Remembering Joani Blank

Joani Blank

Joani Blank, who died Saturday, was so important to Babeland. The store she started, Good Vibrations, inspired us to create a similar safe, sex positive space in Seattle. When I reached out to her to see if she would talk to Claire and me about the project, she was incredibly generous and supportive. She invited Claire to come down to San Francisco and intern at GV. She cheered us on as we put together a plan and started working through myriad details. She was generous in all ways and I don’t know where, or if, Babeland would be without her.

She was a visionary who believed in spreading sex information, positivity and encouragement. She founded a publishing company focused on sex books, and wrote and edited a number of sex books herself, from A Kids First Book About Sex to Still Doing it, Men and Women Write About Sex Over Sixty. My favorite of her books is Femalia, which is a picture book of beautiful full color close up shots of many people’s vulvas. At the time it came out (& perhaps still) that book was fascinating to many people who had never seen other people’s vulvas before. Radical. Through Good Vibes, the spawn of Good Vibes, all the sex educators who are part of her legacy, all the former workers who carry that into their lives in so many ways even if they are out of the sex fields, the many books, videos and talks that she gave, she had a profound and liberating impact on many individuals and the culture at large.

Joani was an idealist. She left Good Vibes after selling it to the workers as a worker owned co-op. Then she went on to become a huge advocate for co-housing. She also was an advocate for prison reform and economic justice.

She was diagnosed with cancer less than two months ago, and is already gone. I last saw Joani a month ago and she was facing her death with dignity and humor (some of which was quite ribald!) Sex positive to the end. She was one of a kind, and I’m so grateful to have known her.

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