Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Pornotopia Community

It's pretty amazing how much work it is to put on a porn festival. The 3rd Annual Pornotopia Erotic Film Festival takes place in nine days according to the countdown clock on our website, and I continue to be grateful for all the individuals and organizations making Pornotopia 2009 possible.

Tickets are about to be printed, Pornotopia T-shirts are being designed, flyers are being distributed, sponsors are preparing their screen ads, all so we can enjoy a unique weekend of excellent porn on the big screen. It truly takes a village to produce a one-of-a-kind film festival. I love that our committee of volunteers includes married couples, LGBT women and men, kinksters, swingers, and people of various ages, ethnicities and backgrounds. A cross-section of sexual preferences and desires all unified in pursuing good porn and a sex-positive community.

I laugh and think of a sticker I saw yesterday on a presumably conservative car bumper: "Freedom is Not Free." I agree. Your right to go see porn on the screen of the last independent cinema in Albuquerque is hard work. More than thirty volunteers have watched good and bad porn and argued about its merit for the Pornotopia audience. The brave folks at the Guild Cinema join us at Self Serve in risking all sorts of silly zoning violations to exercise our first amendment rights. A UNM class is studying the politics of pornography, attending the festival, and even writing papers on feminist porn. The size-positive group Brickhouse Betties, which started at Self Serve, raised over $250 in support of the festival at the Curvy Carnival. Eight core volunteers have been strategizing for months on everything from showcase selections to printing and marketing. The ACLU works tirelessly to defend our constitutional rights. The staff of Self Serve and event volunteers do all sorts of organizing and coordinating with sponsors, filmmakers, vendors,and community members. Award-winning sex toy manufacturers are donating raffle items worth hundreds of dollars for our Sexy Silent Auction. Most of our featured filmmakers are donating their films and charging no rental fees. Members of Fetlife are donating time and money to help bring feminist pornographer, writer, and sex educator Tristan Taormino to Albuquerque. Local businesses support the film festival with their already-limited funds. Superstar performers Saywut, September Smith, Burlesque Noir, Gender Offenders, Eve and others are donating their time to put on spectacular live shows at Vintage & Vaudeville.

The freedom to see porn is certainly not free, and Matie and I are ever so grateful for the liberated, sexy, proud people of New Mexico exercising their right to enjoy Pornotopia. There are only a handful of erotic film festivals in the country, and we know why. It's not easy. But the people of Albuquerque have a special opportunity to take a deep breath, giggle or smile, and sit down to watch indie porn with complete strangers in nine days. In our too-often sexually repressed society, this is one freedom you don't get to exercise everyday.

If you are in the Albuquerque area and wish to join us for an exciting weekend, check all the details and film schedule
online. Tickets will be available starting this weekend at Self Serve. Don't miss our kick off party November 5th, 6 pm at Self Serve. We'll celebrate indie porn, drink locally-brewed Marble beer, introduce the sexy silent auction and have a whole lot of fun. You must RSVP to attend- so sign up now!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sex Toy Care & Maintenance

You may already know about giving tender loving to your new toy, but we can help you learn the “caring” part. Sex toys can last a long time and give you months to years of pleasure if you treat them right. People often regret that a toy breaks or wears out too quickly, but ignore the care and maintenance of toys while they are not being used.

Some general rules that always help toys survive a long, active life:

  • Take batteries out of any toy not in use.
  • Clean toys soon after use (do not kick under bed.)
  • If something is not designed for that, don’t do it.
  • Store your toys in a safe place so they don’t become pet toys.

Cleaning depends on what it’s made of. . .

Silicone dildos without motors can be sterilized by boiling for 3 minutes, washed or even put in the dishwasher to clean. These toys are non-porous and great for people with latex allergies and other sensitivities. Keep in mind that if your silicone toy has a motor, that motor should not be submerged in water when cleaning.

Plastic and Acrylic toys can be wiped clean with rubbing alcohol for a bacteria-free surface. Remember that some plastic toys can become scratched easily, and the surface may acquire nooks and crannies. These nooks and crannies can acquire bacteria, so use condoms.

Glass and Metal toys feel fabulous, don’t they? This is because they are absolutely and utterly smooth. The surfaces can be easily cleaned to remove all bacteria. Simply wipe with rubbing alcohol or wash with soap and water. Don’t drop when wet.

Any toy made of jelly rubber is porous and cannot be sterilized once used. If you’re sharing toys, always use a condom on rubber toys. Store rubber toys by themselves, as their material may react to other rubbers and plastics. This is because the material is less stable, cheaper and of suboptimal quality.

