AASECT Cheers, Orlando Tears, Bday Beers + Our Great Need for Sex Ed the Bonobo Way
Once again, with feeling, we brought the Bonobo Way of peace through pleasure to a new excited and exciting audience, this time the great teachers, healers and “sex geeks” of AASECT, the venerable American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists, for their 48th annual conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico. With my birthday falling on the day before my presentation, Capt’n Max and I invited a couple of our Puerto Rican friends whom we met on our last trip to come join us in aquatic revelry at the Condado Plaza Hilton’s water wonderland by the balmy Caribbean sea.
‘Twas a marvelous, magical, multi-orgasmic, wet, wild and very bonoboësque birthday weekend, high as the waxing Gemini moon. It was only brought low on Sunday morning when we woke up to the news of the horror in Orlando which just broke our hearts, though paradoxically, it served to underscore the life-saving value of sex education, counseling and therapy. Of course, it’s much more complex than that, but I can’t help thinking that if only the seemingly sexually confused, self-loathing perpetrator of this awful obscenity, the worst mass-shooting by a single civilian in American history, could have gotten a good sex education; the horror may very well not have happened.
This is the important, challenging, exhilarating and dangerous work that my AASECT colleagues are doing every day, hour by 50-minute hour, each a bonoboësque revolutionary in their own unique way, and I am proud to be one of them, in my own unique way.
From Bonoboville to Margaritaville
Opening up the current Cosmo at the Hudson Newsstand at LAX and finding myself quoted on page 130, on how to “Ace Your Orals” was pretty cool, in a Cosmo Girl way (though they chopped our 20-minute interview down to one short sentence, it was a prominent short sentence). I even ponied up and bought a copy when the cashier looked at me funny for combing through pages 1-129 until I found my name.
We flew Jet Blue, the chic, sleek, socially conscious airline of the hip and thrifty, stretching our legs (well, my legs; the long-limbed Captain was still cramped), watching bits of hyper TV shows and going over my AASECT Bonobo Way talking points while cuddling and munching scrumptious Gladstone’s ceviche and chips the color of the Puerto Rican state seal.
Too excited (and busy) to snooze, we confronted the fact that Jet Blue doesn’t eliminate jet lag as soon as we hit our king-sized Hilton bed, and we slept like the ancient rocks below our 9th floor balcony. Speaking of which, oh what a spectacular view of the sparkling azure Caribbean sea!
Since the room phone didn’t work (one of many malfunctions we encountered during our stay at the otherwise great and sprawling, 1960s-style Condado Plaza Hilton), we slumbered soundly through the first part of the Opening Plenary.
Fortunately, we made it to the tail end, as well as the opening cocktail party and poster sessions where we met some very nice folks, a few of whom we captured in these badly lit photos.
PHOTOS 1, 4 & 5: MAX. PHOTO 8: DENNIS JAMES
What we lacked in photographic equipment, we made up for in bonoboësque bonhomie. We were impressed by the variety of ages, skin tones and backgrounds of the attendees, reflective of this year’s AASECT conference theme of inclusivity, everyone different as snowflakes, yet melting into our common desire for sexual knowledge, erotic freedom and a good time.
In a way, this and any AASECT conference is what I call a human Bonoboville, a group where bonoboësque humans (aka “bonobo sapiens”) are relatively free to explore aspects of sexuality within a community. Relatively free, right? After all, this romantic tropical adventure included the constant spraying on of Off—to repulse the dreaded Zika Virus… and every other living organism. Still, our subject was sex, and we were free to, at least, talk about it.
All that hot talk and sapiosexual inclusivity turned us on, or maybe it was the misty Caribbean breeze gently wreaking havoc with my hair. It also could have been all that cuddly foreplay on the plane; yes, the lavatories are just too small and well-policed nowadays for us to join the Mile High Club, like we used to on long flights. Those were the days before 9/11 turned passenger planes into jam-packed tanks of suspicion and scrutiny with wings. Then again, maybe it was just that I stripped down to begin my birthday in my birthday suit. Or that special San Juan “Sex Fantasy” we’d downed at the bar. Whatever the cause, the Captain and I entered the hour of my earthly emergence with a bang and a couple of those surprisingly intense screaming orgasms that might have awakened the neighbors, which may not have been strictly consensual in the auditory sense, but hopefully they were with AASECT and would understand.
