You know what? Sometimes, you've got to push a few coins aside and determine in your mind that you're going to invest into your sex life (if you had a sex jar, this would be easier to do, by the way. You can read more about what that is all about here). If you're someone who is totally down to do that, but you don't have a clue where to begin, boy have you come to the right place! Between the joy of being a writer who sometimes gets samples sent to me, the constant research that I do for the couples I work with and having folks shout-out certain items semi-often, I've compiled a list of 12 sex-related items that may seem random AF (a pun is kind of intended there) and, at the same time, can make sex so much better between you and your partner. Where's your pad at? You're definitely gonna wanna take note.
1. Jenga PDF Sexy Couples - Erotic Adult Party Game for Adventurous Couples
Something that's cool about sex games is they can help to bring some laughter and lightness into the atmosphere. While having that kind of goal might seem odd on the onset, it's always important to remember that sex doesn't have to be sober-minded and serious. It's actually supposed to be a lot of fun! So, if you want to bring some extra light-hearted-with-a-touch-of-horny foreplay into your space, this is a PDF that you can purchase and immediately download with instructions, including numbers to put on your Jenga pieces and naughty questions that you can ask your partner. (It's on Etsy. You can cop it here.)
2. Melting Rose Petals
If there's one thing that can hinder a lot of us from going all out when it comes to "setting the stage" for a romantic evening, it's the thought of how much clean up will be required on the back end (sigh). That's a part of the reason why this particular item caught my eye.
If you and yours adore nothing more than soaking in the tub together, rose petals can definitely help to cultivate the right mood. The dope thing about these, in particular, is they slowly melt into your bathwater while leaving a smell of fresh stems. This means no worry about having to scoop petals up when you're done. Excellent.
(Pink Cherry is the site that sells them. Go here to buy a batch.)
3. Earthly Body Edible Massage Candle
What I personally like about this product is it combines the soft glow of a candle with the convenience of a massage oil that you can easily lick off — a win all the way around, y'all! What makes this edible massage candle even better is it's vegan-friendly, has apricot and coconut oil in it (which makes it nourishing for your skin) and it comes in three different flavors — strawberry, watermelon and vanilla. Since it's a 4 oz. candle, it should last you, shoot, at least a couple of rounds, right? Here's hoping. (Adam & Eve has got you on this one. Get it here.)
4. Edible Candy Lingerie Gift Set
There are times when, while I'm perusing the internet, I'll see something that is simply cute. That's how I felt when I noticed what looked like a string bikini set (top and bottom) that's made out of edible candy. Pretty sure there's no need to break this one's possibilities all the way down, right? Anyway, Walmart sells both pieces at a reasonable price. You can check it out here.
5. Sensuva Ice Cube Flavoured Cooling Nipple Balm
For some, nipples are a peak erogenous zone. For others, not so much (check out "So, What If 'Typical Erogenous Zones' Annoy TF Outta You?"). That said, whether you are trying to experience (or experience more) nipple orgasms or you're with someone who is a "breast person" and you want to learn how to enjoy getting aroused in that area more, something that could help you out is nipple balm. This particular kind will help to harden your nipples while providing a cooling sensation. Plus, the chocolate mint flavor will definitely help to put an even bigger smile on your partner's face. Lovehoney carries it. Get it here.
6. System Jo H2O Flavored Lubricant Collection
The wetter, the better, right (check out "The Wetter, The Better: 10 Creative Ways To Use Lubricant")? Yeah, my sentiments exactly. Flavored lubricant can be a lot of fun, especially when it comes to oral sex, because it provides a way for you to do what you're doing while enjoying a flavor that you really like. Something that I dig about this brand is it's got a ton of different flavors to choose from including Cherry Burst, Cotton Candy, Green Apple, Peachy Lips, Juicy Pineapple and so many others (the company boasts of a whopping 17!). Dear Lady is a site that has a good amount of different ones (go here). Yet if you want to go to the System Jo H2O site to see what other merchants carry this product, you can do that by going here.
7. Like A Virgin Tightening Pleasure Gel
So, before we even get into this one, check out an article that I wrote on this topic last spring entitled, "What Science Says About A So-Called 'Loose Vagina'". The bottom line is your vagina doesn't "overstretch" from sex (remember, we can push babies out through there!). So, more than anything, the name of this product is probably more of a marketing ploy than anything else. Still, it gets a shout-out here because it creates a tingling feeling as it helps the muscles within your vaginal walls to slightly contract (in the best way possible), of course. Restoring you to virgin status is pushing it yet providing a nice sensation during intercourse is something that it certainly can do. (Another Adam & Eve gem. Cop it here.)
