Be Mine | Cover Feature | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly
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Birds do it, bees do it, RMs do it (tisk, tisk), even your parents did it (and that's why you're here ... eew!) Sex—the nasty, the deed, the dirty-dirty, becoming one (for all you doe-eyed lovebirds out there)—is one of the most sincere, primal, passionate and, if you're me, sometimes comical human experiences.

In this issue, we take a non-judgmental look into sex in the Beehive. We also celebrate different expressions of love and tie it up (shibari-style) with a big pink Valentine's bow.

But who was this Valentine we all celebrate? According to an old book of love stories handed down in my family from generation to generation, **cough, Wikipedia** Saint Valentine of Rome was imprisoned after celebrating nuptials for soldiers who at the time were forbidden to marry. He also ministered to Christians, which was a big no-no during the Roman Empire rule. Lore says he languished in a damp cell, and before his execution wrote a letter to his jailer's daughter, signed "Your Valentine."

Whatever the case might be, and dating back to its roots as a pagan fertility free-for-all bash, mid-February is the time to show that special someone in your life how much you love them by signing your name on a card in a non-eloquent way or rocking a pair or sexy red undies that'll have you wondering the next day whether it was the polyblend or the encounter itself that gave you a rash.

Still, even those of us jaded by its commercialization can find sweet moments in the Technicolor holiday. People like Misty Aragon and John Beard who, like Rihanna before them, found love in a hopeless place (p. 18). Inside these pages, you'll also come across the story of a young entrepreneur who sought to create an app to keep those that choose to sell their love safe (p. 16).

Need some liquid courage to make the first move? Our list of swoon-worthy cocktails (p. 20) is sure to do the trick. Sure, this is the season to ask someone "Be Mine," but you can also be you and love yourself while you're at it. Just ask one of our contributors who takes a stand for masturbation (p. 19), while another does it lying down to some locally sourced rhythms (p. 22).

We wrap it up with a list of films guaranteed to either set the mood or squash it all together (p. 23). We'll let you choose your own adventure on that one. Look at you, you're glowing!

So here's to you, St. Valentine, who I'm sure in his last moments thought to himself, One day, they'll commemorate my death by selling a heart-shaped box filled with Jack Link's beef snacks at Walgreens, so this will all be worth it.

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When Salt Lake City transgender sex worker Rebel went to meet a client at a State Street location in October 2016, she had to fight him off in a motel room that had a mattress on the floor, a cover sheet stained with blood and urine, and filth on the walls and floor. While many rooms in the motel corresponded to similar descriptions, this one, she recalls, was particularly degrading. Rebel, who was profiled in a summer 2016 City Weekly cover story titled "Click Mates," believes the "date" had been organized by several men who lured sex workers there to rape them. After she left, the man texted her, in total, 114 times, she says.

That experience led her to develop a mobile phone app called Sex Workers Unionized Protection (SWUP), wherein sex workers anonymously upload the contact info of concerning clients, along with descriptions and comments. When a client who's on the database calls, that call will automatically be flagged, letting the sex worker assess the level of threat identified by others. While 90 percent of the client comments are negative, Rebel also flags clients with whom she had a positive experience, such as "one dude who tipped me $500 for a 20-minute session."

In sex worker parlance, a "bad date" is an encounter with a client that could result in wasting her time, being threatened, abused or hurt. While there are numerous local, regional and even national bad-date list websites, nonprofit advocacy group Sex Workers Outreach Project's Katherine Koster says some are behind paywalls and impoverished sex workers can struggle to access computers.


While clients have long posted often disturbingly detailed "reviews" of their encounters with sex workers on various websites, Rebel's app allows them to turn the tables to some degree, rating clients and warning their peers if they have concerns. Such a list is important because "a lot of people committing violence against sex workers are serial perpetrators, not just a one-shot thing," Koster says. Rather than report a sexual assault to law enforcement, she says, which might result in her getting arrested, reporting it to a bad date list might prove safer and more effective in terms of warning other sex workers of a potential threat.

