Friday, December 31, 2010

Win Prizes in January, Just for Being a Friend


Thank you for being a friend.

Self Serve celebrates our 4 year anniversary in January, and we're thanking you with freebies, prizes and fun.  Become our facebook fanBetween January 22 and 29, we're giving away prizes every day to our facebook friends.  "Like" the Self Serve page today, and win birthday presents next month.

Haven't seen Self Serve on facebook in awhile?  Our page temporarily disappeared a few months ago- so make sure you like the new and improved Self Serve page!  Join the conversation; there's never a dull moment!

Folks in New Mexico can find our class listings on facebook, too.  Save the date for our birthday celebration at Self Serve January 22nd.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Video Review: Quick Cuffs Restraints


We are so lucky these gorgeous, well-designed restraints are made right here in New Mexico, and available exclusively at Self Serve.  The soft leather paired with sturdy, simple hardware means comfortable life long gear that feels great.

Quick Cuffs are brilliant restraints for wrists, ankles, and even thighs.  Quick Cuffs can also be used as  tethers to other restraints, worn connected as a subtle belt, or used to restrain ankle to wrist.

For a hands on explanation, check out this Self Serve video review:

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Social Network -Disconnection or Interconnectedness?


I've posted before about feeling disconnected in a virtual world.  Do online connections and social networking help us feel more connected, or are we just turning into robots staring at flickering machines?

Several experiences brought new light to the question.  A Facebook connection brought me instantly closer to a distant friend, and two views of social networking and the digital age shed light on how we really can use technology for building relationships.

A recent connection via Facebook caught my attention.  A friend I'm not close to in everyday life wrote a post on a personal struggle she experienced and it touched me.  I reached out and we discussed intimate challenges in a way we never had before. 

I recognized if it weren't for timing, that connection wouldn't have been made.  Sure you may have 500 friends posting status updates everyday, but you don't see them all due to the timing of your connection with your friends online.  Could there be some serendipity to whose updates you see?    In a world where we can feel isolated, we can seize these digital connections and help real relationships grow.

A recent NY Times piece highlights that perhaps Facebook isn't so foreign from our day-to-day friendships after all.  While we can have 500 or 1000 friends on Facebook, Robin Dunbar points out the average is still close to 150.  It may be an illusion that we have more, superficial friendships and connections in a digital world, when in fact tools like Facebook merely connect us better with existing friends and communities.

The film Connected is featured at Sundance Film Festival in 2011 and looks to speak to these issues in a new way.  Filmmaker Tiffany Shlain points out we can acknowledge the world's interconnectedness, declare our interdependence and use our world of technology for good.  Connected also seeks to engage viewers and use the film for positive social impact.  Instead of viewing everyday life and digital interactions as juxtaposed or foreign from one another, the project invites us to use technology to deepen our connections.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Myths about Submission

In November my slave and I were honored to present at AEL, the local community group that has been going strong for well over two decades; here is an excerpt from our presentation on Delving into Submission that involves myths about submission.

Myth #1: Submission completes you as a person

Reality: This is the idea that you should be completely and emotionally fulfilled by the acts of submission. The reality is that we are all three dimensional people and no one thing is going to complete us.

Myth#2: Dominates create Submissives

Reality: This is the myth that a dominant can take any person with any personality type and mold them into a submissive. The reality is that the personality traits you’re born with mixed with those that you choose to cultivate throughout your life cannot be changed just because someone “wills it to be”. Attempting to make someone into something they’re not is destructive to both partners. Trying to make someone submissive is the same as trying to make someone straight, or to make someone change their gender expression.

Myth#3: Submission equals subservience

Reality: This is the idea that a submissive is obligated to follow each and every command given to them. The reality is just because a person is submissive does not meant they are community property. A submissive doesn’t mean, Your submissive.

Myth #4: Submissives are incapable of being leaders.

Reality: This myth perpetuates the ideas that submissive identified people need constant guidance and are unable and/or unwilling to take control of their own lives. The reality is that submissives can be excellent leaders and a great number of submissives run leather events, conferences, and their own businesses.

