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Continued Sex Education

 May 4, 2023 at 9:00 AM PDT

S1: Miss Lolly here this week on Everybody's Doing It. I'm talking with an old friend about those awkward days discovering sex for the first time.

S2: It's different for everybody. And I think it's , you know , it's extremely more easy for a guy than it is for a girl to get off.

S1: Then I sit down with Michelle Renee , a surrogate partner and intimacy coach , to discuss the many layers of sex and connection.

S3: And then I guess there is a fourth stage , which would be after we're done working together , the client and the therapist work through the closure stage or the grief stage of the end of what is sometimes referred to like a summer romance.

S1: And we take a trip to a local sex shop and talk about destigmatizing adult play.

S4: This one conceived notion of what this looks like based on like movies and TV shows over the years. And they just think it's it's something like dark and dirty and really , we're all just a bunch of big nerds who are trying to figure out how to make sex more fun.

S1: Join us for the fun wherever you get your podcasts. Warning. This episode describes sex acts and other fun activities that may not be appropriate for everyone. Listener discretion is advised.

UU: But then there's the sex.

S1: I don't know about you , but my first handful of sexual experiences , they were. Well , let's just say awkward. And I know I'm not alone in that. I've heard many stories over the years of fumbling hands , uncooperative undergarments , things bending , and maybe not the right direction. And of course , most people have a story or two about being full of hormones and excitement and having very little knowledge and few appropriate venues.

S2: It's different for everybody. And I think it's , you know , it's extremely more easy for a guy than it is for a girl to get off.

S1: That's one of my oldest friends. I've called him Germs since we were 15 as a play on his name and the fact that he was a punk who never changed his clothes. He now lives on the East Coast with his wife and a young daughter. But now and again , we get to catch up on the phone. Typically , we end up reminiscing about old friends and shows you went to together and being generally young , dumb and full of energy. But this time the conversation turned to places you find to get down when you're younger that you maybe wouldn't want to revisit now.

S2: Yeah , no. Yeah. Like behind the screen at the movie theater. I've done that a few times. Elevator Fashion Island. Cars.

S5: Cars.

S1: Cram in the back seat of a car.

S2: Yeah , the front seat. And luckily , I'm , you know , five foot five kind of squeeze in there.

S6: Yeah , I'm five. Nine. It was a little bit more difficult. Where do you put your legs ? Oh , my God.

S1: This conversation made me think about how much we grow as sexual beings and how that even happens. Where does our sexual education really come from and do we ever stop learning ? This week on everybody's Doing It. We get curious about the various ways we expand our horizons in the way we play and how we intimately connect with others. I didn't get much of a sex talk when I was 17. While at dinner at a restaurant , my mom casually asked me if I was having sex with my boyfriend. I said yes and that he wasn't my first. And she said , Oh , well , I guess , you know , then that was the end of it. That was all I was getting from my family and sex ed in school. Well , it was extremely insufficient. It's not like they told us how to be emotionally healthy sexual beings or how to heighten our experiences of pleasure. I definitely had to learn through trial and error , mostly error , but germs , He had a different perspective.

S2: Either way , it's different for everybody. Maybe it's like human nature. You know what to do. I'd seen enough porn where I could pretend.

S6: Okay , so you were you were watching porn and just doing what they did in porn or. Attempting.

S2: Attempting. To.

S6: To. Which I'm sure that was really bad , too.

S2: Yeah , I'm sure it was.

S1: Improvement comes in many forms , and when it comes to sex , it's not just the physical aspects that grow and develop over time. Our sexual health and experiences are undoubtedly connected to our mental and emotional states as well. And for many of us , life circumstances can cause a big heavy cloud to form in our heads a cloud of shame , embarrassment , anxiety. So where do we turn therapy ? Well , yes , there are many therapists and specifically sex therapists out there who are well trained in helping people heal trauma , battle shame and just enjoy sex more. But what if you feel you need something more hands on and experiential practice , if you will , with someone who's not tied to your family or social life like a spouse or partner might be ? Well , one interesting option is to get yourself a surrogate partner. What the heck is that , you ask ? Let's ask one.