8. GLYDE Organic Flavored Condoms
There's no way around the fact that the best way to proactively prevent contracting an STD or an unplanned pregnancy is to use a condom (check out "10 Things You Should DEFINITELY Know About Condoms" and "10 Ways To Make Using A Condom So Much More Pleasurable"). Here's the thing, though — a lot of people seem to forget (or is it blatantly ignore?) that you can get a sexually transmitted disease or infection from oral sex too. This is where flavored condoms come in and if you're not in an exclusive relationship where both of you get tested regularly, you should definitely have a box of these in your stash.
What I like about this brand is 1) the condoms are organic; 2) they are ethically made; 3) they're made out of latex and are ultra-thin (which your partner will definitely appreciate) and 4) they come in a variety of flavors. In fact, I recommend getting a variety pack (vanilla, strawberry, licorice, wildberry and blueberry) to see how you like 'em.
GLYDE is the company. The page for the variety pack is located here.
9. High on Love Chocolate Body Paint
Have you always been curious about whether or not weed ultimately makes sex better? If so, check out "7 Proven Ways Weed Makes Sex So Much Better". After doing that, getting yourself some chocolate body paint (the kind that has hemp seed oil in it) just may pique your interest. Some perks about this particular brand of body paint is it's water-based (so it won't jack up your sheets), it smells and tastes like chocolate and, since hemp seeds are full of protein and amino acids that can help to boost your energy levels, at the very least, you'll be in for a night of sensual experimentation and longevity. (EdenFantasys sells it. Get it here.)
10. We-Vibe Melt App Controlled Rechargeable Clitoral Stimulator
A couple of years ago, I wrote an article for the platform entitled, "How To Experience Amazing Foreplay (When You and Yours Are Apart)". The main reason why is because statistics show that at least 14-15 million people within the United States alone are currently in a long-distance relationship. If you happen to be one of them, hey, I don't have to tell you how challenging it can be when it comes to "scratching that itch", each and every time the mood hits. A work-around that can at least help things to become more bearable is a clitoral stimulator.
What intrigues me about this one is it comes with 12 different sensations, is waterproof and USB-rechargeable and you and your partner can connect it to an app so that he can help to get you off (yes, literally) no matter where he may be. The main hack to keep in mind is this one works best with some water-based lube. And while it's not the cheapest thing on the block (it currently retails for around $150), can you really put a price tag on consistent sexual pleasure? I mean, relatively-speaking? #wink (Get this at Lovehoney. Find it here.)
11. Wonderful Honey
Something that I kept hearing about the past few months, to the point where I did some investigating with some of the men in my world, is Wonderful Honey. Word on the street is it's a natural way to increase testosterone levels and build stamina and endurance. Each shipment contains 12 packets at 15 grams a pop. Like I said, men are huge fans. Couldn't hurt, right? (Medallion Mercantile is just one site that sells it. Check it out here.)
I don't think there's a better way to round up this sex-themed shopping list than to share with you something that I think every woman should own.
It's called a Dripstick and it's currently the only stick on the market that is able to remove excess fluid from your vagina following sexual activity. It's medical grade (a sponge is what you'll be using). The packaging is solid. It's also really easy to use (instructions are here).
So, if wet spots irk you, you and your partner like quickies but you hate the after-romp clean-up or there's some other reason why you've always wondered why something like this doesn't exist — Merry Christmas (LOL). It finally does. Awkward Essentials is the company. Get yourself at least one 20-pack box here. Enjoy!
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (email@example.com) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
Amber Riley Is In Her Element
Amber Riley has the type of laugh that sticks with you long after the raspy, rhythmic sounds have ceased. It punctuates her sentences sometimes, whether she’s giving a chuckle to denote the serious nature of something she just said or throwing her head back in rip-roarious laughter after a joke. She laughs as if she understands the fragility of each minute. She chooses laughter often with the understanding that future joy is not guaranteed.
Credit: Ally Green
The sound of her laughter is rivaled only by her singing voice, an emblem of the past and the future resilience of Black women stretched over a few octaves. On Fox’s Glee, her character Mercedes Jones was portrayed, perhaps unfairly, as the vocal duel to Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), offering rough, full-throated belts behind her co-star’s smooth, pristine vocals. Riley’s always been more than the singer who could deliver a finishing note, though.
