No More Fake Orgasms at Vondom Labs
Von is a sex-positive synth pop musician, who is currently based in NYC. She’s come a long way from her conservative, small town Pennsylvania roots, and is now making music with her orgasms via vibrator technology. This Valentine’s Day, Von is launching her campaign for Vondomlabs with a video for her latest song “Too Many,” as well as some Valentine’s Day PSA’s to send to your very own “one too many.” We at Pink Things love sex, orgasms, vibrators and pop music, so we’re all about it. No more faking it, we’re here to stand with Von to say that we want the real thing.
Malaika Astorga for Pink Things: So Von, we want to know who you are and why you do what you do. When did you decide that you had had one fake orgasm too many?
Von: Hi! I’m a self-produced artist based out of NYC. I make Sex-Positive Synth Pop with my own orgasm wave patterns using data from my Lioness (which is basically a Fitbit vibrator). I think I’ve had way more than one too many fake orgasms haha, but a lot of them were because I was so uncomfortable with my own body. It got to a point where I decided that enough was enough, and I prioritized educating myself about my body and my sexuality. This project started as a way to educate other people about sex positivity, but it turned into a way to encourage myself to be more communicative, and know that I deserve to feel good and prioritized with sexual partners.
PT: Tell us about Vondom Labs, the launch of your campaign and the “Too Many” video. Who do you hope to reach with the campaign, both online, and in real life?
Von: Vondom Labs is basically my own creative workspace for all of my ideas to live in. My bedroom studio is WIFI and window-less, sometimes really making it feel like I’m cooped up in my own laboratory.
Whether it’s making music, producing videos or working on sex tech product development, Vondom Labs is a conglomerate of all of the projects I’m working on either by myself, or with incredible friends that aim to make sex positive dialogues more normalized. I hope to reach people that are still uncomfortable by conversations surrounding sex positivity and sex education. I accidentally sent all of the PSA’s to my family group chat last week, so I guess you could say I’m hitting the mark.
For the “Too Many” video I worked with Alex Baumann, who’s an incredible animator. He motion captured Bethany Puente dancing and sculpted 3D vulvas that actually pulse to my own orgasm wave patterns using data from my Lioness!
Alex Baumann: I really wanted to abstract the female form and challenge how we see a body. When Von told me about her audio experimentation with her own orgasms I was amazed and decided I needed a way to visualize her method. She sent me the audio wave form she used in the song and I wrote a quick script to animate the 3D vulvas using that waveform.
PT: What kind of creative work do you love doing, and how did you figure that out? What do you want to say with your work that no one else will?
Von: I really think my creative method is just trying out a ton of wack shit until something sticks. Using orgasms to make music was one of many ridiculous ideas that actually worked out. I’m really lucky that I’ve found so many absurdly talented friends to work with who also encourage that type of thought process. Dannah Gottlieb is a photographer/director/tank of creativity that’s constantly down to think through crazy ideas with me. She helped me with this entire vonxvday campaign and there’s so many more friends who’ve have pitched in ideas and resources along the way. I think for all of us the focus is on saying what others won’t - for me that happens to be talking about sex education and sex positivity as a priority. I’ve had so many people say “no” to me regarding my art. I think that’s a clear sign that it’s important. If everyone’s already comfortable with what you’re doing, it isn’t as needed as you think it is.
PT: We think it’s important to highlight women who are using technology to empower themselves and each other. Technology shouldn’t be scary, it should be accessible! You’ve previously mentioned using Lioness and Serum, as well as the difficulty in accessing information about vibrator software. Why do you think vibrator companies are unwilling to share information about the orgasms that their are having?
Von: I think that there’s so many advancements in technology spearheaded by women that don’t get enough attention. Things like AI and sex tech are not only undeniable, but also incredibly exciting. Wasting time writing op-eds about why AI is ruining the future and taking away jobs is so unproductive and untrue. Women in tech already have an absurdly hard time gaining traction and resources. So when you have women in tech who also talk about sex it’s an even more absurd level of difficulty just to get people to take you seriously. There’s such little research that’s been done on orgasms.
