By Brook Larios
Photos by Brevin Blach
(Published in the February 2011 issue)
Searching for the perfect nuptial dress? Pick up the latest issue of Glamour. Plagued with sexual dysfunction or something that lasts more than four hours? Tune-in to 91X and listen to Dr. Drew on Loveline.
Looking to wear your heart on your sleeve in San Diego? You’ve come to the right place.
To help answer that age-old question, “Would you be mine?” here’s a local look at sex, dating, love, break-ups, gifts and weddings—in that order.
The thought process: First, you meet. Despite promises and resolutions, sex comes sooner than planned. When stars align, dating leads to love. Or maybe it comes at first sight. Either way, when one lover’s jilted, or the passion passes, break-ups are inevitable. But so, too, are apologies—and the best part of making up? Gifts. If you’re still hanging in there, might as well throw a ring on it. (Cashing in on weddings that almost happened, downtown’s Palace Pawnbrokers may be able to help on that front; more on that later.)
Because a many-splendored thing can’t always be described in words, these images of model Brittany Binger, shot on location at the Hotel del Coronado, re meant to spark romance—or at least rekindle a love affair with our fair city.
Alone and in pairs (and quads), San Diegans are getting it on. Here’s how to make sex work with or without a partner—or with other people’s partners.
Overstock.com’s “It’s all about the O” slogan misses the mark when it comes to tantra, which thrives in San Diego thanks to more than 16 active teachers and a dozen or so events each month. By gazing, breathing and sharing sacred space (not only that space, boys), couples report heightened intimacy. In tantra, women are called “goddesses,” and their special spot is referred to as a yoni—Sanskrit for shrine.
“A traditional orgasm is like a genital sneeze; it’s this biological release,” says San Diego-based author and tantra teacher Kamala Devi, who’s been featured on The Tyra Banks Show. “When one’s devoted to the tantric path, they begin to open new understanding to new orgasmic channels.”
However, tantra is not only about heightened sex, Devi says.
“A lot of times, relationships get wonky because couples are holding grudges and resentment from the past,” she says. “Tantra really brings people into the present. There’s more to sex than what you see in porn or in Hollywood movies, and more than what you learned in high school.”
According to Devi, San Diego is the Western World’s hotbed of new tantric connections and innovations. Learn about the annual Tantra-Palooza Festival (to be held this year on 11/11/11) and reach an alternative level of sex education at Devi’s school, Bliss Coach University—A Virtual School for Creativity + Tantra.
The Buck Stops Here
Jennifer Lopez was probably right when she sang “Love Don’t Cost a Thing,” but pleasure, as it turns out, costs exactly 99 cents. The iVibrateMe app for iPhone is the brainchild of a San Diego real estate investor who put his time during the initial stages of the real estate downturn to good use: 20,000 apps sold and counting—thanks, in part, to a lively mention on The Howard Stern Show.
When asked whether the app’s gung-ho features will keep a girl warm at night, its creator says, “It could. For something that’s 99 cents, what’s the worst that can happen?”
Coincidentally, many a catastrophe has come to pass with those very words.
The wholesomeness of prime time’s Wife Swap takes on a deeper meaning at Thad’s, San Diego’s long-time swingers club. “Thad” Elbert B. Poppell began serving San Diegans sexual freedom in 1974, and the party is still going strong, five days a week. Think 1960s free love, but with lingerie, stilettos and cushy beds. Despite ample efforts to close the place down, a ruling in the ‘80s sided with Poppell’s first amendment rights.
“Judges have ruled that [“Thad’s”] civil rights allow him the right to assemble, even with nude people for the purpose of sex and the purpose of having sex with multiple partners.”
-The San Diego Union, April 16, 1988.
Thad’s does have rules, however, like this one: “NO MEANS NO: If you ask someone to dance or to party and they say no, don’t ask again. Really. If they change their mind, they will ask you. No touching or joining without permission. Ignoring this rule will cause you to be removed from the house.” thads.com
Time is money, and who wants to waste either on Yawnfest 2011, starring you and some Romeo who makes you wish you were at home watching The Bachelor? It may be time to expedite the dating process.
