This week’s guest – JoEllen Notte (The Redhead Bedhead) – describes sex and depression as “the intersection of two taboo topics.” Good thing Amory Jane and Intern Courtney have no problems discussing taboos! Instead, they open up and share firsthand accounts of living with mental illness and how kink and sex toys have helped them retain their sex lives during depressive episodes. On the second half of the show, JoEllen Notte dives into her research on depression and how mental illness and medication can impact our sex lives and our relationships. She also debunks depression myths, offers important advice for partners of people living with depression, and emphasizes how none of us are broken.
Divorce wouldn’t be so bad if it just felt like getting to the end of a movie you really enjoyed. Even if you are bummed the movie is over, you have the positive memories and the ways it made you feel and you can share the stories and learn from the characters and talk about it with other people and feel connected.
Instead, for me at least, divorce feels more like a movie I was working on (for ten years) that never got off the ground. Or maybe it did, but it was definitely not the movie I set out to create. Were there some really good scenes? Of course. But overall it didn’t manage to come together in a way that worked – it just left me wishing I could go back and try to create something better. Now I find myself disappointed (and heartbroken) that I invested in that particular project and put so much time and effort and heart into something that I can’t look at with pride and that I don’t think represents (or brought out) the best of who I am.
Anyway, I do not recommend, and would give divorce a very shitty score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Our sixth episode is on the topic of polyamory – the practice of having more than one romantic relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved. This episode features candid and personal conversations between Amory Jane and her guests (Kevin Patterson ofPoly Role Modelsand educatorAnnamarie Stockwell), from one polyamorous person to another. They talk about the real pros and cons of ethical non-monogamy, the heartbreaks, and how others have reacted to their non-traditional relationship styles. They also talk about intersectionality in polyamory (and about how intersectional feminism is often lacking in the media and polyamory communities in general).
Or, you know, pop in some headphones and listen from work. It’s available here or on the go with iTunes and Stitcher.
Amory Jane reveals her true feelings about Mary Jane and shares some of her sexydorky very honest cannabis experiences with the show’s guests. She interviews Devan Anthony from Luminous Botanicalsabout running a cannabis business, getting high, the healing powers of CBD, and cannabis for sensual use. On the second half of the show, Ashley Mantasmashes stoner stereotypes andtalksabout cannasexuality and how she came to be The Cannasexual. Plus, Amory Jane and Ashley geek out on hand jobs, terpenes, and cannabis lubricant.
Episode 2 of Sex on the Brain with Amory Jane is here, and this week’s episode is all about porn! Check it out here or listen to it on the go with iTunes and Stitcher!
Performer/writer/wrestler Andre Shaktijoins the show from California to talk about the porn industry and why Californians should vote no on Prop 60. Model and queer porn performer, Valentine, tells us about her sexy adventures at Berlin Porn Film Festival and has an intimate conversation with Amory Jane and Intern Courtney about pornography, body image, Germany, and being slutty. They also share their favorite types of smut, what they like about queer and feminist porn, plus Amory Jane and Valentine go into detail on what it was like to create films for HUMP! Film Festival.
I’ve been talking about it for a while, but today it is a reality – I have a podcast! It’s called Sex on the Brain with Amory Jane.
Sex on the Brain with Amory Jane is a geeky, feminist take on sex, kink, and culture. This new sex-positive podcast will be released every other Thursday and will cover a variety of topics, such as porn, non-monogamy, BDSM, gender, and sex in pop culture.
Our first episode is all about sex-positive entertainment and features comedian Bri Pruett, hip hop group Bomb Ass Pussy, Intern Courtney, Sound Engineer Mat, and of course me, your host, Amory Jane.
Now that things are settling down after the end of my tour, moving into a new home, and my hit and run accident, I’m excited to share details about my time at kink camp!
Boundless is a four-day kink retreat located at a beautiful private resort about 2.5 hours north of San Francisco. Boundless 2016 took place September 30-October 3 and I was lucky enough to be awarded a scholarship to attend. My partner, Matias, also joined me there (and it was his first time going to a kink camp as well).
