amb: Can we talk?
Toy 1 (Jimmy Jane Form 2): In front of…other people?
amb: Yes. Well, in front of readers of The Pleasure Dome, this new column on pleasure. I bet you’re an expert.
Toy 1: Is nothing sacred to you?
amb: I am not trying to have a profane conversation…I think a lot of our interactions are quite sacred! That’s what I want to talk about.
Toy 1: It’s too private. I’m glad you asked, but, no thank you. Please put me away now.
amb: Ok. Consent is so important. I appreciate you!
Toy 1: You give me purpose. Try Wand, she’s got a big old head, I bet she’ll talk to you.
amb: Oh, good idea, thank you!
amb: Can we talk about sex and desire?
Toy 2 (Womanizer): I didn’t know you knew how to put words into coherent sentences.
amb, blushing: I could say the same thing about you. You are such an incredible, miraculous toy.
Toy 2: Thank you. I’m glad to be so effective. Sometimes I wish I knew more about pace, foreplay—me, my kind, we get such short, focused times with y’all. There’s no romance.
amb: One time I did the candle thing…
Toy 2: I’m not upset, honey. I feel proud of my results. I think it’s actually super important to empower all humans to produce the healing that I give without having to negotiate it with anyone else.
amb: I agree. I wish sex education was actually much more focused on what pleasure feels like, getting to know the sensual and sexual pleasures of our bodies before we share them with others, getting to know the distinct energy between yes and no.
Toy 2: Yes, for so long pleasure has been controlled and vilified, which I think is because it’s actually so powerful. To know that you can access, in your own body, that kind of liberation and wholeness and being fully present right here, right now—it’s so much easier to dominate people who don’t know how to access their own pleasure.
amb: Within and beyond the realm of sex.
Toy 2: Yes but—or rather, yes and—the body is such a non negotiable place to learn and listen for pleasure. We toys come across people all the time who think they can’t feel pleasure, can’t squirt, don’t have a g-spot or prostate, have no nipple sensation—or don’t think they deserve it. And that first time they get to control the experience, press and pace and open and design their own good feeling, with or without my help…I think it changes people, changes what feels possible. The body learns so quickly!
amb: Testify! I feel like even when I didn’t love how my body looked, and when I struggled to be seen by others, much less tell them how to make me feel good, y’all always let me know that I was a magical creature capable of something beautiful. And that truth grew from deep inside all the way up to the surface.
Toy 2: Really glad to be of service. Have you talked to Wand yet? They love this stuff.
amb: On it. Thanks again, for all you do.
amb: Wand, can we talk frankly about desire?
Toy 3, aka, Wand: Absolutely. I thought you’d never deign to ask.
amb: Wonderful! I want to talk with you especially because I feel like you get to see…behind the scenes of pleasure. And all the other toys recommended I interview you. It seems like you know a lot about what humans desire when the lights are off and no one else is around.
Wand: Lights off, lights on, solo, an audience, I’ve seen it all. It never ceases to amaze me how voracious the human imagination is when it comes to fantasy. You can splice together memories of sensual experience and current longings with things you always wanted but never knew how to speak aloud.
amb: What do you mean, about speaking things out loud?
Wand: My darling, while I am deeply confident in the unique experience of my loud and vibratory nature, if I had to say why I exist, it’s to attend to the unspoken. Humans are taught to lie, deny and perform when it comes to getting what we truly want. You turn to me, to us, with those fantasies.
amb: I don’t remember anyone explicitly teaching me to lie…
Wand: Of course not. You were taught to be polite, to be likeable, charming. As a girl, you, particularly, were taught, to please men. A million magazines (and shows and teachers and advertisements) told you how to change everything about yourself and Fifty Tips for Blowing His Mind In Bed—did you see magazines teaching men the same things?
amb: I didn’t. Not at all. Sports and porn, those are the main places I saw boys taught how to practice masculinity—pound everything into the ground and scream with dominating pleasure. Which is fun sometimes but…kind of onenote, you know? I stopped paying attention to or expecting more than that. But…I’m queer.
Wand: Do I ever know that! And with your more feminine men, and women, trans and non gender conforming lovers, did those gender norms just wait politely outside the room in some heteronormative zone?
Wand: Shall I continue?
Wand: We see it all the time, the truth that comes out when you’re alone, or once the door closes on your dates/lovers/partners—all that went unspoken, unrequested, packed tightly in misogynistic patriarchal consumerist concepts of sex and desire…and it has built up and needs to be realized in the flesh. There is so much beauty and power in the moments we get to share.
amb: Maybe bringing those desires into the light, speaking them, kind of ruins them. What if part of the delight is the clandestine part, the secrecy, the unspeakability?
Wand: Humans are complex. I do not know a way to untangle desire from the sensual constriction of the forbidden. I benefit from the existence of the secret realm. And it’s equal parts secrecy and the tangibility, my appeal. My life is about having a measurable effect of pleasure that is not dependent on anyone else.
amb: Orgasms? But even those can be faked.
Wand: The body may perform, but it doesn’t lie. You can’t really lie to me—if I’m present then you’re generally trying to be present, too. Not always, sometimes it’s rote, or coping, or even addiction. I can’t parse for that, I just show up, no matter what. And the physicality of pleasure is an honest place—the body loves what it loves. The mind makes stories with that, decides if that love is viable, acceptable. And, often, suffers in that exploration, that narrative building.
amb: In my favorite sci fi comic, Saga, there’s a Lying Cat that keeps everyone around it honest by pointing out what isn’t true. You’re totally kind of like that. A Lying Toy.
Wand, aka Lying Toy: Thank you, I take that as a compliment.
amb: Will you accept a place in the Pleasure Dome? As an omsbudstoy, to keep us all honest here?
Wand (lighting a cigarette): Sure. As long as you promise to devote a column to the Pleasure of Lying. People do most things because they feel good on some level. Lying is not exempt.
amb: OK, I promise. Um…smoking is bad for you.
Wand: Isn’t everything? And yet it gives me such pleasure. (laughing) It’s one of the things I can do in moderation. Pleasures that can be accessed with moderation are important to cultivate and, if possible, to keep shame free. You have to be much more careful with pleasures that evoke a lack of control—as tobacco does for a lot of people. Those kinds of pleasures are delicious, but not really sustainable. I think more than judging an experience or substance to determine legality or whether it’s good or bad for others, we should look at the impact it has on the user, the doer. Does it produce an addictive effect? Does it cause harm to user, or to those around them? Because that isn’t pleasure, that’s something else. But pleasure, pleasure should be encouraged in this short life.
amb: Thanks. I feel a little less shameful about my occasional cigarettes now. Wand, do you happen to have an assignment for me and my readers?
Wand: Yes. Write down three things that give you pleasure that you don’t tell others about. It can be naughty bad television, your cigarettes, or Internet trolling, or gluten free cookie dough, anything. Just be honest with yourself. That’s part one. Part two, see if you can share some or all of that list with another person. Or share in the comments! Learn what you can about being honest in pleasure.
amb: Ooh I like that—pleasure and intimacy. Thank you so much!