Mar 242014
 

Introduction

I’m trying for as much brevity as I can get here which, admittedly, won’t be much. The world of blogs about sex (as a general umbrella term) were varied and niched and I can’t possibly cover everything. In fact, I might very well be unintentionally leaving out crucial stories. That’s where I hope you will fill things in in the comments section. Sex blogging as we know it seems to have gotten off the ground around 2002, 6 years before my start, which was 6 years ago in 2008. My point with this piece is to illustrate to my current niche how WE got to where we are now with sex toy reviews, sexuality conferences and this tumultuous but awesome community.  You’ll see this “tooltip” characterized by the dotted underline; clicking on it (mobile or regular) will provide more info without making this post seem to scroll on forever, so don’t overlook them! Also check out the links, they often really help to further explain things.

The First Sex Blogs

One can argue that the first blogs about sexuality happened on Livejournal. The group that I can follow back through this history, though, was primarily on blogspot and things seemed to start roundabout 2004.  Sheboppin’ can recall LiveJournals that were like what we know as sex blogs today (and a few even got toys to review as early as 04 or 05).

There were websites for porn and of course Literotica, but the personal “sex blog” as we know them seemed to have been born mostly on blogspot, but some self-hosted too. Tiny Nibbles, Violet Blue’s site, has been around since 2001 but I’m not sure I would truly call it a sex blog….although some would. Erosblog, run by Bacchus, started in 2002, is primarily a mash-up of aggregated sexy photos and commentary on sexuality things of all types1. I believe this is the first thing that can be considered a “sex blog”, and he recalls being the first to use that terminology.  Susannah Breslin with her Reverse Cowgirl site came shortly after Bacchus started.

ETA: I was off by a few months! Reverse Cowgirl came first, but as Bacchus said, we’re not sure Ms Breslin would consider her site a sex blog. Do you?

Susannah wrote a short note here, and then someone else chimed in about a blog going back to ’99!

A lot more personal blogs started around 2004. Famous “sex diary” blogs like Girl With a One Track Mind and Belle Du Jour didn’t seem to start until 2004/2005.  Those of course are some of the more famous ones, as they were made into books and even a tv show for the latter. There were sites about sexuality, but the blogs tended to be more personal. Erotica or sex diaries seemed to be the most popular and the most celebrated thanks to the Holy Grail of Traffic: Fleshbot’s Sex Blog Roundup that was aggregated in the beginning by Violet Blue and Bacchus.  The growing boom seems to have continued through and peaking at maybe 2009.  Early icons included AlwaysArousedGirl  who, by 2008, had the most popular personal blog *I* knew of – if you weren’t on her radar, you were toast.  Sam Sugar, entrepreneurial spirit that he was, started his site in 04 and in 05 the project that birthed many to this day – Sugasm. In the summer of 2008 blogspot/Blogger started cracking down on adult blogs by forcing a warning screen to pop up first. This was annoying at best, and ruined your stats trackers at worst. A number of people made the move to being self-hosted, including me. I was self-hosted probably less than 3 months after I first started.

So many blogs that popped up in 2005-2008 no longer exist. But some of the more popular ones in their day are still around: Sinclair Sexsmith, Viviane’s Sex Carnival site, Alex & Suze who created a number of directories/”top lists” such as AdultBlogHub. Essin’ Em who is now known as Shanna Katz, Sabrina Morgan, and Audacia Ray of Waking Vixen are perfect examples of early bloggers who made a career out of their blogs but are now sought-after speakers, educators, authors and activists.

HNT and Sugasm

Both of these seem to have popped up roundabout the same time period (05/06). I became fed up with the eye-rolling that seemed to just persist towards sex bloggers joining in HNT, so after 2 years of participating in the epic-ness that was HNT I branched off and created something new – Wanton Wednesday in 2010. Wanton Wednesday inspired Sinful Sunday to come up a year later, and then when I decided to hang up WW, a bunch of other weekly memes cropped up. 