The Sweetest Thing
Eclipse Chocolat in North Park serves a rich, three-course choco dinner each week, but the weekend before Valentine’s Day, the place will be dishing up a decadent five-courser with an amuse bouche of savory truffles à la dark chocolate blackberry mustard and white chocolate lemon-thyme. Also on the menu: a beet, apple and goat cheese salad sprinkled with cocoa nibs; French onion soup with white chocolate lemon-thyme croûte (crust) and more goodness. $95 per couple.
“There’s a quality behind chocolate, creating happiness—certainly creating bliss. It’s even sexy, per se,” says Eclipse owner, Will Gustwiller. “There’s an excitement behind food. Eating food is a sensory experience, that’s for sure.”
Eclipse Chocolat, 2121 El Cajon Boulevard, North Park, 619.578.2984, eclipsechocolat.com
Sites for Sore Eyes
Nowadays, you can not only meet, but also cheat on your soul-mate online through sites like AshleyMadison.com. The dating site for the already-attached has more than 8.5 million users in nine countries.
“I don’t generate new infidelity,” says the site’s founder, Noel Biderman. “I just try to cannibalize it.”
With stars—and dollar signs—in his eyes, Biderman is shooting for the 20-country mark.
“We can and should ultimately have 100 million members,” he says, “and maybe, aside from Facebook, be the fastest growing social network on the planet.”
Depends on your definition of “social.”
Nothing but Net
If you’ve tried eHarmony, Match.com, PlentyofFish or JDate (Jewish) to no avail, I’m here to tell you there’s hope yet in the world of online dating.
Coincidentally, I’m it.
At 18, I ventured into the nethernets, back when online dating was taboo (circa 1998). With no interest in a long-term commitment, I was wooed instead by the prospect of seeing the type of Don Juan the computer would crank out thanks to some Silicon Valley geek’s programming formula. Plus, Match.com was just gaining momentum (it launched in 1995, but few people were using dating sites then) and was offering a free trial.
In less than a month, I met a feet-sweeping Latin hunk, was engaged a year later and married right after college. Fast-forward eight years: Married life is tip-top with my sweetie.
What is love? Ask a thousand people—get as many different answers. Despite PacificSD’s scorching love affair with our readers, we feel unequipped to define such a heartfelt emotion.
Instead, suffice it to say that we fell in love with this issue’s cover model, the man at her side and the perfect backdrop to a day by the sea, the Hotel Del Coronado.
A day at The Del—a love story
This issue’s cover model, Playboy Playmate (June 2007) Brittany Binger, was photographed on location at the Hotel Del Coronado, internationally famous and fabulous for 123 years.
Binger is besties with Kendra Wilkinson and makes frequent appearances on Kendra, the hit Reality TV show on E! She’s dating Cleveland Indians centerfielder Grady Sizemore and says she favors a quiet night in to a big night out.
“I don’t like to go out and party,” Binger says. “I love going out to dinner or just staying in and having [a man] cook for me.” She describes herself as an “old soul.”
“I’m like an 80-year-old trapped in this body,” she says. “Everyone thinks when you’re a model or you’re a Playmate that you’re crazy and you want to go out and run around naked. I’m actually really shy and like to stay in. I like to just be mellow.”
Binger’s on-camera partner, Peter Busalacchi, ain’t so hard on the eyes, either. An aspiring model and full-time restaurant manager, he’s a member of San Diego’s prominent Busalacchi family of restaurateurs. It’s rumored that Busalacchi will appear on a major network reality series this fall, though he won’t reveal which one.
For more than a century, couples have watched sunsets over the water from oceanview tables at the Hotel Del Coronado. For a romantic date with modern flair (served with a pinch of history), try this hedonistic line-up, created by Brian Sinnott, Chef de Cuisine at the Del’s 1500 Ocean restaurant.
Hors d’Oeuvres: Iced Pacific oysters on the half shell, chilled Dungeness crab spoons, beef tartare on brioche, Iberian ham and winter fruit
Amuse Bouche: Buckwheat blini, Osetra caviar and crème fraiche
First Course: Maine lobster with sea urchin butter, Kabocha squash foam and crispy speck
Second Course: Braised veal cheeks with celery root puree, baby carrots, black truffles and braising jus
Third Course: Handmade tagliatelle pasta with shaved white truffles from Alba, Italy (white truffles can sell for $2,000/lb or more).
