Where art meets pleasure, inhibitions fade, and self-discovery reigns supreme – join us on a captivating journey with Erika Moen, the brilliant mind behind Oh Joy Sex Toy, in an intimate conversation as we unravel the tapestry of sex-positive art and it’s intersection with our own self-expression.
Erika is a trailblazer in the realm of sex positivity and a champion of pleasure, inclusivity, and unapologetic self-expression. We explore the inspirations that ignited the creation of Erika’s Oh Joy Sex Toy, a unique comic series that redefines sex education, the exploration of pleasure, and demystifying taboo topics – from niche kinks to myths about reproductive health care.
Starting Out in the Sex Industry and Leaving Behind Shame
Lorrae: It is wild to get started in this industry, and we’ve been in the industry for a similar amount of time, way back 10 years ago. There weren’t a lot of people online talking about sex, let alone podcasts and Instagram back then. What was your experience like getting started in the industry 10 years ago and your inspiration to start doing this type of work?
Erika: Inspiration actually came more than a decade beforehand.
Growing up, my sex education was very fear-based and very shame-y. And once I was a teenager and I started to find out sex could be something that’s positive and friendly and funny and pleasurable, it blew my mind.I just assumed everybody else got the same education I did.” So, I wanted to share the message that I needed to hear when I was younger.
Then I met my husband and he encouraged me to do sex education comics for years. I had done like one or two spot comics about it and he’s like, “Hey, you’ve got a knack for talking about this subject. You should really do more of that.”
And I got to have a sit down dinner with this guy named Robert Koo, who was in charge of turning Penny Arcade into the most successful webcomic empire ever. And I sat down with him and was like, “I don’t know what I’m doing with my career. What should I be doing?” And by the end of the conversation, it was like, “Oh, well, you should be doing these sex comics.”
Then my husband and I started working because we both are big sex nerds. We think it’s a really fascinating topic.
Lorrae: Your work is truly amazing and has been such an inspiration to me. And I just love how open you’ve been about all of your experience, the diversity of sexuality. Like you said, it’s so much more than just enjoying pleasure. It’s all the different ways that we enjoy pleasure, how that intersects with our identities and our mental health, and how even when we’re not having sexual feelings and attraction, the ways that we still invite pleasure into our lives in these other ways that might not be sexual
I know that you’ve spoken about shame in your work, which is a huge part of my journey overcoming shame from the way that we’re raised and grow up in this culture and I come from a Catholic background. So really rewriting a lot of those things has been huge for me and my work.
What has your journey been like as you’ve navigated shame and how your sexuality has evolved over time? Also being part of the industry and some of the layers of nervousness or shame that can come with that.
Erika: Growing up, my mom had a really toxic idea about sex and sexuality and also being a woman. She very much just presented a world as a world of sexual violence, and it’s up to you to protect yourself and keep yourself safe from all these monsters.
That’s a really awful message to get with no counterpoint to it. There was never, “Actually, sex can sometimes feel good for you too.” Or, “You have your own pleasure and your own body.” And it was very much sex is a thing you give your husband so that he won’t leave you. And just a lot of really bad messages.
When I was a teenager, internet was brand new, by the way. We didn’t have all the resources on the subject that we do now. So, my friends were starting to become sexually active, or at least intimately active, and I realized that these other people think it’s not a terrible thing.
When I started to experiment and to become intimate myself, I thought, “Oh, wow, this is this really positive, beautiful thing.” Then I went on to college and I got my first real relationship. And it was like, holy shit, this is amazing. Sex is the best.
I didn’t really struggle with shame pretty much from the time that I had my realizations in high school onwards. It’s like as soon as I realized my mom wasn’t 100% correct, I’ve been on my own journey.
Lorrae: I feel so similar in my journey in that everything that I grew up with learning ended up being incorrect. I was taught that nobody would want me after I had sex, which was not the case.
And it’s weird to see some of that cultural messaging coming back now with podcasts talking about needing a low body count. I’m like, “What is this? We are regressing.”
For me, my shame journey was peeling away these layers because once I realized that, sex was amazing, and that I didn’t have shame around having sex, I realized that I’m kinky. Do I have any shame around that? Now I’m poly, and is there shame that comes with that? And now I work in the sex industry, now I’m running sex parties, now I’m doing an OnlyFans. I wouldn’t say that I felt the same amount of shame but I had to reorient my compass. Where does this fit in my own sense of self and my own body and autonomy separate and aside from all of these messages?
