“Good Luck to You, Leo Grande” thoughts from a senior perspective

I am so happy that “Good Luck to You, Leo Grande” exists! This film portrays older-age sexual yearning, curiosity, shame, and nervousness accurately and beautifully. The film stars Emma Thompson, age 62, as a widow/retired religious education teacher who has never had an orgasm, and Daryl McCormack, age 29,  as the sex worker she hires for a bucket list of missed sexual opportunities.

I’m 78, and I never expected to see a film with such tender authenticity about a senior woman wanting to explore her sexual pleasure with a gentle, respectful, vulnerable, and gorgeous male sex worker.

 

Is she ageist because she wants a young man?

I read objections from several of you on social media who saw this as ageist. I don’t see it that way. She had sex with only one man in her life: her husband, whose idea of sex was get on, get in, get off, go to sleep. She wants transactional sex with a man who prioritizes her pleasure, who will serve her without his own agenda, and whose youthful appearance will turn her on.scene from "Good Luck to You Leo Grande"

In my view, this “pilot light lover” (to adopt Gail Sheehy’s phrase) is just the beginning of her sexual awakening. I picture her after the film ends, going forward with confidence to meet men of her age who, she will discover, delight in giving pleasure to their partner.

 

Scene from Good Luck to You Leo GrandeLet’s address what many people are asking: did Emma Thompson need to bare it all to make the point that she finally accepts her body?

I love that she does this. It’s startling to see her naked, staring in the mirror, no longer confined by a pencil skirt or draped in a negligee. She is unapologetically adorned with her natural wrinkles and loose skin. I loved that. I found her beautiful.

No, she didn’t have to do it, but how it amplifies the message of overcoming shame and reclaiming her body! I applaud her and director Sophie Hyde for this decision. (Personally, I would have appreciated seeing more of Leo, too, just saying.)

I know I’ll have more to say about this film, but I’ll stop here to invite your comments. Let’s keep this discussion going.

Learn more:

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande” is available only on Hulu. Subscribe for a month for less than the cost of a movie ticket.

I look forward to reading your comments.

 

scene from "Good Luck to You Leo Grande"

Mini Magic Wand Review

Do you  love your Magic Wand, but you wish for a smaller, lighter, yet still powerful version? Or do you wish your clitoris  could experience the Magic Wand that everyone raves about, but the size of the original is daunting? Welcome to the new Magic Wand Mini Cordless Rechargeable Vibrator from Betty’s Toy Box. You’ll get the same quality and most of the power at half the weight.

But is it small? It’s not small. When I think “mini,” I mean toys that are small enough to toss in a purse or stuff into the toe of a sock that’s going into my suitcase, like the We-Vibe Touch or Tango or the Hot Octopuss DiGiT: palm-sized or smaller. This isn’t that! However, compared to the regular Magic Wand, it’s mini. To compare:

Magic Wand Rechargeable: 13 inches long, weighs 1 pound 5.1 ounces, handle diameter 1.9 inches.

Mini Magic Wand: 9.5 inches long, weighs 9.7 ounces, handle diameter 1.5 inches.

What about power?

Yes, it’s strong, though not as strong as the bigger models. The Mini Magic Wand has 3 power settings, vs. the Magic Wand Rechargeable’s 4 power settings and 4 patterns. The Mini has plenty of power for most of us – including me, and I need strong vibrations. However, the second and third settings are higher-pitched (buzzier) than the bigger model. If rumbly vibes work best for you or you need the power of the highest setting, you’ll probably want to stay with the larger wand. If you usually stay within the first settings of the Magic Wand and your clitoris does not demand rumbly, this will be a great choice for you.

Controls are intuitive: press the power button, then press “+” for more intensity and “-” for lower intensity. Controls are easy to see and use without reading glasses.

Other attributes

The head of the Mini is body-safe silicone, with a little cushioning that can make all the difference when you’re pressing it to your clitoris. The neck is flexible, so that you can get the best position for your wrist. At our age, we have to think about these things.