S3: I'm Michel René. I am a surrogate partner , professional cuddler and intimacy coach. A surrogate partner works with clients that are in therapy , and they struggle with intimacy issues. So they're generally single and. And they would normally work through those issues with a partner in therapy since they can't access having a partner for whatever these reasons are. I step in as a surrogate partner , helping them build communication skills all the way through erotic intimacy skills. And then professional cuddling is platonic , fully clothed. A space where clients can choose to cuddle. They can choose to not cuddle. They can talk , they can be quiet. It's about both of us being yeses to whatever the request is. So I never do anything in a cuddle session that I wouldn't want to do. And that allows us to have authentic connection and then intimacy coaching kind of being the umbrella term for all of that from platonic to erotic intimacy.

S1: So when I think of doing couples therapy , right , you have people who have a connection with each other , have history with each other , baggage and all of that. Who they are authentically in this relationship is coming into the therapy session.

S3: And then after that , the client always sees the therapist in between the sessions with me , and I always talk to the therapist in between the sessions with the client. The first part of the work is getting to build that relationship with the client. So I'm taking history. We are doing exercises that are both diagnostic and also connective , so we're trying to become attuned with each other. There's probably about three stages of the work generally. One is the attunement , communication boundaries , kind of building stage , creating safety. The second stage is like working on body image and more sensual touch. And then the third stage is the erotic stage. If we get there , if we all decide that that's actually needed and therapeutically called for. And then I guess there is a fourth stage , which would be after we're done working together , the client and the therapist work through the closure stage or the grief stage of the end of what is sometimes referred to like a summer romance. Like we break up because our work has done , not because there was something wrong.

S1: Tell me more about the boundaries of the work here. Like where How far does the erotic work go.

S3: And surrogate partner therapy. It goes as far as all of us agree to , but it's all really up for negotiation. So yeah. Do I have POV sex with clients ? Yeah , sometimes I do. It really depends on what the client's issues are presenting. It's not the same as surrogate partner therapy. Circuit partner therapy usually takes a good 9 to 12 months if not longer. Where I don't expect somebody coming to me for low key intimacy coaching say they have. Erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation , which is really common for people to come to me and ask about. I don't see myself planning to work with them for maybe more than like six sessions or something , just to get them more in tune with their body. I can't solve those things. I'm trying to help them understand their body better so that maybe they're more aware and more present. The clients that don't come to me through surrogate partner therapy but want hands on intimacy support , I tend to not go as far with them in the erotic work as I would with a surrogate partner because I don't have the support of a talk therapist to help manage the feelings that come up. I don't want too much attachment. We're in surrogate partner therapy. Attachment is really important to the work and it actually feeds the work to be much more rich. But that's why it's important to have a third party involved for for those boundaries.


S3: I'm really good at like having a set period of time where I'm all in and show up and then get to leave that work. Do I care for my clients ? Absolutely. Do I wonder what they're up to after they leave ? Yeah. Will I sometimes check on them and just be like , How are things going ? Yeah , like I want to know. But I have my own relationship. I get my needs met outside of my work. I'm always mindful that I'm wearing like professional hat and personal hat in that work , and I haven't had a problem with it.


S3: That's not it. It's about learning how to actually connect as human beings. And that can be done in a platonic container , can be done in an erotic container. But all of it comes down to having safety first. Amongst my surrogate partner colleagues , one of our common experiences is sitting with a client , so we're cuddled up. It might be after a sexual situation , it might not be , but they say , Oh , this is what intimacy is , right ? They have a completely maybe media driven view of what intimacy is , and they always think sexual intimacy , But the intimacy can stand on its own. And it's about vulnerability and authenticity. And can you share your fears with the person that you're with ? Do you feel safe ? And I think that's ultimately what people end up learning through. Through me is like with safety , pretty much anything is possible.


