Where do you go to learn about sex? Pornhub? Your doctor? That one friend who gets lube in bulk from Costco? If you have questions about sex then you are in luck, Dr. Karen Rayne, Ph.D. and Sam Killermann’s show, “Have You Seen SEX,” will answer all your burning questions and then some. The show is: part sex ed, part comedy, Q & A and BYOB…so you cannot go wrong with that. Since it is Halloween, this show is a special costume edition. Audience members are encouraged to come in costume. I have known Karen for a while and was excited to talk with her about this upcoming show as well as her work as a sexuality educator.
Social justice comedian Sam Killermann and sexuality educator Dr. Karen Rayne, Ph.D. / photo credit: Have You Seen SEX
What gave you and Sam the idea to put together “Have You Seen SEX?”
It’s a great story! If you come to see the show, you’ll see that we have three giant marquis letters behind us on stage: SEX. These letters were originally made by a conservative church near me to promote their narrow-minded sermon series as “fun”! I dropped in to see what the sermons were actually like and offered to buy the letters before I left. Months passed. I forgot about the letters. Then one day I got the call…and I knew that something big was happening, but I wasn’t sure what yet.
I’d been talking with Sam about how to reach out to adults who never really got a complete sex education themselves. These letters led us to creating a fun, sexy, date-night atmosphere that I think really works.
What can people expect from the show?
Our tag line is Learning, Laughing, Lasciviousness, which I think summarizes it very well!
The slightly longer explanation is that Sam is a comedian and I am an educator. We take turns teaching and making people laugh.
Every show has a theme, and this time it’s Halloween and costumes, so Sam will be telling appropriate stories and I will be showing a history of how All Hallows Eve and Dia de los Muertos turned into Sexy Ebola Nurse.
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What makes sex a taboo topic for some people?
It’s all of the penises.
Not really. It’s actually about control. If you’re able to control sex, you’re able to control people and so our religions and our governments have worked hard to push sex off into the taboo in order to manipulate people.
What is the worst sex advice you’ve heard?
“Don’t want to get pregnant? Put an Aspirin between your knees.”
How did you get started in your field?
I got started through education and being an adolescent activist for adolescent rights. I thought that the way our culture treated teenagers was insulting – I still think that – and I thought I’d change it by going into education. Then, my last semester of college when I started working in the public schools – I ran away screaming and realized I had to go higher. I thought I’d go into policy or research or something, so I went back for my PhD. But neither academia nor policy were right for me. I landed in sex ed kind of by accident, but it’s been a happy, happy accident! I have the best job in the world! It increasingly takes me all over the world and helps makes the world a better, gentler, kinder, more accepting place for people young and old. How can you get a better job than that??
You recently had a book published, what has that been like?
It’s been fantastic! Sam, in addition to working with me on S.E.X., was my publisher for Breaking the Hush Factor: Ten Rules for Talking with Teenagers about Sex, and anything I do with Sam is always fun!
What has been the most meaningful to me is when parents read my book and drop me a note letting me know how it influenced them, how they have become kinder and gentler parents, how their dialogue with their teenagers about sex has started to flourish.
What is the biggest myth about sex?
Bigger is always better.
As anyone who likes to be penetrated and who talks with other people who like to be penetrated should know, there are a range of preferences around size. It’s fine to be a size queen – and it’s fine to prefer girth over length or length over girth or something smaller altogether.
What fetish are you most fascinated by and why?
What an interesting question!
I am more fascinated by people’s reactions to fetishes that they are just learning about than I am by the individual fetishes themselves. The range of reactions from “WHAT??? NO.” to “Tell me more…” That for some people a vibrator is considered racy and unexpected and for others it’s electric play and ball busting.
Humans are pretty cool creatures, and the range of ways that we’ve collectively figured out how to be sexy is fascinating on all levels.
What makes for great sex?
Attention to detail. Emotional intelligence. Equity rather than equality. Great sex is about being able to read your partner and communicate with your partner and provide for each other in the way(s) that you each prefer, whether those are the same or different.
