[Interview] Kayla Lords, Smutlancer Extraordinaire and Editor-in-Chief of The Big Fling

I used to joke that I would know I’d “made it” as a writer when I had a column. Well now I have one! (Though I’m not sure I actually feel I’ve “made it” after all.) My wonderful friend Kayla is now Editor in Chief of The Big Fling, “a community of writers using sex positivity and good info to fight toxic masculinity in dating, hookups, and relationships”. I pitched and was commissioned to write an article on polyamory earlier this year. Shortly after that, Kayla approached me and asked me to write a monthly column all about consensual non-monogamy in its many forms. I was only too happy to say “hell yes!” So when I started my most recent interview series, I was thrilled to chat to Kayla once again about her work at TBF and beyond.

A picture of Kayla Lords cuddling a big teddy bear

Tell us a little bit about you and the work you do?

While I’ve been a sex blogger since 2012 and a kinky podcaster since 2015, I’ve worked with adult brands and companies for the past several years as well. These days I’m also the editor in chief of The Big Fling which means my job is content! In the beginning I wrote content, and now we’re able to invite writers to pitch their ideas and contribute to the website. My job is to work with writers, look over their pitches, ask questions and give feedback when appropriate, and publish good sex-positive writing.

So what’s this Big Fling all about and how did you come to be involved?

When I was approached about working with The Big Fling, they had big dreams. For years, they’ve been a site where (primarily) cishet guys go to learn about dating apps, phone chat lines, and chat sites for hookups. But an opportunity was being missed in the process — to help the people who visit the site have better, healthier experiences.

Not everyone wants to be in a long-term relationship, but the toxicity of interactions that some guys have is scary, and born from not enough good sex education. The Big Fling decided it wasn’t enough to point them in the direction of where to find a date or hookup, but to teach people how to do it all in a better, more sex-positive way. They reached out to me and asked me to write for them. Over several weeks, they began to share their larger vision with me, of becoming a community of writers, and I was excited to help them execute the plan.

How is The Big Fling different from other adult-oriented sites out there?

Having written for many different relationship, dating, and sexuality sites over the years, what I find to be different about The Big Fling is that we know we’re talking to guys who might only be thinking of the sex they want to have… but we do it in a way that speaks to them where they’re at and says, “You’re smart enough to know better, and here’s what you need to know to be better.”

We don’t assume our readers all want to get married or have long-term relationships, but we don’t assume they’re being led around by their penis (or other sexual organs) either. So instead of the “typical” cishet-oriented site that only shows mostly naked women or assumes they’re all out to hit-it-and-quit-it, we talk to them like we’d talk to our friends. We also never assume we know the sexuality, tastes, desires, or identity of anyone who lands on our site.  

What would you say is the main ethos of the site?

We want to combat toxic masculinity in the world of dating, sex, and relationships by letting the average cishet male reader know that their desires are okay, their feelings are okay, and that there’s another way to exist in the world beyond what society taught them. We know we can’t fix toxic masculinity on our own, but we can do our small part to build a more sex-positive world.

I love that! If authors want to get involved with writing for you, how do they do so?

Pitch me, but read over the guidelines first. As a writer, I know how hard it is to pitch, and not a lot of sites tell you what they want which is frustrating. Hopefully I’m the least intimidating editor you’ll ever meet, but I also expect writers to read and follow the guidelines given. So do that, then pitch

I can vouch for you being the kindest and least intimidating editor! So you’ve published loads of great writers, but who would be your dream guest contributor, if money was no object?

For me, I don’t have a guest contributor. My dream, if money was no object, would be to publish as many great writers as possible and to accept every good idea that I receive. That’s the dream. I want to put out as much interesting, high quality sex-positive content as possible, to publish more writers, and to reach as many readers as possible.

What’s one thing you really wish people would STOP asking you?

I get two questions that I’d love to never hear again:

1) “How do you do it all?” I hate this partly because I’m well aware of what I’m NOT doing, so when someone asks how I do it all, my anxiety spikes as my brain imagines everything I should be doing. Plus, I love what I do (okay, maybe not the tedious parts of my work, but I love most of what I do), and so it’s not a burden or strain to work a little longer or give up my free time to work on my blogs or do freelance work. But I do have to be careful not to overwork or I’ll make myself sick or trigger my mental illnesses (I have generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, and bipolar disorder — that’s about as fun as you might imagine, especially when deadlines loom).

2) “How do I have a relationship like the one you have with John Brownstone?” I really don’t mind the question. It’s seeing the look in people’s eyes when I give the answer (their eyes tend to glaze over). We met online and connected from the beginning, but it wasn’t love or lust at first sight. I fought my feelings for him every step of the way, refusing to believe that I deserved him. So when I say take the time to develop trust between you and be willing to say difficult things, I mean that.

Without those two factors, I couldn’t have let go of most of my baggage to be with him. I had to be willing to do as much work as he was willing to do. Our love and respect are mutual, and we fought our own individual battles to be together. A lot of people want quick and easy, and in my experience, quick and easy rarely work. The things that matter take time and patience. So the answer to that question tends to be boring, not at all romantic, and generally unsatisfying to the person who asks…

Oh, fuck. I think the next question on my list is sort of a variation on “how do you do it all?” You do so many things – between Loving BDSM, Smutlancer, your personal website and now Big Fling! What’s your key time management strategy?

Two things: prioritizing my goals, which has always been a struggle because everything feels important all the time, and time blocking (sometimes called calendar blocking). Every single thing in my day (including taking a shower and going to bed) has a slot in my calendar. I block out the time I need to do my day job and be a responsible member of my home, and whatever’s left, I block out for blogging and other projects — with time left for mindless scrolling through social media and other things that don’t count as “work.”

If you could impart one piece of wisdom about sex to everyone in the world, what would it be?

There is no right kind of sex to have, but you’ll never have the right kind of sex for YOU if you aren’t willing to talk about it with your partner. Both partners have to be willing to communicate, and you might have to be the one to speak up first, but the best sex happens when you’ve talked about what you want, what you don’t want, what you’ll do, and what you won’t do. 

Who’s your favourite sex toy manufacturer and why?

It’s always hard to pick just one, but for overall marketing inclusivity and quality of product, I’d say Hot Octopuss. Everything I or my partner, John Brownstone, have tried has been amazing. Really great people work for the company — watch them online, read their blog post, or talk to them in person, and you know they really care about what they do. 

Oh, I love them too! What’s something you used to believe about sex or relationships that you don’t believe any more?

I think I used to believe that only certain people had great sex or relationships. I didn’t know who those certain people were, but I was pretty sure I wasn’t one of them. As the years go by, I continue to learn more and more about what I like and don’t like and what kind of sex and relationships I need and don’t need.

And there is no “type” who gets to have great sex or a solid relationship. Like anything else, it takes hard work and communication, but regardless of our size, age, gender, sexuality, skin color, we are all capable of having whatever kind of sex or relationship we want. It might not be easy (it most definitely isn’t) but if you’re able to find the right person/people, it can be worth it. But part of it begins and ends with embracing who you are as an individual — what you like and what you don’t like, what you need, and what you want. 

And just for fun because it is “Coffee and Kink” – what’s your usual order at Starbucks?

My usual order is a Venti Iced Coffee with four stevia and extra heavy whipping cream — it’s how I get my coffee fix and stick to a Keto diet/lifestyle.

The Big Fling logo for an interview with Kayla Lords

Thanks to Kayla for giving her time to impart her amazing and hard-earned wisdom to us all! Check out all her various projects and give her a follow on Twitter!

[Guest Blog] How Sex Writing and Kink is Rebuilding My Body Image by Violet Grey

I’m thrilled to be featuring a guest post by Violet Grey for the second time. Violet is an amazing writer and, as I discovered when I met her in person at Eroticon, an absolute sweetheart of a person as well. Please note this piece includes frank discussion of body image and body shaming, so please take care of yourselves if these topics are difficult for you. Enjoy this piece – maybe make a cup of coffee and savour this one, as there’s a lot of brilliant stuff here. – Amy x

A woman in a purple top looking in a mirror and applying mascara. For a guest blog on body image by Violet Grey.

I think it’s safe to say at some point, we’ve all felt crap about our bodies. We wish our tummies were flatter, biceps bulkier, thighs thinner, dicks bigger, boobs perkier, the works.

With social media playing a growing part in many aspects of our life and work, the discussion around body image has evolved all the more. “#BodyPositive” is a common hashtag, and backlash around the unattainable beauty standards we see in the media is now commonplace. That being said, this is a relatively small counter when compared to the billboards, photoshopping and websites that encourage disordered eating – not to mention the horrendous amounts of trolling we see online.

