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Happy Ending: Why The World Can’t Wait For Human Touch Again

During lockdown it may have become normal to prefer to masturbate over having sex with a partner, but people are beginning to appreciate that they’re missing the touch they did have.

According to a recent article in Playboy by Grindr’s sex columnist Bobby Box, “some men prefer masturbation to sex, but will never admit it.”

Apparently, the reason for this is because “men look to ejaculation as a stress release and masturbation can deliver this outcome without having to worry about pleasuring another person and any of the emotional complications that sometimes accompany the act of sex.”

Some guys believe that their own hands know their penis better than any woman would. And, for many women, the feeling is mutual; why endure the fumbling of a partner when one can bring oneself to climax.

According to the results of a ‘self-pleasure’ survey by Sexual Wellness company Tenga, 27 per cent of women and 21 per cent of men said that sorting themselves out alone was actually more pleasurable than sex.

During the pandemic, social isolation has certainly meant sexual isolation for both individuals and couples hoping to explore physical intimacy.

It is no surprise, therefore, that online sexual encounters in the past year, things like virtual sex parties, educational Zoom workshops, remotely controlled sex toys and simply engaging in sex-positive communities, have proven to be both sexually fulfilling and antidotes to physical intimacy.

Being in quarantine, however, isn’t our normal, and there is no normal response to it; nothing can completely substitute for physical touch.

This is, in part, because of the cellular processes that take place when a person is touched. Even moderate pressure touch, such as stroking, stimulates pressure receptors under the skin that sets off a chain reaction and slows the nervous system; the heart rate slows down, blood pressure slows, and brainwaves change in the direction of theta, which is a relaxation state.

Levels of cortisol, the stress hormone that kills immune cells, also decrease when we’re touched, while natural killer cells (which kill bacteria, viral and cancer cells) increase. It’s ironic, during this time when there’s a lot of touch deprivation going on, that we don’t have the protection of the natural killer cells killing the viral cells.

Of course, people living alone can still help stave off touch deprivation through self-touch, but, for most people, the pandemic has made us all realise how touch-deprived we were to begin with.

Before Covid-19, the rise of online platforms and social media were driving us physically apart; Coronavirus has simply exacerbated touch deprivation.

This is why erotic massage in London, as well as more niche adult services such as BDSM and transexual escorts, will likely boom during the post-lockdown months. Thousands of years of history of what happens post-pandemics and post-war show that people start getting intimate. It’s going to happen.

To read Bobby Box’s Playboy article click here.


The Insider: The Trauma of Being a Trans Woman in Brazil.

In Brazil the struggles of trans women are deeply connected and embedded in a women’s movement – transgender, transvestite, indigenous, black; they fight together, side by side. There is no separation. They all face the poverty, the violence, the difficult life as women. It is a class issue, but one framed by shocking violations of human rights.

 

Brazil leads the world rankings for the greatest [number of] trans and transvestite murders. According to ANTRA (Brazil’s National Association of Transvestites and Transsexuals), Brazil accounted for 124 cases of [transgender] murders in 2019. Eleven trans people are beaten per day in Brazil due to their gender identity. They lack security, affection, opportunity and equity.

 

Many are unreported or misreported. Life expectancy is 30-35.  According to the Associação Nacional de Travestis e Transexuais, who also report the murders, over half of the victims die on the street and 80% show signs of torture.

 

In an extraordinary interview, published earlier this month by The English Collective of Prostitutes, Natalia, a trans woman from Brazil now living in the UK, talks about the trauma of being a trans woman in Brazil. She also uses the term “travesty”, in recognition of the culture in which she grew up – a culture of degradation and oppression.

 

In fact, it is probably accurate to say that trans women are part of a heavily persecuted nano minority that manages to have the minimum access, care and basic rights of a human being. Most trans women living in Brazil don’t even have security in their own homes. And those who manage to have the minimum [level] of safety and comfort in their home, let alone out on the street

 

Frustration is another word to describe the feeling of living in Brazil as a trans woman. It is frustrating to see how vulnerable, invisible and marginalised they are. The cis gender and heteronormative parts of society puts trans women in a cruel, predefined box of what it means to be a transvestigenere body.

