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Top 5 Love Lessons from “The Bachelor” (Iowa + Hometowns)

February 17th, 2015

from “The Bachelor’s” hysterical Twitter feed

It’s kind of ironic that “Fifty Shades of Grey,” with its helipads and helicopters and gliders and penthouses and fancy cars, came out the same weekend “The Bachelor” aired its least glamorous episodes ever, featuring the scent of manure in the air, the shuttered businesses of a 400-person town, the fluorescent-lit high-school hallways of one’s glory days, the tattered drapes and 80s-style couches of three-star midwestern hotels… (Seriously, shouldn’t these ladies be traipsing quaint European villages by now?) In a first for the show, the producers pulled back the curtain to reveal the real Bachelor with all the bells and whistles removed — in this case, Chris Soules in his natural habitat, a ghost of a town called Arlington, Iowa. The ladies quickly learned that life with Prince Farming would include fifty shades of corn and not much else. That only one of the remaining contestants expressed a real impulse to run just goes to show how lights, cameras, too little food, and too many cocktails can really impair one’s judgment.

Don’t let your romantic judgment be impaired, either: learn the dating lessons from this week’s double feature of  ”The Bachelor” right here, right now:

  1. Beware the man who’s main method of communication is silent bobble-heading. Also, look out for someone who, when he’s at a loss for words, immediately starts making out just to fill the long, awkward pauses.
  2. Talking shit about other women to your date is unattractive. Only do it if you want to get dumped.
  3. If you feel you are being mistreated in your relationship, by all means speak up and speak your mind to your partner. But do it in private, not in front of other people — especially if those other people are interested in your partner for themselves.
  4. Everyone makes mistakes. Even if you have regrets in your past, own them. Don’t treat them like a mutant half-sister you secretly keep locked in your attic (unless, of course, your regret is enslaving your monster sibling). So, you took some nude photos on a lark — so what? The bigger the deal you make of these kind of mistakes to your date, the worse they’ll seem.
  5. Don’t throw your friends and relatives under the bus in a paternalistic effort to protect them from getting their hearts broken. Let them make — and learn from — their own romantic mistakes.

Read up on last week’s love lessons learned from “The Bachelor.” 

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Your Weekly Horoscopes: February 16th, 2015

February 16th, 2015

grandcentral_ceiling_421photo by Simply Schmoopie

Each week, we at EMandLO.com predict the course of your love life for the week with our own version of irreverent horoscopes — ignore our advice at your own peril. (Hyperbole intended for dramatic effect.)

aries (Mar. 21st-Apr. 20th)
Be the ball this week and play hard to get. Don’t let anybody scoop you up and slam dunk you, at least not yet. Make them chase after you, break a sweat. Make them work for your balls. We mean, your ball.

taurus (Apr. 21st-May 20th)
Hey big spender, put your wallet away. If it’s your hard-earned dollars winning someone over, are they really worth winning? Even if it’s your easily-come-by trust fund dollars doing the winning? Okay, so let’s just say, hypothetically, that they really are that hot, and you really are that superficial. How are you going to hold onto your gold-digging hottie if the economy takes another turn for the worse? Plan for the future by being generous of heart but stingy of wallet for a while. If you find yourself tempted to spend!-spend!-spend!, then feel free to send us presents.

gemini (May 21st-June 21st)
If you’re more fun than a barrel of monkeys, you’ll have no problem attracting attention this week. If you’re not in one of your “fun” moods, well, sucks to be you. Brute force just won’t cut it, sorry — as Bonnie Raitt twanged, you can’t make them love you. Better luck next time.

cancer (June 22nd-July 22nd)
Love is all around you like flies on poop this week. Just say what’s on your mind, and things will get hotter in the bedroom than a bag of dog crap set on fire and left on some poor soul’s doorstep on Goosey Night.

leo (July 23rd-Aug. 22nd)
To say that you’re not in a committing mood right now is putting it lightly. The devil on your shoulder is yelling “Run away! Run away!” every five minutes. And the angel’s not much help, either; she simply suggests that a brisk walk away might be both safer and more polite. We don’t want to change you (after all, we’re here to love you just the way you are) but then again, we’re not dating you. If you’re going to keep lovin’ and leavin’ em, at least have the decency to warn potential victims ahead of time so they have a chance to run first.

virgo (Aug. 23rd-Sept. 22nd)
Someone may try to push you to make a decision regarding a relationship. If you have to think about it, you probably aren’t ready to move that fast. Then again, maybe you just haven’t had your morning coffee yet and are feeling a little sluggish. Perhaps you have a head cold, or are hungover, and just need time to wake up and smell the roses of romance. Still, chances are you’re a selfish, immature bastard who’s afraid to grow up and won’t commit. At least we’ll still love you.