The head is much smaller than that of the Magic Wand Rechargeable, which has its pros and cons. Pro: it doesn’t take up so much room (vulvar real estate, I could call it) if you’re also inserting fingers, a penis, or a dildo into your vagina while you use the Mini on your clitoris. Con: if you like more vulvar coverage to stimulate the internal clitoris, you might prefer the larger version.

The slimmer handle is as much a bonus as the lighter weight. It’s much easier for my small, arthritic hand to hold, letting me forget about the logistics and just enjoy the sensation.

Like the larger Magic Wands, it’s noisy. Close the door, turn up the music, send your family members to the movies.

I was delighted to find a full-sized user manual in the box, with clear, large black print on white pages. Thank you, Vibratex (and shame on all the sex toy companies that send tiny guides with light lettering on a colored background, impossible to read). But do we really need 5 full pages of warnings plus additional warnings on almost every page? I can’t even count the number of “Do not…” and “Never…” Sure, we want to know what not to do, but let’s not scare people away from using pleasure tools. Vibrators are not high-risk products. What if every restaurant menu contained 5 pages of what could happen if we choked on our food, ate enough to make us vomit, or scooped it up from the floor?

I was surprised that the Mini did not come with a storage bag.

Caveats

  • Do not use while plugged in. Plug it in only for charging, and do not leave it plugged in for more than 4 hours.
  • Use only water-based lubricant.
  • Use for no more than 20 minutes to prevent overheating. (Don’t worry, you won’t need 20 minutes!)
  • Clean the head carefully after use without submerging in water. It’s not waterproof.
  • For external use only.

 

 

Thank you, Betty’s Toy Box, for sending me the Magic Wand Mini Cordless Rechargeable Vibrator in return for an honest review.

For 10% off your purchase, use coupon code JOAN10

Bond, We-Vibe’s New Vibrating Penis Ring, reviewed by Shamus MacDuff

“Bond, James Bond” is the iconic catchphrase Agent 007 utters to introduce himself in at least a dozen of his films. “Bond” is also We-Vibe’s new vibrating penis ring. James Bond is a handsome, romantic undercover agent. We-Vibe calls its Bond cock ring an “undercover tease.”

I’ve tried several other vibrating penis rings, and Bond is innovative in several ways. Most striking is the adjustable quick-release system for positioning the ring around your penis and scrotum. Other cock rings I’ve tried require wearing the band around your shaft and stretching it to pull your testicles through. Depending on the size and shape of your equipment, this can be painful and far from sexy.

Bond, however, is a stretchy band with ends that detach completely to open the ring. Fit it around your penis and scrotum with the broad part against your perineum (that sensitive area between scrotum and anus). Then close the ring by linking the two ends together with a simple click. When you’re done, open it just as easily. An extra custom fit link is included for those who require a slightly larger size.

Diagram by We-Vibe

 

Control Bond with either a small inconspicuous remote that fits in your palm or the We-Connect app. Either of these lets you play with ten different intensity levels. (Personally, I’m especially fond of the cha-cha). The toy is very quiet so it can be worn undercover in public without attracting attention.

Like all We-Vibe toys for vulvas and penises, Bond is made of body safe material and is fully waterproof. Charging takes up to 90 minutes via the magnetic charging pins, and a charge lasts for up to two hours. We-Vibe cautions that you should not wear the ring for more than half an hour at a time.

I used Bond first for solo sex. I loved that I could simply lie back, relax, fondle the remote, and bring myself to the edge several times before reaching an orgasm. It stimulates the perineum as well as the penis and testicles with delightful vibrations.

My partner and I experimented with Bond during partner sex. She took control of the remote while ministering to me with mouth and lubed hand. This produced the “tease” that We-Vibe mentions and helped me retain an erection. As enjoyable as that was, I prefer Bond for solo sex. It’s so much fun to play with the protruding genitalia “bundle” myself!

Bond is a delightful new penis toy — clever in design and effective in results. Compared to other vibrating rings that encapsulate penis and scrotum together, Bond comes away as the best on the market. I’ve nicknamed mine “James.”

 

— Shamus MacDuff, age 78, was oblivious to the delights of sex toys for penises until about four years ago. He’s been making up for lost time! Read his other posts here.

