condom-less sex as a sort of privilege. I’ve gotten used to it. It’s been over three years since I’ve had sex with someone who wasn’t a recently tested, industry performer. As a man who has sex almost exclusively as a top (at least in regards to who is penetrating who) at this point in his life, I’m honestly not too worried about contracting STIs like HIV or Hepatitis. However, I understand that my partners may feel differently. Women who do boy/girl scenes in straight porn (and men who bottom in gay porn) are at a higher risk of contracting non-curable, potentially life-threatening STIs like HIV. So I have to ask myself whether using condoms is going to benefit the industry as a whole. I don’t honestly know the answer to that question. The industry is in flux and many things have yet to play out. All I can say is that I’m happy to use condoms when it is an option and my partner feels safer with them. I don’t believe hot sex and barrier protection are mutually exclusive. However, I don’t see a direct correlation between a lack of barrier protection and the current problems plaguing the adult industry. STI exposure incidents will continue to put a hold on production regardless of whether condoms are used or not. It is my opinion that economic disruption of adult media is driving many performers to unregulated forms of sex work that put them at higher risk for contracting STIs. The testing system is doing its job to keep these performers—once infected—from re-entering the talent pool. It just so happens that major flaws were discovered in the system over the past six months. As a result, testing protocol has become increasingly strict. While the kinks are being worked out, I commend producers who will allow performers the option to use condoms.”

“I’m not interested in performing with condoms, though I occasionally do so, whether it’s my scene partner’s preference, the producer’s rule, or (rarely) because I don’t trust my partner’s lifestyle choices. In that case, or if she doesn’t seem well, or depending on the freshness of her test, I have requested condoms, and I have never experienced pushback from a director on my choice. All-natural sex on camera is more intimate, exciting and trust-based. That’s what I look for in a scene as a viewer and that’s what I try to create as an artist. I want to be a safe place for my scene partner to let her sexual instincts express themselves. With condoms there is literally something between us, and the instinctual fantasies are dulled. HIV is not a major concern for me. In 500-plus scenes, I have never contracted an STI, though I tend to shoot with established and/or professional, safety-conscious scene partners…We need standards. Agents and producers are betraying their talent when they promote performers who don’t respect the work we’re doing. I think performers doing privates/prostitution and heavy drug use is a far bigger issue than this current condom debate.”

“If the choice were completely mine, I would use a condom for EVERY scene/performance. I believe that it is safer for performers to use condoms, period. I do not accept the arguments put forth by FSC and other industry leaders/lawyers that condoms are more dangerous to a performer’s health. I do not accept that condoms being used in our industry would significantly hurt sales, in fact I believe it would benefit our industry’s image. The only reason I do not request condoms, outside of or Wicked (who support condom use), is because I know I will not be rehired IF they even honor the request at the time. I have witnessed talent blacklisted by companies because the girl has asked to use a condom. I think it would be more responsible for our industry and our industry’s reputation to promote safe sex practices to the general public. Personally, I don’t feel that the anti-condom sentiment expressed by the industry reflects the true feelings of the performers, especially female performers.”

“If the choice was mine and when the choice is mine, I choose to use condoms. I still think testing is critical and that testing should be much more frequent.  An STI test that was taken the week of the production coupled with condoms and gloves would be ideal and would be closer to mirroring what I want from a new partner in my personal life. I think condoms can be sexy.  Safer sex can be sexy.  I want condoms and a test when I’m having sex with a partner on or off screen.  A couple of reasons play into this including greatly reducing risk of STI transmission, doing what I feel is necessary to protect my body, feeling confident and turned on by the fact that we are being healthy and aware of our bodies, feeling turned on by communicating, stating boundaries, and sticking to boundaries and limits that are set to protect both myself and my partners, and lastly feeling a certain obligation knowing that the sex I’m having will be viewed by others and that if I can make safer sex sexy then I can encourage the use of gloves and condoms (on cocks and toys) for the general viewing/porn consuming public.”

