Writer and documentary filmmaker. I write a column about sex and relationships for Vogue.com called Breathless. I’m the founder and editor of Slutever.com, a website about sexuality and feminism, and I’m currently making a documentary series with Vice about taboo sex cultures around the world. Oh and I’m also currently writing a book about all the same shit :)
The Hudson Valley in upstate New York.
How did you discover that writing was what you wanted to do?
It was sort of a happy accident. I’d always loved reading and writing embarrassing poetry while growing up, but I created my blog Slutever on a whim. I was 21 and living in a squatted, disused hostel in south London with 15 other people. It was the sort of house where it wasn’t out of the ordinary to come home to a living room full of naked people on DMT having ritualistic sex, or a homeless Romanian family baking bread in the kitchen. So I started writing the blog, intending mainly to create a written record of all the weird and extreme things that went on in the house. And then when people started reading it, I accidentally became a writer.
Why did you decide to focus on sex and relationships?
My desire to write about sexuality was really just born out of my own genuine curiosity. Sex is such an endless topic, and I’m really interested in the psychology of people with unusual sexual behaviors--for example people who work in the sex industry, people with extreme fetishes, porn stars, etc. A lot of what I do is my own exploration. I think what was missing from a lot of sex writing is self-awareness--the ability to laugh at oneself, and to admit that sex and kink and relationships can be really ridiculous sometimes. My goal with Slutever is to be very open and analytical about sex, but with a sense of humor. Also, we live in such an exciting and accelerated time! As a society, our attitudes around sex and dating are changing so fast—particularly in terms of female sexuality and LGBTQ culture—so this is a really exciting time to be writing about this topic.
Tell us about the worst date you ever had .
There’s been too many to count, but I can tell you about the worst date I’ve had in the past 24 hours. Yesterday I met this guy from OKCupid for a drink, who turned out to be a Trump supporter. It really threw me—he was in his late 30s, Jewish, worked in tech, grew up in Manhattan... in other words, he had no excuse! He was ranting to me about smart Donald Trump was, and I’m pretty sure it was the first time in my life that I got up literally mid-first drink and just walked out of the bar, like “I can’t...”
What's the sexiest part of a man's body? Why?
For some reason I really like the back of the head and neck—even better if they have sticky-out ears that add to the silhouette. I often find guys really attractive when I’m staring at the back of their heads in line, and then it’s always exciting to wait and see if they’re as hot as I imagine them to be when they turn around, lol. I also love men who cross their legs, so their legs can become a turn-on when posed correctly.
What's the sexiest part of a woman's body? Why?
I think a woman’s body has a lot of possibilities. There’s the obvious chest and legs, but sometimes it’s eyes, or freckles... it’s really impossible to pin it down.
Favorite place to shop for lingerie?
I love Lonely Lingerie—their styles are really feminine and unique, and I really get behind their aesthetic of body positivity and diversity. I also love Agent Provocateur and Chantelle, because they are both great for women with large breasts and have styles with a lot of support.
Favorite piece of jewelry?
I wear two pieces of jewelry every day. One is one of my grandmother’s high school graduation ring, and one is a simple, gold heart ring by Jordan Askill.
Gold or silver?
Gold! Like Carrie!
What was the first thing you thought about when you woke up this morning?
“I slept 2 hours past my alarm... again. I need coffee and Ritalin to feel alive.” And then I remembered that I just got Nora Ephron’s essay collection, “I Feel Bad About My Neck,” in the mail, and I was excited to start reading it. Who is your hero?
I have so many. My heroes tend to be outspoken, feminist female writers. I love Roxane Gay (her book “Bad Feminist” is one of my favorite books of the past couple years); Candace Bushnell (her original Sex and the City columns are everything); Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (her “Why We Should All Be Feminists” speech should be a must-watch for every girl and woman!); Camille Paglia (she’s a controversial feminist, but she’s a pioneer of the pro-sex movement within feminism, and she’s been a huge influence on my thinking around sexuality); Joan Didion (because of course); and I love Fran Lebowitz, because she makes me think it’s OK to criticize everything. :)
During sex - leave jewelry on or take it off? Why.
I usually leave it on, because it’s the last thing I’m thinking about! Also, hanging earrings can look especially hot when you’re naked.
What is something you wish you knew at 16
I wish I knew that I didn’t have to please everyone. I think a lot of women spend (read: waste) a lot of time trying to make everyone happy. As a woman who writes about sex and relationships, I’ve been told many times over the years—particularly when I was younger and starting out—that what I do isn’t “serious writing,” and that the subject of sexuality is “girly”—girly of course being synonymous with insignificant. It used to bother me, but don’t care anymore. I think it’s important to ask yourself, “Who do I want respect from?” Because some people will never give you respect--and you have to be able to accept that. There are some people in the world that will never give respect to a woman who writes personal essays that focus on sexuality. And that’s fine. I don't need to please everyone, but that’s something that often takes time and age to work out!
If you could go on a date with anyone dead or alive who would it be?
Ralph Nader, when he was in his 30s.
If you could be an animal what kind would you be?
I hate animals, but I guess I would be a peacock? They're dressed well, at least.
What is your favorite quote?
"I'm devoted to promiscuity, and always have been. I believe the more you do, the better it is for you. I'm a great health nut, and sex is, I think, absolutely marvelous for the whole system; tones you up."
A guilty pleasure no one knows about?
I spend most of my days alone, eating beef jerky and watching CNN in my underwear. Don't tell anyone, though.
Shot by Brian Merriam
Interview by Pamela Nelson Love