I first heard about Boundless when we received some of their promotional posters/fliers at She Bop. I had missed a few kinky camp out events earlier in the summer when I was traveling the country in my sex ed mobile, so I was glad to see something scheduled for early Fall when I was at the end of my tour. The Boundless website said that the cost was $335 for the full weekend and covered all meals and workshops, which didn’t seem like a bad price. Still, it was out of my budget, especially if my partner and I were both going to attend, so I almost just closed my laptop and moved on… until I noticed something in fine print about offering a scholarship for sex educators.
Good thing I got my eyes lasered to perfection in 2009 and can read the tiny font at the bottom of a website.
I sent an email to the organizer, James, asking him about the scholarship application, and he sent back a friendly response encouraging me to apply. I answered a few questions in essay format (I always nailed the essay portion of my tests in school) and was feeling pretty good about my chances of being accepted. Sure enough, James got back to me a few days later offering me the scholarship, which covered all costs of the retreat, including a camping spot! He even said I was the exact candidate they were hoping would apply. Sweet!
When the time came to head to camp, I made sure to pack everything I thought I would need: a tent and lots of blankets, condoms, lube, edibles, a couple of my favorite sex toys, and lingerie. I also overpacked cute summer camp clothes and underpacked clothes that would keep me warm, which means I ended up spending the majority of the time in one pair of fleece-lined leggings and an extremely unsexy sweater. Next time I will remember that California + “summer camp” does not equal warm and dry. I mean, it was October and we were north of San Francisco, (and I’m always cold), so I should really have known I couldn’t survive only wearing a corset and my Sasha harness. Plenty of other people there managed to be comfortable in their kinkiest costumes, sexiest lingerie, and completely nude though. Maybe handling cold temperatures with a smile is a special skill reserved for masochists, which I very much confirmed I wasn’t over the course of that weekend.
More on that later.
Matias and I spent a good portion of our drive to the retreat discussing our boundaries, desires, and concerns. We both wanted to primarily play with each other but were open to making connections, we wanted to learn/practice new skills, and we wanted to sample kinky things we hadn’t yet had a chance to try. We had been to plenty of play parties, BDSM events, kink nights, munches, and sex workshops during our 2+ years together, but never an overnight camp or a multi-day event that wasn’t a conference. I had also attended sex clubs and swingers parties while in a previous relationship and am part of a femme coven, so I love kinky spaces and feel comfortable with consensual sex happening all around me. Still, a kink retreat would be a new experience and neither of us really knew what to expect.
After a long (but beautiful) Autumn drive through Southern Oregon and Northern California, we found ourselves driving alongside a large freshwater lake called Clear Lake. We knew we were close and speculated what kind of welcoming committee would be at the camp. Would people already be walking around naked or clad in latex and leather? Would we show up presenting as the most vanilla people there? Turns out, we were fairly accurate with our hypotheses. As we pulled in, there were some people hanging out wearing little to no clothing, some people in Boundless crop tops, and one gentleman wearing stilettos that were chained together and a very frilly tutu. We were in hoodies and jeans with beanies on our heads. We looked very much like we were from Oregon. Still, we were greeted with a wave and a smile and the volunteers helped us figure out where to park our car and set up camp.
After putting up our tent, we went into the main lodge for dinner. There were at least 50 other people there, from all walks of life, and most of them were already sitting down to eat. Meatloaf and veggies were on the main menu, along with vegan options and gluten free pasta. The food all weekend was really good, and they always had snacks available. As a person who needs to eat every few hours, it was a relief, and it helped me stay fueled for all of the workshops and sex adventures. While we mostly took in everything around us and kept to ourselves during dinner, we got out of our shells more during the opening address and formal mocktail party. Matias and I volunteered to walk around with drink trays and offer tasty beverages to attendees, which took me back to my days as a cocktail server, except for that instead of serving hipsters at a karaoke dive bar, this time I was serving kinksters in their finest fetish gear. I also helped get a sexy lady into her corset, which I had never done before, and it turns out it is only sort of like lacing up a pair of boots. Definitely more tugging and gasping and overflowing cleavage. It wasn’t an easy task for a first timer, but I have zero complaints.
After the opening address, which included info about the weekend and a talk about consent and dungeon rules, Sinclair Sexsmith presented a fun and interactive icebreaking workshop called Flirting Dirty. We got to practice being turned down and saying no, negotiating boundaries, and asking folks if they wanted to play. I was paired up with the stranger sitting in front of me, who had a completely opposite flirting style, and that was sort of eye opening. He was telling me about how he’ll just say hello and start a nice mild conversation that is not at all sexually charged, and I appreciated his low pressure approach. However, it was in stark contrast to my approach, which is usually more like, “We seem to be checking each other out, which is cool. I really like your nose and I would be down to ride your face if you’re interested.”
