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Interviews Opportunities

#MySexPositive Interview Series

Call for Writers, Sexperts, Educators, Activists!  The safer sex collective, Condom Monologues, is running an interview series about sex positivity.

The idea of the interview is to break down the painfully ambiguous term “sex positive” and reflect on the differences WITHIN the movement. This comes at a time when sex positivity is flourishing like never before.  But that abundance also means a crowded and confusing market of vibrators, workshops, lady blogs and sexperts. Some contradictory; some repetitious. Diversity is to be celebrated. But how do each of us sort through to find our own position within the sex positive community?

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Three Core Questions

The interview involves answering these questions.

1) Identify one or two trends, or influential people in the Sex Positive community that you identify with (or are inspired by) and those trends which you relate to not-so-much.

2) How do you define “sex positivity” for yourself and your work? In other words, what is your primary passion and how do you distinguish your writings and interests from other branches of thought within the sex positive movement?

3) What directions do you think sex positivity will take within the next 5 – 10 years? Or what topics and with what platforms would you like to see sex positivity develop more thoroughly within the next 5 – 10 years?

This series is about listening to the differences, the contradictions, the real experiences of sex positivity.  It is an opportunity for people who identify (or do not identify) with the movement to share their standpoints. It’s a way to learn more about ourselves and what matters through each other.

Participate in the series by simply sending us an email.  Hope to hear from you!

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Interviews

Cleo Dubois – Founder of Academy of SM Arts

cleoHow long have you been teaching?

I have been teaching for about 20 years

How did you get started in sex/kink education?

It started when Leather Conferences such as Living in Leather, National Leather association, Janus and several private BDSM venues asked me to present. I was on many discussion panels and then started to present BDSM/Kink subject I was especially passionate about.

Are there any topics that you consider your specialty?

Yes and they are all in the realm of BDSM/Kink:

– Flogging from mild to catharsis, timing, skills and energy awareness

– Caning from light to heavy

Both of these specialties not necessarily about punishment games but also about ritual, catharsis and healing

– Play piercing – technique, safety, energy, design,  intent, ritual

– Play piercing , needle pull – ritual, healing, connecting, spiritual journeying

– Energy, sensing, breath, moving into a partner  body with sm play

– Improvising role-play and keeping some humor about it all

– Scene dynamics, going on a BDSM journey together without script

– Negotiation, archetypes, play persona and role-play

– I also teach rope bondage a la twoknottyboys style

 

You’ve been a long time educator, leader and lifestyle player. Can you talk about the pro’s & con’s of pursuing a profession in the world of sexuality

Pro: if you are truly called to do it. do it. it is so satisfying to share your passions and help others find their way, find the intimacy and the beauty of consensual erotic explorations.

It is not a chosen path that will make you rich, or provide you with retirement, health insurance , paid vacation. Being an entrepreneur is not for everyone .. burning out can be an issue. and adaptation  to new marketing  technologies can be really stressful.

 

Have you seen any changes in the BDSM community education over the years?

Yes of course. There are many many venues, organized BDSM communities with meetings of all kinds, support group of ll types, conferences,  contests, on line learning  and live in the flesh classes. When I got into the lifestyle there was Janus and that was it, then Outcasts women only. Then Aids struck and sex got taken out of SM. The years of the plague were devastating.. and  some of us survived. Now there is a mix of tantra, BDSM and sex. Great! I love that!  There also seems to be many more folks interested in M/s…  and many broken hearts who have been collared and dismissed….

Since 50 shades there is an explosion of ‘advice’    pick and choose, buyer beware!

 

You founded The Academy Of SM Arts in 1995, what originally inspired you to create the intensives?

What I learned i learned from experiencing, topping, bottoming, orgasmic sex, pain, rituals, fantasies fulfillment… i stepped into  my dominant shoes, my caring sadistic shoes,  but also my masochistic heels and got on my knees and made mistakes and took risks. I wanted to teach  hands- on  in small groups . That is what the erotic dominance Intensives are about.  You do not just watch and listen, you do it.

 

Do you have any pet peeves about sex educators?

My main pet peeve is folks who do not give credit where credit is due. and also bad advise. Like these young woman telling  BDSM newbies that they will get kink education on Fetlife. Really, there i a lot there, a lot  that can really freak people out.

