Hoagies, AASECT 2019, the Mad Moderator & the Bonobo Way
It was my second time delivering the Bonobo Way to an AASECT (Association of American Sexuality Educators, Counselors & Therapists) conference and, since my first AASECT talk was such a pleasure, I was delighted to be invited back.
Little did I realize that my journey would be peppered with assaults—verbal, physical and metaphysical—along the way.
Molested by TSA!
One day later, Capt’n Max and I were waving bye-bye to Bonoboville, ready to hop on our plane to #AASECT19 in my hometown of Philadelphia (Yo Philly, here we come!), but before we could hop, fly or crawl anywhere, we were stopped in our tracks by the long, strong, crotch-groping arm of TSA.
“Not so fast!” the clearly overworked (and probably underpaid) TSA agent exclaimed upon seeing that my driver’s license and passport were out of date. Having just moved, we couldn’t find the mysterious box into which Max had carefully packed my current IDs for “safekeeping.” We’d called American Airlines, and they’d assured us that expired IDs would be “no problem” so long as I brought two of them, but that didn’t matter to TSA. Nor did it help that we had a photocopy of my current passport, though “Mr. TSA” did salivate over my credit cards. He grabbed those babies and ordered me over to the side where I had to stand—no bench, no railing even—while hundreds of passengers stomped past me, grumbling, farting and spilling their luggage.
Meanwhile Mr. TSA called on his walkie talkie for a “female” to accompany me through the “pat down” screening that’s supposedly reserved for suspected terrorists. In reality, it just harasses folks from tRump’s designated “shithole” countries as well as free spirits like me with expired IDs. They told Max he could go through the easy screening and wait for me on an actual chair inside, but my darling hubby of 27 years was not about to leave his honey alone in a maelstrom of sweaty travelers and leaking luggage. So there he stood, by my side, as we both waited and waited and waited.
Want to know what true love looks like? Standing by your TSA-trapped sweetheart even when you’re given a pass to freedom if you abandon her.
An hour passed, and still no designated “female” came to whisk and frisk me, all possible “females” being either very busy or on break.
“Does it have to be a ‘female’?” I asked as politely as I could. “I honestly don’t mind being patted down by a male, intersex or a non-gender binary individual. I’m a sex therapist, so any gender would be fine.”
Mr. TSA glowered at me, his testosterone-charged nostrils flaring, as if I’d just asked to be patted down by the Devil. He insisted that the frisker had to be a “female,” and she/her would come get me in time to make our plane.
Sure enough, with just minutes until take-off, my TSA Fairy Godmother, a scowling shrew who looked like she’d been raised from the dead just to escort me to the other side, grabbed me by the arm and instructed me to take off my hat, shoes, jewelry, etc. Then she came close enough to me for me to smell her stinky perfume and asked if I’d like to get my “pat down” in private.
“No!” I fairly shrieked. The last thing I wanted was to be trapped behind closed doors somewhere in the bowels of LAX with this cranky old “female” (probably my age, actually) who might plant something on me… or in me!
No, I prefer “public” exams for safety, as well as fun; I’m a bit of an exhibitionist, so why not do a “performance pat-down”? I wish I’d taken photos of Mistress Cranky feeling me up, down and all-around, but that would have probably landed me in TSA jail.
However, I did enjoy seeing Max across the conveyor belt, waving and smiling at me as I followed my TSA Mistress’ orders to spread my legs and thrust out my arms, and let her roughly and robotically molest my body, including breasts, tummy, crotch and butt crack. You could say she did this with “coerced consent,” since I had no choice if I wanted to get on my plane. Someone more easily “triggered” might be traumatized by this “pat down” (and many have been), but for me, it was hilarious and a big relief. When, try as she might, Mistress Crankcase couldn’t find any bombs, box cutters or vibrators (I stow all my sex toys in cargo) on me, I was finally free to join hands with my honey and run through LAX to our red-eye.
We barely made it and, sadly, had to sit apart with two large people and an aisle between us. There was nothing to drink but water and nothing to eat but tiny pretzels, fit for a Barbie doll, that tasted like plastic mixed with sawdust.
The people sitting between us fell asleep, so there was no getting up or getting together. We just waved and blew kisses to each other through the long dark flight.
Things can only get better than this, I thought, as I went over my Bonobo Way notes for my AASECT session, excited to deliver an even better talk than 2016. Oh, the sweet naiveté of ignorance.
