Here’s me on my final day in America with The Wizard:
I couldn’t leave New York without paying a visit to Betty Dodson who inspired me to write Sex Drive in the first place. When I arrived, she’d just finished being filmed with Dr Juliana Morris who also did the Betty Dodson Masturbation Workshop as well as the teaching one. She is now about to give the Betty solo sex course in June in Virginia where she lives.
At 87, Betty Dodson is on a roll. Since my article came out about her in the Guardian two years ago she has trained up 30 women in seven different countries to teach women workshops on why their genitals should not be referred to as a “vagina” and why, if they know how to give themselves shame-free solo pleasure, there will be no stopping them in other areas of their life too.
I could hardly wait to dive into our usual brand of exciting conversation, but Betty told me to take my gum out of my mouth first. I told Betty that the reason I came to America in the first place was that they chewed gum and you didn’t have to act ladylike. But she was having none of it. She is a “triple Virgo,” as she’s always reminding everyone, and then again, she was born in 1929. Enfin bref, she is the only person in the whole world who can make me take my gum out.
Tête-à-tête à trois started with Betty’s take on the new Magic Wand. Carol Gessel from “sensuality store” Oh My in Northampton, Massachusetts, was telling me how they’ve come up with a new design for this Rolls Royce of vibrators. You used to have to plug it in, but now you can just charge it up and use it without the cumbersome flex. There are also more than two (hardcore) settings. What Carol hadn’t told me back in Massachusetts was that there are also new types of vibrations you can give yourself with the “new improved” Wand. The one Betty hates is the one with pulsations that stop and start. “You need consistency, damn it!”
When you’ve been taking a knowable Magic Wand around with you, “like I pack my toothbrush,” as Betty has done for the past 30-odd years, people messing around with your vibrations can be a pain in the neck. Here she is, infuriated with the new “Stop and Start” setting:
And here she is a bit happier now that regular jackhammer vibrations have been resumed
I was slightly intimidated when, reliving memories of her first Betty workshop, Juliana confided that she’d turned her Wand onto setting two (the “fry your clit setting” in my book) of the old Wand immediately. She’s just launched a new campaign called Super Jewel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6alp_AWTlP4 which gives prizes to interesting women such as your next door neighbour – or the cool black chick with purple hair and purple lips in Duane Reade pharmacy in New York earlier today who went out of her way to ask the people in the queue behind me if they’d lend me their store discount card so I could get $4 off my $30 gum purchases. The three hipster white boys who made up the queue, claimed they didn’t have a store card, although I think one of them did and he was just freaked out by the situation in that neurotic, suspicious urban way. Or maybe he was a triple Virgo. Anyway, Super Jewels are the sort of women who’d never normally make the Harper’s Bazaar Women Of The Year award that I used to help organise back in the day, because they’re too chubby or they don’t wear enough make-up, or they’re not “ladylike” enough.
We then talked about The Smitten Kitten, a new “progressive sex shop” in Minnesota, the city where the Joycelyn Elders Chair in Sexual Health Education was set up (at the University of Minnesota Medical School) last year. Elders points out that, “Sexual health education is about more than disease and preventing pregnancy, and we will work to promote sexual health throughout every stage of human life, from adolescence through adulthood and beyond.”
I was about to ask what category comes after “adulthood” (beyond-the-grave sexual health?), but Dr Morris had started an intriguing story about about attending a “45 minute talk on lube” the last time she’d been at The Smitten Kitten. That’s the spirit. I just checked out the philosophy of The Smitten Kitten on their web site:
- Everyone is welcome
- Respect yourself and others
- Don’t “yuk” my “yum!”
Anyway, the afternoon’s chit-chat was much more entertaining and instructive than what you get at Alan de Botton’s “School of Life” in London where people pay £200 to listen to him talk about “How to be happy” or “How to be more middle class,” for a couple of hours.
I mentioned to Betty that I’d met Buck Angel in LA and that he was going to launch a secret squirrel trans man sex toy soon. Betty nodded approvingly. “I’d kill for his clit,” she growled, referring to what happens when a biological female (“cis” as they’re calling that now) takes testosterone.
Oh, and we also talked about betty’s dildo-carving workshop back in the 1970s. It was in Amsterdam. Her class carved dildos out of courgettes. And then ate them. This sort of level of conversation now seems really natural to me. I worry about going back to the UK where everyone will probably want to talk about how bad the Conservatives are and what’s happening in The Archers and will flinch slightly when I say the word, “masturbation,” even though they ‘re trying to pass themselves off as really liberal.
By the way, check out the other Super Jewel-type person who also made me happy on my last day in New York:
Lenny has been a shoe shiner in Wall Street for 34 years. He was having a hard day because it was so cold and that part of New York, down by the stock exchange, is full of brash money types. I thought it was time for a treat for my $250 boots (with all the repairs they’ve undergone in the past year) and I thought I’d rather give Lenny my money than the rip-off hotdog man near the Stock Exchange selling hotdogs for $2 each with no onions in and freezing cold buns. Check out the glamour of patriarchy when worked by George Washington:
Lenny, 61, said he completely understood why I’m so attached to my boots. “You get used to a pair of boots,” he said. “They get to be like slippers.” Lenny, himself, had a pair of cowboy boots that lasted him 8 years and then, he said, sadly, the top ripped at the front. He doesn’t like shoes. He only likes boots and slippers. Like George Washington, maybe. It was $5 plus a tip. It was the happiest $10 I’ve spent in a long time. I asked Lenny if he’d been to LA, but he said he’s never been to California. He much prefers New Orleans. “I go to Bourbon Street. There’s good bars. And the pancake houses.”
I like people who understand the importance of pancakes.