Playboy is Back – maybe

I wrote a blog last year questioning the wisdom of Playboy magazine’s decision to eliminate nude content — see here.  My point then, and I still believe it – was that Playboy would be a perfectly fine magazine in that format but that it would have a hard time competing with others in that niche – Esquire, GQ, Maxim.

Well.. it turns out I was partially right, partially wrong.  In terms of revenues, apparently the non-nude format has managed to pick up some new advertisers and is expanding its revenue base.  In print media these days this is really a big deal – no one is expanding advertising in print.  So… well done.

But are the customers happy?  Apparently not.  People still feel nostalgic for the ‘old Playboy’.  So much so that Hugh Heffner’s son, a senior executive on the magazine, has said he wants to return to having nude photo spreads.  Current CEO Ben Koen is opposed, fearing he will lose all the new advertisers that refused to purchase space in a nudie magazine. It is apparently shaping up to be a big fight in the Playboy ranks but Hef’s son has promised nude content by next year.

Personally, I like the new Playboy.  The writing is crisp and he articles topical. I actually prefer it to virtually all of its main competitors – Esquire, GQ, Vanity Fair… and its a hundred times better than Maxim and FFM.  Would I like nudity as well? Sure.. but not if it means the magazine would not be viable. And this is where we need to be practical.  It is near impossible to keep a print magazine profitable these days.  If Playboy has found a way to do it by eliminating nude content… they may be well advised to stick with that formula.

Male Sex Toys

I read an article this weekend reviewing male masturbatory sleeves – sex toys for men that give you a masturbation assist.  While intriguing, I will admit that I have never tried one.  As a matter of fact, I have tried virtually no men’s sex toys – cock rings, masturbation sleeves, ass plug.. nothing.

Is there a strange double standard going on?  As anyone who reads my blog knows, I am a big, big fan of sex toys.  My wife and I have a pretty wide range and she (and we) enjoy them immensely.  We’ve certainly discussed trying out men’s sex toys.. we even bought a cock rings once.  But we have yet to even take it out of it packaging.

Why?  Some of it is practical. While a masturbation sleeve sounds kind of interesting, my hand works really well and the sleeves seem kind of big and conspicuous.  Cock rings.. I’m not sure I fully understand what they will do.. I maintain an erection quite well and I’m a won’t it squeeze/hurt a little… anyway I simply don’t see the upside but would love to be convinced there is one.  And ass plugs.. my wife and I simply don’t do ass play; I am intrigued by it and may find a way to indulge a bit, but for now its not a thing for us.

So… no male sex toys. But, I good friend just gave me a gift card for an online sex shop.  I’m thinking it may be time to take the plunge.

Bisexual Boot Camp – a guest blog from my wife

My wife has an interesting dilemma.  In her words:

Like many women, I discovered my bisexuality later in life. And for the first few years, I really wasn’t comfortable with the label … bicurious, definitely – but bisexual? Not sure. After getting the chance to play with a number of women through the lifestyle, I now realize there’s a big spectrum of bisexuality, and that I’m definitely to the right of centre (i.e. pretty solidly bisexual rather than bicurious).

So now that that’s cleared up, I’m realizing that I know my way around a man’s body WAY better than around another woman’s body. And I’m wondering how to even things out? Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour threshold comes to mind … but seriously – who has time for that?

As I was mulling this over, I realized it’s time to use my “phone a friend” lifeline, and ask my husband for help. He has LOTS of experience (and comes highly recommended), and so I’ve asked if he’d be willing to give me lessons … a kind of bisexuality boot camp. By his reaction, you’d think that Christmas came not only early, but twice! So now we’ve lined up a close lifestyle friend to be our ‘test subject’, and we’ve been fantasizing about the lessons all week. I think this bisexual boot camp will be a super hot experience for all involved, and it will help me both embrace my bisexuality and up my confidence in the girl-on-girl department. What do you think? Any other ideas or suggestions?

Old Dogs… New Tricks… Light Bondage

I have long believed that a secret to a happy, enduring relationship is having the ability (and the desire) to seek new adventures together.  These adventures may run the gambit from travel to enjoying the company of new people to sexual exploits in and out of the bedroom.

So.. in the bedroom… as we get [a little bit] older, it becomes pretty easy to fall into patterns. The same foreplay every time, the standard set of sexual positions… It can be a little routine.  Anyone who reads my blog knows that my wife and I work hard to make sure this does not happen to us, but the reality is that this requires work and creativity.  So, imagine my pleasant surprise when, 15 years into our relationship my wife realizes that something that, in the past, did not interest her in the least, is not her new favourite thing.  She really (really!!) enjoys being retrained.

