Sophie Saint Thomas writes daily for an array of online and print publications. Below are some of her favorite works, but for a more detailed update on her writing, follow her on Twitter @TheBowieCat. Below are snippets from select articles with links to the original.
“A Very Sexy Beginner’s Guide to BDSM Words” originally published in GQ of February 2020.
Image courtesy of GQ/Cécile Dormeau
The world of BDSM contains not only its own sex acts (Is smelling a foot sex? Sure, if it gets you off!), but its own highly-robust vocabulary, too. Since all that terminology can be intimidating for newcomers, let’s start with the basics: “BDSM” stands for bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism—the core pillars of kinky fun. Beyond that, there’s a whole language to describe the consensual power exchange practices that take place under the BDSM umbrella. Whatever you’re into, just make sure to snuggle and practice lots of aftercare when it’s all said and done, especially if anyone involved is a painslut and needs ice after some impact play.
At press time, “kink” is not a language you can learn on Duolingo, so here’s a handy glossary of some of the most common BDSM terms, from A to Z. Click here to learn!
Hayley Kiyoko on Transformation: “We Put So Much Pressure on Ourselves to be Something” originally published in Allure of January 2020
Image courtesy of WireImages
“I’ve definitely struggled with defining beauty and what that means on the scale of femininity and masculinity,” Hayley Kiyoko tells Allure when asked about the pressure placed on LGBTQIA+ people to appear a certain way. Of course, there is no right way to look queer. If you’re queer, then whatever makes you feel most confident is right.. But that doesn’t stop society from laying on the pressure. “It’s OK to want to dress feminine one day and masculine another day,” she says over the phone. “Beauty is within. Beauty is about confidence and embracing who you are. That’s something that took me a long time growing up to realize, ‘Oh, it’s about how I feel, and being comfortable in my own skin.’
Stoned Sex: Are Hands-Free High Orgasms Real? originally published in Merry Jane in November 2019
Image courtesy of Merry Jane/Heather Benjamin
I came my face off in a tent at a music festival. I had to zip myself inside because I was so high after eating a weed brownie (that I purchased from a hippie couple) that I began having spontaneous orgasms and did not want to be in public. What happened to me?
In retrospect, I now know that was my Eve moment: I ate the forbidden fruit and was rewarded with unknown and unexpected sexual pleasures. But surely that was a one-time thing, right?
“The Most Risqué Things To Do In New York” originally published in Forbes of October 2019.
Image courtesy of Company XIV/Mark Shelby Perry
If you’re going to stay up in the city that never sleeps, have an experience worthy of your memoirs. If you need a break from Broadway, if you’re bored at your local bar, perhaps it’s time to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. From sex and cannabis clubs tucked away in Soho, to the most memorable rendition of the Nutcracker that you’ll ever see, to séances and goth parties, the city is crawling with secret escapes from the mundane world. Lucky for you, the organizers behind such risqué events agreed to talk about where and when you can attend. Bring your date, your family (but only the open-minded) or fly solo and milk this town for all that it’s worth.
“Healing Our Heroes: Sexual trauma is epidemic in the military, and survivors are demanding cannabis to help them heal” originally published in High Times in October 2019
Image courtesy of Courtesy of Lauren Hough
A plate dropped at the restaurant where Kristina, a combat vet of 14 years, worked. She dove under a table. “It was around the 4th of July—that’s when the fireworks happen, which is a very stressful time for me,” she says. The national holiday is difficult for many vets, as fireworks can sound like a war zone. A younger male coworker wasn’t doing his job and ignored Kristina’s requests to pick up the slack. “I asked him repeatedly to do it, and then I lost it and almost went for the kid’s neck,” she recalls. Thankfully, a friend was present to bring her out of the flashback and into the present. “She nudged me with her elbow, and I was like, ‘Whoa, what just happened?’ I went to the VA the next day, and I haven’t been back to work since.”
While Kristina (whose last name is being withheld for legal protection) has been out of the military since 2008, it was only six months ago when she realized she was suffering from severe post-traumatic stress disorder. “PTSD is a huge problem regardless of the source, and we’re only starting to grapple with the implications as a society. Nowhere is going to be as difficult as the military,” says Harvard-trained holistic care and cannabis-therapeutics specialist Dr. Jordan Tishler.