Its emergence comes at a time of disquiet for sex workers across the country who, since the sudden shut-down of adult ads on last month, are scrambling for work. This followed the October 2016 arrest of Backpage's CEO on sex-trafficking charges. Several sex workers City Weekly spoke to reported a dramatic drop in their income since the adult section of the site went dark, possibly because clients were uncertain where to look for them. While Rebel's app leaves Koster excited at the possibilities it offers sex workers to pool information about clients, loss of work because of the Backpage shut-down makes her fear that in the immediate future sex workers will return "to abusive work situations, relationships, back to street-based sex work," or end up homeless as they are evicted for non-payment of rent.

Rebel says 160 people were using the app from Salt Lake City before she decided to bow to requests from users that it be anonymous, which meant she could no longer keep track of the number of workers. She shows a reporter a few comments submitted to the app about clients. "Time waster, will ask for bareback and want to pay after," one worker wrote about a client seeking sex without a condom but refusing to provide the agreed amount before the act.

A 24-year-old escort who goes by Lana Del Shay, uploaded a number onto the app belonging to a man who she says offered her $200 for oral sex, then tried to force her to grope his genitals. After she repeatedly demanded "a donation"—language some sex workers use in the belief it will help them avoid arrest—he allegedly pulled out a cop badge and told her, "Now we're both implicated." She questioned whether he was law enforcement and eventually he returned her to her hotel.

Advocates for sex workers both nationally, like Koster, and locally welcome the app. Local advocate Gina Salazar regrets it has not been available before. "I wish somebody would have thought about it a long time ago before tons of girls ended up getting hurt, beaten or raped. It's probably as important as a condom," she says. "To me, it's a huge tool for harm reduction."

While technology in the form of Rebel's app may prove to be a powerful tool in improving the odds of keeping sex workers safe, the questions that surround Backpage shutting down its adult ads highlight both the boon many say it provided for independent sex workers and what Utah Attorney General's special investigator Nate Mutter calls its "double-edged sword," when it came to finding minors enslaved in the sex trade and prosecuting their traffickers.

Rebel says that Backpage "has been nothing but a safety net," providing regular income with which to support her family. Del Shay concurs. She says she was a homeless 18-year-old addict when she started "dating," after she was robbed of her shoes and money while sleeping in a park by North Temple. "If it wasn't for Backpage, I don't know what I would have done," she says. She made enough money to get off the street, rent a hotel room and eventually support her grandmother, relatives and her toddler.

Local anti-trafficking advocate Laurin Crosson says as a trafficked woman she preferred the street to meeting a client in a hotel room. "You can see the trick, look into his eyes," and based on her instinct she could turn him down or get in his car. In a hotel room, waiting for a client, there's very little chance to say no. "It's so much more dangerous and scarier," she says.

In the weeks following the shutdown, Rebel and LaShay both report a collapse in their income. "My business has been cut in half," La Shay says, who, like her counterpart, has had to rely on regulars to keep her going. "The last few days, I've been lucky to pay my room." They both fear sex workers will be forced to turn to the street to work, or to accept offers from a new wave of pimps who reach out to them online, parading pictures of cars and money along with the promise of money if they come to work for them out of state.

Law enforcement has mixed feelings about Backpage.

Mutter says the move is "good for the public; it takes away one piece of the tool that traffickers use to traffic their victims," particularly minors. At the same time, "it's almost a negative for law enforcement. One of our main objectives is to get the trafficker, but it's more important to get the victim out of that situation." If shutting down drives trafficking further underground, as some predict, he says the fear is they're not going to be able to rescue as many victims.

Given that the shutdown is only weeks old, he adds "it's too early to tell" how it will impact investigations and prosecutions.

Salt Lake City Police Department's Sgt. Mike Burbank, who heads the Organized Crime Unit, says that Backpage amounted "to almost a one-stop shop" for them, given it was where most local "johns" would look for sex workers. Within 15 minutes of his officers realizing it was gone, they found the same postings had been listed elsewhere on the site, such as date-seeking sections (women seeking men) or ads offering therapeutic massage.

Rebel hopes her app will not only gain traction among local and out-of-state workers, but will also lead to more dialogue among sex workers. As the name implies, she would like to see her peers "unionize" in some form. She also wants to see sex work legalized, and along with the move "take control of the industry out of the hands of clients," she says. "Having a tool like this available will help shift that power."


Baseball caps and hand-colored pictures adorn the walls of a modest apartment where John Beard and Misty Aragon watch an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants at mid-volume.