Myth #5: Two submissives together without a dominant to direct them will not know what to do in an intimate setting.

Reality: This myth also plays into the ideas that submissives need dominates to function. The reality is that submissives have the ability like everyone else, to insert slot A into slot A, we are lesbians after all, there is no slot B.

Myth #6: Slaves that are not brats are boring and have no personality.

Reality: Many people who enjoy the company of brat identified submissives are into relationships that have a push pull dynamic. What we mean is that the joy for people who prefer this dynamic is in the pursuit, the pursuit of attention, the pursuit of punishment, etc. For them the excitement of the relationship is built in the unpredictability of what will happen next. For others, the dynamic part of a slave based relationship comes in the layers. In other words the fun is what happens after the chase is over.

Myth #7: Feelings of exhausting, failure, and guilt mean you are not a truly submissive identified person.

Reality: What this myth perpetuates is that the act of giving is easy, that giving should be its own reward and that there is a holy grail of true submission that can be obtained. The reality is that if you are submitting to someone on a regular basis you will go through periods of feeling tired, frustrated, guilty and angry (sometimes to the person you’re submitting to). Putting on your collar does not mean taking off your humanity. Being angry at a punishment , tired during a performance of service, or having feeling of guilt around not providing someone with more time or effort are very common place and having these feelings does not mean that you are anything less than.

Myth #8: Submission is Altruistic

Reality: This myth perpetuates the concept that submission is always about what the dominant wants and springs from only selflessness. The reality is that submission is about the self. It does fulfill a part of the self and it should. This is nothing wrong with the thought that submissives are people who are out to get their rocks off too! Just because the submissive also gains something in the exchange does not take away from the fact that what they give is a gift..


If you are interested in play parties and munches please contact :


Monday, December 20, 2010

Feminist Debate on Julian Assange's Sexual Assault Allegations


Watch feminist writers and activists Jaclyn Friedman and Naomi Wolf debate the sexual assault allegations on Julian Assange on a recent Democracy Now.   Their unfinished discussion highlights the confusion and lack of clarity on how to define consent for many.  Friedman rightfully suggests affirmative, continual consent is required for consensual sexual activity.    Check out her book Yes Means Yes! for a sex positive approach to a world without rape.

The political, reactionary context of Assange's situation must make any fair case even more challenging for the two women who've accused him.

Read more from Jaclyn Friedman about the realities of rape and why allegations should never be swept under the rug.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Store Gift Certificates Sale & Holiday Hours

If you're in New Mexico, you're in luck.

For one week before Christmas, we have two gift certificate deals.

Get a $60 Self Serve gift certificate for only $50

Get a $125 Self Serve gift certificate for only $100

now through December 24th at our Albuquerque store.

Happy Holiday & Happy New Year!

Holiday Hours:

Friday, December 24  12 - 5 pm
Saturday, December 25  Closed
Friday, December 31  12-6
Saturday, January 1  Closed

So you are leather, kinky, fetishist~ Now What???

If you are finding out that you are into the spicier things in life and think that you are alone~ you have quite the another thing coming!

In Albuquerque we are particularly lucky because of the multitude of resources here, we have a group for just about everything, and new groups starting all the time.

My personal favorite for multiple reasons is AEL ~ Alternative Erotic Lifestyles. It is a group that is geared to all lifestyles and all skill levels. It is a safe space for newbies and a great space for those that have tons of experience, and has been active since 1981!


Once a month they have a munch with a dinner and a speaker at the Sandia Casino, they cover a variety of topics from polyamory, to types of play like bondage, pervertables, and chastity, to slavery and service~ every month something new! AEL also organizes Kinks that Care ~ they do food drives, the AIDS walk, and the Tour de Bosque. Also once a year they offer either CPR or First Aid for community members.

Also every month there is a play party at a host house. People from the community step forward and open their homes to all sorts of play. The play parties are geared towards creating a safe environment for all play levels and are a great place to meet someone for the first time.