Philly Marriott Hospitality
Finally, we landed in the pouring rain, a typical Philadelphia spring morning.
Good thing I packed my clear plastic rain gear!
Jet-lagged and waterlogged, we checked into the giant sprawling old Marriott hotel, a Philadelphia landmark. I grew up hanging out at the Merion Marriott on City Line Avenue, so this felt like home, only bigger. Gigantic, actually, and brimming with that can-do (for-you) Philly hospitality.
Though we weren’t scheduled to check in until 4pm, they kindly booked us as soon as we arrived at 7am. We found ourselves in a huge room that was more like a suite, with high ceilings, a big framed window with ornate carvings and a nice view of the Loews where the AASECT conference was being held—perfect for voyeurs and exhibitionists; we could see into the rooms without binoculars!
There was also a desk, big-screen TV, and a nice couch and coffee table for breakfast, which we consumed ravenously.
The pièce de résistance was a big soft but bouncy bed for us to fall into each other’s arms, slipping into deep dreamless sleep as the rain fell soundlessly around us, the big thick walls of the ancient edifice sealing out all sounds of the city and the weeping, thundering heavens above.
“Radical Twerking,” Reema, Roz & NCSF
We woke up in the late afternoon and got dressed (me in my Boho-Bonobo T, Yale panties and see-through slicker), then strolled over to AASECT headquarters at the Loews, a smaller and more modern hotel than the sprawling old Marriott, though some of the Bank and Bourbon bar furniture could use a good cleaning.
Up in the AASECT Exhibit Hall, we got me registered and ribboned. We also confirmed that Max would be filming me presenting the Bonobo Way on Sunday.
“No problem,” the helpful and congenial Jessica Gonzales assured us. “As long as you just film Dr. Block or, if you film someone else, please get their consent. Let us know if there’s anything else we can do for you” (I’m paraphrasing).
Max went back to the Marriott to catch some more Zzzz while I wandered into the plenary featuring “Afrosexologist,” Dalychia Saah, a fun, charismatic speaker. I was hoping she’d talk more about “radical twerking,” as the program indicated, but she just mentioned it, almost in passing, unless I missed something. I wanted to ask her if “radical twerking” was like the bonobo sex practice of “hoka hoka” wherein two females rub their vulvas together while shaking and gyrating their hips, very much like human females twerking crotch-to-crotch. I was in the back, however, and the powers-that-be didn’t call on me. No matter; I figured I’d talk about it in my Bonobo Way presentation, as I usually do, but with a little added emphasis inspired by Dalychia Saah.
Next was the AASECT 2019 Welcome Reception and Poster Session, sponsored by Adam & Eve, in the Exhibit Hall. It was a little different than AASECT 2016 where the Exhibit Hall was filled with booths marketing products, such as sex toys, accessories and lubricants, with a few sex education schools offering courses for AASECT credits. The AASECT bookstore was in a separate location near registration, and the Poster Session was in another room.
This time, the one Exhibit Hall had it all: booths, AASECT bookstore and poster session. As for the products on sale, there were just a few sex toys and accessories, but loads of sex education schools. It felt almost like the couple of 2016 schools had had procreative sex and spawned litters of new sex-ed schools, all offering courses for AASECT credits toward AASECT certification. Not that AASECT has become a sort of erotic Herbalife for wannabe sex therapists, but the sex-education of aspiring sex educators, counselors and therapists looked to be a growing business.
As for me, I do not participate in AASECT conferences to get or give certification or credits. I came to teach participants what I know about bonobos and the Bonobo Way, so they can use this evolutionary knowledge to help their clients and students in their sex education, counseling and therapy practices. My “ulterior motive” is that I hope some of them will be inspired to help save the bonobos who, I believe, can, in turn, help save humanity from what appears to be imminent self-destruction and ecocide.
More about saving the world (and bonobos) later. Now was a time to network with friends and strangers. As soon as I entered the Exhibit Hall, I was pleased to see a gamine young lady at the AASECT bookstore table, purchasing a copy of The Bonobo Way.
“I’ll sign that for you!” I offered, forgetting to mention that I was the author.
Fortunately, she (Reema) recognized me, having seen me on Sex at Dawn author Dr. Chris Ryan’s podcast, “Tangentially Speaking.” We talked about Chris’ forthcoming book Civilized to Death. That sealed the deal; I liked this gal. I invited Reema to accompany me around the exhibits.