Sexuality, Aging, and Changing Relationship Dynamics
Erika: Now that I’m 40, we started the comic when I was 29, I guess I have come into a different phase of feeling shame about my sexuality. It’s so weird because the story that you usually hear is “I started in shame and then I worked towards revolution and got better.”
I feel like I started in fear, I started in ignorance, then I had my realization. I had a couple decades where this is a positive, great thing and I’m happy about this, and now here I am in my fourth decade and I’m really struggling with how I’m relating to sex and my sexuality.
I want everybody to like put their nuanced hats on and not jump straight to easy dichotomies about how to take this. But I’m in a relationship with my husband who I love very much and I find very attractive. And I’m feeling this guilt of not feeling very much desire right now.
I know from a feminist perspective, everybody’s gonna be quick to be like, “Well fuck him, it’s about your body and your autonomy.” Yes, it’s all well and good. But also, I’m in a partnership. I care about my partner, I care about his well-being. We share things and sharing sex is, or was, a huge part of our relationship. We’ve been together for almost 20 years now.
I do feel bad about this change I’ve been experiencing, both for him and for me.
Lorrae: I really relate to that. Shortly after I started Slutty Girl Problems, I was in a lovely relationship. It was the first relationship where I felt like I wasn’t being performative in sex. Before, I was hypersexual, sex-caring, performing, porn starry.
Then, when I got into this safe relationship, it finally let me soften and start to unlearn those roles. In that softening, I started to not want sex at all because it was like the pendulum swung in the other direction.
I thought reclaiming my sexuality meant being overtly sexual and promiscuous and having these wild experiences. And then I was like, “Now my empowered sexuality actually feels more like asking myself what do I actually want and what does this look for me now?”
It totally was a shake up in my life where I didn’t want to have sex for a long time and we went to a sex therapist together. I didn’t know if this was me overcoming trauma from a sexual trauma that I had or if it was the lull of the relationship feeling safe and not having some kind of spark.
I felt so much guilt and shame because here I am, Slutty Girl Problems, suddenly not wanting to have sex, suddenly not wanting to be slutty. It was like, “Who am I to even talk about sex if I’m not having it or interested in having it?”
Most recently, I have been going through a deep depression and that just killed my sex drive. I didn’t feel like showing up in sexy ways. I felt like showing up in my healing messy self. Life isn’t sexual all the time, and we’re going to go through these ebbs and flows where we’re not feeling it, where we feel down about ourselves, where life just feels like crushing us down. I wanted the normalcy that we don’t have to be having sex and that type of pleasure all the time to still have meaningful connection and to still have partnership and to still love one another and to still call ourselves sexual beings even if we’re in a hibernation right now.
Erika: Something that I’ve really been finding a lot of pleasure and connection in is just being in physical contact with my husband. I find myself feeling the satisfaction that I used to feel from sex from just being pressed up against him and having him squeeze me.
These things that, surface level, don’t look sexual or whatever, still are really intimate ways of being together. And that’s been satisfying for me. I feel like my needs are being met.
And another thing that’s frustrating about this is that it’s not like my desire for sex completely turned off. Instead it’s still there a little bit. Sometimes I want to do stuff. Sometimes I’m down for stuff. But I want things to be black and white. Either I’m a slutty girl who’s always horny or I don’t want sex at all. What is this bullshit gray area?
Lorrae: Yeah, so many people think it’s like a light switch – it’s either on or off.
Sometimes I only want to do certain acts or only at certain levels, but I’m not interested in having penetration or having that wild sexual experience.
So many people think that it needs to fit these standard narratives in order to count. But I think that sex is so much more than just the physical actions. The core of it is all these different desires. It’s connection, pleasure, self-expression, intimacy, play. And if we can invite intimacy in other ways, like you said, with cuddling or just feeling really loved and valued, that can fill so many of the needs that sex once filled.
Magic Wand Comics
Lorrae: I know that you’re doing a project with Magic Wand right now, incorporating different cartoonists and sharing their Magic Wand stories as cartoons. It’s not just reviews but stories about pleasure and learning how to orgasm, using pleasure to de-stress so much more. What insights have you learned from that project and getting to hear so many other people’s stories?