Kristina is also a military sexual-trauma survivor. When asked if she was assaulted while in the service, she responds: “Yes, ma’am. Numerous times in numerous ways in numerous countries by numerous people.” According to a report released by the Pentagon, sexual assaults across the US military increased by nearly 38 percent in 2018. The Pentagon also estimated that 20,500 service members across the military branches, about 13,000 women and 7,500 men, were assaulted in 2018, according to an anonymous survey. A quick internet search provides an array of articles and research on combat violence, PTSD and cannabis, but the same is not true for sexual violence within the military. Despite the lack of acknowledgment, vets who survived both combat trauma and military sexual trauma (MST) may have particularly intense PTSD. “There is a greater persistence of the PTSD symptoms when both have been experienced,” says clinical psychologist and sexologist Dr. Denise Renye.
“The Truth About Looking in the Mirror on Psychedelics” originally published in VICE in September 2019.
Image courtesy of VICE/Getty
“The dangers of looking in the mirror while on psychedelics is the stuff of urban legends. Art warns against it. Online message boards debate the potential terrors. Psychedelic users create videos to recreate the experience. But is it all superstition or can staring into your own eyeballs on hallucinogens really lead to doom?”
“Dig Ganja and Reggae? Here’s How to Support Jamaican Cannabis” originally published in High Times in July of 2019.
Image courtesy of High Times/Shutterstock
“The colors red, gold, and green cover the white stoner’s clothes and decorate the dispensaries he frequents. Folks familiar with reggae or Caribbean culture may have heard the three colors also referred to as “Ites, Green, and Gold” as Jamaican artist Johnny Clarke sang. While these colors are commonly mistaken for the Jamaican flag, they are actually the flag of Ethiopia, claimed by Rastafari for its connection to Haile Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia between 1930 and 1974, whom Rastafarians revere as a prophet and incarnation of Jah, or god, on Earth. Even if the name Selassie is foreign to you, you likely already know a speech he gave, as sung by Bob Marley in the 1976 song “War.” The American and Canadian cannabis industries are soaked in Jamaican ganja culture, but so far, we have yet to pay them for it.”
“Here’s Why Doctors Don’t Usually Test for Herpes” originally published in Self in May of 2019.
Image courtesy of Tim Pannell/Fuse/Getty Images
“When you go in for routine STI testing, you might realize that your doctor doesn’t test you for herpes. What’s that about? As it turns out, testing for herpes isn’t as straightforward as testing for something like chlamydia or gonorrhea. Here, doctors explain why herpes isn’t usually included on STI panels.”
“Ketamine IV Infusions Made Me Myself Again. Here’s Everything You Need To Know” originally published in High Times Magazine in March of 2019.
Image courtesy of Pitchaya Pingpithayakul/Shutterstock via High Times
“I don’t want to die, but I can’t shake these suicidal thoughts and imagery,” I told Dr. Glen Brooks, Chief Medical Director of NY Ketamine Infusions. Through my own research and my psychiatrist’s help, when traditional SSRI antidepressants weren’t putting a dent into my depression, I was ready for something new.
Science shows that ketamine infusions help treatment-resistant depression—and quickly. While medications such as SSRIs take up to six weeks to work (I was already on them; they weren’t doing much), ketamine infusions begin providing relief hours after the treatment.
“The real work that ketamine does doesn’t even begin until 10 hours after you leave here, and then quite quietly in the middle of the night, you’ll be unaware of it. Ketamine is all about is restoring structure and anatomy,” Dr. Brooks told me during my intake session, which he let me record.
“9 Things to Know Before You Try Strap-On Sex” originally published in Self Magazine in March of 2019.
Image courtesy of Self Magazine
In my opinion, strap-on dildos are one of the most revolutionary inventions. I don’t mean just in terms of sex toys, but in the world. Strap-ons give queer folks with vulvas who enjoy penetrative sex, like me, an excellent way to engage in the act with other people who have vulvas. It’s yet another reason to laugh in the face of Freud’s theory on penis envy. I do have a penis. Actually, I have many.
Of course, people of all sexes and genders can use strap-ons. It’s impossible to speak of these toys without mentioning the practice commonly referred to as pegging, or when a person with a vulva uses a strap-on to penetrate a person with a penis. People with penises can also wear strap-ons to engage in double penetration. But I can’t pretend I don’t particularly love strap-ons for how they can enhance sex between two people with vulvas.