That was only the beginning of eye opening things I discovered and/or reaffirmed about myself that weekend.
After the flirting event, Matias and I stayed in the Heart Lodge as they transformed it into the dungeon/play space. Multiple spanking benches, sex swings, St Andrew’s Crosses, rope suspension areas, massage tables, and mattresses for the floor were set out. There were also towels, wet wipes, condoms, gloves, and extra sheets. Hooray for a well-equipped dungeon!
We spent most of that first night hanging back and observing. We snuggled and made out on a floor mat while watching people get whipped, tied up, and fucked. We talked about what turned us on, what didn’t seem like our cup of tea, and what we were curious about trying. We listened to the sounds of a woman riding a Sybian while giving her partner a blowjob, watched some artful Florentine flogging, and took in all of the hedonism that filled the room. Eventually we realized that we were exhausted from the long drive, and went back to our tent to have a quickie and pass out for the night.
I slept on an under-inflated air mattress and woke up in the middle of the night to baby deer prancing around on the tarp right outside of our tent (which was adorable, but kind of scary to hear at first, since we were in the woods also surrounded by bears). Still, even with a bad night of sleep, I woke up on time for breakfast and attended a workshop called “How to Be a Successful Male Submissive.” I found myself nodding my head on most things, disagreeing on a few points here and there, and generally daydreaming of a harem situation where an assortment of submissive men serve me and worship my body whenever I snap my fingers.
That first workshop put enough ideas in my head that I decided to skip the second one to go back to the tent with my boyfriend. After a few orgasms, we fell asleep and accidentally napped through lunch. Fortunately, we woke up with enough time to find leftovers before the next session. That session was the Heart Centered Needle Pull and it seemed to be getting a lot of attention around camp from nervous but curious attendees who wanted to know what it was like to be pierced in the chest and connected to a pulling cord while ecstatic frenzy was being whipped up all around us. The Boundless website describes the Heart Centered Needle Pull like this:
Join a community ritual to open our heart centers and bring us closer together as mindful individuals. Facilitated by Fakir Musafar and Cleo Dubois, variations of this ritual have been used for centuries by Native Americans (the Sun Dance) and other cultures as a way to develop mind/body awareness and connection with others.
The ritual consists of an invocation and invitation for traditional sources of spirit and our own higher selves to join us in creating an ecstatic state. Each participant will be safely pierced in their heart Chakra with two small needles by Fakir or Cleo and attached by a sterilized cord to a common point. Music, chanting and drumming will then propels us to ecstasy. Sound interesting?
If you join this ritual you will be guided every step of the way by experts who have facilitated this ritual for over 30 years in the USA, Canada, England, Portugal, and Italy.
We were “cleansed” with sage as we walked through the doorway into the dungeon, which had been converted again into a new type of space. This time there was a horizontal pole in the center of the room with many cords hanging from it, a very large suspended gong, and tables filled with unopened boxes of sterile gloves and needles. We took off our shoes and found a seat, facing a person who appeared to be in his late sixties (it was Fakir Musafar and it turns out he is 87). Then, after everyone else finished walking through the door, Cleo joined Fakir at the front and they proceeded to tell us about the history of the ritual and what to expect.
Matias was definitely nervous, but I was feeling incredibly calm about the whole thing. Piercing has never bothered nor scared me and I had read enough to know about the possible risks and about the incredible strength of human skin. I was ready.
We stood in line and waited our turn to get pierced. Fakir was using hooks on the more advanced campers and Cleo was piercing those of us who were new to the ritual with 22 gauge needles. With each new participant, she had an assistant help her put on a fresh pair of gloves and she would pinch the skin (above the breasts, below the collarbone) and slide the needles through. On my turn I took a deep breath and looked at Cleo’s face as she pierced me. The first needle went through perfectly but the second one went through a little too easily and poked her finger as it came out of the other side. She immediately started gushing blood, even through the gloves, and I could tell this was something that didn’t usually happen. I felt bad that she was hurt, but I wasn’t freaked out, and it didn’t have any sort of negative impact on my piercing experience. After getting cleaned up and bandaged, she put a small carabiner at the end of my string loop and I felt the weight of it gently pull at my skin. Matias was pierced next (he did really well), and then we walked together to the room’s center point to connect our carabiners to the hanging cords that we would use to pull ourselves.
