Hello, Class! Today We’re Going To Talk About Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2010 Culture, History No Comments

Allow us to introduce you to Margaret L. Wade, an adult educator and co-author of Reclaiming Eros: Sacred Whores and Healers. She will be giving you a little background on this here holiday:

My Catholic Lives of the Saints makes no bones about it: St. Valentine’s day became the day of lovers only because it was the day before Juno Februata’s day. Juno Februata was the goddess of passionate love, or febris. To celebrate properly, well, what could you do? Erotic rites, of course. Young men each drew the name of a young woman, who then became his partner in the festivities. If chance was kind, perhaps the young couple would marry that June, the month that celebrates another of Juno’s patronages, that of marriage.

Other accounts claim the festival on the 15th was Lupercalia, an ancient cleansing festival centered at a temple near the cave in which the twin founders of Rome had been raised by a wolf. It was dedicated to either the she-wolf mother of Romulus and Remus or to Lupercus, who is associated with the Roman Faunus and the Greek Pan, the sexy goat god. Whichever it was who inspired the partying, the celebration gave young noblemen a chance to run around the town naked. They sacrificed goats and, in later years, started wearing loincloth skins à la Pan and Faunus. They made strips of the sacrificed goat’s skin and used them to flay others, mostly lightly and in jest. For women, it was to bless their marriage and fertility.

St. Valentine, on the other hand, was reportedly beaten and beheaded in 270 C.E. when the Romans were still beating and beheading those who were Christian (as opposed to a few years later when they killed those who weren’t Christian). Seriously un-fun by comparison to the Pagans’ activities. Sadly, he was an unsung hero until centuries later; he was not mentioned in a list of acknowledged Roman martyrs produced in 354. In fact, no mention of him was made until 496 when Pope Gelasius I claimed he was one of those saints that men didn’t know but God surely appreciated, so now he’s an official church saint. And oh, by the way, Pope G continued, his feast day is the day before that lewd festival that’s now illegal. So St. Valentine became the Patron of Greetings. Yeah, that’s even less exciting than being martyred. [An interesting tidbit (coincidence?) in the story is that the list of Roman martyrs produced in 354 was financed by a wealthy Roman named Valentius.]

Want more? We thought so. Wade is a veritable fountain of sex related- historical and cultural noms. Addictive as they get. Go check out her column on Carnal Nation.

Information from Carnal Nation.

Valentine’s Day Weekend From The Lots

February 13, 2010 Culture, Photography 3 Comments

The Streets Are Calling is without a doubt, a favorite when it comes to local picture blogs. This morning, photog @rathandsome was supposed to get up at the crack to take some shots of a private bondage thing in North Hollywood, but he overslept.

Behold the treasures from the back lots. Click on the images to be redirected to their site so you can see them in all their glory:

Want more? We know you do. Go check them out. They’re unparalleled.

Yeah, yeah. You’re welcome.

Women vs. Men (The Pity Party)

February 13, 2010 Advertising, Culture No Comments

We here at Sex and the 405 are mildly amused and also a little bit sad. At once. How uncomfortable. Below is the Dodge Charger Superbowl ad. Below that is “the female version” response.

The spoof response:

We have a choice, you know. We don’t have to do any of these things. We know, we know. It’s a bleak thing to consider not settling and never finding a partner. But isn’t being alone better than this? Jeez!

Via Mir.

Bullhead City

February 13, 2010 AV, Diary No Comments

Mojave Valley Highway. It’s the last leg of the journey between Needles and Bullhead City, Arizona. The place is desolate: there’re more adult bookstores than houses, not a person in sight. If it weren’t for the Harleys parked outside a saloon, passerby’d probably think the place was a ghost town. We find a Wal-Mart.

I jump in a cart and my boyfriend pushes me around the place. He wants to buy me sneakers.

“Does this mean I have to wear socks?”

I hate socks. He finds me some socks. I will have nothing to do with this plan to attain “comfortable attire.” Nevertheless, I’m amazed they have shoes and socks and just about everything in one store — it’s so American. Everything you could need or want, standardized and shoved into this box-like establishment.

