Well, I'm not Methuselah by any means, but from the looks of things, I'm a bit older than a lot of the other Biographers. I came of age in the late '70s/early '80s, and the culture was very different then. There was no Internet. Personal computers were still owned primarily by hobbyists. Television was pretty tame. And masturbation was just not talked about.
I was very naive in my early teens. When I was in the 5th grade a bunch of boys and our fathers attended a sex-ed class put on at the local elementary school one night. A doctor gave us some pamphlets and gave us the rundown on the biology of sex. In terms of biology, it was accurate and fine. In terms of sex it was pretty sad. Of course masturbation never entered into it. Neither did "orgasm." I knew that the sperm had to get to the egg and I knew the route it took. And they even finally explained erections and why we got them (what a relief that was — why does that have to be such a big mystery for boys?), but nothing about what triggered it. For a long time I thought you just stuck it in and that did it.
Two things happened very close together to change all this. The first was that a close friend of mine was going to a special weekend school, and one day an older student showed up and opened up the trunk of his car and split up his collection of adult magazines. And my friend must have come home with a couple hundred. I don't know if the guy worked for a liquor store or if he just spent half of every paycheck on porn, but he had just about everything. My friend got them, and over time I got them as he passed them along. We saw everything that was in print at that time — a few Playboys, Penthouses, some Hustler, Oui, Chic, Cheri, Velvet, Swank, a lot of Gent, Gallery, Genesis, and a few others that came and went quickly (who remembers Harvey?), and more that I've forgotten. For a while I could name everything on the stand, and I knew what they were all about. So I stayed up late reading these things, looking up all the words I didn't know in the dictionary. A lot of things — like the dictionary definition of orgasm — made no sense. After a while I figured out a lot of it from context, but others remained a mystery.
About this time I stumbled onto the National Lampoon, which was a humor magazine. The NatLamp had a lot in common with underground comics — it was done up slick like a regular humor magazine, but the jokes were definitely adult. It didn't get much circulation where I lived — the record store had it with Rolling Stone and High Times. I found it when someone stuck it next to MAD magazine, not knowing what was in it.
It was a far cry from MAD. The first issue I saw (and I still have it) had pictures of a woman with the biggest rack I'd ever seen. They hung down to her navel, and she was wearing only a pair of bikini panties. I bought the magazine, didn't tell anyone, and read it at home. A lot of the humor went over my head. Some didn't. And I thought, This is legalized porn.
The payoff came a few issues later, when they ran a story by John Hughes (the same one who became a big-time film director) called "My Penis." It's about a girl who wakes up one morning to find out she'd grown a big old man-sized johnson, and her adventures with it. (A later turnabout sequel, "My Vagina," wasn't nearly as good.)
If you wake up one morning and find out you've suddenly swapped out your genitals for a working set from the opposite sex, what would you do once the initial shock wears off? She decided to give herself a handjob. I was stunned as I wrote this. You could simulate a vagina with your hand? You could curl up your hand and stroke it and bring yourself to orgasm? The idea was so simple — yet it had never occurred to me.
The girl in the story brought herself to orgasm with very funny results (semen everywhere). And I did the same. Wow! At first I was surprised and worried that maybe it wasn't semen — maybe it was something else (it was dark and I was in bed), but I came to my senses and realized I wasn't bleeding and it wasn't urine. I had ejaculated.
I was just starting out — I had noticed I'd had a lot of erections before that, but then after I had successfully ejaculated, they went away. For a while. Then I'd ejaculate again and they'd go away again. Once I started masturbating, I didn't have much trouble with spontaneous erections. Of course, there was the time in high school in health class, when we saw a movie about breast self-exams. There's nothing like a movie of a good-looking woman feeling herself up in the shower and on the bed — no matter how sober the reason — to quiet down a roomful of boys.
Vacations with the family were hell, though. One year we went on a long driving vacation up and down the coast in a camper, so there was just no privacy whatsoever. About a week into it, we got to a state beach and there was a decent looking woman at the gate. It was the first time in memory that I'd been within 10 feet of a set of knockers I wasn't related to, and that woman became Venus to me. I got a superhardon — a penis of steel. My parents parked the truck and everybody had to pile out — but I didn't want to get out. I couldn't get up. I was doing trigonometry in my head, and the third leg just would not go away. That was a horrible vacation.
Even though I'd discovered masturbation (and I now got all the references and jokes and stories in the magazines), my friends and I never discussed it. As we grew older and got to where we could buy new magazines without being carded, we'd trade them back and forth and make the occasional comment about pages being stuck together, but that was it. As far as we were all concerned, we just looked at the girls and drooled. We would occasionally rent videos (videos were still new then) when we had the house to ourselves, and we'd all sit and watch — with an occasional comment. But nobody made a move for their crotch.
I also collected the National Lampoon, and I got more material, including a wonderful photo spread that was a parody of men's magazines: "Three Girls Doing Just What You Want So You Can Masturbate." I don't know why — it was years before I realized that's what men's magazines were for. Not just to quench your appetite for nudity, but to get you off.
By the time I was in high school, I thought I knew everything. I knew what all the words meant. I'd read all kinds of advice, all kinds of accounts. I knew how it was all done. I thought. On my 18th birthday a friend got me a blow-up doll as a gag gift. It just a cheapy — the kind that looks and smells like an inflatable pool toy — except it had a pouch in the crouch.
All those years I'd been masturbating dry. A lot of people don't get that — but if you're used to it, there's nothing to it. Your skin is smooth, and you just glide over it. So it had never occurred to me that you needed lube. I won't go into the gory details — I'll just say the deed was not accomplished, and the doll was given away, where I suppose she's being serviced by someone who knows what he is doing.
