Sunday, October 16, 2016

Older Women Wear Lingerie, age 72

Aging brings wisdom and experience -- and body image insecurity. Most of us, even if we glory in our sexuality, have misgivings about our ever-expanding wrinkles and sags. Sometimes it takes another pair of eyes -- whether a lover or a photographer -- to show us that our outer beauty matches our inner beauty.

At age 65, then again at age 68, I stripped to lingerie for photo shoots. I learned a lot about myself from these experiences and from viewing and sharing the results. People applauded, praised me for my courage, high-fived me for encouraging others to have their own lingerie shoots.

My  blog posts about these events quickly drew more viewers than any of my other posts, and they continue to place in the top four all time most popular posts. Many women shared their own experiences and photos, some privately. some publicly. I was happy that my experience had helped to empower others.

 I didn't know I would do it again. But in September 2016, I slipped (wrestled?) my 72-year-old body into lovely lingerie provided by and smiled at the renowned Los Angeles photographer, Perry Gallagher, who specializes in Boudoir, Fine Art Nude, Fashion, and Wedding photography.

How did this happen? Krista from Lovehoney knew Perry's work and mine. When she learned that I would be in LA for speaking events in September, she offered both the lingerie and the photo shoot.

Krista explained her involvement in the project this way:

Joan is a lovely timeless spirit and I was overjoyed to work with her on a photo shoot and check out some of Lovehoney's newest lingerie styles. I connected her with one of my favorite photographers, Perry Gallagher, to complete the vision. 

Joan is not only adorable, she is also breaking down stereotypes that women of a certain age are not considered sexy or sexual. I want people to see that lingerie isn’t just for the young and pert. Lingerie, and sex toys, can enhance your sex life and increase your self-confidence no matter your age, size, shape, or ability.

What was it like to work with Perry? A ton of fun. Perry is a true professional. He knew how to put me at ease with his humor and his appreciation of the female body whatever its shape, size, or age. He give me instructions -- where to turn, where to look, how to arrange various body parts -- including tucking myself back into my bra when breast spillage occurred. The whole time, he clicked away.

I felt completely comfortable with Perry -- except when I worried about him climbing on a ladder to shoot me from above. (I have a fear of heights -- he does not.) It was exciting to be at the center of his rapt attention, I admit that. Much of that excitement was the feeling, "I'm doing this. My 72-year-old body is fine with being photographed in skimpy bits of cloth." It was a truly empowering experience that I'll take with me anytime I fret about a new wrinkle or thigh puff.

Thank you,, for sending me the luscious undies and sponsoring this photo shoot. These are the products I'm modeling. Follow the links if you'd like to wear these yourself!

Thank you, Perry Gallagher, for these amazing photos and for making the whole experience fun and full of laughter. View Perry's video here:

I would encourage other women of all ages to explore the opportunity to have just this type of experience for yourself: to be photographed and to see the inner beauty that is you, right now, no matter what age you are. Now is a good time.
-- Perry Gallagher

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Rumble: Unique, Lightweight Vibrator from Tantus

Do you want a vibrator that's well-designed, well-made, body-safe, and fairly strong -- with a truly ergonomic shape, size, and weight? Impossible, you say? Check out The Rumble from Tantus, a solution if you have wrist arthritis or any condition that makes it difficult to grip or hold up a wand vibrator for as long as it takes to get the job done.

I couldn't believe how light the Rumble is to hold: just 6.6 ounces. (For comparison, the Doxy Die Cast, fabulous as it is, weighs almost two pounds.) Tantus describes the Rumble as "featherweight," and I agree. The shape is also unique -- you can hold it in several different ways and it remains easy on the wrist. The silicone head is removable for easy cleaning -- it's even dishwasher safe.

I love the size of the head. The shape is versatile: you can use it flat-headed for all-over vulva sensations, or, if/when you prefer, tilt it so that the edge pinpoints your clitoris. Either way (or changing it up as you go), the sensation is yummy. Although I'm speaking from the point of view of a vulva owner, its use is not restricted to a particular gender -- all Tantus products are gender neutral. (I'd love to hear from you about how your penis enjoys it.)

The controls are large, easy to see (they even light up), and even if your hand is closed over them, you're not likely to press a button accidentally. Some vibrators are annoying because either any light touch turns the darn thing off, or the opposite, you have to use uncomfortable pressure. The Rumble has it right -- you can touch or glide over the buttons while adjusting how you want to hold it, and you won't accidentally turn it off. When you do want to change the settings, a light, intentional pressure will do it. The power button is placed far away from the "-" and "+" buttons, good thinking.

Is it as strong as the monster king vibrators I tend to prefer, like the Doxy Die Cast, Magic Wand, or Sybian? No, not even close. But for those of you who don't require a turbo power tool to get your orgasm going, you'll prefer the lightweight Rumble for the ergonomic qualities I described. Even if you usually do require mondo stimulation, you might find -- as I did! -- that when you're especially in the mood, this works just dandy.

The Rumble is USB rechargeable and has seven settings -- three intensities and four additional patterns. The vibrations at the lower settings are deep and rumbly, which makes the sensations especially pleasurable, though they do get buzzier with higher speeds. The Rumble is quieter than most wand vibrators.

Tantus is a wonderful company for many reasons. It's owned by one of my favorite sex educators and innovators, Metis Black. Metis spearheaded the silicone sex toy movement in 1997, long before the rest of us were aware of the health repercussions of the materials used in sex toys at that time. Metis values the health of her customers as much as our pleasure, plus she's a delightful, warm person.

