Starting slow and ramping up

Pub date January 30, 2013
WriterAirial Clark

SEX It’s the end of an era at local sex toy and education company Good Vibrations: Dr. Charlie Glickman is stepping down from his position as education program manager for the national retailer.

But Glickman is leaving for another adult education adventure: bringing the joys of prostate play to mainstream society. Joining up with San Francisco-based sex educator, Aislinn Emirzian, Glickman has co-authored The Ultimate Guide to Prostate Pleasure; Erotic Exploration for Men and Their Partners, set to be published by Cleis Press in February. The book is all about easy and pleasurable anal play, prostate massage, toys, pegging and anal intercourse, positions, common concerns, and safer sex techniques.

Glickman told the Guardian in an interview about that the book has been in the works for years. Though it’s not the first guide to prostate play, he feels as though he’s tapping into the zeitgeist, that our culture is finally ready for pegging and prostate pleasuring.

The man should know. Since 1996, the sex educator has been on the frontlines of trying to get accurate sexual health information to the Bay Area, and has taught many a prostate class through Good Vibes. His book release party on Thu/31 kicks off a North American prostate play workshop tour sponsored by the sex toy company, and looks to target an audience that mirrors the people who have shown up in Glickman’s sex ed workshops throughout the years: male-female couples, solo women, gay men, the college-aged to senior citizens.

Throughout the course of their research, the book’s authors interviewed over 200 men of all sexual orientations and their partners to capture a wide spectrum of perspectives on how prostate play expands one’s sexual menu, and what holds men back from experiencing its joys. Pegging is the term used to describe men being penetrated by women, often within a heterosexual context. Glickman and Emirzian’s guide is both a 101 on prostate anatomy and sensation, and an examination of the stigmas associated with prostate play.

But one’s prostate play comfort level is not determined by one’s sexuality alone, according to the authors. Reluctance to experiment — even among gay men — can be due to a perceived threat to masculine identity with which anal penetration is often associated.

Glickman says that the first challenge to exploring prostate pleasure exists on a physical level. “For most straight men, and topping queer men, sex happens outside your body as penis-oriented sex.”

“The basic story goes like this,” he continues in the guide. “Real men don’t get fucked — that’s for women, fags, and sissies. Because receiving penetration is usually viewed as the woman’s role in sex, a man may be worried that he isn’t fulfilling the man’s role if he takes a turn catching instead of pitching.”

Leaving the “get it up, get it in, get it off” mentality behind and moving into a receptive role can result in a new feeling of vulnerability. But men can expand the scope of what sex means to them by exploring the world of prostate play. According to Glickman, letting go of ass-based insecurity can open up a whole new world of sexual pleasure.

“Many straight men have said ‘I tried this and it completely changed our sex life,'” Glickman says. Getting to know the prostate can be a game changer.

And The Ultimate Guide is far from being a book for straight men. Glickman and Emirzian are adamant that most gay porn doesn’t adequately explore prostate stimulation, and the guide is also geared towards homosexual men — and for prostate players from the beginner to the advanced.

For example, in the chapter titled, “Prostate Massage,” one can learn all about how to use fingers properly: “When it comes to the prostate, poking is exactly what you don’t want to do! It may have felt great on your shoulder just now, but the prostate is another matter entirely,” says the guide. “We’ve spoken with a lot of men who complained about finger tips poking and stabbing their prostate, which can feel too intense, uncomfortable, or even painful.”

That chapter also includes sections on “starting slow and ramping up” and “rhythm and variety.” Another common misnomer that Glickman puts some ink towards correcting is the idea that bigger is always better when it comes to butt play. Did you know there is a difference between anal sensation and prostate stimulation? While anal sensations are affected by size of penetrating object, incredible prostate pleasure can be found with just one finger or a finger-sized toy. Tips like these aren’t meant to reduce men’s anxiety about being penetrated, especially those who have only seen anal sex in porn.

The book seeks to address both psycho-social concerns while providing practical how-to advice by carefully delineating between the multiple ways that the prostate can be stimulated and sexual orientation.

Another quote from the text: “The important thing to know is that whether you like anal penetration is about what kinds of sexual stimulation work for you; who you want to do it with is about your sexual orientation. While there can be some correlation between the two, one doesn’t imply anything about the other. If you’re gay and you don’t like anal play, you’re still gay. If you’re straight (or bi or any other sexual orientation) and you enjoy it, that doesn’t make you gay.”


Thu/31, 6:30-8:30 p.m., free

Good Vibrations

603 Valencia, SF

(415) 522-5460