The upper-floor domicile is Beard's place, where the recently engaged couple sits on a calm February afternoon. Aragon rents a room in the same assisted-living facility. It's probably an atypical setting for a love story.

But if anything else, Beard, 44, and Aragon, 38, demonstrate how unconventional love stories are underpinned with universal experiences.

Their relationship ebbed and rose in a fashion that would be undeniably relatable to many—his first tepid approach, their glee in introducing the other to new hobbies and her being struck speechless with emotion.

Aragon was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in her late teens, she says. She now moves about in a motorized wheelchair. And Beard is inflicted with a flesh-eating bacteria. Both receive disability services; had it been otherwise, their chance meeting and subsequent love might have never been.


Beard's and Aragon's story started about three years ago at a rehabilitation center in Millcreek, where Beard had been living. He had recently woke from a six-week coma, induced because a pathogen had mercilessly attacked his body. The infection was so severe, Beard had to have his right leg amputated. "It basically ate my skin to the bone," he says.

At this point in his life, Beard says he was regarded as cantankerous and solitary. That would soon change.

On a fortuitous day, he laid eyes on a woman he had never seen before, donning a Chicago Bears sweater. This was one of his favorite football teams, too. Ah ha! A common interest, he thought.

He mosied over to chat her up. She told him she'd been a lifelong Bears fan "because that was my dad's team."

More prominent than the sports apparel, Beard spotted a shiny band on her finger. Already in a relationship, he lamented. But maybe not. "If she was taken, I would just be friends. If not, I would see if she was interested," he recalls. "I would respect her if she had a boyfriend or a husband, but if not, let's see what happens." In the coming days, he sent staff out on reconnaissance to gather intelligence.

Aragon thought it odd at first that a staffer was prying into her love life, but she, fiercely independent, replied, "No, no boyfriend. I don't need one." When Beard received the news, he was delighted.

The first date (the two disputed whether this was considered a date) took place a month or so later. On this particular day, the facility's scheduled activity was a trip to Olive Garden, and Beard saw an opportunity to invite Aragon along.

"I'll join you," she recalls saying, "but it's not a date."

A short disagreement followed because he insisted on paying for the meal, but the two soon after felt the faintest inkling of romance budding while playing trivia.

Eventually, they began pairing off frequently, grabbing a drink at Starbucks, a meal at Iceberg Drive Inn, or catching the sunset from a lawn. A yearlong courtship under their belts, they decided to date exclusively and two months after that, the two moved into an open room at the facility.

She got some early advice from a roommate: Be careful. Aragon was confident, despite this being her first serious relationship, that she could sharply navigate it. It helped that, in Beard, the spirit of chivalry is alive. "He is a wonderful gentleman," she confirms. Logically, he figured, the next step was engagement.

Beard's commitments made her heart flutter. Never before had she been the entity of unconditional adoration. "My whole life, everybody has made fun of me because I'm a heavy-set person," she says.

Knowing he couldn't yet afford a diamond ring, Beard gave her a "promise ring" inset with garnet, Aragon's birthstone. She says that would have sufficed. Beard wanted to "make it official," however. By then, his other leg was also amputated and he was nearing the end of his rehabilitation stay.

Last year, he was told he no longer needed skilled nursing services and that he would have to find another place to live. But before he left, he schemed to surprise her with a diamond.

It took about three months to find a place that matched his needs, location and price; eventually he settled on the Avenues Courtyard Assisted Living Community. One day, while visiting his girlfriend, Beard secretly slipped an engagement ring on her finger. Without words, Aragon knew what this meant.

"I couldn't talk," she says. "My whole body started shaking."

A couple of months later, Aragon moved to Avenues Courtyard.

Beard and Aragon don't have a date set and in fact might never get legally married because of the bureaucratic entangling of marriage and government. At the risk of altering their benefits, the two have decided to delay a wedding until they are confident this won't bar them from receiving disability subsidies that allow them to pay rent and get medical treatment.

"No matter if I marry him legally or not, I will always be by his side," she says.


Many of us remember our first time. Maybe you were in the bathroom, and you got curious when you were supposed to be brushing your teeth. Or maybe you were at your grandparents' house and stumbled upon an old Sears catalog in the attic.

I'll divulge my own tawdry circumstances as long as I don't have to justify them: It was the middle of the night in my parents' basement, during an encore broadcast of MTV Unplugged featuring Alanis Morissette.

