Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Masturbation for the masses

May is National Masturbation Month! And if you want to observe it in the privacy of your own home, that's perfectly fine, but if you'd like to do something a little different -- and benefit some good causes in addition to your own satisfaction -- check out the following. It's taken from a press release from Carol Queen, organizer and creator of the event. I'm donating at least one free story and three copies of Your Erotic Personality to this event, so now you have one more incentive to participate!

The 2007 official Live Masturbate-a-Thon will be held on Saturday, May 26th at 415 Jessie Street in San Francisco and is sponsored by The Center for Sex and Culture.

CSC’s National Masturbation Month plans climax with the Live Masturbate-a-Thon in San Francisco. Founder and director Carol Queen, Ph.D. announced that the Center for Sex & Culture will hold its sixth annual fund-raising Masturbate-a-Thon on May 26, 2007, doors open at 4:00 pm for regular participants and at 2:00 pm for those attempting to set this year's time/orgasm records. CSC's Masturbate-a-Thon is a live group event at which participants will raise funds by getting others to sponsor them for each minute they masturbate or each orgasm they claim.

Founded by San Francisco's own Good Vibrations, National Masturbation Month seeks to raise awareness and dispel shame about this most common and natural of sexual activities. GV acted in the wake of then-Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders' firing in 1994 for stating that masturbation "is perhaps something that should be taught" about when discussing young people’s sexual options. Good Vibrations and its sister sex toy stores, as well as sex-positive nonprofits, have been celebrating National Masturbation Month across the US and Canada since 1995. More information about Good Vibrations' role in NMM will be available on GV's website in early May. The Masturbate-a-Thon became the centerpiece of National Masturbation Month when it was added to Good Vibrations' slate of activities a few years later. GV sponsors the Masturbate-a-Thon as a private event, as most masturbation is; the Center for Sex & Culture celebrates it as a live group activity.

The most recent Masturbate-a-Thon was held in August, 2006 in London, England. With 154 participants and produced for the benefit of Marie Stopes International, the UK’s premier sexual health nonprofit, that event was filmed for British television and set several new world records, including Most Orgasms for both women (49) and men (6). Last year's Center for Sex & Culture Masturbate-a-Thon raised close to $3000 from participants and their sponsors, who pledge a variable amount per minute to support their friends' efforts. One female and one male participant won trophies for Longest Time Spent Masturbating (the longest, a man, spent nearly eight and a half hours), and one person received the trophy for Most Orgasms (CSC director Carol Queen had predicted a woman was likely to win this particular award, and was proved correct). A reporter from Reuters was on hand, as were representatives from several Bay Area publications. The entire event was webcast by and so was available for interested supporters outside the region.

This year the event will feature a news commentary desk, commercials by and for masturbators, a barn stage, an opera singer, a castle interior, a bar stage, live masturbation stages for men and women and appearances by local adult movie performers Tom Orr, Tassy Pink, Robert Black, Michael Starr and the Bay area's own well loved Nina Hartley.

Who participates in a live Masturbate-a-Thon? Not surprisingly, representatives from various sexual communities attend to come for a cause; the Center for Sex & Culture is arranging this year's co-sponsorships among gay men's clubs, erotica producers, and other sexual adventurers. Separate areas of the Masturbate-a-Thon site spaces will be set aside for both mixed- and single-gender groups. Only part of the room will be set aside for the webcast cameras, so less exhibitionistic attendees can participate somewhat more privately. Participants have also been drawn to past Masturbate-a-Thons to publicly acknowledge the importance of solo sexuality in their lives, so not everyone handing in a pledge sheet will be a committed erotic adventurer; many will never have done anything like this before

Word of the Masturbate-a-Thon has spread around the globe. Last year our best-treaveled competitor (and winner of the “Longest Distance Come to Come” award) arrived from Hong Kong. We expect participants to come from as far away as Australia this year; in past years press hits have come in from Spain, Ireland, Austria, Britain, Germany, China, South Africa, France, Brazil, Ireland, India, and elsewhere.
In fact, international press has paid more attention to the Masturbate-a-Thon than has US media, particularly during the London event in 2006, when CSC Director Carol Queen spent seven and a half hours talking to the press. Although international press coverage of the event in Europe and throughout the Americas is quite well covered, US coverage including local Bay Area news outlets has been quite sparse. The on line event has historically shown a viewer moment of about 40,000 people drawing approximately .015% of the internet on the day of production (Alexa 2007)

Pledge sheets and co-sponsorship links are available at the Masturbate-a-Thon's website. Participants can download a pledge sheet and begin collecting pledges right away; after the Masturbate-a-Thon they will let their pledgers know how much to remit. Pledges can be paid by check and sent to CSC; they can also be remitted via the event website. All monies raised will be used to support the Center for Sex & Culture's educational and sex-positive cultural programming. People who wish to participate but who can't find pledgers may pledge themselves at any amount plus pay a $20.00 entry fee. Online supporters who live too far away to attend can tune in to the webcast that evening (May 26); interested parties who prefer a private Masturbate-a-Thon can download the pledge sheet, stay home and participate, and remit by mail, or they can participate in Good Vibrations's private Masturbate-a-Thon.

Visitors to these sites and Masturbate-a-Thon participants should be 18 and over only.

The Center for Sex & Culture (CSC) received its nonprofit status in late 2002 and was declared "Best Emerging Sex Nonprofit" in the San Francisco Bay Guardian's Best of the Bay issue in June 2004. It is open by appointment and for events. The Center for Sex & Culture is a largely-volunteer organization that subsists on donations from the public, including donations of books, art, videos, archival materials, etc. CSC's mailing address (where donations can be sent) is 2215-R Market Street, #455, San Francisco, CA 94114. Website donations can be made online . Telephone: (415) 255-1155. Masturbate-a-Thon™ Open Enterprises Inc.; used by permission.

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