Post-orgasm, we fell back to sleeping the sleep of the rocks and then, just like those rocks, we were soon drenched in seawater. That is, within a few hours, that lovely misty Caribbean breeze wafting through our open balcony door blew in a couple of quarts of brine that had the Captain sailing across the floor when he got up to go pee. To the Hilton’s credit, there was a sign on the balcony door that said we should keep it closed to prevent just such flooding, but experience is the best swimming instructor. We kept the balcony door shut and slept until morning.
Birth Day Holy Waters
I wanted to stay in my birthday suit throughout my birthday, but unfortunately for the #FreeTheNipple campaign, Puerto Rico is mostly managed by a devout Roman Catholic establishment that is quite strict about keeping all naughty bits covered at all times, even while underwater.
Fortunately, the day before we left Bonoboville, Dayton Rains (popular Institute therapist, DrSuzy.Tv associate producer and resident pornstar) found me the ultimate tropical-style itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny bikini festooned with pink flamingos and trimmed in the same azure blue of the Condado Hilton pools.
And oh those pools. There was the salt water pool for the serious eco-swimmers next to a big bubbling Jacuzzi across from an entrance to Condado Lagoon, a semi-public beach where you could dip into the warm (and visibly polluted) Caribbean, on the other side of which was the super-fun freshwater pool that stretched around a café, and included its own semi-sub-aquatic bar, as well as numerous fountains and a water slide.
The fountains were shaped like dolphins, which appear to be spitting or, I prefer to say, squirting into the pool. When straddled, these forceful founts resembled nothing so much as great geysers of female ejaculation, called “amrita” by the Tantrics. In Bonoboville, we call it the hot “Holy Water” of female orgasm.
When my G-spot is stimulated just right, I can squirt (as many women can), but nothing like these huge arcs of crystal clear H20 that even out-distanced those record-shattering human Geysers of Desire, Deauxma and Annie Body. Straddling the dolphin was in no way equivalent to ejaculating myself, of course, but after a very good mojito, it did make me feel like a great squirting mermaid or water goddess of some sort. Later, I joined the Captain for a bite of his burger and fries. Something for everyone at the Condado Hilton Waterworld!
Caribbean Sea Goddesses Bless This Bday
Then in the dripping wet blink of an eye, the porpoises became goddesses and blessed my day of days. That’s my fantasy interpretation of what happened next, though the reality was simply that our Puerto Rican friends, SerenaGaia and Destiny, arrived to join our celebration.
PHOTOS 1 & 3: MAX
That’s renowned and distinguished University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez Humanities Department Professor SerenaGaia Anderlini D’Onofrio, co-editor (with Lindsay Hagamen) of Ecosexuality: When Nature Inspires the Arts of Love (for which I wrote the forward), and convener of the first Ecosexuality Symposium at an academic Institution (UPRM), for which I gave the keynote on The Bonobo Way of Ecosexuality.
PHOTOS BY DESTINY LEE RODRIGUEZ
After the symposium, SerenaGaia held a poetic erotic oceanic “plural wedding” in which about a dozen of us “married” the beach. That’s where I met Ms. Destiny Lee Rodriguez, ace photographer and beautiful, talented, teenage (no, she’s not underage, folks—she’s 19-years-old… going on 35) Mamacita. Ay carumba!
At our invitation, Serena drove up from Mayaguez to San Juan with Destiny, as well as the sweet, sensuous and extremely busy Francesca Gentile, a fellow AASECT member and AASECT-certified sexuality teacher who was not only giving two AASECT presentations, but a number of sex-and-romance workshops and dinners in the area as well. After expressing her affection for Geminis in general, Francesca made a beeline for AASECT registration, but Serena and Destiny put on their bathing suits and joined the Captain and me on the high seas, turning our twosome into a full-on pool party. Yipppppeeeeeeee! Best Birthday Evah!
So many fun moments! Hoka-hoka in the pool, riding the squirting dolphins, dancing around the faux medieval décor, drinking at the underwater bar, swimming, splashing, hugging, kissing, releasing our “inner mermaids”… My favorite part was going down the water slide, which I experienced as a tangible metaphor for being “Born Again.” Like a religious experience… but more fun!
