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This is Your Sign to Keep Going
What I learned while visiting the world's largest sex toy laboratory
It was 2 pm on a Wednesday and I was watching, mesmerized, as a row of four silicone phalluses thrust rhythmically back and forth, bending and contorting while attached to their respective robot arms. This Blade Runner-esque scene was a routine “stress test” for a soon-to-be-released vibrator. After a decade of writing about sex, I was finally – and quite literally – seeing how the (ahem) sausage gets made – and I couldn’t look away.
Thus began my visit to Lovehoney Group’s global headquarters in Berlin, Germany this past July. Located a short Uber ride away from one of the last remaining portions of the Berlin Wall, the campus of the self-proclaimed “Sexual Happiness Company” (which makes some of my all-time favorite toys like the We-Vibe Touch and Womanizer Liberty), is home to 300 employees and the largest R&D lab in the industry.
I'd been invited along with a handful of fellow sex journalists from around the globe to spend a couple of days in Berlin touring the campus and learning about the future of sex tech.
Over the course of two days, I learned how to laser print a dildo, interviewed sex toy designers, and met a slew of amazing sex writers. The remainder of my time in Berlin I spent walking around the city, shopping, drinking, and eating (I highly recommend this secret food tour).
The whole trip felt equal parts surreal and like a full-circle culmination of everything I've been working on for the past ten years.
When I think back on my time in Berlin, I’m reminded of a conversation I had on the last night of the press trip. I was at a cocktail party and speaking to one of the product designers. When he asked what was next for me career-wise, I told him that I was launching a podcast (“and maybe a newsletter!”)
“That sounds great, but aren’t you concerned that the podcast industry is already saturated?” he asked.
It’s something I ask myself frequently when self-doubt inevitably creeps in. (Did I wait too long to start? Is anyone going to care about what I have to say? Is there a point to any of this?)
But then I surprised myself. I took a hearty sip of my drink and paused.
(Champagne makes me especially cocky.)
“Well, I started personal blogging when the industry was already saturated, and look where it landed me. I’m here, in Berlin, talking to you — something I never would have imagined when I started writing about my sex life on the internet. So, while the industry may already be full, I’m confident that the podcast will also lead to more fun and unexpected opportunities.”
And it’s true. Some of my favorite career moments — going on press trips to far-flung locations to write about food, beverages & hotels, meeting some of my best friends, going on a sex-themed cruise (!), and connecting with people I admire — are things I never even thought to dream up. While it’s good to have an end goal, you also have to make room for the moments of surprise and delight that are found along the way.
This is something I have to remind myself of frequently — sometimes multiple times a day — because I feel like I’m constantly fighting against my own self-doubt and feelings of overwhelm.
Starting a project from scratch — even if you’ve done it before — can feel daunting. I started blogging in 2009 with the goal of eventually having my own newspaper column - which, came to fruition in 2013. But when I think of all the hard work and shameless self-promotion that it took to make that happen, my head starts to spin. (Do I have it in me to go through all of that again? What happens when I start yet another project? And another? Will there ever be a time when I don’t have to market myself?)
But then I have to remind myself (again), that none of us are ever really starting from scratch —even when it feels that way. With each new relationship, career move, or project, we bring all of our acquired knowledge and self-awareness. Thankfully, the slate is never completely blank.
While so many things feel in flux right now, I’m trying to reframe this moment as a renaissance (instead of a restart). I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you as a write through it all, pull out the good, and wipe away the rest.
So, if you’re currently in the midst of your own personal renaissance (or maybe considering one), this is your sign to keep going.
(PS. there’s a podcast episode about this!)
And if you need support, leave a comment or hit reply. We can cheer each other on.
What’s bringing me peace ✌️
Putting away my winter clothes. I’m a Virgo through & through, and the way this woman folds sweatshirts is almost orgasmic.
Waking up to bird noises. I recently ditched my iPhone alarm for this peaceful alarm clock that wakes you up with simulated natural light and your choice of nature sounds (I chose birds!) — and I’m never going back. Keeping my phone in the other room not only feels more peaceful, it’s also helping curb my late-night impulse purchases.
Things I’m loving 💖
Kali Uchis new album, Red Moon in Venus. While I don’t think I could love anything quite as much as her last release, Sin Miedo, this lush, dreamy r&b album is the perfect soundtrack for spring.
Swarm. Dominique Fishback is incredible in this satirical horror/thriller that takes a stab (quite literally) at fandom culture, particularly Beyoncé and her fanbase (known as the Beyhive). Also, the soundtrack of faux-Beyoncé songs (sung by Kirby + Childish Gambino) is kind of 🔥🔥🔥
H-Mart coming soon! Speaking of things in flux, what was once our local Toys ‘R’ Us is being converted into a popular Asian supermarket & it honestly couldn’t happen soon enough. Also, why am I the last to know about the Duckana?
Black cat eye sunglasses. These very budget-friendly shades were recommended to me by an old coworker and they live up to the hype. They’re perfect for when you’re wearing a simple outfit and want to feel instantly cooler 🕶
Love, Peace & Tacos 🌮