Seriously, it’s like something out of Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill, which parallels the very toxicity of people (particularly impressionable teenagers finding their feet) judging someone purely by their looks. The idea that if we are not ‘perfect’ we are deserving of such ridicule. It’s scary.

If I’m being candid, my body image isn’t great. In fact, it’s not really even that good but I’m working on it. My body has gone through quite a few changes in the last 18 months. Expanding, shrinking, filling out, more stretch marks, all parts of being a woman and human being.

During these changes I freaked out, put myself down and catastrophised in my own mind that no one would ever find me attractive now I no longer sport a 26-inch waist and got a little thicker in frame – least of all myself. It goes to show that falling into the trap of placing a good dollop of your worth on trying to pigeon-hole yourself is all too easy.

Especially so if you, like me, hail from a performance background, where there’s a prevalent culture of being taught that you will land more work if you look a certain way. While for the most part it’s based on ability and on embodying the role in all ways, sadly it’s not uncommon for people to be told by certain schools, directors, companies etc. that they won’t make it as an actor/performer because they are ‘too fat’ or have some form of physical trait that individual personally deems undesirable.

So when it came to my writing about sexy stuff on the internet, I was pleasantly surprised by what I’ve come across in the community. I’ve admired fellow bloggers who share pictures of themselves on their websites, expressing themselves, clothed or otherwise, in memes such as Boob Day and Sinful Sunday. One of the many things I adore about the sex writing community, is just how inclusive and welcoming it has been for me and others so far.

Most if not all of us have had our own struggles with body image. No matter your size or shape, feeling comfortable in your own skin is not an easy task.

For those who are comfortable posting pictures in these memes or just because, I commend their confidence to do so in a culture that is so hell-bent in having us tear each other down. I see the positive comments, telling each other how beautiful they are (which you are!) and it’s so lovely to see such positivity being spread for all genders and body types. It certainly makes a nice change from the vapid comments you see because of a trivial eyebrow shape or the shape of someone’s arse (*cough cough* Instagram!)

With learning more about the BDSM, kink and fetish communities, I’ve interacted with people from all walks of life who – like all communities – share a common interest. Yes, every community has its politics and the aforementioned are no exception. However, compared to others, a constant I have seen online and in real life is the appreciation of the human form, in all its forms.

From Shibari photography to online social networks for kinky people, it’s been really refreshing to be in an environment that is more inclusive and encouraging of positive body image, regardless of one’s shape or size. It’s refreshing to see different forms of expression, from colourful hair and piercings to androgyny, to bondage art, leather and latex, all celebrated rather than derided. And as a woman, it’s nice to see the female form in all their forms being told they are beautiful, and genuinely so.

Seeing such wonderful people with such confidence has and is helping me to rebuild a better, healthier perception of myself. That I am in fact, only human and that being happy and healthy is more important than ‘fitting in’, and that not only is beauty in the eye of the beholder, but that everyone has their own unique beauty, inside and out. My job is making sure I remember that when I feel shit about myself.

Don’t forget to check out Violet’s blog and give her a follow on Twitter. If YOU would like to guest write for me, you can pitch me during my open reading periods. Also, joining me on Patreon or shopping with my affiliates helps me to keep paying occasional guest bloggers.

Interview: Gabrielle Alexa Noel

Today I’m delighted to be interviewing the amazing Gabrielle Alexa Noel, a sex writer and journalist who has written some of the best stuff on bisexuality, feminism, race and consent that I’ve read in years. She’s an absolute force to be reckoned with in the sex writing world, and I’m so grateful to her for giving up her time to answer some questions for us! – Amy x

Tell us a little bit about you and the work you do?

I’m a writer who primarily focuses on sex and bisexuality. I also host events on sex education and other sexuality topics and make videos on feminist topics!

What made you want to start writing about sex? What’s your background and how did you break in to the industry?

I didn’t set out to write about sex but when I started unlearning certain misconceptions about bisexuality and female sexuality, I was able to heal a shame that I hadn’t realized I was carrying. When we stigmatize sex and sexuality, we stigmatize biology, we stigmatize identities. I wanted to destigmatize those topics.

I started off as an intern at Galore. After almost a year, I left to start freelancing. I pitched myself at different publications and committed myself to doing research on sex/sexuality. And now I write for a number of sex positive publications.

What is the most challenging thing about writing about sex for a living?

I guess the stigma — just writing about it has made people suggest that I had an unstable childhood. Specifically when I talk about sexual assault, I face a lot of digital harassment. People don’t see digital harassment as real or problematic so I try to highlight it on my platform. It’s not just people calling someone “ugly”, it’s people telling me I deserve to be raped or that I am a disrespect to all rape victims. It can be damaging.

What about the most rewarding thing?

So many people tell me that my writing has helped them unlearn myths about themselves. That’s my favorite part! I want to be the person I wish I’d had access to growing up.

What’s something that people always misunderstand about your work?

I guess people think that talking about sex/sexuality is largely about getting attention. First of all, everyone looks for and receives attention, women are just the ones who are primarily shamed for it. And also, I don’t care who is looking at me as a sexual being. I’m more concerned about destigmatizing sexuality for people assigned female at birth.

You’ve written a lot of amazing and intense things about topics such as race, queerness, consent and sexual assault. Why do you think it’s important that such things get talked about?

These topics are important because there are so many misconceptions! I run into so much biphobia because bisexuality is an identity people don’t understand. Women are also policed and stigmatized for our sexuality. Sex negativity, then, becomes a tool for social control. And of course, when you consider the way people of color are hypersexualized and fetishized, you can see the importance of discussing race in terms of sexuality.

What’s something you’d really love to write on but haven’t yet?

I want to write about my favorite TV shows SO BADLY but nobody ever commissions me for those pieces! People love for writers to talk about their marginalization but it’d be cool to just talk about Bob’s Burgers.

What’s your dream byline?

The New Yorker maybe? Playboy? This answer changes weekly! I want new bylines wherever I can connect with people I can help.

What’s your favourite piece that you’ve ever written and why?

These are hard questions! I just wrote about how internalized biphobia ruined my first Tinder date and it was published on the Tinder website. So many people have reached out to say that it was an important read for them. But most importantly, it was a healing experience for me. Some of my best writing often is. Before that, I wrote about coming out to my family for Hello Giggles, and that was also was both difficult and soothing. But I always have a soft spot for my Elle piece about being bisexual because that was essentially how I came out to a lot of my peers.

Who inspires you personally and professionally?

For some people this is a weird list. I love Erica Lust’s committment to feminist porn and revamping the porn industry. I love people like Ericka Hart and Rachel Cargle, who are speaking on topics of race and sexuality. I love Shan Boodram’s work in sex education. I love Lindy West. I just love people who are doing work in intersectional feminism on some level.

Who’s your favourite sex educator and why?

I love all sex educators, oh my god! Haha. Again, I love Shan Boodram, but I’m also digging Eva from What’s My Body Doing, Stevie Boebi, my friend Elyse from SX Noir, and Cameron from Sex Ed in Color.

What’s something you used to believe about sex relationships that you don’t believe any more?

I stopped believing that the only “real” kind of sex is penetration. Most women don’t even orgasm from penetration and people of all gender identities/sexualities have sex in a variety of ways. I classify sex now in terms of sexual pleasure. And I include masturbation, or solo sex, in that definition.

And just for fun because it is “Coffee and Kink” – do you like coffee? How do you take it?

Of course I like coffee! It’s part of the whole writer shtick. I like it light and sweet.

Thank you so much again to Gabrielle for her time. Check out her work and follow her on the Twitter!

Smutathon 2018: #SmutForChoice (plus: win sex toys!)

A mug of coffee, notebook and pen on a wooden surface. For a post about Smutathon 2018What is Smutathon?

Many of you will remember #Smutathon2017, a mad idea I had in the middle of the night and which some of my wonderful writing friends were kind enough to go along with. It was essentially a 12 hour writing marathon challenge. We raised £2000 for charity, which we split evenly between Backlash and Rape Crisis England & Wales.

Well, Smutathon is back for 2018, and it’s bigger and better than ever! This year, we’ll be holding the main event at a Mystery Location… okay, it’s not actually a mystery, it’s a large Air B’n’B in Cheshire. It’ll be taking place on Saturday 11 August between 10am and 10pm, where we will write our hearts out for 12 hours and ask you to please sponsor us.

The Participants

Smutathon 2018 participants are:

The in-person event is now at capacity, but we welcome remote participants from all over the world! You can even adjust the time to suit your timezone, if you want. All you need to do to get involved is let us know, share the fundraising page, and write!

