Episode 15: The One Where Everyone Masturbates – The title of this one is a pretty good summary. Amory Jane, Intern Courtney, and nine other Portland babes get together to talk about masturbation, watch porn, and playfully touch themselves and each other. This episode is full of personal stories, vibrator sounds, moans, laughs, and multiple real orgasms. If you loved Episode 9: Live from the Femme Sex Party, you’ll definitely want to check out The One Where Everyone Masturbates.
My birthday was this week, and what I wanted for my birthday was for my sex-positive variety show + afterparty to go well. That meant a night the audience would enjoy and remember and, for me, high enough ticket sales so I could finally fix my sex ed mobile and get back out on the road to teach sex workshops and attend conferences.
The show was incredible (seriously, the performers were amazing) and I kicked ass at my standup comedy debut, but we fell short of our ticket sale goals. We had a Sunday night show the night after the World Naked Bike Ride, there were record high heats, and it was just Pride Weekend – not easy to compete with those things. So, while I am proud of the show and everything it brought to the community, the joy of the event unfortunately didn’t last long for me because of the impact it had on my bank account. It was a major bummer, especially since I was hoping to earn some of the $700 I need for van repairs before I can leave town.
This is going to start sounding like a sob story, if it hasn’t already, but hang with me (it gets more positive eventually).
On my actual birthday, I had one of my worst days in recent memory. It started with me being admitted to the hospital with a very painful autoimmune flare-up, and continued to get comically worse, until it ended with both of my dogs puking all over the house. When it rains it pours, and this time it poured vomit.
I was pretty ready to give up. It felt like rock bottom to me after one of the worst years of my life, in which I got divorced, sold my possessions and moved into an RV to travel the country only to have the RV break down on me, was crashed into by a hit and run driver that left me with medical bills and worsened my chronic pain condition, dealt with multiple mental health crises, and had my heart broken (again).
Pushing myself forward in a career where I was always supposed to be “on” – sexy and funny and charming and self-promoting, didn’t seem feasible any longer. I told myself that as much as I love the work I do, and as important as sex and consent education and patriarchy-smashing is to the world, it was time to either become an off the grid hermit or get a “normal person job” that paid the bills more consistently. Not making enough money each month has meant chronic stress, which certainly doesn’t help pain or mental illness or healing from grief. But when I told my best friends about my fears and plans, they all told me I was full of shit. I mean, they did it in the nicest way possible, but they still refused to believe “hermit” or a 9-5 job were my only options. They begged me to never be normal, and encouraged me to try a few more things before I gave up on my dreams. Most of them agreed I should set up a Patreon, so that’s what I did.
The life of a sex educator can be exciting and hot and rewarding and ridiculous, but it can also be challenging, exhausting, and like I’m always fighting “Imposter Syndrome.” Plus, it can be really financially unpredictable, like when colleges wait two months to send a check for a safer sex workshop, or frustrating when everyone asks for sex and relationship advice and expects it for free.
However, I love my job and am very passionate about my chosen career. I’m good at it, and people tell me frequently how much it means to them that I do this work. So, I really want to be able to keep teaching, writing, interviewing, and podcasting about sex, relationships, love, and intersectional feminism. I also want to start embracing my creativity and getting more in touch with the comedian/writer/storyteller I’ve always been. I know creating and performing, and vulnerably sharing those parts of myself, will help me heal. And I hear that’s something the world needs – more healed people to help heal others.
Whenever things get to the point where I feel hopeless and helpless, I admit, I wallow in it for a day or two (#Cancer). Then I try really hard to get out of my mopey crab shell and rise from the ashes like a glorious Phoenix of Sex Wizardy (because apparently mixing a bunch of half-assed metaphors and witchy imagery is how I get inspired). That’s what this Patreon is for me – an attempt at an self-inspiring rebirth – or at least a healing new chapter.
So, please, won’t you allow yourselves to be inspired too? Join my Patreon, get exclusive access to my intimate stories/projects/comedy/podcasts/ridiculous life + sex ed videos and advice, and feel good because you are making a huge difference in the life of an educator (who can then make a difference in the lives of others).
