Every Wednesday The CSPH highlights a Sexuality Professional you should keep your eye on. Their backgrounds are very diverse in order to bring attention to the wide variety of amazing people working in the field. This week we bring you Tristan Taormino!
1. What do you do in the field of sexuality?
I am a sex educator and have many “jobs” that fall under that umbrella. I write and edit books and articles; I give lectures and teach workshops at colleges, universities, conferences, retail spaces, and events; I direct and produce feminist sex education and porn films with my company Smart Ass Productions; I run three websites (puckerup.com, tristantaormino.com, and openingup.net) and I host the internet radio show Sex Out Loud on the VoiceAmerica Talk Radio Network.
2. Where are you based out of?
I live in the Hudson Valley in New York; however, I travel extensively for work, most frequently to New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, and the Midwest.
3. What is your focus? What do you do?
My work concentrates on sex education for adults, feminist porn, and topics such as sexuality, gender, LGBT issues, BDSM and kink, and alternative relationships.
4. What are your particular goals and passions in the field?
I’m passionate about empowering people to create the relationships and sex lives they want. I want to use feminist porn to teach explicit sexual techniques and model effective sexual communication. I want folks to challenge the bullshit about sex and gender that our society feeds us.
5. Why did you choose to work in this field?
I find sexuality endlessly fascinating and full of possibilities, and I feel comfortable talking to people about taboo topics. The first time I taught a workshop, I had a light bulb moment: this is what I should be doing.
6. Where did you go for school/training?
I got my Bachelor’s Degree in American Studies from Wesleyan University, and I am a self-taught sex educator, schooled by sex-positive professionals from around the world. I also worked as a sex educator at Babeland in New York.
7. Do you have any literature out (websites, articles)?
I am the author of seven books: The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women, Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships, Down and Dirty Sex Secrets, True Lust: Adventures in Sex, Porn and Perversion, The Big Book of Sex Toys, The Anal Sex Position Guide, and The Secrets of Great G-Spot Orgasms and Female Ejaculation. I am the editor of The Ultimate Guide to Kink: BDSM, Role Play and the Erotic Edge and co-editor with Celine Parrenas Shimizu, Constance Penley and Mireille Miller-Young of the forthcoming book, The Feminist Porn Book: The Politics of Producing Pleasure. I am the editor of twenty-five anthologies including Take Me There: Trans and Genderqueer Erotica, and I was creator and series editor of the award-winning Best Lesbian Erotica series. I have written for a multitude of publications from Yale Journal of Law and Feminism to Penthouse. For nine and a half years, I wrote a sex column in The Village Voice and I have written an advice column for Taboo Magazine since 1999.
8. What would you recommend to future professionals attempting to get into the field?
You must love what you do in order for it to be sustainable, so follow your passion. Take people’s advice but also listen to your inner voice. Find your niche. Write a business plan. Value yourself and your work, and get paid accordingly.
9. What is the most challenging aspect for you working in this career?
There are not a lot of road maps for what I do, so I had to create my job as I went along. I am my own boss, and it’s a challenge to find a balance between work and play.
10. One must read-what would you recommend? Why?
Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape edited by Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti. It’s one of the most compelling and inspiring books about how to shift the dialogue about sex, consent, and gender roles in our culture.
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