Rubber toys sometimes contain latex. While some toys on our site are made of rubber, all our toys are phthalate-free. Phthalates are a rubber softener used in manufacturing that is a carcinogen if absorbed in large amounts. Any person with chemical sensitivities or latex allergies should avoid jelly rubber.

So why do we carry rubber toys?

Rubber is still the most prevalent material used to make sex toys, often making rubber toys the most affordable options for customers. The adult industry is unfortunately unregulated, so the research is still very new in the safety of sex toys. Fortunately, the industry is improving thanks largely to people that demand safer sex toys.

If you seek less expensive toys, look for elastomer and phthalate-free rubber options. Elastomer toys do not contain phthalates, but are often high quality bargains.

Keep in mind, Self Serve carries only bodysafe sex toys, and NONE of our toys contain phthalates! Read more about phthalates and how Self Serve celebrates earth day every day. Learn more about toxins from the

Coalition Against Toxic Toys.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tristan Taormino, serendipity & a female ejaculation contest

It's exciting to me when the world feels small, and the universe seems to say, "you are exactly where you should be."

I didn't know attending a G Spot workshop would be so serendipitous and foreshadow events three or nine years later. I didn't think about the next time I would run into someone I met at that Michigan Womyn's Music Festival workshop in the woods. I didn't know I'd start a sex shop with a woman also at that workshop, a woman I wouldn't meet for another three years. I didn't have any sense that it would be nine years until I saw Tristan Taormino in person again. But there are certain times in life when you look back and it seems life shifted just then, in that moment.

In 2000, I attended and worked at Michigan Womyn's Music Festival. I was a baby (bull) dyke (in a china shop) -- a big, empty sponge- absorbing culture, music, traditions, craft, community, sex-positivity, herstory, inter-generational art and adventure. I saw first hand how positive and radical a self-created women's space can be. I loved how women from all over the world taught workshops and shared skills.

I hadn't learned much about sex toys, the g spot or female ejaculation. I had heard of Tristan Taormino, the sex writer and sex advice columnist in On Our Backs. I knew the female ejaculation workshop sounded like the sexiest workshop at Michigan, so if I could only attend one workshop as a worker -that was it. So I went.

I had no buddies beside me, and sat next to a friendly, quiet, middle-aged woman. My eyes were surely big and my world was rocked as I learned how to find a g spot and watched women learn first hand. Literally. It was so radical seeing sexy, gloved volunteers gently show women where to find their g spots. The workshop ended and then began the only female ejaculation contest I have had the pleasure to see. Women won in categories like quantity, distance and single-handed-job. The quiet woman next to me won for speed. Little did I know when I sat down next to her, but she clearly could ejaculate in 45 seconds flat. It was a talented group. The workshop was one of the most exciting experiences for me- not just the live sex demo, but the brilliance of women showing other women new ways to find pleasure. I didn't know it then, but I found my passion...

Three years later and after lots of travels, I found myself living in a share house in Lower Allston in Boston. There I met my best friend and future business partner, Matie Fricker. Sometime in the first year of getting to know each other, we figured out that she, too, was in that crowd of women at Tristan's workshop in the woods. Lo and behold, in looking through my Mich Fest photos, I found one with Matie in the crowd.

Now in 2009, Matie and I are about to host the 3rd Annual Pornotopia Film Festival and Self Serve is almost three years old. It feels like a milestone and a re-connection that Tristan Taormino is coming to be part of this year's festival. It seems the first time Matie and I unknowingly crossed paths was when we both sought out accessible, hands-on sex education with Tristan Taormino. Now we can share her brilliance with the rest of Albuquerque. Full circle.

So glad the stars aligned the way they did.

p.s. I blurred all the faces (except Tristan's) in the Michfest photo. Your secrets are safe with us...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Prostate Pleasure By: Bettie Templeton

Hello Friends of the Prostate!
If you've decided to read this, you're either playing with the prostate already and want to know a little more, or you may be thinking about trying it for the first time. Either way, we hope this information helps you to relax and have some fantastic fun!

Finding the prostate - diagramThe prostate is a small gland tucked below the bladder, and is commonly compared to the size of a walnut (the author who most likely enjoyed a Fancy Nut Assortment amidst an intimate date). The prostate surrounds the urethra (which is why swollen prostates can make one need to pee more frequently) and can be massaged somewhat outside the body but the strongest sensation comes from an internal massage.