AEL Kinkskills is were I get to have fun! Every other month I organize a hands on workshop of leather skills, these skills include flogging, bondage, cutting, piercing, fire play, electricity, and more! In January AEL Kinkskills will be kicking off the third year with BDSM and Tantra!


If you are interested in AEL please write to the organizers for more info:

Best Porn Spoken Word Ever...


Our friend just came into the shop today and shared an amazing spoken word performance

If you love porn, hate porn or wish porn was a little different -this is for you.  Especially if you want nerd porn...  Spoken word like this was meant to be heard, so definitely listen when you can!

Here's the text if you can't listen now:

Nerd Porn Auteur
by Ernest Cline


I've noticed that there don't seem to be any porno movies
that are made for guys like me.

All the porn I've come across
was targeted at beer-swilling sports bar dwelling alpha-males
Men who like their women stupid and submissive
Men who can only get it up for monosyllabic cock-hungry nymphos
with gargantuan breasts and a three-word vocabulary


Adult films are populated with these collagen-injected
liposuctioned women
Many of whom have resorted to surgery and self-mutilation
in an attempt to look the way they have been told to look.


These aren't real women. They're objects.
And these movies aren't erotic. They're pathetic.
These vacuum-headed fuck bunnies don't turn me on.
They disgust me.
And it's not that I'm against pornography.
I mean, I'm a guy. And guys need porn.
Fact.
"Like a preacher needs pain, like a needle needs a vein,"
Guys need porn.


But I don't wanna watch this misogynist he-man woman-hater porn.
I want porno movies that are made with guys like me in mind:
Guys who know that the sexiest thing in the world
is a woman who is smarter than you are.


You can have the whole cheerleading squad,
I want the girl in the tweed skirt and the horn-rimmed glasses:
Betty Finnebowski, the valedictorian.
Oh yes.
First I want to copy her Trig homework,
and then I want to make mad, passionate love to her
for hours and hours
until she reluctantly asks if we can stop
because she doesn't want to miss Battlestar Galactica.
Summa cum laude, baby!
That is what I call erotic.


But do you ever see that kind of a woman in a contemporary adult film?
No.
Which is why I'm going to start writing and directing Geek Porno.
I shall be the quintessential Nerd Porn Auteur.
And the women in my porno movies will be the kind
that drive nerds like me mad with desire.


I'm talking about the girls that used to fuck up the grading curve.
The girls in the Latin Club and the National Honor Society.
Chicks with weird clothes, braces, four eyes, and 4.0 GPAs.
Brainy articulate bookworms, with MENSA cards in their purses
and chips on their shoulders.


My porn starlets will come in all shapes and sizes.
My porn starlets will be too busy working on their PhD to go to the gym.


In my kind of porno movies the girls wouldn't even have to get naked.
They'd just take the guys down to the rec room and
beat them repeatedly at chess
and then talk to them for hours about Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle
or the underlying social metaphors in the Aliens movies.


Buy stock in some hand cream companies
because there is about to be a major shortage.


And I'm not just talking about straight porn. Oh no.
There should be fuck films for my nerd brethren
of all sexual orientations.
Gay nerd porn flicks with titles like "Dungeons and Drag-queens."


This idea is a fucking gold mine.
I am gonna make millions,
because this country is full of database programmers
and electronics engineers
and they aren't getting the loving they so desperately need.
And you can help . . .


If you're an intelligent woman is interested in breaking into the adult film industry,
and if you can tell me the name of Luke Skywalker's home planet,
then you are hired.


It doesn't matter if you think you're overweight or unattractive.
It doesn't matter if you don't think you're beautiful.
You are beautiful. . .
And I will make you a star.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Unique Gift Ideas for Everyone

You may be surprised that Self Serve has gifts for everyone on your list- not just your lover or yourself.

Here are some top staff picks and gifts for everyone on your list!