#SmutForChoice: Our chosen charity

This year we’re fundraising for Abortion Support Network. Chosen in honour of the recent “Repeal the 8th” campaign in the Republic of Ireland, ASN is an amazing organisation that supports people who need to travel from Ireland or the Isle of Man to England in order to access abortion. They, like us, believe that abortion should be free, safe and legal. From their website:

“ASN is not a campaigning or lobbying organisation. While other organisations campaign for much needed law reform, our volunteers work hard to provide immediate, practical support to women who are unable to access safe and legal abortion in their own countries.”

So… tell us about winning sex toys?

Yes! We decided to hold a raffle this year to boost our fundraising and we’ve got some amazing prizes for you. Unless marked below as UK only, all prizes can be shipped anywhere in the world. If we draw your name for a UK only prize, we will randomly assign you a different prize that we can send.

The Prizes

How To enter

There are two ways to enter the Smutathon 2018 raffle. Entries are £2 each, you can enter as many times as you like, and the draw will be done (and shared live on Twitter!) at the main event on Saturday 12 August 2018.

  • ENTER VIA JUSTGIVING: donate to our JustGiving page and put “raffle” + your Twitter handle or email in the message/ comment box. If you don’t want this info available publicly, contact me to let me know the name you paid with so I can record your entry.★★★Very important:★★★ if you are entering the raffle via Justgiving, do not tick the box when asked if you would like to Gift Aid your donation. Raffle entries cannot be Gift Aided. This is a legal requirement and if you do tick the Gift Aid box, your entry will not be counted.
  • ENTER VIA PAYPAL: Paypal your entry money (multiples of £2) to coffeeandkink69 (at) gmail (dot) com. (Please select the “friends/family” option so neither of us get hit with extra fees!)

How else can I help?

  • Donate, of course, and/or enter the raffle.
  • Share this post and our fundraising page on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or whatever your favourite social media is.
  • Donate a prize to the raffle. Body-safe sex toys, lube, lingerie, kink gear and event tickets are all very welcome.
  • Volunteer for or support Abortion Support Network in any way you can.

Thank you for joining us on this adventure for the second year in a row. Follow along using our official hashtags, #SmutForChoice and #Smutathon2018!

Sex Blogging 101: An FAQ on What I Do.

Today’s post is brought to you by my generous Patreon supporters. If you enjoy my work, please consider throwing a small contribution my way each month to help me keep doing what I’m doing, as well as get some super cool rewards and bonus content including an exclusive erotic short story every Tuesday! You can sign up here or click the banner.

A "support me on Patreon" button

Content note: this post contains frank discussion about money. If that’s likely to be upsetting to you, please feel enormously free to take care of yourself and skip this one.

I’m often getting asked questions about what I do, both from wannabe sex bloggers wondering how to get started and from curious friends and strangers. So I thought I’d pop the most common ones in one place for your handy reference.

New bloggers: if you want to ask anything that isn’t covered here, it’s always okay to email me!

A cup of coffee, notebook and pen on a wooden table. For a post about sex blogging

How did you get into this?

By mistake. I’ve been a writer since I knew what words were, and sex has always fascinated me, so it’s kind of amazing it took me until the age of 26 to realise that sex blogging would be the perfect creative outlet for me. I used to write a lot of articles, think pieces and occasional erotica on Fetlife and they got a good amount of attention (even hitting the fabled ‘Kinky and Popular’ from time to time) so I thought, well, why not put them somewhere that more people could enjoy them? I grabbed a free WordPress domain, and Coffee & Kink was born.

So you didn’t intend to make money from it?

Not at first, no. At first I didn’t even really think anyone would read it! Blogging was a passion project first and foremost (and, frankly, it still is.) Don’t go into blogging solely or primarily to make money. Go into it because you love to write and have things to say, and consider making money a secondary goal. If you don’t love blogging, you’ll give up, because making money is not quick, easy or guaranteed.

How do I get started?

Buy a domain (more on that in a minute) and just write write write. You’re gonna need a tiny bit of technical know-how in order to learn your way around whatever content management plug-in you use (the WordPress one is by far the most common and best) but you can learn that as you go along and honestly, it’s not difficult! There are thousands of tutorials online and if you reach out to the community, one of us will usually be glad to help you.

But honestly, write. Write without worrying who’s reading it. Whatever’s in your heart, write it. Write like you’re running out of time.

(And if you don’t understand that last reference, go and educate yourself immediately. I’ll wait.)

Wait, buy a domain? But you said free!

Yep, I started off with a free WordPress site (those are the ones that are sitename.wordpress.com) but my single blogging regret is not going self-hosted sooner. Self-hosting, as long as you choose an adult friendly service provider (check before you buy!) gives you greater freedom over the look and feel of your site, gives you security against “WordPress suddenly decided they don’t like adult content and shut me down,” and allows you to make money from your site (you cannot monetise a free WordPress site.) To give you an idea of cost, my domain and hosting costs me about £40 a year.

If cost is an issue, by all means start with a free site and you can go self-hosted later on. Don’t let cost stop you from getting your words out there. Just don’t try to make money from a free site, they WILL shut you down.

So talk to me about making money…

I could do dozens of posts about this very thing. Thankfully I don’t have to, because The Smutlancer exists. Read and obey, friends – this is the single biggest and best resource on the web for those of us wanting to create content about sex and get paid for it.

Basically: it’s a slog. It takes work and it takes time to build up. But you CAN do it, if you want to and if you can write, and if you have realistic expectations.

So how much do you make?

Ah, the million dollar question (no, I do not make a million dollars, or I’d be writing this in a fancy little coffee shop in Italy, not on my sofa at Ungodly Early AM before running off to my day job.) At the current time I’m making an average of between £250 – £300 a month or a little over £3000 a year. It’s not enough to quit my day job and it’s certainly not enough to retire on, but it’s a VERY nice side income and enables me to do more of the things I want to do. My blogging income paid for a good chunk of our last holiday.

How Many Hours?

This income and the content you see me putting out comes from around 10 hours of work a week. Much of that work is writing content for my blog, but it’s also time spent answering emails, sending pitches, editing, plugging my affiliates around the web, curating my social media, and doing the necessary admin to keep my blog afloat. As always, the more you put in, the more you can expect to get out.

I’m currently trying to work out the Catch 22 between “I could make so much more money if I could do this full time” and “I can’t quit my day job to do this full time UNTIL I make more money!” It’s a complicated balancing act. For now, I’m enjoying the security of a regular job and the creative freedom to write what I want in my spare time.

Where do you make the money from?

I broke this down for you all and also for my own information, because it was interesting to see the numbers. They are not quite what I expected!

Very broadly speaking, I make about 50% of my blogging income from affiliate sales, 40% from commissioned writing including sponsored content on my site and guest posts for other sites, and the remaining 10% from everything else (my Patreon, my Ko-Fi Virtual Coffees, very occasional sponsored reviews). I expect this is getting close to a tipping point where it will change, because my affiliate income is quite steady – not really growing or decreasing a huge amount – whereas my client work and commissioned writing is now growing quite fast.

Enough about finances… what’s the best thing about being a sex blogger?

The community. Hands down, the community. Sex writers and content creators are some of the kindest, most generous and supportive and brilliant people you could ever hope to meet.

When I’m feeling down and wondering why I do this, it’s so often my sex writer friends who pick me up. And have you ever experienced a night out on the town with three or more sex bloggers and a lot of wine? Because, um, I recommend it.

Apart from that, the best thing is the freedom to talk about the things I always want to talk about, having a place to express sexiness and vulnerability in equal measure and feel reasonably confident that I’ll receive a kind and positive response.

University taught me plotting and character and story structure and perfect grammar, but it’s not my degree that made me a writer. It’s this community and my readers.

And the worst?

The stigma. I don’t tell that many people in my real life what I do, and… well, let’s just say I’m not called Amy Norton at work. This is at least a pseudo-anonymous project. I do occasionally have flashes of panic about what would happen if my mother or my boss stumbled across it, but that is why I’ve taken extra, possibly over-cautious steps to hide my identity (preemptively blocking everyone in my family and at work on Twitter, anyone!?)

But talking about sex is how we smash stigma, so hopefully between us we can get this conversation to such a point that we really start to notice a difference.

What kinds of people sex blog?

All kinds! The vast majority of us tend to be women, non-binary folks or queer men. There are a small handful of cis-het men sex blogging, but relatively few by comparison. But literally anyone can do this. Your gender, age, race, orientation, background and unique life experiences combine to give you a perspective that no-one else can have, so please bring your voice to the table.

How can you be okay with putting your private thoughts, fantasies and sexual experiences out there for the world to see?

I’m a bit of an exhibitionist by nature. Thinking that people are reading about my amazing experiences and filthy fantasies and getting turned on… well, that turns me on too!

