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In A Tough Economy, Five Bucks Go A Long Way

March 18, 2010 Culture, web 3 Comments

It’s a rough economy and many are desperate for extra cash. To help out (and profit), some visionaries launched a site called Fiverr, which enables people to list things they would do for five dollars. There’s a variety of categories from which to choose, from social marketing to programming.

But you can also:

Have someone rescue you from a bad blind date

Leave you flirty messages on your Facebook wall

Send you a love message

Talk with you on Skype for 30 minutes

Chat with you for as long as you like for a week

Make an mp3 file of all the things you want to hear

Call your ex and tell them they’re bad in bed

Send someone you know a creepy letter

Give you a private wakeup call

Argue with you about anything

Break up with your significant other for you

Amazing what five bucks will get you!

SXSW Interactive?

March 14, 2010 Culture, Events, web No Comments

Everyone has been asking whether anyone from Sex and the 405 is representing in Austin right now. Sorry to disappoint! We aren’t–we’re stuck here making the magic you love!

Our editrix did make a funny infographic that we thought was worthwhile sharing:

If that’s how it is, maybe we’re glad we’re missing out. We miss you, though! Come home soon and don’t get arrested!

Sketch image used in infographic by Mike Rohde.

Adventures in Decreased Productivity: Mahalo Answers

March 5, 2010 Culture, web No Comments

Our editrix was over at the Mahalo offices last week where she did a few more things than simply scandalize the employees there. Their answer site has a NSFW (Not Safe For Work) category!

Check out some of the stuff we stumbled across. OK, fine, we didn’t — Mahalo’s newest acquisition Mike Bracco (total hottie, btw, though we’re not sure about his relationship status) linked us directly.

Perfect way to while away the hours on a Friday at the office, wouldn’t you say? Your boss can thank us later.

Traffic Is For Lovers

March 4, 2010 Culture, web No Comments

As denizens of Los Angeles, we spend more time on the road than we do anywhere else (seriously, we don’t know why L.A. bothers with foursquare. Locales? We’re either on the 405 or the 10 — stuck. Make us mayor of that).

Anyway — it makes perfect sense that we would find a service to put all our time on the road to good use. Introducing QuickCar Flirting, a site for all of us stuck on the treacherous roads of Los Angeles with nothing to do but answer e-mails and tweets on our phones (totally illegal, by the way) and wait for traffic to let up.

Oh! And check out the people in cars next to us.

I know, right — who does that? We’re so self-absorbed here, it’d surprise us if most people noticed there are actually people in other cars and we aren’t just dealing with an “asshole black BMW” trying to cut us off. But there are people in other cars! And sometimes they’re hot people! And now with QuickCar Flirting, you can check them out and maybe connect with them off the road — assuming you ever get off the 405!

Amazing.

This is how it works: you get on the site, make an account (it’s free right now), answer whether you smoke, drink, have kids, want kids, what your relationship status is, how much money you make, what color your eyes and hair are, etc., and then add your vehicle information.

Now when people see your hot ass on the road, they can search for you on QuickCar Flirting and get things going. How about that?

Let’s just hope traffic isn’t bumper-to-bumper…

Information via UrbanDaddy — well, duh.

Dear Bank: Get Out of Our Blogs and Bedrooms

Last week, TechCrunch reported on something terrifying: Citibank had blocked the business account of the brand-spanking new startup fabulis due to what they were calling “objectionable content” on the fabulis company blog.

What’s objectionable? Fabulis is a soon-to-launch social network seeking to connect gay men with amazing experiences around the world. From TechCrunch:

Could that be what Citibank is objecting against rather than the content on the blog, which is perfectly innocent any way you look at it indeed?

Now, in case you don’t know Goldberg: he’s an accomplished Internet entrepreneur, who had stints at the White House, AOL and T-Mobile under his belt before founding Jobster (and raising more than $50 million for the startup) and after that socialmedian (which he sold to Xing in December 2008).

For his latest startup fabulis, Goldberg has raised $625k in seed funding from the likes of Washington Post and Venture Partner at Mayfield Fund Allen Morgan, and essentially aims to become the leading social network and lifestyle website for homosexual men.

“And wtf. When did Citibank start reviewing blogs to decide who can bank with them?” asked fabulis founder Jason Goldberg in a blog post on the matter.

After more discussions with Citibank representatives, Goldberg learned that the bank had terminated the fabulis business account because the “content was not in compliance with Citibank’s standard policies.” Kater, a bank rep called to apologize, saying: “all 3 of the citibank individuals who over the past 24 hours each individually claimed that fabulis’ account was to be terminated for compliance issues around the content of our site, were all wrong to have said what they said.”