libra (Sept. 23rd-Oct. 23rd)
We hate to be the ones to break it to you, but you can’t always be Cinderella. And this week, the shoe doesn’t fit. No matter how many toes you hack off — at least, that’s how it went in the rather gruesome version of the fairy tale we remember, thanks Mom and Dad — this glass slipper relationship is still not going to be right for you. And don’t think you can get away with rationalizing that “it’ll do for now. ” ‘Cause if you insist on shoving your big-ass ugly feet into those glass slippers while you wait for your own prince(ss) charming to come along, when s/he finally does, you’ll have so many blisters that you’ll be unfit for any kind of shoe. Even those super comfy “looks like a pump, feels like a sneaker” kind.

scorpio (Oct. 24th-Nov. 22nd)
So maybe there’s no Santa Claus, and perhaps the tooth fairy turned out to be pretty damned useless once you’d got all your grown-up teeth. But yes, Virginia, there is a Cupid, and this week, he’s in your corner. So make like Rocky and own the ring; with any luck, by sundown Friday you’ll be yelling “Adrian! Adrian!” in the throes of passion. Actually, come to think of it, best not to say “Adrian” unless you’re actually sleeping with one. Using your luvver’s own name adds a nice personal touch.

sagittarius (Nov. 23rd-Dec. 21st)
If you feel like someone’s backing you into a corner, then dump them. Of course, you, could feel backed into a corner on the open, sprawling moors of England. Make sure you’re not blowing any pressure out of proportion. Is it really so big a deal for them to leave a toothbrush at your house if they’re ending up in your bed, at your invitation, every night? The matching track suits, however, is grounds to lose their number forever.

capricorn (Dec. 22nd-Jan. 20th)
It’s time to get in touch with your inner, black-clad, shit-kicker-boots-wearing, whip-wielding, six-foot-two dominatrix. Her name is Cassandra. Channel her energy this week and you should get whatever and whomever you want. You might even find someone to kiss your feet and clean your bathroom. Domination has its privileges.

aquarius (Jan. 21st-Feb. 18th)
You’re a player, Cap. But this week, prepare to get played. Wear your helmet and brace for heartache.

pisces (Feb. 19th-Mar. 20th)
Tongue tied, short of breath, don’t even try, try a little harder. Something’s wrong, you’re not naive, you must must be strong. Ooh, baby, try, move a little closer. You’re too shy shy . . . It’s like Kajagoogoo wrote that song just for you this week.


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How the “Fifty Shades” Movie Is Better Than the Book

February 16th, 2015

Yes, the movie was better than the book. Of course, if you’ve read the book, then you know that’s not saying much. The bar was pretty low to begin with. And one would hope that with a 40 mil production budget and a feminist director, that bar would inevitably be raised pretty high. Of course, as it’s been widely reported, the author E.L. James did everything she could to keep that bar right where it was, for the sake of her die-hard fans. So the movie was an improvement, but not a miracle.his

Rotten Tomatoes gives it a rating of 26%. Ouch. We guess that’s understandable if you’re judging it as a stand-alone movie. But we would argue that you can’t take it out of its context as Twilight fan-fiction turned historically successful — and historically acceptable — “mommy porn.” If you judge the movie by comparing it to its literary (and we use that term loosely) origin, then it’s smarter, funnier, and more believable. It’s also shot beautifully and delivers in the sexy department (though the book will still surely be better wank material for most women).

Before the movie came out, we had a list of ten ways we hoped the movie would improve upon the book. Let’s see how it faired below. Then we’ll cover our pleasant surprises and less expected disappointments.

1. No cable ties: FAIL

In the first book, when Christian visits Ana at the hardware store and picks up some DIY bondage supplies, it’s implied — intentionally or not — that he’s hoping to use cable ties as wrist restraints on his next guest in his Red Room of Pain. Big mistake. HUGE! If used in such a way, cable ties could cause cuts, poor circulation, and a little thing called nerve damage. The only thing they should be used for in BDSM play is organizing all the cords of your various plug-in vibrators. The movie doubles down on the idea of cable ties by having Christian actually explain they are items, in addition to rope and cuffs, that he could use to restrain her. Bush league!

2.  No explosive orgasms from Ben Wa balls: SUCCESS

In the book, Christian pops them in, spanks away and then it’s Orgasm City. Very unrealistic, at least for the majority of women. They don’t even make a cameo in the movie, which we’re sure disappointed fans (there was no tampon removal either — damn, MPAA!). But at least by omitting the balls, the movie did away with another ridiculous sexual expectation most women can’t meet.

