Opinion

Slutever’s Karley Sciortino Wants You to Be Disgusting, Kinky & Free

She talks lesbians watching gay porn and learning the ins and outs of transgender sex.

OUTIn some ways, we’ve come a long, long way from Salt N Pepa’s infamous 1990 banger “Let’s Talk About Sex.” Yes, that one that was playing softly in the background of the local health clinic in Chelsea you went to during an HIV scare as a room full of the men who ignored you on Grindr gave you circumstantially ironic sex eyes. These days, as Karley Sciortino is quick to remind me, 10 year olds can stumble on porn and watch gang bang videos.

In the digital age of smart phones and an avalanche of porn, it’s easier to learn about double penetration than it is to order Tide Pods on Amazon. Yet, for all this information digitally slapping us in the face, it’s also become easier than ever to learn all the wrong things about sex. That’s what Sciortino is correcting with her Viceland TV show, Slutever; her new book, new book, Slutever: Dispatches from a Sexually Autonomous Woman in a Post-Shame World; and basically every interaction she has with the world.

While people somehow clutch their pearls at the thought of female sexuality, she’s created an empire out of being a sex-positive writer and explorer of all things dirty, kinky, and fun—and thank god for that. It’s no secret the conversation around sex has become more about consent, assault, and harassment than about the joys of bumping and grinding.

These conversations are important and valid, of course, but, for Sciortino, she just wants to remind everyone that “sex can be really fun.” Oh, and “disgusting and kinky and free.” It can be all of those things, which is why every Wednesday at 10pm, her Viceland show Slutever show is diving deep into the wild world of everything from lifestyle slaves and transgender sex to happy endings.

While she takes a breather from pleasure chests and sex robots, we caught up with her to talk about lesbians watching gay porn, learning the ins and outs of transgender sex, and the secret to a great fuck.

OUT: What was the most surprising moment you experienced on the new season of Slutever?

Karley Sciortino: We did one episode where I felt like I learned the post personally. It was about sex in the transgender community and it was something I obviously don’t have personal experience with. The episode was presented to me by a friend of mine named Nomi Ruiz who is a transgender singer and a voice in the community. I’d interviewed her for Vogue and she said that she felt like people don’t talk about sex enough in the community because there was this whole movement a few years ago that Laverne Cox spearheaded that called out people asking about sex and genitals because it’s objectifying and distracts from actual issues like disproportionate rates of violence and unemployment.

What Nomi was saying though was a negative repercussion of that is that nobody is talking about sex, which means there’s a lack of sex education and an increased sense of shame. You tell people you can’t talk about sex or your genitals and it creates a sense of shame because those topics are “off limits.” The episode originated with Nomi talking about when she got gender confirmation surgery, she could barely find any information about what sex was going to be like after because nobody wants to talk about sex. Everyone says that transition isn’t about sex, it’s about gender but, for her, she wanted to know what sex was going to be like because if it’s going to be shit, she didn’t want to do the surgery.

We did this episode that’s all about the topic. We spend time with this young couple who are both trans and both going through rediscovering their sex life after they both transitioned. I learned so much about it and it was clear that it was a touchy subject, but they felt it was necessary because when they wanted information about it, they didn’t feel there was an outlet for them.

Well, sex education is so lacking. Even online, it’s hard to find the right information.

Yeah and as a woman, we’re only beginning to start the process of having open and honest discussions about sexual pleasure and masturbation. If you’re a trans woman, where are you supposed to get that information?

Do you think porn has made real sex education more difficult?

Well, it’s unavoidable that children are going to watch hardcore porn now. This something you’re going to see but that’s not reality. This is theater and with sex, there is consent involved. I have a friend who works for Planned Parenthood and he was saying, imagine being 10 years old and not having any idea what sex is and then you stumble on porn and the first porn you see is a gangbang? That’s terrifying. This imagery can be traumatizing without being paired with the knowledge that these are performers and that’s only one type of sex.

With porn, it’s also just hard to find a more feminist type of porn—especially in straight porn.

It’s so funny, I date primarily men but my last relationship was with a woman for three years and she would only watch gay male porn. It was so confusing to me and she said that she honestly could not watch straight porn because it was too violent.

What I imagine, in terms of gay porn, is that there’s a higher likelihood that you’ll end up watching a video where both people are enjoying it, right? So often in straight porn the women are performing. Men can’t really fake it as much because they’ve got to have a boner.