Fourth Course: Filet of Wagyu beef with truffled golden potatoes, spinach, seared liver and Madeira reduction
Dessert: Grand Marnier soufflé with blood orange sauce
Hotel Del Coronado
1500 Orange Avenue, Coronado, 800.468.3533, hoteldel.com, dine1500ocean.com
Things don’t always work out. In fact, they rarely do. When relationships sour, sometimes getting out is the sweetest move.
Let’s Face It
Break-ups can be ugly —PacificSD Facebook fans can prove it
The PacificSD crew posted this question on our Facebook wall: “What’s the funniest and most tragic true breakup story you’ve ever been a part of?” Here are a few of our favorite responses (names shortened to initials; responses not edited— for spelling or grammar).
R.B. (woman): Not tragic because he was an asshole, but I went to Vegas with family and came home to find my bf had moved all of his stuff out without saying a word. In fact, he kept calling asking when I’d be home, how much he missed me, yadda yadda. Days later I got the cable bill and there were $100 in charges for porn. God, I hated that guy.
T.M. (man): My buddy got dumped on New Years three years ago, the same night his girlfriends sister threw up in his bed and the cops broke up a party at his house
B.H. (woman): Does leaving an engagement ring on a guy’s toothbrush count? (he deserved it) What if you move in with his best friend later that week? oh, snap!
M.E. (man): Totally cliche I know but I came home to find all of my clothes in a pile in the middle of the street because she had found a text message on my phone that was from my ex I hadn’t even seen in person for two years. Just a wee bit crazy, good riddance
S.L. (woman): haha well I wasnt a part of this but my friend told me about her break up once and its funny so ima tell it anyway. My friend back in high school was dating this guy for a while and he called her one day and all he said was “your dumped” then he put the phone near the toliet and flushed it so it made the flushing sound on the phone.
For A Real Good Time
If your love life has been a series of nasty break-ups, Matt McMullen may have a solution. For those who can’t seem to make it work with real people, he created RealDoll, anatomically correct men and women made of silicon, some softer materials—and some stiffer ones. McMullen says it isn’t all about sex.
“A lot of the people that are intrigued with and buy the RealDoll use them in a lot of ways other than the obvious,” he says.
Wanna cuddle? At $6,500, Bianca (as she was called in the indie flick Lars and the Real Girl) is all yours. She even has homegrown roots, hailing from San Marcos’s Abyss Creations. Or maybe you prefer a Bruce, the strong, silent type.
“It’s remarkable and flattering that many different types of people find it appealing,” McMullen says.
After parting ways with RealDoll, former Abyss Creations contractor Matt Krivicke launched a competing brand called Lovable Dolls from his Valley Center home. He was later sued by McMullen, who prevailed.
Lord of the Rings
Downtown’s Palace Pawnbrokers is billed as the oldest pawnshop in San Diego. Open for nearly 60 years, the place stocks remnants of relationships gone sour (i.e. relinquished engagement rings and wedding bands).
“That’s a very typical part of our business,” says owner Jeff Bernard, former president of the San Diego County Pawnbrokers Association.
Bernard says buying gold and diamonds from Palace is a safe bet.
“We guarantee the ring,” he says. “We don’t guarantee the relationship.”
What gives? On Valentine’s Day, we do. According to the NationalRetail Federation, Americans spent about $14 billion on V-Day gifts last year. Whether or not it’s the thought that counts, buying local can stimulate the San Diego economy—and your date.
Nothing says “I lust you” like 500 calories in three bites. Propose, proposition or bid adieu with a dozen custom-designed cakes for $40 from San Diego’s Cupcake Concepts, or order a dozen cupcakes designed to look like a pot of roses for $50.
