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"Before They Were Gay (at Least in Print)"

on Friday, 02 December 2011. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

NY Times

How gay was the New York gay march in the infancy of the gay rights movement almost 40 years ago?

Not very, according to The New York Times, which prescribed an older nomenclature.

March Is Staged/By Homosexuals” read the headline on Page 21 of The Times that June 26, 1972.

And thereby, as they say, hangs a tale.

I was back on the metropolitan staff after two and a half years overseas. The war I had covered in Vietnam had come home, America’s streets the battleground. And among the revolutionaries in the three turbulent years since the Stonewall uprising were the Gay Veterans for Peace, the Gay Activists Alliance and the dwindling Gay Liberation Front, with its provocative echo of the Vietcong’s National Liberation Front.

I was assigned that year to cover what, since Stonewall, had become an annual commemoration, a march from Sheridan Square in Greenwich Village up Avenue of the Americas to Central Park’s Sheep Meadow. I accompanied the thousands of colorfully clad demonstrators as they paraded, chanting, “Out of the closet and into the streets!” Joining them was the renowned Dr. Benjamin Spock, whose child care book I and millions of other baby boomers had been reared on.

Tourists drawn by the spectacle and thrilled to be witnessing an impromptu Gotham ritual hoisted children onto their shoulders and prepared to cheer, only to go ashen-faced as the orientation of the throng became manifest. This was, after all, 1972. ...

... As I hammered out the article on deadline (on a typewriter, naturally), I waffled over one episode.

In the back of the line of march had been a contingent in black leather. I’d been curious and asked who they were.

“We’re the Eulenspiegel Society,” one told me. They took their name from a medieval prankster hanged for his mischief and immortalized in the Richard Strauss tone poem.

And so?

Well, he went on, they were a self-help group of sadists and masochists.

And which exactly were they? I asked.

Oh, he told me cheerfully, they were the masochists.

I had to ask. Why were they marching?

He delivered his answer deadpan.

“For better treatment.”

Somehow, that never made it into the article.

"Swingers' Party at Champagne Axed, Say Township Officials"

on Friday, 02 December 2011. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

West Deptford Patch

A planned swingers’ party featuring sex and hard liquor at a local strip club was cancelled Thursday after West Deptford officials met with club ownership.

The “December 3 Takeover” event, apparently organized by a group billing itself as Strip Club Takeover (SCTO), appeared to violate a court order already in place that governs what can take place in the club, as well as BYOB regulations, township administrator Eric Campo said.

Along with police Chief Craig Mangano and inspections officials, Campo met with club representatives to lay out those issues.

“They understood we had these concerns,” Campo said, and told township officials the party had officially been nixed.

“There wasn’t any debate,” he said. “It was very cordial.”

As reported in the Gloucester County Times earlier this week, the invitation emailed out by SCTO implied, if not outright said, the booze-fueled sex-fest was a three-hour, almost anything goes event.

It also said exotic dancers–Champagne’s lineup includes dancers with names like “Cashmere” and “Honey Dip” would be performing throughout the night.

As a BYOB club, Champagne’s patrons are limited by state law to bringing in only wine and beer.

"Pleasures, Alabama Adult Store, Holds 'Toys For Tots and Ta-Tas' Charity Drive"

on Friday, 02 December 2011. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Huffington Post

Pleasures, an Alabama adult toy store with a drive-thru window, is holding a charity drive to benefit Toys For Tots and the Save the Ta-Tas.

As incentive, persons who donate a toy for the charity will receive their choice of a complimentary adult toy from a sort of "goody box," containing lube, blindfolds, edible body paint, vibrating bullets and other risque items. In addition, the store will donate $1 to the Save the Ta-Tas organization in that person's name.

"We are helping children, and saving the breasts that feed them," Williams stated in a press release.

The drive began Nov. 20 and runs through Dec. 15. On Dec. 3 local Huntsville radio station 95.1 will be broadcasting from Pleasures, where donators can pose for a picture with Dirty Santa or Sexy Mrs. Claus.