S3: I'm in the alternative relationship world and like there's not a lot of people to look up to and go , Well , what do I do with this feeling I would want marriage and family therapist to have a sex background ? I would like sex therapists to have a couple's background. And and what I know about the therapy world , unfortunately , is that most therapists are really squeaked out about talking about sex and pleasure. It's like , can we expand our minds just a little bit ? I'm a I'm spearheading soft cock week in November. I haven't announced it officially yet , but I find myself in these interviews talking about can we just like be okay with soft , soft penises and like celebrate them ? There's plenty of fun things to do in that. I don't need another client walking at my door going , Help , help. I have Ed , like , let's let's just talk about all the fun things we can do. Even if you have a soft , soft penis.


S3: I was married for 20 , almost 20 years. Sex became a chore. It was a it was an obligation I gave in to. This is my role in keeping the household calm and happy. And it killed my sexual being. Right before I got divorced , I found Betty Dodson , who was an old sex educator , kind of a badass , and she really helped me find my sexuality again. And and , you know , it changed the most for me was my ability to identify what I wanted , owning my bodily autonomy. So I think the thing I want people to know is like , it doesn't have to stay the way it is.


S3: Starvation classes in her Manhattan apartment for 30 , 35 years or something like , I'm a plus size woman. I have zero qualms taking my clothes off. And when you are not being able to be present because you're worried about anything that you've got going on in the back of your brain is taking you out of the moment. And and that really changed how I how I showed up in spaces , especially how I showed up in sex.


S3: And we start asking the question like , who is this for ? And getting really honest about I want to touch you and I'm going to think it's for you , but it's really for me. And it changes how people communicate and especially in physical touch. But you can use that across the board with all sorts of relationships.

S1: These options are out there , folks. But if a surrogate partner or professional cuddler isn't what you need and maybe you're just looking to spice things up a bit , there are plenty of options for that , too. We'll get into that after this break.

S7: Six , six , six.

S1: Just like everything else in life , you get better with practice and exercising your skills. But what do you do if you feel like that's not enough ? And maybe there are things out there that you haven't even thought to explore.


S1: That's right. Sex shops , adult toy boutiques , whatever you want to call them. There are many around and they all have different vibes and sometimes specific specialties and populations they cater to. Some have lots of costumes and outfits , some have more toys , and all of them can be a little intimidating if you are a first time shopper.

S8: Our concept is to have a shame free sex store , and to us that means something that you can come in and feel comfortable asking questions , learning , growing , trying new things out. And so we created a space that feels very light and airy and safe. There's no tenting on the windows , there's no sticky floors. Everything is white and rose gold and glittery and girly. And our coined phrase is high femme hedonism. So that's kind of our vibe that we're trying to go for and support a different side of sexuality and of humans that don't usually get a lot of spotlight , including our trans friends and our non-binary friends , and showing people that there's ways that they can choose toys and , you know , create. Self care in a different way than maybe what they thought that they needed.

S1: And Jen's description of the thought that went into their stores concept , it piqued my interest so much that I had to reach out to Miss Annie. Hi , I'm.

S4: Miss Annie and I am the co-owner of Restrain Grace.