Music swelled around me, the smell of incense was strong in the air, there were people (who weren’t pierced) drumming and dancing, and the rest of us (who were pierced) were leaning back with the skin on our chests stretched out. It was like a mini suspension, but both feet were on the ground, and as the music grew faster and louder, many of my fellow campers started having stronger responses. Some had their eyes rolling back in ecstasy, some were swaying to the music or testing their bodies. A couple of people were crying in a way that you could tell they were releasing something more than just tears. I pulled harder and focused on the feeling, hoping to also feel something powerful or release grief, but I couldn’t feel any adrenaline running through me. All I felt was a tugging, a very literal tugging. It wasn’t a bad feeling by any means, but no matter what I did, my body just stayed very neutral and I didn’t feel anything strong or spiritual. I even unhooked from the main point after a while and hooked my carabiner to Matias’ carabiner and had us both pull back and stare into each other’s eyes. Matias kept breaking eye contact when his eyes would roll back into head, but it still felt very bonding, very novel and was a unique experience to share. However, I admit I was slightly disappointed that my body just wouldn’t get into the intense energy around me. Empath-types are supposed to feel all of the energies, right? – that’s what normally happens to me in crowds – but this time I just felt the most basic sensations in my body without any sort of energy rush. It was curious, and not the only time something like that happened to me that weekend.
My favorite part of the ritual was when a percussionist was dominating the room with the sounds of the hammered gong and Cleo was going around and whacking our tautly pulled strings with a cane so that the vibrations were sent into our chests. She also used a vibrating sex toy against the strings for the same purposes, and I enjoyed the rumbling and shaking sensation. Of course I did. Because I love vibration in pretty much all of the ways it comes to me.
I also enjoyed coming down after the ritual, watching people sort of float back into their bodies and then have their needles removed. Matias and I were some of the last to have our needles taken out, and the twenty minutes or so that we sat quietly waiting for that to happen were some of the best moments of the afternoon for me. Hearing about what the experience was like for him and watching his eyes light up as he talked about it made me feel very happy that I was attending Boundless with a partner. Even if my body has a hard time with adrenaline production or I am sometimes too much of a control freak to stop my observation mode and fully let myself go, at least I was experiencing new things, learning a lot, and feeling closer to someone I loved.
That night in the dungeon, Matias and I were both flogged (at separate times) on a St. Andrew’s cross by a trained professional with a very extensive set of hitting implements. There were leather floggers made from different animal hides (deer, elk, rabbit, buffalo, etc.), skinny whips, rubber toys, and a few items I had never seen in person. It was an impressive collection…but you’ll have to wait to hear about our flogging adventures in a future post.
My First Time at Kink Camp: Part 2 will be all about our second and third nights in the dungeon, what it’s like to be on edibles at a kink retreat, what I learned about mental health at the workshops I took on day 3, and my newfound love for sex swings. Stay tuned!
Why oh why did I only schedule myself three days and two nights in New Orleans?!
Of all the cities I have visited in my life, New Orleans is one of my favorites. The food is phenomenal, the houses come in every color of the rainbow and the architectural styles are really neat, strangers make eye contact and say hello as though you’re their neighbor, and the nightlife can’t be beat. Even when I am there to work, I still feel like I am on vacation because of the party vibe and the energy in the air.
It also didn’t hurt that I was lucky enough to be offered a free stay in a beautifully renovated historic home that had a four poster bed, a luxurious vintage bathroom, and a gold glitter wall. After traveling for two weeks in a 21 foot RV and sharing that small space with other people, being in such a fancy house made me feel ridiculously spoiled. Especially when our hosts made breakfast in bed for Matias and me after our first night of deliciously comfortable sleep in NOLA (and cooked us up some grits and gravy after our second night). <3
Speaking of Matias, my partner flew into New Orleans to join in on the Sex on the Road Teaching Tour. This was a wonderful surprise to me, since his job wasn’t originally going to let him have the time off. Fortunately, he pulled some strings and will be traveling with me all the way back to Portland (and to the Boundless Kink Retreat in early October). I am ultra pleased to have my honey keeping me company, sharing driving duties, and providing me with much-needed snuggles and massages. Also, he is a babe and total sweetheart, so that tends to help when I am feeling grumpy or life on the road gets stressful.