If you're into dildos or butt plugs of any size or shape, take a look at the original silicone products created by Tantus. And don't miss the sex ed articles -- pegging, spanking, and how to bring up that sexual itch that's been tickling your brain, for example. Now I've got your attention!

Thank you, Tantus, for the gift of the Rumble in return for an honest review.

Friday, September 02, 2016

Doxy Die Cast: So Strong!

There's a new sheriff in town, and her name is Doxy Die Cast. She's strong, brightly colored, strong, made of a snazzy aluminum/titanium alloy, strong. Did I mention that the Doxy Die Cast is strong? Strong as in lie-back-and-it'll-happen strong, even if your orgasms usually take a lot of effort. If you like a high intensity clitoral vibrator, this power tool will sing to you in great, rumbly, throbby tones.

Let's back up. I had the privilege of talking to Ruby Goodnight from Doxy at the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit last month. At the Doxy booth, I was dazzled by the gorgeous colors of the Die Cast models. After turning one on, I was even more dazzled by the strength of the vibrations.

In 2014, I had written a glowing review of the original Doxy Wand, so Ruby was familiar with my love of Doxy. When I told her I had to review this new model, she said she worried about its heavy heft for me, because she knew I wanted sex toys to work with arthritic wrists. That's one of my criteria for reviewing sex toys.

However, having experienced the Doxy Die Cast, I must repeat what I said about the original Doxy:

I generally prefer vibrators that are easy on arthritic wrists -- this one is not. It's heavy, it's huge, and I would be in pain from trying to hold it for any length of time. However, that's irrelevant, because it works so fast that my wrist barely notices. Yes, it's that good.

What do I love about the Doxy Die Cast? Let me count the ways:

  • It's really strong. (Yeah, I know I've made that point already, but that is the point.) 
  • The head is made of body-safe silicone and has a bit of cush for comfort.
  • The head is large enough to send vibrations over much of the vulva and the internal clitoris, those pleasure-giving nerve endings under the surface. (See my Clitoring for an illustration of the wishbone- shaped part of the clitoris that we don't see.)
  • The control buttons are large, easy and comfortable to press, and they light up. 
  • The vibrant color wouldn't be enough to sell me on a vibrator, but when I'm already sold, gorgeousness is an added bonus.

The Doxy Die Cast is easy to use -- just press the power button quickly to turn it on, then increase or decrease intensity with the "+" or "-" buttons. But there's also a mode called the "pulse setting" that you might not find on your own if you don't read the manual. This is a revving up from low intensity to high. Once you're in this mode, the "+" or "-" buttons vary the rate of acceleration. I usually don't care about vibrational patterns, but this is especially pleasing! Access the "pulse setting" it by turning off the Doxy, then press the power button for two seconds and it will be running in pulse mode.

Here are some things you might not like so much, though they don't bother me when compared to the pleasure:

  • It's big and heavy -- 13" long by 2.38" wide, weighing 1.8 pounds.
  • It has to stay plugged in while in use. (That's understandable for powering a motor that strong.)
  • Be careful following the instruction booklet, which is not completely correct for this model. Since the Doxy Die Cast has a silicone head (not "medical grade PVC" as it says -- that's a different Doxy), you do not want to use silicone lubricant with it, despite the booklet's instructions -- use water-based lube instead. Doxy tells me that these errors will be corrected on the next print run.
It comes with its own cushioned storage case. It's a huge, hardshell case, 19" long, so don't expect to carry it in a backpack. I would have appreciated a storage pouch in case I wanted to store or pack it without the mondo case, but this case will keep it clean and protected.

The Doxy Die Cast is available from SheVibe, a splendid sex toy shop with a devoted blogger following, because they treat their bloggers and their customers so well. Their website is also fun, because of the sexy comic art throughout the site. Check it out.

(Would you please tell SheVibe that they need some artwork showing people our age? Do you see me with my hand in the air, volunteering to pose?)

Friday, August 26, 2016

Pulse II Duo and Solo: Reviews from our contest winners

So here's how this happened. I have been a fan of the Pulse penis vibrator since late 2013, when I first learned how it enhances sex for penises, with or without an erection. Since that time, I've raved about it, along with my other favorites, at my presentations. During one of these, a man raised his hand and asked, “Do you need another Pulse tester?”

The audience and I laughed, but then I started thinking: At our age, especially, we have such divergent sexual needs and challenges. What if I did enlist the help of some carefully selected assistants to review the new Pulse II Solo and Duo? I asked Hot Octopuss, creator of the Pulse, whether they'd sponsor a contest. We were on!

The deal was that potential Pulse reviewers would enter my contest, describing why they wanted, needed, and deserved a free Pulse II. They would promise me an honest review if they won. I chose three winners out of many fine entries. Now that they've had time to test and retest their prizes (thanks, guys!), here are their reviews. Enjoy!


When erectile dysfunction struck me a few years ago I was in denial. I blamed stress, tiredness, just about anything I could think of. I finally had to admit to myself as well as to my partner of 10 years that what was happening was erectile dysfunction.

She took the threat to my heart health seriously and encouraged me go to the doctor. As difficult as it I found talking to someone about such a deeply personal issue. I am glad I went. The doctor informed me I had a high level of bad cholesterol and high blood pressure that needed to be controlled through medication. The good doctor also offered pharmaceutical options for my ED. I decided to pass on that, based on the adverse side effects.

