Red, White and Femme: Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Polyamory, Part II
Jun 2011 27

Red, White and Femme: Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Polyamory, Part II

Posted In Blog,Books,Entertainment,Love,Relationships,Sex,Society

by Darrah de jour

For Part Two of my Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Polyamory series (see Part I with Annie Sprinkle here), I spoke with Tristan Taormino, author of Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships. In addition to being the princess of polyamory, Double T is also one of the most coveted safe and kinky sex educators around. She travels all over the nation to spread her sex positive message, and is a huge catalyst in the pleasurable-anal-sex-for-women movement. Yes, there’s a movement. (Responsible for bringing the back door to your backyard.) This feminist and erotic guru is not only outspoken, but makes talking about sex almost as fun as doing it! So much so, that she is now directing sex ed vids for Vivid Enterainment!

Grab a beverage, your lover or vibrator and buckle up for this one. It’s going to be a mind-blowing ride.

Darrah de jour: You wrote for The Village Voice for 10 years, erected The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women book and empire, and you’ve edited a ton of Best Lesbian Erotica anthologies. Is there anything you’re still curious to try?

Tristan Taormino: Well, if you mean sexually, I believe I have probably done nearly all I’ve ever wanted to. I mean, in my fifteen years working in the world of sex, I have tried a lot of different things, and I’ve been on some amazing erotic adventures. I’m not sure there is anything left for me to try, but that doesn’t mean I’m not still excited about the work I do. I am still passionate about and inspired by my job.

Ddj: When did your love of anal sex spring up?

TT: I had anal sex for the first time in college with my girlfriend at the time. From the very first time we did it, I was in love. It started with just one finger – which is how it should start for everyone!

Ddj: How soon did you tell your partners you dug it up the butt?

TT: I like to give people as much information as I can as soon as I have it. I’m just a very direct person.

Ddj: In your book Opening Up you make it seem very feasible that couples can have open relationships, while retaining their integrity. Now that you are married (and congrats, btw), do you still plan to flex your polyamorous muscle? If so, what is the number one tool you and your partner use to keep your relationship strong?

TT: My partner and I celebrated ten years together this year; throughout our relationship we have practiced various styles of non-monogamy. Being married doesn’t change our fundamental commitment to allowing each other the freedom to explore things with other people. Communication and honesty are fundamental for making it work.

Ddj: What is your favorite part about sex with a man? With a woman?

TT: For me, it’s really not about someone’s gender or genitals, it’s all about the connection and chemistry. I can work with any kind of equipment.

Ddj: What are the high points and pitfalls of polyamory? Can someone go from polyamory to monogamy and vice-versa?

TT: Many of the people I interviewed for my book Opening Up began as monogamous and transitioned to non-monogamy at some point. You can absolutely shift from one to the other (either way) as long as you do it with self-awareness, intention, and communication. The pros of open relationships are honesty, freedom, and the opportunity to fulfill multiple desires and needs. The cons: more people equals more work. If you don’t like to talk about your own feelings or the feelings of other people, you probably should not be in an open relationship.

Ddj: Do you think all sex workers are polyamorous by nature or by default?

TT: Not at all. My book began as a 600+ page manuscript, and one of the chapters that had to be cut was devoted entirely to sex workers and non-monogamy. Some sex workers have one partner and consider themselves monogamous because they think of the other stuff they do as work. Others identify as non-monogamous, but what that means to each person is different.

Ddj: What are your top 5 tips for sustaining a poly relationship?

TT: Communication, responsibility, honesty, negotiation, and patience.

Ddj: Is polyamory the cure for infidelity?

TT: No. People can be polyamorous and still cheat, ie. be dishonest or do something they’ve agreed not to.

Ddj: After reading your blog on OpeningUp.net, where you reposted Cunning Minx’s take on Charlie Sheen’s potential (though irresponsible) polyamory, I wonder, do you think men are polyamorous by nature, given that their instinct is to sleep with as many women as possible and spread their seed? And do you think married men that cheat are actually poly and either don’t know it or don’t have the means or proper terms to execute it correctly?

TT: I don’t think being monogamous or non-monogamous breaks down so clearly along gender lines. And polyamory is not about sleeping with as many women as possible, it’s about having multiple erotic, intimate, significant relationships at the same time. Monogamy can be a viable option for those who choose it consciously and work at it; unfortunately, most people end up monogamous by default, based on what they think they’re supposed to do. I wish people could realistically assess their wants, needs, desires, and personalities and choose a relationship style -whether some form of monogamy or consensual non-monogamy – based on self-awareness, honesty, and responsibility. We’d all be much better off if people knew about their options, rather than trying to conform to an unrealistic standard (monogamy), and failing pretty miserably.

Ddj: Can you give us a detailed run-down of what a Tristan Taormino workshops entails?