3. Give Ana some sexual experience: FAIL

Just a smidge? Nope, not in the book or the movie. We’re supposed to believe an adult woman who’s not a member of the FLDS can graduate college with absolutely no sexual interest, no experience with men, and no attempts at masturbation ever? It perpetuates the myth that women aren’t sexual creatures until the right man comes along. Please. She’s the virgin and he’s the stud, and they save each other — gross. And even if we were to believe that such a mythical woman could actually exist, it would be totally irresponsible — reprehensible even — to dunk her over her head into the world of BDSM (even with a single introductory vanilla cherry popping’ sesh). At least in the movie, Christian seems as surprised to hear about her sexual status as we were.

4. Full disclosure on the slave contracts: SEMI-FAIL

Christian doesn’t ever clearly articulate to Ana that slave contracts are not actually legally binding — you know, thanks to Abraham Lincoln and that whole abolitionist movement. Here’s a kid, for all intents and purposes, who is not what you would call worldly or business savvy or lawyered up. Not cool for a romantic interest who’s supposedly falling in love. But we will say this: if this is one of those suspension-of-disbelief things Hollywood requires for the fantasy, then at least they didn’t push it too hard in the movie. And major points scored for making the contract negotiation scene a meeting of the minds, in a boardroom, head to head, with witty repartee and humor and Ana ultimately holding all the control (rather than Christian wining and dining and pressuring her to just sign the damn thing, as it goes down in the book).

5. Easy on the controlling, abusive, stalker-ish behavior: SEMI-SUCCESS

In the book, Christian spies on her and tries to control who she can see, where she works, what she eats, how she works out — and she is not down with it. She’s afraid he’s going to hurt her; he causes her physical and emotional pain she doesn’t want — that’s not a D/s relationship, that’s abuse. And where’s the aftercare? The movie does make him less of a criminal. It eases way off on him obsessing over her food intake and workout routine, which helps make him much less creepy.  Meanwhile, Ana seems to have a much stronger sense of herself, a greater ability to assert her desires, and a better sense of humor. She basically tells him to cut the shit and open the door when he’s hesitating outside his playroom. However, he still breaks into her apartment and she never says, “How the fuck did you get in here?!?”

6. More well-adjusted kinky characters: N/A

We thought it would be nice if the movie could add a character or two who’s into kink who isn’t royally fucked up. In the book, it’s Christian the controlling abusive boyfriend, his crazy gun-wielding ex sub, and his statutory rapist from when he was a kid. Not exactly the best advertisement for the kink community, the majority of whom are uber-responsible, law-abiding, stable citizens. The first movie in the series focuses solely on Christian, with his ex-dom, “Mrs. Robinson,” just a mysterious off-screen character.

7. Drop Ana’s issues with eating:  SUCCESS

With Ana forgetting to eat all the time, not being hungry and being forced to eat by Christian, it’s like she’s got an eating disorder. Maybe EL James was just playing around with a woman’s ultimate fantasy of never being hungry, but it’s a distracting issue — let the girl have a healthy appetite. Fortunately, in the movie, she enjoys making — and actually eats — food.

8. Have Ana enjoy the kink more: SEMI-SUCCESS

She can be conflicted about it, sure, but she should ultimately love it, embrace it and not be so afraid of it. In the movie, we’re spared Ana’s original wishy-washiness: visually, she seems to be thoroughly enjoying every kinky sexual experience, at least up until the walloping climax. A truly novel ending would have had Ana, through tears of pain, grinning in ecstasy, in spite of herself.

9. Make the sole minority character less date rape-y:  SUCCESS

Jose, basically the one minority in the book, is on a clear path to sexual assault as he tries to take advantage of Ana when she’s super drunk outside the bar. In the book, he tries to kiss her even though she keeps saying no and trying to push him away. He continues to hold her in a bear hug and is about to commit a crime before Grey breaks it up. Criminal tendencies aren’t a great quality in a “really good friend.” Fortunately, in the movie, they softened this scene by making it clear Jose and Ana are both drunk and by having Jose basically go in for a single kiss that’s more “I’ve been in love with you for a long time and am so pathetic I can only admit it when we’re both wasted” rather than “I’ve wanted to fuck you for a long time and now I’m going to take advantage of your inebriation to get what I want.”

10. No Ana narration: SUCCESS

Thank the Inner Goddess, the movie dispenses with Ana’s insipid internal dialogue. There are no voiceovers about the “ghost of a smile” on Christian’s face or her rather communicative Subconscious. There’s just a single, quiet, understated “Holy cow” uttered after she leaves his office — it’s manageable, just barely.