Pleasures owner Sherri Williams told The Huffington Post the idea for the dual-charity drive came naturally to her. She is a long-time supporter of breast cancer research and, since it's Christmas, she also wanted to something to help children in need. And while the thought of an adult store holding a toy drive for children might strike some as unusual, Williams said it's a perfect fit.

"Well, you've got to wonder how we all got here," Williams told The Huffington Post. "Passion played a part in that."

However, the Toy for Tots Foundation isn't too fond of the idea, calling it "very unusual" and "inappropriate."

"Toys for Tots should not be advertised at an adult store," Ret. Major Brian A. Murray, vice president of operations for the foundation, said in an email.

This is the first year the store has held the drive, and Williams said she's impressed with the results so far. The store has already received a variety of toys, including several bicycles.

"People are being very generous," she said.

While the drive benefits kids, Williams emphasizes one must be 18 years or older to enter the store.

Pleasures captured media attention earlier this year with the opening of the country's first adult store drive-thru window. The store, which first opened in 1993, was the subject of significant legal backlash from the state government following the move.

But Williams fought the state's anti-obscenity laws and pushed for the right to sell objects for sexual stimulation. After finding a loophole that allows the distribution of the items for "medical, scientific, educational, legislative, judicial, or law enforcement" purposes, her store now distributes anonymous questionnaires to couples asking if they have trouble with sexual fulfillment.

After the nine-year battle, Williams said she's finally in a good place and is glad to be giving back.

"[It's great to] share some of the profits with charities that I like to support," she said.

"Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, Open Relationships and Our Public & Private Sex Lives"

on Friday, 02 December 2011. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates


When the doors to your bedroom, and what you do inside, are thrown open for the world to see; when your sex life becomes fair game for speculation, it can change everything.

As you probably know by now, Demi Moore has filed for divorce from her husband Ashton Kutcher, amidst allegations that he cheated on her repeatedly, including on their wedding anniversary. People magazine reports that “sources” claim that Moore was willing to tolerate some infidelity, but that his flaunting of his affairs, in ways that made tabloid headlines, became inexcusable. While People doesn’t come right out and say they had an open relationship, that is the implication. Whether it’s true or not, the idea highlights a reality whether you’re famous or not: there exists an aspect of our sex lives and how we present them, that’s public, and an aspect that’s private. For some they may be one and the same, but for others, they are two very different but overlapping pieces of our erotic puzzles.

This item of gossip caught my eye, because it gets at the heart of the ways sex occupies both the public and private spheres, often straddling them, moving from one to the other at our whim. Some of us like to let it all hang out (raising my hand) and some of us prefer to keep people guessing, but even if you count yourself among the latter, your sex life is still fair game for speculation.

Especially when it comes to taboo topics we fear might get us in trouble, many people, even those who’ve publicly staked a claim to sexuality, are not comfortable being so “out there.” Three writers who’ve written books about sex have asked me to remove YouTube videos of them reading at my former reading series In The Flesh, because they feared repercussions at work or in their relationships. Potential erotica authors frequently query me concerned about privacy issues around pseudonyms, because were their erotica persona to become public, they too could lose jobs, friendships and respect. We may like to think we are living in an anything-goes era when it comes to sex, but we aren’t quite there yet. I wonder what our world would look like — and if couples like Moore and Kutcher would still be together — if we were less judgmental and more open to an array of sexual desires. Instead, topics like crossdressing, bisexuality, and BDSM still trigger shame in many people. I get the need for secrecy, especially if it’s about a topic that one fears (or is sure) will be misunderstood, all the more so with something like role-playing, which has the potential to reveal so much about who you are as a person, not just what you like to do.

It’s not just those with a secret life, who want to stay under wraps, who are affected by these double standards; recently, I found myself making assumptions about someone else’s sex life. Susie Bright posted an interview on her blog she conducted with sex educator and Opening Up author Tristan Taormino, and I was surprised to read about her own jealousy issues. “I am often too quick to say ‘YES’ to my partner’s request to do something with someone else. It’s like I want to facilitate his pleasure and happiness and not be jealous, so I jump right to ‘Sure, that’s great! Go for it!’ without actually thinking it through,” said Taormino. Of course it makes sense that even Taormino would have dealt with “some major doozies,” in her words, when it comes to jealousy, but I, myself, fell into the trap of thinking along the lines that since she’s an expert on the topic, she never faces the same trials and tribulations as the rest of us.