PHOTOS 1-5 + 10:: DESTINY LEE RODRIGUEZ. PHOTOS 6-9: MAX
The ancient rocks around the beach glittered as the sun went down behind the waving palms of Condado Lagoon and the skyscrapers of San Juan, and the waxing June Moon rose to greet the night.
Serena told us how years ago, she’d met a beautiful girl on that very beach and, since the two of them couldn’t afford a room at the Hilton, they stayed on the rocks, making out and heavy petting to great mutual delight all night… an early ecosexual experience for the High Priestess of Ecosexuality.
Great Dinner, Lousy Food
Starving, we showered off the sea and chlorine and hustled ourselves into dinner clothes. I tried to go “South American” with a hat the colors of those Gladstone’s chips and matching scarf (a gift from Squirting Queen Deauxma), but I wound up resembling a one-woman mariachi band… with garters instead of guitars.
We contemplated going into Old San Juan, but opted to stay in this gigantic, comfy, albeit quirky hotel. Not only was the Condado Plaza Hilton big as a brontosaurus straddling the street, there was another Hilton hotel just down the road. Clearly, we were on “Hilton Island,” or Hilton-ico. For the big birthday dinner, we chose the Hilton’s fancy “award-winning” Pikayo Restaurant.
The company was awesome, as were the gifts, toasts, mojitos and beers. But the food? Tiny ornate servings on giant plates, featuring complicated, overcooked and uninspired cuisine. Max’s poor escargot, instead of being cooked in their shells with a little herbal buttersauce, were drowned in a heavy mushroom gravy. His pasta looked like a small elaborate turd in a large, shallow, very clean toilet bowl. My sea bass wasn’t horrible; we’ll give it a C+. Destiny’s salmon was huge as the Hilton and pretty enough to photograph, but it tasted like Chicken of the Sea with sauce. Serena wisely ordered just a dessert soufflé that was nice and fluffy. As for my birthday “cake,” it was a doll-sized baked Alaska just big enough for each of us to take a tiny bite.
PHOTO 1: WAITER. PHOTO 2: DESTINY LEE RODRIGUEZ PHOTOS 4 & 8: MAX
Good thing I’m not much of a foodie!
Since we didn’t eat much, we were good for a midnight swim and a dip in the hot tub with some of the other AASECT’ers. One gal came in from the beach gloriously topless and, as soon as someone told her that was verboten, she wrapped a scarf around her boobs. Within moments, Hilton security came running to cover her up with a towel, with as much concern as if there were a terrorist amongst us. When the young lady demonstrated that she was already covered, thank you very much, the obviously disgusted guard muttered in Max’s direction, “What kind of people are these?”
Maybe he thought because of his captain’s cap and distinguished demeanor, Max would sympathize. He was lucky the Captain wasn’t in the mood for telling him to take a long walk off a short gangplank.
The incident did make it clear that despite the erotic climate and congenial populace, sexist titty phobia is alive and not very well in Puerto Rico. This was disappointing and somewhat disturbing, but nothing that another mojito (and beer) plus a few more hallway-echoing birthday orgasms couldn’t make me forget… at least until now.
Bonobo Inclusivity & Technical Difficulties
Birthday candles fully blown in all senses, within a few short slumber-filled hours, it was time to wake up and face Saturday, our day to deliver the Bonobo Way to our fellow sex therapists of AASECT. Having given variations on “the talk” at UPRM, UC Berkeley and DomCon, I wasn’t too worried about this one. Nevertheless, it would be a different group and theme: Inclusivity.
Actually, this theme appealed to me, partly because bonobos are the most inclusive apes on Earth. Unlike their distrustful common chimp counterparts, bonobos are so inclusive that not only do they eagerly share food and sex with friends, they do it with strangers—especially strangers! And the pay-off is in much more than *just* pleasure. It’s peace.
The full title of the AASECT conference theme was “Inclusivity in Practice: Putting the Pieces Together,” and a vital “piece” of the human sexuality puzzle that bonobos “put together” is peace through pleasure. It’s “inclusivity in action,” erotic conflict resolution and the world’s best “make-up sex.” It’s also anger management, bonobo-style. Because bonobos get angry, like we do. They just don’t kill each other, like we do. And we thought we were the smartest apes. Ha!