When you think about it, it's strange that we would remember. Masturbation is a banal activity, but the first time still seems like a monumental revelation. What's crazy is no one teaches us how to do it—and we figure it out anyway. We need people to teach us almost everything else: reading and writing, walking and talking, even pooping and peeing in toilets takes years of practice. But masturbation? As I remember overhearing a wise woman from the 1990s once say, "You live, you learn."

Nearly all of us do it, by the way. The Merck Manual Overview of Sexuality estimates 97 percent of men and 80 percent of women masturbate, which means somewhere between zero and 12.5 percent of humans are less ashamed of lying than they are of masturbating. Masturbation, quite simply, is as ubiquitous as sunshine, and to rebuff its existence is to blot out the sun with your free hand.

Culturally, we treat masturbation like an unsightly mole: We know it's there, but the only polite thing to do is to not talk about it. A lot of that denialism stems from religious attitudes toward sexuality. As a young boy raised in Bible-belt evangelism, my youth pastor taught me once (and only once) that masturbation was OK—but only if you didn't have sexual thoughts while you did it. Oddly, I don't recall a single young soul in Sunday School raising a hand to ask how it was possible to masturbate unsexually. But I do remember thinking to myself, "Challenge accepted, Pastor Chad."


Public school didn't offer much useful guidance, either. My high school health class was taught by a wrestling coach called "Flex." Flex was about as comfortable teaching sex ed as I would feel teaching a hot yoga class—that is to say, not very. His lesson plan involved an oversaturation of verbatim readings from the textbook, meaning Flex literally taught human sexuality "by the book." Unfortunately, our textbook didn't dedicate much, if any, space to masturbation. In fact, I would be surprised if the word even earned a spot in the book's glossary of terms.

While I'm grateful to Pastor Chad and Flex the wrestling coach for their strained insights on personal eroticism, I can't help but wonder what a more forthright openness could have done to prevent years of shame. What's more, I worry that little has improved for kids these days. The stigma of self-pleasure still exists in contemporary American society, despite pretty broad acknowledgement of the horny elephant in the room.

Speaking of burdensome societal stigmas, being alone on Valentine's Day is enough to make anyone feel like a pariah. But just as with masturbation, being single is neither unusual nor unacceptable. There's nothing inherently wrong with either. So as a means of reclaiming a seemingly spiteful and exclusionary holiday, this year I'd like to propose an alternative custom: If you don't feel much like going out, stay in. Cook yourself a nice dinner, light some candles, loosen up with a generous glass of merlot and put on some romantic music—perhaps some Alanis unplugged if it suits the mood. And if things are going well enough, I suggest taking you and yours down into the basement and forgetting everything Flex never taught you.


Gotta love it when science confirms what we'd like to believe anyway: Modern food chemistry asserts that ingredients identified in myth and legend as libido enhancers—while not certified kilt-lifters—were and are exceptionally nutritive nosh. Centuries before eggplant and peach emojis infiltrated our social media streams, vitamin- and mineral-packed foods like fruits, vegetables and eggs from just about every species—from caviar to emu—probably benefitted their consumers with better fertility and overall good health as a result of their consumption. This also held true for the legendary aphrodisiacal qualities of pretty much every creature pulled from the sea, especially zinc-rich oysters (linked to increased testosterone production). Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, beauty and sexuality, and her counterpart in the Roman pantheon, Venus, were both depicted rising naked from the ocean cupped in a seashell, underpinning the eroticism of shellfish. Also on the Top 10 list of Hot-to-Trot ingredients? Mint of every stripe. Even folks in the Dark Ages appreciated the effects of even cursory antimicrobial dental hygiene and the resulting fresh breath as a lead-up to business time.

But we may tend to be a little cynical about love, especially if we're semi-sober and observing the mating habits of fellow members of our species on a Friday night at our favorite bar. As the Scottish writer Compton Mackenzie opined, "Love makes the world go 'round? Not at all. Whiskey makes it go 'round twice as fast." So, for folks who'd like to have a slightly subtler bar game than ordering a 'sex on the beach' or 'screaming orgasm' in front of their date, consider these sophisticated options at certifiably swanky spots around town. Bonus? Although there's no proof behind any of these choices (because, actual science) they all contain ingredients considered to have aphrodisiacal qualities in folklore.