My partner also went searching online for other alternatives to help my ED and found Joan Price’s book, Naked at Our Age. After reading the book and some of Joan’s blog, she decided to introduce sex toys into the bedroom. She also began encouraging me to view sex as not always having to lead to penetration.

Before the Pulse Duo I hadn’t tried a vibrating sex toy targeted specifically at men. I was a bit skeptical of this odd shaped silicone contraption. I had only used silicone c-rings and experimented with applying my partner’s electric vibrating wand to my soft penis. I found these pleasurable and helpful in my struggle with ED.

The Pulse II Duo was more than I could have hoped for. I love that I can easily enjoy sexual pleasure while not being fully erect. The design of the toy is key, open on one side and you can lay your flaccid penis within it. The Duo is equipped with a variety of speeds and oscillating patterns. The vibrating or oscillating circular part (the pulse plate) feels wonderful as you move it up and down the shaft. It feels exceptionally good on the sensitive glans head and its ridge. You or your partner can control the level of friction just by squeezing tightly or releasing. Using lube or going without also can change friction and sensation.

I found that most times I was quickly able to get fully erect from the pleasurable sensations I enjoyed from the Pulse II, and it always helped me achieve a powerful orgasm. The Pulse is a quality product that could be a Godsend to any man, but especially those who are struggling with ED. 

The Pulse II Duo is marketed as a couple’s toy and comes with a remote control for the vibrating underside. This extra vibration area stimulates the partner of the person wearing the Duo. The remote controls the strength of the vibrations. This is a nice and thoughtful touch.

My partner and I tried using the Pulse II Duo in the missionary position. Unfortunately, although she found the Duo’s vibrations enjoyable, they were just not powerful enough to bring her to orgasm. 

Neither one of us let this small disappointment take away from the high I was feeling from my new found confidence. We experimented with simultaneous masturbation. I use the Pulse Duo and she uses her wand. It’s a new aspect of our sexuality to watch the other self-pleasuring, and we both find it highly erotic.

I have a new confidence in the bedroom now. My partner and I have always enjoyed the sexual aspect of our relationship and I was so afraid of losing her to a man who could satisfy her. I now realize these fears were unfounded and just my insecurities at work. I am beginning to fully embrace the reality that sex does not have to equal penetration. There are so many other sensual pleasures to indulge in. I just wish it hadn’t taken me 52 years to figure this out.


The Pulse II was designed for men like me. I have had low testosterone and taken hormone supplements since my mid-thirties. Now, at 55, I also have high blood pressure and high cholesterol. As a result, my erections are weaker and easily lost without the right kind of ongoing stimulation. Male stroker toys never worked well for me -- a sleeve of squishy artificial flesh didn’t keep me hard.
My first impression of the Pulse’s design was its alien yet elegant aesthetic. If I didn’t know it was a sex toy, I might expect to see it as a prop on Star Trek. It features black curved contours, expandable wings that wrap around the penis (whether soft or hard), and ridges that stimulate its underside. Most important is the pulse plate, roughly the diameter of a quarter, positioned to provide direct stimulation to the sensitive spot at the frenulum of the penis. The pulse plate generates an oscillating vibration to the frenulum in a way that both generates an erection and provokes a climax.
Two sets of controls operate the Pulse. On the left is a power button that also changes the pulse pattern. Holding that button for over a second toggles the power on or off. Shorter taps on that button change the stimulation from a simple steady vibration to one of five additional pulsing patterns. On the right side are + and – buttons that increase and decrease the vibration speed and intensity through nine levels. Unique to the Duo model is an additional vibrator on the underside of the unit, positioned to stimulate a partner. A small remote control disc activates that vibrator through three speed settings.
Use of the Pulse seems intuitively obvious. Just place your penis, whether erect or flaccid, in the Pulse, turn it on, and away you go. In practice, however, it does have its challenges. The Pulse is neither fish nor fowl. It is not a stroking sleeve that simulates the feel of human skin. Nor is it a vibrator that can be easily positioned to directly stimulate exactly where you want it to. It requires a bit of experimentation to find the right positioning, speed, and movement to provide satisfying stimulation.
The buttons require a frustrating amount of pressure to operate. Most settings for both pulse patterns and vibration speeds weren’t very arousing – more like a mild tickling sensation. In my first use, I was a bit disappointed until, like Goldilocks, I finally found that “just right” speed. The Pulse then rocketed me to a climax in just a couple of minutes, before my erection had even completely hardened.
The Pulse can be used with lube, but I prefer the more intense direct stimulation I get without. I tried the different pulse patterns, but for me none were as arousing as the default constant vibration. Some speed settings were too slow and mild, and others were too fast and numbing, but a few in between were “just right.”
The Pulse can also be a hands-free device, producing a climax with no manual stroking or additional stimulation needed. However, I found those orgasms less powerful and not very satisfying. I get a truly intense orgasm from slowing down just before crossing the finish line, and letting the energy and anticipation build for several seconds. Then, when I can’t hold back any more, the release is an explosive climax. When using the Pulse in a hands-off manner, though, there is no slowing to build anticipation and energy. Instead, it propels you constantly, inexorably, straight to the goal and across the line without any change in speed or intensity.
I prefer taking some hands-on control. Just a slight stroking motion, or a change in vibration speed at the right time (in spite of the hard-to-press buttons), can provide enough variation to generate a truly powerful climax.
As a toy for couples, my partner Christine found the Pulse less innovative. Its hard, smooth surface felt cold to her at first, and she was disappointed at the lack of options in the underside vibrator. It only cycles through three basic speeds, with no oscillation or pulsing patterns. We experimented with a few different positions. Most enjoyable was a pseudo-missionary position, with me kneeling between her legs and positioning the Pulse on top of her clitoris. I could take control of the speed of the underside vibrator with the remote control disc, while enjoying the separate oscillations of the pulse plate against my penis. With some foreplay for her before applying the Pulse, we were able to enjoy a near simultaneous orgasm.
In conclusion, the Pulse is not quite the ultimate male toy. But it is a very effective and stimulating solution for men who can’t always maintain a solid erection. At the right setting, it can quickly bring you from flaccid to climax in just a few minutes. With experimentation and practice, it can also be a gratifying, versatile toy for both solo and couple play.