 

 


 

Note from Joan:

Have you viewed We-Vibe’s “Silver Sex” videos with folks our age talking about their sex lives and tips from sex educators? (Yes, I’m one of them.) All the videos are educational and entertaining, and well worth watching.

 

“What We’ve Learned About Sex Lately”: Wisdom from Seniors

Naked at Our Age shirt

I invited my newsletter subscribers to tell me what they’ve learned about sex lately that has enhanced their sex life. The responses illustrate how far we’ve come in acknowledging that seniors are full human beings with sexual needs and desires, and how we are empowering ourselves to fulfill them.  

Enjoy Sex Without Penetration

When penis-in-vagina (PIV) intercourse is no longer dependable or possible, it’s an opportunity to explore sex without penetration, which you may find gloriously satisfying. Here’s what readers said:

  • “I’ve learned that sex without penetration provides me and my partner with at least as much core-shaking pleasure as does PIV.  Both are very nice, but my notion of ‘real sex’ has broadened to center now on sex without penetration.”
  • “My wife and I enjoyed a comfortable, mostly vanilla sex life for 45 years, and then it ceased after I lost the ability to provide a lasting erection. We accepted that as an inevitable, age-related thing and believed that sex without penile penetration was not complete. Research, including your blog and your books, opened my mind to the idea that sexual gratification for older folks was healthy, desirable, and neither inappropriate nor impossible without an erection.”
  • “You may have issues maintaining an erection hard enough for sustained penetration. PIV sex is not the only way to have sex. You can have extraordinary pleasure and orgasms even with a soft penis.”
  • “At 65, I’ve learned a more expansive idea of sex, one that isn’t so genitally focused. Every part of my body can be an erogenous zone. My partner and I enjoy hours of pleasuring each other, engaging in ‘outercourse’: manual, oral, and anal stimulation. We may have a single orgasm and continue pleasuring. We might enjoy several orgasms, or one extended orgasm. We have more of a sense of play and exploration.”

(For more about non-PIV sex, view “Great Sex Without Penetration,” my most popular webinar.)

Great Sex without Penetration

Overcome Challenges

Yes, aging brings obstacles to good sex. That’s no reason to give up. Instead, explore solutions, as these readers did:

  • “I honestly didn’t know our sex drives would slow down. Nobody tells you that a strong libido has a shelf life. Realizing that the days of spontaneous combustion were over for both of us, I felt like I’d been ripped off by life. With time, laughter, tears, and a lot of talking and thinking — plus a vibrator, erotica, and soft porn — my husband and I created a place where sex is a wonderful mini-vacation where we give and receive pleasure. It’s no longer my obsession, but it’s also not an afterthought.” 
  • “What to do when you realize that the only sex you know and have enjoyed for 45 years won’t work anymore? My wife has lichen sclerosus of the vulva. We can’t have penetrative sex anymore because she is so sensitive. We had to completely relearn how to have sex, first conquering our belief that sex other than penetrative missionary sex was shameful or sinful. We have learned that we can continue to be intimate and enjoy sex together.” 
  • “Because I couldn’t orgasm with intercourse and sometimes I had to finish myself off alone, after 20 minutes of my husband doing everything in his power to make me come, I thought our sex life was deficient and substandard. Joan’s writing truly helped me. To read an expert telling me that masturbation was real sex; oral sex was real sex; sex with sex toys to enable us to orgasm was real sex? I realized I was having quite a bit of real sex, and I didn’t recognize it. Two people who love the hell out of each other and fit together like puzzle pieces thinking that they’re defective because their sex life didn’t fit the standard definition? Your words freed me from feeling inadequate, broken, and damaged.” 

 

Bring Back the Spice

If you’re in a long-term relationship that has lost its excitement, these readers share what works for them:

  • “We find planned, weekly date-night encounters far more enjoyable than spontaneous episodes, because planning a scene enhances anticipation. It’s a form of extended foreplay. We are consistently ready for sex well before the next date-night, but we deny ourselves, heightening the desire to extreme levels for days.” 
  • “I’m 80, and my mind is my biggest turn on. I am no longer afraid to share my fantasies with my partner. It is a delight not to be ashamed of these wonderful and imaginative ideas where I get to determine what I experience in my mind while making love with my partner.”
  • “After 33 years of marriage, I realize that both partners need to choose to keep their relationship spicy and active. Both must be honest and frank about their desires. Don’t be freaked out if you two disagree on what you’d like to do. Just treat it like every other issue you’ve disagreed on through the years: listen, suggest, compromise, and give it time.”