Give it Up
Candied hearts and chocolates are soon forgotten, but a heartfelt donation leads to long-lasting gratitude. Give blood to the San Diego Blood Bank or donate to the American Heart Association. sandiegobloodbank.org, heart.org
Let your love soar at trapeze school. Trapeze High offers courses in Del Mar and Escondido. Cost is $60 for a 90-minute class and $150 for a month of unlimited flying. trapezehigh.com Take it Slow Wow your Valentine with a bottle of the best. The most expensive wine at Eno Wine Room at the Del, a 1961 Lopez de Heredia Viña Bosconia Gran Reserva Rioja made from Spanish Tempranillo grapes, is yours for $2,300. At this price, don’t just smell the cork—eat it. hoteldel.com
Oysters’ aphrodisiacal qualities are debatable, but watching your date’s mouth open to receive the oyster is decidedly sexy. Carlsbad Aquafarm raises an assortment of shellfish, including oysters, sustainably. Get them fresh at the Hillcrest Farmers Market every Sunday. carlsbadaquafarm.com
San Diego design maven Barbara Rourke, of the firm Bells & Whistles, is responsible not only for fabulous interiors (like those of Starlite in Little Italty and The Smoking Goat in North Park), but also jewelry design. Find her latest collection, with prices from $35 to $50, on Etsy.com under “loulouandmaxime.”
Get dolled up and surprise your Valentine with tickets to the San Diego Symphony’s centennial season. Winter Pops concerts are a good start for newbies—top hat not required.
The most extravagant wedding ever held at the Hotel Del Coronado took place last summer and featured, among other luxuries, exotic flowers flown in from Hawaii and South America. Price tag? $225,000.
In case your budget is higher or lower, here are some other homegrown nuptial options to consider.
Meet caterers, shop for dresses and talk to industry pros at these upcoming WEDDING EXPOS
Talk with reps from more than 60 ceremony and reception locations, meet 45 photographers and videographers, listen to dozens of DJs and musicians and see the latest and greatest from legions of cakemakers, caterers and florists at San Diego’s largest bridal show. Tickets: $12.
San Diego Convention Center, 111 West Harbor Drive, downtown, 760.334.5500, bridalbazaar.com
Fairy Tales, Fashion & Fun Bridal & Business Expo
Taste champagne, compete in the Glass Slipper contest and feel like a princess in advance of the big day. Tickets: $10.
Doubletree Golf Resort, 14455 Penasquitos Drive, Carmel Mountain, 858.672.9100, thebridalfaire.com
Temecula Wedding Event
See wedding gown fashion shows and talk with nearly 100 exhibitors, including vendors from the Temecula Wine Country. Marriage feeling like a gamble? Try your luck at the casino after shopping for the perfect dress.
Pechanga Resort, 4500 Pechanga Parkway, Temecula, 877.522.7158, temeculaweddingevent.com
US Grant Wedding Showcase
M Bride Couture Gowns will be displayed alongside inspired men’s fashions and a tiara and jewel collection from Tiffany & Co. Enjoy gourmet hors d’oeuvres, sip champagne and signature cocktails and hope to win a luxury vacation to Hawaii. Tickets: $20.
US Grant Hotel, 326 Broadway, Downtown, 619.232.3121, usgrant.net
Del Mar Wedding Event
All-day fashion shows by gown designers Elyse Reuben and Bridals by Susanti make finding the right dress easy at the Del Mar Wedding Event, featuring more than 70 exhibitors. Tickets: $10.
Del Mar Marriot, 11966 El Camino Real, Del Mar, 858.523.1700, delmarweddingevent.com
The King and I
When it comes to weddings, Elvis is always in the building
For Vegas-style nuptials without leaving town, enter the Downtown, El Cajon or San Marcos courthouse unmarried—and leave a Mr. or Mrs. The whole deal costs just $64, and you can complete the kitschy authenticity of your special day with the velvet voice of Paul Monroe, whose life involves channeling Elvis in San Diego, Vegas and New York.
“I eat, sleep and drink Elvis,” he says. “That’s the only music I follow and I’ve been doing that for 25 years.”
Say, “I do,” to $500, and Ackerman will serenade your ceremony with 10 to 12 songs. paulmonroe-tlc.com
A Grand (or less) Old Time
If a sun-drenched, waterfront wedding is your dream, you can make it come true for less than a thousand bucks. Elope San Diego’s Steve and Christine Haslet offer Easy Elope packages on the sand in Coronado for $995 (for four guests or fewer). The cost includes an officiant, license filing, bouquet, valet parking for you and your honey, a photographer, plus 60 prints and a CD with all the images. You even get the copyright to all the pics, with which few photographers part. Invest in a mate, borrow a dress (you really will wear it only once), and you’ve got marital bliss—with money left for rent.