For Friends & Family that need to relax

The new Vibrating Tingler is a scalp massager and vibrator all in one!  If you like the original Tingler, you'll love the vibration on your scalp, too.  With 4 different attachments, you can enjoy it all over the body.  Only $29.95



 
For New Parents or Your Pregnant Friend

Help your friends plan ahead for parenthood!  The book Safe Baby Handling Tips is a hilarious how-to that instructs what not to do with a new arrival.  It's a best seller and only $9.95!

 

For the Modern Design Fan

Anyone who appreciates excellent design, function and technology will swoon for the JimmyJane Form 2 vibrator.  This high tech, rechargeable vibe is strong and eco-friendly.  Its  two motors offer surround sound sensation with multiple settings.  It's a wonderful toy for a couple to use together, and it's an extra quiet vibrator.  The Form 2 is a thoughtful gift for a partner or a friend.  The Form 2 is $134.95.

For any of your "Couple" Friends

Couples often get into a routine of domesticity and forget what they don't already know about each other.  A thoughtful gift is the Table Topics Couples Cube for $27.95.  Over 100 conversation starters can challenge, humor and inspire any couple.  We also have the original edition at our shop.  These general questions are great for holiday party games or potluck night activities.



The Co-Worker

When you want to gift someone relaxation, but can't afford to send them to the spa, try this.  Our all-natural muscle rub is a soothing salve for shoulders and sore muscles.  Handmade in New Mexico, it's a great choice for out of town family, too.  Only $14 for a 2 ounce jar.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Understanding Master/ slave Power Exchange Basics


Every relationship has a basis in power exchange. In all relationships there is someone who holds power, and someone who gives up power. In vanilla relationships (non BDSM or Leather relationships) the power exchange either flows back and forth throughout the day from person to person, or the couple starts to fight for power. Who makes the financial decisions? How are the kids going to be raised? Who initiates and/or refuses sex? All of these issues can become a power exchange or a power struggle, and in each situation when there is a disagreement and no common ground, there is one partner whose preferences will take priority. At this point one person walks away empowered, and one person walks away dis-empowered.

In households that have Master/slave dynamic, there is a pre-agreed upon understanding that one person reserves the right to have the final say on all matters. So although the slave may have a right to voice an opinion, it is the Masters choice as to whether or not to take that into consideration. Although everyday decisions that all couples are faced with are often directed by the Master as in finances, kids, sex ect… There may be things that the Master has no interest in directing, or there may be other things that the Master needs that are unique to them.

Some Masters have multiple rules and protocols that must be obeyed to the letter. slaves have to ask permission to go to the bathroom, have no access to finances, are not allowed on furniture, are required to wear or carry certain adornments at all times, walk, stand, or enter a room a certain way, and not allowed to speak until spoken to. Other Masters don’t have as many requirements; they may even prefer to do the driving, cooking, and the opening of doors for the slave.

The point being that there is a Master out there for all levels of power exchange~ from someone who wants all their decisions made for them, to someone who wants to have a general direction overlay their life, but wants more control over the details, there is also a Master out there for them. Having an understanding of what a person truly needs and desires are the keys to a successful M/s relationship. Masters that require more or less control then a slave can give are both recipes for an unfulfilled relationship on both ends.

However, M/s relationships that are balanced on both ends are very harmonious and fulfilling, for the most part the trust that is built around decision making means that the concerns that can strain any couple are generally taken care of before hand, leaving room for other things. Like visiting Self Serve!

Help Self Serve's neighborhood- vote now!


You'll see a new widget on our blog this month.  Our Albuquerque neighborhood of Nob Hill is competing for a Pepsi grant to create green alleyways.  We could win $250k to light alleys with solar power and green the sad, brown landscape.

There is tough competition, so we need your vote!  Please vote now and EVERY DAY through December.  Only the top two ideas get funded.

Log in and vote online or text 104796 to Pepsi (73774) 



You can vote once a day online through December 31st.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Dateline to Air Story on West Mesa Murder Victims TONIGHT



In February of 2009, a woman taking a walk near 118th SW and Dennis Chavez in Albuquerque noticed a strange protusion from the ground. Initial digging unearthed the bodies of eleven women who had gone missing in 2003-4. To this day, their killer has not been caught.