Encouraging  folks to find embodied  community, mentors  and get involved – not just online exchanges.

 

Do you have any last recommendations for aspiring sex educator?

You are doing a service to our sex negative society, share what you know, keep on learning, have fun and get paid for your work .

 

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Interviews

Playing Well With Others: an interview with Lee and Mollena

Your new book Playing Well With Others: Your Field Guide to Discovering, Exploring and Navigating the Kink, Leather and BDSM Communities is soon to be released, why did you two decided to co-author it?

Lee –  I was at a kink conference where a guy who was new to the scene showed up and was complaining about the event… that it was so “spiritual” and not “play” oriented enough (though he was a tad ruder than that).  I asked him if he had looked at the website and seen that the event described itself as a relationship and energy focused kink event.  I then asked him why he was at the event, and he said it was the one nearest to him. He had no idea that there were a wide variety of events, and he could have gotten his needs better met at a different conference.

I realized then that no one had written a book on the topic, so I started doing so.  After working on it for a chunk of time, I gave up. I felt too burned out on the topic. I asked a number of folks if they might be interested in collaborating, and they were all so excited about what I had already done, and wanted to help finish it.  Mollena on the other hand said it was a good idea, but had great ideas on different directions it could go, and brought her own vision to the project. I knew she had to be my co-author on the project :)

Mollena  – Lee approached me having already embarked on a search for a collaborator on a very ambitious topic and project. Upon seeing what he’d written, and after getting my feedback on where I felt we could take this and managing to help dissolve some of the overwhelming nature of an undertaking this massive,  we both agreed we would work together well and had similar enough passion and dissimilar enough experience to really make an impact with this project.

 

Bringing a book from idea to print is a commitment of creativity and discipline, how did the process go?

Lee – I showed up to the first multi-day session that Mollena and I had scheduled to do with 70+ pages of notes. No, really.  I had been working for a while, and it was insane.  She and I took topics and rearranged them, cut notes into pieces and threw the pieces of paper into different piles, weeded stacks of stuff that did not need to be in the book out – it was an intense process. After that it was days at a time of writing retreats, rounds of back and forth on google documents, too many hours pouring over notes, and of course lots of cupcakes.

Mollena – It was delightful. It was far less lonely than working on my previous project. I felt like I had to up my game, as I was challenged by someone I respected to make this project happen. I had to find out how to communicate my ideas not just on the page but to the other person with whom I’d embarked on this journey. Ultimately it was an unparalleled chance to work on something with another person who was also in there for the long-haul. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

 

As the ‘kink community’ grows and more people discover their interest in exploring BDSM, it’s important for them to know how to navigate the different ways to be involved, how will your book help readers out on that journey?

LeePlaying Well is a great way not only to learn about the wide variety of paths available within the kink community, but also figuring out *your* right path through the exciting choices out there! Plus, getting to find out about how to avoid social pitfalls, and wipe out a stack of myths that pervade about the kink communities before you even get involved, is such a stress relief.

Mollena – Hopefully it will help folks have an opinion about what acceptable behavior looks like. I hope that people who read the book will be less likely to take everything they see and hear about the community at face value, and have a reference that is trustworthy and reliable. I think it also helps serve as a reminder for those who have been around for a while to refresh and level-set and remember what brought us here and what keeps us coming back.

 

I love that you encourage readers to find the right experiences for them, do you have any recommendations if someone has a bad first encounter? 

Lee – Consider looking at how to *not* repeat the patterns that happened last time. If it was meeting a solo person off the internet, look into meeting folks at a local Munch instead. If it was the fact that that big kink conference was too overwhelming, examine what smaller events might be a good fit for you. There are a lot of choices out there for how to pursue first steps, and why do the same steps a second time?  Also… be kind to you as you figure it all out.

Mollena – Take a look at what was difficult in the encounter: was it miscommunication? Was there intentional overstepping of boundaries? When scenes are difficult (I don’t use the term “bad” because I feel it makes pejorative something that could be a learning experience) often there is the desire to lay blame. Rather than point fingers, see what your part In the issue was: inexperience? Communication? Was it just a bad day? Or was it negligence? If it was a situation where you were treated poorly or deliberately injured, this is a very different situation. If something criminal is perpetrated, it is my opinion that pressing charges is always an option. However, most problems encountered are due to mis-communication and decompressing after the experience and then communicating with the involved party helps to salvage the situation and bring it back around to something that can help you grow.

