Online Magazine Interview
Anna Mori: When did you decide to sell sex toys ?
Dr. Susan Block: About 10 years ago.
Why not? I'm a sex therapist, sex educator, author, and host of a TV and Internet show on sexuality. So naturally, I'm interested in cultivating and investigating all the Joys of Sex, including the Toys of Sex.
I try to help my clients, readers and viewers to enjoy sex more, to be creative and playful. Sex is play for adults. At least, when it's good, it is! Like children enjoy using toys for play, so adults enjoy using sex toys for sex play. They don't have to be elaborate or high tech. Fruits and vegetables will do the trick, especially if they are long and firm, like cucumbers or zucchinis. If you're a size queen, you might try an eggplant. I call them "Nature's Own Dildos." You can also use household objects. For instance, a flat hairbrush makes a nice paddle. Any object that gives you or your partner pleasure can be considered a sex toy.
Sex Toys are as old as human history. What I believe to be the oldest sex toy is also the oldest piece of sculpture known to humankind, the Venus of Willendorf, a small figurine of a voluptuous naked woman which experts say surely doubled as a dildo.
And Sex Toys are as new as Doc Johnson's "Microwavable Hot Cock." That's right, fire up your frozen dinner, then microwave your sex partner! Just don't be nuking up wieners for dinner when you're using one of these, or you might get confused and find yourself biting into latex, then sticking one of Oscar Meyer's finest up your keister.
Seriously, although Mother Nature is a great provider, there's no doubt that technology has helped artists and manufacturers to create some amazingly effective sex toys. Technology, along with its academic sister, Science, has given and continues to give us a less superstitious and irrational, more liberated and realistic understanding of our sexuality. Of course, sex drives technology (sex drives everything!). And technology takes sex for a ride, allowing us to have more and more varied and satisfying--not to mention conveninet and safe--kinds of sex. It's a marriage made--not in Heaven--but on Earth.
Not many people would call Thomas Edison a sex revolutionary. But it was the advent of electricity, which lit up the nightclubs and dancehalls after dark, and introduced us to our endless romances with the movies, the radio and the amusement park, not to mention the electric vibrator, that ignited the fuse of sex at the very start of the 20th century.
technological advance has given us the gift of sexual freedom. Is it
a "good" gift? Freedom is never all good or all bad. With
freedom come many dangers that the slave does not have to confront.
With freedom comes individual choice, and you the individual could make
the wrong choice. You could make a choice you'll regret for the rest
of your life. But if you ask me, if I have but one life to live (and
as far as science reveals, I have only the one), I'd rather live it
in sexual freedom than in slavery.
My family was not particularly religious and certainly not puritanical (though I did win the Daughters of the American Revolution award for History in the eighth grade, and I turned it down because I felt the DAR was a gaggle of blue-haired bigots; plus I wanted to impress the lefty boys). But Mom and Dad were not exactly liberated either. They were very loving though, and that's the message that I try to carry through to the world in my work. One thing they got me addicted to early on was toys. I could never get enough, and I still can't. I've just gone from Barbie and Ken Dolls to Dildos and Vulva Puppets.
I wouldn't say that I personally "suffered" much from my religion. In fact, I had my first intercourse experience at the age of 16 at a religious camp. But I was quick to see that most organized religions--especially the great Western religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam--are all about controlling people's sexuality. I also felt that these religions were strongly anti-female and anti-pleasure.
As a sex therapist, I often treat people who suffer from what I call "religious sexual abuse." Many of my clients come to me from religious, authoritarian, puritanical backgrounds that have damaged or distorted their sexuality. Their sex lives have been hurt, warped or excessively repressed by a strict, religious, anti-sex upbringing. I don't try to turn them against their religions. But I do try to make them see where their religion may be irrationally obstructing their ability to give and receive pleasure, to enjoy sex and other aspects of life.
Sometimes we even work out my clients' religious problems with sex toys, such as floggers to whip them when they're "bad." There's even a company called "Divine Intervention" that makes dildos in the shapes of saints, as well as a "Jesus Jackhammer" which is a lot of fun for lapsed Catholics to play with. I know it's blasphemous for some, but a little transgression can be very erotic. I encourage people to relax and have a sense of humor about sex. You won't go to hell for it. But you just might feel a lot better...
How old were you when you used your first sex toy ? Can you tell us about this first time ?