Worth a shot? We think so. Go get 'em tiger ... m'row.


The Ruin
1215 Wilmington Ave., Ste. 120

Sugar Hood is looking better all the time for dark and dramatic bar spaces brimming with badass style, and The Ruin is a perfect example. Their motto quotes Oscar Wilde, "Work is the curse of the drinking classes," but we'd also like to credit the ever-witty Wilde with this observation: "The very essence of romance is uncertainty." Owner Amy Leininger and her team of talented drink-slingers have taken at least the uncertainty out of cocktail ordering with a perfect love potion: the MCC. "Grapefruit increases libido, mint is a sexual stimulant and, well, chocolate is simply orgasmic in and of itself," Leininger says. Tart and sweet with Lunazul tequila blanco, grapefruit, mint and both mole and Aztec chocolate bitters, it's as gorgeous as it is delicious.


The Parisian Lover
The Bar at Peery Hotel
110 W. 300 South, SLC

Staying downtown for a little afternoon delight? The perfect spot to bask in that post-coital glow is a cozy table in the historic Peery Hotel bar. It's not on the menu, but barman Andrew Andreason will gladly shake up a Parisian Lover, his original brew of vodka, a touch of citrus, raspberry notes from Chambord, a bit of cream, and a nice lingering finish from chocolate liqueur. "It's got a little bite from the lemon, and evens out with a lovely sweet, fruity endnote," he says. Even better? You could certainly order two, but it's really a perfect cocktail to share before heading out for a romantic stroll down Broadway, after wrapping up your night on the town, or getting your strength up for Round 2.


The Wall Buster
418 E. 200 South

Although HSL bar manager Clifton Reagle hates making up names for drinks, this one is pretty apt given it features all kinds of (ahem) energizing ingredients. "Mezcal is a new spirit to many people," Reagle says, although it has long been considered in old Mexico as an especially potent aphrodisiac. Hell, the agave plant alone is a phallic message writ large on the arid landscape. "I think there's a romance to mezcal's flavor and aroma," he continues, adding that the concoction is a "south-of-the-border take on a French 75." That cocktail was made famous after WWI and eponymously christened after a particularly potent artillery gun. The Wall Buster features lime, Peychaud's bitters, smoky mezcal taking the place of traditional gin, a titch of saline and is topped with a bit of sparkling rosé. They're starting out with a bang with this bold and delicate cocktail that's all about romance in HSL's equally swoon-worthy space. It's an alcohol and atmosphere win-win.


The Baby Maker
Under Current Bar
279 S. 300 East, SLC

When I told her about my quest, bar director Amy Eldredge said: "The 'aphrodisiac cocktail experience' might as well describe our entire business model" [insert wink emoji here]. Bonus points and gold stars to UC for having oysters available any damn time to up the aphrodisiacal ante, and we're sold, babycakes. At Under Current (and next door restaurant, Current Fish & Oyster, where you'll definitely need reservations if your plans include dinner), there are plenty of Valentine's Day-specific treats in store. At the bar, order the frothy and fabulous Baby Maker—a beautifully balanced tart-sweet cocktail made in the tradition of a Fizz. Shaken with muddled strawberries, lime juice, Vermouth blanc, Bols Genever (the original Dutch gin), egg white, cream and simple syrup, it's a decidedly adult version of a strawberry milkshake. Eldredge has also been working in delicious collaboration with Current's pastry chef to develop custom-made chocolates featuring boozy ingredients to complement the bar's cocktail menu. Buy 'em by the box that night. Hell, buy two: one for sharing at the bar, another for breakfast. Nine months from now we'll be blaming SLC's population boom squarely on bar staff here.


The Rest
331 S. Main, SLC

The Rest inevitably ends up on our Top 10 spots for sexy atmosphere in the SLC, and if you're planning to dine there for V-day, you might want to make those reservations now. Their cocktail program is equally swank, with modern spins on drinks considered classic for a reason. Case in point: Their Sazerac, boozy with whiskey, stirred up with housemade NOLA-style bitters and a touch of aphrodisiacal anise in the form of absinthe. Want to really up your date's wow factor? Order the absinthe service for two, where the bartender will set up a traditional French absinthe fountain and give you the 411 on traditional technique for this ancient art of service. Oh la la!