 

Both of you have been long time leaders in the kink scene, what is a favorite memory of a time when you “played well with others”?

Lee – I think the opportunity to act as an “interpreter” between the different parts of the kinky sex communities has been one of my favorite experiences in the scene(s).  Helping Leathermen talk to cuddle party folks, swingers talk to BDSMers, fetishists to sex nerds – those moments when folks go “oh, I get it” totally light me up.

 

What advice would you give to others who would like to publish a sexuality related book?

Lee – Figure out why you really want it out there.  Assess if anyone has written a book on the topic already by doing a *lot* of research, and ascertain whether your book will add something new to the catalogue out there. And find a great editor, even if you are self-publishing, please. Our community, and your vision, deserves excellence and correct grammar.

Mollena – Write what you are passionate about. And don’t expect to get wealthy from it.

 

Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about “Playing Well With Others”?

Lee – Whether you are a wide-eyed explorer or a jaded veteran, there is something for you to check out with the book. Let’s get the conversation going on how to create a healthier, sexier, sustainable commUNITY!

This article was originally posted on Fearless Press

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Interviews

Jacq Jones – Owner of “Sugar” Sex Toy Shop

When did you open Sugar and what inspired you to do so?

Sugar opened in April of 2007. Previous to opening Sugar I worked in reproductive health care and sexuality education in both clinical and administrative settings. I had the opportunity to work in a sex positive sex toy store and was thrilled to be able to do the same work, but to come from a wholely pleasure based perspective rather than a disease based model. After I moved away from the city with that store, I frequently considered opening a sex positive store in Baltimore. Several years later, we were able to raise the capitol and open the store. Running a for profit, mission driven business is challenging and deeply rewarding.

When did you start to identify as an educator? Was it before, the same time as opening the shop, or was it later?

I’ve been doing sex education since college. I was trained as a peer educator and distributed condoms from my dorm room. As a woman, I have been interested in reproductive rights, education and justice since high school. I firmly believe that our ability to make decisions about our reproductive lives is a critical piece of equality. Because being sexual or asexual in a manner of one’s choosing is a basic part of being human, expressing one’s sense of self and connecting with others.

What is one thing that people would never guess about owning and running a sex shop?

Running a sex toy store is running a retail business. That means you need to love retail. You need to use Quick Books. You need to deal with payroll. You need to mop the floors. Running a sex toy store is a job in which you hold the space and provide the means for your community to celebrate their individual sexualities. It is not, however, a terribly sexy job. It’s hard, detail oriented work. Just like any other small business. Except since it’ an adult business, you don’t qualify for assistance from the SBA. Most banks won’t loan to you and most credit card companies won’t process your credit cards.  There’s absolutely ways around these things, but it requires an extra level of creativity.

Are there any topics that you consider your specialty?

I love, love, love to teach about sex and menopause, hot safer sex, g-spots, cunnilingus, blow jobs and harness play.  I think my true specialty is being able to work with folks and provide information in a manner that is accessible to where they are.

Do you have any pet peeves about sex educators?

We’re all in this together. There’s plenty of education opportunities to go around. Many of us are great at supporting each other – we need to keep it up!

I can imagine it’s tough to pick your favorites, but if you had to pick ONE sex toy to recommend to a couple, what would it be and why?

The Spare Parts Joque Harness, Jimmy Jane’s Form 2 and Sliquid’s Sassy lube

You book other educators to teach live classes at your brick & mortar store, how do you decide who to invite to teach?

I’m very picky. I usually only book an educator that I’ve seen teach or that someone I trust implicitly has seen teach and recommends. I need to feel confident that the educator has values that intersect with how we understand sex positive sex education and that they are able to present information in a manner that is fun and accessible. Next I look for someone who has the ability to teach on topics that the educators in our store might not have in their arsenal.

What advice would you give aspiring sex toy shop owners?