It’s incredible to imagine — fifty years ago, this place didn’t exist. Hell, fifty years ago Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart, was still working at JC Penney.

I’ve decided that I’m a Wal-Mart: a dilettante specializing in cheapening genius and beauty to the point of democracy.

Andy Warhol was right when he talked about the wonder of consumer egalitarianism in this country. You can still watch TV and see a Coke and know that you can have a Coke just like the one Dubya is having, and the one Paris Hilton is having, and the one Bill Gates is having. All Cokes are the same and all Cokes are good, isn’t that what he said?

Yes — if we have any sort of a legacy, this is it.

Having procured the sneakers and socks — which I flatly refuse to wear — we hit the hills and find a look-out as we near Laughlin. The population there is less than 10,000, but it’s always buzzing with people: it’s the third most visited casino-destination in Nevada, after Vegas and Reno. From the look-out, we see Casino Drive’s lights reflected on the Colorado River like a little Las Vegas right at our fingertips.

I jump out into the heat to take a picture and have a smoke. My boyfriend comes out and before I can light up, he’s opened the side door of the car and bent me over the back seat.

Low-rise jeans give easy entry: you don’t really have to unbutton or unzip them to get them down. You just tug, whale tail and all, and you’re in.

It’s like we don’t even touch, we just fuck. I need his cock and he needs my cunt. We don’t even have time to moan before it’s over. I feel him tighten inside me after a few savage thrusts and I come. When I come, I send him over the edge. He pulls out–pop shot on my back.

He leans against the side of the car, I get out and, jeans still mid-thigh, light that cigarette.

Image by Gregory Melle. Originally published in Black Heart Magazine on December 6, 2007.

We Rode into The NYT on Cyan’s Noodz, via VentureBeat

February 13, 2010 Our Happenings, Vitals No Comments

We weren’t the only ones excited to see Zivity’s founder Cyan Banister take it all off on our site. VentureBeat reporter and tech-popcult commentator Paul Boutin jumped right on it.

As a result, we got into VentureBeat riding on Cyan’s n00dz, and since VentureBeat is syndicated to the New York Times

Check that out, you guys. We’re officially relevant. Irreverent, but relevant.

How about that?

Via Paul Boutin.

The Best Things in Life Are Free… But, Uh, Baby? What’s Your Credit Score?

February 13, 2010 Culture 1 Comment

What’s the number one cited reason for divorce? Other than Facebook, that is: financial issues. Even though most of us go in knowing this, we rarely ever take the time to discuss finances with our partners until long into a relationship.

We here at Sex and the 405 think this is a bit ass-backward — especially in credit crisis times — so when we came across this little morsel from the peeps at FICO, we were giddy to share.

FICO’s Valentine’s survey found all kinds of other neat things. Check it:

  • Women were twice as likely to choose “a good FICO score” as the most important characteristic in a date while men are six times as likely to choose “good looking” as the most important characteristic in a date. Having an excellent FICO score ranked third – which topped being “rich,” “good looking” and “having great teeth” by both the men and women.
  • 20 percent of couples described their partners’ spending habits as “drastically different” from their own and over 45 percent described them as moderately different. (Only 20 percent of couples rated each others’ spending habits the same).

Via Rita Arens.

Fearless Storyteller (And Most Banned Children’s Author) Turns 72

February 12, 2010 Books, Culture No Comments

blumeJudy Blume’s children and young adult novels have covered everything from racism to menstruation to religion and sex. Her dedication to writing about difficult issues for the younger set has resulted in her fair share of controversy. She is one of the most challenged children’s authors of all time.

On her site, Blume writes about censorship:

I believe that censorship grows out of fear, and because fear is contagious, some parents are easily swayed. Book banning satisfies their need to feel in control of their children’s lives. This fear is often disguised as moral outrage. They want to believe that if their children don’t read about it, their children won’t know about it. And if they don’t know about it, it won’t happen.

Today, it’s not only language and sexuality (the usual reasons given for banning my books) that will land a book on the censors’ hit list. It’s Satanism, New Age-ism and a hundred other isms, some of which would make you laugh if the implications weren’t so serious. Books that make kids laugh often come under suspicion; so do books that encourage kids to think, or question authority; books that don’t hit the reader over the head with moral lessons are considered dangerous.