What has it been like to work with the United Nations on the topic of sexual education?
A great honor. The work that people are doing around the world and under very different circumstances that we have here in the US is pretty amazing. My current take-away is that I cannot work on a global scale if I don’t speak at least two languages. I speak a little German and a little Spanish – so I’m currently bulking up on my Spanish. I don’t know if I’ll return to German when I feel like I’m ready for a third or move on to another altogether…
What should people look for in a sex toy?
Something that makes them happy. Whether it’s from Home Depot or Fun Factory, they should smile when they see it.
What do you think about PrEP?
It’s amazing. I can’t imagine what else anyone would say about it. Sure, there are issues with access and education and all sorts of other things, but the strides it’s taking us forward in preventing HIV transmission are extraordinary.
Remember what it was like at the beginning of the HIV horrors of the 80’s. Think about And The Band Played On and Philadelphia and Gia. Think about that world…and the world we have now with PrEP. In many ways I see PrEP as an indicator of how far we’ve come, in technology, awareness, advocacy, acceptance, and science, the fight against HIV and AIDS.
Does sex influence technology or does technology influence sex?
What do you think sex education for high school students should include?
It would be easier to ask what it should NOT include, and the answer to that question is nothing. There are National Sex Education Standards, which are great if you’d like to get into specifics. (www.futureofsexed.org/documents/josh-fose-standards-web.pdf)
What advice would you give to parents before they talk to their teens about sex?
Well, I have ten rules that I outline in my book – so those are my favorite ones, of course. The ten rules in full are here: http://www.breakingthehushfactor.com/the-ten-rules-for-talking-with-teenagers-about-sex/, but if you don’t have the time to head over to the website, here’s a primer:
- Know yourself.
- It’s not about you.
- Stop talking.
- Start listening.
- You get one question.
- Do something else.
- Pleasure and pain.
- Be cool as a cucumber.
- Bring it on.
- Never surrender.
There’s more to each of those, of course, but you’ll have to read the book to get the details!
What are the best books on sex?
Oh! There are so many! I just can’t even…okay. Here’s a few of my top loves:
- Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach
- It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens by danah boyd
- We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity by bell hooks
- The Social Justice Advocate’s Handbook: A Guide to Gender by Sam Killermann
Maybe they aren’t all about sex, but they are all critical to understanding sexuality at this time and place that we live.
What is your current favorite sexual topic to study?
I tend to pick a side topic to sexuality and study it for a few years and then move on to something else. I was deeply engaged in the physiology of reproduction and HIV for a long time. Before that it was the anthropology of human sexual activities. More recently I’ve been reading about racism. Sexuality and race are deeply intertwined in our history and in our current experience of both things. Learning about that has been eye-opening and has encouraged me to become actively engaged in the racism present in the field of sexuality education.
Have You Seen SEX? will be a entertaining and educational night. If you are interested in going here are the details:
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[gdlr_heading tag=”h3″ size=”32px” color=”#ffffff” background=”#961D20″ font_weight=”bold”]SATURDAY 10/24[/gdlr_heading]
S.E.X.: The Special Costume Edition!
You’re allowed to laugh. You’re allowed to learn. You’re allowed to be uncomfortable. Come enjoy a night of classy debauchery. Part comedy show, part lively Q&A, complete lasciviousness — it’s the perfect way to spend an evening at the New Movement Theater. The show is 2 hours long with a brief intermission, interactive (if you choose), and full of variety. This is a show that’s as entertaining as it is enlightening. We’ll talk about the things you’ve been afraid to ask about, but in a light-hearted, enjoyable, intentionally-non-intimidating fashion. So join us for the third local running of S.E.X. This time around our theme is costumes: So come in yours! There may be a prize for the best costume! The New Movement, 616 Lavaca St., Austin TX 78701. Saturday, October 24, 2015. 6:30 PM. $10 advanced, online. $12 at the door.
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