Anyone even marginally in the public eye, not just those of us who work in the field of sexuality, is going to be subject to some speculation, whether to your face or not, about what your sex life is like. That curiosity is natural, but it can create a gap between other people’s fantasies about our sex lives (or perhaps our own idealized visions of them) and reality. This begs the question of whether we’re secure enough in our own sexual desires to not care about what others might project onto us.

It makes sense that what we might tolerate within the confines of a relationship might not be something we can tolerate out in the open, where we are subject to judgment and prejudice. Sadly, I suspect many people still hear “open relationship” and process it as “nonstop orgy seven nights a week,” even though it may more likely mean a once-in-a-while hookup, or several dedicated relationships (or perhaps you are enjoying that nonstop orgy, and more power to you!).

The nuances of polyamory are still not quite accepted, even though we know that the divorce rate in the United States is extremely high; cheating seems more understood, at least as a necessary evil, than actually doing the work of negotiating some variation of nonmonogamy. Plus, if you’re in a heterosexual marriage, the default assumption is that you are monogamous; I know plenty of couples who from the outside look like the typical man and wife, and reap all the benefits of societal blessings as such, but practice nonmonogamy. I’m not criticizing that arrangement, but I would love to see more famous and non-famous folks acknowledge the challenges of relationships generally, open and otherwise. Yet when they do, they’re skewered with I-told-you-so scolds, like Chelsea Handler’s not-so-smart quip to Piers Morgan, “They probably had a lot of threesomes that led to twosomes without Demi and that leads to a divorce.” The notoriously sexually conservative tabloid Hollywood Life did their best to sound aghast about this utterly sensible quote by Angelina Jolie: “I doubt that fidelity is absolutely essential for a relationship…It’s worse to leave your partner and talk badly about him afterwards. Neither Brad nor I have ever claimed that living together means to be chained together. We make sure that we never restrict each other.”...

"Is sex addiction real?"

on Friday, 02 December 2011. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates


After surrendering their vibrators and porno DVDs, the stars of VH1?s “Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew” have chain-smoked their way through three long, sexless weeks of treatment. The motley crew of pseudo-celebrities — including a porn star, a beauty queen and an obscure rock musician — have stripped their emotions bare in nationally broadcast group therapy, tearfully sharing stories of past abuse, anonymous sex, hours upon hours of smut surfing and, above all else, consuming shame. But here’s a question that the show, which ended its first season Sunday night, never bothered to ask: Are these people really addicts?

Since the term was coined in 1983, “sex addiction” has become so embroidered in our self-help vocabulary that most of us stopped questioning it. The term gets bandied about whenever Bill Clinton logs extracurricular time with an intern or Eliot Spitzer gets caught having sex in his socks or David Duchovny separates from his wife. Recently “Sex Rehab” host Dr. Drew Pinsky made headlines by suggesting that Tiger Woods has a sex addiction. It’s become the go-to defense for extramarital affairs (I’m not an asshole; I’m an addict!) and been sold to “Oprah” viewers eager to diagnose their porn-loving husbands as both addicts and assholes.

Patrick Carnes, the leading expert in sex addiction, defines it as “any sexually related, compulsive behavior which interferes with normal living and causes severe stress on family, friends, loved ones, and one’s work environment.” But here’s the tricky part: What’s the difference between the symptom of a compulsive disease and a disease itself? Repeatedly lathering up in the sink is a sign of OCD. We don’t call those people hand-washing addicts, now, do we? Unlike most addictive substances, sex can’t be smoked, snorted or mainlined. The term isn’t recognized in the DSM (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), the bible of therapists everywhere (although along with other controversial diagnoses, like those relating to gender identity, sex addiction is being debated for a new version). But for many sex educators and sex-positive experts, hearing the term spoken about so casually, so frequently, is nothing short of maddening.