I am 64 and my wife is 63. We have been together for over 40 years and enjoy our sex life. I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2009 and had my prostate removed with robotic laparoscopy. I have recovered well, however, I do need Levitra for intercourse. I find that even with an erection, it sometimes takes me a very long time to orgasm. This can be difficult for my wife trying to stimulate me.  Sometimes it takes so long that my erection is no longer firm, and I need an even greater level of stimulation.

The Pulse seemed like something we could use together to stimulate me to orgasm. Could it produce an erection and orgasm even without Levitra? We typically needed to plan our intimate times at least an hour in advance for Levitra to take full effect. If the Pulse worked without a pill, I hoped we could be more spontaneous – and it wouldn’t tire my wife!

I received the Pulse II Solo and easily understood the controls. The USB charger worked well and had a full charge in just a couple of hours.  

The first time using the Pulse, I took Levitra and allowed it to work. Then my wife and I tried using it to stimulate my erection. The vibration felt very good but was numbing after a few minutes. We then tried the pulsation patterns. These were better because the patterns of pulse and pause allowed for less numbing. The vibrations felt good, but did not lead to orgasm. However, we did continue and had intercourse after we played around with the Pulse II, so the stimulation was helpful.

One issue was that I needed to move the Pulse II around to keep the vibrations focused on the right area. I was hoping that it would provide vibrations and my wife could just hold it in a good position and it would work its magic, but it needed more repositioning. The other issue is that this unit is loud. I think that put us off a bit. We have vibrators, but they are much quieter.

The next time, I tried the Pulse II alone, without taking Levitra. It gave me a good erection. After a bit of trying different pulse patterns and moving it to keep it in the right spot, I had a satisfying orgasm. I find it easier to work holding it myself because I can more easily move it to control the response. I found that the pulsing patterns were very helpful with keeping it from numbing me the way continuous vibration did.

Based on the way the Pulse gave me an erection without Levitra, I feel confident that we’ll be able to use it for partner sex as a means of stimulating me to erection without medication. And it is definitely good for solo sex. We will continue to explore its capabilities!

* * *

Many thanks to  Hot Octopuss for the prizes! Please support them by checking out their website and ordering your Pulse II from them directly if you decide you want this guybrator on your team. Thank you, Boone, Jeff, and Tom, for your detailed and thoughtful reviews. I know you'll help others.  Pulse on!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

PalmPower: Now rechargeable!

8/8/2016. Updated review, thanks to the new rechargeable version of the PalmPower!  

August 2016 update:

Woo hoo, my beloved little PalmPower now has a rechargeable model, aptly named the PalmPower Recharge. If you're not familiar with the original PalmPower, read my June 2014 review below, then come back here.

The original model had to be plugged in while you used it. Not a big deal for most of us. But if you want to take your vibrator on a camping trip, or use it with a partner without getting tangled up, or you want to travel light on an overnight, you might have wished that you could charge your PalmPower, then take it away cord-free. Now you can. The PalmPower Recharge comes with a USB cord for recharging, then you can disconnect the cord and play on.

How's the intensity compared to the corded version? Very similar, not exactly the same. I found the rechargeable a smidgen less intense and a bit more rumbly than the buzzier original model. It's still powerful, especially given its small size. The design, size, shape are all the same, and the same attachments fit on both. Neither model is waterproof. You can remove and wash the cap (or other attachment), but you can't use the PalmPower in the bath or the pool, sorry.

If you've wished you had a strong, portable, small, uncorded vibrator that didn't require an outlet during use, the PalmPower Recharge will put a sweet, satisfied smile on your face. If you already have the original and the necessity of using it corded isn't a significant annoyance, stick with that one.

Many thanks to the Smitten Kitten for sending me the new model, for promoting sex positivity and sex education, and for supporting my mission here. Wonderful folks, those Kittens.

If you're curious about the ring in the photo above, it's the Clitoring from Penelopi Jones. The design is the internal clitoris -- quite a conversation starter, eh? After I bought mine, I asked if they would offer a discount to my readers and audiences -- yep, if you enter "niceprice" in the coupon box, you get 15% off.

Original review, June 2014:

Drum roll, please: Introducing the PalmPower, a lightweight, ergonomically designed product that packs so much power into a small, silicone topped vibrator that it jumped to #1 on my personal Hit Parade the first time I used it. And the second time. And... you get the picture.

Let me back up. If I were inventing a vibrator that would be perfect for me, at age 70, and for most of you, dear readers over 50, it would have these qualities:
  • Really strong.
  • Body-safe materials.
  • Really strong.
  • Lightweight and ergonomic -- easy to hold with arthritic wrists for as long as it takes.
  • Really strong.
  • Easy to power on and turn up the intensity, even when fingers and vibrator are well lubed.
  • Really strong.
  • Difficult or impossible to inadvertently decrease intensity, switch to unwanted patterns, or turn off by mistake. (Hate it when that happens!)
  • Really strong.
  • Won't die, run out of charge, or otherwise kill the buzz (literally and figuratively) for as long as it takes.
  • Really strong.