 

As well as talking about when and what made her choose to transition, Natalie, who was thrown out onto to streets by her mother at the age of 12 and lived for many years in a discarded building with trans women and transvestites, gives a candid account of what is it like to be a trans woman in Brazil, which she describes as a “very sexist, racist and transphobic place to be.” She also talks about what the effect of the pandemic has had on her.

 

Coronavirus has devastated communities the world over, but in Brazil’s favelas – the tightly packed slums that crowd the country’s biggest urban hotspots – it has been particularly merciless. The pandemic has exposed inequalities even down to the official data that can be collected: as of 23 October, Brazil had exceeded five million confirmed cases, and over 156,000 recorded deaths, but many have pointed out that those figures don’t extend to the favelas, where poverty, poor access to healthcare and overcrowded living conditions have proved lethal.

 

You can read the full interview with Natalie here.

 

The English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP) is a network of sex workers working both on the streets and indoors campaigning for decriminalisation and safety.

 

Main Image by Ian Cheibub, a visual storyteller based in Rio de Janeiro studying media at Universidade Federal Fluminense. You can visit Ian’s page here.


The BDSM Test Recommend by Sexologists

BDSM is an acronym for a broad range of sexual preferences that relate to physical control, usually broken into six components, “bondage and discipline, domination and submission, and sadism and masochism,” according to Ali Hebert and Angela Weaver, professors in the department of psychology at St. Francis Xavier University, writing in the Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality.

 

Of course, there’s a reason the term BDSM encompasses so much. Sex and sexuality are complex. But, that is not to say BDSM can be a safe, consensual avenue for exploring the kinks that comprise your unique sexual identity. It absolutely can, and, thanks to an online BDSM test, it is possible to safely learn your tastes.

 

The first version of the BDSM Test launched in 2014 and it is often used by sexologists and sex educators with their clients. The BDSM Test is free and works by asking you the degree to which you agree with certain statements related to your sexual appetite. Statements include, “I want my partner to serve me and address me as a superior” and, “I like to be dominated, especially in the bedroom.” At the end of the test, takers will learn the degree to which BDSM “archetypes” fit their particular desires.

 

Taking the test requires you to do some personal reflection i.e. self-examination, which makes the test worth taking, because learning more about oneself and one’s sexual appetites, can never be a bad thing. The quiz is also good for generating discussion and providing language [for talking to your sexual partner]. It can help people become illuminated on what they don’t know and give them a direction to explore in regards to what turns them on.

 

As with all types of tests that categorise and organise your personality and interests, remember to be flexible and open to the possibility that what does turn you on might not be the same in six or 12 months’ time. People change. Needs change.

 

So remember, this is just a test. It’s not set in stone. There are options, variations. If you test low in an area that interests you, for example, that doesn’t mean that you can’t explore it. Conversely, if you test high in an area that doesn’t interest you, you don’t have to do that kink.

 

Use the test as a tool for an entry point, but not as an end-all and be-all. Have fun. Stay safe.

The BDSM Test

An examination of personality characteristics associated with BDSM orientations. The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality.

 


Redefining the Happy Ending Massage

According to award-winning sex educator and coach Ashley Manta, in Playboy, “hand jobs are underrated for two main reasons: lack of enthusiasm and lousy PR. People with penises believe that no one could ever give them a better hand job than the one they give themselves. This may be the biggest sexual misconception ever. A good erotic massage therapist can definitely get you off better than you do.

Of course, there are plenty of different types of sexual and erotic massages out there, including happy ending massages or orgasmic massages, which are designed to give you an orgasm, as well as yoni massage, a Tantric massage aimed at relieving tension and developing feeling inside the vulva.

Lingam massages, however, specially designed for people with penises, are perhaps unfairly overlooked. Incorporating massage into your sex life can be a great way to explore your own and your partner’s body, as well as opening yourself up to a whole range of new feelings and sensations.

People love hand jobs for many reasons, but the primary one is that they’re so versatile. There are so many things you can do with your hands! “The possibilities are limited only by your imagination,” says Ashley Manta, “and you can use countless positions.”