All that Jazz
327 W. 200 South

On Saturday, Feb. 11, and Tuesday, Feb. 14, Finca is pulling out all the stops with a six-course dinner that'll be a thing of gustatory glory: think oysters, charred octopus, roasted lamb, and some seriously sexy vegetarian selections. Start out early in the bar pre-meal, linger after your dinner, or just stop in for cocktails and dessert if you want to cut to the chase. In any case, bar manager Natalie Hamilton and her team will treat you right. She's designed two romantic cocktails named after classic jazz standards, both of which come with chocolate pairings. "So now you have cocktails, a beginning to your playlist, chocolate, flowers, nuts and almost every spice in the book," Hamilton says. "Top it off all with my two favorite spirits, actual flames and you've got a pretty decent Valentine's evening." Oh, Natalie, you had us at chocolate. Pick either drink, or both. Like most great relationships, they're even better together than standing alone.


Music journalism leads you down some interesting roads. One day you discover that the former publicist for Metallica is doing PR for major porn studios and up-and-coming sex toy companies. And then you get an idea.

Have you ever made a mixtape for someone, choosing and sequencing every song in order to convey your desire? What if I told you there's a device that can help you create a mixtape that actually causes your intended to erupt into O-quakes? OhMiBod, a company out of New Hampshire, has a line of Bluetooth-enabled sex toys that, paired with your phone or other digital music device, vibrates with your music. Do you realize the implications? The convenience of using someone else's words, rhythms and melodies to express your feelings now extends to the bedroom. You can translate your otherwise useless knowledge of music—the sum of your hipster bullshit—into sexual competence!

Eager to assist in our research, the company sent over a review "unit" of their Freestyle W, a flexible, silicone behemoth that looks like Papa Smurf mated with a cactus. In addition to its musical capabilities, the W has seven programmed vibration patterns, or you can mix and match three speeds and four patterns. Using the music function is easy: You plug a transmitter into your phone, plug some headphones into the transmitter, pair the devices, and press play. It also works remotely, so your partner can control it from a high-back chair up to 25 feet away.


City Weekly sniffed out a Masturbation and Music Interpreter (MAMI) willing to accept a free $130 sex toy, use it according to very detailed instructions (including a hand-picked playlist) and call in the morning to give a report. It was like getting sanctioned strange, albeit with no more contact than it took to hand over a box and email a link to a YouTube playlist. It's a bit sad, but beggars can't be choosers.

Dazz Band—"Joystick"
CW: Baby, I'm your joystick. I can do anything that you want me to do. Yeah, yeah.
MAMI: "I love this song! It has so many little sound effects and a great bass line. There are a lot of buzz-pauses. It's interesting."

Enya—"Orinoco Flow"
CW: You're special, girl. You deserve ambience. Relax and let Enya's cloying, new-agey music sail away and wash over you.
MAMI: "It started vibrating on the commercial for Chips Ahoy! I don't like the Enya song, so I couldn't get into it."

Miss Nina—"Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree" (LDS Primary School Song)
CW: Let's take it up a notch, girl. Look out the window of your mind. Tell me what you see. Yeah, on the tree. Just pop-pop-poppin' right before your eyes. Sing along. I'll join in after a couple lines. We'll get us a nice round-robin goin'. Yeah, girl. You got a sweet spirit.
MAMI: "How was this supposed to get me hot?! Nothing. Whatsoever."

Toby Keith—"Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue"
CW: Yee-haw! We been goin' a whole lot longer than eight seconds—10 ... 11 ... I'm gonna light up your world like the Fourth of July. Whooooo! Tell me if you can feel the twang.
MAMI: "The Applebee's commercial had some bass! It started out really boring because there's not a lot happening in the a cappella part. I replayed the part with the helicopter sounds a few times. No, I did not feel the twang."

CW: Here we go. Settlin' into a groove. Feel that descending bass line workin' its way down to your hips. Feel that marching groove? They're really in the pocket. Wink. This song sounds like porno music. What's your favorite website, tenderoni?
MAMI: "You're a dork. I listened to the whole song. Very good. My favorite part of the song is where it's just the drums and bass and keyboards and he's not singing. It sort of stutters, then has a long, strong vibration a few times in a row. I felt it in my toes."