Read this heartwarming, sexy, sweet little personal essay written by our very own magical intern (Intern Courtney) for Autostraddle! It’s about her experiences with our Femme Sex Coven (also featured in Episode 9 of our podcast, Sex on the Brain with Amory Jane)!
This made me cry happy tears. So much love for my intern and friend, Courtney, for my community, and for all of the witchy wonderful femmes out there! <3
Episode 9: Live from the Femme Sex Party! Okay, I admit that live is a tad misleading. While Intern Courtney and I did throw a femme sex party and recorded it, we decided against broadcasting live. It was a very intimate night and we wanted to allow that to unfold naturally, without having to feel anxious about having a live audience. But don’t worry my precious listeners, we share plenty of real intimacy, sexy noises, and unedited audio straight from the party.
SPOILER ALERT: This episode ends with me having an orgasm. NSFW.
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!
The stresses and rewards of the road have been pummeling me with full force since leaving Wyoming. It certainly hasn’t all been idyllic, but the journey has been worth it and I have grown much closer to travel companions, learned more about RVs/cars, and have done tons of self-care and reflection. I feel like a lot has happened in the past week, and if you follow me on my Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, you may already aware of some of the struggles and triumphs. If not, the full updates are below.
Amber, Amari, and I went to Colorado after our magical night in Wyoming. We went to Boulder first, to meet up with one of Amber’s friends at a karaoke bar (yes, you are noticing a theme – we like karaoke). Driving in Boulder was a pain in the ass (the roads were confusing), but the Rocky Mountains were beautiful and brunch in Boulder reminded me of the amazing food in Portland, so that was the first time I missed home. We made the shortest drive of our road trip from Boulder to Denver last Sunday, and it was nice to not have a day that was spent completely in the RV. Especially since Edna the Sex Ed Mobile had started driving a little funny and seemed to be under the weather.
Amber had to get back to Portland, so we took her to the airport in Denver that evening. It was hard to say goodbye, but I was thankful for the time we had spent together. With just Amari and me left, we decided to spend some time getting to know Denver’s cannabis culture. We visited dispensaries and noted similarities and differences to how Portland sells/promotes legal cannabis, and I personally was very excited to check out Denver’s enormous selection of edibles. Amari and I spent much of our time in Denver at a place called iBAKE; a cannabis café that had free Wi-Fi and friendly patrons. We managed to get quite a bit of work done there on our podcasts, and we also got news that Amari’s passport, wallet, and phone had been found, so our time in Denver was rather uplifting (and not just because of the weed).
We slept in Edna in a 24 hour restaurant parking lot and took showers at a truck stop the next morning, which made us feel like real road warriors. Then we hit the road for New Mexico. We had no solid plans for New Mexico, other than driving through on our way to Texas and finding a place to camp. We had originally intended on staying at a state park near the grasslands, but we got caught in a storm and had to pull into an RV park off the highway somewhere in Union County. The lightning in the sky was pink and white, and the thunder boomed immediately after each flash. Chickpea sized hail and strong winds attacked Edna all through the night while Amari and I stayed put safely inside her shell and watched the violent sky from the RV windows. In the morning, we realized that we were camping between a crater and volcano, which felt pretty bad ass, and then we enjoyed a picnic at the Capulin Volcano National Monument before setting off on our long journey through Texas
It was in the sweltering and sticky Texas heat that Edna really started letting us know she was sick. She was having a very hard time getting up to speed and was going through gas far too quickly. She also would occasionally shut down when put in reverse or while waiting at a stop light, and that problem was occurring with more and more frequency. So, we decided that we would go to Denton, Texas for the night since Amari has friends there, and we would get Edna fixed up while we were in town.
Denton ended up being a really fun place to visit. The food was tasty, the people were very social and inclusive, and the nightlife was actually pretty hoppin’. This was a pleasant surprise to me, and it was fortunate that we enjoyed Denton, because we got stuck there for an extra day while Edna was getting repaired. It was hard being away from St. Edna, since she is more than an RV to me: she has been my home, my companion, and my literal shelter from the storm. We ended up having to sleep on a floor of a jam space on our second night in Denton, since we didn’t have the comforts of Edna, but we were in good company and Edna was in good hands. The fine folks of Ace Tech Automotive Repair Center treated Edna right and got her running on all cylinders again (and they were honest and very helpful). Thanks, Andrew and Dusty!
