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Our annual Love & Sex issue features the Nooky Box, XoticSpot, the beauty of first dates, how to make it rain in Big Sky Country and more

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Missoula company Nooky Box offers sex toy subscriptions

More than 200 people packed into the taproom at Imagine Nation Brewing on a recent January weeknight to celebrate the launch of a new Missoula startup. It was the kind of event that's hard to describe without sounding, well, raunchy. Friends ate pop rocks and kissed in one corner, while in another corner couples tried to guess which sex toy best describes their personalities. In one room, a cornucopia's worth of vibrators were laid out for revelers to admire.

Still, the party's vibe was more liberated than licentious, which was just what Meg Ross had in mind. Ross is the founder of the Nooky Box, a new sex toy subscription service she hopes will change how we think about getting off.

Nooky Boxes, which start shipping this month, are collections of toys curated around a theme that can help customers experiment in the bedroom. Ross says the idea came to her during a wine party with friends as a way to promote sex-positive lifestyles, regardless of relationship status, sexual identification or gender identity. Its launch is being funded in part through an online crowdfunding effort that raised more than $10,000 in the past month.

click to enlarge 1-i6cover.jpg

By handpicking the products and shipping them straight to doorsteps, Ross thinks Nooky Box can remove the anxiety from sexual exploration, or the intimidating feeling of gazing upon a wall of dildos alongside other customers at the local sex emporium.

"We're taking away that scary factor so you can go straight into that positive conversation," she says.

She's doing that in part by avoiding the elements of the industry that promulgate narrow images of sexuality, like those that dominate mainstream culture. Her fundraising video, for example, uses upbeat music and colorful cartoon characters that wouldn't be out of place on Saturday morning television. "Yay sex!" is the company's slogan.

"What we want is for people of all shapes and sizes to feel comfortable, and if the image we're projecting is that you have to look like this to enjoy sex, we're not really encouraging people to be comfortable with themselves," Ross says.

Ross is making a point of catering to the LGBT community, a group she says is still underserved by the sex toy industry. Subscribers can choose from heterosexual, gay or lesbian packages, and may change at any time. Specialty boxes are also in development, like a bachelorette box, a lube box and a vibrator box, each of which will be sold individually. Each one will be filled with items that are tested by the Nooky Box team and that are made with body-friendly, recyclable materials. Ross is also working with a sex therapist to create an online advice column, tentatively called "Nooky U."

click to enlarge Missoula resident Meg Ross, founder of the Nooky Box, has created a sex toy subscription service that sends a curated collections of products to the buyer’s doorstep. Ross hopes it will help more people feel comfortable to embrace and explore their sexuality, whether alone or with partners. - PHOTO BY CATHRINE L. WALTERS
  • photo by Cathrine L. Walters
  • Missoula resident Meg Ross, founder of the Nooky Box, has created a sex toy subscription service that sends a curated collections of products to the buyer’s doorstep. Ross hopes it will help more people feel comfortable to embrace and explore their sexuality, whether alone or with partners.

Boxes will be shipped once every three months, at $80 a pop. The first ones, pre-sold to crowdfunding supporters, are about to go out. Ross says it's curated around the theme "sex is fun" and includes a vibrator, pop rocks, a feather tickler and her team's favorite lube.

"A nice big bottle of it," she says.

Derek Brouwer




Essay

Heart-shaped irony

The tricky business of being anti-Valentine's Day when you're in love

by Jamie Rogers

Months before I proposed to my wife, Carly, we spent Valentine's Day driving around Missoula looking for dinner. This scenario was of our own making: being jaded millennials, our plan to celebrate was not to make a big deal of it. We knew we were in love with one another and we didn't need a day on the calendar to remember it. Carly gave me a mix CD. I gave her a letter. Then we set out to find some dinner, if only to observe all the cooing couples and maybe to cash in on some drink specials. We agreed that any participation in America's day of romance would be ironic. This, at least, is what I thought.

The restaurants downtown were predictably booked, but with the mix CD playing on the car stereo we were happy to go for a drive. Carly is an irrefutable badass. I initially asked her out because she's beautiful, but I wanted her to like me because she's tougher than me. She also hated high school, which means she makes really good mix CDs. The V-day mix included songs by Alkaline Trio and The Murder City Devils, and when I listen to it now I feel lucky that such a radical lady agreed to marry me. But I'm smarter than I used to be.

After not finding a spot downtown, we headed south on Brooks Street and passed a dozen full parking lots before turning onto Reserve. By this point, our energy was festering. Regardless of how we felt about Valentine's Day, there was no denying the fact that this one was souring. The restaurants were crowded, full of couples agreeing to splurge on dessert, and there was no room for us. We were becoming the butt of our own joke, and so I did what any dude in his mid-20s would do: I made it worse.

Earlier that week, the lead singer of My Morning Jacket released a solo album. I'm not bashful about the powerful emotions that Jim James stirs in me, and his new record was good. At some point in our search for a restaurant with a table, our moods darkening, I decided to make myself feel better and said something to Carly like, "Hey, do you want to listen to this?" Given the context, it wasn't really a question. I ejected the mix CD before it had played through.

Carly didn't say anything about it—making a big deal of something I clearly felt was trivial would go nowhere. We'd talked about the superficiality of Valentine's Day, we agreed that we wanted to show one another how we feel everyday, not just when the calendar reminds us to. We didn't, however, agree that Feb. 14 would be a day to be inconsiderate. We finally found dinner at a grocery store hot bar. The dining area was empty and when we sat down, there wasn't much to say. We ate in silence.

Eight months later, I proposed to Carly because I was no longer able to imagine a future without her. I think she agreed for the same reason, and I think that is how you know you truly love someone. Marriage is affirming in ways I'm still wrapping my head around, but only if you're willing to deal with the crummier aspects of yourself. It's a tough exercise, but it's the truest way to show someone you care about them. And, really, it's what Valentine's Day is all about. Not lacy trinkets or heart-shaped stuffies or expensive desserts. Rather it's about recognizing you're not a perfect partner by showing the person you love that you'd like to be. Which isn't really so hard in my case; Carly has good taste in music.

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