CW: You can't get enough, can you, skank? You see what I did, there? In ska, the way they dance is called skanking!
MAMI: "I remember dancing to this song at the Zephyr a long time ago. I just figured out that you can turn down the transmitter so you can feel different instruments instead of just the drums and bass."

Baby Gurl—"American Wet Dream"
CW: You wanna get kinky? These guys have no idea how—or even the inclination to—please a woman. But let's see if music transcends preference.
MAMI: "What, do you mean they're gay? This song really made the toy vibrate. I don't like heavy metal, but I liked the swinging feel."

Led Zeppelin—"Moby Dick" (drum solo only)
CW: Skip to the drum solo at 1:07 and just ride it out, sweet thang.
MAMI: "I couldn't feel it, so I had to play with the transmitter thing and go back to the start. He played for, like, 15 minutes! Sometimes he lost me when he slowed down, but the fast parts and the jazzy parts felt really good. I turned it upside-down so the clitorial stimulator hit me [someplace else]. I might be into drummers now."

CW: Oh, damn. It's hot in here, girl. You got any water?
MAMI: "A lot of this song just felt like the vibrator was on the normal setting, like constant vibration. It felt really good after I turned it down. The wub-wub-wub is nice."

Night Ranger—"Sister Christian"
CW: Skip to 2:30 for the guitar solo and big finish! "You're motorin'! Dundun-dunh! Dun-duh-duh-dunh!" Did you feel the drama in how the song builds?
MAMI: "I felt the build. The whole song would probably work for me. I might try it on my own time."

Final Thoughts: Our subject is a fan of the Freestyle W. "It's soft, but also firm, and it's not too big," she says. "I like the replay value of the music setting, but I will like it more when I get to use it by myself. And you should have included a song for afterglow. Ladies like that."


Eventually we die. And the people we love die. And if they don't die, they disappoint us by electing Donald Trump—BECAUSE THE EMAILS—and make us want to kill ourselves.

The point is love stinks. (Yeah, yeah.) Love will let you down, and Valentine's Day is the dumbest reminder ever that we care more about marketing than we do celebrating our loved ones daily.

"Oh, no," you say. "Not me. I tell my wife each morning I love her and I rub her feet each Friday night. And did I forget to buy product X for Valentine's Day? Because some group of advertisers told me I need to buy it and gift it (that's a marketing term!) so that I may appropriately express my affection to my partner! Heavens to Betsy, what shall I do?"

Hopefully you'll get bent. Then dumped. After said dumping, you can watch any one of the following 14 movies to take your mind off the fact that you're a tiny, loathsome person in a world that doesn't give a shit about you. Happy Valentine's Day! Go fuck yourself.


Dying Young (1991)—This is the last movie Julia Roberts made before her first self-imposed break from acting. When she came back, she made The Pelican Brief, a piece of garbage from a once-great director, Alan J. Pakula (The Parallax View, All the President's Men). Anyway, Joel Schumacher, who has a spotty résumé at best, directed Dying Young, in which the main characters (Roberts and Campbell Scott) DO NOT die young. IT'S CALLED DYING YOUNG, DAMN IT. I WANT SOME DEATH. Anyone who willingly watches this barf fest deserves to die young. YEAH, I SAID IT.

Truly, Madly, Deeply (1990)—What's worse than your boyfriend dying young? How about your dead boyfriend returning to you, living in your home and all the while telling you how cold he is? Jamie (Alan Rickman) is the dead boyfriend, and Nina (Juliet Stevenson) is the mourning girlfriend. One night, Jamie shows up as a ghost. And it's great! Until it isn't. He invites over some ghost friends and gradually makes Nina's life unbearable. The ending is bittersweet, as is the entire film. Writer/director Anthony Minghella moved on to bigger tearjerkers later with The English Patient.

My Bloody Valentine (1981)—This one pops up on nearly every list I make, and beware: It's 1. a really, really gory horror movie and B. Canadian, so all the actors have absurd accents. There's an unrated version available on DVD. And yes, terrible things are done to many cast members' hearts throughout; it's gnarly, man.


Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)—This is not the Jarmuschiest of writer/director Jim Jarmusch's movies. That honor belongs to The Limits of Control. But OLLA sure has its moments, with silent drives through a decaying city (Detroit), droning music and vampires Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston ruminating on love and despair. Bonus: It's not a stupid vampire movie. Watch it, or watch Jarmusch's current release, Paterson, which is a beautiful story about a poet, his wife, his friends and their dog.