Since the 1980s, when she found herself the target of censorship, Blume has been reaching out to other writers, as well as teachers and librarians, under fire, and working tirelessly with the National Coalition Against Censorship to protect the freedom to read. She is the editor of Places I Never Meant To Be: Original Stories by Censored Writers.

Thanks for telling it like it is, Judy. Happy birthday.

Image via Answers.com.

Cyan Banister Bares It All In Never-Before-Seen First Zivity Shoot

February 12, 2010 Culture, Interview, web 7 Comments

In 2007, a start-up rocked the web with its fearless vision to combine the social network with adult photography into a formula that enables models and photographers to profit via a user voting system. The start-up, Zivity, even managed to raise a $1 million round of seed capital from Silicon Valley investors, notorious for steering clear of adult sites.

“We think it’s our unapologetic approach that has nabbed our investors,” founder Cyan Banister commented then. “Women who want to be sexy is not pornography, and us stressing that has helped us a lot. It’s never been about creating a site that’s a dirty little secret, and investors really need to hear that.”

We had an opportunity to speak with Banister last week and asked her to tell us something she hadn’t told anyone before about Zivity’s story.

“The first time I posed nude was very nerve-wrecking,” Banister said. “I called all my photographer friends and I said ‘I’m thinking abut this company again’ — I tried to start this company ten years ago and I was very young and inexperienced and lacked a lot of maturity in person and business — and I told them, ‘I need to pose nude because if I can’t do this, I can’t start this company.’ ”

She set up the appointment and dove in.

“I knew nothing about looking at the camera, or how to pose,” she recalled. “I loved it. It was transformative. I didn’t think much about my body but afterward, I looked at it in the pictures and thought ‘wow, my body is nice.’ I regretted not doing it sooner and appreciating myself sooner. If I could go back, I would tell myself to pose sooner.”

That’s essentially the heart of Zivity right there — it’s about beauty in all its forms, it’s about the discovery of self and the sharing of this self through collaboration with photographers and through interaction with users.

Banister’s first shoot never made it into the site because the images didn’t meet the site’s quality guidelines.

“Has no one seen these?” we asked, our curiosity piqued. “Can we see them? Can we run them?”

Ask and you shall receive.

Presenting the photo shoot that started it all. Un-Photoshopped, and never before seen:

“A camera will show you something about yourself a mirror never can,” Banister told us. “When you see a picture of yourself, you see everything. Have some shots taken. Even if you don’t do it for the website, do it for yourself. Delete it if you have to, but do it.”

And just in case you want to check out this fabled website of epic win, you can get a 30-day trial by sending an e-mail to sexandthe405@zivity.com, no credit card required — until the end of those 30 days, that is. Then you’ll need to pay up. But don’t worry, you’ll find no damn good reason not to, and over 500 reasons worth doing so.

(Be patient, the 30-day trial messages are sorted manually, not by machines, so give it 24 hours before you leave us impatient comments. Not that we don’t love your eagerness, our sweet flytraps of oversharing and voyeuristic delight.)

Oh, yeah: you’re welcome.

Special thanks to Enrique Gutierrez for inadvertently catalyzing this.

Taken? Right On. Check This Out

February 11, 2010 Events No Comments

Palihouse knows it’s not just sweet nothings we want. To satisfy as many tastes as possible their couples package ($570 without dinner, $745 with) for Valentine’s comes equipped with either of the following choices: a love box or a pain box.

Love Box:

Pain Box:

Take a closer look here.

Can’t afford it? Make your own!

Tip via UrbanDaddy.

Single? Who Cares? Let’s Have Lunch and Dish

February 11, 2010 Events No Comments

Shopping, eating, dishing about relationships (the good, the bad, the ugly), swag and professional advice — instead of ignoring Valentine’s Day if you’re single and have no plans, you can run straight into it and gorge yourself on all kinds of treats and giggles.