Portraying Effie White, she displayed the dynamic emotions of a song such as “And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going” in Dreamgirls on London’s West End without buckling under the historic weight of her predecessors. With her instrument, John Mayer’s “Gravity” became a religious experience, a belted hymnal full of growls and churchy riffs. In her voice, Nicole Scherzinger once said she heard “the power of God.”
Credit: Ally Green
Riley’s voice has been a staple throughout pop culture for nearly 15 years now. Her tone has become so distinguishable that most viewers of Fox’s The Masked Singer recognized the multihyphenate even before it was revealed that she was Harp, the competition-winning, gold-masked figure with an actual harp strapped to her back.
Still, it wasn’t until recently that Riley began to feel like she’d found her voice. This sounds unbelievable. But she’s not referring to the one she uses on stage. She’s referencing the voice that speaks to who she is at her core. “Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind,” the 37-year-old says. “It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women. I got so comfortable in [doing so], and I really want other people, especially Black women, to get more comfortable in that space.”
“Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind. It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women."
If you ask Riley’s manager, Myisha Brooks, she’ll tell you the foundation of who the multihyphenate is hasn’t changed much since she was a kid growing up in Compton. “She is who she is from when I met her back when she was singing in the front of the church to back when she landed major roles in film and TV,” Brooks says. Time has allowed Riley to grow more comfortable, giving fans a more intimate glimpse into her life, including her mental health journey and the ins and outs of show business.
The actress/singer has been in therapy since 2019, although she suffered from depression and anxiety way before that. In a recent interview with Jason Lee, she recalls having suicidal ideation as a kid. By the time she started seeing a psychologist and taking antidepressants in her thirties, her body had become jittery, a physical reminder of the trauma stacked high inside her. “I was shaking in [my therapist’s] office,” she tells xoNecole. “My fight or flight was on such a high level. I was constantly in survival mode. My heart was beating fast all the time. All I did was sweat.”
There wasn’t just childhood trauma to account for. After auditioning for American Idol and being turned away by producers, Riley began working for Ikea and nearly missed her Glee audition because her car broke down on the highway while en route. Thankfully, Riley had been cast to play Mercedes Jones. American Idol had temporarily convinced her she wasn’t cut out for the entertainment industry, but this was validation that she was right where she belonged. Glee launched in 2009 with the promise of becoming Riley’s big break.
In some ways, it was. The show introduced Riley to millions of fans and catapulted her into major Hollywood circles. But in other ways, it became a reminder of the types of roles Black women, especially those who are plus-sized, are relegated to. Behind the scenes, Riley says she fought for her character "to have a voice" but eventually realized her efforts were useless. "It finally got to a point where I was like, this is not my moment. I'm not who they're choosing, and this is just going to have to be a job for me for now," she says. "And, that's okay because it pays my bills, I still get to be on television, I'm doing more than any other Black plus-sized women that I'm seeing right now on screen."
The actress can recognize now that she was navigating issues associated with trauma and low self-esteem at the time. She now knows that she's long had anxiety and depression and can recognize the ways in which she was triggered by how the cult-like following of the show conflicted with her individual, isolated experiences behind the scenes. But she was in her early '20s back then. She didn't yet have the language or the tools to process how she was feeling.
Riley says she eventually sought out medical intervention. "When you're in Hollywood, and you go to a doctor, they give you pills," she says, sharing a part of her story that she'd never revealed publicly before now. "[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that's not fixing my problem. If anything, it's making it worse."
“[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that’s not fixing my problem. If anything it’s making it worse.”
Credit: Ally Green
At one point, while in her dressing room on set, she rested her arm on a curling iron without realizing it. It wasn't until her makeup artist alerted her that she even realized her skin was burning. Once she noticed, she says she was "so zonked out on pills" that she barely reacted. Speaking today, she holds up her arm and motions towards a scar that remains from the incident. She sought help for her reliance on the pills, but it would still be years before she finally attended therapy.
This stress was only compounded by the trauma of growing up in poverty and the realities of being a "contract worker." "Imagine going from literally one week having to borrow a car to get to set to the next week being on a private jet to New York City," she says. After Glee ended, so did the rides on private planes. The fury of opportunities she expected to follow her appearance on the show failed to materialize. She wasn't even 30 yet, and she was already forced to consider if she'd hit her career peak.
. . .
We’re only four minutes into our Zoom call before Riley delivers her new adage to me. “My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway,” she says.