 

THE PLEASANT SURPRISES

1. Ana has pubic hair! 

We were pleasantly surprised to see some real bush (or even just merkin) in the movie — in ANY movie. In an interview, the director Sam Taylor-Johnson says Ana’s pubic hair goes on a journey with Ana throughout the movie; if that means Ana doesn’t have any pubes by the end — implying Grey’s insistence in the book on down-there-hairlessness — we didn’t notice.

2. No “crackwhore.”

Fortunately Christian doesn’t call his mother a crackwhore — instead, he refers to her as a crack addict and a prostitute. A small but still significant victory.

3. More funny jokes.  

There were some nice, unexpected moments when the movie had the audience laughing intentionally.

4. Dakota Johnson wasn’t half bad.

We were braced for a cringe-inducing performance (akin to that of Drew Barrymore in “Mad Love”), but Johnson (aided by Taylor-Johnson’s attempt at giving Ana more control and agency) actually made Ana bearable, likable even.

 

THE DISAPPOINTMENTS

1. Too many terrible lines from the book. 

With all the control given to the author over the movie, we knew a lot of the worst writing would have to be included, but we still hoped for heavier editing. There were quite a few times when the cheesiest lines from the book elicited loud laughs from the movie-going audience.  And when Dornan has to say “I’m fifty shades of fucked up,” he turns away from the camera and lowers his head — we have a feeling the shame he was emoting was NOT acting.

2. Wet-noodle flogging scene. 

The scene with the rope and the flogger in the Red Room of Pain was pretty mild, and didn’t do much to convey how pleasure and pain can mix erotically.

3. Jamie Dornan was pretty flat. 

After his great performance in the BBC series “The Fall,” in which he plays a serial killer, we had high hopes for what he could do with Christian. But sadly, he’s more charismatic, sexier, more soulful even as a soulless murderer.

4. Not enough male nudity. 

Hello? Women are the ones going to this movie. We want to admire Christian Grey’s body! While we appreciate the realism and subtlety with which Dakota Johnson’s nude form was shot, we really would have appreciated a heavier female gaze when it came to Dornan’s bod. We’re not even asking for full frontal. How about a quick side shot? Hey, if Ben Affleck can do it…

5. That hairpie! 

Oh, how can you make Jamie Dornan not hot? Somehow, the stylists managed to give him a hairdo that conveyed more “dork” than “dreamboat.” And the occasional mussiness resulting from t-shirt removal was not enough to fix it.

 

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How to Spank Like Christian Grey

February 13th, 2015

The following is an excerpt from the “S” section of our A-Z book, 150 Shades of Play: A Beginner’s Guide to Kink. Every bolded word below indicates an entry in our encyclopedia of sorts. The book is on sale now!

Spanking is hand-to-tush contact, which many consider more intimate and less scary than any other type of flagellation. It’s Christian Grey’s calling card. Spanking is definitely safer for newbies, since you have much more control over (and better aim with) your own hand. Spanking can be a seasoning (a few spanks during a particularly passionate bout of intercourse to add some kinky flavor), an appetizer (spanking as foreplay before more orgasm-focused activities, like the first vaginal balls scene in Fifty Shades of Grey), or it can be a meal in and of itself (a session in which the spanking is the goal — the main course, if you will — that takes half an hour to serve and enjoy).

If you’re hungry for more than just a sprinkle of seasoning, then follow the rules of any first-time flagellation: Have the spankee lie across your lap, kneel on a bed, stretch out stomach-down, or bend over something they can put their full weight on for comfort; start slowly and build up intensity gradually with your bottom’s permission, varying your pressure and strokes; and contain your spanking to the lower, fleshier halves of each cheek and the backs of the upper thighs (even if you’re just having a spanking snack during sex, this area should be your target) — avoid the lower back, tailbone, and back of the knees at all costs.

Specific considerations for spanking include the following:

  1. Remove all bracelets and rings.
  2. Start with a butt massage.
  3. Follow each blow with a short massage, too, to spread out the pain and keep things nice ‘n’ warm (at least during your first few sessions together).
  4. A woman might like particular attention paid at the intersection of ass crack and crease, with the vibrations reverberating throughout the vulva, but definitely steer clear of the guy’s family jewels.
  5. Remember that, because of your close proximity to your partner, spanking is especially great for pleasantly diddling their lemonade area while whacking the steps of their fudge factory ‘round the corner.

A.k.a. fanny dusting. See also floggerspaddlesslappers, and arnica cream.