I also think that by the time it occurred to me that maybe people would expect me to feel shame at putting this stuff out there for the whole world, I was so far down the rabbit hole that I just couldn’t find a single fuck to give.

Basically, I believe that our words can change the world and that we only break our cultural silence around sex by talking openly about it.

Some people are intensely private and that’s entirely valid. I am not one of those people.

What does your partner think of what you do?

He oscillates between “thinking it’s hilarious when huge boxes of dildos show up for me” and “gently reminding me that I have to eat, sleep and do chores occasionally”.

But no, in all seriousness he’s extremely supportive. He gives me space to write when I need it, helps me test sex toys, and bounces ideas around with me – even though he’s not a writer himself, he’s really smart, really sex-positive and just an all round excellent human.

At this point, someone who isn’t okay with what I do just isn’t going to get to date me. There are enough great people who think this is awesome, life’s too short to bang people who don’t. My work is my other primary partner and I don’t jeopardise it for anyone.

What do YOU want to know about what I do? Comment or email me and I might do a follow-up to this at some point!

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

Ten Lessons from One Year of Sex Blogging

I started my blog late in the evening on 31 December 2016. Can you believe I’ve been at this game for a whole year already? Time flies when you’re having fun, banging various sexy people, and accumulating a collection of sex toys bigger than you reasonably have storage space for.

A white mug from Girl on the Net with the text "No-One Does Whar You Do Quite Like You." For a post about things I've learned in a year of blogging.

And oh what a year it’s been! This little side project – and the community I’ve met as a result – has changed my life, and changed me, in deep and fundamental ways. I’m a better person, and a better writer, than I was a year ago thanks to this little adventure. I’ve placed in the top 100 sex bloggers, won a Newcomer Award, and been paid for my work. I’ve worked with great companies like Hot Octopuss and Lovehoney. And I’ve met some of the most awesome people I’ve ever had the privilege to know.

So, in the spirit of reflecting on the past year – it is New Year’s Eve, after all! – I wanted to share with you ten lessons I’ve taken away from this first year.

1. I can experience pleasure and orgasm in ways I never imagined.

I hardly ever bought sex toys before I started this little adventure and started getting sent things to review. They’re pretty expensive and my vulva is fussy – it knew what it liked (this baby, mainly) and though I was curious about other toys, I couldn’t quite bring myself to spend upwards of £50-100 on things that may or may not work for me.

Well, I’ve now tried oscillating toys, suction toys, dual-stimulation toys, ride-on toys, great vibrators, terrible vibrators, mediocre vibrators, dildos in interesting materials, and even sex toys shaped like penguins. And if you’ll pardon the pun, FUCK ME it turns out my experience of pleasure is diverse. Not only can I get off in all these different ways, but each gives me a subtly (or sometimes wildly) different variety of orgasm.

Bodies are cool, y’all.

2. Sex writers are the best community.

I cannot overstate the extent to which the sex writing community has changed my life for the better. At events like Eroticon, Lube & a Laptop, and even the recent sex blogger Christmas party, I feel profoundly seen, deeply understood, and radically accepted in a way that I have never quite encountered anywhere else.

This community is so open, so generous with time and support and knowledge and friendship and a helping hand up, that I want to cry with joy every time I think about it. You, reading this? Yes, you. I love you.

3. I have the power to take my ideas and make them real.

This whole “sex blog” thing was just a bit of a side project a year ago; a bit of fun that I thought would keep me busy during a difficult transitional period and maybe entertain a handful of people. Now, though? Now it’s so much more. It’s my genuine passion project AND a source of additional income.

That didn’t happen by accident. That happened because I had an idea and ran with it. It happened because I put in the hours (and hours and hours) at the computer screen, tap-tap-tapping away; because I invested what I could, money-and-time-wise, into things like going to Eroticon; because people like Girl on the Net, Kayla, Molly and Michael, and Sarah generously shared their wisdom and I was smart enough to shut up and listen and learn from them; frankly, because I worked my ass off for it. I still do every day.

You can, too.  You just need an idea, some determination, and the willingness to put in the hard work to see it through.

4. Sometimes, the best way to get what you want is just to ask.

Sending off my first pitch was so scary that I needed to celebrate a little bit having done so. Actually getting it accepted? Well, that was something I’d never imagined! That first time someone believed in my work enough to pay me for it, even a little, was like a shot of pure confidence straight to my anxiety-riddled brain. But I never would have got it if I hadn’t faced down my fears and just asked.

Writing to Hot Octopuss a couple months ago on a whim, going “hey we’ve got some common interests here want to sponsor a post?” felt ridiculous. Presumptuous. Why would a big and successful company want to work with a nobody like me? But they said yes. They liked my idea and they paid me for it and I’ve worked with them again since!

These little victories would never have come my way if I hadn’t bitten the bullet and just asked the damn question.

5. Rejection can tear you down, or it can propel you forward.

Rejection happens in any creative industry. It’s just a fact of life. I’ve been rejected plenty of times, both as a sex writer and in my vanilla writing life. My first novel probably got rejected 30 times before I decided to e-publish. I got rejected from an OxBridge Masters programme at the final interview stage. I’ve spent days, weeks, crafting a perfect contest entry and not placed. I’ve sent pitches off and never heard back.

What I learned this year, though, is how to channel rejection into determination and forward momentum. I’ve honed my pitching style and my approaches. I’ve looked again at a rejected piece with fresh eyes and revamped it. And I’ve taught myself how to view all experience, even rejections, as valuable and as opportunities for growth. All writing experience is good writing experience.

6. Whatever weirdnesses I have, I’m definitely not alone.

Whatever bizarre fetish or kink I might be into, someone else is into it too.

When I think I’m the only person in the world whose body responds to a certain stimulus in a certain way, someone will go “me too!”

When I’m struggling with an emotion or a fear or a trip into the darkest depths of my psyche, sometimes what keeps me going is just knowing that someone else sees me, that they understand what I’m going through, and that they came out the other side – and I will too.

7. I have workaholic tendencies.

Okay, so I had a hunch about this one already, but it’s become apparent to me in the last year just how true it is. When I’m really into something, I am in real danger of becoming completely consumed by it.

In October, writing every single day for my Kink Month challenge was stressful and thrilling in equal measure. Since then, I’ve forced myself to take half a step back to recharge as my day job workload explodes over the festive period, but I still feel twinges of guilt if I go more than three or four days without blogging.

This passion and the way it eats at me until I sit down and do the work is a blessing, in large part, and occasionally a curse too. Sometimes the best thing my loved ones can do for me is give me space to work, and sometimes the best thing they can do is force me to take a break, eat some snacks and watch a terrible movie with them. Often, though, I need to take a good look at how I’m really doing in order to communicate which of these things I need.

8. People HATE being told the truth.

Whether it’s that their jelly dildo is riddled with toxic gunk, that shoving 2lb of marbles up their ass is a really bad idea, or that their favourite toy company hired a known abuser as a spokesperson, people really cannot deal with facts and information if it conflicts with their view of The Way Things Are. What’s more, sometimes these people will come at you with name-calling, personal attacks and even threats of physical violence when you speak the truth.

Block early, block often, my friends.

9. How not to take shit from companies.

I don’t work for other people/companies for free, unless:

1) You’re a charity I really, deeply believe in, OR
2) You’re a personal friend and I’m either doing you a favour or we’re doing some kind of work exchange.

Even so, the number of companies who have approached me wanting me to write for them for nothing – or “for the exposure!!!” – is fast approaching levels of bullshit I never knew existed. Add this to seriously shady requests like “talk up our product but don’t let on to your readers that we sponsored you for this,” and I’m left shaking my head at the audacity of some people. This year, I’ve learned to value my work properly and not accept flattery or “exposure” as forms of currency. I’ve learned to stand up for my worth, to hold firm with my boundaries, to put my foot down, so say “no”.

You love what I do and REALLY REALLY want to bring my voice to your readers? Perfect. I’m flattered. Now pay me.

10. No-one Does What I Do Quite Like Me

I’m just gonna finish off with this gem of wisdom from Girl on the Net, a phrase which adorns the mug (pictured) that I drink my coffee from every morning. Because it’s true.

Happy new year, you beautiful lot. Here’s to 2018.

Image by me.

30 Days of D/s Roundup

The Kinkly Top 100 Sex Bloggers 2017 badge. For a roundup post

A Quick Announcement…

You guys! First and foremost, and super importantly, I am absolutely thrilled to have made it onto Kinkly’s Top 100 sex bloggers list! When I asked my readers to please nominate me if they like my work, I expected to get like 3 votes (and for 2 of them to be people I’m sleeping with). To say I’m squeeing, not to mention in utter shock, is an understatement. Thank you thank you thank you to everyone who voted and to the good folks at Kinkly for deeming me worthy of the list.

