This was the 11th year of San Francisco’s annual Masturbate-a-thon, a fundraiser for the nonprofit Center for Sex & Culture on Mission Street. First held in 2000, the event was created to normalize self-pleasure by bringing it out in the open. Dr. Carol Queen, one of the founders, said the goal is to make a charity masturbate-a-thon as mainstream as a walk-a-thon.That day still isn’t here. But about 250 people attended the event this year at 1519 Mission Street, including both masturbators and voeyurs, some of whom had come from as far as Chicago to observe the action. Another 250 people watched the live web stream of the event over the Internet.
While none of the participants came close to the nonstop 9 hour 58 minute masturbation record set last year by Masanobu Sato of Japan, the event gratified the exhibitionists, who wanked away, happy as clams, in front of their audience. Other participants said this year’s masturbate-a-thon was too heavy on voyeurs and live-streaming video, and that they missed the purity of the earlier years of the event, where the main focus of the event was simply the shared sexual energy of people masturbating in a room together.