Last March, sex-positive, body-positive, and sex education-focused Please (557 5th Avenue at 15th Street) opened its doors. Since then, they have been receiving stellar reviews on Yelp from its customers.
Please is not only a boutique where you can buy adult toys, books, lotions, lubricants, ball gags, and wrist restraints — owner Sid Azmi wants you to be comfortable doing so.
“Many people envision pink neon signs when they think of buying sex toys,” says Azmi. “I purposefully wanted the store to have open windows as a way to make people feel comfortable and convey a feeling of, ‘this is okay, you can hold your head high and own your sexuality.'”
The store also prides itself on being an educator — and a myth-buster — when it comes to sexuality. Recent workshops and talks have included Rope Bondage 101 and a moms’ group called Banana Pancakes with the motto: “as far as you and I are concerned, we are all M.I.L.F.s.”
On Thursday, November 19 at 7:30, writer/educator/interdisciplinary media-maker/queer punk Tina Horn will lead a workshop called “Use Your Words: Dirty Talk” — focusing on your ability to use erogenous language.
Horn’s workshops and readings on dirty talk, spanking, and sex worker rights have been featured at a variety of international venues, including Good Vibrations, UC Berkeley, Lesbian Sex Mafia, Dark Odyssey, Catalyst Con, Red Umbrella Diaries, International Ms Leather, and the Feminist Porn Conference at University of Toronto.
Horn is also an author (look for her forthcoming Sexting — out in January from Quiver Press) and also has a podcast called Why Are People Into That? which has a non-judgmental (and very funny) approach to human sexuality. You can also follow her active twitter feed.
We had a chance to have our own kind of talk with Horn about her upcoming workshop, as well as her podcast, her thoughts about online porn, and much more.
SSN: Thanks for taking some time to talk with us, Tina. And I suppose “talk” is the operative word, right? Have you always been a verbal person?
Tina Horn: My goodness, anyone will tell you that’s the understatement of the century! I’ve always been a voracious reader, a determined writer, and an overly confident public speaker.
To me, conversation is one of life’s great pleasures. So when you combine language with life’s other great pleasure, sex, you’ve got the perfect combo! I started teaching dirty talk classes when my colleagues in dungeons and on porn sets asked me how I always managed to know what to say in a scene.
I honestly didn’t know how I did it at first, it was the most natural thing in the world to me! But since I love language, I became obsessed with sketching out a syntax of obscenity, as well as exercises and tips for developing your own dirty dialect. When I was commissioned to write a book about Sexting (out in January from Quiver Press), I had to further examine how language is changing when we use our devices to mediate that connection.
We’ve heard your podcast Why Are People Into That? and it’s both educational and also at times very funny. Does humor play a role in opening up a person’s sexual verbosity?
I’m flattered you’ve listened to the show and that you enjoy the humor. I love the absurdity of sexuality because I think it provides much needed perspective. Laughter puts people at ease, which makes them more thoughtful and compassionate.
We sometimes hear people say, “Hey, come on now, it’s sexier not to talk about it and just do it.” How would you respond to that?
I’m gonna have to get serious for a second and point out that anyone who says that must be used to a certain amount of privilege wherein they don’t have to advocate themselves and they still get what they want.
What does “just do it” mean? Just go with the will of whoever has more power or has been socialized to feel entitled to satisfaction? Just expect your partner to read your mind and then resent him when he doesn’t? Just settle for sex without deep connection because you don’t think you deserve anything better?
Naw. Sexual communication is a skill you develop with practice (and perhaps by reading some good books and coming to some good workshops). The only way you can get to that magical psychic place where you don’t have to say a word is if you do a lot of talking beforehand.
Dirty talk can be communication about boundaries, desires, and design, or it can be a sex toy unto itself, a vibrator for your mind.
Online pornography is ubiquitous. Is pornography all about the visual? Is being verbal the antithesis of pornography? And while we’re at it, how do you feel about online porn being so ubiquitous?
It’s a complete misconception that porn is primarily visual. Video is a storytelling medium that combines lighting, dialogue, movement, sound design, and all sorts of things that influence its ability to turn you on.
Some of my favorite porn to watch is my favorite primarily because of the way the performers talk to each other while they’re going at it. I get some of my best lines I use in bed from porn! Also there is a ton of written online porn, erotica, and fanfiction, which often describes transgressive desires and impossible situations you might not see in videos.
As for the ubiquitousness of porn, it’s an inevitable result of information sharing. If you want to see good porn in the world, be a conscious consumer.
Pay for membership sites or DVDs featuring content you love especially if those companies are transparent about their ethical production practices. Don’t look at tube sites, which literally take money away from the people producing the product you’re enjoying.
Have you ever had someone who took a class of yours make you blush?
What a great question! I can’t remember a specific time — it does take a LOT to make me bashful. But sometimes I start talking dirty or describing a situation and I make MYSELF flustered. Which my audience always seems to enjoy!