Erika: Just that we’re all human. It’s the human thread that runs through each of the stories. And, and we’ve all got different anatomy. We’ve all got different pleasure cues, different relationships to sex.
On a human fundamental level, people can use a Magic Wand in the way that’s right for them. And some people are having their first orgasm and some people are having their millionth and they’re figuring out how to make it even crazier. And I just love the variety in people’s interests and what they’re willing to explore.
In one of our comics, drawn by Kelly Bastow, her boyfriend gets her a magic wand and she just lays back. She has her pants fully on, she’s just on the bed, she lays back and turns it on and is silent for a second. He’s like, “You okay?” And she’s like, “I came.” It’s just such a non-sexual panel but I love it, it’s so cute.
Lorrae: I love that one, it was so cute. This reminded me that we can still welcome pleasure into our lives, even in these low moments, even in some tough times. It’s just these simple ways to care for ourselves and use pleasure as a way back home to ourselves.
Erika: Yeah, that Magic Wand Plus review was, I think, the first comic and review that I did for Oh Joy after I got out of Space Camp. And I used Magic Wand Plus, and it was my first orgasm that I’d had in a really long time.
It did spark this thing in me where it’s like, I’m still capable of this. I’m still capable of feeling pleasure and joy and I incorporated that into the review. It’s kind of an atypical review for a sex toy, but I got to craft a story that’s about going from a really low place to finding a spark of hope and finding a spark of pleasure. That it’s still out there and we can find different ways to it, and the Magic Wand certainly doesn’t hurt.
Lorrae: I feel that way so much, too, especially in those low moments. It’s finding those simple pleasures or just knowing that my body is still capable of pleasure. And the Magic Wand definitely holds a special place in my heart because it is so powerful.
So, for somebody who is wanting to explore pleasure and isn’t sure where to start, maybe they’re thinking about the Magic Wand and wanted to try it for the first time. Do you have any recommendations based on your reviews of their different varieties on where to start or what you would recommend, or any destigmatizing around that type of power?
Erika: The original Magic Wand just had two speeds and it could be either a hard, fast speed or it could be a harder, faster speed. And now the models that they’re making have variations on speed so you can start low and then work your way up to high. That’s a great improvement that has been incorporated into the design.
Lorrae: Yeah, I think that the rechargeable has buttons up and down so that you can adjust the speeds. I think the mini has three and then the rechargeable has four. And then I’m not sure if the plus has either three or four, but you can adjust the speed there. plus, the rechargeable also has patterns.
Choosing a Good Sex Toy
Lorrae: How do you decide which toys you’re going to review and what do you look for in a good toy or a good brand to be able to feature it in your comics?
Erika: It used to be toys that just looked crazy that were gonna be a good review. So, even if I looked at it and I was like, “I already know that is not gonna suit my anatomy,” I would still give it a go anyway because I’m gonna get a good story out of this, I’ll be able to do a fun comic. I’ll get to draw this, this wacky feature.
So there was definitely reviewing toys just based on potential for making an interesting comic. I’d say that was the primary one going forward. When we started, we were just reviewing the toys that we already had, which the Magic Wand was the very first review on a Oh Joy Sex Toy. Yeah, that’s what we launched with, and it was a positive review, obviously. So it also started with the toys that I already liked.
Once Oh Joy took off, we had all these sex toy companies wanting us to review them. We just started taking on all different types and definitely looking for the ones that looked unique or ones that were improving on established features.
With my mental health and desire for sex being in such flux, I haven’t been reviewing toys in a couple of years now, but the guest artists that we hire, they still will review toys. We try to hook them up with free sampler toys from companies or they review their favorites that they already have.
Voyage through the heart of unlearning shame and embodying sex positivity, where Erika shares her personal odyssey in shedding the weight of societal narratives and embracing a world filled with pleasure, while navigating personal identity and how we relate to ourselves as erotic beings.
Erika’s art dares to illuminate the taboo, sparks curiosity, and invites you to explore the corners of your desires, too. It’s a journey that transcends boundaries, inviting you to embrace the joy of toys and their power to become instruments of self-expression.
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