Heads up, fans of informative playfulness: Babeland co-founder Rachel Venning will be at Diesel Books in Oakland on Tues/16 to read from and sign copies of her latest book Moregasm, a guide to getting more from our sexual forays.
The majority of mainstream sex guides currently available follow a formula I've never understood, which is to feature real people in the cover photo and then nowhere else in the book. These ludicrous covers, mostly featuring underwear-clad models in suggestively prone positions, are a source of embarrassment at the cash register, but a worse offense is found inside. Upon opening the book the reader discovers, rather than any useful or instructional photos, a slew of black and white diagrams in stick-figure detail accompanied by text that is generally inscrutable. The sexual acts are described in ways that are alternately clinical and deliberately vague, peppered with medical terms like "vasocongestive arousal" along with meaningless Cosmopolitan-isms about revving engines or raising temperatures or similar banalities with which we are all familiar.
Taking this convention into consideration, Moregasm happily does the opposite.
From the outset, Moregasm is non-intimidating and neutral, with a cover that, instead of revealing body parts that might cause certain readers discomfort, finds clever use for the fermata. Not having to hide a book under the bed: always a plus! The inside of the book, conversely, is far from demure. Venning makes sure to feature actual photos of real people in compromising positions, which readers are sure to find, shall we say, insightful. The text is simple when it needs to be, and when a more detailed explanation is required, the descriptions are thorough but clear enough to be understood at all experience levels.
Venning has ad hoc access to an enormous pool of people from which to extract sexual-anthropological data: her customer base at Babeland. Babeland is a popular Seattle-based adult toy store that Venning founded in 1993 with Clare Cavanah (co-author of Moregasm, along with Jessica Vitkus) that has since expanded to New York City and Brooklyn. It is perhaps most famous for its online presence, which can be accessed anywhere. As an author and, for lack of a better word, sexpert, Venning certainly has the requisite experience. She also knows, from the looks of Moregasm, what isn't working with mainstream sex guides. Sex writing often feels like verbal rehash, but Venning's book includes updates that help it read like new.
Tue/16, 7pm, free
5433 College Ave., Oakl.