The mysterious (to me) Sam Sugar had the idea in 2005 of sharing links between blogs in a new way – not just a sidebar link, but a link to your best post of the week, and everybody who participates shares the list. Originally titled Bloggasm, it quickly grew big enough to be its own thing and he renamed it Sugasm. The format changed as the participants grew, and soon it was the format you’re familiar with now in e[lust].  Sam didn’t seem to last more than a few years after Sugasm got off the ground; he had had bloggers like Sabrina Morgan and Radical Vixen doing the hard work on Sugasm for him.  When Sugasm started to become less reliable and less frequent, due to understandable burn-out and life, Vixen decided to hang it up. I knew how important Sugasm was and so I started my own – e[lust]. I made a bunch of changes, but kept a lot of things the same.  Pleasurists, the first weekly digest for sex toy reviews, came out late 2008.  Since the demise of Pleasurists, we’ve seen various other ways of carrying the torch including other digests and even entire sites (which also sadly died off).

The First Sex Toy Reviews on Blogs

I’ve found evidence of sex toy reviews (as we know them currently) on blogs going back as far as 2005 2. Perhaps, depending on one’s definition of a sex toy review, this post at Erosblog could be considered the first – Bacchus was sent some vibrating products and told his readers how they worked out for him. At the heart of the definition, that could be considered the first. But for years, they were few and far between, of course. Slowly by 2006/2007 they ramped up a bit more. EdenFantasys and Lovehoney had community reviews that happened onsite, but EF also was doing blog reviews as early as 2007, and the blogs were decidedly of the “sexy sex blog” nature – they had the traffic. AAG probably did the very first blogger giveaway in 2006 with a giftcard to a porn site. By the time I started in 2008, it was right on the cusp of explosion. Vibereview.com was the company willing to send me stuff when I was only a month old, and seemed to be the company most often sponsoring reviews that summer in addition to Babeland.  I feel like I did a lot of sex toy reviews for the first 3 years in contrast to my other posts, and there were a number of other bloggers getting in on the reviews but it still was nothing like it is today with many blogs mostly dedicated to sex toys. I think I found the earliest example of a mostly-review blog here, started in 2006. Since the sexy sex blogs ruled supreme, it felt like you were really expected to incorporate the sexiness into your review for the sake of your readers. Reviews written for the consumer, more professional sounding reviews, weren’t popular until 2009 it looks like.

The giveaways were so limited.  SO. LIMITED. And of course unless you were super popular, the giveaways weren’t as popular because Twitter, when it was first available, wasn’t the massive thing it is now.

Bloggers Building Community – Conferences and Parties

2008 seems to be the year that sex bloggers really started meeting in person.  Sex 2.0 was the first sexuality conference (run on a version of the “unconference model”), originally created by Amber L. Rhea, and first happened in April 2008. Sex 2.0 continued in 2009 and 2010, the host city & conference organizer changing with each conference. Fall of 2008 had the NYC Sex Blogger Calendar party, started by Tess Danesi aka Urban Gypsy with her friend Debauched Domestic Diva as a way to do something good in the NYC blogger community (which had recently seen a lot of scandal), with proceeds going to a sex-positive charity. The first Sex Blogger Calendar party was mostly a NYC blogger thing, with a few out-of-towners attending the party that fall. It grew to be more national in 2009 and 2010, with more bloggers coming in for the event.  After attending the panel “Sex in America”, Tess, with the help of Dee under their company Tied Up Events, had the idea to create a conference around the topics discussed in it. MomentumCon happened in 2011 and 2012 in DC. Tess moved on to other projects, like the Woodhull Alliance, after the second MomentumCon, and Dee changed the name to Catalyst, putting it on east and west coast for 2013 and 2014. Not the only conferences on the block, there is also the Playground Conference in Canada, and Woodhull Alliance Sexual Freedom Summit conference in DC. All of these conferences have built a community that transcends the limitations of the web, fostering friendships and bridging the gap that can exist when you only speak via text.

Sex 2.0 really started bringing the community together in the flesh and has indirectly resulted in what we experience today. You can see from looking at the site in the Wayback that the sessions are not much different than what we currently see – we still need and want to talk about many of the same issues from 2008 through 2014.