In case you’re wondering, I ranked #59 in the overall Top 100 and #7 in the Top Newcomers. Go and check out the other blogs on the list, they’re all fabulous.

And some thanks:

Also, I would like to say thank you and welcome to my newest Sexy Patron, Steve! Thank you so much for your support. If you’d like to support me too, head over to my Patreon and pledge at any level. Even $1 really helps the blog, and gets you a shoutout here and access to some super exclusive content – including a super sexy orgasm control story I put up yesterday!

Now, onto the Roundup…

I did it, y’all! (Can you tell I was channeling my inner Kayla there?) I made it through 30 Days of D/s and wrote something for every single prompt. If you want to read them all, visit the 30 Days of D/s tag and they’ll all pop up. I just wanted to pick out a handful of my favourites to draw your attention to in this roundup:

Those are the posts I think represent my best work this month. I might be completely off-base when it comes to what everyone else thought, but those were the most raw, the most heartfelt, the most vulnerable. Turns out I do my best work when I truly fear negative judgement, and then I do the thing anyway.

If you’re at all interested in kink, even if 24/7 D/s isn’t your thing at all, I really recommend you give 30 Days of D/s a go. I learned a lot – about myself, about kink, about my relationship, and about the ways my kinky self moves through the world. I did wonder if it would be too simplistic for a relatively seasoned kinkster, but it really wasn’t. The prompts are super open to interpretation and, even for us old hands at this, sometimes it can be great to go back to basics.

Thank you all so much for being on this journey with me. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my thoughts as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them.

It’ll be a while before I do an “every day for a month” challenge again – this one was hard at times. I think I’m going to have a couple of days off blogging while I regroup. In the meantime, if you can’t live without your Amy fix for a few days, check out the archives links in the right hand sidebar.

Finally:

Why not celebrate the wrap-up of Kink Month by treating yourself to some new toys? My lovely affiliates over at Lovehoney are currently giving 20% off ANY two vibrators from their store. That’s nearly 600 vibes to choose from!

Sex Educator Interview #5: Cooper S Beckett

You may have heard of this little project started by Jenny Guerin and myself, the Sexy Summer Book Club. It’s an online read-along where we share questions, invite discussion and encourage people to use the books as jumping off points for their own writings.

The cover of Approaching the Swingularity by Cooper S Beckett

August’s book is Approaching The Swingularity by Cooper S Beckett, which I actually reviewed a while back. Very fittingly, therefore, today’s interview is with Cooper himself. Without further ado, let’s hear what the sexy-voiced podcaster, author and progressive swinger extraordinaire had to tell us.

Tell us a little bit about you and the work you do?

I write sexy books, and books about sex, which are sometimes the same thing, sometimes not. I’m also a coach and educator about sex positivity, safer sex, and focus on non-monogamy. I’ve been host of Life on the Swingset, The Swinging & Polyamory Podcast for the last 7 years, and we’re about to record our 300th episode! My goal is always to get people to think about their conceptions of their sexuality and how that relates to their partner(s) and the world, and take the opportunity to color outside the lines a bit, and learn about themselves.

What first made you want to write and podcast about sex and non-monogamy?

Hubris. I’d been swinging for a grand total of like 10 months and I thought, “You know what, I understand this pretty well, I should teach other people about it!” I corralled Dylan Thomas into co-hosting and the podcast was born. The writing has a little more sense behind it, but still not much. Before opening up I was a writer and indie filmmaker, so once I opened up and found the time to get back into it, writing about this all was a natural progression.
 

Can you tell us a little bit about your journey to becoming a podcaster, sex educator and published author? How does one ‘make it’ in this field? 

 
If anyone tells you they’re “making it” in podcasting they’re the incredibly rare and lucky breed. Honestly, podcasters don’t really make it. It’s all about reach, isn’t it? So podcasting is a vehicle for reach. The more I podcast, the larger my audience, the more opportunity to share my speaking gigs and educating and books with the world. But podcasting itself…it’s nice if it pays for itself. I guess that’s when you know you’ve made it, when the podcast isn’t as valuable as a drain in your bank account.


What does “a day in the life of You” look like? 

 I sleep way later than I should before I go to my (still unfortunately necessary) day job. In my free time I try to focus on projects and writing, while balancing with time with my lovely partner & binary star Ophilia Tesla, and still finding time to keep up on current media like Doctor Who and Legend of Zelda. 


What’s the best thing about being a sex educator, in your opinion? The worst?

The best thing about being a sex educator is the same as the best thing about being any type of educator, that moment when you see the person you’re talking to “gets it” and something changes in them. Since sex is such a major part of people’s lives, and the things I teach have the possibility of changing them fundamentally, it can be a really amazing moment. The downside is that sex is really really looked down upon as something worth educating yourself about. So there’s tremendous stigma surrounding it.

Which of your 3 books is your favourite, and why? Also what’s your favourite episode of the podcast, and why?

Approaching the Swingularity is my favorite, maybe because it’s the newest, but I also think it’s my best work. It allowed me to go deepest into my passions and take characters to new and unexpected places. Also to be really mean to them, cuz that’s kinda my thing. My favorite episode of the podcast was our 200th episode where we were lucky enough to get Dan Savage on as our guest. That was a real feeling of having “made it” – so I guess that also answers a bit of the question above!
 

Will there be a third book in the “Swingularity” series? 

There will, and at the moment it’s a shorter book like A Life Less Monogamous and will follow Jenn and Ryan’s early issues with true polyamory. The working title is Polywogs. But, for the moment, I’ve become distracted with a supernatural series featuring a pansexual poly woman named Osgood as the lead.

Which of your characters do you most identify with and why?

Depends on the day. All my characters are ultimately me, even if their personality isn’t. I split up my traits among them and give them my hangups. Ryan is probably the most ME, but in Swingularity, I’d have to say between Crista and Raymond for the most intense identification.

Who inspires you, professionally and personally?

Tristan Taoramino and Dan Savage are my two big favorite sex educators. I love his acerbic wit, and I aspire to the variety and depth of the work Tristan produces. For fiction my big inspiration is Stephen King, because nobody does character as well as him. I also adore the work of Richard Matheson and Ray Bradbury. 

If you were stuck on a desert island (sorry, sorry, I HAD to do a ‘desert island’ question) and could take three toys and one sexy book, what would you pick and why? 

Hmmm. If I’m by myself, a Tenga Egg, the nJoy Pure Wand, and can I bring a bottle of lube instead of a third toy? I feel like the heat would make lube essential. If I’m with someone else, definitely the nJoy Eleven. A sexy book….so many options.

What’s something you used to believe about sex/relationships but are glad you don’t believe any more?

That sex equals PIV/PIA (Penis in Vagina/Penis in Anus) penetration. And if I didn’t have that I wasn’t having sex. It’s tremendously pressuring, especially in group sex situations. Making everything sexual, including heavy making out, sex means that I no longer feel pressure to take things to an obvious conclusion, and can simply enjoy the smorgasbord of sexy in front of me.

What’s the best sex advice you ever got? 

 
It’s okay for sex to be silly. It always looks so dramatic and intense in movies. My best sex involves conversations, mistakes, and laughter.


What do you think is the most toxic myth that our society perpetuates about sex/relationships?

 

That there’s a right way to do it. That gives us all complexes that we’re not doing it right, and we stress out and make foolish decisions because of it.

What’s one question that you wish people would stop asking you? 

“You REALLY use condoms for blowjobs?” Yes I do. I’m happy to keep talking about it, though, until oral barriers are a thing.

And just for fun, because it is “Coffee and Kink”: Do you like coffee and, if so, how do you take it?

Oh god. My Starbucks coffee order is insane and will make people throw up from sweetness. I do a Venti double shot with 5 total shots of espresso and vanilla and caramel syrup. Otherwise, I don’t much go in for coffee.
Thanks Cooper for your time and always-fabulous insights, as well as the sexy books. Next up in a day or two is one of the cohosts of Life on the Swingset, Dr Liz… stay tuned for that!
The image featured in this post is the cover of Approaching the Swingularity and is the property of Cooper S Beckett.

Sex Educator Interview #4 – Kayla Lords

The latest in the Sex Educator Interviews series comes from the gorgeous and VERY talented Kayla Lords. I discovered Kayla’s Loving BDSM podcast about a year ago, which she co-hosts with her fiance and Daddy Dom John Brownstone, and I was hooked. I met Kayla in person at Eroticon this March and was delighted to find that she’s as funny, insightful, friendly and talkative in person as she is on the show. I feel privileged to feature her on here and even more privileged to call her a friend.

