THE FORMER WAC, actress and the first sex boutique feminist entrepreneur, Dell Williams, has passed at the age of 92. If that’s not proof that pleasure can keep you young, nothing is, ladies and gentlemen.
If you read this column I wrote about my own orgasm adventures at midlife, you’ll understand how Dell Williams’ life helped change my own, maybe even yours, certainly someone you know.
From the New York Times, an introduction for many, an obituary that should come with fireworks to celebrate her life. You’ll love the section about Britney Spears!
Dell Williams, who in 1974, after being humiliated by a department-store clerk when she tried to buy a vibrator, was moved to start Eve’s Garden, the New York boutique widely described as the nation’s first sex shop catering specifically to women, died on Wednesday at her home in Manhattan. She was 92.
[…] Begun as a mail-order business, Eve’s Garden has for decades operated a discreet brick-and-mortar store from an upper floor of a Manhattan office building at 119 West 57th Street, between Sixth and Seventh Avenues. For the timid or the out-of-town, the shop still sells by mail order and, in recent years, via a website, evesgarden.com.
… Her other work includes helping to organize a 1973 conference on women’s sexuality in New York that drew more than a thousand women and nearly 100 men and attracted coverage in the news media. She was featured prominently in “Passion & Power: The Technology of Orgasm,” a recent documentary film about the history of the vibrator.
Ms. Williams took a a masturbation class from Betty Dodson, and the rest is the history of the vibrator and women’s pleasure. The poster at the top advertises a documentary about the history of the vibrator, which I haven’t seen, puts Dell Williams at the center where she belongs.
A wonderful video exists of Dell Williams thanking Betty Dodson, which I’ve posted below, and it’s fun how Williams lowers her voice to almost a whisper when she talks about the wonders of learning about masturbation. We’re all in on that joke!
I’ve got a sort of kinship with Ms. Williams. It’s because of her that decades later women like me were able to make a little history of our own, even if it was very different. Women like Dell Williams, Betty Dodson, also Virginia Johnson, who stood up to talk openly about sex, they all made a path for the rest of us, even if our work pales in comparison.
I spent ten years in the sex trenches, had my share of arrows and attacks because of it. I was one of the very first online talking about relationships, sex, and online dating ads when the web revved up in the ’90s, as well as one of the very first women to become editor in chief, with a political column during the Lewinsky scandal, on a pay site women-owned and run girlie site that put women in charge of their own image and careers.
Women taking the lead by suggesting there’s nothing to be ashamed of where sex is concerned. Today, sex is now as important as friendship in relationships and marriages. …and we’re enjoying it longer and later in life than ever before.
Thank Eros for the life and adventurous nature of Dell Williams. She lived well and helped others do the same through one of the most enjoyable human experiences you can have, sexual pleasure.
Well done, Dell.