We left Denton at night and drove through the rest of Texas and Louisiana to get to New Orleans at 5:30am. I had to pick up my sweetheart, Matias, from the airport in NOLA at 10:45am (P.S. Yay, Matias is here now!) and teach my Anal 101 class that night at Dynamo: A Romantic Boutique in the Deep South, so stopping to sleep somewhere wasn’t really an option. The minute we arrived at Amari’s house, we parked Edna, shuffled our exhausted feet inside, she had a happy reunion with her cats, and then we passed out. For Amari, the road trip had come to an end. For me, one chapter had just ended and another was about to begin…
Wyoming is a beautiful state and we came across some serious magic there.
On Friday, my two travel companions (Amari and Amber) and I drove from Idaho for over seven hours, through the mountains and high desert then on unpaved roads through the dark without having any real idea where we were going. Eventually we discovered an isolated but perfectly set up campsite with wood for a fire already in a pile nearby. It felt like a gift or a prize that was waiting for us after a very difficult day where Amari lost her wallet, phone, and passport and Edna decided that she wanted to temporarily shut down when she was put in reverse. We needed a victory, and finding an empty, free campground in the middle of Wyoming after a long journey felt like we had won.
Since we were basically in the middle of nowhere, we saw the entire sky, including bright clear constellations and the Milky Way. Seeing our galaxy made us feel itty bitty and filled with wonder. We realized we were truly newborns on the cosmic calendar; so young compared to the age of our universe. We felt insignificant but comforted. We felt introspective and open to possibilities. I even saw two shooting stars! I took that as a sign that we were exactly where we were meant to be and I needed to allow myself to fully embrace my new life plan and let go of the things from my past that were holding me back.
It was a new moon and I had just started bleeding. In fact, all of us were bleeding, even though two of us weren’t expecting that to happen. For whatever reason, that felt important/symbolic. Amber gave Amari a tarot reading that helped Amari find closure and shed her former self. It was so moving and empowering for her that she ended the night by shaving off all of her hair.
While that was happening, I felt called to be alone in Edna. I had my own healing to do. I stared out of the cab window at the vast night sky and felt like I was in a spaceship. It felt good to be alone. I was happy to be with me, in nature, feeling tiny yet connected. I wrapped myself in a blanket and caressed my arms for warmth. My skin was cool, smooth, and sensitive. It felt incredibly nice to be touched, and it dawned on me that I was the one doing the touching. I was doing this thing called “self-soothing” that I have struggled with for the past few years, especially when I was angry with my body over infertility and chronic pain. I continued to hug myself tightly and rub and squeeze my arms. My body felt less sore and uncomfortable than it had in a long time. I sobbed and let the grief and stress come out with it. I rested my hands on my abdomen and sent gentle energy to my uterus, which I had cursed so many times over the past three years. I breathed deeply and slowly and thought warm and compassionate thoughts, and I let my mind fill with happy memories. I imagined my lover’s embrace from afar and pictured his sweet smile, and my heart swelled with love.
Just then, Amari and Amber walked into Edna. They checked in on me and I checked in on them, and we all agreed something magical was happening there in the rolling sage grasslands of Wyoming. I rubbed Amari’s fresh and fuzzy bald head and we all expressed our love and gratitude toward each other. Amber sat down on the cushioned bench in Edna and Amari crawled into the overcab bed with me. We took all of Edna’a curtains down and turned off the lights so we could feel like we were floating through space. With no light pollution we couldn’t even see our hands in front of our faces, and we commented on how it was a darker darkness than we had ever experienced. Then some really special energy kicked in.
We stayed up for a couple hours more, laughing until we had tears streaming down our faces and our stomachs were cramping. We bonded and wrote songs and poured out all of our album ideas into Amari’s handheld recorder. We talked about how we felt like sisters, like a coven, like a little family. Amari pointed out that our coven would be complete if only we had four members, but Amber wisely noted that St. Edna was our fourth. Then we wrote a song about Edna as the fourth Beatle and fell peacefully asleep.
