Art, desire, and the pursuit of pleasure. Join us as we delve into the captivating intersection of craftwork and sexuality, exploring boundaries and igniting sultry conversation starters that stir the senses and spark intriguing discussions.
Intimately connect with Nicole Ortiz, the enchanting artist and visionary behind GrlPwrArt, your ultimate online destination for mini Magic Wand earrings and cute kewpie accessories. In this captivating conversation, we go deep into Nicole’s firsthand experiences working at the Museum of Sex, where her passionate support for the sexually curious guides visitors to embrace their deepest desires. Plus, we explore the blossoming sensations that awaken within visitors as they enter the immersive realm of the museum!
Mothers and Daughters in the Museum of Sex
Lorrae: So you had been working at the Museum of Sex, helping folks be more comfortable about their sexuality, which is just so important. There’s such a need for it. I’m sure that folks come into the museum with all different experience levels, comfort levels. What was your experience like working at the museum and as supporting folks that might be coming in with all different views on sexuality?
Nicole: I was mainly working in the shop. There were a lot of mixed reactions working at the museum because some people were coming specifically for the museum, and some people were coming for the shop and didn’t even know the museum existed.
Often people would come in and be shocked at the array of products we had. Some people had never heard of half of the stuff we carried. I always really liked talking to people about the products and then being like “by the way, we have this museum.” My personal favorite part of the museum is the first floor, which is the sexual history exhibit. So we have a lot of artifacts from different parts of sexual history, including the first vibrator.
I’m excited to be able to help people hands on and make people more comfortable. I feel like that matters the most to me.
Lorrae: For anyone who hasn’t been to the Museum of Sex, you have to go. There are so many exhibits. They added this whole funplex with carnival games that are erotically infused, and it was just so much fun. There’s a bar that you can go to by itself with sexy-themed drinks.
I really loved their latest exhibit about carnivals and the like, underworld of burlesque and how carnival culture was historically really inclusive of LGBTQ+ and trans people and folks that felt like they weren’t really accepted in mainstream society and then were able to find community and family there. It is so cool. And the intersection of art and sexuality, both in your work and at the Museum of Sex, is so powerful.
While you were working there, did you find that people were wanting or needing help with certain things, or maybe they were feeling a little nervous and uncomfortable and you could support them through that journey?
Nicole: Everybody who goes into the museum has a different comfort level, but I definitely found that even the most comfortable people weren’t always comfortable talking to a stranger about it, which is completely understandable.
The customers that stood out to me a lot were mothers and daughters that were coming in. So, we had a lot of mothers coming in to support their daughters over 18, coming in and helping their daughter buy their first toy. And I loved that. Those were my absolute favorite customers to help.
I didn’t really grow up in the most sex-positive household. I personally wouldn’t feel very comfortable talking to my own mom about that. But it’s amazing, especially with younger generation parents, being able to foster that space of comfortability with their own children. I absolutely love it.
Lorrae: That’s so cool. Our sex education in the United States is just so poor. Even in places that have quote unquote, “good sex education,” they’re not really covering things like pleasure and consent and desire. It’s really like STIs, birth control, and fear tactics. And it’s really up to the families at home or culture and media to be doing that educational work. And we can only hope that people are consuming sex-positive media and not just what they see in porn or what they see on TV.
And then I also grew up Catholic. So there was a lot of shame and stigma around sexuality and if you’re not getting that at home, then porn is on the other end of the spectrum. It’s like finding that middle ground of, “where are we even getting good information”?
Inspiration for Sex-Positive Art and Sperm Earrings
Lorrae: The work that you’re doing and bringing sexuality forward through art is really cool, because you’re able to reach new people — and maybe they come for the art and then they’re like, “oh, whoa there’s Magic Wands and ball gags and vulvas,” and then you get to help and inspire people through that art. I love the ball gags, the strap-ons, the clits, the little sperm earrings, I love it so much. What inspired you to start incorporating sex-positive imagery into your art?
Nicole: I was a student at Parsons School of Design from 2018, 2022 – peak pandemic. And our thesis year, our teachers set us up with projects to do for different companies, and I was paired up with House of Yes (a sex-positive event space that emphasizes consent). So I created a line about the importance of consent in sexuality. I was already making earrings and my idea was, “what’s a better way to signal consent than by literally wearing it on your body?” So I created a line. Some were toys, and I had hearts that said “no means no”
Lorrae: I’m so excited to hear that consent was emphasized in that messaging because it’s so powerful. And oftentimes, we think of consent as this scary conversation or something that’s going to ruin the mood, but it can actually be really sexy and hot to be like, “oh, I wanna do this, do you wanna do this too?” There’re ways to have these conversations and ensure that everyone’s feeling great and enthusiastic about sexuality and sexual experiences.