On Friday, December 10, 2010, Dateline will air a story about this case. Please tune in. This show marks the first national attention this case will receive.
Many of the West Mesa victims were sex workers. Although local news coverage of this case has altered in the last few months, early coverage included the words "known prostitutes," used at an alarming rate. In consistently calling the murder victims "known prostitutes," the media commuicates that the women brought this violence on to themselves. In essence, they "asked for it." Later news coverage tended to use the words "buried bodies." This is not a case of "buried bodies"; in fact, this phrasing connotes that the bodies of women were simply buried; the phrasing divorces violence from the act(s) that these women suffered. These women were taken. These women were stolen from loved ones. These women were murdered.

Dec 17th, is the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. Please consider attending Albuquerque's Event to commemorate those we've lost. Details are:
When? Friday, Dec 17th, 6-8pm

Where? Exhale, 6132 4th St NW

What? Reading of the names and candle lighting; speakers; all are welcome to speak; + cupcakes

The International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers was founded by Dr. Annie Sprinkle and SWOP (Sex Workers Outreach Project) founder Robyn Few. The first "Red Umbrella Day," as the day is commonly called (the red umbrella is a symbol for sex workers' rights), focused on a memorial and vigil for the victims of the Green River Killer, Gary Ridgway. Ridgway murderedat minimum 71 women between 1982 and 1998. "I picked prostitutes," Ridgeway said, "because I figured I could kill as many of them as I wanted without getting caught."

The image above includes many of those murdered by Ridgway, and was created for the first ever Int'l Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.

The women buried in the West Mesa were:

Syllania Edwards

Michelle Valdez + her unborn child

Evelyn Salazar

Jamie Barela

Victoria Chavez

Cinnamon Elks

Monica Candelaria

Doreen Marquez
Veronica Romero

Julie Nieto

Virginia Cloven

The women murdered and buried in the West Mesa were daughters, sisters, mothers, aunts, cousins, lovers.

The city of Albuquerque is offering a reward for information leading to an arrest.

Please tune in to Dateline tonight and share your reactions with us here at Self Serve(d).












Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Southwest is Saucy with Sex Advice


Local Educator and Writer Julian Wolf provides sex advice in a great local column on Saucy Southwest.  If you're not familiar with the site, definitely check it out for on-demand feminist porn, sex tips, resources, links and more.

Julian recently had two questions that are sadly super common at Self Serve and all over.  In her last column readers asked about getting off with a partner and if one's labia looks 'normal.'

Of course the first question was complex, and Julian gave a helpful answer.  It's challenging that sexuality isn't simple, so of course the answer wasn't simple.  Why isn't this woman able to get off easily with her partner?  It could be due to lots of reasons.  I would add to Julian's advice that her conundrum may have to do with fear or shame of some kind.  She mentions having no problem physically getting off by herself, which is a great sign.  Another possibility is that she gets stuck in her head and detached from her erotic self when in the presence of a sex partner.  Many women experience their own variety of performance anxiety.  In a frustrating cycle, once she thinks she can't get off, she gets more stressed and the experience can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.   If we're stuck in our heads obsessing over reaching orgasm or relaxing, we aren't really present or relaxed.

As Julian said, it could be many factors, and neither of us can know for sure via an advice column.  I am grateful for resources like Self Serve, where women like her can talk it out with our Sexuality Educators, and many books or sensual tools we offer.  A great book for women dealing with these sorts of challenges is Becoming Orgasmic.  Local folks can rent the accompanying DVD, as well.

