The question seemed a little disconcerting, a little personal. It was being asked by a loud, brash, large woman who was wearing a green cap and a sash, looking a bit like a Girl Scout. “Hey, if you’re a pervert raise your hand! Come on, who here’s a pervert?”
“OK, for those of you a bit uncomfortable, a pervert is simply someone who isn’t judgmental about the kid of sex you or anyone else enjoys,” said the speaker, bawdy storyteller and sexual folklorist Dixie De La Tour declared. Oh, OK, then I’m a pervert.
I was part of a revealing, exciting four hours of discussions and details of some of the world’s leading (and cool) sex researchers in a Sex Positive World seminar held at UCLA on July 25. Many members of the local amBi group and other bisexuals were in attendance, including some I just overheard and talked to while coming in to the auditorium filled with 350 people. There were couples of very shape, size, age and numbers.
A handsome guy in 20s with long hair sat behind me and talked about how he is with his voluptuous brunette girlfriend with long flowing hair. “We’re not monogamous now, we’re trying the poly thing, and I’m here to learn,” he said.
During a break between panels, he added, “The best thing is to have a bisexual girl go out and find a partner, a girl or guy, to bring home, because they have creativity. With men, there’s always some sort of drama. Let a woman work her magic.”
The conversations in the audience and the panel were predominantly about bisexual or poly relationships, and everything was very Sex Positive. This seminar is the first of its kind organized by Gabriella Cordova, who founded the Sex Positive World six years ago in Portland. She brought up and introduced six chapter representatives to the front of the audience from the 12 chapters across the world (all but one led by women), and there are 4,000 members in five countries.
“We need more women to get involved in the Sex Positive groups,” Cordova said. “For every eight hetero males we have one hetero female applying. We need you women to show up.”
The panels were filled with important statistics, data and simple anecdotal amusing stories that are completely unforgettable.
Dixie, for example, talked about her origins as an oppressed Southern girl, who meets partners on the Internet now. “I want to meet you with a bag over my head at a bar, and you have a bag over your head with the eyes and mouth cut out. You then take me home to fuck me, but keep the bag on your head, and you put a bag on your other head, and don’t take the bag off.”
The audience was in hysterics. Then, she made them cringe, when she talked about taking a male friend to a workshop where someone was demonstrating ball kicking.
“Apparently, you kick from behind because it doesn’t hurt as much, but my friend when running out screaming,” she said.
Not all the presenters were as shocking, but all of them were certainly eye-opening. “Ethical Slut” co-author Janet Hardy talked about working on her next book “Spanking for Lovers” and how she was doing more reading than hands-on research this time around. She discovered the Domestic Discipline group which did things that even surprised her, such as bringing real-life situations into their bondage play. She talked about meeting a guy on Craig’s List and doing a spanking scene.
“I did not find him particularly bright, or particularly attractive and I wasn’t in the mood to be choosy,” said the 60-year-old Hardy. Then, after detailing the experience, she said she ended it abruptly, because “It was turning into a small business consultation.”
The Sexual Health Series Kick Off was to explore “Redefining Sexuality for the 21st Century” and it brought together all sorts of therapists, educators, storytellers and sexperts.
The first panel was about the state of sex education today, which for many is nonexistent or fear-based. The panel talked about impacts how individuals navigate themselves, relationships and their perspectives in society. For most people, not having a sex positive foundation of sexual knowledge adds to the shame, guilt and intolerance. The talked about gender identity, as well as sexual cultures such as the BDSM, kink, and nonmonogamous communities.
On the first panel was a cool-looking guy named Wry, with a Mohawk and wrapping his arms around two women in the audience. He is the co-host of Kinky Salon LA and a writer and blogger. He as going to be a Catholic priest and then went out looking for a woman and realized, “if she will be the only person I have sex with for the rest of my life, she better be fucking great.”
Wry came from being raised in a family where masturbating was a sin. “We thought it was pointless and mindless and yet, I couldn’t sleep unless I masturbated at least once a day,” he said. “You shouldn’t be slapped over it, but it should be encouraged.”
Author Lauren Brim, who wrote “The New Rules of Sex” said she works a lot “with clients who have been the product of sex negative education. They don’t believe in themselves or their sexual well-being. For some of them, it’s the first time they can even talk about going through puberty. There is a lot of need for people of all ages.”
Dr. Hernando Chaves, an author and marital and family therapist, said that most people will have seen porn before they turn 18. He said he has seen the benefits in showing clients various forms of pornography, and that it can help.
“Porn can show different kinds of sexual fetishes, and it can also show that a lot things are just natural,” Chaves said. He told a story about a client from Saudi Arabia who worried about insulting a woman if his penis was flaccid in front of her. After seeing a Nina Hartley video of a woman pleasuring a man who was limp at first, he realized that it was OK to not always be in a state of arousal in front of his partner. “He wrote me later and said he has been successfully married.”
The seminars were overwhelming, and positive, and people were thrilled after they attended.
“Wow, it was a full house!” gushed one attendee. “I am left with such joy to have been in that theater with so many amazing sex positive people. Such honesty from Janet and the audience.”
Another said, “I had so many ‘ah-ha’ moments. Things they and the audience said I had experienced throughout my life, and for the first time, I saw that they’re all related and mean something.”
And yes, perverts are we all.