Manta talks about the reclining diamond, in which the receiver lies on their back and the giver sits between the receiver’s legs, with the giver’s legs underneath the receiver’s legs. This allows the giver to use both hands—a crucial upgrade to the traditional single-handed hand job with the other arm being used to prop up their body. From your vantage point between the receiver’s legs, you’re able to watch their facial expression and the way their chest rises and falls, and get real-time feedback on how they’re enjoying your techniques. It also makes it easier to access the balls and perineum, which are two hot spots largely ignored during more conventional hand jobs.

A hand job really is just a genital and pelvic massage. In addition to giving pleasure, it can also be intensely relaxing for the receiver, especially if you incorporate the inner thighs, hips and pubic mound into your massage. We hold so much tension in our pelvic region, and this is a great way to unwind some of that stress.

Lingam massages, however, can also make it possible for men and people with penises to experience multiple orgasms, something which is misleadingly thought to only be experienced by women and people with vaginas.

A lingam massage involves not just massaging the lingam (the penis) but also the testicles, perineum (the sensitive patch of skin between the anus and the scrotum) and the prostate (thought of as the ‘sacred spot’).

‘Lingam’ is the Sanskrit word for penis and loosely translates as ‘wand of light. According to Annabelle Knight, sex and relationship expert at Lovehoney. “The aim is to not just to have one orgasm but several. It is about trying to feel more and more pleasure that will turn into waves of multiple orgasms throughout the massage.”

Technique, they say is everything. Sex guru Ashley Manta explains. “I like to begin by thoroughly lubing my hands and running them up their inner thighs, moving into a diamond shape with my thumbs behind the balls and my pointer fingers resting on the pubic mound. Then, with my dominant hand, I wrap my fingers around the shaft and squeeze to the top, thoroughly lubricating the entire area. Don’t be afraid to use pressure; it feels fantastic!”

“In Defense of The Hand Job”, by Ashley Manta.


Love and Acceptance in the Life of Sex Workers

One of the most outrageous misconceptions about sex workers is that they can’t enjoy so called normal, healthy, exclusive relationships.

Let’s get one thing straight – sex workers have a monogamous mentality. Just because they’re sex workers doesn’t mean they don’t want love any less than anyone else.

Sex with clients is nothing like it is at home. Sex workers use words like performative, robotic and perfunctory to describe “work sex.” That’s not to say it’s bad, especially with clients they like, but it’s not real.

“I get to have orgasms,” says one escort who asked not to be named. “But they’re empty.” Intimacy with significant others is genuine, connective and, maybe most important, healing.

It’s fair to say, the longer a sex worker remains in the business, the more they tend to understand the importance of a partner. The more many of them crave some sort of relationship. Do we sense a common void here?

For a sex worker, however, coming clean with what they do for a living, will always be a challenge. The burning question – could you be intimate with a significant other who didn’t know what you did? Invariably, the answer is a resounding no.

But developing comfort levels can take time; trust needs to build. But waiting too long has pitfalls as well. It would be difficult to be one or two months in a relationship then admit you’ve lied the whole time and this is what you actually do.

How then to share this information? Again, every situation and every provider varies. According to Sara, who’s been a sex worker for nearly three years, subtlety doesn’t always work.

In an interview with Playboy writer Tim Struby, in the article “How Does an Escort Find a Boyfriend,” she says “I’ve tried everything. I’ve been blunt, I’ve been delicate. I’ve asked if they’ve seen Pretty Woman.”

With one of her exes, she described herself as a “well-compensated, low-volume companion.” Another sex worker, Maggie, prefers not to beat around the bush. “I say I’m in the sex industry,” she says. “Then guys say, ‘What does that mean?’ I try to explain the job. But I ask, ‘Look, how much do you want to know?’

“Then, I met the man who is my partner today. He knew that I was a sex worker from the very beginning, and it hasn’t ever been an issue. Sure, we’ve had our ups and downs (as any relationship does), but my job has never been a concern (nor has his).

“He truly understands and values me and my work. He accepts and loves me as an entire person. He knows that I am the person I am today, and the partner I am today, BECAUSE of sex work. He loves me for that, rather than in spite of that.

“Having experienced this love and acceptance, I find it difficult to imagine having a partner who was unaware of my work. Sex work has been my primary source of income for my entire adult life, and it has influenced many of my life decisions. Without sex work, I wouldn’t be ME.”