TT: I would say most of my workshops are in classroom settings and are lecture style or a facilitated discussion. A small percentage of the classes I teach actually include a hands-on demonstration. For the hands-on demos, I arrange a demo bottom in advance [which] is someone who I have already contacted and discussed letting me demonstrate specific techniques on them. So someone will come up to the front of the room, get naked, bend over and I will demonstrate techniques, toys, whatever the topic calls for. In most of my workshops, which aren’t hands-on, there is everything from flip charts to power point presentations to anonymous Q&As. I have this one of a kind, hand-made pussy puppet, where I show people the anatomy of pussy and different stimulation techniques. I have had it for a number of years and it has traveled all over the country with me. What I really try to do is give people information and tips as well as de-mystify myths and misinformation. Although sex is almost everywhere in our culture, there are still too many myths about how our bodies work, what is or isn’t “normal,” and what counts or doesn’t count as “sex.”

Ddj: Speaking of bending over, you hear from a lot of women (and I’ve experienced this myself) that anal sex can be painful. Why is this? And what can we do to make it more enjoyable?

TT: Anal sex should not hurt – not even a little. If it hurts, you’re doing something wrong. Pain is your body’s way of saying, “This is not working for me right now,” and we must listen to your bodies. If you ignore your body’s warning and continue, then you can hurt yourself. You don’t have to “work through the pain” to get to the pleasure. The most common mistake people make – and the number one reason that the receptive partner ends up in pain – is that they rush penetration. With desire, relaxation, communication, and lots of lubrication, anal sex can be not only pain-free but arousing and orgasmic.

Ddj: True. Do you know why the orgasms are so mind-blowing?

TT: Anal sex is enjoyable because of the rich body of nerve endings in the anus. [In addition] during anal penetration, especially in certain positions, many women can experience indirect G-spot stimulation.

Ddj: As you mentioned, there are many myths floating around when it comes to anal sex. Anything from adult diapers to your organs falling out. Can you clear up some of the misinformation?

TT: When done properly, frequent penetration will not lead to a gaping asshole, loose sphincter muscles, or a loss of control over bowel movements. During anal penetration, you’re not stretching or tearing the sphincter muscles; you are relaxing them to allow for comfortable penetration. With regular anal sex, you can get in touch with your sphincter and you may find that you actually have better bowel control than you did before.

Ddj: When trying anal sex for the first time, what would you advise couples stick on their shopping list – a bottle of lube or a bottle of Grey Goose?

TT: Lube, lube, lube absolutely! And skip the Grey Goose.

Ddj: You direct instructional videos and reality porn for Vivid Entertainment, with a unique feminist POV. What do you hope will change for individuals and couples by viewing your porn, as opposed to the gonzo, rough stuff you might see on Porn Hub?

TT: I want to educate viewers by showing them how to use lube, warm up (rather than trying to go from 0 to 60 in 1 minute), use sex toys, practice different techniques, and communicate with each other during sex. My sex ed movies show explicit, specific techniques for cunnilingus, fellatio, G-spot stimulation, anal sex, hand jobs, bondage, and lots more. I think it’s important to get right in there and show people how it’s done. It has a very different vibe from mainstream porn because it’s meant to be a teaching tool. Although, I know plenty of folks who also get off on it! And since you bring it up, these porn hub/tube sites are absolutely awful. Much of what is on them is pirated content used without permission. These torrent and tube sites are what is ruining the industry. If you want to support your favorite pornographer, then BUY their DVD or PAY to stream it or download it. If people continue to watch “free” porn, eventually no one will be able to make porn anymore.

Ddj: You directed Sasha Grey in the groundbreaking documentary/vignette hybrid Rough Sex and also did panels with her. What do you think made her stand out as a performer, and also, be able to make the transition into mainstream roles?

TT: The scene I shot with Sasha Grey and Danny Wylde is one of the best I’ve shot in my career. First, it was a switch scene, where Sasha and Danny go back and forth between being dominant and submissive. It’s very rare to see in porn. Everything is so fetishized and rigid that you’re supposed to pick one role or the other and stick with it (and more often than not, women are submissive and men are dominant). So it’s very unique. Sasha came up with the idea after we talked and she told me that she’s a switch in real life and loves to explore both roles, but isn’t given the opportunity on camera. Although Danny rarely subs on camera anymore, he used to on Kink.com and he’s really willing to push his boundaries and do things other male performers just won’t do on camera. I really admire him for it, because I’m sure he gets some shit about it. Everything in the scene happened very organically and we shot it in one take. They had fantastic chemistry and seriously forgot about the cameras. I think Sasha has been able to crossover because she’s smart, ambitious, and knows what she wants.

Ddj: You once said in an interview, “As a director, my relationship with a performer is the most important thing. I want the performers to be comfortable and to forget about the camera. I want them to go places they may not have gone before. I want them to reveal personal things. I have to create this environment that they feel safe to do that.” This is a huge revelation in an industry that tends to undervalue the opinions and likes or dislikes of its performers — especially its female ones. You go so far as to interview your stars before taping them (and when I say interview, I don’t mean having them dole out a fake age). Do you feel that this type of attitude will create a ripple effect where other directors mirror your on-set respect for performers? If not, what are you going to do when you are the only director left that female stars want to work with?!

