She’s gotta have it: gen X sex guru Tristan Taormino talks about the year her underground savvy bubbled over into mainstream success – Books – Brief Article – Interview
“Thees ees how you need to bring her to or-gahsm,” says Tristan Taormino in her best German-accented imitation of munchkin sex gum Dr. Ruth Westheimer. Then Taormino, a self-described sex educator herself, detonates the Dr. Ruth impression. “Have you brought a woman to orgasm, Dr. Ruth?” asks the 31-year-old New Yorker rhetorically. “I wouldn’t recommend something if I hadn’t done it myself. It’s all tested. I think people appreciate the experience.”
Yes, indeed. The sexual experience of the dyke-identified (but “equal opportunity” lover) Taormino is much appreciated these days, and not just by the tattooed crowd. “This year I found myself on NBC giving sex tips to Dick Clark,” she gleefully notes. Taormino also writes columns for The Village Voice and Taboo magazine, gives sex-positive workshops for all genders and persuasions at colleges and sex-toy stores, edits the lesbian erotica magazine On Our Backs, writes books–The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women (Cleis Press, 1997) and her latest, Pucker Up: A Hands-on Guide to Ecstatic Sex (ReganBooks, 2001)–and codirected and starred in an adult-award-winning video that explicitly illustrated her back-door advice.
Next up: cable TV (she has a development deal). “I won’t be able to say `pussy’–one of my favorite words,” says Taormino between bites at a Los Angeles sidewalk cafe, where she also declaims loudly on everything from masturbation to female ejaculation. “But I’ll compromise in order to reach so many people.”
Brought up in Sayville, N.Y.–a Long Island shore town where gay men catch the ferry to Fire Island–Taormino was raised primarily by her mom, who didn’t proactively explain the birds and bees but didn’t mind when young Tristan absconded with her copy of The Joy of Sex. Taormino’s dad was gay, a fact she learned at age 15, when she spent a summer with him in Provincetown, Mass., and worked in a leather boutique. (He later died of AIDS complications.)
Taormino majored in American studies at Wesleyan University and came out as queer in her sophomore year. Ever since, she’s been exploring the outer (and inner) reaches of sexuality, hoping to empower others both to discover and to satisfy their own desires.
But with her superbusy schedule, does Taormino–who, in her blackrimmed glasses and flip hairstyle, looks like a prim cinematic secretary about to wildly throw off the specs and shake out her hair–actually have time to … have sex? “Oh, that’s a good fucking question,” she says, laughing. “People assume I’m swinging from the chandeliers 24/7, but I’m a total workaholic. Nine times out of 10 work takes precedence over sex, so I rely on my lovers [primarily, two people–a longtime girlfriend and a female-to-male “tranny boy”] to poke me on the shoulder and say, `Tristan, you need to stop working for just a minute.'”
For links to sites about Tristan Taormino and On Our Backs, go to www.advocate.com
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