At London Contacts we believe everyone deserves this sort of love and acceptance. But life is complicated.

Many providers have not only found themselves in unhealthy relationships, but they’ve also stayed with those partners because they don’t think they can find somebody else who would be as accepting of their profession. “We invest so much in our partner because we know we have a special situation,” says Maggie.

Revealing the truth can be a scary proposition for a provider, especially when that information has been withheld for a long time. But it can also be liberating; it can help a relationship.

According to Amelia P, in her article “When To Disclose That You’re A Sex Worker To A Romantic Partner” it is unlikely that a person will go through life as a sex worker without experiencing some sort of discrimination or put-down because of their job.

However, Amelia P urges sex workers to learn how to accept their job as a positive, not a negative. “Remember your job is NOT embarrassing and it is NOT something to be ashamed of,” she said. “We might envy those who never have to worry about telling someone they like that they are a sex worker. It’s completely normal to dread telling someone, as we are all too familiar with the ignorance that many subscribe to about sex work; “Does that mean I can fuck other people too?” or simply pure disgust at the idea of sex exchanged for money.

Many sex workers have dated people in the past who treated them awfully because of their work, and often because they hadn’t truly accepted their job.

If this happens to you, we want you to reality check yourself. You can’t afford the consequences of a relationship with someone who doesn’t accept YOU when there’s room for beautiful relationships with people to whom your job is irrelevant.

How Does an Escort Find a Boyfriend by Tim Struby

When To Disclose That You’re A Sex Worker To A Romantic Partner by Amelia P

 


It’s Time to Rediscover the Lost Art of Phone Sex.

The loneliness and uncertainty of social distancing, isolating, and quarantining might have some sex workers tempted to see clients; here’s why you shouldn’t.

In the age of COVID-19, the reality of being alone is coming to the surface for all of us. Sex workers, in particular, have been severely impacted by the outbreak.

With people shut inside, online views may have increased, but the high majority of sex workers have lost all in-person bookings because of the pandemic.

As citizens of the world have taken up social distancing amid the isolation and terror, one thing has become clear – we are missing human connection, and that includes sexual connection.

Both sex workers and clients are struggling to come to terms with the various implications of social distancing, which is more likely to become the norm long after the pandemic has ended.

This is not to suggest sex work won’t return to normal. Eventually, it will, and many believe there will be a boom in bookings when the dread, as well as the virus, subsides.

Humans have been engaging in sexual practice, in its many forms, since the dawn of humankind and the sex work industry has since managed to thrive through many a global crisis.

Whether out of boredom, desperation for social contact or the ultimately irrepressible powers of human horniness, perhaps the only thing safe to assume in these uncertain times is that people will go on having sex.

The demand for sexual satisfaction certainly hasn’t decreased as a result of the coronavirus. In fact, visits to PornHub, which offer free pornographic videos and movies, have seen a significant increase in traffic, particularly after the site announced it would make its premium service free to all visitors during the pandemic.

The sex work industry, however, has essentially shut down as a result of COVID-19 – massage parlours have closed nationwide, and social distancing has made it difficult for escorts to take clients.

Getting up close and personal with a client can transmit COVID-19, which is why some sex workers are turning to FaceTime, Skype or video chat sex. Some are simply rediscovering the lost art of phone sex.

For the client, there is the same inherent sexiness in escapism, irrespective of whether the experience is in-person or via remote technology.

FaceTime and phone sex is also, arguably, more personal. Clients want the intimacy of being in your bedroom and talking to you on your phone. For them, it feels more like having a partner.

And while FaceTime or phone sex isn’t clearly the same as seeing a client in person, at least for the time being, it is something.


A glimpse of life on the other side of coronavirus.

Sex workers are some of the hardest hit by COVID-19, but signs of China recovery should give us all hope during this difficult time.

As restrictions are being eased across China as the number of new infections recorded drops sharply, sex workers in Beijing and Shanghai are experiencing a welcome resurgence as clients come out of lockdown seeking companionship and relaxation.

Despite a government ban and frequent police crackdowns, sex work in China has continued to thrive behind the facade of hair salons and karaoke bars, for example.