150 Shades of Grey: A Beginner’s Guide to Kink is on sale now in paperback and e-book form!

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Top 10 Things We Hope the “Fifty Shades” Movie Does Better Than the Book

February 12th, 2015

OMG IT’S TONIGHT OMG IT’S TONIGHT OMG IT’S TONIGHT! The film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey, the first book in the mega-selling erotic trilogy by E.L. James, finally opens tonight! Well, officially it opens tomorrow, but a bunch of theaters are holding screenings tonight. Ladies, we hope your limos are booked (ours is… seriously). With the casting of Jamie Dornan (The Fall) as Christian Grey and Dakota Johnson (The Social Network) as Anastasia Steele, many diehard fans have been crying foul, saying that the filmmakers got it wrong. They certainly get Jamie Dornan’s hairstyle wrong in the movie, of that much we’re sure. Then again, we’re not sure any casting would have been universally warmly received (short of Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart), but we do think the film has a chance to definitely get some other things right. Behold, our top 10 improvements on the book we hope to see in the movie tonight:

1. No cable ties: In the first book, when Christian visits Ana at the hardware store and picks up some DIY bondage supplies, it’s implied — intentionally or not — that he’s hoping to use cable ties as wrist restraints on his next guest in his Red Room of Pain. Big mistake. HUGE! If used in such a way, cable ties could cause cuts, poor circulation, and a little thing called nerve damage. The only thing they should be used for in BDSM play is organizing all the cords of your various plug-in vibrators.

2.  No explosive orgasms from Ben Wa balls. It’s just not realistic, at least not for the majority of women. Giving them the same power as, say, a vibrator just sets women up for yet another sexual expectation most can’t meet. Balls (like LELO’s Luna Beads) are better suited for working out your pelvic floor muscles and thus improving pelvic health, which can lead to better sexual sensations. But as little balls full of cosmic orgasm potential? Uh uh.

3. Give Ana some sexual experience. Just a smidge. We’re supposed to believe an adult woman who’s not a member of the FLDS can graduate college with absolutely no sexual interest, no experience with men, and no attempts at masturbation ever? It perpetuates the myth that women aren’t sexual creatures until the right man comes along. Please. She’s the virgin and he’s the stud, and they save each other — gross. And even if we were to believe that such a mythical woman could actually exist, it would be totally irresponsible — reprehensible even — to dunk her over her head into the world of BDSM.

4. Full disclosure on the slave contracts. Christian doesn’t ever clearly articulate to Ana that slave contracts are not actually legally binding — you know, thanks to Abraham Lincoln and that whole abolitionist movement. Here’s a kid, for all intents and purposes, who is not what you would call worldly or business savvy or lawyered up. Not cool for a romantic interest who’s supposedly falling in love.

5. Easy on the controlling, abusive, stalker-ish behavior. Christian spies on her and tries to control who she can see, where she works, what she eats — and she is not down with it. She’s afraid he’s going to hurt her; he causes her physical and emotional pain she doesn’t want — that’s not a D/s relationship, that’s abuse. And where’s the aftercare? Christian is a terrible top. The movie should make him a better one.

6. More well-adjusted kinky characters. It would be nice if the movie could add a character or two who’s into kink who isn’t royally fucked up. In the book, it’s Christian the controlling abusive boyfriend, his crazy gun-wielding ex sub, and his statutory rapist from when he was a kid. Not exactly the best advertisement for the kink community, the majority of whom are uber-responsible, law-abiding, stable citizens.

7. Drop Ana’s issues with eating.  With Ana forgetting to eat all the time, not being hungry and being forced to eat by Christian, it’s like she’s got an eating disorder. Maybe EL James was just playing around with a woman’s ultimate fantasy of never being hungry, but it’s a distracting issue — let the girl have a healthy appetite.

8. Have Ana enjoy the kink more. She can be conflicted about it, sure, but she should ultimately love it, embrace it and not be so afraid of it.

9. Make the sole minority character less date rape-y. Jose, basically the one minority in the book, is on a clear path to sexual assault as he tries to take advantage of Ana when she’s super drunk outside the bar. He tries to kiss her even though she keeps saying no and trying to push him away. He continues to hold her in a bear hug and is about to commit a crime before Grey breaks it up. Criminal tendencies aren’t a great quality in a “really good friend.”

10. No Ana narration. We hope and pray the movie dispenses with Ana’s insipid internal dialogue. Please no voiceovers about the “ghost of a smile” on Christian’s face or her cartwheeling Inner Goddess.

For an awesome book about kink that should be made into a documentary movie, check out our award-winning “150 SHADES OF PLAY: A Beginner’s Guide to Kink” – now available as a Kindle E-book! 

