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Only In San Francisco

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Actually, that isn’t true: National Masturbation Month is celebrated/ acknowledged/tolerated throughout these United States in May. It all began back in 1995 when our former Surgeon General, Jocelyn Elders, got the ax for stating that masturbation “is perhaps something that should be taught” about when discussing sexual options for young people.
Groovy Bill Clinton did the firing, years before Monica, a cowardly act intended, most likely, to appease the ignoramuses in Washington and elsewhere. In response, San Francisco’s women-focused sex toy company Good Vibrations declared National Masturbation Day, which somehow got stretched into an entire month.

It’s probably only in SF and a few enlightened places, though, that masturbation gets such sustained attention. Here people are urged to stay home from work and masturbate—I kid you not. The centerpiece of the festivities, The Masturbate-a-Thon, was added to Good Vibrations’ slate of activities as a private event, as most masturbation is. Then The Center for Sex & Culture,
Carol Queen’s baby, took it semi-public a few years ago, celebrating it as a group activity. You can get more information at the official website, but here’s what they send out via e-mail (with a few editorial changes made by moi).

WHAT: This is a fundraising and consciousness-raising event featuring masturbation — just like a Walk-a–Thon, except your feet don’t hurt after (unless you masturbate in a fascinating way that we’d like to know more about!).
WHEN: Sunday, May 25, 2008, doors (for time contestants) 12:00 pm, general admission 3:00 pm.

WHERE: 1519 Mission, San Francisco, CA 94103
COST: Suggested minimum donation $20 at the door (a filled-out pledge sheet with at least $20 in pledges counts); limited voyeur (see below) seating is $40.

This works in a similar way to Walk-a-Thons: participants ask others to sponsor them for the length of time they masturbate. If you bring a pledge sheet (available at the website) with at least $20 pledged, you pay no other admission. We urge you to get at least a few sponsors, because that’s the way community involvement in the Masturbate-a-Thon grows, as well as pro-masturbation discussion – which is the whole point of this endeavor.

If you want to break the record for longest time spent masturbating (currently 8 hours and 40 minutes), you can arrive at noon. We’ll go on till everyone is done — probably some time between 9 pm and midnight. Everyone needs to show ID (to prove they’re over 18) and sign a release. Payment is up front at the door, or after the fact if you have a filled-out pledge sheet.

Special celebrity guests and MCs include Nina Hartley, gay porn star Robert Black, and performer Tom Orr (of “iTom Shuffle” and “Dirty Little Showtunes” fame). One room will have a stage,
cameras, and voyeurs in chairs. From here we’ll webcast people masturbating, as well as Carol and Nina’s chat, interviews and more. Besides the stage and the voyeurs’ platform, we’ll provide separate spaces for women, for men, and for mixed genders. Except for voyeurs, anyone entering this room might show up on our webcast. To enter this room, therefore, participants MUST sign a release and bring two forms of ID.

There will be a separate room for people who DON’T wish to be on the webcast but do wish to masturbate together. Again, it will be separated into women’s, men’s, and mixed space. There will be no voyeurs in this space. People from the webcast room may enter this room to masturbate out of the limelight, but people from this room won’t be allowed into the webcast room unless they go back to the front desk and sign the webcast release.

We’ll provide a secure clothing check area and a “chill space” room with refreshments. You might want to bring: your fave lube and toys; a towel; a kimono or robe. We’ll have plenty of padded space.

FAQ: Can I appear on the webcast in a mask? YES! We especially favor Groucho Marx noses; we think he would approve. No George Bushes, please, we do not want an honorable activity like wanking to get mixed up in that sort of thing. If you’re worried about your mom recognizing you, don’t forget to cover your tats.

FAQ: Can I attend with my partner/s? YES! Masturbating together is fabulous.

FAQ: Can I masturbate my partner? NO! Think of yourself as a sex toy, an addition to their masturbatory experience. There are sex parties for partner-play all year round, but there’s only one Masturbate-a-Thon (in SF at least), and its purpose is to honor SOLO sex.

FAQ: What’s an energy vampire, and how do I avoid having people think I’m one? An energy vampire is a person who, instead of settling down and getting busy, wanders the rooms looking for people and scenes to stare at. This can make other people feel uncomfortable, especially outside the exhibitionist room, and in a crowded area, you risk invading others’ personal space. Please voyeurize respectfully and at a distance (though if someone is urging you closer and egging you on, fine! Enjoy!).

Let us know at the front desk when you sign in, and make sure you let us know when you’re done. Our staff members will keep an eye on your progress and document time lasted, orgasms (let us know if you want an orgasm counter, or bring your own), and distance. The distance competition will be held at 7 pm. (Current distance record is 36 inches.)

A Featured Masturbator is anyone who signs up in advance and provides a photo, image, or bio that might inspire people who visit the Masturbate-a-Thon website to sponsor you. It’s especially good if you want to be on the webcast, though that’s not required; we can report on your progress throughout the evening. Featured Masturbators are especially encouraged to alert their friend or fan networks to encourage sponsors, which can be made through the website.