My Girl (1991)—If you don't cry when Macaulay Culkin is bee-stung to death (SPOILER!), you're a monster. In other news, I'm a monster. This movie is guaranteed to make you hate love because it's A. bad but 2. thinks it tells an important story about love and friendship. It doesn't. It's an insipid movie about insipid kids with Dan Aykroyd as a bumbling father.

Love Story (1970)—Love means never having to say you're sorry, but the person who wrote that dumb line didn't drag his date to Love Story. My advice: Apologize profusely to whomever you make watch this maudlin pap. Somehow Ryan O'Neal had a career throughout the 1970s after this flimsy story was released and became a big hit. Ali MacGraw dies of an unnamed blood disease, by the way (SPOILER HA HA THIS MOVIE IS 47 YEARS OLD). No, really, their characters are dicks.

Terms of Endearment (1983)—I first saw this movie when I was 10. I might be the only person who was rooting for cancer. God, Debra Winger is the second worst actor alive (Ray Winstone is the absolute worst). How did she ever end up a critics' darling? Plus, Shirley MacLaine's character needs a punch in the throat. Barf. I hate this movie. Say it with me: LOVE STINKS.


Leaving Las Vegas (1995)—I can't get hard! Also I'm an alcoholic! I love you, hooker who understands me! There ya go: Capped in 15 words. Leaving Las Vegas (and Internal Affairs) made Mike Figgis a mainstream director for five minutes. Elisabeth Shue is excellent and Nicolas Cage puts his worst actorly impulses to the their best use. None of them ever did work this good again, even if Figgis' follow-up One Night Stand is a near miss and Shue is better than Piranha 3D deserves.

Valentine's Day (2010)—Just kidding! Fuck this movie.


The Notebook (2004)—Two assholes (Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams) die together. That's the plot. And seriously, their characters are terrible people. He's basically a morose stalker (the worst kind of stalker) and she's a jerk. Gosling and McAdams age into James Garner and Gena Rowlands, and it makes me angry that James Garner and Gena Rowlands play assholes. But watching these characters die is kind of poetic after what they put the audience through.

Somewhere in Time (1980)—This movie posits that death is better than living a full life if you can't be with the person you love. I'll soldier on with the booze, cigarettes and satanic music, thanks. At least Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour look very, very pretty in this overbaked melodrama about love and time travel. People and their ideals of romantic love suck.

An Affair to Remember (1957)—No jokes or yelling at the readership here. An Affair to Remember is undeniably moving and stars pros Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr as Nickie and Terry, two would-be lovers who meet on an ocean liner and promise to reconnect at the top of the Empire State building in six months if their feelings endure. They don't meet for heartbreaking reasons, and eventually more is revealed. Sleepless in Seattle, a dung-infused stroll down amnesia lane, cribbed the Empire State plot point as homage, but it feels like a rip-off. Besides, who wants to see Meg Ryan fall in love with anyone other than Billy Crystal? Anyspray, they don't make 'em like this anymore, and really, they didn't make too many of 'em like this at all.

Moulin Rouge! (2001) and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)—On Feb. 15, Bohemian Brewery is sponsoring the Love Hurts Film Fest at Brewvies Cinema Pub (677 S. 200 West, Salt Lake City) from 7:30-11:30 p.m. (the flicks begin at 8). You must be at least 21 and there are draft specials—yay!

Note: I have nothing negative to express about these films because I've seen neither. Audiences seem to love Moulin Rouge! (but they love Transformers movies, too, so make your own assessment). A good friend and fellow film critic I trust ranks Scott Pilgrim vs. the World among his favorite films. Let's call that a ringing endorsement!

So happy Valentine's Day, I guess. Here's hoping we survive until next year.

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About The Authors

Ryan Cunningham

Ryan Cunningham

This Salt Lake City-based writer and bareback equestrian has served as a reporter, producer and host for Utah Public Radio and KCPW, covering everything from Mars research to the Utah Legislature. He will eat those breadsticks if you don’t want them.
David Riedel

David Riedel

Riedel has been thinking about movies since the early ‘90s and writing about them since the mid-2000s. He runs the occasional marathon and drinks ketchup straight from the bottle.

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