I’ve been supporting sexual inclusivity since I started broadcasting in the 1980s, and Capt’n Max since the 1970s when he published reader-written sex magazines, like Love, Finger and the LA Star, the ultimate in journalistic inclusivity; printing anything and almost everything the readers wrote, well before social media made “reader-written” journalism ubiquitous. Inclusivity as a theme also drew me in because, well, it made me feel included. I’ve been a proud (uncertified) member of AASECT since 2005, but I tend to stay out of the flaming discourse on the AASECT listserv, and this was my first conference, not to mention my first talk. I was an AASECT virgin!
After Destiny valiantly attempted to straighten my untamable tropical frizz, I donned my Boho-Bonobo tank top featuring a cartoon of my “inner bonobo” as envisioned by Disney artist Helane and printed by Gonzo Bonobo, a navy mini-skirt, navy-on-white Yale thong, stockings, garters, hat and Dayton’s navy jacket—my gesture to the “business casual” fashion custom.
All systems go, except one and, of course, it was a critical one. Though administrators had assured us that I’d be mic’ed for my talk with a lavaliere (thus we didn’t bring our own), the congenial Hilton tech team gave us the bad news that our particular room did not include a lavaliere nor any mic at all. With a quarter pound of freshly applied makeup around my eyes, I was not about to cry, but I freely allowed the steam to come out of my ears, as the Captain and I stomped helplessly around the Mezzanine looking for a lavaliere.
And whaddaya know, we found one! In fact, one found us, as we fortuitously bumped into the lovely and bonoboësque Dr. Tammy Nelson, gearing up to interview me for “Relationship TV” just before the talk. With profound empathetic insight honed over 25 years as one of AASECT’s finest, Dr. Tammy wisely observed the steam escaping my ears and, before we’d even sputtered out our story, she was generously offering to lend us a lavaliere. Sometimes the manna really falls from heaven.
Relationship TV: Make Love FIRST to Make Love LAST
Dr. Tammy’s interview was an excellent warm-up for my impending Bonobo Way presentation. In response to her engaging questions, I gave her a bite-sized version of The Talk, with an emphasis on human relationships, this being Relationship TV, and how to “release your inner bonobo,” as well as how to help your partner to release theirs, so as to keep your long-term relationship high on trust and lust. It’s important to do this in big ways—like going on romantic getaways to Puerto Rico—and small ways, like sending kinky texts and giving each other hugs and a friendly tickle whenever possible.
My bottom-line relationship tip: Make love first if you want to make love last. That is, if you want to celebrate many anniversaries with mounting joy, make your relationship a top priority in your life. It also doesn’t hurt to take this tip literally and just “make love”… first thing in your day (doing it anytime after 12:01am counts as “day” for us night owls). I’ve been spouting this homily since before I got married 24 years ago, but old truths are infinitely renewable, and Dr. Tammy was happy to hear it, as it happens to be a variation on her new show’s theme.
She also gave me the biggest compliment of the weekend: “You are so not a diva.”
Nah… I just play one on TV.
TRAPPED in Our Own Hotel Room!
With just over an hour left before our session, we went back to the room for a quick cuddle, a nap, a makeup tune-up and a pee, not in that order. Then, video camera, mini-suitcase and extra hat in tow, we went to open the hotel room door only to find that… we couldn’t. Within moments of abject confusion, we came to terms with the shocking truth: We were locked in our own hotel room!
“Call the front desk!” I exclaimed, before recalling that our room phone didn’t work. “Help!” I screamed helplessly.
Then, as I was trying to figure out how to call the front desk on my cell, help arrived in the form of a very nice Hilton worker who tried to explain why the door wouldn’t open, as we blithered, “It doesn’t matter, we’re late, just please fix it!” Whereupon we dashed down the huge Hilton hallway to our session. The good news is that he did… fix it! Both the door and the phone.
Amazing AASECT Audience
The other good news is that our Bonobo Way session was fantastic. At least, for me it was. Hopefully, the audience enjoyed it as much as they seemed to, though you never know what a bunch of therapists are really thinking.