“Spending ‘Danksgiving’ at a Sex Club” originally published in Playboy in November of 2018
Photograph courtesy of NSFW/Rodrigo Lizarraga
With the passage of FOSTA-SESTA—vague legislation disguised as an anti-sex-trafficking bill that in reality further criminalizes fringe sexualities and sex workers—coupled with the encouraging yet still fragile spread in cannabis legalization laws, it’s a bold time to run a sex and cannabis society. Yet under the Trump administration, times so dark we may not realize the shadow we’re living under until it’s (hopefully) passed, communities for the queer, the stoned artist, the kinky, the pro-dommes, are more needed than ever. From Studio 54 to the punks of St. Marks Street, rebellion runs through the veins of New York City, and what keeps many of us here despite the failing MTA and impossible rent. Only havens of proud hedonists and those strong enough to form their own families could come together to create an event such as Danksgiving.
“Cocktails to Mocktails: How Cannabis Beverages Changed My Relationship with Alcohol” originally published in Merry Jane in October of 2018
Image courtesy of Papa & Barkley/Sunrise Mountain Farms
When I stopped consuming alcohol, I noticed that my overall quality of life improved greatly, so I stuck with it. In addition to treating my PTSD, I found that using cannabis in social situations made it much easier not to drink. It’s now been over five years since I’ve quit drinking. For the first two years or so, before my introduction to cannabis, I was sober by 12-Step standards, meaning the only substances I took were prescribed by a doctor, so cannabis was off limits. To be honest with you, I loathed AA. I do not enjoy group settings. I have never wanted to be part of a team. I do not want to use a book rooted in Christianity written by a man in 1939 as my roadmap to recovery. I do not want to check in with a sponsor before I go to a friend’s house where wine will be present. I do not want to raise my hand and introduce myself as an alcoholic every week in a church basement. I want to talk about my history of problematic drinking with a therapist within the privacy of her office. I want to read recovery memoirs written by women. I want to call myself a witch and practice self-care through ritual. I want to get stoned before public speaking events to ease my social anxiety and not get dragged for it. I want to sit on pillows on the floor of a beautiful room in a Buddhist recovery support group. When I was in AA, I just wanted to rebel and drink again. When I found my own path, I just wanted to keep on going and get healthier and healthier.
“Take A Peek Inside This Elite Members-Only New York City Sex Club” originally published in Forbes in August of 2018
Photograph courtesy of Rodrigo Lizarrago for NSFW.
On a recent Friday in New York City, curious couples and desirable singles gathered in a downtown club, but not for your average night out. They were there for an event hosted by the private sex club, NSFW, or the New Society for Wellness, which is known for its private play (read: sex) parties. Sex clubs such as NSFW are typically members’ only societies that throw private events, including sex parties, where members mingle and more in a private residence. The space is usually a high-end clubhouse or penthouse, with many bedrooms, condoms and lubes present, and perhaps even a kink dungeon. There is usually a bar, perhaps a cannabis sponsor, and sexy icebreaker games to get the night going. No photography is allowed and members’ privacy is of the utmost importance.
“An Ode to Our Brazilian Sea Captain” originally published in Off Assignment in July of 2018
Photo by Sophie Saint Thomas
You shattered my heart, and I found myself spinning, wondering if the magic and the love was just a dream, an illusion, and escape from reality. I hated you. I hated the day with the boat captain and the rock still standing with our names on it because I couldn’t have it again. I wish I could twirl my fingers and fix the world like I seemingly fixed the credit card machine. I can’t, but I can choose to continue to love you, even when I have no idea where you are, and think fondly of the cock-blocking sea captain, and imagine what all those snakes are up to on their own private island. All the reasons you gave me are sensible ones. But I keep thinking of those rebellious snakes, who in a world in which humans rule everything, managed to take over their own untouchable island, and I wonder why couldn’t we.
“People Love Sex During Hurricanes, And It’s Creating a Public Health Crisis” originally published in Playboy in July 2018
Photograph of a home in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, taken by Sophie Saint Thomas in November of 2017, two months after the storms hit.
It’s local knowledge that many of the “hurricane babies” conceived in the weeks and months following the storm are fathered by linemen (people there to fix the electrical lines), National Guard members, and insurance adjusters who stay on the island temporarily for work—and perhaps to have some fun while they’re there. “Things are so transient. Imagine how many babies are left here. There are predators that do that. That deliberately say, ‘Well, hey, I’m on vacation,’” Araujo says. “We gave the linemen condoms, all the FEMA workers, anybody who looked frisky. They left a lot of babies.” He elaborates on offering condoms to an insurance adjuster from England, who is married, with a two-year-old and a wife back home. “He is having the time of his life. He’s making money. He’s out drinking at the bars at night. He’s meeting ‘crazy women’ by his terminology. And he’s having unprotected sex with these women, plural. I’m like, ‘Dude, I’m not going to judge you on your activity as far as what that has to do with your marriage, but at the very least, you could give them the respect of putting a condom on?’”
