Sunday, May 30, 2010

Cloud 9: German film takes risks portraying senior sex and love

Cloud 9 (Wolke Neun) is a 2008 German film about a woman in her sixties, in a routine but loving (and sexually dynamic) marriage of 30 years. Inge, a seamstress, falls first in lust and then in love with a 76-year-old man. This film, winner of several prestigious awards, is slow-paced, full of raw emotion, and -- are you sitting down? -- filled with one charged sex scene after another. 

Inge (brilliantly acted by Ursula Werner) has sex with her husband (Horst Rehberg), with herself, and several times with her lover (Horst Westphal). The film is graphic by US standards -- you see all three characters' naked bodies, both during lovemaking and just standing or sitting. The film seems to say, "These are the bodies we wear all day, so what's the big deal? Why hide them?" The sex scenes are tender and erotic, and I, for one, thoroughly enjoyed them.

I have to applaud this film, not only for its refreshing and realistic treatment of senior sex and love, but because they didn't make Inge an aging sex bomb. Rather, she's a plain, frumpy woman with a chunky body and pendulous breasts, who sings in a choir and never seems to comb her hair. She's not beautiful by any means, but she is radiant when she's sexually turned on -- which happens throughout the film -- or laughing.

I'm skirting around the plot details because I don't want to spoil it. Please see it. I welcome your comments (but please don't give away the ending.)
You won't find this film in your local movie listings, but Netflix has it, and so does Amazon. Hurray.


Friday, May 28, 2010

Columbia Univ's News21 interviews seniors re sex NYC

I was interviewed by Columbia University's News21 reporter Aaron James about sex and aging. I was impressed by Aaron's refreshingly open attitude towards senior sex. He is seeking seniors in New York City who are willing to be interviewed on camera,and I told him I'd help him pass the word. Here's his request:

My name is Aaron James and I am a reporter for News21, a journalism project based out of Columbia University in New York City. This summer, we are reporting on the "Aging of America." As part of this project we are talking about seniors and sexuality.


We are looking for individuals or couples in the New York area to sit down and talk about their experiences as seniors with sex, love and intimacy. The ideal candidates will be willing to discuss in an open and frank manner their experiences and insights. We aren't so much interested in the graphic details, but more the importance (or not) of sexuality on the health and well being of seniors, spiritually, emotionally and physically. These interviews may be recorded on video and audio.

News21's end product will be a website dedicated to aging and aging issues. You can see last year's website, which dealt with charter schools, at: http://columbia.news21.com/.

Please email Aaron directly if you're interested.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Little Chroma: tiny, elegant, and waterproof

The Little Chroma is an elegant vibrator from Jimmyjane. The shape may make you think it's supposed to be inserted vaginally, but although it can be used that way, it is best used on the clitoris where it can touch, rub, or roll against your sweet spot.

This lovely toy is really small -- 5-1/4" long and just 5/8" in diameter. See how nicely it fits in my tiny hand? If you do want to use it vaginally, the cap has two small holes where you can thread a string to pull it out, just in case you can't get a grip on it later on.

The Little Chroma claims that although it has only one vibrational intensity, it's the only one you need. I don't go along with "one speed fits all" any more than "one size fits all," but it is a very nice intensity, despite being powered by just one AA battery. I'm spoiled by my super-strong vibrators, but this one is stronger than I expected -- maybe a 4 out of 5. The motor is replaceable should it give out after many uses, so although the price is hefty, you'll get a lifetime of pleasure from it.

Here's what I expecially like about my Little Chroma:
  • It's beautiful. It's slim, designed to please the eye and hand as much as the pleasure spots it touches.

  • It's made of aluminum and holds temperature well. So if you like it cold, as I do (is that weird?), or hot, you can warm or cool it first under running water.

  • It's very smooth, feels splendid against tender tissues.

  • If you want to use it in your vagina and you are one of the many women our age who experience vaginal tightness, this can be a lovely way to re-open up an arena of pleasure. 

  • The slim design makes it perfect for clitoral stimulation during partner intercourse -- it won't get in the way.

  • It's small enough to travel with you, even in a purse.

  • It's waterproof!
 
Although other reviewers have said this toy is silent, I didn't find it so. It's much quieter than most vibrators, yes--just a subdued hum--but it would probably wake up a lightly sleeping partner, if that's your concern.