Not that there weren’t a dozen other technical problems. For starters, the room was much too small for the crowd. Maybe they gave me a tiny room because I’m tiny, or since it was my virgin conference, they wanted a tight fit. Whatever the reason, the room was packed with many sitting on the floor, and most of the attendees who came to The Bonobo Way were turned away at the door. Max was happy to say we were “sold out,” but I felt bad that so many people who wanted to learn about bonobos couldn’t get in, even some who were there several minutes early. Even Serena and several other friends couldn’t get in. Sorry about that folks!
At least, Dr. Patti Britton got in. In fact, this warm and wonderful AASECT-certified sex educator, therapist, past AASECT president, founder of Sex Coach University, my editor on The Wiley-Blackwell International Encyclopedia of Human Sexuality, AASECT Sexuality Educator of the Year 2016 and recipient of a Mal Jones Bonobo Way Female Empowerment award, introduced me. This was kind of perfect, as Dr. Patti has called The Bonobo Way “a refreshing must-read for our times.”
Among her many illustrious connections, Dr. Patti happens to be a cousin of super sex worker icon Xaviera Hollander, author of the Happy Hooker, who called The Bonobo Way “marvelous—a happy book for a happy life and a happier world.”
Those lucky AASECTers that got into the room 15 minutes early comprised a tightly packed, sapiosexually knowledgeable and deliciously enthusiastic group of colleagues, comrades, friends, lovers and intriguing strangers. Though every group has been a great audience in their own ways, it was especially gratifying to bring the Tao of the Bonobos to folks whose business is pleasure, sex education and sex therapy. After all, our kissing cousins (almost 99% genetically similar to us) have a lot of sex, quality and quantity, in a Bonobo Sutra of positions. Some say one thing that makes us “human” is we have sex face-to-face unlike other animals who do it from behind, also known as “doggy-style” because it’s so animal. But bonobos love sex face-to-face, often while gazing deeply into each other’s eyes, like Tantric sex practitioners or two people very much in love… or a couple who’s been through an intensive AASECT training.
PHOTOS 1, 2 & 4: MAX PHOTO 3: EDDIE FERNANDES
The list of bonobo erotic activities is more extensive than the original Kama Sutra and the menu at the Bunnyranch combined: lots of oral sex, including cunnilingus, fellatio, body-licking, ear-tonguing and long, deep, soulful French kissing. Lots of masturbation on the one hand (so to speak), especially in captivity, and lots of group sex on the other, in many combinations. After all, bonobos are the Make-Love-Not-War chimpanzees who swing through the trees, as well as with each other. This factoid was applauded by the many swingers in the audience, including sweet Eddie Fernandez who took pix of the talk with my phone, even though he’s never even owned a cell phone!
The safer sex coaches in the crowd could appreciate that bonobo sex includes a lot of outercourse (actually more outercourse than intercourse), massage, tickling, erotic grooming, genital play with objects utilized as “sex toys,” rough play that I call “Bonobo BDSM,” food play, foot play, genital play, breast play, nipple play, anal play—lots of play! Bonobos love to play, as do humans, of course. Though here in Humanville, play has gotten a rather bad rap from our puritanical, work-crazed culture as being frivolous and beside-the-point. For bonobos, play is the point.
Erotic play is part of the ecology of life, making wild Bonoboville resemble an old-fashioned love-in, especially around lunchtime. Bonobos love to combine food and sex, aka eating while eating. Yum! Actually, this could give some of us humans indigestion, one of many reasons not to full-on imitate bonobos. So before my eager attendees might sue me for acute gastritis, or because their client fell out of a tree, or got busted for engaging in some kind of illegal bonobo sex, I tried to make clear that “releasing your inner bonobo” does not mean that they or their clients should live just like bonobos. That less than 2% genetic difference between us, the complex expression of our genes and those pesky cultural differences make comprehensive “aping” impossible, ludicrous or dangerous. Thus, I advised my audience to please use cultural common sense and not get carried away when practicing the Bonobo Way.
Then again, smearing your favorite delicacy on your favorite lover’s favorite body part and sucking it up, with feeling, can be delicious for you and orgasmic for them. Just don’t try this with the Piyako escargot.
Overthrow the Killer Ape!