Yes, internal...which means its time to start relaxing your rear!
Start with some foreplay by gently rubbing around the anus. Use a smooth, thick lubricant like Maximus or Slippery Stuff Gel. Keep in mind your butt provides no lubrication, so add your own! Start soft and if it feels nice you can always make it a little more vigorous. Think of relaxing the muscles in and around your butt. You might be surprised how much tension you feel. Those muscles help hold us upright all day and are one of the first places we squeeze when we're stressed or nervous. Your butt deserves a relaxing vacation. That's what this is all about.
Once your butt feels sufficiently romanced (which could be a while... be patient and enjoy!), it's time to try some internal fun. Just slide your finger (or a small toy like the Butty plug, the Joy Stick or Nexus Glide) in slowly.

Don't rush things! Breathe deeply and calmly. You may feel a few jumps in tension, especially if you've never done this before, but just remember that you're doing this for fun and for yourself. If it hurts, stop and try massaging yourself a little more and adding some more lube. This shouldn't be painful!
Purchase Prostate Sex Toys at our online storeThe prostate isn't very far inside your body. Generally speaking it can be found within two to three inches if you press gently towards the front of the body. It might take a moment or two to find, so make sure you do this at a time when you don't have to rush anything. If you are doing this to your partner, you should be searching for a walnut-sized firm bump and always keep talking to your partner to find out how he's feeling. You might know when you find it by a sudden gasp, which is always fun! If you're trying to do this to yourself, look for the same signs but you'll probably know when you've found it.

So now that you've found it, what do you do? Go out for ice cream? I suppose you could, but you may find a gentle massage a little more rewarding. You can always get ice cream, after all.
Exploring your butt and prostate fun may be something for many future encounters or only special occasions - you decide. A simple, gentle, lubricated anal massage may be a new relaxing activity for you and stimulating that prostate may be a whole new way to reach rocking orgasm.
When playing with your butt or that of a friend, remember the three tenets of anal play:
  • Relaxation
  • Lubrication
  • Communication
Your butt does not lie. If something hurts, stop it. If you want smaller, gentler, harder, wetter, bigger or whatever -make sure to share that with your playmates! Most of all remember to have fun.

Explore anal sex toys and lubricants online...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fun with Cock Rings!

Cock rings are a fun way to add intensity to an erection and accessorize your johnson. Cock rings (also called penis rings) bind the penis and testicles. This traps blood in the penis, which can result in added engorgement, greater sensitivity, and a firmer erection. Many men report that orgasms are more intense and explosive. While wearing a cock ring can make erections firmer or last longer, cock rings are a sensual accessory and not a "cure" for erectile difficulties. Every person is unique, and what works for one person may not be as fun for another.

Buy a Cock Ring through our online storeFeatures & Benefits

Cock rings come in many styles, from stretchy latex or silicone to some that vibrate for playing with others. Vibrating cock ring toys can be wonderful additions during anal or vaginal sex for arousing a nearby clitoris or anus. Good styles to try are easy to remove and adjust. These cock rings can be put on at any time during an erection.

The How To’s

To use a cock ring, strap it around the base of the penis and behind the testicles. Secure the strap as snugly as is comfortable. If you are using a cock ring that is not adjustable, put it on when your penis is flaccid. Use some lube around the ring so that your short and curlies don't get pulled. Hold the ring under your balls and insert your testicles one at a time. Now push the penis through. The only way it will come off is if you lose your erection. We don't recommend the metal rings for cock ring newbies.

We recommend removing the cock ring after a maximum of 20 minutes. Spending too long with a cock ring on can damage the capillaries and bruise the penis, leaving you sore for a few days. Cock rings aren't recommended for anyone with vascular disease, such as diabetes, or nerve disease. Like any activity, if something hurts or you feel uncomfortable, stop and remove the cock ring.

Buy a Cock Ring through our online store

What’s out there…

At Self Serve we carry Simple Single Strap rings made of leather with snaps or velcro. These go on or off easily and are adjustable in size. Stretchy rubber rings are forgiving and are great for first-timers. Keep in mind stretchy cock rings are not appropriate for use in strap-on harnesses. Non-stretch latex rings are inexpensive, too, but less forgiving for first time users. Metal cock rings are sexy, shiny, and hard and definitely for experts only. Prices range from $1.95 to $11.95 each for rubber, silicone and leather cock rings.

