Difference between revisions of "Good Vibrations: Center of Pleasure Activism"

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Comparative shopping at Good Vibrations

Big cities have always been the place to go to for sex. But why has the city of San Francisco in particular produced so many sex activists, and such a vital, visionary pro-sex movement?

Joani Blank, founder of the Good Vibrations sex store, claims it's the testosterone. "Really," she says, "all the gay men living in this city does have something to do with it -- sexual energy is driven by testosterone in both men and women. It's not an excuse to exploit people but it's a biological fact." Gay men have been especially attracted to San Francisco, at least since the 1940s. The mystique of the frontier frees people, and there's a sense that civilization doesn't reach from the East coast. People move here to change their lives; it's the decadent "Baghdad by the Bay."

What is Good Vibrations?

Good Vibrations has been selling vibrators, dildos, cock rings, and other sexual toys and books in San Francisco's Mission District for almost 20 years. Joked of as the "clean well-lighted place to get a butt plug," Good Vibrations is partly responsible for the air of celebration that exists around sexual pleasure in this city. The stores are well-stocked, customer-friendly, celebratory and even activist about sex. Frequently they sponsor workshops and lectures with titles like "Female Sexuality for Men Only." People are drawn to the message that sex is wonderful, joyful, and nothing to be ashamed of.

Joani Blank started the first storefront as a sole proprietorship on 22nd St. at Guererro, near Cafe Babar, in 1977. From there it has moved to 1210 Valencia Street and grown into a two-location worker-owned and democratically-run business. In 1985 Good Vibrations expanded to offer an extensive mail-order catalog. In 1989 Joani initiated the process of converting Good Vibrations into a worker-owned business, and that process was completed in 1992.

"Joani had always encouraged her employees to participate in decision-making" Good Vibrations's web site (www.goodvibes.com) reports, "Staff had always met regularly to discuss policies and procedures, including setting their own salaries." Unlike most businesses, policy is set through an open process of considering the environmental, economic and human impacts of business decisions.

--Elizabeth Sullivan


Interior of Good Vibrations, mid-1990s.

Contributors to this page include:

Christopher,Phyllis - Photographer-Artist

Christopher,Phyllis - Photographer-Artist

Sullivan,Elizabeth - Writer

Good Vibrations - Publisher or Photographer

Good Vibrations - Publisher or Photographer

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