Yes, May is officially National Masturbation Month — although, seriously, people: Isn’t every month Masturbation Month?
But let’s not quibble. Instead, let’s join Vibrant, a social enterprise set up to benefit Planned Parenthood of the Rockies, in celebrating self-love. (And if you need a soundtrack, we offered up a great masturbation set list a few years back.) Face it: Any act for which we have so many euphemisms — jerkin’ the gherkin, buttering the muffin, ménage a moi — must be one of our most beloved national pastimes. Too bad, baseball; forget it, football. Masturbation is mainstream.
In fact, here are ten moments in which masturbation took the spotlight in the mainstream media, both here in Denver and across the country, and for better or for worse. And not to worry, our list does not include that time your parents walked into your bedroom at the exact wrong moment...
1. The Ted Haggard Massage Confession
Ted Haggard's sordid journey through our local and national news did plenty of damage to the good name of both Colorado and happy endings, didn't it? Masturbation played a big part in good ol’ Ted’s confession; it was of the “mutual” sort, in which a “massage” by male prostitute Mike Jones turned into something more. To which we say: Whatever floats your boat, Ted. Just stay out of the public spotlight, and maybe drop the holier-than-thou attitude. Most people — with the specific and ironic exception of those in your own congregation — care a lot less about you being gay and a lot more about you being that skeevy dad down the block who has a smile and a leer you don’t trust.
2. Pee Wee’s Sordid Adventure
How could Pee Wee’s Big Adventure not make this list? And, seriously: Poor Paul Reubens, who turned a 1991 family visit in Sarasota into a nearly career-derailing act of self-love at an XXX theater. Reubens has long denied the charge, claiming in a Playboy interview that the cops claim they witnessed the act being performed with Reubens’s left hand, when Reubens is right-handed — which proves…well, it proves that Reubens should probably stop talking about that night in 1991.
3. As If Von Miller Needed an Ego Boost
Here’s a story that sort of came and went, if you’ll excuse the expression. There was much hubbub back in the latter part of 2016 when it was leaked that there was a Von Miller sex tape, and that the holder of said tape — one Elizabeth Ruiz — might use it for extortion. Turns out that Ms. Ruiz did go public after all, but not for blackmail. She claimed that the reason she made the tape, and was planning to keep it, was for her own masturbatory purposes. So move along, nothing to see here — or at least, nothing that you’ve been invited to see.
4. There’s Got to Be a Hose Joke to Make Here
Denver firefighter Tim Plybon clearly has some issues. While most would agree that masturbation in general is just fine — that is, in the privacy of your own home and without, you know, involving someone else in the act who didn’t agree to participate in the first place. But when you do it in such a way that it forces the act into the awareness of an outside party, that’s when it becomes what we like to call “a criminal act.” Like, for example: walking around a candy store at the Aurora Mall holding your penis. Not okay, Tim.
5. The Rise and Fall of Masturbating Bear
Conan O’Brien’s Late Night show was full of weird and wonderful stuff, to be sure, but one of the high points (at least in terms of self-pleasuring ursine characters) was Masturbating Bear. This was a shtick that was played for laughs but also purposefully pushed the envelope: Masturbating Bear was late-night comedy, but during a time in network TV when just mentioning the word "masturbation" itself was problematic, if not completely forbidden. But Masturbating Bear, who reportedly died at a Flagstaff, Arizona, Motel 6 in 2015 due to a mishap with auto-erotic asphyxiation, helped pave the way for all the TV self-gratification that followed.
6. Becoming Master of Your Domain
Speaking of TV self-gratification: If there’s a ’90s reference to masturbation that reigns supreme, it has to be the “Contest” episode of Seinfeld, in which Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer make a bet to see who can hold out the longest. The series of completely made-up euphemisms for the act of refraining from self-abuse (King of the County, Lord of the Manor, Queen of the Castle) has entered our lexicon now for all sorts of manners of control—but it all started here, in the most humble and self-gratifying way.
7. So a Masturbating Priest Walks Onto a Plane…
Okay, a disgraced former priest, but still…this sort of thing is no joke. Daniel Drinan, 63, was busted on a Southwest flight from the East Coast to Denver in 2012 for pleasuring himself while watching porn on the Southwest wi-fi. Which seems totally unfair, because I can’t even get Southwest wi-fi to work so I can check e-mail, and this guy was streaming video from SpankWire? He might be defrocked, but there’s gotta be some divine intervention working there. Except for when he got caught, and arrested, and (we hope) humiliated just as publicly as he was masturbating.
8. And More With the Airlines?
Is it just that planes depress people so much that they have to relieve stress somehow? Seems likely with Kyle Pearce, a 25-year-old junior college student and bullrider who was caught “masturbating to the point of ejaculation” on a 2011 United flight from Spokane to Denver. The FBI arrested him when the plane landed at DIA, which just goes to show you that there are people out there who can completely misunderstand the idea of in-flight entertainment.
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9. Or Maybe It’s Just the “In-Public” Part…
Over the years, Denver has had its share of inappropriate settings where masturbation occurred. There was that time the kid from Colorado State University stole an ambulance and then masturbated in the cell at the Loveland Police Station. There have been many reports of masturbation occurring in the Denver Public Library —especially the downtown branch — and similar sightings of self-love have been made at the Auraria campus library. And then there was the most disturbing door-to-door salesman in Denver, whose ambulatory masturbation earned him a recent Schmuck of the Week title. As sex-positive as we’re all trying to be for Masturbation Month, there’s a limit, people — and the line is drawn at consent.
10. Honey, It’s Just a Coping Mechanism
Metrics clearly showed a spike in the Denver usage of PornHub during the halftime of, and immediately following, the Broncos’ loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII. That’s right: Denver’s drubbing helped definitively prove that masturbation is the preferred comfort over nachos, beer, wings and the companionship of others. Go, Denver!