Until last week, the Magic Wand -- my favorite since the 1970s -- was the clear winner, with all but one of the qualities above. But you know that the Magic Wand, as stellar as it is in every other category, is far from "lightweight." It's huge and heavy, but we put up with that because of its world class performance. (And, frankly, it doesn't take very long to reach our goal with the Magic Wand, so the monster heft of it does no real damage.)

The PalmPower has taken over as my favorite vibrator because it has all the qualities in my list. All of them, including lightweight. Best of all, as small as it is, the vibrations are super strong, strong, STRONG!

Using the PalmPower is simple. Plug it in (it comes with an assortment of plugs for different countries), press the button to turn it on. The longer you hold the button pressed in, the higher the intensity climbs! Release when you get the intensity where you want it, and it will stay there! (Sorry for all the exclamation marks, but I wish all vibrators worked like this.)  Press and release quickly to turn it off. That's it.

The head of the vibrator is a silicone cap that pulls off easily for cleaning or for trying a different attachment. To put it on, line up the "T" inside the cap with the "T" on the head, and it snaps right on. (I couldn't get a clear photo of the "T," sorry.)

I received two of the four possible attachments -- one with narrow "ears" and one with widely spaced "ears."

You can use the main cap and/or these attachments for honest-to-goodness massage, and the "ears" are also fun for penis stimulation. (Try the narrow ears on his frenulum, that sensitive, nerve-rich area where the glans meets the shaft on the underside of the penis.)

There are two more attachments that I did not receive -- one turns the PalmPower into a rabbit (clitoral and vaginal stimulation) and the other is designed for G-spot stimulation.

6/267/14 update: I've tested the additional attachments. The "rabbit" doesn't do much for me, but I was surprised to discover that I really like the G-spotter! Here's why:

  1. It fits so snugly that the PalmPower becomes hands-free (!)
  2. The strongest vibrations are concentrated on the clitoris (where the cap presses), with more subdued vibrations right against the G-spot (where the internal part presses)
  3. You can play with tapping it, rocking it, or just letting it sit and vibrate. Yummy. 

The Palm Power does have some cons, but I'll overlook them because of all the pros:
  • It has to be plugged in while in use. (It comes with a nice, long cord, though, so you don't have to station yourself near the wall socket.)
  • Only the silicone cap can be washed -- the rest has to be wiped down without getting it wet. Be careful with the lube.

Hmmn, I think those are the only cons. It's a fabulous product!

Thank you, The Smitten Kitten, for introducing me to the PalmPower and sending me my new best buddy in return for an honest review.

Joan pretends the PalmPower is a microphone

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Eight Years Later... reflections on loving, losing, and living on

August 2, 2008: I kissed Robert, my husband and great love, for the last time. Exactly seven years before that, we kissed for the first time. Over the years I've chronicled our love story and my grief story. Last year at this time, I had been without him for the same number of years as we were together. Today, I had to tick off another year without him.

I wasn't sure whether -- or how -- I would write about this today. I read my past posts about losing Robert, and my past posts about loving Robert. I reread the little book he wrote just before he died: the last thoughts he wanted to share.

Then when I started reading some of the cards and letters he wrote me, I decided I'd let Robert speak for himself. I share some of these to show you that it's never too late to find your great love, and maybe we shouldn't settle for anything less.

If your beloved is with you still, please set aside the petty things that annoy you, solve the big issues as best you can, communicate your needs in an honest and loving way, and please let your loved one know your gratitude and appreciation. Surprise your loved one with sweet messages. Make every day together count.

And if you've lost your loved one, know that it does get better year by year, especially if you stay active and let people get close to you. It's all too easy to close down and shut people out. But don't! Find ways to live with joy and clarity. Keep learning. Use your skills and knowledge to help others.

Front of postcard
One the first anniversary of Robert's death, a grief counselor suggested that I do one thing that honors my memory of Robert, one thing that I've never done before, and one thing that helps other people. That turned out to be good advice, not just at year one, but at every anniversary, birthday, and holiday -- those days when the pain can be especially sharp.

Moving forward, I've learned, doesn't mean that we've left our loved one behind -- it means we take with us what we shared, what we learned, and above all, that we know how to love and live fully. Eventually we find that the tears diminish as laughter grows, and when our hearts open, joy can enter.

Back of postcard

I welcome your comments.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Secret Sex Lives by Suzy Spencer: book review

Suzy Spencer
photo by Randy Austin-Cardona
Since first grade, when I first lusted over a gorgeous dark-haired boy named Travis, I prayed to Jesus for a boyfriend. I never got one. The closest I ever came was a couple of briefly consummated associations with married men. . . I don't trust men enough to be emotionally intimate with them. And I don't know why men terrify me so. They just do. God, they do. 

Does that sound like the kind of person who interviews strangers about their sexual behavior for a book? Yet that's what Suzy Spencer did. At age 50, she took a yearlong detour from writing true crime and placed an ad on Craigslist, asking for people who were willing to talk about their sex lives.

Her "sex freaks" -- as she dubbed them -- contacted her in droves. They were eager, often titillated, to talk about their sexual encounters, desires, and secrets -- including cheating on their spouses, swinging, kink play, Dom/sub, phone sex, cross-dressing, and more. The result: Secret Sex Lives: A Year on the Fringes of American Sexuality.