I used my first "sex toy" when I was three years old. On a hot summer day, I just straddled the sprinkler on our backyard lawn, and realized that it felt really good. Usually, I wore a bathing suit, but a few times, I did this naked. Of course, I didn't have orgasms at that age. But I loved the feeling of the cool water spurting up from the sprinkler and titillating my tiny genitals in the sweltering heat of the afternoon. I still love the feeling of water spraying against my clitoris and labia. Now I use the showerhead as a sex toy. And one of my favorite Doc Johnson dildos is the Squirter.
How did your relations react when you started working on sex matters?
Most people in my extended family are quite proud of me; after all, I'm their most exciting relative! In America, I'm famous for my sex toys, as well as my unique "Commedia Erotica" approach to sex education. And in America, being famous is equivalent to being royal. But some of my relatives pretend they don't know me. Out of respect for their ignorance, I won't divulge their identities.
Can you tell us the most amusing reactions to your work?
isn't so amusing, at least it wasn't when it happened. But it is amazing:
Two years ago, just as I was about to begin a live broadcast of my show,
25 armed officers from the Los Angeles Police Department invaded
my broadcast studio and art gallery, and it was literally all because
of a few big silly dildos. Of course, they found nothing illegal, they
didn't have a warrant, and I wasn't charged with anything. In fact,
the Mayor of Los Angeles publicly apologized
to me. But it was very disturbing to be "raided" by the
police, especially as they were armed and dangerous. One of them even
held a gun to my head. I try to have a sense of humor in most situations,
but this was not funny. Though, later, I did tell them to "Lay
down your arms, and pick up your dildos!" Later, in federal court,
the LAPD lawyer actually asked me to define "dildo." I told
him it was an object used for penetrative pleasure. He countered, "and
it's shaped like a penis, is it not?" I replied, "Yes, councilor,
usually a dildo is shaped like a penis. But not always. Many of our
dildos are shaped like dolphins or rabbits or like the body of a beautiful
woman. The exact shape of the dildo is not so important as the fact
that it is used to give pleasure." The men and women of the jury
listened to my description, rapt with attention. I was giving them a
lesson in sex toys, right there in United States Federal Court! Have
you heard of The Vagina Monologues? Well, this was The Dildo Dialogues.
Oh, there are constant surprises around here. Here's one: A guy called my HBO show to ask me what I thought about his favorite sex toy being a vacuum cleaner. I suppose you can guess how he used it. But please don't try this at home! A penis pump or vibrating sleeve is much safer (not to mention cleaner).
the French version,
When do you use your sex-toys? Is it often? Is it when you are alone or, on the contrary, when you make love with someone and you want to get him or her excited?
I use sex toys both in public and in private. I use them on my show all the time, to demonstrate sexual concepts, techniques and positions, as well as just for fun. I host my show from a big brass bed. I call it my Show Bed. Just like a chef hosts a cooking show from a kitchen surrounded by pots and pans, I host my sexuality show from a bed surrounded by dildos, vibrators, whips, Vulva Puppets and other sex toys. Some people call me "The Martha Stewart of Sex" (without the insider trading) because I create, promote and sell so many sex toys and other sexuality products, as well as erotic art. I even have a "Dildo Garden" on a shelf behind my Show Bed, featuring some of my favorite dildos by Doc Johnson, Ray Cirino and other artists and manufacturers. But sex toys are not "just for show" for me. I also use them in my private sex life, when I masturbate alone and when I make love with a partner.
How many different sex toys did you use in your life ?
Too many to count!
What is special about the Inner Space Magic Wands ? Can you describe them and explain why they are so good for women ?
The Inner Space Magic Wand dildos, created by erotic sculptor and sex toy maker Ray Cirino, are real works of art. In fact, it's kind of beneath them to call them mere "dildos." They're luminous, crystal clear acrylic sculptures. But they function just as well as dildos. In some ways, they're even better, as some feature special, curved G Spot stimulators. Inner Space Magic Wands inspire your imagination and uplift your spirit, even as they pleasure your flesh. Most dildos look kind of sleazy--nothing you'd want your neighbors or Great Aunt Mathilda to see on your mantle. But you can leave an Inner Space Magic Wand dildo on your mantle or your coffee table, and no one will know what it is. They'll think it's art. And it is art. But it's sexually functional art. And it hits the spot!
How many sex toys do you have near your bed ? How do your lovers react when they see it ?
I have about 200 different dildos, vibrators, whips, paddles, chains, butt plugs, three Vulva Puppets and many other sex toys in and around my Show Bed. Throughout the show, my guests and I play with the sex toys, or I may use them to demonstrate a sexual technique when I'm answering a caller's question.
