I recently was asked some questions about Pleasure Pie and the Sex Letters Project. Here are my answers! - Nicole
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
A: I've always made zines. As a kid I would make DIY magazines where I interviewed our family pets and gave updates on household happenings. Then when I was in college I started to become fascinated by sex-positivity. I had had some bad experiences with sex, and I was really under-informed about sexuality. So, in an attempt to get over my anxieties and embarrassment about sex, and to learn more about it, I started reading about it online — a lot. I read about sex-positivity, sex education, and gender equality, and took some college classes on human sexuality and LGBT topics.
2017 was a tough year for the United States. Like many of you, we here at Pleasure Pie asked ourselves, "WTF should we do?" as things spiraled downward on a national level. Should we drop the sex-positivity stuff and do more direct political engagement? Should we stick to what we know, and push for a culture of consent and healthy sexual expression at a time when the need for this is even more visible than usual (with the "locker room talk" and allegations of sexual assault against so many politicians and celebrities)?
By Nicole Mazzeo
I went to San Francisco recently and one of my favorite parts was seeing where I could find zines. Here are the places I went!
In November, we made this “Oh God, Oh God, Trump Is Our Next President” zine making station at the local theater company Company One’s production of the feminist play REVOLT. Here are some photos of the zines people made.
guy we went to
high school with –
was he a friend of yours? –
I’m compiling a list of sex-positive zines. I’ll continue to add to this list as I find more. Feel free to send recommendations!
By anonymous Pleasure Pie contributor
[Content notice: Rape and sexual coercion]
Last night I went on my first Tinder date, and it was horrible!
This new zine explains how to approach people romantically/sexually in a way that is as positive and empowering for everyone involved as possible.
By Nicole Mazzeo
I am currently reading submissions for the masturbation zine that we’re making, and I love them so, so much! I am teary-eyed big-smiling and holding my hand to my chest as I read because it is so touching. I had no idea how powerful hearing about people’s experiences with masturbation would be for me!
But the reason I’m writing this post is to tell you that I am EXTENDING THE DEADLINE TO SUBMIT! You now have until May 25 to submit a piece.
Don’t be intimidated by how amazing I just made all of the submissions sound! We love submissions that are honest, open, and clear. You don’t have to be a professional writer to submit a piece. We just want to hear about your experience of masturbation, because that is fascinating in itself!
Submissions can be anonymous or not, up to you.
Click here to read the full prompt & submit a piece!
Update: This zine now exists! You can find it here.
We’re making a zine about masturbation! Why?
Last summer, I was at a sexuality-focused retreat where public sex was allowed, and I wanted to try masturbating in a very public place because I thought it might help me get over some of my shyness and discomfort with sexual expression. I was nervous, so one of my friends said that she would do it with me. Then I mentioned it to a few strangers at lunch, and they were all about the idea, so it turned into a little group of us, all reclining on lawn chairs by the pool, for a masturbation session. We all started touching our individual vulvas – we were all vulva-owners – and my friend looked at me and was like, “What’s with the underwear?” I think she thought I was being shy because I was still wearing underwear, but it was actually that I usually prefer to touch my vagina through fabric for a little while before transitioning to direct vulva contact, especially if I’m not using lube. I told her this, and she was like, “Well then, by all means, I’ll get us some lube!” She quickly came back with a round of lube for everyone, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and we all went about our business.
This experience made me realize: I pretty much never see other people masturbate. Because of that, I don’t know how you all are doing it! And I want to know.
So that is what this zine is about – sharing all our masturbation techniques, routines, stories, visuals, etc.
Tell us how you do it!
Submit a piece of writing (nonfiction preferred), art (ideally based on true experiences), photography, a diagram, etc. by April 30, 2016 to potentially have it featured in the zine. Submissions can be anonymous or not, up to you!
How do you masturbate?
Do you use lube? Toys? Erotica? If so, what kinds?
Where do you always touch yourself? Sometimes touch? Never touch?
Do you have any rituals (i.e. certain times, locations, etc.)?
What do you think about during it? People you know? A partner? Someone you were sexual with before? A crush? Friend? Acquaintance? Stranger? Celebrity? Imaginary person? Vague imaginary person? Something else?
How does your body feel/react? Do you usually orgasm? Does it ever hurt or feel uncomfortable? How does it compare to being sexual with a partner (if that’s something you do sometimes)?
You are welcome to answer some, none, or all of these questions in your submission.
We are looking for submissions from people of all genders. Must be 18+.
Submit a piece at pleasurepie.tumblr.com/submit or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please share widely with anyone you think might be interested in submitting a piece!
Thanks so much! :)
Anonymous Pleasure Pie contributor
If your creations are physical items (zines, books, illustrations, art pieces, worksheets, stickers, etc.)
This August I traveled to Maryland and Virginia to be a part of two sexuality conferences, Amorous Revolt and the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit. It was awesome to meet so many people who are passionate about creating a more sexually accepting culture!
My friends at The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health let me use some of their table space for Pleasure Pie zines, and I am eternally grateful! It was a great opportunity to put my work out there in a community of enthusiastic, supportive sex geeks. Also, I put up the Thoughtful Penis Series on the wall behind the table, because why not? Photo from the CSPH Instagram.
Unfortunately I didn’t think to take any photos at Amorous Revolt, and I haven’t seen any posted on the internet yet. But I’ll post some if I find any!
Thank you so much to everyone who donated to our Sex Positive Summer Tour fundraiser for making this all possible!!!