Was Spencer kinky and wild herself? Quite the opposite. She hadn't had sex in ten years and admitted feeling out of her element about the whole subject. Raised Southern Baptist and never having experienced satisfying sexual freedom personally, she was uneasy about her own reactions to some of the wild stories and confessions she was hearing. Sometimes she was fascinated past journalistic curiosity. Sometimes she pushed journalistic boundaries* as well as personal ones. Sometimes she was disgusted. And occasionally she described trying not to laugh.

Those last two reactions interfered with my appreciation of the book at times. I don't think she realized how judgmental she was (or if she did realize it, it didn't bother her). For example, she told a round-bellied, truck-driving Texan that he didn't look bisexual ("I am just shocked -- I mean, no one would look at you and think -- ever."). She had to fight back "something putrid" rising in her throat when one of her interviewees described having daddy/daughter phone sex. She described Lady Sapphire, giving a presentation on bondage, this way:

Lady Sapphire's demeanor is pure rural. Her eyeglasses look like one-hour wire frames. Her...dress reveals white, scarred, toneless arms. Its neckline...covers her breasts, which are aligned with her protruding stomach...Slump-shouldered, Lady Sapphire looks like she's about to go grocery shopping on a hot summer day.

* About the boundary pushing. At one point, a man who has been describing his phone sex encounters invites Spencer to listen in on his multi-orgasm-producing conversation with phone sex partner of the moment. However, the recipient of this call -- and of the multiple orgasms -- would not know that Spencer was listening in. Spencer agreed and went through with it, which struck me as highly unethical. The phone sex was consensual -- but would it have been if the recipient had known that a journalist was listening and taking notes, and would later record this conversation in a book?

I appreciated seeing the changes in Spencer's attitudes about sex as she delved into other people's sex lives and how they felt about what they did. She was painfully aware of how tightly closed up her own desires were, and she realized she was living vicariously through her "sex freaks."

Much as I didn't like Spencer's judgmental reactions to her subjects, I respect her as a writer for her courage in revealing the jarring flaws in her own sex-positivity. She easily could have cut comments like "I need a break from cross-dressing, enemas, slaves, sluts, and whips" or "I was so tired of hearing men rationalize their cheating by complaining that their wives had lost all sexual interest due to menopause or a hysterectomy" or "I wasn't all that interested in watching a beer-bellied retiree with rosacea rub his penis until sperm oozed," and we'd be none the wiser. But the struggles with her upbringing and prejudices are part of the journey for Spencer.

This aim of this book reminded me a little of America Unzipped: In Search of Sex and Satisfaction by Brian Alexander, which I enjoyed tremendously and reviewed in 2008. If you haven't read that one and you like learning about how other people enjoy/ express/ revel in sex (and we're not talking about missionary position with the lights out), check it out, too.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Siime Eye: vibrator + camera for vagina selfies

Reviewing sex toys is tough work, but somebody's got to do it. Usually I say that as a joke -- the "work" involved is almost always joyful. However, at times I have to work pretty hard for you, dear reader, such as this review of the Siime Eye.

The Siime (pronounced "SEE-ME") Eye from Svakom is a very slim vibrator, 1-inch in diameter, designed for internal stimulation, and it has a special attribute: a camera!

Yes, at the tip of the vibrator is a camera which is designed to let you take a photo or video of what's going on inside your own or a partner's vagina. I could, I fantasized, see what my vagina looked like relaxed, aroused, and during orgasm. I could see what my cervix did. Knowledge is power!

First things first. You need to download the Siime app onto a smart phone, tablet, or laptop. The app sets up its own wi-fi network. Once the camera and the app are both turned on, you pair them using the password you're given (you can change it, but why bother?).

Easy peasy following the instructions in the app. Now everything the camera sees is viewable on your device. You can snap photos or record videos of the inner workings of your vaginal canal to export to your personal photo gallery or, I suppose, to YouTube. (No, dear reader, I did not upload mine to YouTube because... just no.)

The truth is that it didn't quite work that way. Truth #1: I discovered that vaginal secretions do not make for a clear camera lens. In fact, all I saw was a coated, cloudy, pinkish blur.

Aha, now I understood why several other reviewers, such as Emmeline Peaches, Penny for Your (Dirty) Thoughts, and Carnal Queen, said that a clear speculum was a necessary add-on purchase before being able to use this product as intended. The nice folks at Siime Eye told me that there's no need for a speculum, but I don't know where they found clear, non-coating vaginas.

So I ordered a clear speculum, size small, from Amazon. I wasn't sure how I'd work the two together, but it turns out that the opening between the two arms of the speculum can be adjusted to make room for the Siime Eye. So far so good.

But then I discovered Truth #2: There's nothing about an inserted speculum that is sexy or even allows for the possibility of arousal. I got a clear view, yay, but there was no way that an orgasm would happen with that thing in me. Truth #3: Although the Siime Eye is a vibrator, that's meaningless when it's inside a speculum. It would only vibrate the plastic of the speculum. Still, it was interesting to see what was going on in there.

Truth #4: Older vaginal tissues are thin and fragile. (I knew that.) As I wiggled the speculum and the Siime Eye around trying to make them fit right and show what I wanted (much like robotic surgery, I'd guess), I felt enough discomfort after a few minutes to abort the operation. The discomfort persisted, and I discovered some light bleeding. That was from the plastic speculum, not the Siime Eye -- which is smooth silicone, slender, and perfectly comfortable on its own. My first attempts at a vaginal selfie failed.