Julie Spira, author of The Perils of Cyber-Dating will be talking about how to create a profile on dating sites that gets responses; Pat Allen, author of Getting to “I Do” will be talking about getting the relationship you want; Lucia, the cougar dating expert will be talking about dating younger; and a man panel will feature a handful of different men to shed some insight into the perplexing male mind.

In short, it’s a veritable feast of fine entertainment.

There’s also a boutique, a raffle of a “Cyber Love Basket” filled with goodies like a bottle of Vueve Clicquot bubbly and tantra lessons gift certificate, and a book signing.

Hey, if you can’t beat them, join them, right?

Tickets are $70 and available here. For more information, see the event Facebook page.

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Gamers Won’t Be Seduced, Will Stare At Random Cleav Instead

That Steam allows the objectification and sexualization of female characters in a variety of its games but refuses to accept a game about actually engaging with women in a more interactive fashion is astonishingly backward.

FetLife Is Not Safe for Users

That the site doesn’t take measures to protect user content and has shown incompetence or negligence in regard to user privacy, all the while prohibiting victims from warning others about predatory behavior creates an environment where it is nearly impossible for members of the community to take care of themselves and one another. By enabling FetLife to continue espousing a code of silence, allowing the spinning self-created security issues as “attacks,” and not pointing out how disingenuous FetLife statements about safety are, we are allowing our community to become a breeding ground for exploitation.

Why You Should Vote No On Prop 35

Should people who benefit (parents, siblings, children, roommates!) from the earnings of “commercial sex acts” (any sexual conduct connected to the giving or receiving of something of value) be charged with human trafficking? Should someone who creates obscene material that is deemed “deviant” be charged as with human trafficking? Should someone who profits from obscene materials be charged with human trafficking? Should people transporting obscene materials be charged with human trafficking? Should a person who engages in sex with someone claiming to be above the age of consent or furnishing a fake ID to this effect be charged with human trafficking? What if I told you the sentences for that kind of conviction were eight, 14 or 20 years in prison, a fine not to exceed $500,000, and life as a registered sex offender?

Pretty and Calls Herself a Geek? Attention Whore!

If you are a woman, you might be given a chance to prove yourself in this community. Since there is no standard definition of what a “geek” is and it will vary from one judge to the next anyway, chances of failing are high (cake and grief counseling will be available after the conclusion of the test!). If you somehow manage to succeed, you’ll be tested again and again by anyone who encounters you until you manage to establish yourself like, say, Felicia Day. But even then, you’ll be questioned. As a woman, your whole existence within the geek community will be nothing but a series of tests — if you’re lucky. If you aren’t lucky, you’ll be harassed and threatened and those within the culture will tacitly agree that you deserve it.

Cuddle Chemical? Moral Molecule? Not So Fast

Zak’s original field, it turns out, is economics, a far cry from the hearts and teddy bears we imagine when we consider his nickname. But after performing experiments on generosity, Zak stumbled on the importance of trust in interactions, which led him, rather inevitably, to research about oxytocin. Oxytocin, you might remember, is a hormone that has been linked previously to bonding — between mothers and children primarily, but also between partners. What Zak has done is take the research a step further, arguing in his recent book, The Moral Molecule, that oxytocin plays a role in determining whether we are good or evil.

How to Avoid Pissing off a Stripper

Let’s talk about the strippers. Whether they like to be half-naked or not, whether they enjoy turning you on or not, there’s one thing they all have in common: they’re working. Whether you think that taking one’s clothes off for money is a great choice of career is really beside the point (is it a possibility for you to make $500 per hour at your job without a law degree? Just asking). These women are providing fantasy, yes, but that is their job. And as a patron of the establishment where they work, you need to treat them like you would anyone else who provides a service to you.


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Sex and the 405 is what your newspaper would look like if it had a sex section.

Here you’ll find news about the latest research being conducted to figure out what drives desire, passion, and other sex habits; reviews of sex toys, porn and other sexy things; coverage of the latest sex-related news that have our mainstream media's panties up in a bunch; human interest pieces about sex and desire; interviews with people who love sex, or hate sex, or work in sex, or work to enable you to have better sex; opinion pieces that relate to sex and society; and the sex-related side of celebrity gossip. More...