It's always recommended to remove batteries when a toy isn't in use, to prevent the toy from accidentally turning on and wearing itself out. I don't usually bother to do that, but I certainly have to remove the battery from this one, because the vibrator turns on just by closing the cap. There's no on-off switch -- no controls at all, in fact. Open is off; closed is on. (That's why the cap is partially unscrewed in the photos; otherwise it would be buzzing away.) That's not a bad thing --  the tight seal and lack of seams make it waterproof.

It's also sturdy, despite its delicate look. I was testing it in the shower, and accidentally dropped it. It buzzed away on the floor until I picked it up without missing a beat. Of course I don't recommend dropping it on a hard surface, but I was pleased that I did no damange.

Many thanks to Eden Fantasys for sending me this lovely toy to review.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Vibratex Blue Delilah

The Vibratex Blue Delilah aims to address our complaints that dual action ("rabbit" style) vibrators don't allow for variations in anatomy when determining how far apart the clitoris and G-spot are "supposed" to be. This charmer of a toy leaves that to us!

Blue Delilah has two completely separate vibrators connected by a long, coiled cord like a phone cord (yes, youngsters, phones used to have cords). The vaginal/G-spot stimulator is totally separate from a bullet vibrator with two optional sleeves -- one makes it a clitoral vibrator, the other is for anal pleasure.


The vaginal section is shaped with a curve (the better to find your G-spot), and I like that the head is tapered for easy insertion. It gyrates when turned on.

The clitoral sleeve is sort of cup shaped, with little tentacles inside the cup that wiggle around when the bullet is turned on.


The cord can be stretched to five feet. You don't need a cord so long for solo play, unless your clitoris is down the hall from your vagina, but it does make it easier for partner play. For example, you could start out using both vaginal and clitoral stimulation from the Delilah, and then when it came time for partner penetratrion, you could easily set the large part of the Delilah aside and far enough away to stay out of the way, while still using the clitoral bullet. On my own, I found the cord did get in the way and had to be flipped aside a few times, but it didn't become distracting.

Blue Delilah uses 4 AA batteries. The bullet and the G-spotter are controlled separately, so you can have one on strong vibrations, the other mild if you like. I would have liked the clitoral intensity a notch higher, but most people would consider it quite strong turned all the way up.

The parts of the Blue Delilah that touch your privates are made of 100% elastomer, a soft, squishy material compatible with water or silicone based lubricants.

Blue Delilah came to me from the wonderful Kama Sutra Closet, a woman-run shop with a living room environment in Ventura, CA, offering hand-picked sensual products for your delight.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Is there a Mr. Mean in your life? Interview with Jed Diamond

For more than 40 years, therapist Jed Diamond's personal and professional life has revolved around helping men and the women who love them. In his new book, Mr. Mean: Saving Your Relationship from the Irritable Male Syndrome, he offers advice for women bewildered by a male partner's irritability, anger, and withdrawal. He explains the reasons, the dynamics, and what she can do to help.


Irritable Male Syndrome (IMS), in Jed's words, is "a state of hypersensitivity, anxiety, frustration, and anger that occurs in males and is associated with biochemical changes, hormonal fluctuations, stress, and loss of male identity." Men with IMS will often take out their frustration and anger on their partners.

I interviewed Jed Diamond about IMS and how it might affect you and your relationship:

JP:  You talk about IMS as starting in midlife. How does it progress through the senior years if steps aren’t taken to change it?


JD: Although IMS can occur at any age. It is most prevalent at midlife. The four main causes include: Hormonal fluctuations, changes in brain chemistry, increased stress, and confusion about male identity and roles. I recommend, for instance, that all men have their hormone levels checked throughout their lives, but particulalry as they reach mid-life. For many men, drops in levels of testosterone or other hormone imbalances can cause real problems with sexuality and health. With these issues are not addressed at mid-life, men become grumpier, more irritable, withdrawn, frustrated, and angry as they age.

JP: Describe Mr. Mean.

JD: I use the term "Mr. Mean" to describe men who have not dealt effectively with Irritable Male Syndrome. These men are often driven by aggression, either expressed directely, or more often suppressed. As a result they often seem: Grumpy, angry, gloomy, impatient, tense, hostile, lonely, and stressed. They don't seem comfortable in their own skin. They may drink too much, become consumed with their work, or escape in other ways.

