How do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?
15 years ago I started a dialog in the toy industry about better materials. Silicone was only available at feminist boutiques at the time, and there weren’t many of those. Here was the safest material for soft toys and no one really knew or cared about it. With Tantus, I pioneered the introduction of silicone to the main stream market and pioneered the education, that has continued to this day, that questions what sex toys are made of, how that affects the body and consumer experience.
Who or what was a catalyst for you?
I was inspired by the Bay Area’s Good Vibrations pioneers: Joanie Blank, Carol Queen, Robert Lawrence, and Susie Bright. They had given me a vision of how we could make a better industry. I just needed to figure out how to mass produce the toys and use the education that they had offered me.
What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in the field of sexuality right now?
In the world of the internet, where every voice can find a venue and everyone is an expert (sexpert?), I worry about the accuracy of pleasure based sex education. The medical industry seems to ignore this type of sex education and yet they are the standard bearers for accuracy. So many of their sites, when they do address a sexual act or experience end up give inaccurate or out of date information. We haven’t created a consensus of pleasure sex education standardization to refer to and I think bloggers and businesses that create sexuality references are often doing it blindly.
What do you feel are some of the most important/valuable positive changes that have been made in the world of sexuality in the past year?
The interaction between academics and non academics that I’ve seen this last year at Catalyst, Momentum before that, and CFLE has been inspiring. I think it has so opened up communication between these parallel professionals and I’m inspired to see what we all create by making these new found alliances.
Why do you feel it is important to bring the topic of your session, Toxic Toys, to CatalystCon East?
The topic of my panel is Toxic Toys. Without any regulation for sex toys and with blatant mislabeling within the industry, there hasn’t really been a space to talk about how personal lives are affected by what we assume is safe. At the Toxic Toys session we will look at the adult “novelty” industry’s history and the issues of how unsafe sex toys have affected our businesses, our business development, our health, and our relationships. And perhaps, with your help, we can talk about how we can go forward into the future and resolve to change it.
Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself.
In 1969 I was on Romper Room— the only child in the Bay Area show that ever sang all the songs, and at 4 I sang off key but they couldn’t shut me up.