S1: If I had to say what restrained Grace is , specialty was , I would say respect for healthy exploration of your inner sex nerd. Adult play and BDSM are jargon. What does any of that mean ? Don't worry , I'll never leave you in the dark without a flashlight in a map , so I'll give you some definitions. I went back and forth on how to do this and I decided that rather than stopping the interview to define jargon every time it's used , I would give it to you all at once before you heard it. So here are the most basic basics. Kink. This is a catchall word that basically means sexual taste , preferences and behaviors that are unconventional. But I think more people have kinks than you would ever know. So how unconventional are they , really ? BDSM stands for bondage , like being tied up or restrained domination or discipline , submission or sadism and masochism. These can sound a little off putting to those who don't or don't yet participate in such things. But remember , all healthy adult play is done with full consent and respect for the agreed upon rules and boundaries of the relationship or scenario dominance or domme. This is the person who is in control in a relationship that involves uneven power dynamics and the submissive. This is the one who is being controlled. This relationship can involve pain , but it doesn't have to. There are a lot of nuances to this. And again , these are the most boiled down basics. We will get into it much further in an upcoming full episode dedicated to Kink Rope play. There are many forms , but currently the most popular is called Shibori , which is an erotic form of bondage with a rich Japanese history. One person referred to as the top uses ropes and beautifully intricate knots to tie up another person known as a bottom. There are many classes around town and online that teach rope play for beginners. I'll take you with me to one in a later episode. And last but not least , pet play and age play. Think make believe. For grownups. It is pretend play where one takes on a role that is very different from the role they currently have. Maybe a cat , maybe a teenager without a care in the world other than boys and first girl crushes. This doesn't have to be erotic. It's more about the change in head space. Okay , now that we have some basics , let's hear what else Miss Annie has to say.

S4: Like we did like a really intense website situation for years. And then we were like , What if we try to start and like , we started out as mostly handmade bondage gear and jewelry , and that's evolved over the years. We have always had like a really solid online community along with the the brand , and we've solidified that in a couple of different ways over the years. And right now we just switched over to Discord and it's mostly around , you know , educating. Most of the kink groups that I'd come across on Facebook were really heteronormative. Men are dominant , women are submissive , and things need to be done a very specific way. Because I said so , it made me feel very uncomfortable and like a lot of ways , without information and community at your fingertips , it's really easy to kind of get manipulated into thinking like , This is the only way this is done. That's part of what plays into the stigma of kink in general , as people only have this one conceived notion of what this looks like based on like movies and TV shows over the years. And they just think it's it's something like dark and dirty and really , we're all just a bunch of big nerds who are trying to figure out how to make sex more fun. Yeah. Like could give her an orgasm. Or I could figure out how to make her , like , beg for 20. And that sounds interesting. Like.

S1: You created a very safe space for people. And I was wondering what your thought process was in how to create that.

S6: Safe space.

S1: For people in the community.

S6: That you were creating and curating. Yeah.

S4: Actually have a book that I started reading called Making Spaces Safer. I can look up the author of it , I don't know , off the top of my head , but she was a gal who worked in like punk nightclubs and had gone through a whole bunch of stuff and witnessed a whole bunch of stuff herself. So I took a lot of inspiration from that because most of my experience in community was either in person here in San Diego or online on Fat Life. It kind of feels like a meat market , like regardless of what you put that you're interested in , regardless if you say you're not interested in anything at all , there was no barrier between you and any given predator on the app. My big inspiration for like creating our own group was like a place where people could go to learn without having to deal with the unwanted attention. These things aren't allowed. No transphobia , no racism. ET cetera. Here's what you should do if this happens. Like you should come see and like you should say. And then here's what we will do when this happens.

S6: And what made you get into.

S1: This business in the first place , like making toys and making jewelry. What was the thought behind that ? Like , I'm going to do this.

S4: I was already making jewelry. We already had a jewelry based business , so we already had a lot of supplies to make. A lot of the kinds of things we make now. We rolled one business right into another and use supplies and materials they already had and skills they already had , but just kind of went like , want to do this ? But I want to do it like for the King community. Like I wanted it to be feminine and pretty but still functional , and everything I could find was like bubblegum paint and like fake plasticky stuff. So it was just about , you know , what do I want to wear ? And I can't find that. So guess I'll make it. I tend to follow my personal interests into a business because otherwise think I have a really hard time working.

S1: Yeah , you have to love what you do.

S6: Aside from the shop.

S1: How do you help people explore and.