In one such establishment in Shanghai, life almost feels normal again for sex workers. Bartenders mix cocktails for escorts and clients leaning against the bar, and sitting close together without face masks on, talking and sipping their drinks.

In massage rooms – in hair salons – business is also booming, with bookings up 300 per-cent on post-virus numbers.

“Right now we need relaxation and sex,” said Hong Jie, 29, who manages an adult-only spa, which reopened its doors last Thursday after more than a month of staying shuttered as Shanghai joined cities across China in various levels of lockdown to contain the coronavirus outbreak. “A lot of people seem very lonely because they all had to stay at home,” she said.

For many sex workers in China, life is slowly returning to normal, giving others a glimpse of what might await them once the worst of the pandemic has passed.

Elsewhere in Shanghai, people walk arm in arm past a reopened shopping district. Narrow pavements are crowded as residents browse food shops.

In Beijing, traffic has begun to return and more residents can be seen out on the streets, in parks and in shopping and restaurant districts.

Hong Jie said her team of six masseuses returned to the “salon” as soon as the lockdown was lifted.

“Now I feel like things are quickly recovering,” Hong Jie said. Now a lot of transportation has opened up,” she said. “Many customers have gone out for a massage. It’s much better than before. I think people just want to be happy and free again.”


Does Polyamory Work With An Escort?

People express love in different ways and no relationship is the same, which is why polyamory and the ability to have a relationship with more than one person has become an increasingly common topic of discussion.

However, although most people have heard the term polyamory, not everyone is clear on the meaning or the logistics of how these non-monogamous relationships work.

Polyamory, which is defined as loving more than one person, is often mistakenly considered the same as an open relationship – which is not always the case.

In reality, polyamorous relationships are unique in that they are comprised of multiple, loving partnerships.

People who are polyamorous can be heterosexual, lesbian, gay, or bisexual, and relationships between polyamorous people can include combinations of people of different sexual orientations.

The only thing constant in this world is change, and in a free relationship this isn’t just your reality; it’s your mantra.

A person in a monogamous relationship with the love of their life has become attracted to someone else; an escort whom they know well and have been seeing on and off since before this relationship.

They want to suggest polyamory but are obviously afraid of the consequences of revealing not only their desire for an intimate relationship with more than one partner but that they are also in a relationship with an escort.

What should they do?

First, know that scenarios like this are not uncommon and will come up on both sides. At the end of the day, having a second person to navigate the complexities of life is the joy of being in a relationship.

Why is it that in romantic connections we accept that we have to share the good and bad our humanity, but when it comes to our natural drive to desire and be desired by others, we all want our partners to believe we’re superhuman?

Many people need an opportunity to explore this connection with “someone else” – and that someone else is sometimes an escort – without impinging on your primary partnership. Interest and engagement are very different things.

Often, relationships with escorts are catalysts for change. Sometimes the reasons why two people never worked out may become clearer. Other times, maybe through this exploration a person will decide that they can actually improve all their relationships by allowing them to be in full, balanced expression.

A person may be looking for a free relationship—defined not by the rules or titles they chose in the beginning, but by how each partner feels at any given time.

A relationship is yours to experience, not to control. Is it wrong to need a relationship that gives you space to flirt, connect and gain clarity?

 


The Future of Sex Toys is Gender Neutral

The sex toy market is no longer a niche industry. But companies who design and market toys based on gender are excluding customers.

Globally, the sex toy industry is predicted to grow by $9.9 billion between 2019 and 2023.

And while market giants may be content to sell exclusively to straight, cisgendered people, independent retailers are reporting increased demand for inclusive, gender-neutral designs and marketing. Many retailers are adapting.

In recent years major retailers have begun to offer gender-neutral products or to market existing ones as gender-neutral. Target has removed gender-based signs from its kids’ sections, Amazon no longer uses gender filters in its toy listings, and the Disney Store has stopped labeling children’s costumes as either “boys” or “girls.”

But one product category has remained stubbornly gendered: sex toys. Many adult companies are surprisingly regressive in assuming that certain toys are made for certain bodies and certain bodies map onto certain identities. Slowly, though, that’s also changing—and, in the process, changing how we think about sex, gender, and pleasure.