If you are interested in opening a sex toy store, first I’d suggest that you spend at least a year, preferably two working in retail. Make sure that you have professional experience in budgeting, staff management and purchasing. If possible, have six months of expenses in the bank before you open. Learn some counseling skills and take every workshop you can find (in person or online) on sex and sexuality. AASECT, Passionate U, Fet Fest and Dark Odyssey can be great resources. Lastly, open your store somewhere that doesn’t already have a sex positive store. There are plenty of cities that need a sex positive store – look around – and move if you need to!

Sugar
927 West 36th Street
Baltimore, MD 21211
phone 410.467.2632
fax 410.467.2631
Sugar is a lesbian owned, multi-gender operated, for profit, mission driven sex toy store.  By providing education and toys in a shame-free, sex-positive environment, we help people of all genders and sexual orientations experience their own unique sexuality with shameless joy and passion.
City Paper’s Best Adult Store, Best of Baltimore 2007-2011
City Paper’s Best Adult Store, Reader’s Poll 2007-2011
Baltimore Magazine Top 50 Hot Stores in Baltimore
Nominee O Award 2011

 

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Interviews

Shellie – Founder of Crystal Delights Toys

When did you first get the idea for Crystal Delights Toys?

Crystal Delights actually first started as a digital dildo in the virtual world Second Life that would make your avatar orgasm. We attended NELA’s summer fetish flea in Boston where we saw some stainless steel plugs with beautiful crystals in the end. I approached the lady who owned the business and told her she should make some in glass, she said she wasn’t interested in that and that we should do it so we did! LOL I worked for a large online sextoy company at the time so I had the platform to sell from and the first “real life” Crystal Delights toys were born.

How did you bring your ideas from concept to creation?

R&D is the fun part, there are always so many ideas and so much potential, the thing I like about glass over other mediums like steel and silicone is that we don’t need to develop molds, glass is more fluid and can be changed easily if a customer wants something just a little bit different than everyone else. We like to bring our customer base into R&D as well, after all it is our customers that know what they want and we find they are always willing to give us feedback and new ideas! It’s one of the things I love most about this business!

How have your products been received by customers & the sex positive community?

From the very beginning we have had an overwhelmingly positive response to our toys by both our customers and the sex positive community, we are so grateful! We believed from the start that what we wanted to do was build the business on a grassroots level, that we wanted to make a quality product in the United States and let it stand on its own and it has! We started out working from the old saying if you cant give it away you cant sell it, we have followed this in giving our products to bloggers for review. We are well reviewed and almost everyone has been positive! If you search the internet for Crystal Delights you will find many of our product reviews, we see this as success!

Do you have a personal favorite from your toy collection?

Currently my personal favorite is our new colored twist. It just looks so beautiful with the color twisted up the edge of the glass! But it seems my favorite changes with each new batch of glass we bring to market, they each have their own appeal!

I love that charity is such a big part of your business philosophy, can you share why you it’s so important to you?

Charity has always been important to us even before Crystal Delights was started. We participated in charity events within Second Life and it was just a given that we would continue it with our “real life” line. Everyone has either themselves or someone close to them that has dealt with cancer, myself included, Colors Against Cancer is the result of giving back. We also discovered that within the adult community it was difficult to obtain funding for important projects such as education, we joined together with some of the leaders in the industry, manufacturers such as ourselves and started Crystal Causes which we hope someday can be an actual charitable cause. We also support animal causes with the sale of our real fur tails. Because together we can make a difference…

What are your plans for the future of Crystal Delights Toys?

Wow that is a good question, we think that Crystal Delights has only just begun to show us what it is capable of! We have so many ideas on the drawing board and many more concepts coming. There might even be a special Kink Academy toy in the future! We are working on some floggers, a more kink focused line of plugs with attachments and you will see a very special announcement soon for a toy to go along with the hottest adult movie to come out in a long time! We are very much looking forward to the future with many more Crystal Delights toys.

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Interviews

Dr. Ruthie – Sexuality Communicator

How long have you been teaching?

I began offering sex education in 2000, during an undergraduate college internship at a women’s health clinic. I first began teaching about sexual well-being professionally around 2003 and it has become a bigger part of my life every year since!

When did you start to identify as an educator? Was it the same time, or was it later?