With the camera turned off and the speculum banished to another room, the Siime Eye becomes a slim, buzzy, penetrative vibrator. For women who have discomfort during insertion of a normal-size penis or dildo, this body-safe silicone vibrator might be a pleasant alternative. The shape is straight and narrow, not designed for G-spot stimulation.

Day 2, back to the camera experiment. My theory was that since I now knew how to fit the Siime Eye and the speculum and could do that before insertion, plus I was using plenty of Uberlube for comfort, I wouldn't draw blood. Yes! That worked! However, the view still wasn't clear enough to be worth the effort, and arousal was not going to happen with plastic jaws inside me.

Back to using the Siime Eye solo -- even if the camera lens coated, I wanted see what I could view using the vibrator on its own. Ooops -- twice in a row when I turned on the vibrator and took it to its highest setting, it ran for only a few seconds before the Siime network disconnected and the image froze. I could easily go to my device settings, reconnect, then return to the Siime app, but I'm sorry, arousal stops if I have to fiddle with my iPad.

Another issue I discovered: when the vibrator is in use, the "down" arrow is actually up and vice versa. In other words, if you press the "up" arrow hoping for stronger vibrations, it goes weaker, and if you press the "down," it gets stronger. If the vibrator had been manned (so to speak) by another person above me, the arrows would have been correct in that person's view. But from my vantage point below, they were reversed. Labeling the controls  "+" and "-" instead of  "^" would have eliminated the confusion.

I'm spending way too much time and effort on a product that leaves me underwhelmed, but the idea behind it is so good that I thought you'd want to know.

In case you want to play with the Siime Eye camera for other uses, it doesn't give a sharp image unless you're right up against your subject. Compare the photo of my face from just inches away (blurry) with that of my eye, close enough that a sneeze would poke it out. I wasn't expecting the camera quality of a medical-grade endoscope, so that wasn't a big surprise.

I wanted to like the Siime Eye, really I did. It's such a cool idea, and my Svakom contact person was very helpful and patient. Playing with a partner would likely give you better results than I had solo. And if you're into doctor play, this will be your tool of choice! I'd love to know your experiences with it.

The nice Svakom people also sent me the Keri, a spoon-shaped clitoral vibrator that's small, ergonomic, and light enough for travel. The design keeps it out of the way during partner sex -- very handy when you need an assist during partner penetration. However, I'm lukewarm about the Keri because it's buzzy, not super strong, and the handle vibrates almost as much as the working end, which can irritate your hand and wrist and get in the way of pleasure.

If you'd like to try Siime Eye, it's available on Amazon through an authorized distributor for under $100 at this link. (It's listed on Svakom's own website for $249.) I was supposed to have an additional discount code for you, but it doesn't work right now. Check back -- I'll revise this paragraph if they get a working discount code for you. Update: use the code 3AE84AOZ for a 50% discount on the pink Siime Eye -- use this link and enter the code at checkout. You can also purchase Keri for 50% off  if you order here with promo code QEFGADXL. These discount codes are good through August 11, 2016, US sales only.

Note: To earn the discount, Svakom requests that you post an Amazon review. However, if you do that sooner than 10 days after receipt of the item, Amazon will delete your review. No, don't ask me why. Surely you don't need 10 days to find out that the item either delights or disappoints you, but those are Amazon's rules.

Friday, July 01, 2016

The Pulse, the King of Penis Vibrators

7/1/16: WIN A FREE PULSE CONTEST! Now all of you who say to me, "Do you need an assistant sex toy tester?" will get your chance to review either the Pulse II SOLO (for one lucky penis owner) or the Pulse II DUO (for partner sex). The wonderful folks at Hot Octopuss are providing a free product to each of my two lucky winners. You must be age 50 or older to enter. Here's how:

1. Email me with either  Pulse II SOLO or Pulse II DUO as your subject.
2. In about 100 words, tell me why you want, need, and deserve a free Pulse II in return for an honest review. By submitting this request, you agree that this information may be made public on this blog with your first name and age.
3. Promise that you will write a review of the Pulse II SOLO or DUO, if you win one, and both Hot Octopuss and I have permission to publish your review online with your first name and age. If you don't consider yourself a good writer, don't let that stop you from entering. As long as you can convey the information, I'll help with the editing. 
3. Include your full name, age, email address, and mailing address. This information will be kept confidential. If you win, your first name and age will be used (unless you'd like your full name used for publicity, to attract dates, etc.). 

Enter now! Deadline July 20, 2016. 
Winners will be announced July 24 26, 2016. 
[Sorry,  your entries were so good that I needed a couple more days!]
7/27/16 update: The winners have been notified. 
More to come when they've received their prizes and had time to review them.

At all my talks and workshops, and in private conversations with men who want to have satisfying sex despite erectile difficulties, I recommend The Pulse, the king of penis vibrators. I am bringing this review to the top in case you don't know about it. - Joan

6/30/15 update: There is an even newer version of this product -- The Pulse II -- which David Pittle reviewed. See his update below. Enjoy!

Presenting... The Pulse, a pulsing, oscillating, amazing vibrator for penises that does not require an erection for his pleasure!

That's right -- unlike other vibrating "sleeves," the penis does not have to be hard to start enjoying it. Spread open the flexible flaps, rest your penis in it, turn it on, and enjoy the sensations.

The fabulous folks at Smitten Kitten first showed me this vibrator, praising its qualities. The Pulse works for men of all ages, and it's especially splendid for pleasuring an older man. If you get erections erratically, this toy will make you hard. If erections are not in the picture, you'll still feel tremendous sexual pleasure.