TT: Let me first say that there are directors other than me that value their performers and treat them well. I just wish that attitude was universal. The interviews, which are part of all of my movie s- my reality series Chemistry, the vignette series Rough Sex, and my sex ed movies – are a crucial part of my mission and vision. I want performers to have the chance to speak for themselves and share their personalities, opinions, experiences, and wisdom. I want to give viewers an opportunity to get to know them, hear their stories, and get a sense of who they are before they fuck. I think it just makes the sex way more interesting. In the past few years, I’ve seen more porn directors incorporate interviews into their films more prominently, and I hope the trend continues.

Ddj: What is your relationship with ‘ecosexuality’ and what does the term ‘ecosexual’ mean to you?

TT: One piece of ecosexuality is to connect our politics around the environment and our politics around sexuality. For example, there is a movement among some sex product manufacturers to create non-toxic, eco-friendly, sustainable, and organic lubes and toys. I think Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens are at the forefront of the ecosexual movement; they were the first ones to talk about uniting love, sex, and the Earth.

Ddj: What are your goals in the sex industry?

TT: I want to bring my feminist perspective to the sex industry and create a different kind of porn; porn that empowers both the people who make it and those who watch it. I want to challenge many of the dominant ideas and images of mainstream pornography and make films that diversify the representation of women’s and men’s sexuality, pleasure, fantasy, and orgasm. I want to change the way porn is made and how people perceive it.

Ddj: You work in a largely male-dominated industry. What challenges have you overcome both as a feminist pornographer and as a sex educator in a puritanical America?

TT: As a feminist, I am definitely a minority in the mainstream adult industry, but there are more of us every day. I feel like the feminist porn movement is really gaining momentum and having positive effects on traditional porn. I’ve been a target for right-wing conservatives and anti-porn feminists, and they continue to talk smack about me. I take it as a compliment that they get so worked up about the work I do; I’m clearly pushing their buttons, so I must be doing something right.

Ddj: How do you stay healthy – body, mind, and spirit?

TT: I study Buddhism and practice meditation, which both help me tremendously. I’ve been in therapy for most of my adult life. I try hard to balance my life, although I admit I tend to work more than I play. I absolutely love my dogs, they keep me grounded and happy. I need to eat three meals a day and sleep at least 8 hours each night or I’m just a mess.

Ddj: Who are your (s)heroes?

TT: I do have role models, women like Betty Dodson, Nina Hartley, Carol Queen, Candida Royale, Veronica Hart, Annie Sprinkle and others who paved the way for what I and others do today. I look to them when I need advice or support.

Ddj: After the recent hoopla surrounding your appearance at Oregon State University, do you have any regrets about your affiliation with the porn industry?

TT: I am proud of the work I do and the porn I make. I refuse to be shamed for my involvement with pornography, which is what was going on with the Oregon State University scandal.

Ddj: What projects are you working on now?

TT: This summer I’m launching TristanTaormino.com, a new “safe for work” website for folks who can’t visit my site Puckerup.com sometimes because it’s filtered or blocked. My latest sex education movie for Vivid will be out in July. It’s called The Expert Guide to Advanced Anal Sex. I recently directed some educational webisodes for SmittenKittenOnline.com that should debut in August. I have two new books coming out in October: my latest sex education book, The Secrets of Great G-Spot Orgasms and Female Ejaculation from Quiver Books and Take Me There: Trans and Genderqueer Erotica, an anthology I edited for Cleis Press. I’m at work on three other books: an anthology, a sex ed book, and a book of essays. I have a bunch of other projects in development, but they have to remain secret for now!

*Some content reprinted with permission from Babeland.com and The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women 2nd Edition.

Related Posts:
Red, White and Femme: Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Polyamory Part I – With Annie Sprinkle
Red, White and Femme: America is FUGLY
Red, White and Femme: Trusting The Ring of Purity – Faith vs Sex Education
Red, White and Femme Fearless Femme Spotlight: Mia Tyler

***

Darrah de jour is a freelance journalist who lives in LA with her dog Oscar Wilde. Her writing has appeared in Marie Claire, Esquire and W. In her Red, White and Femme: Strapped With A Brain – And A Vagina columns for SuicideGirls, Darrah will be taking a fresh look at females in America. Visit her blog at Darrahdejour.com/srblog and find her on Facebook.

Need another helping of Double T? Follow her on Twitter and friend her on Facebook.

4 comments
Brian Gross / BSG PR
Brian Gross / BSG PR

Fantastic interview. I love Tristan very much, and am grateful to call here a dear friend of mine. Well done...!

Tiffany Smith
Tiffany Smith

I love how passionate she is about bringing her feminist position to the porn industry. It may not be popular, but it is reasonable. She reflects on her life, her actions and her role in the world very honestly and very humanly. I think a LOT of people could learn something from the adroit use of her humanity to make her life, and those of others, much more comfortable.

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