I vividly remember the patch of sidewalk that I was looking at when my dad said, “I’m afraid it’s bad news, honey.” I clutched my cell phone to my ear as he explained that a CT scan of my mom’s lungs had revealed a tumor wrapped around her esophagus and metastasis in her bones. I can still see the small dots in the cement—shades of gray in this decidedly black-and-white situation—as he explained that her prognosis was bleak: She had six months to a year. I also recall the green chain-link fence that I thought I might have to grab onto as a sense of vertigo took over, as though I might pass out from this too-sudden shift in reality.
Everything else in the moments and even months after that is a blur—everything except for the sex.
Elizabeth* was basking in postcoital bliss when her husband, Chris, turned to her and asked, “Would you ever want to have sex with someone else?”
They had been married for six months, together for nine years before that, and monogamous the whole time. True, they had toyed with the idea of a threesome, usually during dirty talk, but this was different. “I was appalled,” says Elizabeth, a 30-year-old TV producer living in Los Angeles. “I assumed this suggestion opened the floodgates to any number of horrible things that would doom our marriage.”
There is a stranger behind me on this mountain path making horse noises — not the silly “neighs” of childhood play but the sounds of a man in touch with his animal side. I turn and catch a nervous glimpse: He’s wearing a midnight-black horse mask, a spandex bodysuit, biker boots and a network of BDSM harnesses. Oh, and his hands — excuse me, hooves — are bound behind his back.
I’m thinking: Maybe I was wrong to come here alone.
“Here” being Northern California’s Fox Hunt, a version of hide and seek for kinky adults, held at a nudist retreat in the middle of the woods.
Dan interviews me about the tendency in kinky circles to belittle and disdain vanilla folk.
Co-hosting with Elissa Bassist.
ELLE, April 2012
I was a teenager the first time I faked an orgasm. It was during cybersex in an early-90s AOL chat room and went something like this: “Omigosh, yes! Oh, oh, mmm, yesss!
Anonymous online sex was my pubescent rebellion, raised as I was by a pair of pot-smoking hippies who were the opposite of the parental stereotype: They jumped at any opportunity to talk about sex—always as the most loving, spiritual act imaginable. And my dad routinely railed against excessive makeup, crippling high heels, or any other sacrifice for superficial, unnatural desirability.
Most people who know what I do for a living would expect my closet to be stocked with sexy getups—a naughty nurse costume, a frilly maid's uniform, a too-tight secretary outfit, you name it. I seem on the surface to be the sort of woman who would be an expert at role-playing, that sexy game where a couple take on new identities to fulfill a naughty fantasy. After all, I write about sex for a living, and I've covered everything from "hookup culture" to pornography. Surely, a sexpert like myself would have tried her hand at some erotic theater, right?
In fact, I've never come even remotely close to playing make-believe in the bedroom. The truth is, I've been too scared!
Just over eight minutes after getting onto the table, Becky is crying. “Let your goddess out,” says Ben Rode, the 29-year-old man rubbing down her naked body with oil. “This is your goddess ceremony.” Meanwhile, Ben’s 31-year-old wife, Jen, who is five months pregnant, performs Reiki, floating her hands over Becky’s head and neck, asking questions about a past life as a queen. Swelling, chiming New Age music plays in the background, as the picture-perfect pair let out long, throaty exhalations to prompt Becky to breathe deep.
Ben, a tall all-American sort with ice-blue eyes, moves his fingers to her clitoris, “Let your pleasure spread, down your legs, all the way up to your boobs.” As Becky’s moans deepen, he announces, “K, I’m going inside.”
MORE Magazine: “What the New Feminists Look Like.” I’m on the right.
It’s a Tuesday afternoon but the windows of this bar in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood are taped over with black plastic to make it look like nighttime. They’re filming a porno inside.
A naked woman is sitting on a bar stool, her legs held open by two real-life customers who casually sip their beers as porn actor James Deen repeatedly slams into her. A couple of men stand next to the action with their iPhones held out at arm’s length, but mostly the crowd seems more interested in the glasses of whiskey being passed around than in the moaning girl. They pour the shots down their throats and someone lets a burp rip.
My living room bore all the the signs of a successful first date. While making out on the couch, Christopher and I got tangles in a chenille throw and accidentally knocked over the case of lilies that he'd brought me. We couldn't even be bothered to stop to mop up the water. But suddenly, as I climbed onto his lap with a flirty grin, he pulled back and said, "I think the perfect end to this date would be for me to call a cab."
I searched his face for a sign that he was joking.
Nicole Daedone pulls her long dirty-blond locks into a bun, rolls up the sleeves of her crisp white dress shirt and readies her lube. On the table in front of her there is a woman, naked only from the waist down, with her knees spread wide. The 40-something founder of OneTaste, a center dedicated to “mindful sexuality,” is about to give a live and impromptu demonstration of orgasmic meditation (“OMing” for short) in a conference room at the sophisticated Le Meridien hotel in San Francisco. She takes a long look between the volunteer’s legs and enthuses to the audience of roughly 40 women: “Oh my god, it’s beautiful. It’s an electric rose color. The swelling is already beginning.”