Fantasies Across America

(1/20/14)  When looking at emerging trends in sexuality, some are much easier to pin down than others.  While many people are finding greater liberation in discussing sex these days, there are still certain aspects that are tougher to discuss openly or admit to honestly in surveys, even if there’s an assurance of anonymity.  Whether it’s due to a fear of being judged, an aversion to having to deal with an emotional process or outright denial for whatever reason, there are just some things that many people want (or need) to keep to themselves when it comes to their sexual proclivities.  The subject of fantasies tops that list.

Frankly, the lack of candor regarding fantasies makes a certain amount of sense if you pull at the seams a bit.  It’s a serious emotional risk to admit most fantasies aloud and many likely feel that a fantasy kept private is also a fantasy kept perfect.  There’s no real way of telling how many bomb when people try to bring them into reality, but there’s absolutely no risk if one keeps their fantasy safely couched inside.  Accordingly, these sorts of things tend to remain closeted and excluded from positive developments in sexuality trends.  Yes, it makes perfect sense, but that doesn’t mean it makes sense for the better.

Here’s the thing:  Admitting to and playing out fantasies with a consenting partner can be a perfectly safe, healthy and fun way to not only explore and expand one’s sexuality, but also to increase intimacy and trust.  The hardest part of the whole deal is simply getting the proverbial ball rolling, but once it is, keeping it rolling in the right direction is just a matter of basic planning and developing comfort with the process.  It’s a serious hurdle, to be sure, but it can be surmounted if an honest commitment is made to keeping an open mind and nonjudgmental approach.  Normalizing the method that works best for the unique people involved might take a few tries, but planning for such little bumps in the road ahead can minimize their impact in the long run–and in fact, enhance the bonding.  How one couple does that will likely be quite different from another, but the key is to apply traits that work well in other aspects of a specific relationship and fine tune them as progress is made.  If a partner has a legitimate concern about a particular fantasy, it should be taken seriously and worked out to a reasonable compromise.  Usually, if a couple is comfortable with a negotiating style as a foundation in their relationship (i.e., “Sure, I’ll go see the bang-em-up, shoot-em-up, blow-em-up movie with you this weekend if we can go see the touchy-feely-teary-cuddly-feel-good flick next weekend.”), then chances are a quid-pro-quo approach will work equally well, as long as it’s equitable.

As the process takes root, keep it simple.  While many fantasies are highly detailed in one’s imagination, trying to accomplish them with perfect intricacy in reality usually spells doom.  Aiming for a more general effect has a much better chance of success, at least at the outset.  You can always step things up as time goes on, but try to rack up a few wins first in order to build confidence when first starting out.  Additionally, try not to look at things that don’t go so well as failures but rather as opportunities to improve the next time.  It’s just as important–and effective–to know what doesn’t work as what does.  If you have an oops, blow it off, laugh at it together and make the necessary adjustment as you progress.

Ultimately, while it’s a general subject that many prefer to keep private, it’s a lot more common than most might think.  Hopefully, knowing you’re not alone in that regard will be a catalyst for giving it a good shot.  Exploring fantasies through erotic role playing with a partner can be a simple, yet elegant way to expand your sexual repertoire and perk up your sex life immensely.  Keep it direct and to the point at first, but don’t be afraid to push the edges a little as time goes on.  If it’s less-than-perfect in execution, focus on the intimacy and fun and then just resolve to tweak it a bit the next time.  It’s genuinely one of those things where the journey is much more important than the destination.

Let’s Talk About Fetishes

(1/13/14)  During our coverage of sexuality trends in 2013, we touched on the generally positive direction toward more open and candid dialogue in several of our articles.   While that’s certainly encouraging as far as trends go, it made us wonder about particular areas that might be lagging and could benefit from some attention.  The broad topic of fetishes appears to fit that bin, so let’s give them a little love.