Share Your Stories

Am I really the best person to be writing this post? No; I only started in 2008. This post would have been much richer in detail had it been written by someone else, but I’m what you get because I’m the only one crazy enough to tackle it3. I did pick the brains though of The Former AAG, Bacchus, Ellie, Shanna, Tess and Amber Rhea – without their help I would be a lot more clueless. I’ve had to gloss over and sometimes leave out entire swaths of history.  This really could be a book, but I’m not a book writer. I’ve left out a lot to focus more on how we got from Violet Blue & Erosblog to sex toy giveaways galore and flying cross country to hang out at conferences. So I remind you again that if you have stories to tell that will help fill in and round out this history, please share with us below. Every bit is fascinating. I can’t tell you how many hours I lost to picking my way through the Internet Archives of old sites long gone or just viewing the old school designs.

ETA:

There’s been great discussion on Twitter, so I’m saving all tweets related to the discussion on Storify:

storify

  1. You really should also check out his 5 yr anniversary and 10 yr anniversary posts
  2. Bacchus wonders if this page on Violet Blue’s site can be considered as such, but it seems to be more of an education piece to me
  3. I think I’m starting to get a reputation for that “Oh that Lilly….she tackles the craziest shit. And man, she’s wordy”
  • http://ThreeDesignThree.com/ Three

    It was fun to reminisce with you! My goodness how things have changed! :)

    Thanks also for the kind words!

    _Laura33_ (formerly aagblog)

  • http://www.dangerouslilly.com/ Dangerous Lilly

    They certainly have. I miss the old gang, but I don’t miss other things about my first years!

  • http://urban-gypsy.com/ Tess Danesi

    Memories…some sweet, some bitter, overall it’s been a great and thrilling ride.

  • cammies on the floor

    It’s awesome to see the roundabout way things have gone, I had no idea.

  • http://HeyEpiphora.com Epiphora

    Oh my god, that Orgasm Army site. Haha. Oh, Wayback Machine, how fun you are.

  • sheboppin

    Thanks Lilly, now I’m going to be in an internet rabbit hole of old sex blogs tonight, being nostalgic ‘n stuff.

    That Violet Blue archive is golden.

  • http://www.dangerouslilly.com/ Dangerous Lilly

    yes, I spent hoursssss.

    Also: I feel slightly better about my first year. Even Violet was a bit dorky at first! And oh that retro design, lulz

  • http://www.dangerouslilly.com/ Dangerous Lilly

    I’m not sure what is more fascinating – the horrors available on the sex toy market, or the site designs.

  • http://hopefiending.wordpress.com/ Britni

    Oh my goodness! I was involved at the height of HNT and when reviewing was just taking off, for quite a few years. I had a fairly large readership for several years. It’s nice to see the community that exists now, through conferences and Twitter, that was just starting to take shape when I bowed out in 2011.

    Britni (formerly britisshameless of Oh My God, That Britni’s Shameless)

  • http://www.dangerouslilly.com/ Dangerous Lilly

    Oh my yes you had QUITE the following and fans especially from HNT. I remember your blog quite well. It feels like SO long ago! Your blog also had a kickass name.

  • http://www.redheadbedhead.com/ The Redhead Bedhead

    This is fascinating and reminds me how new I really am! I remember going to start my site and thinking “I wonder if there are other people who just talk about sex on the internet…” God, I was an adorable little idiot. It’s so cool to see all of this!

    Also, your site looks lovely!

  • http://www.dangerouslilly.com/ Dangerous Lilly

    aw thank you!!
    Yes recently talk to some of the newer peeps reminded me how they’ve got no clue about our history. It’s time to share it!

  • http://noveltiestoymeetsgirl.com/ dizzygirl

    My little blog turned one year old a couple of days ago so, I’m really new to the scene. This was very interesting to read. I’m glad there are folks like you out there that will put the research into posts like this. It’s pretty amazing what it’s all grown into. I really liked the use of the tool tips in this post too. Thanks for writing it.

  • http://ofsexandlove.com/ Adriana

    I totally had signed up for Orgasm Army, man!

  • Rupert

    That was a fun read. Thanks for the trip back down memory lane! Good old HNT…never participated, but always a highlight of the week. Thanks for posting this!

  • Bacchus

    A really nice job! When you started asking questions, it was amazing to me just how much I had forgotten from twelve years ago. Fortunately there’s saved emails and Internet Archive.

  • http://urban-gypsy.com/ Tess Danesi

    OMG Julie, I remember when you got that half body thing and I had nightmares about it. LOL. I do miss you and it’s s much fun to relive (some of) the memories. Still love you, woman.

