I love getting people off. There’s something about the moment you glimpse that final spark in their eye before everything clicks and ah-hah! insecurities and hesitations melt away and it suddenly all makes sense. I’ve witnessed these climaxes in people 18 to 75 years old, curvacious, svelte, straight, married, polyamorous, religious, rural, differently-abled, GLBTQ (among other letters), goth, earthy-crunchy, kinky, vanilla—a healthy handful from the Valley and maybe half of San Francisco.

You might be inclined to call me “promiscuous,” or use even some naughtier slang (which I’d take with a wink and a smile, thank you), but I didn’t actually get it on with all these people. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m not really getting these people off. At least, not directly. I’m just helping them figure out how to do it with advice on sex toys, lubes, porn, positions, books, safer-sex supplies and answers to any other questions that may require my sexpertise.

But I’m just a lowly sex writer. I don’t have a Ph.D. or an L.S.W. after my name. So who the hell am I to be giving you sex advice?

Is it because I majored in human sexuality, worked at Northampton’s Tapestry Health, San Francisco’s Center for Sex and Culture and was certified as a “Sexpert” in college? Because I made my living at sex-positive store Good Vibrations, where I received hours of training on sex toys, human anatomy and sexuality and helped people of all walks of life find the right sexy-time products for them?

Because I helped pick out the perfect lube for a senior couple who wanted to get their groove back? Sold a toy to a 40-year-old woman that led to her first orgasm? Outfitted a man with his first strap-on dildo because he wanted to provide his wife with a little more variety? Or is it because I love to talk to strangers about their sex lives and can’t seem to devour enough new information to quench my appetite for sex… I mean… learning? If a laundry list of rhetorical questions will make you believe me when I tell you that feminist porn exists, that the Japanese have made the most sensational male masturbation sleeve ever and that you can sanitize a silicone dildo in the dishwasher, then please hold onto that. But I’d like to think that my new readers might also consider my advice based on my own personal philosophy on sex and why I love to write about it.

Personal experiences showed me early on that sex can be used for controlling, violent and otherwise damaging purposes and can have serious consequences when placed in the wrong hands or used irresponsibly. On the one hand, sex is not to be taken lightly. On the other, it’s funny when you’re partner falls off the bed when tipsily attempting oral sex, when you get a pelvis-bucking injury, or when you strap it on for the first time and just can’t resist shaking it back and forth while jumping on the bed singing Kelis’s “Milkshake”. I don’t think enough people realize that it’s OK to laugh at sex.

Yes, sex can be used against us. Especially in a society that sells us Big Macs for a buck and then tells us to diet, promises equality but refuses gay marriage, pushes pornographic advertisements and then calls us perverted, sex is confusing. Unfortunately, this often results in embarrassment when we have questions, self-loathing when something turns us on that “shouldn’t,” and inhibitions about telling our partners what we really want. Fighting off sexual negativity boils down to a good old clich?: “Knowledge is power”. The more you know about what/who turns you on or gets you off and where to go to get your questions answered, the healthier your sexual attitude and sex life will be.

So let’s make a deal: I’ll write (and work on that Ph.D.) and you keep an eye on the column for advice on toys for boys, new tricks for old dogs, choosing your first vibrator, talking dirty (even though you’re shy), why men should strap it on, surviving your first trip to a sex toy store, and whatever else tickles my (and hopefully your) fancy. Stick with me and maybe, just maybe, I’ll be getting you off, too. See you next week.

The many longtime readers who enjoyed reading Ask Isadora in this space can still read Isadora Alman’s column at


Yana Tallon-Hicks

Author: Yana Tallon-Hicks

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