Essentially, The Bonobo Way is a new inclusive great ape paradigm for human sexuality, inspired by a role model who isn’t even human. It’s the gentle but firm overthrow of the Killer Ape, because the Killer Ape is killing us. For decades, everywhere, from university anthropology departments to the Planet of the Apes film franchise to the Pentagon, from Dr. Phil to the NRA, experts, sexperts, politicians and arms dealers have used the old ‘killer ape’ paradigm to explain and excuse bad human behavior—everything from murder and war to jealousy and lousy sex, as well as to support such violent power structures as the military-industrial complex, the prison-industrial complex, abusive police, restrictive religion, schoolyard bullying, anti-sex legislation, the abuse of sex workers, to name a few.
This Killer Ape paradigm is not wrong; it’s based on common chimps, who can be killers, and the even more vicious savanna baboons (who aren’t even apes, they’re monkeys, with tails!). The Killer Ape darkly suggests that all Great Apes are Natural Born Killers, and that bowing to brute male force and the threat of being killed is more natural and sensible than surrendering to feminine sexual power and the possibility of sharing love. Or is it? What about the bonobo?
Sometimes called “the last ape,” bonobos weren’t discovered until 1930 (while humans were talking about “chimpanzees” at least as far back as 1738), and, for decades after that, they were barely mentioned, let alone studied, in the hallowed halls of academia—not even at my own otherwise progressive alma mater—mostly because they are just so damn sexual. And yes, so are dolphins, but bonobos look like us, probably closely resembling some heads of college anthropology departments, which could be embarrassing… especially when you’re up for tenure.
Bonobo Way Movement
Now that bonobos have come out of the academic closet, so to speak, there’s a growing Bonobo Way movement rising around the world—in education, conservation, art, fashion, journalism and community—some of whom I’ve been meeting as I talk about different aspects of bonobo culture to different groups, institutions and Bonobovilles around the world.
One reason I’m part of this movement is that bonobos are really amazing, but they are not angels. They’re animals, like us. Like us, bonobos can be violent. And puritanical bonobo debunkers like Ian Parker in the New Yorker love to point this out as if to say “I gotcha!” But no, you don’t. Yes, bonobos hunt in the wild. No, they’re not vegetarians. They eat a little meat occasionally. Like us, they fight, sometimes over the silliest things, sometimes over very serious issues (for them). But they use sex and inclusivity to diffuse violent tension before it descends into murder and mayhem… or the chimp version of ISIS and Trump. Maybe those two should try penis-fencing. Now that’s a reality show I’d watch: Small Hands and Al-Bagdadi pull out their shortcomings and get down!
PHOTOS: EDDIE FERNANDEZ
Bullies like that tend to be anti-inclusivity. Because to thrive, bullies need enemies, and inclusivity destroys your enemies, by turning them into friends.
For many humans, bonobos represent the antithesis of the bully, a part of our more inclusive, less hate-powered nature, which may be connected to our prehistoric hunter-gatherer heritage as suggested in Dr. Chris Ryan’s Sex at Dawn. Can we rediscover that part of ourselves? Can we stop turning our sexual frustration into murderous aggression, depression and alienation? Can we challenge ourselves to become better lovers, better sharers, better givers? Can we extend ourselves to saving the real, highly endangered bonobos from extinction? Can we “free our inner bonobos”… before it’s too late?
Who really knows? But I say yes. Because the Bonobo Way starts with me. Or, in your case, you. The Revolution starts with you. Even if you can’t change the whole world, at least not all at once, you can change your world; that is, yourself. And if you’re a therapist or educator, you can help your clients and students to change their world, if they want, to release their inner bonobo for their own benefit, for the benefit of their loved ones, their community and maybe even the world.
And yes, there are backlashes, some bitter, some bullying. And some are terrorizing, as we were to find out, to all of our shock and dismay, within less than 24 hours. But you can’t build a wall to keep out change. And the terrorists don’t win if we don’t let them terrorize us.
But I’m getting ahead of myself, and at this point, we were all blissfully unaware of the horror-to-come that night in Orlando. Nevertheless, lethal anti-sex atrocities happen every day, so I did feel the need to warn my audience to “take care” when going bonobos, as Puritans, like poachers, shoot-to-kill your inner bonobo… sometimes literally.
Questions & a Cosmo Girl
Before responding to some excellent questions (video coming soon!), I slipped out of the business casual jacket and into “something more comfortable,” a little lace number. Actually, there were so many good questions, I didn’t do half the talk I planned, reminding me that the best-laid plans may not get you laid the way you planned.