“People can behave in compulsive, self-destructive ways,” popular Savage Love columnist Dan Savage writes in an e-mail. “It is possible to fuck too much, or fuck too many people, or fuck your life up fucking. But sex isn’t a chemical substance. It’s not a drug.”

Addiction experts argue it’s the hit of dopamine delivered during orgasm that is abused. (Similar arguments are used to explain gambling and shopping addictions.) But equating those “powerful hoo-haa endorphins,” as Savage puts it, with harder substances like crack is “just ye olde sex negativity on display.”

Other skeptics take issue with the model for sex addiction diagnosis. An online test designed by Carnes casts a wide, sweeping net in its search for signs of the condition. Anyone who enjoys regular masturbation, has a porn collection, or indulges in an active fantasy life will likely be labeled a potential addict … potentially in need of Patrick Carnes’ services.

Richard Siegel, a licensed sex therapist, says he frequently comes across “normal, healthy college-aged guys” who have been unfortunately convinced by “flimsy pop psychology” tests that they are sex addicts for simply masturbating every day. When “Sex Rehab” star Nicole Narain, she of the Colin Farrell sex-tape fame, went on “The Joy Behar Show” in November, she complained about staying in bed all of one day to masturbate. This gave longtime sex writer (and former Salon columnist) Susie Bright a good laugh. “It is of the same tradition of hair growing on your palms from masturbating too much! It’s a werewolf fantasy,” she said.

Says Savage, “We live in a culture that’s torn between titillation and condemnation — that’s Dr. Drew’s whole shtick, actually. Titillate and condemn, condemn and titillate.”

The sex addiction world does indeed seem scolding and puritanical at times. Carnes’ screening test asks whether your sexual behavior has “hurt anyone emotionally,” whether you have used sex and “romantic fantasies” as “a way for you to escape your problems” and whether you “feel controlled by your sexual desire.” Pain, fantasy, desire — these are all normal parts of sexuality. Similarly, the test asks about paying for everything from a dating site to a dirty magazine. As for having a healthy and moderate interest in polyamory, swinging, BDSM, strip clubs, bath houses? Fuhgettaboutit. The truth, says Savage, is that “sex addiction” is merely a clinical euphemism for “sex they disapprove of for moral reasons.” As Dr. Marty Klein, a sex therapist and the author of “America’s War on Sex: The Attack on Law, Lust and Liberty,” once wrote: “These people are missionaries who want to put everyone in the missionary position.” ...

"West Deptford Township: Party may be too racy"

on Friday, 02 December 2011. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

A swingers’ group’s plan for an event at a local gentlemen’s club has drawn the attention of municipal officials who say it may violate local regulations.

Strip Club Takeover (SCTO), a group that organizes get-togethers at such clubs for swinging couples and others, has rented Club Champagne on Crown Point Road for a Dec. 3 event. An Internet announcement of the “December 3 Takeover,” as it is dubbed, seemed to indicate what is planned may cross the line as far as local officials are concerned.

Both West Deptford Township Administrator Eric Campo and police Chief Craig Mangano said Tuesday they and others must determine whether the “Takeover” should be allowed, provided organizers don’t cancel it themselves.

“We’re in the process of reviewing that with the police department and the zoning office,” Campo said.

The announcement for the event was emailed by a source to the Times, Campo and others.

“SCTO is here to give you exactly what you want ... food, BYO, strippers and SEX all under one roof!” it said in part.

“You must be on the guest list to enter the door,” it said elsewhere, adding that “it is imperative that we all make sure to keep this hush hush!”

SCTO also told potential guests of hotel reservation discounts connected to the event.

Tickets to the Takeover, scheduled for 8 to 11 p.m., are $60 per couple and $40 per single female.

Several exotic dancers are also scheduled for the Takeover, the announcement said.

While Champagne — surrounded by the oil tanks of the shuttered Sunoco refinery — is BYOB, SCTO warned guests, “If you are bringing hard liquor, please be discreet in how you carry it to the door.”