I believe it was in 2005 that I first started thinking of myself as an educator instead of a volunteer or outreach worker. It was at that time that I began teaching about sex and gender as a guest lecturer in University classrooms, and that somehow legitimized things for me. Of course, now I realize that one doesn’t need to teach at a school to be an educator.

Did you do anything in particular to prepare for being a sex educator?

Yes, I got a LOT of training and mentorship! My own university studies did not focus on sex or gender most of the time, unfortunately. So, I attended a lot of professional conferences and other training events, read every good book and journal article I could, became a member of relevant professional associations, and went out of my way to network with experienced educators who could mentor me. And I still do all of those things! Now I contribute to all of those avenues as a professional, too.

How did you get started in sex education?

I was fortunate to have an internship with a local clinic’s pregnancy options counselors (aka an abortion counselor) when I was an undergrad. I learned a great deal during that time, and not just just about the politics and experiences around abortion.

Are there any topics that you consider your specialty?

I do a great deal of work around gender-queer and sex-queer experiences and identities, as well as sex & aging and sex & disability. However, most of my work is of a generalist nature, and is focused on sexual communication, techniques, and pleasure.

Have you seen any changes in the sex positive community education over the years?

It’s possible that I’ve simply become more aware of the community with time and involvement, but I do think we’re a growing movement! With the slow growth in relevant university programs and other training opportunities, we’re also becoming a better educated movement.

Do you have any pet peeves about sex educators?

There is a lot of value in sharing one’s sexual experiences, but that isn’t the same thing as sex education. Quality sex educators do not assume that their experiences are (or should be) representative of others’, nor do they teach from their own experiences. It’s an easy mistake to make, but it’s unfortunately how often I see educators who seem to be unaware that it is a mistake.

What advice would you give aspiring sex/kink educators?

You don’t need a university degree in this area to do good work, but you do need to invest a great deal of your time, energy, and resources into your own training. And that commitment never ends! If you’re not willing to dedicate yourself to ongoing learning, then you’re putting yourself and those who learn from you at risk.

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Interviews

Sarah Sloane – Community Leader

How long have you been teaching?

I’ve been teaching technically since 2000, at the behest of the members of the club that I was pledging (though I’d done some corporate training prior to that). I started to teach at other local groups, and then offered to present at Black Rose’s big event a year or two later…and I was off and running.

How did you get started in sex/kink education?

I’ve always felt a passion for teaching – starting in college, when my intended major was geared to prep me to teach high school (though that never materialized). Finding the connection between my own personal growth as a sexually aware and responsible adult and the ability to help give other people the opportunities for learning & growing really charged my “calling” to be an educator. In 2004, I started taking that calling very seriously, and put myself out there to events & groups as a skilled educator. Since then I’ve taught over 650 classes to an immense range of people, groups, events, and professional organizations.

Are there any topics that you consider your specialty?

When it comes to a “specialty”, you have to look behind the class descriptions. I have a tremendous range of classes (which I believe makes me an easy fit for a group or event, as I can tackle a wide variety of topics), but one of the core concepts that I talk about in every one of my classes is communication. Learning to build the skills necessary to communicate with our partners is important, whether you’re talking about open relationships, g-spot play, butt sex, or even impact play!

Have you seen any changes in the BDSM community education over the years?

BDSM community education has really grown and stretched in ways that I think are amazing. We’re integrating more concepts from social media and crowdsourcing for opportunities to learn in more hands-on, informal ways, rather than in the traditionally structured manner that most of us are accustomed to. Sadly, some of the result of that is that there are people teaching out there that lack the combination of technical skill and interpersonal communication skills (not to mention the ability to get- and hold – the audience’s attention), and so there is little in the way of discourse on how to gain those skills. I’m trying to change that in small ways, by talking about becoming a sex or kink educator, helping facilitate conversations & workshops on skill building, and other things – but there is still  a long way to go!