Interestingly, the busiest exhibit was for female hyposexuality treatment. Unsurprisingly, “low female sexuality disorder” is the pathology of our times. Who will answer Freud’s question, “What do women want?” Maybe the rather bonoboesque answer is more socialism! Though the booth was more about dietary supplements and mobile apps.
And then there were the plethora of AASECT-accredited schools, including one called the Institute for Sexuality Education and Enlightenment (ISEE), incorporated in 2018 and operated by AASECT Professional Education and Steering Committee Chair, Rosalyn Dischiavo, EdD, MA, CSE, CSES, aka “Roz.” I stopped at this booth to chat with Roz, since she had volunteered or been assigned to be my AASECT presentation moderator. Unlike most AASECT folks I’d connected with, Roz was rather cold, seemingly uninterested in bonobos and certainly uninterested in me, or maybe she was just busy; at least, that’s what I assumed at the time. I told her she could let the audience know that shooting video and photos of me was okay; in fact, we’d be shooting our own video for my Bonobo Way lecture series. “Is there anything you’d like to tell me or ask me about the session?” I asked. She shook her head quickly and turned her attention toward the potential students hovering around her booth inquiring about CE’s and certification.
Of course, I would have preferred a more enthusiastic moderator, like former AASECT President, Dr. Patti Britton, who had called the Bonobo Way “a refreshing must-read for our times… that brings us the truth about bonobos and ourselves—with wit, intelligence and sexual positivity all balancing on a fulcrum of fascinating hard science.” Dr. Patti also gave me a glowing introduction and acted almost like a cheerleader while moderating my presentation at AASECT 2016.
However, I didn’t sweat it, figuring Roz would just give me a quick, neutral intro, and then I would deliver my presentation which was, in my own not-so-humble opinion, as well as that of Bonoboville residents who watched my rehearsal, even more packed with that “fascinating hard science” than the one I’d given in 2016. Little did I know that Roz’s slight chill would turn into a furious blizzard… like rapidly accelerating climate change in human form.
Much warmer was my reception from Susan Wright, MA and Keira Harbison at the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) booth, whose session I’d be moderating on Saturday. What a great group of sex-positive folks helping people connect in some of the most sex-negative, bigoted, religiously abusive sections of the country. I’ve been active with the Victoria Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance for several years (NCSF filed an Amicus Brief in support of Woodhull’s lawsuit against SESTA/FOSTA), and Max was involved with the Sexual Freedom League back in the ‘70s. I liked these folks so much, I stuck an “I Love NCSF” ribbon to my “Presenter” and “Moderator” ribbons.
I also learned that Reema, a well-traveled artist of many talents, from photography to performance art, was an agreeable companion. We “networked” with old friends and intriguing strangers, some of whom were buying the The Bonobo Way as well as the Splosh ‘n’ Art Speakeasy Journal. Three cheers and a bonobo beer for the AASECT bookstore.
When I’d had enough, I called Max who came right over with my flats so I wouldn’t have to wear high heels across the street.
As we strolled from the Loews to the Marriott, a vivacious young woman ran up to us and exclaimed, “Well, aren’t you two cuties?!” She wasn’t with AASECT, she said, but with AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee), and I almost went on a rant about Israel’s horrible treatment of the Palestinians, but then she said “No, APIC” (Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology), as I took a very blurry selfie of us laughing at my faux pas. Hopefully, she didn’t have anything contagious like that new form of Bubonic Plague that’s going around.
Then off the Captain and I sailed past the thick glass doors, the baroque carved benches, the Pennsylvania Convention Center (including “service dog relief stations” that would have impressed Betsy), up the private elevator and down the huge sprawling hallways of the Marriott Philadelphia Hotel until we found our big old room and, still jet-lagged, the “two cuties” fell fast asleep.
The Bonoboesque Billy Penn
I had three essential missions for my trip to Philly: See Billy Penn, eat a hoagie and deliver the Bonobo Way. So on my first clear morning, I set out to find the Quaker founder of the state of Pennsylvania, aka “Penn’s woods,” the “land where liberty was born” (and so was I), including Philadelphia, “City of Brotherly Love” (sounds like gay pride!): William Penn (1644-1718).
