When we first started out, the guys at the office said it wouldn’t last. "You’re going to run out of things to say within six months," they warned.
That was over 13 years and more than 500 columns ago.
My relationship with this column and its readers has been one of the most fulfilling of my life. But not all relationships are meant to last forever, even some of the good ones. And, as such, it’s time for this one to end.
This will be my last column for Hour.
It’s been quite a ride.
When I first started writing this column in February of 1994, "bobbitting" had just become a verb. (That’s right, remember Lorena Bobbit? She cut off her husband’s penis because he was "selfish and wouldn’t give her an orgasm." Nothing like a little direct communication.)
I went through "the blue dress" and Bill Clinton’s removal of the blowjob from the definition of "sexual relations." I, along with the rest of the nation, endured the disturbing-but-I-can’t-look-away trial of Karla and Paul.
Then there was the fun stuff. Covering a porn shoot on a boat in the middle of the St-Lawrence River. The co-ed bathhouse in Winnipeg. The nudist camp. Looking at Shannon Belle’s g-spot and watching her squirt in front of a roomful of people in a female ejaculation workshop. Brushing up my skills at workshops on everything from bum sex to cock ‘n’ ball torture and Japanese rope bondage. I still carry my certificate for having completed a handjob/blowjob workshop.
And there’s the charitable work: I still hold the title of "Canada’s Top Masturbator," being the individual who raised the highest amount of money for women’s sexual health organizations in the annual Masturbate-a-thon.
Then, of course, who could forget all the free sex toys and porn I get to test drive? I am probably one of the lucky few who get to include masturbation as part of their job description. I still haven’t figured out what to do with that weird bouncy chair contraption with the hole in the middle. Right now we’re using it as a footstool.
I’ve also had the honour of meeting some of my modern sex superheroes – Candida Royalle, Annie Sprinkle, Tristan Taormino, Sue Johanson, Midori, Ducky DooLittle.
There was plenty of not-so-fun-but-it-goes-with-the-territory stuff. Agreeing to let myself be shot for a spread on Canadian media women for UMM magazine (it’s always a bad sign when they ask you to bring a nude thong). Being naively interviewed early on in my career by a newspaper in Edmonton only to wake up to a headline that read: "34 Years Old, 40 Lovers, You Do the Math" (of course, I now include this quote on all press material). Pissing off the entire town of Inuvik with a column about the sexual climate there that included the quote: "There are two sayings in Inuvik: ‘If you can’t get laid in Inuvik, you’re just lazy’ and ‘In Inuvik, you don’t lose your woman, you just lose your turn.’" The fallout to the column made national and international headlines (a friend of mine was travelling in Turkey and heard it on the news there), proving that once again, there is no such thing as bad press.
Early in my career, I was often asked by people whether I was concerned I would be pigeonholed writing a sex column. This used to baffle me. I would respond by asking them if they would ask the same of someone who wrote about politics. I feel blessed to have made a career of writing and talking about sex. Sadly, in our culture, something like politics is taken seriously. Sex is not. Sure, sex can be pretty damn funny sometimes, but the truth is, people’s struggle to have healthy, happy relationships is serious. Our need to have our sexual preferences and choices explained and validated is not shallow. People’s hunger for information about sex and relationships, while occasionally inspired by prurient curiosity, is basically genuine.
We’ve been anxious, confused and curious about sex since the beginning of time. Many of the questions bear repeating with each generation.
When I get a letter from a 16-year-old girl who says I’ve helped her feel more secure in her developing sexuality, I can’t help but feel proud of what I do. Even, or perhaps especially, when my column has inspired hatred or resentment, it has made me sit up and take note of my responsibility.
Sometimes I got it wrong. And you let me know, making me realize that you can never stop learning about sex. But it’s time for you to learn from someone new. I leave you in the capable hands of Laura Roberts, editrix of the online "literary slutzine" Black Heart Magazine, who will inhabit this space starting next week.
But don’t worry, I’m not going away entirely. We have great things planned online and I hope you’ll come along for the ride. Please subscribe to our weekly newsletter at joseyvogels.com, or send your email address to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll keep you posted.
Thanks to all of you for your support, feedback and acceptance all these years.
Yours in messiness, Josey.