As for my personal bed, I always have at least one dildo (usually an Inner Space Magic Wand or a Doc Johnson Cyberskin Dildo) and one vibrator (usually my Hitachi Plug-In Vibrator, or perhaps a Doc Johnson Pearl Diver or Pocket Rocket) close at hand.
for my personal lovers, most of them love my sex toys. If they don't,
they won't stay my lover very long. Yes, some insecure men feel that
a dildo takes the rightful place of their penises. But that's not true
at all. Nothing takes the place of a real live penis, especially with
a real live sexy Man attached to it. Dildos are just accessories or
God or the Goddess or the Snake may not have intended us to stick our
own arms up our own assholes--though one of my guests, the lovely and
talented Cumisha, demonstrated on my show that that was indeed possible.
But most of us are not as flexible as Cumisha, and that is why God created
I always keep a lipstick-sized Pocket Rocket (by Doc Johnson) in my makeup bag for "emergencies." In fact, it's shaped like a lipstick, but don't put it on your upper lips or it'll rattle your teeth! Great for the lower lips (labia) and clitoris, during those moments (in traffic, in the doctor's or lawyer's waiting room…) when there's just nothing to do but give yourself an orgasm! I also keep a small leather flogger in my purse if anyone needs a quick whipping!
In your office ? Elsewhere ?
keep sex toys everywhere--in my office, all over the set for my show,
in my gallery, as well as in my personal bedroom and, of course, the
bathroom, even at the bar. Come to the Dr. Susan Block Institute and
you'll find all kinds of sex toys everywhere!
It couldn't hurt (unless she wants it to)!
Can sex toys be useful for something else than giving myself some pleasure ?
any toys, sex toys can be very amusing. Sex is a comedy, not a tragedy
(for the most part). And dildos are great props for the Comedy of Sex.
It's all part of what I call "Commedia Erotica."
My so-called "sexual guinea pigs" are not paid just to try out sex toys, though they might be paid members of my staff. They also might be guests on my show. And yes, they might get the sex toy as a gift in exchange for their "test drive."
How do you find these people ?
volunteer. They email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or they call me at 213.749.1330. You can also call my office in France
at (0) 699962410, and speak to my assistant Imanne Sterning who is fluent
in French, English and Arabic.
Inner Space Magic Wands and the Pearl Divers by Doc Johnson
All kinds of people, couples and singles, men and women. Lots of couples. Sometimes, a couple will tell me that they're fantasizing about having a ménage à trois with another man. But they don't want to invite a real live man into their bed, at least not yet. So I suggest they use a dildo, pretending that that is another man. It sounds a little silly, I know, but it's amazing how well it works!
Also, lots of men now admit that they enjoy being penetrated, even if they have no desire to actually have sex with another man. After all, the desire to be penetrated anally has nothing to do with whether you're straight or gay. It's just a physical activity that creates pleasure. Conversely, a lot of women are finding that they like being the one who penetrates. They enjoy the power of wielding the cock. So, we're selling a lot of strap-on dildos.
We also sell a lot of vibrators, especially to women. Many women who have never had orgasms before come to me for sex therapy. Over the years, I've helped hundreds of women to have their first orgasms, even if they haven't been able to do so in 50 years. I work with them in a variety of ways: relaxation, deep breathing, fantasizing, erotic imagery, sensuous music, erotic oils and lotions, maybe a dildo. But an almost sure-fire way to make just about any woman come, even when she's had difficulty climaxing in the past, is to skillfully massage her clitoris and labia with a big, plug-in vibrator such as those made by Hitachi and Panasonic.
the Internet a good thing for people who are ashamed of buying adult-toys
in a sex-shop ?
Is it easy for American people to use sex toys ? Or is it still a taboo ?
It's easier now because you can order them over the Internet. Of course, there are still a lot of taboos involving sex toys, especially here in America, a country founded by Puritans. But if you order them in private, no one has to know. There are still a couple of states in America where it's technically illegal to sell vibrators--Texas, George and maybe Alabama.
Do you think mentalities are changing ?
Yes. People--even Americans--are becoming more open-minded about sex, despite the vicious, downright murderous backlash of various forms of fundamentalism. The Internet is helping to open people's minds about sex. Knowledge is power, and sexual knowledge is sexual power. Power to the people! Liberté! Fraternité! Egalité! Révolution! Plaisir! The power to give pleasure is the greatest power we have.
the French version,
to See Your Banner Here? Call 213.749.1330