Eventually, fabulis received an apology from Bill Brown, who says he’s responsible for the Citibank Branches in Manhattan which said:

Jason,

We have not been formally introduced and I imagine that this is a poor way to become acquainted. I am responsible for the Citibank Branches in Manhattan and have just learned today of the challenges you have experienced in opening an account with us.

I apologize for any confusion about the status of your account and the Fabulis website. Whatever statements that were made by any Citi representative related to the content of your website were inappropriate and made in error, and I will review in detail what happened. You have my firm commitment on this point.

I truly regret any unintended message that my employees may have conveyed about your new business venture. I place great value on your business and assure you that Citi is committed to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities. In fact, this week Citi has announced the financing for the True Colors Residence, a housing facility for homeless GLBT youth in New York City.

I recognize that, to this point, this dialogue has been carried out on the internet via postings. You may choose to post this apology, however, please do not doubt the sincerity of my message and the responsibility I have for ensuring our customers do not encounter a similar experience.

Safe travels,

Bill Brown

Embarrassed by the internet shitstorm that ensued, Citibank has gone a step further. According to a new report on TechCrunch, the bank is now reviewing and making changes to policies for their internet business account costumers.

Citibank Message About Internet Business Accounts

At Citibank, we have learned a great deal from recent customer issues related to Internet business accounts. Mistakes were made in some instances, in which we apologized and corrected the problem. These issues made it clear to us that the language in our branch procedures was not specific enough and left too much room for interpretation from one account to the next.

We recognized that we needed clearer and less subjective guidelines with regard to opening Internet business accounts. And there were clearly gaps in training and communications around these specific branch procedures. Based on all these learnings, we’ve taken action and this week we updated and clarified our procedures for opening all Internet business accounts.

Banks are required by law to conduct due diligence and understand the nature of business accounts. For Internet business accounts, we have made it clearer to our bankers what the due diligence process entails. For example, we will continue to reserve the right to decline or suspend an account if we find illegal or discriminatory content, or if the site involves gambling or pornography. Beyond that specific due diligence, however, we do not monitor or evaluate our customers’ web content.

We are providing additional training in this area to ensure the procedures are uniformly and correctly followed. Also, our bankers are now required to have additional consultation with senior level banking executives when questions arise about these accounts before making any final decisions. This will help to avoid misunderstanding and subjective decisions, and promote greater consistency throughout the process. And we remain committed to working with our customers to try to resolve any issues.

As a global organization, we also recognize the power and promise of diversity. In that spirit, we reiterate Citi’s commitment to serving customers, hiring talent and supporting a broad array of organizations that promote diversity. To learn more about our diversity efforts, please visit: http://www.citigroup.com/citi/citizen/diversity/index.htm.

These recent customer issues have been a useful learning experience for us. We again apologize for any misunderstandings that may have occurred. We are committed to improving every day and we’re working to better serve our customers.

One small victory for freedom in the age of accountability thanks to the internet. We consumers have a platform and a choice. Kudos to Citibank for taking note and addressing their epic #fail.

Live-Tweeting An Abortion

Last week the web went up in flames when a woman, by the name of Angie Jackson, began live-tweeting her medical abortion.

Jackson discovered she was pregnant the week prior, following the failure of her method of birth control. A single mom with a little boy, Jackson claims that she was was told that her pregnancy could cause a threat to her life and decided to abort the using the abortifacient mifepristone.

The Frisky did an interview with Jackson about the abortion:

The Frisky: What compelled you to tweet about your abortion? Why even “demystify” it for people? A lot of people consider an abortion something that should be private.

Angie Jackson: I guess I was so terrified going into this that it was going to be horribly painful, that I was going to hemorrhage. And I don’t want to be flippant that those things don’t happen [but] what I was trying to say to people who find themselves in this position is that I was relieved to find out that I had this non-surgical option [the abortion pill] and that I was early enough [in my pregnancy] to get it. I was so relieved to see how simple it’s been. The actual process has been like a menstrual period. It’s not foreign or scary.

The Frisky: You were on birth control — an IUD, correct? What happened to it?

Angie Jackson: It can fall out during heavy flow periods, which going by the dates and everything, my last period was about two-and-a-half weeks before I got pregnant, so in that period of time, I was thinking I was using protection but probably not. By the time I got the ultrasound, the IUD was not in there anymore.

The Frisky: So, you’re very blunt in the YouTube video, saying that you’re not ashamed about having an abortion. You just flat-out say, “I’m not ashamed.” Where does that come from?