  • http://www.dangerouslilly.com/ Dangerous Lilly

    OHHH the “half a man”???? *shudders* these “body parts” masturbators/whatever creep me out.

  • Pingback: A History Of Sex Blogs – ErosBlog: The Sex Blog()

  • http://arollinthehay.com/ arollinthehay

    As a relative newbie (2 years in August, started reviewing for *cough* that site a year before that), I didn’t see a lot of these. What I did see was there was a sudden, huge influx of sex bloggers when EF started to go downhill. However, maybe it’s not worth adding since many of the blogs that came out of it died away in 6 months or so.

  • http://www.dildology.org/ Crista Anne Orenda

    I’m trying to think of everyone who was doing sex blogging on LJ back in the day. I created mine in ’01 and it was a lot of sex related posting, but years ago I made all my old posts private as I wasn’t great about getting consent from my partners. I also posted endless dildo peddler stories. There were a lot of really great sex/sexuality LJs back in the day. It’s how I got to know Metis actually.

    The incredible ways that sexuality blogs have changed is astounding. Going back even further, there were great BBS, usernets and IRCs devoted to kink, bdsm, poly/swinging in the late 80’s and early 90’s.

    Suddenly, I’m feeling very old. *laugh*

  • sexandweed.org

    This was fascinating. I’m a very new blogger (as in, a matter of months) and I’m still finding my voice. This piece really helped provide me with background and history, and I plan to continue to research the subject. Thanks!

  • Metis Black

    So I first started doing sex ed research online in 1997 getting ready for Tantus. Nerve was the closest thing to a sex blog- although it was set up to be a new type of magazine at the time. It’s gone through becoming more and more like that, but back in 1997 and 1998 Susie Brights column was more like a modern blog post than anything I now see in online magazines.

    I believe Violet Blue was writing descriptions for GV catalogs at the time. I don’t remember hearing of her until later.

    Vixen,Blowfish, Stockroom, GV and Babeland all had websites. I any of them had blogs being written on them yet. Blowfish had Greta Christina working for them who did a lot of sex writing but I can’t remember where.

    I was aware of Well and Tribe. I didn’t live in the Bay Area and Well was a local network. Tribe I never really was a part of, but I did have a profile which was virtually not used.

    I was an early adaptor- writing way too much about my personal life with toys and those toys were not all Tantus. I was on Live Journal from 2002 and wrote a lot in communities on Pegging, BDSM, and sex toys.

    I was on Orkut, by invitation only, in the first month (computer geeks loved inviting sex geeks), I met Sydney Rome, an Italian/Australian DJ who moderated fetish spaces in online networks. On Orkut it was Fetish Follies.

    Orkut was unique in that it was all about a community- something Facebook is horrible at. I ended up in a community called The Great G-Spot

    Expedition where I became the lone female voice with a very savvy satirical group of guys. One of the guys set up for my a private group (you could read it just not participate unless you were approved- very voyeuristic). Unfortunately he didn’t give me the keys and then his harddrive crashed- LOL. I have emails from a guy who was in Edinburgh and an exceptional erotic writer to date this all- he woed me in order to get in. Eventually the real moderator returned and let me have control of the community. We were really tight- some of these people from 2004 are still my favorites online. Some are professors, a lot are programmers or work in IT, engineers, writers, etc… and we’ve all grown older together.

    Sydney herded me about a lot to help him moderate. When something would start up we’d sign up. I have no idea how many profiles I made back in the day- but I was somewhere around member 5800 on MySpace helping him moderate Fetish Lounge which was one of the most successful Myspace Sex Communities. I created a second profile on MySpace for Tantus. When MySpace peaked and I wrote a Tantus blog I would get 12000 views (they reported those per week, though they weren’t all uniques) I wrote blogs there about plagiarism in toys that the whole industry read. Sex toy materials. “Novelties”, etc. Xbiz and Free Speech Coalition both asked me to write for them based on my MySpace blogs.

    We were very involved in Multiply.com as well which became our preferred blog space- though they deleted my account in recent years for sexual content.

    In 2005 Michael and I had just started living together and I had been being trolled on LiveJournal so that I didn’t let anyone see my writing except the 12 people I knew in real life. I’d said way too much about real life and it came back to bite me with people who knew him. He made me my own site though about that time.

    Anyway- that’s my recollection.