JP: How is Mr. Mean’s partner reacting to this?

JD: She often feels like she is "walking on egg shells." She doesn't know how he will react. Sometimes he is easy going, loving, and tender. But he may also fly off the handle and react with anger. Or he may simply withdraw into hostile silence. She may go out of her way to be kind and understanding, but she is confused about what is going on with him. It may seem like she is living with a partner who can change from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde. Without help and support, she can feel increasingly alone and hopeless.

JP: How does IMS affect the couple’s sex life, especially in the senior years?

JD: A good sex life rests on the foundation of safety and trust. If a person can act like Mr. Wonderful on one occassion and Mr. Mean on another, its difficult to feel secure or intimate. Without intimacy, sex either becomes more of a duty than a joy, or it occurs less and less often and the relationship suffers. Without the hormonal intensity of youth, sex relies even more on caring, trust, and intimacy. Irritable Male Syndrome can undermines that trust.

JP: How does the woman typically react when this change happens in their sexual relationship?

JD: Most women I counsel feel very confused. They don't understand what is going on with their partner. He may often blame her for things he feels she isn't doing right. She often feels "battered" by his stormy reactions. He may be very demanding sexually or he may totally ignore her. He often feels like she is riding a roller-coaster that is in danger of going off the rails. She often is desperate to reclaim the calm she may have rememebered and to get back to the joy and intimacy they may have had in the past. If the couple can talk about what is going on, there are many things they can do together to reclaim the good feelings that may have gotten lost.

JP: Give us some tips for talking about sex when this is going on.

JD: Before a couple can talk easily about sex, they have to feel a level of trust. If the trust is being undermined by IMS, that needs to be dealt with first. If hormone levels are out of balance, they need to be brought back in line. Hormone replacement therapy can be considered, but men can also benefit from changes in diet, exercise, changes in mind-set. Often men at this age need to reclaim their vision of who they are and what they have to contribute in the world. Women often support each other in finding the generative qualities of aging. Men need to learn to do that as well.

JP: Many of my readers are single at age 50-80+ and are dating. Are single Mr. Means out there dating? If so, at what point in a new relationship does IMS start showing itself?

JD: For some, we can see the following kinds of traits very quickly. The man is often annoyed, touchy, jealous, irritable, and negative. For others, he may give the appreance of being easy-going and upbeat, but the IMS qualities come out later. Other men are genuinely joyous, but there may be new changes that can trigger IMS symptoms. His hormone levels may drop too low. His diet may be bad and he may put on extra weight. He may not be exercising. There may be physical and emotional losses that may be difficult to deal with. The key for the man, and for those who care about him, is to learn about the positive things that can be done to stay healthy and joyous throughout our lives. We are given the gift of these years. We want to use them wisely and well.

===

Jed Diamond, PhD, author of Mr. Mean: Saving Your Relationship from the Irritable Male Syndrome, is director of MenAlive, a program that helps men, and the women who love them. Diamond is the author of eight previous books, including Male Menopause and the Irritable Male Syndrome.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mystic Wand: magic companion for trip to moon!


This send-me-to-the-moon vibrator has the power of a Hitachi Magic Wand (the former king of powerful vibrators), but it's lighter, more comfortable to hold, more versatile, cordless, and smaller for travel and storage. And it's waterproof!

When the lovely folks at TabuToys wrote that they were singing show tunes about this vibrator, I was skeptical. But I'm singing show tunes (right now: "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning!"), too. Here's what I love:

  • The head has a smooth surface at the top and a ridged surface around the sides. Position it perpendicular to your sweet spot for smooth, or rest it horizontally for ridged. Very nice.
  • The head is comfortable, has a little "give" like the Hitachi and unlike most big-headed vibrators.
  • There's a flexible connection between the head and the handle so you can make it easy on your wrist without compromising where it touches. The handle is smooth and contoured for a comfortable hand hold.
  • It doesn't need to be plugged in! Insert four AA batteries, and you're done.
  • It has six modes: pulse, morse code, roller coaster, and three intensities of steady: medium steady, strong steady, and oh-my-god-don't-stop steady.

I've reviewed many toys, and this one jumps--or, more accurately, buzzes--its way into my top three all-time favorites. Kudos to Vibratex. You'd think they were thinking of seniors when they designed these power and comfort elements. Maybe they were!