Nevertheless, all question-askers “got lei’ed” (by me!) with an ecosexy green lei provided by Agwa di Bolivia Herbal Coca Leaf Liqueur. We talked about bonobos, the Bonobo Way and how the attendees could help their clients and students to “go bonobos,” “release your inner bonobo” or, as we call it at the Institute, “Bonobo Liberation Therapy,” aka BLT—far more delicious than the sandwich and a lot less fattening.
A couple of the best questions were put by AASECT-certified therapist Linda Weiner (who actually encouraged me to submit my AASECT talk proposal in the first place, though we didn’t meet until the actual session) and her Sensate Focus writing partner, Constance Avery Clark, who was one of first to read and critique Sex at Dawn. And at the end of the talk, who comes up to chat but adorable Cosmo editor Julie Vadnal who oversaw “Acing Your Orals.” Small World Syndrome strikes in San Juan!
Also big thanks to magnificent Malcolm Jones and the ladies of the Bonobo Way Female Empowerment Outreach Project whose generosity and encouragement helped us to make this trip possible.
Bonobo Way Graphic Recording
One of the most inspiring, playful and useful aspects of the session was the amazing spontaneous comic poster done by Terry Laban of Break Through Visuals.
Terry’s “graphic recording” was a masterpiece of real-time cartoon illustration. Without having done any previous research (to my knowledge),Terry totally “got” the Bonobo Way, including many complex details, just by listening to my talk. Plus he draws bonobos much better than those Planet of the Apes artists.
Better Escargot & Sunset Afterplay
Sometimes the cheaper stuff is better. That’s what we discovered when we decided to forgo the overpriced and over-sauced Pikayo for the humble Hilton Condado Café Caribe where the escargot were palatable, if not excellent.
At least, instead of weird mushroom gravy, they were just swimming in butter sauce. But where do they put the shells? I asked the waiter who smiled blankly as though I’d just asked him where they’d thrown out the bones from my snapper filet.
Aw… who cares about some snail shells? Mildly exhausted from the presentation and celebrations, the Captain and I basked in the balmy blue San Juan sunset, continuing our bonobo chat with AASECTers who had attended the talk, as well as those who couldn’t get in, sipping our mojitos and beers, counting our blessings and falling ever more deeply in love.
We woke up to Orlando, 50 people dead and many more critically wounded. At first, few facts emerged in between long, self-aggrandizing speeches by law enforcement. As we packed, as we heard that the murders took place in Pulse, a popular gay nightclub, on “Latino Night.” Tragically for this Island of Enchantment that had so enchanted us, almost half the victims were Puerto Rican. As we took in the news, it seemed as though the very palm trees wept, their long fronds swaying as they grieved.
We heard that the perpetrator, one Omar Mateen, had called 911 to pledge allegiance to ISIS, though he had no trackable relationship with the group, and he’d expressed affinity for Al Qaeda and Hezbollah, not exactly ISIS partners. We heard that he beat his ex-wife, remarried, fathered a son, made bigoted remarks to co-workers, and struggled to please a domineering Afghan father who told reporters his “good son” had expressed “disgust” at the sight of two men kissing (and later that he was “90-95% sure” his son “wasn’t gay.”). We also learned that Mateen knew the Pulse nightclub well enough to gain entrance without a problem, fully armed with semi-automatic assault weapons he’d purchased legally, and then lie in wait for his victims, killing many more than most mass shooters do. I wondered aloud, “Was this guy a self-loathing bisexual who wanted to destroy his own attraction to men by killing himself, and selfishly, heinously figured he might as well take as many of his fellow homosexual ‘sinners’ as he can down with him, calling it an ISIS attack so Dad wouldn’t realize he was gay?”