Explore New Kinds of Relationships

We were brought up to value only a lifelong, monogamous relationship. Sometimes that works for us; often it doesn’t. It’s never too late to explore a new relationship — or a new kind of relationship:

  • “After much reading and heart-to-heart conversations with my more experienced lover, I’ve embraced consensual nonmonogamy at age 74 as an honest and happy-making way of being in a primary relationship. It allows each of us to celebrate both our independence and our connection based upon a solid foundation of frank, open communication. I have the freedom (should I so choose) to pursue other relationships without jeopardizing my highly valued primary tie. And, she likewise, has that freedom. Never taking my partner for granted adds a special sexy frisson to our connection.”
  • “I’m 72. After my dear heart passed away and I hadn’t had sex for 5 years, I reconnected with my boyfriend from 43 years ago. Our relationship the first time around had been sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Now we’re in sync with getting up in the middle of the night to pee! We’re in a long-distance relationship for now, with sex being a big part of our daily conversations.”
  • “After 26 years of an unfulfilling sex life that lasted minutes at best, I was alone and lonely. At 71, I met someone new. We can barely keep our hands off each other, like in the scene from West Side Story where everyone disappears into the scenery. We’re both widowed and realize that tomorrow is promised to no one. Whether or not it lasts, I plan to suck every bit of life and juice from this new relationship. I am burning daylight here.”

Sex Keeps Getting Better

Many readers wanted to share why sex at our age is better than ever:

  • “We have a whole new attitude towards sex, accepting that whatever provides immediate pleasure also benefits our long-term health and relationship. We are more respectful of each other and display a high level of intimacy outside the bedroom as well as in. We are more comfortable with openly discussing sex than we ever were.”
  • “Sex is better now than in our younger days because the pace and respectful desire to please each other is more refined than the more urgent hormone-driven copulations in the past.”
  • “As I age, I am more sexually comfortable, adventurous and voracious. As a young woman, I was painfully shy, inhibited, and sure I wasn’t attractive. Now I feel strong, capable, sexy, attractive and free to express myself sexually and sensually.”
  • “I love an older woman’s body. It’s about how she feels about herself, how much she gives herself up to pleasure and takes joy in her body. In the past decade, I’ve had partners dealing with wrinkles, stretch marks, cellulite, diabetes, heart conditions, Bell’s Palsy, IBS, and none of it has been an impediment to loving pleasure and desire.”
  • “I’m much more excited about exploring than I ever was in my younger days. Touch is an integral part of the experience for me and I teach my partner how and where to touch me, and I do the same for him. I have fewer inhibitions and I’m focused on enjoying all the sensations.” 
  • “Sex in my 70s is relaxed, playful, fun, unhurried, experimental, and made wonderful by open, easy, frank communication with my partner about what we each do and don’t like. We feel closeness and trust, and our orgasms are happily extended as we pleasure one another without stress or anxiety or rush. Now is the best age in my entire life for uncomplicated, completely happy, and totally delightful sex!” 
  • “My lover (64) and I ​(88) just celebrated our 5th anniversary with a weekend frankly devoted to ‘sex at our age’ and loving it. It was a soul-blending celebration. Most important to us are (1) learning to listen before responding; (2) responding freely, not out of earlier patterns, but aware of the new definitions and opportunities for growth; (3) being willing to risk, try the new, re-invent. Of course, I’m vulnerable and have shed tears often. But, ah, the growth —beyond imagination.”

 

Some take-away tips from these reader experiences

  • A sexual problem is a challenge, not a defeat. It’s an opportunity to learn and to explore.
  • Expand your notion of what kind of sex is satisfying to you.
  • Get creative. Try new things.
  • Communicate with your partner about what you’d like to try.
  • Treasure the pleasure!

This article was first published as “Sex at our Age: How far we’ve come” at SeniorPlanet.org, May 21, 2018.