The Loving BDSM podcast logo, a purple heart surrounded by 2 floggers. For an interview with Kayla Lords

Tell us a little bit about you and the work you do?

I’m a sex blogger, podcaster, freelance writer, erotic author, and baby girl submissive in a D/s relationship. I enjoy creating content – audio or text – that involves sex, but specifically BDSM and D/s relationships. I enjoy the sexy side of things and write both erotic fiction and non-fiction, but when it comes to helping other people, I prefer to talk about the realities of D/s relationships and how to navigate a busy life (as a parent, partner, and basically normal human being) and still get the “kinky fuckery” you want. My goal isn’t to tell someone the right way (because there is no right way beyond communication and consent) to live a D/s and kinky life, but to help them figure out what “right” is for them in a healthy, realistic way.

What first made you want to write about sex?

I blogged in the vanilla world (anything not sex/kink related is “vanilla” to me, I don’t use it as a pejorative term) under my real name for about a year as I went through a divorce. It was nice to write and connect to people, but when I realized that I had sexual thoughts and fantasies I wanted to share, I realized I *didn’t* want my mother to read them. I’d already learned that blogging can be healing and cathartic, and I had a lot of sexual repression to deal with – I didn’t have an orgasm until I was 32. Writing was a way to finally get some of the sexual fantasies and questions out of my head and maybe connect to other people who’d understand where I was coming from. It helped that while I was blogging in the vanilla world, I discovered sex blogs and became a lurker. Starting my own sex blog allowed me to join the conversation under a pseudonym without worrying about outing myself as kinky.

Can you tell us a little bit about your journey to becoming a professional sex writer? How does one ‘make it’ in this field?

My journey in the professional sex writing world began first with my blog which I started in 2012. It’s what taught me that people really are interested in reading what I (and many others) have to say about sex and relationships. In 2014, I quit my long-time desk job to become a freelance writer in the vanilla world but for every business-related article I wrote, I wished I was writing something about BDSM, kink, or D/s. In 2015, I decided that I would branch out and find places to write for under the “Kayla Lords” name. I sent out a completely not-professional email to Kinkly.com asking about writing opportunities – I didn’t pitch ideas. I didn’t offer any writing samples. I think I just asked, “Do you need writers?” But they were kind and willing to pull the necessary information out of me. From there, I caught the bug. If one place liked my ideas and writing style and would pay me, surely there would be other sites. And there were. As of 2017, fully half my income is from writing about sex – some as a contributor for websites, some comes from my websites, and I also pick up adult business clients who need a blogger or ghostwriter. One “makes” it as a writer by writing – often, consistently, and even when you’re not sure it’s good enough. You make it as a paid writer by seeking out sites that say they’re looking for writers and starting the conversation. Not everyone will pick up your ideas or offer compensation, but some will.

What does “a day in the life of You” look like?

I crave routine and the life of a freelance, self-employed person is anything but routine, especially since I have so many projects going at once. In a perfect world, I’m at my laptop after coffee, breakfast, and getting the kids started for their day. I’ve learned to work on my own blog and personal projects first so they actually get done. Then I spend the rest of the day working on client or contributor work – vanilla or sexual. I keep a running to-do list of whatever I need to get done in a given week. If the week is especially busy, I’ll map out my to-do list by the day so I know exactly what has to be written and submitted by the end of that work day. Doing this allows me to meet my deadlines without worrying I’ll disappoint an editor or a client. In between, I may need to record a podcast (for Loving BDSM) or take a call (I do a weekly session on iRadio in Ireland as their “sexpert” – a word I don’t love) or run errands. I’ve learned to be a little bit more flexible with my routine so I take breaks for coffee, the gym, or appointments – as long as I get that day’s work done before I go to bed, I’m happy. And yes, this means sometimes I’m writing at midnight when I need to wake up at 6 the next morning.

What’s the best thing about being a sex writer, in your opinion? The worst?

The best thing about being a sex writer is that I’m writing about sex! I never think I know it all so I don’t write in black and white terms of this or that options. When I’m given the freedom – because of a pitch that was accepted or because it’s my own personal writing – to write what I believe is relevant and important to my readers, it’s an amazing feeling.

There’s no real “worst” in sex writing because the things that can be awful – unsolicited hate, random dick pics because since I write about sex clearly I want to have All The Sex with All The People, and people who think my topic is trash, sinful, or whatever – that all rolls off my back. The hate some people receive is rare for me (thank goodness, and I know exactly how lucky I am). But I also believe so firmly in what I write and share that someone getting upset because they don’t agree is their problem, not mine. Now, to be clear, there are annoyances and anxieties that are a part of my sex writing life but none of them rise to the level of being hated. I’m so happy that I get to write about what I love and get paid for it that the rest doesn’t touch me the same way it does in my vanilla writing. Because in the vanilla writing world, I can list all the things I hate – which is probably why I’m looking forward to the day when the vanilla writing is no longer a necessary part of my income – which is my 2018 goal.

What’s your favourite piece you’ve ever written, fiction and non-fiction?

That’s a harder question than I thought it might be. I tend to write a thing, mean it desperately, and then let it go out into the world without a backward glance. It’ll touch readers or it won’t, I just need it to be genuine, earnest, and well-written. But the writing that comes from a place deep inside me – meaning it’s something I’ve felt, and I’m letting other people know it’s okay to feel and how it affected me – those tend to stick with me. I have two that were meant for the readers but were also reminders to myself:

Both came as a result of my own feelings and things that other submissive were sharing with me, so they were deeply personal pieces.

Who inspires you, professionally and personally?

I tend to be inspired both professional and personally at the same time because my professional life IS personal to me. In the sex blogging world, Molly Moore and Girl on the Net are my spirit animals and I fangirl all over them (in my head, where they can’t see) on a regular basis. When I see them doing something amazing, I don’t want to copy them but I do want to emulate them so I can create my own version of what I admire about them. Of course, they’ve also (inadvertently, without knowing it) taught me to be proud of my own accomplishments and not to be afraid to go my own way if it feels right and it works for me.

In my regular life, my mom inspires me. She went from nothing to extremely successful by working for someone else and is now looking to start over with her own business. She taught me that it’s possible to reach the “impossible” goals, to make a good life for yourself and your family no matter how hard life seems, and to never give up. She also taught me that hard work and an honest effort gets you further in life than anything else.

If you were stuck on a desert island (sorry, sorry, I HAD to do a ‘desert island’ question) and could take one sex toy, one kinky item, and one sexy book, what would you pick and why?

Assuming I had electricity, I’m bringing my Hitachi (aka Original Magic Wand) – no questions asked. My kinky item would be a flogger. And no sexy book, but I’ll bring my laptop so I can write. And this all assumes John Brownstone is with me, and if not, HE’S my kinky item. 😉

What’s something you used to believe about sex/relationships but don’t believe any more, and what changed your mind?

I used to believe that sex wasn’t that important and that any relationship can be fixed. I stayed in a 12 year relationship (married for nine of them) because I thought those two things were true. I now understand that sex isn’t the MOST important part of a relationship, but for me, it’s a necessary part, and that some relationships are better off over than forcing yourself to stay. That the right person for you will fight just as hard to make a relationship work as you will – and sometimes harder. That they’ve got your back in good times and in bad, not just when it suits their needs. And if I can’t have what I believe is important in a relationship and the other person isn’t willing to work side by side with me to make it a good thing for both of us, I don’t want or need them.

What’s the best sex advice you ever got?

Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever gotten actual sex advice – not until I started following other sex bloggers and writers and paying attention to their views. Even then, what might be considered “advice” was something I already agreed with. The best advice, if it can be called that, was actually a complaint from an ex-lover right after my divorce. He and I hooked up, and while the sex was UH-MAZ-ING, I never orgasmed. This was before my first one at age 32 that I mentioned before. He wasn’t interested in helping me figure out why or what I needed to do to come. When he broke it off with me he said, “You never come, and it’s kind of a turn off.” I think, thanks to my overly competitive nature and my overwhelming desire to be considered a “good girl” and not always in a kinky way, I thought of that as a challenge. He and I never got back together, although I thought I wanted us to. But I did take on the task of figuring out how to come and why I couldn’t – and without that, I probably wouldn’t be writing about sex and kink today. So he was an ass but he also gave me a push I didn’t know I needed.

What do you think is the most toxic myth that our society perpetuates about sex/relationships?