We woke up to a storm, heavy rain pouring down around us, and the sound of the wind and water beating against Edna’s fiberglass body. We were safe though, and the storm passed just as quickly as it had arrived. The next time we awoke was to a pink and orange sunrise, and we finally got to see the wonderful place around us that we had discovered in the dark.
We walked down to the Teton Reservoir and took a few photos then said our goodbyes. We left Wyoming that afternoon feeling revived, more creative, and closer than ever.
Ten years ago, on August 31, 2006, I moved to Portland, Oregon. I had spent the summer of 2006 heartsick, couch surfing, and working as a nanny in Indiana. I had gotten out of a long-term relationship around February of that year, graduated from college that May, and found myself ready to move out of the state where I was born and raised. I needed a change, but I couldn’t decide where to go or what to do with myself.
I had interviewed for two very different opportunities in two very different parts of the country, and had been offered both jobs. One was to move to New York City and work with Teach for America and the other was to move to Florida and work as a camp counselor for a year. One would have required me to live in a giant city, in an assigned apartment with other teachers. The other would have required me to live in a teepee next to a lake. While they both sounded like amazing (and kind of terrifying) life adventures, neither housing option would allow me to bring my dog.
My dog, an old blind pug named Buckeye, was my best friend. That little buddy and I had been through a big breakup and homelessness together. He was with me the day I moved out of the house I shared with my college sweetheart, he was there with me when I decided to skip my college graduation ceremony and go camping, and he kept me warm by curling up at the very bottom of my sleeping bag. There was no way I could abandon him. I had to find a place where my dog was welcome, where I fit in better than I did in Indiana, and where I could get a fresh start.
I knew that place was out there, but I hadn’t yet found it. I asked my older sister, who had done quite a bit of traveling, if she had any suggestions. She suggested I visit her in Portland to think about my next steps in a new environment. Of course, as soon as I spent my first day in Portland, I fell in love with it. I think she knew that would happen when she invited me there. That tricky bitch. 😉
I could write a novel about my life in the Rose City. I have experienced a lot during my ten years there; the highest highs and the lowest lows of my life have all been in Portland. In a lot of ways, it has been a wonderful place to call home and I am grateful that I experienced the majority of my twenties there. However, I have a complicated relationship with my city now, as do many people who have lived there for a while. Oregon is a lovely state filled with natural beauty in every direction, Portland is a special city with gorgeous green parks and lots of rivers and bridges and art and rain, but it is not paradise. In fact, it has some major problems that seem to be getting worse. Portland is becoming more and more expensive by the month, gentrification and overpriced housing are pushing out long-time residents, beloved businesses and buildings that once gave the city character are being demolished and replaced with pretentious condos that most Portlanders could never afford. In many ways, the city is losing the charm and uniqueness that put it on the map in the first place. Homelessness, the rapidly rising cost of living, and a lack of jobs have already caused many people to leave, and it certainly contributed to my decision to buy an RV and convert it into my tiny house on wheels/sex ed mobile.
When grief and the end of my marriage were added to the list of things I was dealing with in Portland, it became obvious to me that I needed to get away from my city. So, it seems fitting that on the ten year anniversary of moving to Oregon, I left the state. Yesterday we crossed the border into Idaho, and today we continue heading east. We plan on visiting the Craters of the Moon, Lava Hot Springs, and having another night in the woods to think and heal and reflect.
Two of my dear friends, Amari and Amber, have joined the first half of this adventure with me and I am thrilled! We have been friends for over nine years but have never taken a trip together. It’s only day one so I know that doesn’t say much, but so far everything is great and we travel very well together. We are all sensitive souls who seek to understand others, who love to sing, love to be creative, love nature, and who like to feel connected. We also all appreciate Edna and the hard work she has put in today, driving up steep mountains, through deserts, and around rock falls. Thanks, St. Edna!
We had a hectic start to the day and there were a few hiccups (the bar in Edna’s clothes closet came detached while driving, the table broke, and Amari almost forgot her passport in Portland) but we hit the road and managed to arrive safely to our first stop about 90 minutes before sunset. Our destination was the John Day Fossil Beds: Painted Hills Unit.
