We’re saddened to hear of the passing of Joanie Blank. Below is an excerpt from Dr. Carol Queen’s memorial for this inspiring feminist sex toy shop trailblazer.
Joani was already working to change society’s attitudes about sex, especially women’s sexuality, sexual health, and reproductive rights, when the idea to form Good Vibrations hit. Involved with San Francisco Sex Information in the early 1970s, she founded Down There Press in 1975 (its first project was her book about vibrators… in calligraphy!) and then began working with famed feminist sex therapist Lonnie Barbach’s project to support “pre-orgasmic” women, held at UC Medical Center. It was there that Joani heard countless women, when recommended they try a vibrator, protest that they would never want to enter one of those places to get one. In what we called a “click” moment back then (like a light switch flipping on), Joani realized how much she could contribute by creating a very different kind of place. Touted as a “clean, well-lighted place for sex toys, books, and [later] videos,” Joani’s brainstorm did indeed immediately serve women––and everybody else, since people of every gender and identity, it turns out, needed a place that focused on comfortable communication, correct information, and good-quality sex-related products.