Being a masochist, I didn't believe in premarital sex (quit laughing), so masturbation was my entire sex life. Periodically I'd get tired of the same old same, and the urge to try something different would fill my thoughts until I couldn't stand it anymore. And I'd go down to the local sex shop for some help.
Sex toys are expensive. Women have it made — vibrators are plentiful, they work, and they don't cost that much. Not so with men's stuff. For my first try, I went the cheap route and bought a sleeve called The Throbber. It looked like a bicycle handlebar grip. I was smart this time, though — I bought lube. The Throbber was awful. I blame part of it on years of masturbating dry. If you're not used to lube, it takes a lot of getting used to. Dry masturbation means a lot more positive friction, and humping a piece of smooth plastic felt exactly like that — like I was humping a piece of smooth plastic. I never ejaculated into it, and it went into the trash.
A few years went by and I decided to try again. This time I bought something for around $35. It was flesh-colored, a lot bigger around, and it had nodules inside. I figured that would do the trick. And it had two vibrators — one in the front and one on the opposite end. This thing seemed state of the art. Well, once again — if you're not used to lube, the friction goes away. I was gliding right over the nodes, and it was like there was nothing there. (I tried it once dry, and it was like pumping sandpaper.) The vibrators weren't much help. They buzzed, which felt sort of good, but only vaguely. Mostly they felt like buzzing. The real fun was that by varying the speeds of the two vibrators, you could set up some interference patterns — that felt pretty good. But nothing near intense enough to get me off. Overall I was a little more successful — I managed to complete the act a couple times, but it, too, went into the garbage.
The third toy (I was developing an interest in them, even though my luck was terrible) was something I see around a lot. It looks like a centipede from the outside — it's about a foot long and has a lot of concentric bumps. I thought those would feel good to thrust in and out of. And it had the buzzer on the end, and it had a pump so you could squeeze it and fit it around you. Inside it was smooth — it had inflatable ridges that went lengthwise along it — no friction. And if you pumped it up, all it really did was try to push its way off your erection. This was another disappointment: You had to get yourself a big old erection to start with (and the looks of the thing offered no inspiration whatsoever), stick it in, and then — blah.
My fourth and final professional product was The Fleshlight, which I stumbled on over the Internet. This thing looks sort of like a flashlight on the outside, and has a spongy, almost play-doh-ey thing in the middle, with a slit and a hole that runs lengthwise. It's also smooth inside, but it has a nice feeling. I don't use it nearly as much as I plan, because you have to clean it more meticulously than you would regular plastic, and who wants to do that when you're drifting off after a pleasant orgasm?
Along the way I had tried a few other things: a very unsatisfactory session with an orange (the juice stings, and it's sticky), and much better luck with something I had picked up from the old alt.sex.wizard's FAQ — the simulacrum made from a block of sponge rubber and a condom. That had a good feel, and cleanup was a breeze. Unfortunately, my preferred method is to stretch out on my back and relax, and the sponge-rubber contraption wasn't well suited to it.
I envy young people today in that they have all kinds of resources for finding out about sex and masturbation — whether it's sound advice or just nudie pics to flog the dog to. It's everywhere, and in a lot of cases — it's free.
When I first got online in the mid '80s, the local bulletin boards didn't have pics or frank discussions of sex. At one point, when I got a decent paying job, I got on Compuserve and found the "dirty" (what would be rated PG-13 these days, I'm sure) pictures and forums. I also discovered the huge bill and dropped it. Happily, I managed to get onto the Internet, and suddenly I was like a kid in the candy store. You want your pictures of women with breasts the size of watermelons? Here they are! You want pics of women seeing how far they can jam a bowling pin up their quim? Here they are!
Even though we had a usenet newsgroup called alt.sex.masturbation, it was (as it is now) mostly riddled with spam, and a lot of mournful posts asking for "any new techniques?" I looked at the alt.sex and alt.sex.wizard FAQs, drew on everything I knew, and cobbled together the original alt.sex.masturbation FAQ. It had a section for all the questions I had when I was a kid ("can anyone tell if I'm masturbating?") to a section on techniques, to a section on sex toys, and finally a bibliography with some of the better stroke books I'd come across over the years (my favorite: Nancy Friday'sMen in Love. A must have). It wouldn't win a Pulitzer, but I was proud of it.
As I'd mentioned, sex and masturbation just were not discussed among my friends when I grew up. I was never ashamed of masturbating — I never felt guilty about it, nor that I would go to Hell. But I was still paranoid I'd be found out anyway. I didn't want people knowing about my private life if I didn't know about theirs. I posted the FAQ through what was then an anonymous service, so that my name never made it onto the message-posting headers. The only bad thing about it was that a few nice people who had written back to me were anonymized as well.
It wasn't until I started hanging out on IRC (everything bad that you hear about the Internet on the 5 o'clock news is all on IRC), on the #masturbation channel. IRC is a lot like fishing — you spend a whole lot of time hanging around waiting for something to happen. But sometimes things happened. I met a few nice people. I met a lot of jerks. Had a few rounds of netsex. (Oddly enough — like real life — it's a lot better with someone you really like.) I never got very far into netsex; it's harder than you think to find someone who's good at it. You need someone who's willing to type a lot while you stroke, and vice versa. And most people don't have the patience or the imagination to do that. What was great fun was just talking — sharing experiences, horror stories, some laughs. The anonymity allowed a lot of us to let down our shields and talk about things we wouldn't do if we had to look each other in the eye.
I'm retired from IRC these days, and the FAQ is in better hands (so to speak). I still masturbate dry most days (unless I really want to spend the time — in which case I break out the lube for a nice change). I discovered Jackinworld a couple years ago, and marveled at what The Internet Had Wrought. I'm pleased (and surprised) to see the freedom and openness that masturbation is discussed.
Enough of this. It's time to read a little, lube up, and masturbate.