column from author/activist
Carol Queen

The Royal Treatment

It's May -- Time To Masturbate!!

This year, the National Masturbation Month theme is "I'd Rather Be Masturbating!" Truer words were never spoken, eh? In fact, if you like, I can just wait right here for a few minutes so you can run off and wank. Come back when you're finished and I'll catch you up on all the fantastic National Masturbation Month festivities.

Aaaah, the pause that refreshes.

National Masturbation Month is a consciousness-raising event invented eight years ago by Good Vibrations to protest the firing of then-US Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders. Elders, the first African-American and female Surgeon General, was a Clinton appointee who fell afoul of her boss (or rather of his conservative critics) for stating in response to a question about teaching youth about safer sex that "masturbation is something that perhaps should be taught" as one of the elements in a safer sex lifestyle. (It's a damned good substitute for both fucking and abstinence, too, as any of you who were teens without enough social skills to get laid may vividly recall.) Elders's comment was eminently sensible, the sort of thing safer sex educators say all the time, but the notion of being open about discussing masturbation with kids was seized on by the right wing. Elders became the canary in the sexual mineshaft of Clinton's presidency; if he'd known how the Right was going to go after him a scant few years later, one wonders if he might have had the balls to stand by Elders. After all, many Americans feel that Clinton should have masturbated more and fucked Monica Lewinsky less. But perhaps Clinton is one of those good ol' Southern boys who feels interns are hired at the White House to keep presidents away from the temptation to masturbate -- 'cuz we all know that masturbation is wrong, y'all, but the leader of the free world just sometimes gets so friggin' tense.

Yeah, and moistening your cigar using a young lady's pussy lips isn't sex, just sophisticated.

As "firing the Surgeon General" entered the irony-loving US lexicon of slang and took its place right next to "paddle the pickle," Good Vibes stepped in. We got several of our sex-positive sister stores to co-sponsor a month of festivities in support of masturbation, and the number one reason to do it was to get North Americans talking about it. So we started a Masturbation Hall of Fame to honor sex educators and celebrities who made masturbation a positive or open part of their discourse; we sponsored a contest for Favorite Masturbation Euphemism (my all-time fave, beating out "pet the kitty," is "tossing the pink salad"); I put together a show of masturbation porn clips. Come As You Are in Toronto, Grand Opening! In Boston (and newly open this year in LA), and Toys in Babeland in Seattle and NYC signed on as co-sponsors. I did dozens of drive-time radio shows from coast to coast, and since National Masturbation Month's inception, we truly have made a mark on the way Americans think of -- and talk about -- masturbation.

I should blushingly disclose here that I have been a Masturbation Hall of Fame honoree since the year of its inception, inducted for my video Carol Queen's Great Vibrations as well as for including many glowing mentions of pink-salad-tossing in my erotica and other writing. Peep Show, my solo performance about working at the Lusty Lady, is all about masturbation, too.

The Masturbate-A-Thon!
A couple of years into it, we decided to up the ante and use National Masturbation Month to raise funds as well as consciousness. The Masturbate-A-Thon was born, and boy, did the drive-time shock jocks love it. As with any sort of charity-thon, participants in the Masturbate-A-Thon get pledges from supporters. But instead of going on a long walk, M-thon fundraisers save their feet and stay home to masturbate. For every minute they go, their sponsors fork over the pre-arranged amount of money. These funds are sent to charities different ones each year chosen by the local Masturbation Month sponsors. This year's Good Vibes charity recipient is San Francisco's AIDS Health Project.

Sound like fun? Print out a pledge form at (Masturbate-A-Thon and other NMM info is at "About Good Vibrations"), and start collecting pledges! This year's Masturbate-A-Thon weekend is May 16-18 and frankly, no one will disqualify you if you decide to jump the gun and start bishop-flogging or bunny-patting right now. The M-thon is all on the honor system. But who'd want to cheat? It's so much fun to masturbate, it's not like you won't do it and then say you did.