That there’s only right way to do any of it. M/F, gay or lesbian, D/s, poly you name a way to have sex or relationship, and each type will have “rules” about what makes it right. Some are societal across the board and some are specific to that type of interaction (like D/s). So we all think there’s one right way to fuck or be with someone and when that One True Way is no good for us, we think WE’RE the problem instead of the arbitrary rule. My world shifted the moment I realized that everything about sex and relationships exists on a spectrum so there is no one right way to do any of it.

What’s one question that you wish people would stop asking you?

“Are you really submissive?” It makes me laugh, and I can always tell they haven’t followed me for very long OR don’t know anything about BDSM and D/s. They hear/read my opinionated views and see me take charge in some way (like over my career) and it doesn’t fit their stereotype of what submission means so they question whether I really am or not. I don’t get offended by the question and I don’t let it bother me – I try to laugh it off more than anything – but I’d love if people stopped wondering, lol.

And just for fun, because it is “Coffee and Kink”: how do you take your coffee? (Since I know that, like me, it is your love language!)

As much as I gush over coffee, I’m the type who likes a little coffee with her cream, and I have to use alternative milks or non-dairy creamers to keep my tummy happy. My favorite (my “American” is going to show here) is iced coffee with caramel flavor and extra cream or almond milk. But hot coffee with extra vanilla creamer and a dash of cinnamon is a good way to wake up, too. My go-to Starbucks order is a Venti Caramel Iced Coffee with Extra Almond Milk and my go-to Dunkin Donuts (do y’all have that?) order is a Medium Iced Dark Roast with Mocha Swirl and Almond Milk.

Thank you so much to Kayla for sharing her time and insights with us all (and for being so kind to me when I fangirled all over her at Eroticon earlier this year.) Check out her work! More interviews coming soon…

The image featured in this post is the logo for Loving BDSM podcast and belongs to Kayla Lords. It was reproduced here with her kind permission.

Sex Educator Interview #3: Dawn Serra

The latest interview in this series comes from Dawn Serra, sex educator extraordinaire and host of the amazing Sex Gets Real podcast. I’ve reached out to Dawn for advice before, as have many other people, and I’ve always found her to be one of the most open-minded, affirming and compassionate educators around. I’m absolutely thrilled she agreed to take part and give us a little peek into her world.

The header image of the Sex Gets Real podcast by Dawn Serra

Tell us a little bit about you and the work you do?

Officially, I’m a sex educator, sex podcaster, and a sex & relationship coach. But what those titles actually mean is I’ve dedicated myself to shame reduction, resilience building, emotional & sexual intelligence development, and helping people find words for things that feel scary or awkward. I’ve learned that what people really need is permission – permission to ask questions, permission to explore, permission to let go of stories that hurt them, and I try to do that every day by connecting the dots between the cultural stories and systems of oppression that keep us all trapped in pain and disconnection, and then giving people new tools and skills for moving in the direction they’d like to move.

What first made you want to be a sex educator and run a sex podcast?

I’ve always been the person my friends came to with sex questions and confessions, even in middle school and high school. Then, in my early 20’s, I started selling sex toys with one of those in-home party companies. While the company & products were problematic, it gave me a chance to talk with hundreds of women, one-on-one, about their deepest fears and shame.

It cracked me open in ways that surprised me, and I knew it was work I wanted to keep doing. It was fascinating to watch groups of women socially interacting with each other around sex. Many of them were loud and laughing, telling these wild stories about their sex life, very Sex and the City, but then behind closed doors with me would admit they’d never had an orgasm or didn’t know they were allowed to use a sex toy with a partner. Others would be quiet and shy during the group portion of the party, and then break down crying in private with me over their deep sense of shame, of being a disappointment to their partners. I started realizing just how many of us are performing what we think sex is supposed to be and look like without actually experiencing it in a way that made sense for us.
That was the beginning.

My podcast, Sex Gets Real, got started was because my friend, Dylan, and I heard some terrible advice about strap-on sex from a shock-jock Playboy type of podcast. We just could not let it go. We were angry at how wrong it was, and that people were actually listening. So, on a whim, we decided our voices were needed. A few days later, we recorded our first episode and now I’m nearing 200 episodes and 3 million downloads. Whoa.

How did you break into the industry and how does one ‘make it’ as a sex educator?

That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? I still don’t have it all figured out.

But for me, it’s always been about relationship building in the industry and finding ways to promote and lift up other voices. I knew that if I helped everyone around me, they’d in turn want to help me win and celebrate. I started attending conferences like Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit, promoting all the speakers, and stepping outside my comfort zone a bit by introducing myself to folks I’d long been a fan of.
The podcast also was a huge help. Even in the very very beginning of the show, I found that if I asked nicely, told someone why I thought they were super awesome, that they’d almost always say yes to an interview. Having them share the show helped me grow organically, which built some buzz, too.
Now I coach sex educators and therapists around building an online presence, creating online summits and courses, and my number one piece of advice for getting noticed is always be yourself. It’s SO tempting to want to emulate, copy, parrot, and follow in the footsteps of other educators. But then people don’t really know who you are. Be bold around stating your vision for a new world, your beliefs of what’s holding us back, your story and why it matters. Learn about social justice and oppression and then find ways to be unapologetic around your values and ethics in those spheres. Apologize when you’re wrong or hurt someone (because you will), and always always always take feedback graciously.

That more than anything has helped me to show up and be known for the sex educator I am today. The money stuff I’m still trying to figure out because the bottom line is people don’t want to pay for sex education unless it’s built on shiny promises and magic bullet solutions. To offer something more real and honest means a lot of swimming against the current. It’s possible, but it takes some grit and determination. And never, ever feel bad if sex education is your side hustle while you have a day job that pays the bills. Some of the biggest names in the industry do the same thing.

What does “a day in the life of a sex educator” look like for you?

For me, a typical day is a whole lot of admin work around the podcast, projects I’m working on, managing client updates and emails. One a good day, I’ll have a chance to do one or two podcast interviews with ridiculously amazing people. I may have a client session or two for personal or business coaching. Loads of social media writing and planning. Nurturing my Explore More group on Facebook. And then making big plans for future workshops, summits, webinars, etc.

What’s the best thing about being a sex educator, in your opinion? The worst?

The best thing is seeing people have massive shifts – seeing their relief, seeing their eyes light up at the possibilities they never knew could be theirs, hearing their vulnerable stories and knowing they trust me enough to hold them so gently and tenderly. That feeds my heart and soul.

The worst is how sex education is treated in the world. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – they all ban ads and promoted posts from sex educators because they consider sex education the same as pornography. Google Ads won’t allow you to buy ad space for the same reason. Getting the word out can be so tough because so many people are so filled with shame and embarrassment they aren’t willing to share your posts, even if they love them, for fear of people seeing them consume the content and thinking something is wrong.

Also, people don’t realize just how badly they need support around sex, love, relationships, and their bodies, so they aren’t willing to pay for webinars and workshops unless they’ve reached a total place of crisis. I wish more people understood that the sooner we all start practicing and learning together, the less we ever have to be in crisis or deep shame. But the world isn’t quite ready for that shift. Until then, we hustle and we persist, even in the shadows.

What’s your favourite episode of the podcast and why?

You have no idea how much I agonized over this question. I decided to go with one of my more recent episodes, simply because I’m incredibly proud of it.

For episode 162, I interviewed law professor and author Carol Sanger. It was the first time I dedicated an entire episode (or more than a few moments) to the topic of abortion. Carol’s book is truly spectacular, and to honor the seven years she spent writing it, I asked listeners to send in their abortion stories. I received about a dozen submissions. Each and every one was raw, real, and deeply personal. I felt like I was holding some of the most precious stories on earth – stories many of these people had never told another living soul. I read some of them on that episode, and Carol and I held them together. It wasn’t a super popular episode because I think too many people are scared of or biased around abortion discussions, but I am so so proud of that work.

Tell us about a book that changed your life/perspective completely?

Bessel van der Kolk’s “The Body Keeps the Score.” As a trauma survivor with PTSD, it was the first time my body, my reactions to situations, my trauma actually made sense. I started understanding what was happening inside of my body, inside of my brain, and it felt like pure relief.

Until I read that book, I considered myself broken in a lot of ways, incapable of healing or moving beyond certain things. I carried tremendous shame around my triggers, especially as a sex educator since my PTSD tends to come up in sexualized situations with strangers.
The research, the techniques to move towards integrating and recovery gave me hope. That book also gave me new language that allowed me to not only create permission and space in my own trauma, but around the trauma of the people I work with.
It led me to Peter Levine’s work and Somatic Experiencing. It took me down a path of learning more about being trauma-informed. It made sense of so many of the things that seem to not make sense in the world.

I am forever grateful for that book and the shift it caused in me.

Who inspires you, professionally and personally?