You’ve been head of education for a few events, can you talk about what the pro’s and con’s were of those experiences?
When I’ve been the programming director for events, it’s been a joy – and a pain. The class offerings that educators submit range from the super basic to the highly arcane – no event needs 15 basic play classes, and for many events, something that is highly specialized or specific isn’t a good choice. I have seen classes that, based on the description, could not have been done in 90 minutes, and classes that had one good, 30 minute class with too much padding – and neither of those serve the attendees well at all. What I have loved is working with educators who really do focus on what they can bring to the attendees to help them learn & grow; I’ve seen so many people who have been flexible, responsive, professional, and really “got” that they are the key to a successful event, and they make doing the programming side a true joy & pleasure. What really made the events amazing for me is hearing the chatter between classes or after the event on mailing lists or forums that spoke about those perception-changing moments that people have when they’re in classes – when they learn something in a way that really clicks for them, or when they hear an idea that they’d never explored, but was a perfect fit for their next step in growth. The knowledge that all the work that the staff and the educators had done was really yielding benefits for the attendees is really an amazing gift.

Now you work as a manager/education booker at the Pleasure Chest in Chicago, what’s it like to schedule educators in a brick & mortar store?

Scheduling educators for us at The Pleasure Chest is very different than at events. We definitely go through a vetting process with any outside educators that we bring in; we often have conversations with other store managers and owners to try to find great educators, and we have to ensure that the people we bring in are giving education in a way that’s compatible with our own corporate brand – so their point of view, their ability to teach to all genders, orientations, backgrounds, and socio-economic levels is a key part of what we’re looking for. Because we are a retail store, we also have to ensure that our educators bring in a crowd and help them feel great about their experience with us, because that experience will determine whether the attendees shop & recommend us to others. Fortunately, we have a lengthy training process that our own staff go through to become Sex Specialists, so we have the ability to have our educators on premises regularly – and that helps our customers to learn & grow, even outside of normal class times.

Do you have any pet peeves about sex educators?

I have pet peeves about everything – just ask anyone who knows me :) Seriously, though, there are a few things that really turn me off when I see them in educators:

-Overly competitive attitudes – I promise you, there are enough places for educators without having to fight over them. When a presenter touts themselves over others, it creates a situation which isn’t good for any of us. And educators do talk with each other & with the people who book us; if we don’t feel like someone has our backs, we won’t recommend them. Ideally, educators should be able to help each other rise to their greatest abilities, not serve as backs for another person to stand on.

-Big egos – a lot of us to go into events where we teach or play, and constantly hear how awesome we are. Unfortunately, some folks get into teaching because they want the attention or approval of others, and that can end up setting the educator up for a big ego challenge that’s based on surface performance, not true inherent value. Most people go through this on some level or another, but when it’s too prominent, or turns into the educator feeling that they have a license to act in whatever way they want regardless of the rules or of community standards, it can become poisonous.

-Lack of professionalism – It may not be a written contract with a gold seal on it, but when an agreement is made, everyone should do their best to fulfill their end of it. If I agree to come to your group & teach, I also agree to show up on time (or early), treat everyone there in a friendly & professional manner, do my best to educate, clean up after myself, and offer follow-up documentation or assistance as needed.

– Likewise, if your group asks me to come teach, I expect that you’ll communicate what you need from me, honor your compensation agreements, and treat me with respect. And while for some folks, talking about professionalism in the BDSM community education outreach seems anti-community, the reality is that the professional attitude towards education can provide a foundation that leaves everyone – the group, their attendees, and the presenter – feeling really good about the results.

If you’re getting started as an educator, here are a few things I recommend:
-Start out small, and grow. Don’t expect that the 800-person event is going to give you a comp, or even ask you to teach. Offer to lead a discussion at a munch, or teach at a small local group. Do that as much as you can. You’re getting two things – practice, and a resume. And both of those things are what will help you become more successful.

-Practice, practice, practice. The classes that I am best at are the ones that I have done multiple times. Call your friends, and ask them to help you with a dry-run. Write your outline and talk yourself through it a few times. Have mini-conversations about different parts of your class. The more you practice, the more fluid your delivery will be, and the more able you’ll be to handle the questions that take you a little off-topic.

-Be a partner with the group or person that books you. Promote the hell out of your class & the event. Tweet, facebook, fetlife – whatever. Understand that their success and your success are intertwined. Encourage your friends to show up. If you have a great relationship with them, say thank you (a written thank you note is a great way to do that, so they can look at it when they’re not up to their eyeballs in event- or group-running). Going above and beyond the call of duty leaves them wanting to see you again – and leaves them recommending you to others.