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I Dropped My Ben-Wa Balls on Date Night

February 12th, 2015

by Alex Alexander for YourTango  |  photo of Lelo’s Luna Beads Noir

I think we can all blame Fifty Shades of Grey for our knowledge and misconceptions about Ben-Wa balls — or at least I can. I’ve known about the existence of them for a long time — and it’s why I always giggled when Ben Wallace took the court during an NBA game — but I never imagined myself actually putting them into play (sports pun!) In case you’re not familiar, Ben-Wa balls go by a dozen different names: Kegel exercisers, pleasure balls, vaginal exercise balls, duotone balls, vaginal beads, orgasm balls and love balls to name a few. They’ve been around since a Japanese courtesan called Rino-Tama discovered their pleasurable benefit and have since had both a medical and naughty use, but it wasn’t until Christian Grey gave Anastasia a set in the first ’50 Shades’ book that their popularity really took off.

Medically, they’re used to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, as you have to keep your vagina clenched to keep them in. There are also versions that are connected by string (usually silicone) and as you tug on the string you use your Kegel muscles to keep them in. It’s basically like tug-of-war with your vagina. (Not sure what your Kegel muscles are? Imagine someone told you to stop peeing mid-stream. Those are them.) They can also help with urinary incontinence as well as tightening up the ol’ girl after childbirth, since your Kegel muscles are also the muscles that get all riled up during an orgasm. Basically, strong Kegels = strong climax.

Still with me? Good.

In addition to medical use, rumor is when you use Ben-Wa balls during everyday activity, the friction and motion they cause from within, combined with a clenching of your muscles, can bring about orgasm, or at least teasing pleasure. Naturally, I had to see for myself.

My first reaction was, “Whoa, these are heavy for such little balls!” but I remained steadfast to use them to their full potential. I washed them well and inserted them one at a time. It was tricky to get them up to what felt high enough in my vagina, but I figured in was in, right? Wrong. As soon as I took one step to the side, they slid out onto the floor. Undeterred, I tried to insert them lying down. I hiked my hips up into the the air and gave them a good solid shimmy — hopefully moving them higher, so they wouldn’t fall out. I stood up, making sure to keep my muscles contracted. (After all, that was part of the challenge wasn’t it?) After about a minute of serious – and I mean serious – clenching, I realized I wasn’t going to be able to walk, much less make it through an entire night with my vagina clenched that tight — in fact, she was beginning to go numb. I eased up ever so slightly, waiting for them to slip out. Surprisingly, they didn’t. SUCCESS! After a few minutes passed, I felt like I might be in the clear, so I proceeded to get dressed for my date that night with my husband.

Shortly after, my husband joined me in the bathroom to finish up a few things himself and that’s when it happened.

I went to step around him when one ball popped loose. I must have not felt it slide down! (To be fair, my Kegel muscles were still recovering from a lack of oxygen.) It fell to our stone tile floor with a ‘THUD’ before I could even register what was happening. My husband and I locked eyes, as my cheeks turned not 50 Shades Of Grey but…50 Shades of Red. “Uh, did that just fall out of your…?” my husband asked. And as soon as he did, that’s when I felt the other little guy break free, landing on the ground and rolling to its final resting place at my husband’s foot.

Ever been standing in the bathroom with your lover as two steel balls fall out of your skirt? No? Just me?

That was the beginning and the end of the pleasure balls. I accepted that the combination of the ball’s weight and small size with my birthed-two-children vagina was a coupling never meant to be – until two weeks later when I went out and bought bonus-sized silicone balls that promised to do their job with more efficiency and less, you know, droppage.

However, my pride still hasn’t allowed me to try them. And the sound of steel balls dropping onto stone rings forever in my ears.

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An Antidote for Feeling Fifty Shades of Blah in the Bedroom

February 11th, 2015

If the upcoming Fifty Shades movie is making you feel like your own sex life is a little drab in comparison — just a single shade of grey, as it were — then we are prescribing you a dose of the video above, “50 Shades of Pleasure,” made by Trojan with our hilarious director friend Laura Murphy, creator of MTV’s “Girl Code.” This is not your standard issue promotional video; if the ninja part doesn’t make you laugh out loud, then we guess you just have a cold heart (either that, or a troubling personal history with ninjas).

We have long believed in the power of humor to help lower people’s defenses when it comes to the often uncomfortable topic of sex. Most people don’t want to admit that they need help in bed, or that they’re in a rut, or that they might not know as much as the next guy or gal — or even just that their sex life might be a little more fun with a dab of lube and a friendly sex toy. And it’s amazing how many people feel nervous or embarrassed or tongue-tied talking about what they like in bed — even with someone they’ve been sleeping with for years! This is why we always do our best to be funny* when we talk about sex and relationships — it’s the spoonful of sugar that helps the naughty, kinky, dirty sex talk go down. (*Yes, we said try. We realize our eighties pop culture references aren’t for everyone.)