On this Thursday afternoon in April, the LA-based entertainer is seated inside her closet/dressing room wearing a cerulean blue tank top with matching shorts and eating hot wings. This current phase of healing hinges on balance. It’s about having discipline and consistency, but not at the risk of inflexibility. She was planning to head to the gym, for instance, but she’s still tired from the “exhausting” day before. Instead, she’s spent her day receiving a massage, eating some chicken wings, and planning to spend quality time with friends. “I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m not going to talk down to myself. I’m going to eat my chicken wings, and then tomorrow I’m [back] in the gym,” she says.
“My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway."
This is the balance with which she's been approaching much of her life these days. It's why she's worried less about whether or not people see her as someone who is humble. She'd rather be respected. "I think you should be a person that's easy to work with, but in the moments where I have to ruffle feathers and make waves, I'm not shying away from that anymore. You can do it in love, you don't have to be nasty about it, but I had to finally be comfortable with the fact that setting boundaries around my life – in whatever aspect, whether that's personal or business – people are not going to like it. Some people are not going to have nice things to say about you, and you gotta be okay with it," she says.
When Amber talks about the constant humbling of Black women in Hollywood, I think of the entertainers before her who have suffered from this. The brilliant, consistent, overqualified Black women who have spoken of having to fight for opportunities and fair pay. Aretha Franklin. Viola Davis. Tracee Ellis Ross. There's a long list of stars whose success hasn't mirrored their experiences behind the scenes.
Credit: Ally Green
If Black women outside of Hollywood are struggling to decrease the pay gap, so, too, are their wealthier, more famous peers.
Riley says there’s been progress in recent years, but only in small ways and for a limited group of people. “This business is exhausting. The goalpost is constantly moving, and sometimes it’s unfair,” she says. But, I have to say it’s the love that keeps you going.”
“There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman,” she continues. “We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
"There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman. We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
Last year, Riley starred alongside Raven Goodwin in the Lifetime thriller Single Black Female (a modern, diversified take on 1992’s Single White Female). It was more than a leading role for the actress, it also served as proof that someone who looks like her can front a successful project without it hinging on her identity. It showcased that the characters she portrays don’t “have to be about being a big girl. It can just be a regular story.”
Riley sees her work in music as an extension of her efforts to push past the rigid stereotypes in entertainment. Take her appearance on The Masked Singer, for instance. Riley said she decided to perform Mayer’s “Gravity” after being told she couldn’t sing it years earlier. “I wanted to do ‘Gravity’ on Glee. [I] was told no, because that’s not a song that Mercedes would do,” she says. “That was a full circle moment for me, doing that on that show and to hear what it is they had to say.”
As Scherzinger praised the “anointed” performance, a masked Riley began to cry, her chest heaving as she stood on stage, her eyes shielded from view. “You have to understand, I have really big names – casting directors, producers, show creators – that constantly tell me ‘I’m such a big fan. Your talent is unmatched.’ Hire me, then,” she says, reflecting on the moment.
Recently, she’s been in the studio working on original music, the follow-up to her independently-released debut EP, 2020’s Riley. The sequel to songs such as the anthemic “Big Girl Energy” and the reflective ballad “A Moment” on Riley, this new project hones in on the singer’s R&B roots with sensual grooves such as the tentatively titled “All Night.” “You said I wasn’t shit, turns out that I’m the shit. Then you called me a bitch, turns out that I’m that bitch. You said no one would want me, well you should call your homies,” she sings on the tentatively titled “Lately,” a cut about reflecting on a past relationship. From the forthcoming project, xoNecole received five potential tracks. Fans likely already know the strengths and contours of Riley’s vocals, but these new songs are her strongest, most confident offerings as an artist.
“I am so much more comfortable as a writer, and I know who I am as an artist now. I’m evolving as a human being, in general, so I’m way more vulnerable in my music. I’m way more willing to talk about whatever is on my mind. I don’t stop myself from saying what it is I want to say,” she says.
Credit: Ally Green
“Every era and alliteration of Amber, the baseline is ‘Big Girl Energy.’ That’s the name of her company,” her manager Brooks says, referencing the imprint through which Riley releases her music after getting out of a label deal several years ago. “It’s just what she stands for. She’s not just talking about size, it’s in all things. Whether it’s putting your big girl pants on and having to face a boardroom full of executives or sell yourself in front of a casting agent. It’s her trying to achieve the things she wants to do in life.”