“How The Satisfyer Pro 2 Vibrator Made Me Realize I’m Actually a Squirter” originally published in Allure in June of 2018
Art courtesy of Satisfyer and Allure
While the fluid released during squirting is believed to come from the Skene’s glands, located on the anterior wall of the vagina, unfortunately, like most things related to female sexuality, there’s just not enough scientific research on the topic. Ever since that night in the bathtub, intense clitoral stimulation, either with a Satisfyer, or a Hitachi Magic Wand, or really good oral sex, makes me squirt. But some of my girlfriends squirt from deep G-spot stimulation. Research now shows that the clitoris extends inside the body, with wings up and around the labia, suggesting that all orgasms, even internal ones, are clitoral orgasms. So I can’t promise that if you have a clitoris, the Satisfyer will make you squirt, but I can tell you that the pressure waves provide orgasms truly incomparable to traditional vibrators or even really good head. The Satisfyer 2 costs $50 and has spawned a whole set of other delightful toys that push sex tech (and orgasms) forward.
“Are You Radical Enough to Be a Relationship Anarchist?” originally published in GQ in May of 2018
Illustration courtesy of GQ/Alicia Tatone
The term “relationship anarchy” was probably coined by Andie Nordgren, a Swedish activist who wrote the relationship anarchy manifesto in 2012. Nordgren explains that “love is abundant, and every relationship is unique.” Nordgren suggests that love is not a finite resource and asks you to “customize your commitments” and design your own relationship responsibilities based on desire rather than societal pressure. It sounds like it takes incredible trust, maturity, and a ton of work. But, then again, so do all successful relationships. I’m in a monogamous relationship, but I believe that we all have a lot to learn from the tenets of polyamory, from how polyamorists navigate jealousy to how they examine what binds you and your primary partner together beyond than sexual exclusivity (i.e. true love). And even if the name “relationship anarchist” makes your eyes to roll back into their sockets when you come across one on Tinder, you might be more of relationship anarchist than you think.
“The Ultimate Guide to Weed, According to Your Zodiac Sign” originally published in Broadly in April of 2018
Illustration courtesy of Broadly/Lili Emtiaz
All zodiac signs love getting stoned, but how should you blaze depending on yours? Click the link above to find out!
“PrEP Isn’t Just for Men Who Have Sex With Men—Should You Be on It?” originally published in Self in January of 2018
Image courtesy of Self/The Noun Project
And while the risk of HIV is highest among men who have sex with men, that doesn’t mean that other individuals (particularly those with other risk factors) can’t benefit from PrEP. That’s why Dr. Lake wishes more sex workers, intravenous drug users, and sexually active trans women knew about and had better access to PrEP, since their lifestyles put them at higher than average risk. So does being a cisgender woman or gender nonconforming person who’s had unprotected vaginal or anal sex with two or more partners in the last year, or who has a partner who has HIV or HIV risk factors.
“Can Stoned People Consent to Sex?” originally published in VICE in July of 2017
Some officials think imbibing any amount of mind-altering substance takes away your ability to consent. However, legal precedent and modern dating culture suggest that you can consent to sex, at least in some cases, after consuming drugs or alcohol. For example, many couples enjoy wine or cannabis together without the night disintegrating into sexual assault. According to Carrie Goldberg, Esq, founder of C.A. Goldberg, a New York City–based law firm that fights for survivors of sexual harassment and assault, “The issue is not so much what the substance is, but whether the quantity or impact is such that it can make a person mentally incapacitated or physically helpless.”
“Angel Olsen On Being Her Own ‘Woman’ On Her New Album” originally published in the September 2016 issue of Nylon
Photo courtesy of Nylon/Michael Beckert
Angel Olsen has the power. Of course, she’s always had it, but with the release of My Woman, she doesn’t really care about how you perceive that power. “People think they know you entirely based on the work that you project, famous or not famous,” says Olsen over lemonades in a Brooklyn tea shop. “But you still have to be a person, and wake up and go through human struggles while everybody is thinking of you as not a human who goes through those things. You’re living the life of the self that you project, in the life of your actual self.”