I'm proud and pleased that Julian shared a recent Self Serve video with the next inquirer.  There is a scary trend afoot where women are getting unnecessary labiaplasty cosmetic surgery to alter completely normal labia shape or size.  I'm confident AW who wrote this question has the most beautiful, healthy labia in the world.  As I say in our video, labia are like butterflies or snowflakes.  They are all unique and beautiful just the way they are.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Leather Life vs Abuse


There are many misconceptions that people in mainstream society have about people who are in leather relationships. On the surface someone in a leather relationship and someone in an abusive one carry some very intense similarities. In both relationships there are limited rights, a dominant and submissive partner, and punishments for infractions real or perceived. 
However, as much as the surface interaction may seem the same, people in consensual leather relationships and people in abusive relationships are entirely different. In abusive relationships the limitation of the submissive partner’s rights are neither consensual nor negotiable. The dominant partner in an abusive relationship becomes the dominant partner through fear, coercion, and intimidation. Physical and emotional acts of violence in abusive relationships are used to further the control of the dominant partner, and to destroy any sense of self in the submissive partner.
In leather relationships the limitations of rights are pre-negotiated and agreed to by all parties, they are also reviewed and subject to change, as people grow and their needs are different. For example we have a friend who was in a Master slave relationship with his wife, over time, they both changed and she is now a switch (someone who tops and bottoms) and although he is still Master identified he seeks experiences with other partners. In leather relationships dominant partners are recognized by all people in the relationship as the dominant partner, and they are sought out as a dominant to specifically fulfill the submissive partner’s needs. There is no need for coercion, fear, or intimidation, because this type of relationships is desired in the first place. Punishment in leather relationships, if they occur at all, are predefined for a select set of behaviors. In general common rules for punishment in leather include: all punishments are not done in anger, they are intended for the other person to learn from and/or change behavior, and they may or may not include a corporal element. This also varies from household to household.
I am not saying that leather relationships can’t be abusive; there is abuse in all parts of every community. Leather relationships that include aspects of abuse without consent are subject to the same outcomes, this includes abuse that is directed towards the bottom or the top. As being a top does not exempt one from being abused. However just because someone is in a leather relationship does not mean abuse is a part of the equation. For the people who come to terms with their submissive side, and allow themselves to experience it, finding that submission can be self empowering, cathartic, and extremely fulfilling. The bottom line is that abuse is about non consent and destruction, and leather/BDSM is about finding out who you are and creating your life around those things that fulfill you even if one of those things is giving up power.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It's Holiday Shop & Stroll: Sneak Peek at Sales!


One of the most fun events in Albuquerque is happening Thursday night, December 2nd.  The 16th Annual Holiday Shop & Stroll in Nob Hill.  It's exciting to see Central Ave, old Route 66, taken over by pedestrians, carolers, Santa, pedi-cabs, street performers and other festivities.

It's also the best time to go shopping in Nob Hill and support your local small businesses while getting unique holiday gifts for family and friends.  If you haven't joined the Buy Local movement, now's the time to learn about it!

Sales & Events in Nob Hill at Shop & Stroll
  • Self Serve: One Day Only 20% Off Sale and open late until 10 pm
  • AquiOne Day Only 15% Off Sale with refreshments available
  • Zinc Wine Bar & Bistro: The Chris Dracup Band is performing at 9:30 pm 
  • Mark Pardo Salon & Spa:  Free hand relief treatments, makeup touch ups and sensory journeys and Aveda 20% off sale starting at 5 pm 
  • El Paso Imports: 10% off of everything in the store (except sale items and custom orders)
  • Abitha's Herbary: discounted Psychic readings 7pm-9pm
  • Ancient Road: 20% off all astrology and tarot readings for that day and 20% off all astrology readings for the month of December! 
  • Nob Hill Music: 50% off all Jazz vinyl records (except new arrivals)
  • Birdland: Spend $25, get a $5 gift certificate for later; Spend $50, get a $10 gift certificate, Spend $100 and get a $25 gift certificate!
  • Ghost Town Trading: Storewide 20% Off!  Stop by for Homemade Posole, Tamales & Hot Apple Cider!
     
  • Lots more music, sales and freebies throughout the neighborhood!
  •  
There will be free parking behind O’Neils Irish Pub on Central and Washington and across the street at the Bank of America. And the Albuquerque Trolley company will be providing a free shuttle on Central as well. Plenty of parking for everyone.

Go GREEN and take the #766 ABQ rapid ride to the event!