Riley says she has big dreams beyond releasing this new music, too. She’d love to star in a rom-com with Winston Duke. She hasn't starred in a biopic yet, but she’d revel in the opportunity to portray Rosetta Tharpe on screen. She’s determined that her previous setbacks won’t stop her from dreaming big.
“I think one of my superpowers is resilience because, at the end of the day, I’m going to kick, scream, cry, cuss, be mad and disappointed, but I’m going to get up and risk having to deal with it all again. It’s worth it for the happy moments,” she says.
If Riley seems more comfortable and confident professionally, it’s because of the work she’s been doing in her personal life.
She’d previously spoken to xoNecole about becoming engaged to a man she discovered in a post on the site, but she called things off last year. For Valentine’s Day, she revealed her new boyfriend publicly. “I decided to post him on Valentine’s Day, partially because I was in the dog house. I got in trouble with him,” she says, half-joking before turning serious. “The breakup was never going to stop me from finding love. Or at least trying. I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness, and you enjoy it and work through it.”
Credit: Ally Green
"I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness and you enjoy it and work through it.”
With her ex, Riley was pretty outspoken about her relationship, even appearing in content for Netflix with him. This time around is different. She’s not hiding her boyfriend of eight months, but she’s more protective of him, especially because he’s a father and isn’t interested in becoming a public figure.
She’s traveling more, too. It’s a deliberate effort on her part to enjoy her money and reject the trauma she’s developed after experiencing poverty in her childhood. “I live in constant fear of being broke. I don’t think you ever don’t remember that trauma or move past that. Now I travel and I’m like, listen, if it goes, it goes. I’m not saying [to] be reckless, but I deserve to enjoy my hard work.”
After everything she’s been through, she certainly deserves to finally let loose a bit. “I have to have a life to live,” she says. “I’ve got to have a life worth fighting for.”
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Chilli Opens Up About Flak She Received For Refusing To Settle In Dating And How Matthew Lawrence Has Everything On Her 'List'
Rozanda "Chilli" Thomas' dating journey displays how refusing to settle, and setting standards could lead one to find their ideal partner.
Over the years, The TLC group member had high-profile relationships with music producer Dallas Austin, with whom she shares an adult son, and R&B singer Usher.
Since then, Thomas has confirmed that she’s now dating actor Matthew Lawrence. Thomas and Lawrence, who were romantically linked in the summer of 2022 when they were spotted vacationing in Hawaii amidst the Boy Meets World star's grueling divorce with Cheryl Burke, would confirm their relationship in January 2023.
In a statement released by Thomas' representative, Christal Jordan, toPeople magazine, Jordan revealed that the couple had been dating since November 2022, two months after Lawrence's divorce was finalized. Jordan also shared that since Thomas began dating Lawrence, the singer is the happiest she's ever been.
To date, the couple has showcased their love by uploading various dancing Instagram posts on their respective accounts and talking about their whirlwind romance in numerous interviews.
Recently, Thomas opened up about her relationship with Lawrence during a virtual interview with The Tamron Hall Show. While recalling her VH1 dating series, What Chilli Wants, which aired on the network from 2010 to 2011, the 52-year-old provided information about why she set such high dating standards in the form of a list known as "Chilli's Checklist" and the steps she took to prepare herself for love.
Chilli On Matthew and Her Dating List
During the May discussion, Thomas disclosed that she wanted to show women the importance of setting standards, and although, at the time, she received massive backlash for it, she refused to settle when it came to love.
Thomas received scrutiny for her list because many thought some of her standards were unobtainable. Thomas' requirements for an ideal partner included not wanting someone that drank, smoked, or ate pork.
In addition to all those qualities, the star also wanted someone that loved God. Because of Thomas' determination to find her perfect match, the "Creep" vocalist claimed that she "waited it out."
"On my show, I always hoped that women see the importance of having high standards. I got a lot of flack from that, but I don't care. For me, I just waited it out. I'm like, 'Lord, if it happens, wonderful. If it doesn't, I'm still okay," she said.
As the topic shifted to Lawrence, Thomas raved about her new beau and shared that the 43-year-old had met all the qualities she wanted in a partner, from his physical appearance to his love for God.
"Matthew, honestly, he's the list... He is my entire list, and so I thank god every day for this," she stated.
Even though it may have taken years and several failed relationships, it is inspiring to see that Thomas refused to settle and worked on herself along the way until she found her person.
Rozonda ‘Chilli’ Thomas’ Next Chapter & Romance With Matthew Lawrence
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