The Painted Hills are one of the Seven Wonders of Oregon and I can see why. They were incredibly cool looking, almost like a Martian landscape. Highly recommended for anyone heading through central-eastern Oregon.
We were lucky enough to find a convenient campsite about an hour away from the Painted Hills where we could build a campfire, eat a meal, rest our bodies and rest Edna, AND have electrical hookups so I could write this blog post before bed. 😉
It was a lovely first day and I look forward to tomorrow’s plans, which will be driving out of Oregon and into Idaho for more camping (and perhaps some local karaoke). I don’t haven’t any teaching gigs or conferences scheduled during these first few days of the tour, so my focus will be on bonding with my pals, seeking adventure, and doing more adjusting to life on the road.
Looking forward to continuing this new chapter and sharing my journey with all of you.
As I am getting the details worked out for my upcoming travel adventures with Edna, I am realizing that I am booking just as many learning experiences as teaching experiences. Hooray for knowledge! I can’t wait to soak it all in and use everything I learn on the road to be the best educator, partner, coach, and sex positive entertainer I can be.
Today is my last day as the manager at She Bop and am having a lot of feelings about it. I love my job, I adore my coworkers, and my bosses are the best bosses I have ever had. Working for a company I believe in, who also believes in me, and who I know makes a positive difference in the world has been a fantasy of mine since I joined the labor force at age thirteen. The fact that everyone in the She Bop family also kicks ass and has similar feminist values has been amazing. Working for a small business that is active in the community, gives back, and is filled with queers and femmes and tender hearts, allows me to be myself and feel good about what I do. I don’t have to work for a big corporation. I don’t have to work for “the man.” I can be openly polyamorous and ethically slutty and it gives me street cred. Y’all, I made a patriarchy-smashing porn (with a coworker!) for HUMP! film fest and my colleagues went out and voted for it and my employers congratulated our Best in Show win with an excited and proud post on social media. There is no way any of my previous places of employment would have done anything close to that. In fact, I would have gotten fired at my last job if they found out I made a film for HUMP!
Portland will still be my home base. I will be here often; teaching, writing, recuperating, and spending time with people I love. I will continue being the Education Coordinator for She Bop, will still present my regular classes and host events, and I will cover shifts when I am in town. I know I will always be part of the Team Bop family and will very actively be promoting She Bop on the road and on social media . Still, this work has been a big part of my identity. I have been with She Bop for over five years and was the first sales associate they hired. I’ve watched the company grow tremendously, they’ve definitely watched me grow too, and now I hope we can continue to help each other grow more and more.
This is such a huge change for me and a giant risk. It could all blow up in my face – who knows? I have to try though. I have to put myself out there, talk to people about sex and shame and emotions and relationships and life, and allow myself to pursue a dream. I have to passionately throw myself into something, and this is the best something I can imagine.
It is very hard to give up a steady job I enjoy (especially one that is pretty darn perfect for me) for something that is filled with a bunch of question marks and no guarantees. Honestly, as I type this, I am wondering if I am making the right choice. But, there is only one way to find out. I’m hitting that road and doing this thing! This baby bird is ready to fly. I’m going to push myself and heal myself and prove to myself that I deserve this and can pull this off. I know I am a good sex educator. I have the knowledge, the experience, and the drive to always learn more. I know that I can be funny and entertaining and truly help people. I know that as much as I enjoyed my 5+ years working full time at the shop, I have an opportunity to do something new and bold but that is really a continuation/extension of the work I have already started.
The owners of She Bop gave me some lovely parting gifts this morning: a big box of wine, trail mix, gas gift cards, a first aid kit, and (my favorite part) a very kind and personal card. I may or may not have cried a little (of course I did). Working a job you love, with people you respect, in an industry you know is important, and doing work you know is meaningful? I feel like that is pretty much the Millennial Dream (you know, except without the massive student loan debt). I have been very fortunate to work here over the years and am grateful for everything I have learned and all of the opportunities I have been given. Now, I am looking forward to beginning the next stage as a national sex educator and making Team Bop proud.
Giant hugs and thanks to my She Bop family (Jeneen, Evy, Wyatt, Sid, Alyssa P, Alyssa K, Gretchen, Nicolette, Kate, & Courtney) and everyone who has encouraged me along the way!