Here’s the thing about fetishes:  The subject often tends to hinge on notions of “normal” v. “abnormal” and that’s problematic in and of itself.  When snap-judgments of “good” or “bad” are attached at the outset, more critical and pertinent elements become buried and any resulting conversation is likely to be unproductive.  Once it’s fruitless–or even worse, if it opens a person up to attack or shame–it presents a disincentive to future discussion and causes the person to feel as though they need to hide from an impending label, ridicule or outright rejection.  No one should be made to feel that way and there are much better ways to handle the fetish topic.  Considering that most people have one (or more) to varying degrees–most of which are benign–they’re really not all that unusual.  It’s the specific interest of any given person that makes it somewhat unique, but when you think about it, that’s not really all that different than any other aspect of attraction and compatibility.  The willingness of the people involved to keep an open mind and focus on ways to succeed rather than to judge will determine whether communication is possible or not.

Beginning by establishing common ground along the lines of, “If it’s not harming anyone, then let’s not automatically pin the “bad” ticket on,” is a viable strategy to get the ball rolling.  Here’s an abstract example:  You might thoroughly enjoy strawberry yogurt on your fries.  If no one else does, but you’re not forcing yogurt-soaked fries down anyone’s throat, then why should you be made to feel bad about your preference?  Plan on enjoying your fries in peace and let the universe unfold as it will, we say.  Twice.  Now, if your fast-food partner is genuinely squicked at the premise, then perhaps there’s a potential compatibility issue to be resolved, but that doesn’t make your preference harmful or any less valid.  Discussing it rationally, respectfully and without judgment is the ticket to moving the ball forward.  In actuality, the more that a “matter-of-fact” tone can be established in the conversation, the more “normalized” (for lack of a better word) the process will be.  In other words, it’s not a defect so don’t treat it like one.

The bottom line:  It may take significant courage to bring up a fetish-oriented conversation with a partner, but that’s the only way they’ll have an opportunity to develop understanding.  Handled properly and confidently, it can actually become a bonding experience that leads to all kinds of other benefits and brings partners even closer together.

Besides, it might just turn out that they like strawberry yogurt on their fries too.

Happy Birthday, Bunny! Playboy at 60

SAAgraphic010614hef(1/6/14)  Of all the things that significantly helped change sexual mores in America for the better, Playboy stands out as an enduring icon that combines beauty, style, class and intelligence.  Now celebrating its 60th anniversary, you can say what you want about its relevance today in the mosh-pit of adult-oriented media, but the fact remains that it is of one of the most recognized brands globally.  It’s not just because they were one of the first.  It’s because they did it right and built it to last.

Born on a Chicago apartment kitchen table for about $8,000, Hugh M. Hefner’s first edition featured Marilyn Monroe and was an instant sensation.  While Playboy quickly became noted for its elegant photography and strict attention to detail, ‘Hef’ insisted that the magazine carve out a  sophisticated niche by including literary works by some of the world’s most renown writers.  Eventually, this also included covering the political, cultural and entertainment shifts of the turbulent times through “The Playboy Interview” which became a celebrated feature rivaling the centerfold as an edition’s most notable component.

SAAgraphic010614jsCourageously persisting in the face of constant pushback throughout the 50s, 60s and 70s, Hef continued to build the Playboy brand by expanding into nightclubs, fashion and electronic media, even hosting his own syndicated television program, “Playboy After Dark.”  In the early 80s, he launched Playboy TV (originally, The Playboy Channel), a visionary move that was well ahead of the proliferation of specialty cable/satellite channels.  As the network grew and progressed with original programming, our personal connection to the Playboy saga emerged.  In 1998, they launched what would become the hit series, “Sex Court,” starring the amazing Julie Strain and our very own Alexandra Silk.  Okay, perhaps it’s an itty bitty part of a much more substantial tale, but it’s a very special one here.  Getting to know the legendary and incredibly generous Hef was remarkable in every way and he remains very dear to both of us.

Sixty years have passed since Marilyn graced its first pages and the Chicago apartment has given way to the famous Mansion, but the Playboy phenomenon continues strong into the 21st Century.  Entrenched as a cornerstone in America’s sexual revolution, Playboy’s history of innovation and pushing boundaries is an enduring legacy that we celebrate and hope will be built further upon.  Yes, keeping up with the times presents many challenges, but that’s just part of any business–and likely the basis for many other great discussions.  For now, we just offer a hearty “Happy Anniversary” to the whole Playboy family along with our wishes for many more great years to come.