Without all the facts (and we’ll never have all the facts), who really knows? But as a sex therapist (not AASECT-certified), I’ve talked with hundreds of self-confessed, self-loathing bisexual males. Many are married men with children who have or fantasize about having various kinds of sex with men, and they feel that their own innocent homosexual desires are utterly humiliating and inherently revolting. Many are victims of religious sexual abuse (different religions), in that their priests, ministers, rabbis, imams, parents and teachers tell them in no uncertain terms that homosexuality and bisexuality are condemned by God, and their homosexual desires make them worse than murderers. None of my clients have expressed the desire to commit murder, let alone mass-murder (at least, not to me), but some confess they consider killing themselves, because their shame is so intense. I hope I’ve helped to keep them from doing so by talking, listening, exploring, answering their questions and letting them know their desires are normal and good. If they’re at all open to science, I tell them about bonobos, explaining that these very close genetic cousins of ours are also “gay,” bisexual, pansexual (their Latin classification is pan paniscus), or just fluid, as are plenty of other animals, including humans, and the peace-through-pleasure bonobo culture proves that LGBTQ diversity is utterly natural and beneficial for the community. I also try to help the angry ones learn anger management, bonobo-style. I know my AASECT colleagues work towards similar goals, albeit in different ways. And I wonder: How many more Mateens are out there could be stopped with some sex education or therapy? How many lives might be saved if, instead of the condemnation to hell that the world’s major monotheistic religious leaders give us, we could practice a more open, accepting and, yes, bonoboësque attitude toward sexuality in all its many-splendored variations?
Sadly, tears for Orlando—and Puerto Rico–dampened the pleasures of our last morning in San Juan. On the other hand, they served to underscore the life-saving value of sex education, counseling and therapy and the important, difficult work that my AASECT colleagues are doing, each a bonobo sapien revolutionary in their own unique way.
Spirit in the Sky
Back to Bonoboville, we flew Spirit, the Greyhound bus of the air, priding itself on “no bundling, no bamboozling, just bare fares,” and charging you $55 extra just to take your normal-sized carry-on on the plane with you. I’ll take bundling over this kind of bamboozling any day.
But wouldn’t you know it: Our two Spirit flights turned out to be delightful, both for reasons that were no thanks to the airline. On our first flight, we found ourselves sitting next to one of the conference’s most charming speakers, AASECT-certified sex therapist, teacher and author, Dr. Myrtle Means.
Dr. Myrtle has done some fascinating research, including her dissertation on women’s sexual satisfaction which found that married women without children report the greatest sexual satisfaction, with single moms ranking #2 and single women without children at #3 and married women with children bottoming out at #4, reporting the least satisfaction with their sex lives.
No wonder I had such a great time that weekend… and pretty much every weekend. Ah, childfree’s the life for me…
We also talked about her beautiful old-fashioned name, the same as my mother’s, (which means I’ll never forget Dr. Means), bonobos and, of course, Orlando. Now news was emerging that Mateen had not only frequented Pulse and other gay nightclubs, he also connected with guys through gay dating apps. No word on whether he ever got counseling. Too bad there’s still such a stigma attached to people getting the sexual help they so deeply and desperately need and don’t want to admit to anyone, even their families, often especially their families.
In Ft. Lauderdale, we stuffed ourselves with pizza from San Felice (Max’s favorite Italian town where he lived with Annie Sprinkle and Willem de Ritter) before boarding our Spirit Flying Bus, prepared for five hours of cramped discomfort. Instead, we were met with a pleasant surprise we haven’t encountered since before 9/11.
The only thing better than having a fascinating sex therapist sit next to me is having no one at all sit next to me, and that was what happened. Blessed by the Spirit of Roominess, the Captain and I got to stretch out big-time, turning the flying bus into First Class luxury for two sleepy bonobos.
And before we knew it, we’d been Spirited back to Bonoboville, and much as we enjoyed our tropical adventure and AASECT encounters, it’s good to be home again. Hope to see you here some Saturday night during another sure-to-be sexy Bonobo Summer of Love.
Meantime, if you’d like to give me a birthday present, please “adopt” a bonobo or just donate what you can to Lola ya Bonobo or the Bonobo Conservation Initiative, or just get The Bonobo Way, where a portion of all proceeds goes to help save the wild bonobos from extinction. Or donate to help the Orlando victims, those fighting for some measure of gun control, peace or sex education. Let us reach out to others as if they are part of our family, because they are.
Hug someone you love. Or, better yet, hug someone you don’t love.
Let us reach out to the stranger, like bonobos do.
© June 21, 2016. Susan Block, Ph.D., a.k.a. “Dr. Suzy,” is a world renowned LA sex therapist, author of The Bonobo Way: The Evolution of Peace through Pleasure and horny housewife, occasionally seen on HBO and other channels. For speaking engagements, call 310-568-0066.