IF you don’t want to participate but wish to attend as a VOYEUR, the cost is $40 at the door (though more is always appreciated). You may keep your street clothes on, but you can only enter the refreshments room and the voyeur platform. (If you get inspired and decide you want to masturbate too, come on over to the front desk and let us know.)

You can always participate in the Masturbate-a-Thon from home. You can still download a pledge form, get friends to sponsor you, masturbate alone or with your partner, and send in the pledges to us at 2215-R Market #455, SF CA 94114 or via the PayPal account on the website.

Great! Just let us know in advance so we can mark you as Press.

Dedicate a blog entry or two to masturbation or the Masturbate-a-Thon. In fact, if you want, you can blog about it FROM the Masturbate-a-Thon — we have wifi! Make sure you let us know so we can link to you.

The 2008 Masturbate-a-thon is participating in Twitter in an historic way. In partnership with, one of our sponsors, we have created the Twittergasm. It’s a way of coming out of the closet as someone who masturbates by posting to your Twitter profile whenever you come. A secret handshake of sorts, only others who follow the Twittergasm profile, or who have read about the campaign will know, so your prudish friends will be left alone until they, too are enlightened.

Twittergasm: a post indicating that you just had a real orgasm:
ICSW (I came, so what?)
JOSW (jacking off, so what?

By typing the character string ICSW to your twitter profile, you say with pride: I Came! Prudes of the world will be forced to realize once and for all that no one really cares what adults do with themselves, and everyone does it.

To find out how Twitter works, see this short video. We will be using the popular service to track twittergasms in May and we will publish the results on the site and related blogs and sites.

Twitterers can participate in Masturbation Month in several ways. See website for details.


A couple of years ago I was writing a novel in which a couple of the characters go to the  Masturbate-A-Thon; naturally, I had to research the matter at (ahem) hand. And so I went. All by myself. I’d planned to hang out in voyeur’s space, which is a curtained-off area where I could see without being seen. I was the only person back there, though, and after awhile I felt like I was in purdah, so I changed into an outfit I’d brought along just in case, and ventured out. I discovered the same problem that occurs at every other kind of public sex venue: men outnumber women by at least two to one, and, despite Carol and Robert’s best efforts, truly generous intentions, and well-considered rules, guys still wander around, erections in hand, staring and stalking. Which, to say the least, is not very comfortable for women. BUT…does this mean women ought to stay away? I should say not!

I suggest that women attend either with partners, gay guy friends, or with a whole gang of women. While I know that this too can be tricky–after all, not everyone wants to masturbate with their friends–if you do have people you’d feel comfortable doing this with, I imagine it could be terrific fun.

Fashion Note: The first question everyone, including men, asks when they get invited to a public sex event is, What do I wear? Remember, first of all, that you do not necessarily have to get naked. For those too shy to bare all (and I’m one), you can wear a corset, an oversized t-shirt with shorts or leggings, a nightie…use your imagination. I’m almost phobic about public nudity, so I’ve learned how to put together outfits that make me look sexier than a naked goddess.

Have Fun!

4 responses »

  1. This is all great information, and I wholly support what the Masturbate-a-Thon stands for, but I just have one concern. This Twittergasm business is a little weird. Are there really people in the closet in terms of masturbating that will be helped by listing the times they’ve masturbated online? Then what about people like me who probably masturbate too much, who, if they actually had to face the realities of their daily tally, might have to take a long look in the mirror?

    I don’t know the answers to these questions, but maybe you could find out more on the Masturbate-a-Thon website. One thing I do know, though, is that “sex positive” people would probably tell you there’s no such thing as masturbating “too much.” Anyhow, good luck.–MS

  2. Alas, I’ll be out of town for this one, but I went to 3 out of the last 4 Masturbate-a-Thons, and they were great fun. I hope you and your readers can make it this year – it’s not only totally HOT but the funds raised are for a good cause.

    Like other Center for Sex & Culture events, it’s for all ages, body types, and orientations, and is completely non-judgmental and non-threatening. There are plenty of scenes (like some commercial sex clubs) where women might be uncomfortable with men wandering around stroking themselves, but really, this is not one of them, and there’s an atmosphere of joy, laughter, and sensuality that you really have to be there to experience.

    And I urge people to come on out and take their clothes off — yes, it’s a bit different than a nude beach or hot tub, but I’ve never felt uncomfortable, even as a 50+ chubby bear with some impressive surgical scars. This is by no means an event limited to young shiny pretty people (although there are some of those too), but an inclusive, welcoming space for celebrating sexuality.

  3. I’m a firm supporter of openness and freedom in our sexual lives and I think that this Masturbate-a-Thon is an absolutely wonderful idea. Whoever started it and got it to become an annual activity deserves an award.

    Having an activity such as this is a great way for people to start opening up and accepting masturbation as a healthy and fun way to spend your time, with or without a partner. If people start by seeing the Masturbate-a-Thon on a webcast they may, over time, become accustomed to masturbation in all its forms. This is the start of a new, open-mindedness towards sexuality.

  4. oh boy this is a great hoax… jonathan swift would be proud…

    Excuse me, sir, but this is no hoax!–MS

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