Professionally, Meg John Barker. Their work is powerful. They turn a lot of cultural stories and myths upside down, and in a way that doesn’t feel super threatening. I’ve found that so much of what I thought to be true is actually not true at all thanks to them, so I keep a close eye on their work. It’s always radical and permission-granting. Kate McCombs, Karen BK Chan, and Megan Devine in their work on empathy and emotional intelligence. That has done wonders for my professional work, how I work with clients, and my personal relationships, as well.

Personally, I’m inspired by folks who are brave and fighting endlessly for justice. The more I learn about my own racism, transphobia, fatphobia, ableism, classism, the more I grow and can lift others up. People like Ijeomo Oluo, Kelly Diels, Monica Raye Simpson, Jes Baker, Feminista Jones, Audre Lorde, Conner Habib… I feel rich with the people who offer me tough questions and who challenge me. It’s my favorite place to be, even when it feels terrible.

Also, as sappy as it sounds, my husband. He is so ridiculously smart. He reads endlessly, he listens to brain-growing podcasts all the time, and he knows more about all the things than anyone I know.

If you were stuck on a desert island (sorry, sorry, I HAD to do a ‘desert island’ question) and could take one sexy book, one sex toy and one kink item, which would you pick and why?

For my sex toy, I’d bring a rechargeable Magic wand. We’ll just pretend the island has a source of power for charging it. It’s deliciously diverse: I use on myself, I use it on my husband, and we use it together for sex in all sorts of configurations and positions.

For my kink item, it would have to be rope. I was tempted to say a flogger, but we could fashion a flogger from rope because it’s versatile like that. Then I’d have rope for both the kinky stuff (I’m imagining being tied to a palm tree and fanned with palm leaves) and practical island living stuff. Ha!

One sexy book… I have to go with Anne Rice’s Sleeping Beauty trilogy (it’s a box set, so I’m counting it as one). The first time I read those books I was probably 19 or 20 years old, had never heard of kink or BDSM, and they terrified me. Absolutely terrified me. I couldn’t understand why I kept feeling aroused by these very very unusual (to me) activities. In fact, I couldn’t finish the 3rd book because it was too much. A decade later, I picked them up and had to laugh. By then, I’d dabbled in all sorts of kink, had a chance to exploring shifting identities, and met people into all the things in the book. Now, they’re a fun escape that’s sexy and hot and full of delicious ideas.

What’s something you used to believe about sex/relationships but don’t believe any more, and what changed your mind?

I used to believe men wanted sex more than women. I used to believe there were only two genders. I used to believe monogamy was the only way to do relationship. I used to believe fat bodies were rarely, if ever, desirable. I used to believe that love was enough. I used to be in soul mates and true love and fairy tales. I used to believe if you loved someone enough that sex would be automatic and natural, with no need for words or explaining myself or awkward moments. I used to believe you couldn’t come back from betrayal.

I’m sure there are hundreds of other things I used to believe, having grown up on Cosmo magazine and Sex and the City. What really changed my mind was listening to peoples stories and realizing that it’s not that every single person is broken or inadequate in some way – it’s that the system, the stories, the culture are fundamentally flawed.

Reading powerful books on racial justice, reproductive justice, and sexual autonomy helped give me words and new questions which led me on a journey to overturn and question nearly everything we’re taught. I have a talk called Everything You Know About Sex is Wrong. It’s not because any individual is wrong, it’s that everything we’ve all been taught is wrong.

What’s the one thing that you wish everyone in the world could understand about sex/relationships?

I wish more people realized that we’d all be a lot better off if we normalized a lifetime of learning and professional support BEFORE crisis struck in both sex and love.

I wish people knew just how much pain, shame, uncertainty, hesitation, anger, resentment, confusion, and regret they could shed if they worked with folks like sex educators, sex coaches, sex therapists, relationship coaches, relationship therapists, trauma counselors, sex workers, body workers, etc.

So many people spend months, years, or decades silently suffering, worrying, not sure what’s changing or why things are so tough, and if they only knew how much permission and relief they could find with the help of folks trained to do this. No one should have to wait until they’re in deep pain or betrayal to begin to do the work that could genuinely move things forward for them.

There are a lot of amazing people (and even more pretty terrible ones, so be particular, folks) doing incredible, affirming work in all of these rich areas. Even professionals need a safe space to process, to learn and grow, to grieve and mourn the things they’ve fucked up or gotten wrong, to gain a little perspective. So if professionals needs it (goodness knows I do), then everyone does.

If we could all celebrate asking for help and having places to turn to constantly ask new questions together, I suspect we’d have a world with a lot less shame and fear and so much more connection and pleasure.

What do you think is the most toxic myth that our society perpetuates about sex/relationships?

In my humble opinion, all myths that we have are built upon one myth that feeds them all. It’s the myth that tells us the answers we need are outside of ourselves.

We are a culture that teaches children to turn to others to tell them who they are. We are trained from the youngest of ages to accept labels from people who do not know us, from people who are not us, and we are a culture that thrives on conformity (while claiming to admire independence).
Because of that, we get trapped in stories that tell us to compare ourselves to others, to let outside forces dictate our identities and our worth, to tell us what a normal life or romance or happiness look like. It is a myth that says you are not the one with the answers. We don’t know how to trust our bodies, how to speak up for ourselves, how to advocate for our pleasure because we, our bodies, our lives, are foreign to us.
And yet…we are the only ones who live in our bodies, who think our thoughts, who feel these sensations, who experience these feelings. If we can begin learning how to listen to our bodies, how to trust those sensations and the wisdom we have about what’s best for us, how to sit in our feelings and ask ourselves questions about what we really want and feel, we’d find that we have tremendous power and sovereignty over our own lives.
Sex wouldn’t be about performing what we think sex should look like. It would be about intimately knowing our bodies and what brings us the most pleasure on our own terms without worrying if it looked like everyone else.
Love wouldn’t be about achieving a relationship status or adhering to external, superficial factors, but instead about connection and curiosity and knowing based on a deep trust of ourselves.

Entire industries would collapse, but wow what a world that would be.

What’s one question that you wish people would stop asking you?

I love that you asked this, and at the same time, it’s difficult to answer because my goal is always to create space to reduce shame so folks can ask the hard questions. By answering, do I, in turn, create an atmosphere where it’s no longer safe to ask this question? Possibly, yes.

To answer the question, though, I wish people would stop asking how to “make” their partner orgasm because they’ve decided, on their partner’s behalf, that their partner having an orgasm is somehow vital or a huge puzzle piece is missing from their partner’s pleasure experience.
Our cultural focus on orgasm is bananas, and it’s created tremendous pressure on everyone to be orgasming all the time in all the ways, and to feel terrible if they aren’t.
I love people getting curious about their own pleasure and their own bodies, finding new words and tools to advocate for their explorations, and demanding recognition of their pleasure especially if they’re in a marginalized body, so what I think causes a lot more harm than good is people who make their partner’s experiences a personal mission.
Too many people feel like their sexual success, or being good in bed, is tied up in “giving” their partners an orgasm. It’s not really about the partner (though many say that it is). It’s actually about their own stories and needing to feel successful in some way because their partner’s orgasm is tied to their own identity.
That’s not to vilify folks who ask this question, but to point out that the sexual stories we’re given tell us this is normal. That orgasm is the end-all-be-all, and so of course we should want to do whatever it takes to make someone we care about get there. But at what expense? Making them feel more broken or abnormal?
The bottom line is expectations suck when it comes to sex – whether the expectation is a hard penis or certain feelings or an orgasm. It’s the fastest way to turn off pleasure and create distance, because even if an expectation goes unspoken, it still gets communicated – loudly and clearly – to the person who isn’t orgasming that something about them isn’t good enough. And they are good enough.

Instead of worrying about orgasm as a goal, I always invite people to simply focus on maximizing pleasure and being present for each other. Curiosity, space, time, and fun are much more likely to give everyone the peak pleasure experience they’re hoping for, anyways. And yet… no matter how many times I offer this answer, people still ask this question. So I’ll continue repeating myself until we have a cultural shift that takes this pressure off us all.

And just for fun, because it is “Coffee and Kink”: do you like coffee and how do you take it?

I love coffee. The floofy, fancy kind. A latte with caramel or an iced coffee with cream and lavender syrup. It’s a decadence that I treat myself to from time to time rather than a daily kick start.

Thanks again to Dawn for her time and amazing insights – and for being the amazing, fabulous educator she is. Coming up soon, we have educators including Cooper S Beckett, Dedeker Winston and Dirty Lola. Watch this space…
The image featured in this post is the header for Sex Gets Real the podcast. It is owned by Dawn and must not be copied or reproduced without her permission.