Upon the discovery (which is an interesting story in and of itself… but a story for another day), we got a high quality set of bed restraints and have been experimenting with this new mini-fetish she has acquired.  A few things we are discovering

  • the loss of control can be a complete aphrodisiac… especially if, like my wife, your professional life is full or responsibility and leadership functions
  • allowing yourself to be pleasured while not giving back (at the time) can be a real indulgence.  It took a while for my wife to get her head around the fact that she could just be there – tied up – and be pleasured.  In those moments there is nothing she has to go to reciprocate the pleasure-giving.
  • restraint play is not necessarily BDSM play. While she loves the feeling of being restrained, she does not like other elements of typical BDSM play…. she does not enjoy pain for instance. I have had to experiment a fair bit with what types of stimulation she enjoys while retrained.. she liked some light spanking, for example, but not enough to cause pain or redness.
  • mistakes will be made and must be quickly forgiven.  I will admit that, many times, we have tried things that simply didn’t work.. either a little too much pressure, not a great position… When one partner is retrained, it becomes super important to know how to give and receive feedback on whether what you are doing in the moment works for them.  A very common error when you have someone restrained is to ‘go a little too hard’.  You need to get very good at modifying your play seamlessly when something isn’t working.. you want to be able to stop doing the uncomfortable thing and move onto to something pleasurable with our killing the mood that has been created.

I love the fact that we have added this dimension to our sex lives, Frankly, it is something I never gave much thought to before.  Fortunately a very good online friend and a very good in-person friend have been slowly opening my/our eyes to how much fun you can have with this type of play.  Brave new world…




Admit It.. You Would Brag About It To Your Friends

Last weekend, concurrently in Hotels in London and Beijing, couples were evicted from their hotel rooms for ‘creating a disturbance’… AKA… being too loud during sex.

In Beijing, things really got out of hand when other hotel guests – being kept up by the loud sex noises coming from one of the rooms – started a minor riot when the guilty/pleasured party refused to keep it down.  The guests were asked to leave the hotel and – in a true victory for justice – the complaining guest was fined 3,000$ for inciting the riot that brought the police there in the first place.

In London, while there was no riot, a couple was evicted from the swanky Lowry Hotel for refusing to keep it down while doing the dirty.

For both of these couples, I’m sure it kind of sucked finding yourself out in the streets at 2am. But admit it, for the story you get… totally worth it!

Getting a Grip on our Views on Sexuality

I was at a dinner party recently and we were talking about the HBO show, Game of Thrones. As soon as it came up, one of the husbands got aggravated and said he hated the show because there was so much gratuitous sexuality and nudity. This led, predictably, to a divide of those who said that the sex was the only reason they watched it and those who thought it went too far.

To each their own. But what struck me is that, while 3 people there had a moderate to high issue with the level of nudity, no one mentioned the gratuitous violence. This is a program where a leading character is explicitly decapitated in the first episode (or near first – can’t remember).

This bothered me. Personally, I am ok with both sex and violence on TV that is intended for adults, but I understand the people who like neither. I do, however, have a bit of a hard time with those who see nudity and sexuality as completely unacceptable, but violence as just fine.

I have been thinking a lot lately about the damage we do to ourselves, our relationships and society by stigmatizing sex in the way that we do. To treat sex as dirty, impure and inappropriate and taboo is to vilify our most basic desire. I will blog more on this in days/weeks to come, but what I want to think through and share is how society could be improved if e turned our views on sexuality and desire on its head and started to treat it as natural and positive instead of evil. I am going to try to be objective and consider the pros and cons, but intuitively, I think we would be far better off. We’ll see.

No Problem to Large for America to Solve

While I’m a complete political junkie, I rarely do political columns.  But with the gong show that is the current American election, I thought I would re-post an old blog I wrote that – I hope – will restore some of America’s faith in the potential of their GOP. So…

“I long the for return of Republicans who believe there is not problem so large that American ingenuity and enterprise cannot solve it”. Last night I saw an excellent panel discussion featuring, amongst others, Bob Inglis.

For those unfamiliar with Inglis, he had been a four term South Carolina Congressman. In 2010 he was targeted, during the Republican nomination process, by the Tea Party because of his belief that climate change is real and created by human activity. He lost the nomination for a seat he had won 4 times.

The panel was ostensibly about how to build support for a carbon tax to fight climate change. But really, climate change was just an example of Inglis’ larger message — the Republican Party has morphed: from a party that believes America and its free market system take on big problems and solve them as only America can; to a party that denies problems or blames others for problems, but refused constructive debate on solutions. They have become a party of cowards and fear mongers.

I am not a conservative, but Inglis’ message really resonated with me. The United States is having the wrong conversations now. It is far more constructive to mutually acknowledge a problem, be it climate change, the health care system, education or immigration and have a traditional right/left debate on how to solve it: what is the role of government, what is the role of markets, how do you parse individual versus collective responsibility. These are important questions and both perspectives matter.

Inglis told a story about a meeting he had with five former funders. They said Obama was a Marxist, Communist who wanted to open the Mexican border and let all the Muslims in so that he could declare himself dictator of the United States. Inglis’ response was that “I don’t think it is quite that bad” and he stated to engage them in debate on what Obama was doing (which he strongly disagreed with). He lost their funding and their vote.

Right now, the US seems to have lost this ability to debate solutions constructively. Republicans preach fear and romanticize a past that never was. Democrats are left to be the only ones proposing serious solutions and, without the counterbalance of serious conservatives, they probably do tack a little too far to the left.

The world needs a strong America willing to engage seriously on serious issues. Climate change is a good example. No other country in the world has the free enterprise sophistication and mass to develop the technologies the world will need to seriously reduce greenhouse gasses. We need the US turning its entrepreneurial spirit to this massive problem. Only Republicans can turn that ship around.

Bob Inglis gave me a bit of hope that there are Republicans who, when they long for a better time, are seeing the future not the past.