“My ideal situation is presenting a clear, basic STI test of 14 days, being able to communicate with my co-star about any other known sexual health concerns, AND the use of safer sex barriers such as condoms and gloves. I prefer testing AND condoms, and I want this preference to not only be the choice made by me and my co-star, but also be a choice that is fully supported by the production team. My experience with the majority of productions that were “okay” with condom use for heterosexual scenes have demonstrated to me that condom use is uncommon in porn at best, and discouraged/prevented at worse. I’ve shown up on sets where no condoms were available, and once a crew member offered one of his own, stored in the hot glove compartment of his car. (For obvious reasons, I immediately started bringing my own safer sex kit to shoots.) In queer/feminist-minded (what I’ll simply call “GOOD”) porn environments, condoms were not only allowed, not only encouraged, but actually SUPPLIED…Ultimately, how I shoot is up to me, yet I often have to compromise safer sex practices due to perceived marketability. It has always been a disappointment. I would appreciate the opportunity for myself—and anyone else—to work the way I want.”

“Most mainstream companies are not willing to allow performers to chose whether or not they use condoms in their scenes. Burning Angel has decided with all of the recent unfortunate happenings in the industry, that it should be at performers’ discretion as to whether or not they want to use condoms in their scenes…I am super appreciative that they have made this choice to benefit their performers’ health and safety at any cost. I feel that this choice demonstrates a lot of what I stand for in this industry, which is to promote boundaries, consent, and healthy sexual choices.”

“If the choice was entirely mine, I would not use condoms when I perform. Condoms and my vagina don’t get along so well. I always get very irritated internally after shooting a scene with a condom. From what I understand, this makes me more, not less, susceptible to STDs and infection.  Also, I don’t completely trust condoms to prevent STDs. Condoms break and fail. I would never have sex with someone, on or off camera, with just a condom and no test.”

“To me, the idea of using condoms—or not—is a very personal choice. When used correctly, condoms do lessen the spread of HIV and certain STIs, but they don’t protect against everything. While there are a select number of companies that will “allow” talent to use condoms (and one company that has been 100% condom ONLY for 14 years) many companies discourage the use of condoms because their sales will suffer. I also think it is VERY important to realize that no one entity can possibly be the voice for all performers and say that ALL talent wishes they were condom only. For example, even on a condom-only set, performers complain about having to use condoms and try to remove them during the softcore portion of the filming, citing discomfort for both players, as well as a struggle for the male performer to stay erect. I would like the choice to use condoms without the government mandating what I must do with my body while I am engaged in a very intimate act. I think that educating performers will be the key to enabling them to make informed decisions about their personal safety.”

“If the choice was completely up to me, I’d use condoms in porn with almost everyone, and use my discretion with the partner I’m fluid bonded to. Frankly, I’d *still* want to get tested, and have any sexual partners get tested (condoms break, after all); but hormonal birth control messes my body up and I’d rather use condoms as a form of barrier. Plus, I like to be an example to others and prove that safer sex can and is hot in the context of sexual experiences! I honestly find it sexy and want to demonstrate why on film so others can see that for themselves. I wouldn’t want to be forced to wear condoms without testing being required, which is what could happen, or have porn companies not hire me because I prefer to use condoms, which is what happens now. I’d prefer to make my own decisions.”

[1]Industry standards for testing are constantly evolving. Currently, a performer must test negative every 14 days or less for gonorrhea, chlamydia, Hepatitis A and B, syphilis, trichomoniasis, and HIV. The testing period was decreased from 30 days to 14 days just this week.

Sep 102013

cleo dubois

This Friday, September 13th at 5pm PT / 8 pm ET, I interview educator, ritualist, and founder of the Academy of S/M Arts, Cleo Dubois. Dubois enjoys guiding both newcomers and experts on sophisticated techniques related to kink and BDSM and she’ll discuss how consensual powerplay is a valid path to self-discovery, intimacy and healing. We’ll get a peak inside her popular intensive weekends for dominants taught at the San Francisco Citadel and hear highlights from her blog, In Kink With Heart, true stories of her 30 years in the scene.

This week’s show is live, so find out all the ways to listen here so you can call in with questions at 1-866-472-5788, join the discussion on Facebook or Twitter, or e-mail me via tristan(at) and I’ll read them live on the air!

Cleo Dubois is a BDSM Educator, ritualist, and creator of the Academy of S/M Arts. A versatile sadomasochist , she came out in the San Francisco Leather Scene in the early 80s. She made two popular docu-films, “The Pain Game” and “Tie Me Up,” & presents at local and national leather events. She offers, with Eve Minax, Erotic Dominance Intensives Weekends focused on connecting heat, heart and spirit in our consensual power play. Helping new comers embrace their kink and mentoring couple play in the privacy of her dungeon are her specialties.