S4: We try to do really short and quick education type things , so you can just say something like , Hey , dominance isn't angry if someone is hitting you out of anger , that's abuse and have a nice day. And then like the discourse happens in the comments and and people learn. And I just really think social media has been one of the best ways we're successful with it , mostly because we're really we're not trying to make it like about sex. We're trying to make it about education. The sex is what happens after you learn a relationship starts with your self-love , with how well you take care of yourself and the precedent you set for how you'll be treated. Just being able to regularly in an open forum talk about loving yourself and building up your self-worth. How you like the average you. Every person reading this deserves to be treated with love and respect and dignity regardless of what you've agreed upon in a King relationship like. And unless everything is consensual , it's not it's it's not kink.

S1: And the thought that has to go into that kind of relationship , the thought about.

S6: What you know of yourself to be able to communicate to your partner , knowing where your limits.

S1: Are , to be able to communicate that to your partner. You know , being able to say , I'm feeling something that.

S6: Feels a little.

S1: Less than total control over myself. And so then I'm not actually doing my job.

S4: Self control comes first and dominance is one of the things I truly believe. Like you have to have a really good handle on yourself. You have to you have to know who you are and what you're about , knowing you need to step away from something.

S6: Do you have meetup groups for , like rope.

S1: Play and stuff like that ? Yeah.

S4: So we've , we just have been doing like kind of meetup style things to start to just get a gauge for our community and like what kinds of things people want. So I think that's going to be the next valuable step for us because don't hesitate to jump into educating , don't want to do it lightly. I want to do it very intentionally. So we will be doing like the monthly rope demo and think we're going to skew that more towards like a demo with a Q&A because that's kind of what the event ended up being anyways. I think we'll be doing something similar with Pet Play and also with age play because these are things that have a lot of misconceptions and confusion and even fears around. And I think if people could talk to people like us who just , you know , do various kinds of kinks and aren't ashamed of them , that'll help break a whole lot of stigmas. I think that exploring those things through kink is incredible. It's it's freeing. It's definitely an outside of the box level of self-expression , which I'm always , always going to be behind.

S1: What do you think is important for.

S6: People to.

S1: What is your PSA.

S4: Like ? Sex is something we should absolutely not be ashamed of. Sex and pleasure are things that we should all be actively trying to achieve if we're able to and we want to. My biggest thing is that if we could destigmatize sex in general , like society could move forward in so many ways that we're currently holding ourselves back on that want people to know that like there shouldn't be shame in sex and we should be learning how to destigmatize any shame we feel around sex that should be part of our like our healing , our unpacking , our our stuff and , you know , in therapy or whatever on TikTok. However , just just don't feel bad about what you like.

S1: Sex is such a universal and natural thing. It can also be very complicated. There are many reasons why people might not feel completely satisfied or comfortable in their sex lives. Sometimes we have traumatic histories and carry baggage that makes us feel shame and anxiety. Sometimes we have partners who don't honor us or our needs. It's easy to fall into patterns as an adult and become accustomed to how things are. We are not set in stone. There's a whole world out there of healing and exploration of your body , mind and heart. There's no shame in continuing to learn how to play and make healthy connections with or without others. So have fun out there. Beautiful and see you next time. Everybody's doing. It is produced and hosted by me , Miss Lolly for Bad for Media. Our executive producer is Parker Edison for Meridian Arts and our head editor is the talented Chris Reyes. I am so grateful these two don't blush easily. Adrian Villalobos , Media production specialist. Liza Jane Morissette is director of audio programming and operations and John Decker is senior director of Content development. You can subscribe and find our newest episodes on Apple , Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. This programming is made possible in part by the KPBS Explore Content Fund. Have fun out there. Beautiful. And thanks for listening.

Learning more about sex and sexuality in adulthood.

Miss Lolly talks with an old friend about those awkward days discovering sex for the first time, and how much they both needed to learn. Then she sits down with Michell Renee, a Surrogate Partner and intimacy coach to discuss the many layers of connection and sex we learn over time. Finally Miss Lolly goes into a sex shop and talks with the owner about kink and all the fun experiences we all could be having if we destigmatized adult play.