Fun facts: Participants from Nunavut to St. John's have come together (well, actually they've mostly done it by themselves) to raise over $25,000 for important health initiatives. Number of Masturbate-A-Thon pledge forms distributed since 1998: 65,000. Number of people who participated (those who returned pledge forms with money): 1570. (This means that well over 60,000 people are still trying to get up the nerve to ask someone to pledge them it just proves National Masturbation Month is still a necessary educational tool!) Number of countries with Masturbate-A-Thon participants: 6 -- by far the most come from the US and Canada. Largest amount raised by an individual: $1000! Longest time recorded by a participant in the Masturbate-A-Thon: 6 hours, 15 minutes. Number of television, print, and radio interviews conducted regarding Masturbation Month: 375 -- and I've done more than half of them myself, including two with Chicago's notorious Mancow. He didn't actually want to talk about masturbation. Oddly enough, sometimes you can just tell when people don't take enough quality monkey-spanking time.

The press interviews, particularly those with the drive-time shock jocks, yielded the next wrinkle in the National Masturbation Month celebrations. They all clamored to come to San Francisco for the Masturbate-A-Thon. They wanted to be judges. They wanted to bring their radio crews and broadcast it live. In vain did I say, "This is a private event! It's not like we hold this at Crissy Field!" Each jock's head was dancing with visions of legions of masturbators, the jocks wandering around holding stopwatches and channeling Howard Cosell.

Masturbate-A-Thon Live!!
Good Vibes was not going to sponsor such a thing. The muddled boundaries of our poor befuddled society are such that we have rather more contact with masturbating people than we would like to have. (Dude who keeps calling my answering machine while you're wanking -- this means you. There are phone sex lines for that, and I'm sure your phone professional won't have any problem if you want to call her "Carol.")

But someone else could sponsor one. In fact, one group Masturbate-A-Thon had already occurred, though not a publicly-accessible one. You want your true sexual innovators, you've gotta go to Salt Lake City, Utah. That's right, once those people throw off the shackles of Mormonism, baby, all bets are canceled. You never know what they'll do next, and three years back they held a group Masturbate-A-Thon. Now, is San Francisco going to let the title of Masturbation Capital of the World be snagged by the likes of SLC? I think not! We, after all, are the originator of that fine old (and sadly defunct) organization, Mother Goose Productions, purveyor of Jack-and-Jill-Off Parties from 1987 to 1992 or so. I got my group sex groove there, and so did many others.

This looked like a job for The Center for Sex & Culture.

So we sponsored a live Masturbate-A-Thon, and it was a grand success. A fabulous time was had by all, money was raised, we made some new friends. So we're doing it again and soon!

Here are the details: The live Masturbate-A-Thon, a benefit for The Center for Sex & Culture, is happening Friday, May 2nd, from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. It's at The Jon Sims Center, 1519 Mission between 11th and South Van Ness. Bring a pledge sheet (print one out at or pledge yourself. Suggested self-pledge is $20 and up. The Masturbate-A-Thon will be televised (on the web), though at this writing we're not sure how it will work, who'll host, how people can pay. But the site will have those details.

Feel free to invite everyone you know, provided they have the social skills to have sex in the first place. For ordinary masturbation you only need to get along with one person -- yourself -- and I have a feeling many people actually declare a temporary truce in a life of low self-esteem to do even that. In a group atmosphere, of course, you have to know how to be in a group. Naked. Wanking. Without forgetting that the whole scene was not set up for you personally. So no grabbing, wandering around in your street clothes staring at the masturbators like they were bonobo chimps, or any other sort of boorish behavior. We're all going to play together nicely. There'll be men's space, women's space, and mixed, plus an area for the webcast (other participants will be in no danger of being videotaped against their will you have to consciously go into a separate room, and sign a release, to be part of the web show). There'll be a clothes check, DJs, at least one fuck machine, and outlets for your power tools. And there'll be the brilliant freedom of masturbating with others. See, you're not the only one who does it!

If you read this after the fact or can't come to the live event, feel free to have your own solo Masturbate-A-Thon on behalf of the Center any time in May. Get in the group spirit do it with your partner, or invite a few friends over! If you prefer, participate in Good Vibrations's M-Thon instead. But solo or group, remember, you'd rather be masturbating, and you might as well Come for a Cause!

Links to the Good Vibes Masturbate-A-Thon and a live Portland, Oregon event (which will be held at the end of May), as well as more information about The Center for Sex & Culture, can all be found at