  • http://www.dangerouslilly.com/ Dangerous Lilly

    My “early internet” consisted of laughable AOL chatrooms and ISCABBS. I didn’t have the freedom to explore much bc I didn’t have my own computer. I couldn’t very well explore sex things at the home computer. I think in college, 95/96, I tried to look up something sex-related online. It led me to erotica that was about the Sesame Street characters. I was horrified. Pre-95 we didn’t have a computer or internet at my house. Post 97, I’ve lost 3-5 years from my memory banks due to the death of my dad fucking up my head. All I remember is still being on ISCABBS. Livejournal confused me. Someone I knew in 2005ish still had a livejournal, before him I’d never heard of it.

  • sheboppin

    yes! I remember I read a blog post Violet Blue wrote about getting consent from partners before writing about your experiences. I realized I hadn’t been doing that at all. And livejournal seemed so private that I didn’t really think others were either. I thought we were anonymous, so it was fine…but that’s not really the case.

  • http://www.cristaanne.com Crista Anne Orenda

    Well brilliant person that I am, I’ve always used my “real” name online so nothing I’ve really ever done was anon. A partner got upset with me posting something about one of our trysts and a lightbulb went off that maybe what I was doing wasn’t so awesome.

    Oh, and I’m only a little bit old enough to have experienced IRC stuff. Stumbled onto my Dad’s collection of erotica from IRC around like..92? Maybe 93. I’m terrible at remember what year it was when various things happened.

  • zak jane keir

    A couple of my favourites were the (now defunct) BItchy Jones Diary and also Barbed Wire Boudoir.

  • http://www.dangerouslilly.com/ Dangerous Lilly

    Yeah I remember Luka of Barbed Wire Boudoir. Funny gal, but intimidating!

  • http://barbedwireboudoir.blogspot.co.uk/ lukabazooka

    I may use that for my Twitter bio from now on!

  • http://www.dangerouslilly.com/ Dangerous Lilly

    You fucking terrified me for awhile LOL
    I felt certain I did everything you hated bloggers doing ;)

  • http://barbedwireboudoir.blogspot.co.uk/ lukabazooka

    I have a suspicion that I am probably the fluffiest bunny of all the sex bloggers, at heart. I never hated anything as such, I enjoyed everyone’s postings immensely, they gave me much inspiration. After all, despite my harsh criticisms, I could be found participating in HNT and taking part in other random awards/memes/self-promotions. I want admiration for my arse and Really Real Sexy Sex Stories as much as anyone :)

  • gardenlobster

    I read this and I wonder if it’s worth jumping into at this point? I almost did, until the blogger/wordpress thing last year scared me out of it. I’d rather do it for fun (i.e. free) than dump money into it with little to no return. And for various reasons, affiliate programs wouldn’t apply to me in some cases, so that would limit the ROI. And frankly, I know very little about actually running a website and the metrics involved to be relevant. Still, the content is so enjoyable by the better writers. I just tend to drink these in for hours on my “Internet forever!” insomnia nights.

  • http://lettersfromdan.com/ danrmorris

    I had no idea these event existed. Very exciting. I’ll have to look into these conferences. I will say that “sex bloggers” are welcome at any of our Blogging Concentrated events. We serve bloggers who serve their audiences well.

  • Bacchus

    For sheer anatomical horror, has anybody ever topped the pussy foot?

  • http://www.dangerouslilly.com/ Dangerous Lilly

    I know I mentioned this briefly on your blog, but I just found the comment hanging out in spam and published it. I do want to address it publicly on my own blog.
    There is no list! My early 2000’s mentions were based on recommendations from others since I wasn’t around then. I had to rely on who I did know, and using the archives look back machine to poke around links from links. Was I thorough and accurate? No, but I knew I couldn’t be, and said as much. The few others I did list were specifically mentioned as being the bigger bloggers that *I* knew of when I first started, who were around when it seemed that blogging was really taking off.

    The entire reason why I asked for comments was so that 1. my post wouldn’t be 5000 words long, and 2. because my scope was limited to a certain point and timeline and what I could find.

