Carol Queen's Great Vibrations

By Jack Hafferkamp

In the Wednesday, March 21 issue of the Chicago Tribune’s Woman News section, normally a place to read Miss Manners, find where to get a good tote bag or learn what shade of lipstick is in, the title story by Cheryl terHorst was on the plague of women’s sexual dysfunction.

When the Tribune gets to this subject it must be a mainstream issue. And Ms. terHorst quotes a study showing that a stunning 43 percent of American women "suffer" from sexual dysfunction. One may quibble with the number -- and the experts do -- but one cannot deny that a very large number of American women, up to two in five, do not enjoy the pleasure of sex. And that’s too bad.

The obvious question is "What to do about that?" (If more of these women enjoyed their goddess-given sexual possibilities, then maybe they’d be more forgiving of those who do…)

Well, here’s one idea to get the ball rolling. May is not only the merriest month; it’s national Masturbation Month, a promotion I think that started with our friends at San Francisco’s Good Vibrations, but which speaks directly to the notion of women who want to enjoy sex and cannot.

To them -- and those who love them -- we offer Contributing Editor Carol Queen’s Great Vibrations: An Explicit Consumer Guide to Vibrators. In this intimate 40-minute tape, directed by Joani Blank, our friend Carol talks intelligently about and demonstrates on her own body a toy-store worth of vibrators.

While rummaging around the office stacks, I recently re-discovered this tape, which first appeared in a longer version in 1995. The more recently edited version -- by Karen Everett -- is something special. Given the above statistic, it seems clear to me that this video that belongs in the collection of every college’s women’s resource center in the country -- especially at Oral Roberts University, Liberty University and my own arch conservative alma mater, Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. (Hello, there..)

So what makes Editor Carol Queen’s Great Vibrations: An Explicit Consumer Guide to Vibrators so good?

Several things. One, the information is good. Carol, as usual, is right on about the pleasures and perils of sex toys. She will show you here more kinds of sex toys, and their possibilities than you ever thought existed.

Two, even though the video has the look of an amateur production, the lack of cinematic pretense actually helps to create an impression of off-handed, comfortable intimacy -- as if Carol is talking directly and personally to you, one on one. There is no Hollywood artifice about this.

Three, Carol shares enough of herself to help calm a woman’s fears about the meaning of using a sex toy for the first time.

Four, the sexual arousal depicted is inviting and natural. Yes, there is not only light in this video, but heat as well. By my own, no means expert count, Carol gets off at least four times, using a mini ("pocket rocket") vibrator, a Hitachi Magic Wand and a lucite dildo. As a prelude to using a sex toy on oneself -- or to seducing one’s partner -- this video certainly conveys the pleasure possibilities.

Five, Carol Queen is inviting not intimidating. Her body is real, and the person she is is the person she presents in this video. I know Carol. This is a real as she gets.

Six, this video answers a great many questions about sex toy use ("Where to I put that thing?" "Will I become addicted?" "What is safer sex toy sex?" "Can I put this in my husband’s anus, too?").

I remember Carol once told me about the making of this video. It happened over a very short time period, meaning that she was really worn to a frazzle when it ended. I can’t quite remember if she said the obvious or I did: "It was a hard job, but somebody had to do it." Either way, I think this video shows that Dr. Queen is not only a scientist, she’s a saint -- willing to throw her own body onto the front lines to save women from sexual dysfunction.

The least we all can do is be well prepared for May 1 to roll around.

And don’t forget the lube.

See also Good Vibrations: The New Complete Guide to Vibrators in this issue for a complete look at the essentials of buying, enjoying and maintaining vibrators. Also look in the shop for the Water Dancer power massager, the only vibrator Libido carries as a staff favorite.

Carol Queen’s Great Vibrations: An Explicit Consumer Guide to Vibrators, producer/ director Joani Blank. (Blank Tapes, P. O. Box 8263, Emeryville, CA 94622. 40 minutes, $30.00 plus $4 s/h -- by First Class mail).

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