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Interviews

Graydancer – Ninja Sex Poodle

How long have you been teaching

That’s kind of a loaded question – I’ve been teaching in some capacity or other for pretty much since childhood, from Sunday school to Marine Corps Practical Knowledge to music lessons to dance & technology workshops at the University Level. But I started working in the Kink field around 2002-2003, first just as a volunteer at various conferences and then gradually as a presenter.

 

When did you start to identify as an educator? Was it the same time, or was it later?

I honestly don’t remember my first “presentation”, but I remember very clearly the moment when I walked out of an “Intro to Kink” workshop thinking “I could do that…

 

How did you get started in sex/kink education?

See above – I was at a conference, doing A/V support for a BDSM presenter, and while he was good, I felt that there were definitely gaps in what was being presented, and I wanted to fill in those gaps. At the time I was in a very supportive relationship with my wife and my slave, and they both helped me as demo-bottoms and co-presenters. I owe a lot to their willingness to try out new techniques and quite often use not only our bodies but our relationships as models to help teach.

 

Are there any topics that you consider your specialty?

The topics I most enjoy presenting on focus on passion – on first identifying what kind of kink turns people on, and then figuring out how to get the most out of that kink. Classes I’ve developed around that theme are things like cigar play, using language as a BDSM implement (“Beating in Tongues”), rope as a means of connection, and finding intimacy in Dominant/submissive relationships. There was a time when I was very identified with rope (due in large part to my podcast) and lately people have started to think I’m all about cigars, but the truth is that I don’t want to pigeonhole myself into one fetish. If I had to, I would say my fetish is connection – I just find that rope and cigars and words help me reach the places I want to go.

 

Have you seen any changes in the BDSM community education over the years?

I came into the community just as the internet was changing the way people were able to exchange ideas, so I can’t say I saw the “big” change – from pre-internet person-to-person instruction to bondage books in the malls and tremendously deep resources such as Kink Academy. But I’ve seen a few big ones – most notably FetLife, which changed the way kinksters relate completely. I also have seen an explosion of events and resources – it’s gone from occasional weekend events and munches to where you can do some kind of kink community engagement every day – if not live, then online in some discussion group or video broadcast.

While that has led to a lot of opportunities for more people to teach, it’s also led to a lot of people mistaking the ability to do as the ability to teach. The latter is much harder, and takes a different skillset. We’re finding out the hard way, as a community, that there is more to presenting than just imitating your high school teachers.

 

You run a very popular unconference called a GRUE, can you talk about why you started those and what your experience running them has been

I started the GRUE- “Graydancer’s Ropetastic Unconference Extravaganza” – for two reasons. One, Lee Harrington sat across the table from me and said “Gray, you really need to have an event with your name on it.” When Lee says you should do something, it’s a good idea to do it.

Two, at the time I was working for a school district and I encountered the concept of the “Open Space” (and its relation, the “Unconference”) from the work of Harrison Owen. As I read about the process, I found myself wondering “I wonder if this would work with kinky people?”

Now, with 36 GRUEs under my belt, six more in the next couple of months on two continents (and an island or two), apparently the answer was “yes, kinky people will love it!” I have been surprised by a couple of things – one, I thought that the event would be more localized, but people have been known to travel from overseas just to be at GRUEs. At the same time, I’ve also been surprised (and gratified) to see many of my fellow educators who have been burned out by the usual kinky con system get “recharged” by GRUEs when they see how passionate people can be about their kink.
You also have a popular podcast “Ropecast” do you consider that part of your educational outreach?

Yes, though I’ve been somewhat negligent with it the past few months. I did the podcast for 7 years, and it’s now a body of work that provides both education and a cultural snapshot – an oral history, if you will – of the rope community during that period of time. There are a couple of people I’ve interviewed who have since died, and having their voices heard is, I feel, possibly the most important work I’ve ever done.

 

Do you have any pet peeves about sex educators?

