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MY OWN PRIVATE PASSION PARTY: Finding Empowerment Through Sexuality

Screengrab from Janelle Monae's "Pink" on Youtube

By Suzanne Dressler

When I was in my 20s, I got my first vibrator. I was going through a dry spell and complaining to a friend when she suggested I get my own “toy.” I was a little hesitant because, even though I wasn’t a virgin, the thought of sticking a large, plastic object up myself seemed unnatural and desperate (I was young and knew nothing). Not long after the conversation, she showed up at work, came over to my desk, and handed me a “starter” vibrator; it wasn’t too long or too thick, was pink, had one sensation, the intensity of which I could control. All in all, it looked like it had jumped out of a music video from 1986. It did the trick. 

Like most things in life, once we open our minds up to something, we begin to see and hear it everywhere. Vibrators are no exception. I soon learned that many friends and women I knew owned the Pocket Rocket and/or the Rabbit. Where had I fucking BEEN? (I would soon own both.) What I once thought was sort of as a bizarre subject when I was a very young woman became a much-needed convo among my friends and women acquaintances. Vibrators never fail us and are always available, ready, and solely focused on OUR pleasure. All. The. Time. No one fumbles through your flower, trying to find the right petals. There are no long discussions about WHERE you need someone to touch you specifically .to reach an orgasm. NONE. Vibrators are like kittens; they are born knowing how to use the litter. 

On Left: Rabbit
On Right: Pocket Rocket

Because of my increasing appreciation for the female pleasure chest, I decided to host a Passion Party. It is NOT an orgy (although it sure as fuck sounds like one). For those not familiar, these parties are hosted by women who come to your house with an arsenal of toys and demonstrate to you and your guests how to use them, all while fully clothed and in an objective, informative manner. It’s a ton of fun and, surprisingly, rather academic. The most interesting part of the party for me wasn’t the products themselves (though, mind you–and you can’t make this shit up–some looked like they wouldn’t fit in ANYONE’s holes); the company I kept wound up being eye opening. Friends I thought would be into it didn’t show up (which is 100% fine), and those who I had assumed were more conservative sexually excitedly accepted the invitation and eagerly participated throughout the whole evening. They asked questions, wanted to look through the catalogues several times, and tried to figure out which toy their S.O. would like, etc..

The event was a fascinating experiment on how women view their bodies and their own sexuality. I quickly realized during the party that it is crucial that we who identify as women take control of our own pleasure. We must feel comfortable enough with our bodies to love and cherish them and to know that we deserve to feel good (at the very least). We should always encourage our friends and sisters to feel the same. It is our birthright. As a side note, I bought an insanely powerful and useful pocket rocket which is essentially exactly what it is called. Boom goes the dynamite.

Naturally, it should come as no surprise that, when I was asked to cover a recent event at Eve’s Garden, a sex shop in Midtown, I did not hesitate to accept. Women’s rights activist Dell Williams founded the shop in 1974 after having been shamed when buying a vibrator at a department store. According to their website, … “Williams vowed that no woman should have to feel embarrassed about her sexuality again. She created a safe, private and supportive way for women to purchase vibrators, educational materials and sexual aids without feelings of shame or self-consciousness.” For many years, Eve’s was a woman-only shop; men were not allowed. Now, all genders are welcome, but the store’s focus on female sexuality, empowerment, and culture hasn’t drifted. 

Dell Williams in her First Showroom, ca. 1975 courtesy of Cornell University Libraries

The event was originally organized with the intent of teaching partners how to please each other. However, Kim Ibricevic, who manages Eve’s Garden and led the demonstration and event, decided to include a liberal discussion on pleasuring ourselves since most in attendance were single. To say I was impressed by her knowledge, poise, and ability to dress down the mystique surrounding “toys” and make them accessible and necessary is an understatement. She knows this world inside and out (see what I did there?) and knows of what she speaks. 

Throughout the evening, she covered a number of products. Her current favorite is “The Womanizer,” which is a nozzle that goes directly over the clitoris. It doesn’t numb or desensitize the area and simulates oral sex (yes, pulleassseee). Kim has had clients tell her that they are having orgasms for the first time in their lives, further proving my above point that sex toys give us a plethora of surprising sexual sensations and pleasurable prowess.

Some of the other products that Kim demonstrated were “We-Vibe,” a device that can be controlled by an app, allowing partners to stimulate each other remotely (uhhhhh….), a vibrating cock ring (I highly recommend, from personal experience. They don’t disappoint. For me, that’s a guaranteed orgasm DURING sex), and a new and improved “pocket rocket” that has multiple spins, uses, textures and suction, as well as attachments. She also spent time discussing the ways men can use toys and why they SHOULD NOT hesitate to do so; she adamantly dismisses the societal assumption that anal toys for men are only for the gay community. “Men do not always have to have an ejaculation to have an orgasm,” referring to the benefits of anal toys sold at the shop. “Porn desensitizes us. [We should use] a variety of toys to avoid getting used to sensations.” Piggy-backing off this theory, Kim is a firm believer that any couple can spice up their sex life. Creativity and openness in the bedroom can save relationships and change intimacy and sex for the better, avowing that adult toys and massages can truly make a dying sex life in a couple reawaken and blossom.

Eve’s Garden also boasts a book section, porn, sensual oils and herbal supplements for arousal. The staff is helpful, patient and knowledgeable, as well as extremely comfortable discussing sex and intimacy with their clients in a compassionate manner. I truly wanted to buy everything during the demonstration, but I opted for a Calexotics product called “Orange County Cutie  a very intense “rabbit” with about 8 different vibrations and a thick shaft that moves back and forth, stimulating actual intercourse. Without getting into too many details, it is pretty phenomenal and can reach all sorts of nerves and magic spots. If an image is needed, a guy recently called it Gibraltar. That should help.

Orange County Cutie

In wrapping up the session, Kim reminds us, “these are adult toys. People forget to play; it’s fun.” I’m currently saving up for “The Womanizer.” Because, well, how could I not? Life revolves around the clitoris, after all. 

Suzanne Dressler is a professional actress, singer, and freelance writer based in NYC. She runs her own tutoring agency, Skyscraper Tutoring, LLC, speaks fluent Spanish, and is obsessed with the thesaurus. She is a graduate of Barnard College/Columbia University and lives on the Upper West Side with her two kittens, Hamlet and Cressida. Follow her on Instagram at @suzannerachel13.

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