Nicole Prause is a neuroscientist that researches human sexual behaviour, addiction, and the physiology of sexual response. Prause says that “orgasms are defined physically as 8-12 contractions that occur starting .8 seconds apart and increase in latency until they stop”. In a study she conducted, she found that multiple women were reporting that they had orgasmed when the data had actually reported that they hadn’t. The orgasm gap is so much larger than we think because we never even talk about what an orgasm actually is. I don’t think any company is unwilling to share information. I think there’s just such a lack of prioritization of studying orgasms or funding research about sexual development that many companies don’t have access to those resources or information in the first place.
PT: What’s your music-making process like? In other words, how many orgasms does it take to make a song you’re happy with?
Von: My music making process is a lot like most of my creative processes where I just mess around until something works. I use my orgasm patterns the same way I use any instrument. So if it fits I use it, if not I don’t and if a lot fit then I use multiple sounds from orgasms etc.
PT: The music industry can often be male-dominated, and unwilling to share resources, especially with women. When it comes to making music, have you experienced similar roadblocks in terms of learning about music production and software?
Von: I’ve definitely had experiences like that at the beginning, but now I really just don’t work with people that don’t give me the respect I deserve. There’s so many overqualified womxn in tech and music to collaborate with and learn from. It may seem like there’s only men that suck inhabiting those spaces, but that’s because they usually get most of the spotlight. There’s also a ton of men that don’t treat me any differently because I’m a woman, and if anything value my opinion more so because I have a different perspective than theirs. I think that if you invest in your peers, you have unlimited resources. There are so many sexist assholes in tech and music, but there are also many talented people who are joys to work with. I’m super lucky that a lot of them are or have become friends of mine that are willing to teach me and work together.
PT: On a more lighthearted note, what’s your favourite vibrator, and why?
Von: I gotta say my Lioness, not only is it just a really damn good vibrator, but it’s also given me so much more than orgasms.
PT: Knowing that your body is important, and worthy of having an orgasm can be a difficult process. There’s a lot of taboo around even owning a vibrator, never mind discussing the orgasms we have from them! What was your process in deciding that you wanted a vibrator in the first place? What would your advice be to other people who are interested in buying one, but are intimidated by the social stigma?
Von: I think it’s really an ongoing process that I’m still working on. Growing up in a space where no one talked about sex or sexuality I thought I was bizarre for wanting to own a vibrator. When I first moved to NYC I came into contact with companies like Unbound, Dame, Babeland, Make Love Not Porn, Lioness and others. It made me feel so comforted to know that there are so so so many people who talk about sex in a way that is welcoming, non-judgemental and inclusive.
To anyone who wants to buy a vibrator but is intimidated about how to go about it: you are not alone!!! My advice would be to check out the sex tech companies I’ve listed, or people on Instagram like Alison Falk, Jen Winston, Salty, Raquel Savage, The Cherry Revolution and so many more. The first thing is to know that there is a huge community of people (including myself!!!) to answer any questions you have, and that ultimately it’s your choice whether or not you want to buy a vibrator. Being comfortable with your body in general also makes you more able to communicate with sexual partners. I love my Lioness vibrator, but I’m also a huge fan of Unbound’s “Squish” and their “Zip Vibe” if you want something inexpensive just to see what owning a vibrator’s all about!
PT: We ask everyone this, what does pink mean to you?
Von: I think the color or idea of “pink” and sex positivity have a similar issue of being super taboo. I want to help people rethink their connotations with talking about sex the same way spaces like Pink Things Magazine wants to help people rethink their connotations with the idea of “pink”.
PT: Lastly, is there anything our audience should know about that you want to promote?
Von: Sex education should be prioritized, sex positive dialogues are vital and sex tech is the future!!
This interview was conducted via email and has been edited.
Valentine’s Day PSA’s
Vondom Labs #vonxvday
Animated by Alex Baumann
Malaika Astorga is Mexican Canadian artist based in Montreal QC. She is a writer, illustrator, animator and the Creative Director of Pink Things Magazine.