While in NOLA, I taught two sex ed classes for Dynamo: A Romantic Boutique in the Deep South. They have a fantastic new store on St. Claude and it was an absolute pleasure to teach there. The owners, Hope and Nico, are terrific and genuine people and I expect that Dynamo is going to continue to do really well in New Orleans. They have high-quality sex products, fun events, local kinky goods, and they truly care about their community.
I taught Back That Ass Up: Anal 101 and Swinging & Threesomes & Orgies, Oh My! and both classes went well. The audience on my second night seemed especially excited to learn about group sex etiquette, and many of them reached out after class to get copies of my play party rules. My new Moto Insta-Share Projector was also a success once we figured out how to keep it charged. It really makes traveling with my presentations a lot easier than carrying around posters or flip charts. Highly recommended for other sex educators or traveling public speakers.
Both nights after teaching, we went out on the town and had a blast. NOLA is a party city, but it is also city of artists, an international city, and a place where everyone seems to know each other. So, going out means you’re guaranteed a social time and interesting conversations. You can also take your drinks out of the bar with you if you don’t finish them, which makes bar hopping especially easy. We even spent one night on Bourbon Street like a bunch of tourists, which was overwhelming and had me feeling way too many other people’s energies, but it was also an experience I was really glad to have had. I also got to visit some voodoo shops and bought myself a tarot deck, which I have been thinking of doing for years, so I had that very cool experience in addition to some mildly drunken shenanigans.
We said goodbye to Amari the next day, and she recorded a little goodbye video of St. Edna the Sex Ed Mobile. It was raining and the way the water fell on Edna’s windshield looked like she was crying. It was a touching moment; both Edna and I are going to miss Amari (and New Orleans) dearly.
We departed NOLA in the afternoon and headed to Houston – our return to Texas – and that is where I will leave off for now. Stay tuned for more of our adventures in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Los Angeles!
I am excited to announce that I now have an intern! Communicating on the road has been a bit hit or miss even though I have Verizon MiFi. I’ve been going through many mountainous regions and deserts that don’t have 4G, so I decided that I needed a little help. Enter Courtney Kist – Intern Extraordinaire.
Intern Courtney will be proofreading and tagging my posts, contacting guests for the podcast, helping edit episodes, organizing spreadsheets and business documents, and occasionally writing on this here blog. She is also a great cheerleader via text when the road gets rough, and I hope that when I get back to Portland, she’ll bring me donuts. (She will definitely be bringing donuts ~ Intern Courtney)
I met Courtney at She Bop after I returned from my first national teaching tour in April. She had been hired while I was out of town and I had heard rumors from the other employees that we would probably hit it off since we had many of the same interests, like singing and sex (then again, the entire staff is interested in sex and about half of us sing together regularly, so I was not shocked by the fact that we got along). We have been working together at She Bop two days every week since then, and she has attended a few of my classes and is very up to date on my life and in touch with my goals. So, when she asked if I wanted an intern, I gladly welcomed her to the Amory Jane/Edna the Sex Ed Mobile team knowing that she’d be a great fit.
More on Intern Courtney: she is a jack of all trades with a passion for sex education, theater, cheese and queer politics. When not spending her days working at She Bop, she can be found performing in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, dancing at a queer party, hiking, spending time with her femme sex-positive coven, watching Gilmore Girls, or occasionally writing something personal for the internet. She hopes to eventually translate her experience into providing inclusive sex ed for queer and trans youth, writing about sex and sex toys for the internet, producing media (video, podcast, performances, etc) for educational and entertainment purposes, and doing everything in her power to de-stigmatize the way we talk about sex.
She has my login info now, so perhaps I’ll let her finish this post and I’ll get back to checking in on St. Edna, who has been sick and in the auto repair hospital for the past couple days. We’re currently stuck in Denton, Texas, but Edna is supposed to be fixed up and running like a champ again within the next few hours. That means we are going to have to make one long and hot drive to get to New Orleans on time for me to shower and prep before my ass class tomorrow at Dynamo – but we can do it! By the way, there are still spots left and you may purchase tickets online now for $2 off the door price! Looking forward to teaching again in New Orleans!