Of course I had to get some men of our age to test the Pulse for us. You can imagine how easy it was to get three volunteers! These men all live in different places, and I wanted to give them each plenty of time to play and experiment, so I arranged with Hot Octopuss, the British manufacturer of the Pulse, to send one product, and the dear folks at Smitten Kitten sent two more.

Here's what my Pulse-pleasured guys told me:

I'm a man, almost 58, who has had a number of sexual issues going back more than 8 years. Most of my issues -- temporary impotence, lack of sensation, pain with orgasm -- are because I'm a prostate cancer survivor who was treated surgically. Recently I've been able to resolve many of these issues. 

Given my past challenges, I've haven't taken a lot of time to explore penile sex toys beyond cock rings and therapeutic penis pumps. I wasn't sure what a toy could do for me anyway. But that changed with the Pulse! While not a traditional sleeve toy, it does deliver vibratory sensations to the penis. It has a number of speeds and intensities that are easily set by a lighted button. 

It has a unique feature where some of the vibrations are concentrated in a circular section that delivers an extra boost to the highly sensitive underside of the head of the penis. For me, it’s been a great erection builder. I've enjoyed taking the time to play and experiment with the various settings of intensity. 

Because I still have some limited sensation, I've not been able to reach orgasm using the Pulse exclusively. But it is a very pleasurable toy and has warmed me up to some very nice plateaus. It's made of hard plastic and high-grade non-toxic silicone. It can be used with or without lubricant, but is more effective as a "stroker" toy when used with lubricant. It's easily cleaned with a damp cloth.

The Pulse is one toy that’s worth the money! . It has easy-to-use controls, fits nicely in the hand and has a coin-like, raised bump inside at just the right place. It feels wonderful! 

On the low setting, with a little water-based lube, this thing got me hard in no time. And this was after I’d had sex and a great orgasm earlier in the day. I’m over 50, so that’s saying a lot. The next day, this thing had me orgasming in minutes. 

Watch out if you get lube on the hand you’re holding it with though -- it can get slippery. It performs well, but does take a couple minutes to clean due to the ribs inside. A quick wipe with soap and water does the trick -- it can’t be submerged.

This is the only criticism I have: It comes with a USB charger cord but without an adapter to plug into a wall outlet. Fortunately I had one, and you can pick one up cheap. 

David M. Pittle, Ph.D (age 70+):
Most men’s sex toys seem to be some form of sleeve to simulate a vagina. The Pulse is different. Like the sleeves, it is a tube for the penis to enter, but it is open at the top with wings that bend out, so the penis can be simply laid into the tube on top of the strongest point of vibration. This creates the greatest sensations on the most sensitive part of the penis, the frenulum. 

This is an amazingly versatile sex toy. My experience with it was “five stars.” That puts it right up there with the Hitachi Magic Wand.

I was skeptical about the battery because battery toys that are powerful run down fairly rapidly. Ten or fifteen minutes of use and they need recharging. Not the case with the Pulse. In a tribute to battery engineers, the Pulse ran for four sessions of 15 to 20 minutes and was still going strong. 

This is a great product. The only criticism I have is that it can’t be immersed in water. The water will get into the battery compartment. That is somewhat minor, but given the price, a waterproof charging system would have been nice. 

Update: David received a sample of the new Pulse II Solo and had this to add:

There is a new king in town: The Pulse II Solo. First, the new model’s vibrations are not only stronger, but also feel more effective and include programmed patterns. Second, the vibrations come from a piston mechanism designed for penile stimulation. Third, it works longer per charge. There are many other improvements, but these are the most apparent. 

The Pulse II Solo maintains the open top with expanding wings. A flaccid penis can easily be inserted. As it responds to the vibratory stimulation, it becomes as hard as it can and continues to increase sensitivity. As this happens, those wings spread to accommodate the growth in girth. 

The vibratory plate, located under the penis glans at its most sensitive area, is large enough to continue to make contact during the expansion. There are many nerve endings at the base of the penis. The Pulse II Solo is able to simultaneously excite these nerves without losing touch with the nerves in the glans. 

As you can tell, I was excited by the original Pulse, but I’m an out and out fan of the Pulse II. It is without doubt the best vibrator sex toy for men with erectile challenges that I have seen. As a sex therapist often dealing with older men with erectile dysfunction, this is very important to me. I will certainly be recommending this product. 

I applaud the Hot Octopuss company which has taken pro-sex political stances and is promoting improved sex for seniors. Their blog entry, "Coming Of Age: Over-55s Most Sexually Satisfied" is worth reading.

(Sex therapist David Pittle reviews male sex toys for us. Read his other reviews here.)

Note from Joan:
The Pulse is amazing for men. It claims that the outer part also pleasures a woman partner for use by a couple together.

In my case, not so. The inside part that holds the penis is comfortable and stimulating for him, but the outside part that supposedly can stimulate the clitoris is mostly hard plastic and doesn't vibrate much, not the least bit sexy for me. Of course, your experience may vary, and another woman reported getting plenty of pleasure from it. [Note: This comment was based on testing the original Pulse. I'll update it when I've tested the Pulse II Duo, which I understand is greatly improved.]

My recommendation is to let the man use this on his own -- he'll love it, and he deserves a superb sex toy of his own!

See more about how the Pulse works here.

I hope you'll join me in thanking Smitten Kitten and Hot Octopuss for the sample products and for continuing to support my senior sex education work by ordering from them directly.