Damn, that would be a much easier question if you asked if I had pet peeves about the sex education system. So much wrong there…as for sex educators themselves, there is such a wide variety that it’s hard to pick out one thing that applies to the whole group. I think the biggest problem I run into is when people come from some traditional pedagogical method – such as corporations, or public schools, or academia – and try to simply replicate that in a sexuality context. It’s not that there aren’t valuable tools and lessons to be learned from those methods – but sexuality and kink occupy different cultural niches, and so even those methodologies that do work from those systems may need to be changed, adjusted, or adapted to teach sex ed. There’s also a great deal of evidence that the traditional lecture-hall method is one of the worst ways to convey knowledge, especially knowledge that has a hands-on component.

I guess that would be my pet peeve: any educator who stands at the front of the class, dispensing knowledge to the masses without realizing how much we all have to learn from each other. That drives me nuts.

 

What advice would you give aspiring sex/kink educators?

  • Don’t stand at the front of the class dispensing knowledge to the masses without realizing how much we all have to learn from each other.
  • Unless you’ve read the work of Gar Williams and watched a few Apple Keynotes (or the Al Gore environmental movie), forget about using PowerPoint.
  • Handouts are at best overrated and at worst a wasteful distraction. Have a PDF on your website and trust that people who need to take notes will take the notes they need.
  • If you’re in it for the money, get out. Not because we don’t need you, I just would hate to see you disappointed.
  • Get all the money you can. You’re worth it, and the community can afford it, even if they don’t know it yet.
  • Present on the things you’re passionate about, forget the rest (especially things you think will make you “popular” or “the people want”). Presenting about things that you don’t especially care about makes for boring presentations, and takes away the opportunity for someone else who is passionate to present.
  • Get the audience moving, engaging, contributing. If they’re just sitting there, they probably aren’t thinking about you.
  • Give lots of credit to those who taught you – even if what they taught you was how not to teach.
  • Give your demo bottoms credit. For instance, stop calling them “demo bottoms” and call them co-presenters, by name, in the program.
  • The key to a good sex education presentation: boobies, cock, or both.
  • Everything I’ve told you could be wrong. Figure it out yourself.

 

 

Exclusive BeASexEducator.com Interview

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Interviews

SPECTRA Interview with Kali Williams

1. Can you explain what type of coaching you offer?

My focus is on relationships with a Dominant/submissive dynamic as well as those who like to explore “kinky play” at any level. I help couples and individuals discover what they’re really looking for out of these experiences and provide them with concrete suggestions on how to make them happen. Focusing on “real life” solutions to bringing kink into a relationship, I use a playful approach to keep things sexy and fun.

2. How did you come into that style of coaching?

After being a professional dominatrix for almost a decade I’ve learned a lot about how to make play happen! Many kinky ideas come naturally to me, but that’s not usually the case for my clients. I started coaching so that I could help couples feel inspired about their kinky desires and to broaden their experience of trust, intimacy, joy and connection all through their kinky playtime.

3. Are you looking for a certain type of client?

I coach people at all levels, whether one partner is trying to introduce kink into the relationship for the first time or both partners have been playing for a long time and need a refreasher or some new inspiration. Regardless all of my clients walk away with an actionable plan to reach their sexy, kinky goals.
4. Please list any individuals that have influenced you in your practice?

All of my learning is self-motivated. Unfortunately there hasn’t been a strong mentoring process in the kink world, either for pro-domming or this type of coaching. I read a lot about psychology and relationships, communication and avoiding procrastination. Then I take those ideas and extrapolate them into a kinky experience.
5. What is one piece of advice you could give to professionals just starting in the field of sexuality?

Read, observe, ask questions, make notes and realize that the sexuality world has a lot of moving parts. Find the niche that suits you the best and focus on it. I’m a big believer in being a master of one subject rather than a jack (or jill J) of all trades. You can also use some of the great online learning opportunities such as Fetlife.com (although take a lot of that writing with a grain of salt, there are many people on there claiming to be experts that are anything but). I also run two websites that are great resources for sexuality professionals, KinkAcademy.com and PassionateU.com where you can watch videos featuring techniques and concepts by many of the most respected names in sex/kink education.

6. If you could recommend only one book for our readers, what would it be?

I have to pick just one?! For those looking to get into kink specifically, Dr. Gloria Brame’s “Different Loving” gives a good overview of the most frequently pursued kink experiences. Through anecdotes it’s a great introduction into the kink experience. You can check out her website here http://www.gloriabrame.com/

 

Originally posted on SPECTRA written by Lucy Lemons