Magic Wand Vibrator Earrings
Lorrae: The Magic Wand earrings I saw at the Museum of Sex were just an instant favorite for me. What inspired you to feature the Magic Wand specifically in your collection?
Nicole: The Magic Wand is a favorite for a reason. People really gravitate towards it. The imagery of it is very captivating and, right off the bat, people know what it is and what brand it is.
It’s also my favorite toy, so I’m gonna put it in because I know it, I love it, and I have friends and customers who walk in and they’re like, “everybody needs this. This is like the best toy ever.”
Lorrae: Yeah, the Magic Wand really has become this icon. It was one of the first vibrators ever on the market and brought to the mainstream through workshops and our understanding of sexual health. And now, you see so much cool imagery of people making Magic Wand cookies and art and earrings. It’s just so fun.
Have you found that having Magic Wand or other kinds of sexual imagery in your art when you’re wearing it out, that it sparks conversation or even comments on it, or about sexuality or curiosities?
Nicole: I’ve definitely gotten a few compliments. I wouldn’t say it’s sparked very in-depth conversations. In New York, everybody’s running to the next place they want to be. But definitely when I’m in a space like at work or an event, I’m able to talk a bit more about it. I also feel that that’s in part due to when people are walking in the museum, they’re more willing to have that conversation or they’re more willing to get into a longer in-depth conversation.
So, I think it just comes with the territory of working in a space like that. But I can definitely tell people do like them. The people are complimenting them or doing a little giggle because they know what it is.
Lorrae: It sounds like the conversation is starting to change in a more empowering direction, because years ago if we wore Magic Wand earrings or sex-positive art, it might’ve been something that people would shy away from. And I remember when I started my Instagram @sluttygrlprobs there were so many negative comments about sexuality, but now it’s really creating community and people are finding their people.
Making a Sex-Positive Art Market
Lorrae: You also organize events and art markets for LGBTQ+ and femme and small business artists to help reach a wider audience at a lower cost and make their art and sales more accessible so that they can reach new people. I would love to learn some more about that project and what that’s been like and that process.
Nicole: It’s definitely been surprising. I really didn’t think it would get to the scope that it has currently. Like I mentioned, I have been out of work for a little bit. So I was sitting at home and I was like, “oh, once I’m out of the bed and I can walk, I wanna do every market ever.” I really enjoy in-person sales. I like to be able to tell them about my work, see people’s faces when they see my work. I love all of that.
So, I was applying to every market. I’ve done plenty of markets, but like I’ve also always had to curate my work a little more than I’d like to. So, like for specific markets, I would bring like these 10 earrings or like these few items. And I was finally like, “well, what if I like didn’t have to do that? What if I just start my own?”
I reached out to Purgatory bar, which is in Brooklyn. I had been to a few events in their space. And I asked them, “can I hold an artist event here?” I want to make a space where nobody feels like they have to curate. Nobody feels like they have to bring only four or five of their items. I want people to bring their full body of work if they choose to and feel comfortable in sharing everything they want to make.
Lorrae: That is so awesome. I love that so much. Especially as artists, I mean, I don’t create physical art, but I feel like in a sense, content creation and sexual empowerment online is a form of art. And I want to talk about so many things from mental health and connections to relationships. Like, sex is a part of that, but there’s just so many other facets of our personality that when we express ourselves, whether through media or through art, we want that all to come out.
Listen to the Full Episode
Dive into a mesmerizing journey where art, culture, and unexpected magic intertwine!
Throughout this episode, our conversation delves into the importance of cultivating an atmosphere of sex-positive acceptance and providing open and accessible sex education in a society that often stifles the flames of sexual enlightenment.
We also explore Nicole’s captivating artistic process as she reveals her unique approach to infusing art and jewelry with sex-positive imagery. With a seductive emphasis on consent and open dialogue, we explore the allure of adorning oneself with sexually charged art, where each piece becomes a cherished symbol of honor and intrigue. Join us on a journey of self-expression, empowerment, and the celebration of sensuality!
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