What’s the most horrifying misconception about sex you’ve ever heard?

From what I’ve gleaned over the years of writing about sex and fielding sex questions predominantly over the internet, I feel there’s this massive, leftover, destructive misconception that when having sex, men are getting something whereas women are giving something up. That’s something that every woman and some men have to work past because it’s so ingrained in our society.

Especially the idea of “losing” your virginity.

Literally! I grew up in a conservative Catholic family and it was literally old school, terrifying vibes. They thought that if you have sex with a lot of people, you will be less valuable to your potential husband. That’s what causes a lot of negative feelings for women after they have sex if it didn’t go exactly as they wanted. It’s like, “I lost a part of myself or I gave myself to him,” whereas if we looked at it as both people coming at it and both people have as much to gain and as much to lose as the other partner, it would be a lot less stressful and more psychologically beneficial.

With your conservative upbringing, how do your parents feel about your choice of career?

(Laughs) We’ve gotten to the point where they don’t associate with it unless I explicitly say they should watch something I’ve done. It took years and years of arguing so we’ve gotten to the point where we agree to disagree. For years, it was a real problem because they’d read my stuff and feel embarrassed for themselves and scared for me. They felt that they were facing all these repercussions in their small town when their friend’s kid would read it and be like, “your daughter is having weird, drug-filled orgies in Europe.”

I think they were worried about what the repercussions would be of writing explicitly about sex as a woman online in terms of what future job I could have. Eventually, when they realized that this was something that was my job and something I could make money from, the power dynamic shifted and they had to admit that it was just over their heads to a degree. They never thought it could be my job—they always thought it was an impediment to getting a job.

How’d you get started with sex writing initially?

Well, I started a blog called Slutever in 2007 when I was living in London. I was squatting in this art commune—I say art as a term very loosely because everyone thought of themselves as artists but nobody was making art. I was blogging about what life was like in this freegan, squat commune. There was a lot of sex content because I was quite sexual but I wasn’t thinking about sex on a deeper level than just like… I’m on a sex rampage.

Then when I moved to New York when I was 24, I didn’t have a job so I started assisting a dominatrix and was working in her dungeon and that’s when the blog really became a sex blog. I was always someone who wrote about my life and my writing shifted at that point because I became more interested in the psychology behind people who have fringe sexual desires or behaviors.

Do you think there’s any secret to great sex we should know about?

My goal for great sex is finding a partner who isn’t squeamish about bodies and weird shit. There are two kinds of people. There are the people who will only want to go down on you after you get out of the shower and there are the people who want to lick your butt when you get home from the gym. Sex feels better with option two because you relax so much more and feel so much more confident and uninhibited with that person.

The other goal would be to become that person yourself so you can be as disgusting and kinky and free as possible.

How have your perceptions of sex, gender, and sexuality changed since you started the show?

Well, the goal of the show was always to find communities or behaviors that are often thought of as taboo or gross and find the humanity in them. It’s worked for me. I’m not a saint. There’s an episode where we focus on lifestyle slaves and they’re essentially people who want to be in servitude to their dominatrix 24/7 and the dominatrix often keeps them in chastity and makes them do work. I’m not saint so part of me is like, what’s wrong with you, dude? Being able to spend time with people and ask them what they get out of the relationship, I feel that my mind has been changed through a lot of these experiences. I only hope I can convey that in the show. With this particular lifestyle slave and their dominatrix, they really love each other. When you understand that even if their relationship is more extreme than you would ever want and you’ll never be able to understand wanting to do someone else’s chores for free, you can understand that they love and care for each other and their relationship isn’t exploitative.

On the other end of the spectrum, I think I’ve become majorly desensitized to everything. At this point, I don’t gag anymore when I see someone drink a bucket of pee. It’s a great life skill.

Sex has become a big topic in terms of consent in our current sociopolitical climate. Has that affected the show at all?

I don’t think it has specifically because the subjects that we choose are subjects that we admire and that we can find joy and levity in. So often, conversations around sex are about negative things like harassment or trauma or exploitation. Those stories are valid and need to be told too but I want my show to give everyone a breather. I wanted to make a show about sex that’s really upbeat and fun and happy because I think we need to be reminded that sex can be really fun.

Sex isn’t always dangerous or exploitative and what I hope will translate is that, despite all of the awful things coming out, sex can be really enlightening.

OUT

Slutever airs Wednesdays at 10pm on Viceland. 

Photography: Ashley Armitage

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