Okay, so now that you’ve watched the video, we’re assuming you’re sweetened up and ready to admit that maybe your sex life isn’t as perfect as it could be. Don’t worry, you’re in a friendly crowd: Recent research found that one in two couples said their sex life could use a booster shot.  And almost 15 percent of women reported that their most recent sexual event involved little to no pleasure or arousal. Ouch!

Happily, Trojan has more up its sleeve than ninja gags and warm fuzzy feelings about your other half. Here are two simple ways to get out of the grey area in bed:

 

Trojan Lubricants Tonight It Takes 2 To Play

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Lube is not a crutch! For women, natural lubrication doesn’t necessarily go hand-in-hand with sexual arousal. She may be ready mentally, but her body could use a little catching up. (Smoking, caffeine, booze, weed, stress, the menstrual cycle, and cold medicine can all diminish a woman’s natural lubricant, too.)  Adding extra lubrication, like Trojan Tonight It Takes 2 To Play, means your sensitive parts can take more stimulation and more kinds of stimulation without getting over-sensitive. Plus, lube helps prevent chaffing and the condom from breaking. Oh, and: Sex with lube just feels good — even better than it does without! Have we convinced you yet? Then check out the dual action of Trojan’s Pre-Game and Game Time lubricants. Again, you’ll be in good company: A study found that more than 80 percent of lubricant users believe lubricants increased the pleasure factor, with nearly 50 percent claiming it helped them achieve an orgasm during their most recent sexual event. Check out Trojan’s entire line of lubricants here.

 

Trojan Vibrations Vibrating Bullet

Did you know that using a vibrator in bed with a partner is now, basically, mainstream? (If that’s disappointing for you to hear, you may have to break out some fuzzy handcuffs and a blindfold, too! Or better yet, a Red Room of Pain.) Yep, it turns out that almost half of all women have used a vibrator with a partner one or more times, and 60 percent of women agree that vibrators can make partner sex more exciting. And the men are hardly sulking, either: 70 percent of them agree that vibrators can enhance a woman’s sexual relationship with her partner. Ready to join the very sexually satisfied majority? The Trojan Vibrations Vibrating Bullet is the perfect gateway drug, as it were: powerful, discreet, and quiet. Be in control or hand over the controls to your partner, depending on your mood! Check out Trojan’s entire line of vibrating sex toys here.

 

This post is sponsored by Trojan

How to Hardware (Un)Like Christian Grey

February 11th, 2015

The following is an excerpt from the “H” section of our A-Z book, 150 Shades of Play: A Beginner’s Guide to Kink. Every bolded word below indicates an entry in our encyclopedia of sorts. The book is on sale now in both paperback and Kindle form!

A hardware store is a one-stop shopping center for all your BDSM needs. Who needs specialty sex shops when you can find everything at your friendly neighborhood True Value at half the cost? Even Christian I-Fly-My-Own-Helicopter Grey does it, and he could afford freakin’ diamond-encrusted BDSM gear if he wanted. (And how convenient if your potential sub just happens to work at the hardware store — oh, the foreplay possibilities!)

Of course, you’ve got to have a bit of a D.I.Y.-streak, but if you’re willing to put in the extra elbow grease (or should we say Crisco?), you can completely decorate your dungeon or playroom with the following: welded-link chains with “quick links” to aid in adjusting chain lengths; two-by-fours, tubing, and rods of wood, metal, or plastic to create spreader bars; duct tape for bondage (over material only please, to avoid pulling off hair and skin); keyed locks (safer than combo locks which may take too long to undo in an emergency sitch, though not if you’re the type to lose things, like keys); single- or double-ended snap hooks, snap shackles (or “panic snaps”), and carabiners for securing D-rings to other things; eyebolts (not flimsy screw eyes) to anchor chain ends; block and tackle devices for suspension; and miles of natural filament rope for bondage masterpieces.

[More important safety info below the movie clip]!

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But please, whatever you do, don’t buy cable ties as wrist and ankle restraints like kink “expert” Christian Grey does in the first book of Fifty Shades and in the freaking movie – not only is that bush league, it’s dangerous. The only thing you should be using cable ties for is organizing all your rope.

If your hardware store doesn’t have the high quality and durable materials you’re looking for, try boating or outdoor adventure stores instead.

150 Shades of Grey: A Beginner’s Guide to Kink is on sale now! It contains more information on all the bolded terms above (plus so much more!).