Campo said he, Mangano and others are reviewing a January 2009 state Superior Court Law Division order regulating what is allowed inside the club.

“It governs what activities can take place within,” Campo said. “There are limitations. And we need to investigate whether there are violations. At face value, there may be.” ...

"Soho Journal publisher guilty in S&M mortgage scam"

on Thursday, 24 November 2011. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

The Villager

Donald MacPherson — publisher of the Soho Journal who once mulled a run for Community Board 2 chairperson — pleaded guilty last Wednesday to 45 counts of grand larceny, insurance fraud and other crimes in an elaborate $82 million Hamptons mortgage fraud scam.

Prosecutors described it as the most massive mortgage fraud case in Suffolk County’s history. Up to 60 homes were involved, mostly on Long Island’s East End.

According to the Southampton Press, MacPherson’s trial was set begin on Mon., Nov. 14, two days before he accepted his plea.

In July, former Suffolk Legislator George Guldi pleaded guilty to being part of the five-person mortgage fraud along with MacPherson. The five were charged in March 2009 with stealing millions of dollars from lenders between 2002 and 2007. ...

MacPherson’s wife, Carrie Coakley, 41, who was also implicated in the mortgage fraud ring, has not entered a plea and remains charged with first-degree grand larceny and scheme to defraud in the first degree, the spokesperson said. Her next court date is Dec. 5.

Coakley — who is a dominatrix, according to the D.A. — is accused of recruiting straw buyers for the scheme at The Dungeon, the Manhattan S&M club where she was in charge. In the end, 17 individuals total were indicted in the scheme.

Newsday reported that it took almost an hour and a half for MacPherson to answer questions last Wednesday about the various ways he swindled banks in properties in Southampton.

He reportedly said he paid the straw buyers a fee of $10,000, assuring them he would make the mortgage payments on a particular house. But he instead retained the mortgage proceeds and allowed the house to go into foreclosure.

Newsday said that MacPherson admitted that he inflated his income and that of his straw buyers, and that he falsely reported that some of the buyers were employed in high-level jobs in companies he owned. ...

"Bondage event? No spanks! Council 'shows distaste for kinky convention by charging members extra fees"

on Wednesday, 23 November 2011. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Daily Mail

A ‘Spanksgiving’ event that explores bondage and sexual masochism has been singled out for law enforcement, its organisers claim.

STL3 from St. Louis, Missouri said its event in Fairview Heights, Illinois has been unfairly targeted by the council demanding its vendors buy permits.

The council had originally said it did not have to pay, as it is a non-profit organisation.

But the group claims after the council carried out more research into its activities, they demanded vendors buy permits.

City council members have argued the requirements were announced weeks ago – long before they heard of the convention.

The group is holding ‘a three day adult educational seminar and play party’ this weekend for 250 people at the Four Points by Sheraton in Fairview Heights.

The convention, which explores bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism in sexual relationships, includes seminars entitled The Joy of Polygamy, Slutty Sex for Real Relationships, Rope 101 and Needles.

endors required to purchase permits include Ms. Martha’s Corset Shop and Bill Stevenson, Whipmaker.

Susan Wright, the spokeswoman for the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, said organisers want to cooperate fully with the city and plan to obey all state and city laws.

But she added: ‘What is being asked of this conference that is not being asked of other conferences?

‘You can't just enforce it against one group and not another. Did other conference vendors have to pay this fee? It's because of the nature of the event.’

Council member Sandy Baldwin said the city recently decided to enforce the permits and sent letters to all hotels.

She said they are not specifically targeting ‘Spanksgiving’, but simply enforcing existing codes.

‘I would prefer to not have this kind of event in our city, there's no doubt about that,’ Baldwin said. ‘But I also understand, legally, when your hands are tied, we can only make sure the laws on our books are being followed.’

She added that one rule did not stand for all non-profit organisations.

‘I think there's a difference between a Girl Scout cookie and a sexual toy paraphernalia,’ she said. ‘When you sell Girl Scout cookies, that money is put back into the Girl Scouts. It's going back into the community.’ ...

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