Sunday was the Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health’s (CSPH) Body Positive Clothing Swap. I was there with my my Pleasure Pie merch table, chatting with some awesome sex positive advocates and regularly ditching my table to dig through the massive amounts of clothing.
While I was there, I donated a copy of Choose Your Own Consensual Adventure to the CSPH’s extensive sex positive library (flip through it if you’re ever in the Pawtucket area!) and checked out the other zines. There were some awesome sex positive zines that I had never heard of! Here’s a quick review of 4 of my favorites.
4 Awesome Sex Positive Zines
1. Talk Dirty. Cleanly.
This zine is so good. It talks all about talking dirty, gives many examples, and has fun fill-in-the-blank exercises to get you started. It’s a great way to figure out how to engage in sexy talk that reflects your personality, as opposed to feeling like you sound like a cliche porn star (not that talking like porn performers is bad, I just mean that it’s nice to feel like you sound like you – an ultra sexy you).
This zine was put out by ScrewSmart in Philly.
2. How to Disclose Your STI & Feel Good About It
This friendly little zine offers some sound, nonjudgmental guidance for telling a partner about your STI(s). It feels way more realistic down to earth than most STI info on the internet. Plus, many of the communication tips are helpful for any conversation.
Zine by Ess Elle.
3. Menstrual Cup, A Love Story
Sorry to leave you out, penis owners, but this topic is close to my heart. Adelaide makes the discussion of menstrual cups fun and personal by briefly sharing the story of how she started using them after being a long-time tampon user. Next is a breakdown of how to use a menstrual cup, including some helpful tips that you won’t find elsewhere. Also, illustrations!
This zine is totally worth reading for anyone who might be interested in trying a menstrual cup, or long time menstrual cup lovers. I’ve been using a menstrual cup for years, and I learned some new tips.
Zine by Adelaide Barton of Lady Gardens.
4. Tips for Emerging Sexology Professionals: Networking and Nurturing
This zine is good if you’re trying to make a career out of your interest in sex positivity / sexual health. It offers practical tips for moving up in the field. And when I say practical, I mean practical to the point of possibly uninspiring if your vision of your sex positive career is based more on passion than on success. I recommend reading this zine to get a better understanding of the things you can do to succeed in the sexology field, while keeping in mind that your passion is most important – it’s why you’re doing this in the first place – and altering your path completely to be as hire-able as possible could get in the way of you fulfilling your full potential. Hold on to your passion and run with it! And learn some very useful tips for professional development in this zine. It’s available for free online!
Bonus: I heard this (sexy) song for the first time at the clothing swap and have been listening to it nonstop ever since:
Whatever You Like (cover) by Anya Marina
I know I’ve written a lot of posts that include the phrase “first ever” and its starting to sound gimmicky. But lately Pleasure Pie has given me a lot of opportunities to try things for the first time. About a week ago, I did my first ever performance!
I wasn’t really sure how I could perform a zine, but the application specifically said that they were accepting zine performances, so I trusted that I could figure it out if I was accepted. I really wasn’t expecting them to accept my application because the description I gave of my performance didn’t sound at all smutty.
But they did! I was psyched because I’ve admired the CSPH’s work for a long time. And I was nervous because it was starting to hit me that I had never performed anything before, and I wasn’t that confident about the concept I submitted to them.
So I started practicing with Eric and we quickly came up with ideas for making it funner and sexier. But those ideas required that I have a second performer. Eric isn’t a performer either, but he agreed to do it with me, so long as I don’t give him many lines.
As the event neared, I started having flashbacks to the time I did a speech about polyamory at an event at Bridgewater State University. I was invited to speak by one of the event planners, but the other people in charge didn’t seem to want me there at all. Their approach to MCing was to goof around and tell borderline sex-negative and body shaming jokes. I think they thought that even a brief speech would be boring. They pretty much told me to get off the stage as quickly as I could. So I went up and started reading from my notes, and the (large) crowd kept chattering. I was really nervous, with it being possibly the first time I ever spoke in front of a crowd, and I felt completely unwanted. I rushed through what I had to say with little to no inflection in my voice, and left the stage wondering whether any of the 100+ people in the room got anything out of it.
In planning for Smut Night I was really worried that I would freeze up again once I got in front of the crowd. I kept telling myself, “Say things with feeling! Be dramatic!” But in our practice sessions, I continued to be monotone because I couldn’t get past the fact that no one was actually watching us.
When the night of the event finally came and Eric and I found ourselves in front of a real audience (which was a thousand times more welcoming and supportive than the one at Bridgewater, by the way) we both got so much energy from the crowd. We went all out with the over the top theatrics. My hands were visibly shaking with nervous and excited energy (someone from the front row later told me they noticed). I even knocked over the mic stand by pulling the microphone too far away during a chaotic fake-make-out scene. We improvised, goofed around, and ogled each other. I told people to buy the zine way too many times. We had a lot of fun, and I think the audience could tell. A bunch of strangers told me afterward that they loved our performance. :)
Also, someone called my zine “a Puritan’s nightmare.” That was fun to hear. I just looked up the definition of Puritan and found “someone who follows a strict moral code and who believes that pleasure is wrong.” I didn’t realize how accurate that review was until now.
Thanks so much to the Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health for putting on a great event and giving us the opportunity to be a part of it!
I’m looking forward to possibly expressing my dramatic inclinations in future performances. Currently brainstorming new Pleasure Pie performance ideas.