  • http://kinkandpoly.com/ Jade

    Fantastic post, Lilly. It’s great to get such a broad overview of sex blogging…I really
    enjoyed reading it, and it puts my own experience in blogging in perspective. I started my first blog on LiveJournal “way back when” as an actual journal, without knowing there was a whole “community” of sex bloggers (I didn’t even use that description of what I did til I moved over to WordPress.) I still blog mostly for myself and my partner, and use it as a personal history & journal in a way, but have definitely stepped into the “world” of sex blogging (at least on the peripheries) and feel like I have found my own little community within the larger community.

    Your blog, BTW, was one of the first I read when I did discover there were a whole slew of other folks out here writing about sex.

  • http://curvaceousdee.com/ Curvaceous Dee

    I decided to go back and see who I first put on my blogroll when I started my blog (January 2006). It’s quite a fascinating wee list of those who’d inspired me and intrigued me. It’s also, for the most part, a list of those no longer blogging:
    AAG; Chelsea Girl; Chilli Talk; Cunting Linguist; Delta of Venus; Easily Aroused; Fatty D; Girl with a One-Track Mind; Jake Bullet; Juno Henry; Lumpesse; Madeline in the Mirror; Mistress Matisse; My Not-So-Secret Self; Pussy Talk; Rentboy Diaries; Sexty9ways; Slow Learner; The S Spot; The Secret Brain; Twisted Monk; Urban Gypsy.

    Oh, the days of Blogrolling, blogger (for me – this was a few years before I got my own domain), and the growing of a community through commenting and perusing other peoples blogrolls – who’s that? They look interesting! Let’s have a read, then :)

    xx Dee

  • http://www.sex-kitten.net/blog/ Gracie Passette

    Hello again Lilly,

    I wrote a piece about Adult Backwash and its role in sex blogging history ~ I linked to this piece to continue the conversation ;)

  • http://www.dangerouslilly.com/ Dangerous Lilly

    Great information there!

  • http://www.sex-kitten.net/blog/ Gracie Passette

    Thanks :) I don’t see the pinkback, so I am leaving the link here now. If anyone remembers BW, we’d love to hear from you! http://dark.wry-toast.com/2014/04/adult-backwashs-place-in-sex-blogging-history/

  • Darla Darling

    I was writing on Adult BackWash in 2002. The site is gone now, still on the Wayback Machine if you dig around though. My very first column on the site is republished via Gracie on Dark Wry Toast. Before that I had been writing erotica and posting it to the newsgroups (now Google Groups). My stories are still part of a collection based on the ASSTR (hope I remembered that right) group. Even before then, I got to know a few online groups into BDSM or just playing slutty games on IRC back in 1996 when that was still a lot of fun.

    This comment system almost never works when I try it. I will be amazed if this posts.

  • Darla Darling

    I remember a site called Erotic Vox. I think that was the name. It may be the first sex blog I can remember. It disappeared suddenly. Stayed online a short time without updates and then was gone. I posted erotic fiction on her site, two or three times while it was up.

    Gloria Brame (I know I have that spelled wrong) had a blog and still does as far as I know. There was a guy who called himself Mule, but his blog was mainly his own fiction. My favourite to read on the newsgroup was Amity and she had a site up with updates too. There were sex blogs before they were called blogs. It depends on what you see as a blog versus a website.

    Nice to read your post. There are others floating around in my head but it has been so long. I can’t pin down names to be sure enough to type them in. There was a giant BDSM site which posted stories, non-fiction, how-to and we had a community in IRC channels. People met every night and we organized special events and topical discussions too. Maybe it was cuffs.com but that doesn’t seem right either. I lost track of all of those people. I think about them sometimes, especially when I’m on social media. Of course, they would all be my age now too. Who knows if any of them are still online.

  • http://www.dangerouslilly.com/ Dangerous Lilly

    I would say that to me, a “blog” is really more of a personal site/space, as opposed to something where lots of people can contribute writings to post. I guess just look at my blogroll in the sidebar for the examples of what I consider to be a blog. A larger “site” with ads and weekly columns, and contributors, and sections and…..well when it just gets bigger like that it’s no longer just a personal blog.

  • Darla Darling

    You could also look at it as a blog using software from BackWash or whatever site versus one using Blogger or WordPress or MovableType. I preferred to think of myself as a columnist when I wrote for the site. But, I had always wanted to be a weekly newspaper columnist. So it was my way of having my wish. I still was the only one writing it and running newsletters, finding and maintaining links and all the rest of it.