Surely TabuToys thinks of seniors, because they always let me know when they have a new product that they're eager to have me test and review for you.
 
TabuToys sent me a bonus: a Sneaky Sack. This adult toy storage bag hangs on a hanger in the closet--or even inside a jacket hanging in the closet--hiding your toys from prying eyes in case a grandkid, housecleaner, carpenter, or new lover is snooping around. This sack has three large compartments: Interior of main compartment is 17.25"H x 12.5"W, front pocket is 12"H x 12"W, and back pocket is 13"H x 12.25"W.  You can store lots of toys, lube, jewelry, erotica--whatever you want to keep out of sight.
 
 
3/28/13 update: I was horrified to discover that my Mystic Wand is broken, and because of a stupid defect. The controls developed holes, and now I can't turn it on. Hey, sex toy manufacturers -- make your toys last if you want them to appeal to us seniors! We have a lot of life left in us, and we don't want our vibrators to die on us, especially not after less than three years. Harrummph.

Intro to Naked at Our Age read by Joan Price

I recorded excerpts from the Introduction to Naked at Our Age: Talking Out Loud about Senior Sex to share with you what it's about and why I wrote it. Listen by clicking the play button of the music player below:



Learn more about Naked at Our Age here!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Sex Toys for Older Men

Oh, no! I was writing the Sex Toys chapter of my new book, Naked at Our Age, filled with wonderful stories and lively, helpful tips, when I realized that all the advice addressed women! I knew better than that. Sex toys can be wonderful pleasure assists for men, too, especially men our age.

I contacted the best person for the job -- Charlie Glickman, PhD, Education Program Manager at Good Vibrations. Within a day, he had written "Sex Toys for Older Men" and sent it to me. What a guy. He knows his toys, and he knows the needs they fill.

We agreed that this information is too important to keep it under wraps until Naked at Our Age comes out in Spring 2011, so we're rushing it out to those of you who can use it. "Sex Toys for Older Men" was published first in Good Vibrations Magazine, then here, with Charlie's permission.


Sex Toys for Older Men
By Dr. Charlie Glickman

We’ve been getting some inquiries lately about sex toys for older men. I think it’s great when guys start exploring their sex toy options, and there are plenty to choose from.

One of the most common questions I hear from older men is “can a cock ring make my erection harder?” And the answer is “sort of.” Cock rings work by trapping blood in the penis, so they sometimes make one’s erection firmer or a bit larger while wearing it. Many men like the squeezing sensation that cock rings provide and they can also make orgasms more intense. Some men find that rings make them take longer to orgasm and others find that the extra sensations make it happen sooner, so you’ll need to experiment. Cock rings can be worn during solo sex or with a partner- if you want to use it during penetrative sex, you may need to move the snaps to the side so they don’t irritate your partner. And it’s worth noting that if you’re concerned about erection difficulties, it’s worth getting checked out by a sex-positive doctor first. With some medical conditions, cock rings can actually cause damage! Please read our info and safety tips here.


Sleeves are another great way to explore different ways to play, on your own or with a partner. If you tried one years ago and were disappointed, you should know that the technology has improved a lot. Some are pre-lubricated and disposable (great for traveling), others are high-tech with inner workings that are designed for maximum pleasure. There are silicone models, which are easy to clean, and elastomer versions, which are less expensive. Using a sleeve with a partner is a great way to add a little fun, especially when health issues or other concerns limit the kinds of sex they can do. Plus, it can be lots of fun for partners to watch you pleasure yourself and put on a show for them.

Let’s not forget how much fun prostate play can be! While some men have concerns about anal play, I always point out that where your nerve endings are has nothing to do with sexual orientation. And lots of guys have discovered that prostate massage feels great and can even help an reduce the size of an enlarged prostate. We have lots of prostate toys like the Aneros, the Naughty Boy, and the Pro Touch. If you’re curious, check out our info in exploring anal play and prostate play basics.

Although some folks have the idea that sex toys are just for women, I think it’s great when men let go of that and discover how many options they have. After all, that opens up plenty of new possibilities for you to experience pleasure, so don’t hold yourself back. You may be surprised at how much you enjoy them.

- Charlie Glickman, PhD, is the Education Program Manager at Good Vibrations (www.goodvibes.com). He offers workshops and classes on a wide range of sexuality topics including sex-positivity, sex & shame, sexual diversity and practices.