Vibrating and textured cock rings are available and make excellent partner toys. Self Serve has many options for nubby, soft, stimulating textures & vibrations. Our stretchy silicone ring has a finger-sized area of soft little bumps to rub up against the clit during sex. It's only $12.95 and feels lovely covered in your favorite lube. The stretchy elastomer Neo Ring ($39.95) vibrates every time it's pushed or up against somebody. This makes for hot hands-free vibration! One of our most popular, powerful partner toys is the Joy Ride ($44.95). This bullet vibrator has 6 fun settings -with adjustable vibrations, speeds and pulsations. The elastomer, phthalate-free cockring is soft & provides a wide areas of vibration in between bodies.

More sex tips online...

Friday, October 9, 2009

Sex just keeps getting censored

It still ceases to amaze me. People are so very afraid of sex. Why else would there be so many censorship battles? Self Serve is just two and half years old, and we've had more than our share of brick walls, closed doors and unwanted editing. All in the name of preserving what? Some puritanical fantasy of an asexual, totally repressed world?

Why now do I bring this up? Thanks to an abundance of recent inspiration:
  • Google Checkout, of the all-amazing (and all-powerful) Google, shut down our account after a mere 48 hours of having selfservetoys linked to their shopping results.
Rhode Island deserves sexual pleasure and health!

Seriously? I keep thinking of the SNL weekend update with Amy Poehler and ... where they just get more and more astounded by the stupidity of the actual news. Well, so am I! Megan Andelloux in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, wants to open a welcoming, safe space to learn about sexuality and improve relationships. Megan Andelloux is supported by sex educators, sex therapists, the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists and all her potential business neighbors. But the city is using zoning (as usual) as an excuse to keep her from doing great work. Now she has an expensive legal battle on her hands.

What are you so afraid of, people?! I have to admit, it reminds me of the cold-hearted adult children on Grey's Anatomy last week. I was so proud of the 82-year-old character for pursuing his penile implant. Sure it's not a liver transplant, but if that man wants to enjoy his good health with a new love, that is a beautiful thing! Yet his middle-aged children were embarrassed, critical, condescending and judgmental.

Sex is healthy and pleasure is good for you. This concept is apparently still radical. What a pity.

The first time I got really mad at the all-mighty Google.
How Google felt justified closing our Checkout account is a whole other story of hypocrisy. Self Serve uses Google. We typically love Google. We use Gmail, Google Docs, Picasa, Blogger (apparently) and we were excited to start using Google Checkout. We had our web programmer lady work for hours on setting up a new Google Checkout account. I was so excited for the new visibility for our site. The account went live, and within hours we had new orders. Then within three days, Google closed our account and claim their policies do not allow the sale of adult items.

Well guess where you can find over 5 million pages of shopping results for even one vibrating item in Google Shopping results? Oh, silly me. I thought that policy was bunk since all the most gigantic online retailers seem to be selling adult toys through Google Checkout.

Hmm, how odd. Little companies like the Center for Sexual Health and Pleasure and Self Serve are fought tooth and nail for the basic right to teach healthy, happy sex education, while Amazon, Walgreens, Drugstore.com, Buy.com and others can go on undercutting prices of independent retailers and get away with ignoring Google's anti-adult policies.

Unfortunately, we're not new to this whole censorship thing...

If you are new to the world of Self Serve Sexuality Resource Center, here are a few more reasons we get fed up with censorship:

  • Banks won't lend to any sex education business. Even with the economy in a slump, no SBA loans for new businesses teaching sex education. Even when we won an award for our business plan, no institutional lender would touch us. Instead, we found 9-plus amazing real people willing to help fund our start-up.
  • Four landlords in Albuquerque said no to us before we found a retail space.
  • Our Pornotopia independent erotic film festival is awaiting another court decision about zoning violations in 2008. We'll keep you posted as this year's festival approaches.
  • We once had to fight to publish a subtle picture of a bunny when designing a $700 magazine advertisement.
  • Online merchant service-providers say no to adult web sites of any kind.
  • After paying hundreds of dollars for insurance for over a year, our provider gave us 30 days to find a new underwriter -- because of what we sell.
  • We once donated a silent auction item worth $50 to support continuing education for teen moms. The auction organizer rejected our donation. We found out only after the fundraiser.
So how do we cope without pulling our hair out?

Yes, of course the first obvious answer is therapeutic masturbation. But after you finish your nap- then what? The world is slowly changing, minds are opening and powers-that-be are recognizing the possibility of healthy, empowered sexuality for all. But change will not arrive without speaking out and taking action. Here are some suggestions.

  • Pay attention. Speak Out. When voices are not being heard -anyone's voice- free speech is being censored. As Audre Lorde famously stated, "Your silence will not protect you."
  • Support small, local and minority-owned businesses. Your money is exponentially more likely to stay in your community.
  • If you believe in the right to a sex-positive life- support free speech and sex education.
  • Support Megan's effort to open the Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health in Pawtucket, RI. We're getting more action steps from her soon!
  • Attend Pornotopia Erotic Film Festival in Albuquerque, NM!
  • Support your local ACLU!