 

Dear Em & Lo: How Will “Fifty Shades” Affect Young Women?

February 11th, 2015

Dear Em & Lo, 

Have you thought about the effect that this film may have on young girls — how this film will set their expectations as to what sex is like?

– Fifty Shades of Fay

 

Dear FSoF,

Honestly, we haven’t. We’ve been too distracted by our upcoming ladies night screening of it!

But it’s a great question, and its implications are interesting.

First off, the movie is rated R. Of course this won’t stop people under the age of 17 from seeing it, but we don’t think all adult content should be banned because of the chance that it may get into the hands of some younger people who are not mature enough to process it. Parents and educators have to give their kids guidance about media, talk to them about the distorted fantasies, stereotypes, and violence they’re bombarded with these days. Frankly, we’re much more concerned about the effects hardcore porn has on young people’s perceptions of how sex is supposed to be — something, unfortunately, most kids have been exposed to. (Compared to the stuff they can find online, we’re afraid this film will seem downright quaint to most of them.) Hell, advertising and women’s magazines in the aggregate are much more worrisome than this single movie. Even scarier is the chance that young people will think that, due to its popularity, the Fifty Shades trilogy represents decent writing (we’re only half joking here!).

One of the reasons we’re so looking forward to the movie is to see how (or if) the female director, Sam Taylor-Johnson, a feminist-artist powerhouse, was able — despite author E.L. James’ resistance — to transform the movie into a tale of female strength and empowerment. According to an article in this week’s Time Magazine:

[Taylor-Johnson] thought she saw how to address the troubling power dynamic in the book: give the control to Anastasia. Put her in charge of her own odyssey. “This is the emotional journey of somebody who doesn’t seem as strong as she becomes,” she says. “And by the end of the story, she holds all the power.” Taylor-Johnson wants to reclaim the sexual-submission fantasy for empowered women. “To be a feminist,” she asks, “do you always have to be on top?”

Our answer to that question has always been “No.” Our resident radical feminist, Lo, enjoyed Anne Rice’s original BDSM trilogy The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty…in high school. Our generation also ate up the movie 9 and a Half Weeks as teenagers, and we didn’t become doormats (in fact, we may have learned how NOT to do kink). In our first Em & Lo sex manual, 2003’s The Big Bang, we wrote, “Just because you like to be tied up, spanked, and called ‘bitch’ doesn’t make you a bad feminist.” In our next book, Sex Etiquette for Ladies and Gentlemen, we wrote the following:

A fantasy may be counterintuitive to the lady or gentleman you present yourself as in society. For instance, a feminist may fantasize about bending over a carburetor dressed in cheesy, scratchy lingerie with her hair teased, sprayed, and back-combed in the tackiest of styles. This is perfectly correct, for one’s fantasies should not be bound by ‘politically correct’ mores. And no, seemingly hypocritical kinks do not necessarily reflect deep-seated repression, neuroses, or issues. As with dreams, fantasies may be inspired by something as shallow as the previous evening’ televisions lineup or that summer’s trashy beach reading (no matter what Freud said).

For a lot of women, the submissive fantasy is an effective one — and you can’t legislate people’s turn-ons, despite the countless attempts made by righteous, religious conservatives (many of whom have secret Red Rooms of Pain in their own basements!). As far as we’re concerned, BDSM and (self)respect are not mutually exclusive. As long as we teach young people how to make smart choices, be as safe as possible, understand the difference between fantasy and reality, respect each other, talk to each other, and elevate sex to a sacred level (even when it’s casual), then it shouldn’t matter if they eventually like to be spanked once in a while.

We’ve always tried in our own small way to be a part of that educational effort. In all our writing about sex and relationships, we’ve endorsed and emphasized comprehensive sex education, open communication, consent, and safety. As far as Fifty Shades goes, we’ve actually written about the ways we hope the film will improve upon all the troubling elements in the book: Christian’s stalkerish abuse, Ana’s total lack of any sexual experience, her lukewarm reaction to kink, her issues with eating, the dirth of well-adjusted kinksters, etc. They’re improvements any viewer would benefit from, whether female or male, straight or gay, old or young. Hopefully the movie delivers, but with James fighting tooth and nail to stick to the original story, warts and all, for the sake of her fans, we’re not holding our breath.

One thing’s for sure, though: there will NOT be enough equal opportunity nudity! More male nudity in movies would go a long way to evening the playing field for women. And not just in the bedroom, but in all areas of life.

Check back here at EMandLO.com next week to see just how good or bad we think the movie turned out  – not just for young people, but for us all.

Laters babe,

Em & Lo


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