Angie Jackson: I think any time that we are silent about things or secret about things, it is unhealthy. I say this as a sexual abuse survivor. When I stopped keeping secrets [about the sexual abuse] and starting telling somebody, life got better. I have kept that throughout my life And I’m an autobiographical blogger. I am very open with the internet about how I am. I am very open about who I am with parenting and mental illness … For me, this wasn’t very different. This was about me talking about who I am openly. For me, talking about things is just how I approach all the taboos of life. I think that secrecy is unhealthy. We don’t get help when we don’t talk about things. For women who do need counseling or support or love or understanding after an abortion, if they have to stay quiet out of shame, then they won’t get that help. I think talking about things really can make a huge difference.

I feel that I was reasonably responsible. This is a possible responsible answer to this problem. In my case, I do feel like this is the best decision. I talked it over with my son and my boyfriend, who are the only people besides me who get a vote. It’s still my choice, but I’m going to talk it over with the people that I love — not that my son understands it much. But I don’t see why I should be ashamed that I’m saving my life. I don’t think that I’m being a killer; I don’t feel like I killed a person. And I’m sure if I did, I would feel guilt. And that’s why [anti-abortion activists] try so hard to convince you that it is.

Here is some of the feedback she has received:

Tracie at Jezebel offered the following comments:

And while I think that what she’s doing is radically progressive and service-y (she describes in her tweets what a medical abortion feels like), I sort of wish that she didn’t feel the need to have to qualify or rationalize her decision by explaining that the pregnancy could have been detrimental to her health—although I appreciate and understand her full disclosure and honesty—because the bottom line is that it doesn’t matter why she made this choice. It only matters that she’s allowed to make this choice.

What do you think? Is this a public service or over the top?

The Vajacial: A Facial “For Your Vagina”

February 18, 2010 Culture, web 3 Comments

The web is all freaked out about this and we can’t for our lives figure out why. The idea of applying a masque to the vulva (not vagina — the vagina is the internal part of the female genitalia) is nothing new, especially among those who use traumatic depilatory procedures like waxing.

Whatever the case, Stript Wax Bar, a California spa specializing in waxing has garnered incredible press for this service, which they call “the vajacial” and price at $60.

According to TheLuxurySpot, this vajacial can be scheduled a week after a waxing, takes about 50 minutes, and involves the following: antibacterial cleansing with witch hazel, a papaya-enriched exfoliation, ingrown hair-removal by an aesthetician, and a calming masque and a lightening cream.

Look, we’re all about TLC for the vulva, but what we really want to know is who Stript’s publicist is.

Image by chooyutshing. Information from TheLuxurySpot, via Oz Sultan.

The Girls of Etsy

February 16, 2010 Culture, Eyecandy, web, Women 2 Comments

Leave it to UrbanDaddy to turn the common shopping experience into a celebration of sexy. During a cursory browsing of Etsy, a site used the world over by sellers of jewelry, knits and other crafts, they noticed something spectacular: sometimes really hot girls model the wares.

Welcome to the Girls of Etsy, a concept just crazy enough to work…

That’s right—beyond the girly veneer and the crafternoon-ready hand-knit scarves, there is a hidden treasure trove of curiously attractive women modeling… things. Sexy things—like vintage swimsuits and curvy corsets and hand-made lingerie.

They’ve kicked things off by putting together a little slide show. We’re hoping someone runs with this idea. It’s brilliant.

Image from Gilda & Pearl. Information from UrbanDaddy.

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.

Oldest Married Couple Hit Twitter To Give Us Answers

February 11, 2010 Culture, web No Comments

Oh, sweet! If love is confounding you, you can put Twitter to use and connect with the longest living married couple, who will be answering questions about finding and sustaining love.

Herbert and Zelmyra Fisher (@longestmarried), were married in 1924 and are 104 and 102 years old respectively. The couple will be taking questions until February 12, just send them an @message. They will handpick 14 questions to answer this Sunday, which is Valentine’s Day.

The Mashable article through which we at Sex and the 405 found out about this fun idea makes mention of the fact they have separate bedrooms. The author jokes, “Well, I guess distance does makes the heart grow fonder.”

Actually, yes. We’re willing to bet some of our romantic issues have to do with how readily we murder The Mystique in this day and age. There are some things that should never be shared. Snoring is one of them.

Image and information from Mashable, via Nordette.

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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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Editrix-in-Command:
AV Flox

In-House Theologian:
Robert Fischer

Eros and Desire Scholar:
Dawn Kaczmar

Scientific Consultant:
Jason Goldman

East Coast Liaison:
Jackie Summers

Arch-Nemesis:
Barbie Davenporte

Read about the contributors we've had over time on our staff page.

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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...