Friday, October 2, 2009

One of the easiest ways to improve sex all the time...

Keep your Fluids Topped Off!


One of the easiest ways to make any sexual activity more comfortable and more pleasurable is to simply add lube! Many women experience discomfort during intercourse and other insertive sex due to vaginal dryness. Many things affect how much we self-lubricate. Hormone levels, many prescription drugs, common anti-histamines, being pregnant, getting chemotherapy and a whole lot of other normal situations cause a lack of lubrication. Just because you may be ‘turned on’ does not guarantee that natural lubrication will ‘turn on’ and flow.

It is the 21st century, and that means there is no need to ‘make your own’ anymore! Lube can make lots of activities more fun; both by yourself and with a partner. There are many brands and types of lube out there. Some have ingredients that are good for your body, some have tasty flavors, and some might not be so good if you have sensitive skin. Keep in mind that any oil lubricant can deteriorate latex and is not compatible with condoms, gloves and dental dams. Among the many choices, there are a couple basic types of lube out there. Shop wisely and try samples to see what you like. Use the info below to narrow down your choices, then experiment and take home some fun homework assignments!

Water-Based Lubricants

Many lubricants are water-based, which is why after awhile you may notice they seem to get absorbed or dry out. These lubes tend to dry up sooner, but clean up quickly. Some water-based lubes contain glycerin, a type of sugar. Glycerin often makes lubricant taste better, but unfortunately causes lots of yeast infections for sensitive folks.

Some water-based lubes are more creamy and realistic, some may be light and watery, and some are thicker, heavier gels. Thicker lubricants tend to last longer and coat the body better.

Popular glycerin-free water-based lubes include Liquid Silk which is creamy and light. Maximus is clear and thick like hair gel. Lubes like Maximus are a smart choice for anal sex and longer activity. Natural options include Sympathical Organics in original and raspberry or peach flavors. Using old-fashioned lube like KY is not recommended, as their products are full of sugars.

Silicone-Based Lubricants

Silicone is the wave of the future! These lubes feel like massage oil, but are condom compatible, unlike oil products. If you like the slick feel of oil, silicone may be great for you. Both thick and thin silicone lubes feel like microscopic ball bearings, creating almost friction free sensation. It barely gets absorbed, so it lasts a long time. Silicone even stays put in the pool or hot tub! Keep in mind that means you need more soap and water to get it off for good.

Silicone is a good choice for hand jobs and anal sex. And because it feels like massage oil, it is a safer choice for all-over body massage when condoms, dental dams or gloves are used. For a fun new activity, drip some silicone lube onto any body parts and rub together! You’ll have a whole new idea of “slip and slide.” If you use silicone toys often, then silicone lube is not compatible and could damage your toys. The silicone lubricant may be impossible to get off the toys, so stick to water-based lube or use condoms!

A great thick silicone lube is Pjur Eros – made by the first experts in silicone lubricants.

Safer sex and Other lubes…

Vaseline, lotions, petroleum based products, etc.

Back in the day, people may have used the Vaseline in the cabinet when nothing else was available. That use of Vaseline should stay in the past, because any petrolatum or petroleum-based product is bad for your body! Gasoline puns are fine, but do not be using gasoline products in or on your sensitive parts!

And if you are in a bind and want to use your body lotion as a lube, it is not the safest choice. Body and face lotions are designed for the outside of your body. These products are designed to quickly absorb, and are not tested for internal use. Even for a little self-lovin’ there are lots of sensitive mucus membranes in and near your genitalia that will quickly soak up such lotions.


When you see ads for clitoral stimulating cream, vaginal tighteners, stay-hard creams, penis growth lotions or anal easing lotions, please be wary. These products are designed to fight your body’s natural intuitive response to pain, discomfort and pacing. There are no magic buttons or lotions that will give anyone an instant orgasm, make their cock larger or harder, or make anal intercourse immediately comfortable. These creams use steroids, muscle tighteners and anesthetic to function. When your body says something hurts, stop or take a break it is best that you listen. There are other ways to have a tighter vaginal squeeze or make anal sex enjoyable. Your body already has the potential for amazing sensations and experiences so don’t waste money on these unhealthy, unsafe and unreliable novelties! Keep in mind any stimulating creams that contain L-Arginine may cause herpes outbreaks.

Read more about smart, safe sex here.