The Twat Thickens

When ladies dish about icy-hot clits and tingling tits

It's a Saturday night in East Harlem, and I'm huddled around a display of sex toys with six other women at my friend Courtney's apartment for a Passion Party (passionparties.com). The Evite was enticingly titled "The Gift That Keeps On Giving and Giving and . . . oh . . . god . . . YESSS!", so I'm expecting a little naughtiness along with my battery-operated handjob helpers. Most of the women in attendance are creative types, and we're all wearing name tags announcing our porn alter egos (Hannah Harpoontang, Eileen Dover, Gabby Buttocks, etc.). The room is filled with giddy yet slightly nervous energy as we wait for our 29-year-old "Passion Consultant" Jenny Lobland, to show us the Jelly Osaki, Super Deluxe Smitten, and the Octopus Massager.

But first, we loosen up with a game of "word scramble." I have a competitive streak and am thrilled when I'm the first to unscramble "dildo," "intercourse," and "sensual," and score a penis candle. While the game does open up our getting-to-know-you session, it's the words "I never . . ." that truly get the ladies going. Admissions like "I've never had sex on an airplane," "I've never swallowed," and "I've never had a threesome" pour out. After we suss out our varying levels of sexual experience, it's on to the nitty-gritty.

We listen as Lobland launches into her spiel, while holding up pink and purple toys and passing out sweet lotions. Several volunteers go to the bathroom to apply samples of creams like Ready to Go to their clits, then return to describe the "icy-hot" sensations to the rest of us. But that's as climatic as it gets with this crowd. The vibe here is friendly rather than flirtatious, and strictly hetero. We share secrets but not secretions. Apparently I'm the only one in the room who wants to see some topless nipple-rubbing action, because even when we're all applying fruit-flavored gels to our nipples and sharing details about our orgasmic ability, our clothes stay on.

Passion Party
photo: Julie Staub Photography
Passion Party

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Upcoming Event
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Erotic Memoir Night
Happy Ending Lounge
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212-334-9676
January 17

At times, the get-together feels like a parody of a bachelorette party, a space where sexual feelings don't count unless you're giggling about them. At other moments, I'm amazed that we can open up about our fantasies and favorite positions with near-strangers. We discuss everything from pubic shaving and waxing to premature ejaculation. For our hostess, the chatter is half the fun. "Who doesn't like to talk about fucking?" says Courtney. "It's great finding out things about your girlfriends that you didn't know." Lobland (bigsexypassionparty.yourpassionconsultant.com), an assistant manager at a hair salon, thinks of the soirees as "her own personal outreach program," where women can speak freely about sex without judgment. Her abundant enthusiasm gets us all sniffing, tasting, and extolling the virtues (and horrors) of various toys we've tried.

We're probably not the only gals getting jiggy with sex toys tonight; there are at least 10,000 Passion Parties taking place each month across the nation. In 2004, the gatherings made headlines when the company's Texas consultant, Joanne Webb, was charged with a misdemeanor for hawking her sexy wares—the case was eventually dismissed. The state bans the manufacture, sale, distribution, lending or giving of any device "including a dildo or artificial vagina, designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs." But back at my party, it's all about passion, play, and fun.

According to 62-year-old Pat Davis, the Passion Parties president, the point of the parties is to elicit your "Passion Diva," which she defines as "that really sexy being within all women, no matter what age, size, or ethnic background. We all have this inner lusty creature we want to bring out; a woman who feels sexual has self-confidence and knows how to give and get pleasure." Davis welcomes her role as sexual guru, which she elaborates in her new book, The Passion Parties Guide to Great Sex. Her take is simple but powerful: "Sex isn't rocket science; sometimes you just need to slow down and have a little fun with it."

Our party lasts for three hours, by which point my mind is a blur. Courtney tells me she loves the fun-filled setting (and drinking games), but feels the presentation "needs to be streamlined. We all started losing focus after an hour." I had a better time than I expected to: I'd gone in slightly jaded, thinking I'd seen every erotic device under the sun, but I walked out intrigued, amused, and slightly turned on. Part of me longed for a little '70s-style consciousness raising, or at least a queerer environment where, when a woman says, "I want to have my nipples sucked," I could do just that. There is no mention of bondage, spanking, or other s&m activities; it isn't that kind of party, and it doesn't have to be. I might like my nipples bitten and tugged, while you might like yours gently rubbed. I might long for a Passion Party–turned-orgy, while others, according to Davis, "are sitting there waiting for someone to say it's OK." It'd be easy to make fun of some of the more demure aspects of Passion Parties. Davis says "c-ring" instead of "cock ring," rejects the idea that her company is a feminist one, and extols romance novels over porn. On the other hand, she writes: "Wanting orgasms doesn't mean you're 'loose' or even a bad girl—your body was made to have orgasms, they're good for your health, and you should enjoy them!" Amen to that. The kinkiest item for sale in the catalog is a tickler/slapper. I order the vibrating hairbrush (which could double as a paddle, if I'm lucky), strawberry creamsicle massage lotion, mandarin orange Nipple Nibbler and two stretchy pink cock rings which I receive a week and a half later. I've yet to use them, and since I'm single again, I may have to settle for platonic back rubs and solo nipple erections. But that's OK; it's 2007, and no matter how you get off, these parties offer women (and, by extension, their partners) a chance to spice things up or just learn about what's out there. And if that means more orgasms or just more sexual exploration, I say: Party on.

Please visit rachelkramerbussel.com.

 
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