Joani Blank

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Joani Blank
BornJuly 4, 1937
DiedAugust 6, 2016 (aged 79)
Notable work

Joani Blank (July 4, 1937 – August 6, 2016) was an American sex educator, entrepreneur, author, videographer, cohousing enthusiast, philanthropist, and inventor in the field of sexuality. She used publishing, her sex store, and other endeavors to promote sex-positive feminism. Her papers are part of the Human Sexuality Collection at Cornell University Library.[1]


Blank founded Down There Press, a publisher of sex-positive-related books, in 1975.[2] In 1977, she opened Good Vibrations, the second feminist sex toy business in the United States (the first having been Eve's Garden in New York City, which was founded by Dell Williams in 1974).[3][4][5] The idea to create Good Vibrations stemmed from her work with sex therapist Lonnie Barbach, in which the pair worked with women who had difficulty reaching orgasm.[6] Prior to her opening Good Vibrations, she was hired at the University of California, San Francisco to screen candidates who had difficulties achieving orgasm. This study influenced her business model for Good Vibrations.[7] Lynn Comella wrote that Blank turned "her small vibrator shop into a sexual resource center for anyone who might wander in. She felt that talking about sex should be as casual as talking about the weather; she also believed that sexual information was a birthright and that no one should be made to feel ashamed or embarrassed for wanting more pleasure in their life."[8]

Blank collaborated with photographer Honey Lee Cottrell on I Am My Lover, and Down There Press published it in 1978. In this book, she paired Cottrell's photographs of individual women with the subject's written reflections on masturbation and on learning to give themselves pleasure. It joined Our Bodies, Ourselves (1971) and Betty Dodson's Liberating Masturbation: A Meditation on Self Love[9] (1974) as second wave feminist books aiming to educate women about their bodies and empower them to have a positive sexual life.

Blank was one of the first volunteers at San Francisco Sex Information and has served on the board of directors of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality. She is also known for her inventions of the Butterfly vibrator[10] and Titattoos (now Intimate Art Tattoos).[11]

Personal life[edit]

Blank had one daughter, Amika, and three grandchildren. Blank lived in cohousing from 1992 until her death and served on the board of the Cohousing Association of the United States.[12] She spent many years in Doyle Street Cohousing in Emeryville, California, and co-founded her final home community, Swan's Market Cohousing in Oakland, California. Blank volunteered her time to social justice issues such as prison reform and economic equality.[13][14] She held a master's degree in public health education[2] and remained active in the field of sexuality.

Blank died of pancreatic cancer on August 6, 2016, less than two months after her diagnosis.[15]


  • Contributing author, That Takes Ovaries!: Bold Females and Their Brazen Acts, Three Rivers Press, 2002
  • Editor, Still Doing It: Men and Women Over Sixty Write About Their Sexuality, Down There Press, 2000
  • Co-author (with Ann Whidden), Good Vibrations: The New Complete Guide to Vibrators, Down There Press, 2000 (see also 1976, below)
  • Editor, I Am My Lover: Women Pleasure Themselves, Down There Press, 1997
  • Editor, First Person Sexual: Women and Men Write About Self-Pleasuring, Down There Press, 1996
  • Editor, Femalia, Down There Press, 1993
  • A Kid's First Book About Sex, Down There Press, 1993
  • I Am My Lover, Down There Press, 1978.[16]
  • The Playbook for Kids About Sex, Down There Press, 1978
  • The Playbook for Men About Sex, Down There Press, 1976
  • Good Vibrations: Being a Treatise on the Use of Machines in the Indolent Indulgence of Erotic Pleasure-Seeking Together with Important Hints on the Acquisition, Care, and Utilization of Said Machines and Much More about the Art and Science of Buzzing Off, Down There Press, 1976
  • The Playbook for Women About Sex, Down There Press, 1975


  • Orgasm: Faces of Ecstasy, Blank Tapes and Libido Films, 2004 (with Jack Hafferkamp and Marianna Beck).
  • Carol Queen's Great Vibrations: An Explicit Guide to Vibrators, Blank Tapes, ~1997.


  1. ^ "Guide to the Joani Blank Papers, circa 1970-2016". Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  2. ^ a b Sides, Josh (2009). Erotic city : sexual revolutions and the making of modern San Francisco. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 122. ISBN 9780199703395. Retrieved December 2, 2015. Joani Blank.
  3. ^ Williams, Dell; Vannucci, Lynn (2005). Revolution in the Garden: Dell Williams, Lynn Vannucci: 9781596370388: Books. ISBN 1596370386.
  4. ^ Boles, Janet K; Hoeveler, Diane Long (2004). Historical Dictionary of Feminism. p. 117. ISBN 9780810849464.
  5. ^ "Remembering Joani Blank: Designer Of The First Modern Sex Toy Store - Core77". Core77. Retrieved March 11, 2017.
  6. ^ Rainey, Libby (August 18, 2016). "Joani Blank, feminist activist who founded Good Vibrations, dies". SFGATE. Retrieved May 19, 2021.
  7. ^ Comella, Lynn (2010). New sociologies of sex work. Farnham ; Burlington, VT: Ashgate. p. 215. ISBN 9780754699682. Retrieved December 2, 2015.
  8. ^ Comella, Lynn (August 12, 2016). "Remembering Good Vibrations Founder Joani Blank, 1937 - 2016". Bitch Media. Retrieved March 11, 2017.
  9. ^ Dodson, Betty (January 1, 1975). Liberating masturbation: a meditation on self love. New York: Dodson. ISBN 9780940208278. OCLC 19938744.
  10. ^ "Good Vibrations Founder Joani Blank, Feminist Pioneer and Vibrator Designer, Has Died". San Francisco Magazine. August 8, 2016. Retrieved August 8, 2016.
  11. ^ "Intimate Art Tattoo web site". Archived from the original on September 20, 2021. Retrieved December 1, 2006.
  12. ^ Peteritas, Brian (October 25, 2012). "Senior Cohousing May be the Next Real-Estate Trend". Governing.
  13. ^ Yee, Kate Madden (November 1, 2013). "The Monthly – Feature November 2013 :: Come Together | Cohousing and the art of neighborhood. | By Kate Madden Yee".
  14. ^ Queen, Carol. "In Memoriam: Joani Blank". San Francisco Bay Times.
  15. ^ "Good Vibrations Founder Joani Blank Dies". Adult Video News. Retrieved August 8, 2016.
  16. ^ Blank, Joani; Cottrell, Honey Lee; Corinne, Tee; Down There Press (January 1, 1978). I am my lover. Burlingame, Calif.: Down There Press. OCLC 33394222.

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