This is certainly good news, and another positive step toward celebrating the power of diverse identities.

As the writer Suzannah Weiss said in a recent article for PLAYBOY “butt plugs are no longer only for gay men, and vibrators aren’t just for women.”

Gender-neutral toys appeal to people who want to experiment with new sensations but feel intimidated by—or are simply unaware of—products marketed to a different demographic. “There are many men out there who could benefit from using toys marketed to women but haven’t because the toys are bright pink or designed to look like a realistic penis,” says Daniel Saynt, founder of the sexual-wellness digital agency NSFW Creative.

At Hot Octopuss, the staff has undergone awareness training to allow them to better serve these customers. Their website has a drop-down menu which offers viewers the option to strip gendered terms from the product pages.

“We’re definitely seeing an increased demand for sex toys which are marketed and packaged gender-neutrally,” Julia Margo, the co-founder and COO, says.

“As a society, we are becoming more aware of the fact that gender is not a binary. We’re beginning to recognise how important it is to be inclusive and welcoming to gender-diverse people, like intersex, trans, non-binary and gender-fluid people. Secondly, people are becoming more experimental and less prescriptive in the ways that they enjoy sexual pleasure.”

There have been some innovations made in sex toy design itself. Products such as MysteryVibe’s Crescendo, PicoBong’s Transformer, and Wild Flower’s Enby are all built with variation in mind. These products can be adapted to different body parts and are being marketed as gender-neutral.

These are exciting innovations, but it’s not the only way to be inclusive. Having toys categorised by type, rather than by gender, acknowledges that body parts do not equate to gender. It also helps break down assumptions about how people’s bodies should work and what sorts of sensations they should enjoy.

Perhaps one day it will become common knowledge that sex aids of all varieties, just like clothes or children’s toys, can be enjoyed by anyone, regardless of their anatomy or identity.


The power of diverse identities.

Sometimes real change at the fringe of so-called normal life first appears in the mainstream. That is an irony, but it happens, and often it is a catalyst for positive change.

Always sanitary products, one of Procter & Gamble’s most well-known brands, will remove the Venus symbol, historically used to represent the female sex, from its products to be inclusive of transgender and nonbinary customers.

Transgender activists and allies had publicly urged Procter & Gamble to redesign its pad wrapper without the gender symbol, a circle atop a cross. Among their arguments were that not all people who menstruate are women and that not all women menstruate.

Mattel’s Barbie dolls represented the traditional female image, and preteens embraced the hairstyles, thick eyelashes and spike heels that came with her. But now, Mattel is introducing dolls that let kids form the gender expression of the toy themselves. The doll is fully gender-neutral and can be accessorised to be a boy, a girl, neither or both.

We’ve certainly come a long way in the past 50 years. Yet despite this encouraging progress, the battle to overcome the forces of prejudice and discrimination still rages.

Take the dating industry, for example. Imagine for a moment that you were to find yourself looking for a new partner at some point in the near future. Perhaps you would turn to a popular dating app and begin filling out your dating profile in hopes of finding “the one.”

In the process of doing so, you’d likely be asked to indicate your gender and the genders of others that you would be interested in dating. Under these hypothetical circumstances, which of the following people would you consider as a potential dating partner (check all that apply):

a cisgender1 woman
a cisgender man
a transgender woman
a transgender man
a person with a non-binary gender identification

Recently, researchers in the UK asked this question of just under 1,000 participants and they published their findings in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. Their results indicated that 87.5% of the participants who were asked this very question only checked off the cisgender options and excluded transgender and non-binary individuals from their hypothetical dating pool.

It’s really not an inconsequential question. For many trans people, the question of whether or not someone will date them after they transition or come out often weighs heavily on their mind. After all, relationships are one of our most important sources of social support.

Improving general knowledge and understanding concerning the diversity of gender identities and what each identity means may go a long way in increasing inclusion. Furthermore, increasing accurate media representations of trans and non-binary people, as well as finding ways to increase contact may also be promising, as other research has found that contact with, and additional knowledge about, transgender individuals can effectively reduce trans prejudice.

LONDON CONTACTS is committed to providing a platform for those voices who broaden the definition of “normal,” who confront social conventions and who celebrate the power of diverse identities.


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