I didn’t have to go far since old Bill P. was standing on top of Philadelphia City Hall right down the street from the Marriott and perfectly visible from outside the Loews. You could say he was right on my doorstep. Whatta guy!
When it was built in 1894, Philly’s City Hall was the world’s tallest habitable building, and for years, a “gentlemen’s agreement” stated that the Philadelphia Art Commission would approve no building in the city which would rise above Billy Penn’s hat.
Maybe this, I considered, is one reason I have had a hat fetish since I was a little Philly Girl.
Quakers were (and still are) pretty bonobo—into peace, equality, “Brotherly Love” and surprisingly sex-positive for the times—before anyone knew about bonobos. Sadly, Penn’s Quaker reign over the City of Brotherly Love ended in March 1987, when a modern steel-and-glass skyscraper, One Liberty Place, was permitted to open three blocks away.
Still, it’s my favorite landmark in Philly, much more familiar to me than the Liberty Bell which you have to make an effort to visit (though a nice picture of it hangs in the Marriott lobby). The 37-foot bronze statue of Billy on top the gigantic City Hall—still the biggest municipal building in the United States with almost 700 rooms, including one where Max and I got our marriage license in 1992—is visible from almost everywhere in Center City.
Having climbed the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Bridge, the Queen Mary and some Himalayan hills, I dream of climbing to the top of City Hall to give Billy Penn a hug. Don’t worry; I didn’t… not this trip.
Dr. Tammy & “Mad” Bonobo Sex
Once inside the Loews, I made my way to Dr. Tammy Nelson’s “Integrative Sex & Relationship Therapy” talk, since Dr. Tammy had interviewed me about the Bonobo Way at AASECT 2016. Among other topics, she talked about how conventional wisdom might say, “Never go to bed mad,” but if she never went to bed mad, she’d never go to bed.
I tried to ask her to elaborate on that, comparing human “make up sex” to bonobo erotic conflict resolution, but again, the moderators didn’t call on me. I was starting to loathe these Q&A’s where sometimes you never get called on and have to sit through other people’s questions that you aren’t interested in, rather than hearing more from the speaker. I was glad that my own Bonobo Way talk would be heavy on content and light on these annoying Q&A’s. Little did I know that was not to be my choice.
On my way out of Tammy’s talk, I ran into the delightful Dr. Myrtle Means whom I’d met on the plane from AASECT 2016. A few months later, Myrtle appeared on my 2016 Kink Month Kick-Off show, winning the 2016 SUZY award for “Sexiest Sex Therapist.” What a great lady!
Afterwards, I met Max in the bar for a refreshing Chardonnay, fine Philly chicken livers and “boozy” grapes—yum!
There we were entertained by one of Philly’s finest panhandlers, a 6’6” buff “veteran” with “raging PTSD,” looking well-dressed and very well-fed, but claiming not to have eaten in two weeks. His tale was as tall as he was, but it was worth the five bucks he got out of us to hear it and get him to go on the hunt for his next mark.
Then we slipped into the Tubman room, named for Harriet Tubman, the great American abolitionist who escaped Maryland slavery for Philadelphia freedom, then freed almost 1000 other slaves on the “Underground Railroad,” and might someday replace Native American killer Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.
Roz vs A Taste of Kink: AASECT Conflict on Display
I decided to peek into the AASECT business meeting, expecting a small, sedate gathering, and wowee-zowee, was I shocked to encounter a roomful of irate AASECT’ers. Some were my new NCSF friends, many associated with “A Taste of Kink,” a popular AASECT workshop that was not taking place this year, because the AASECT board had decided to take away one of their two CE credits, leaving them with only one instead of their usual two, since some of the class involved touch.
Everybody understood that this was educational touch—like lightly smacking an attendee’s forearm with a flogger to provide the “experiential” sensation of impact play—not sexual or erotic touch. Moreover, according to all reports, A Taste of Kink has been a model of how to ask for and give consent, a lesson that seem like it should be amplified, given the state of…. everything. Nevertheless, AASECT insisted on taking away one of their CE’s, causing some Taste of Kink leaders to boycott AASECT 2019 altogether. Maybe I should have too… though I didn’t realize this at the time. Ignorance is not always bliss.
Other Taste of Kink folks attended but protested, voicing their intense displeasure with this supposed “pleasure” conference that had downgraded their favorite workshop on the off chance that one of the attendees might feel some pleasure from the educational touch exercises.
Though I strongly support AASECT’s educational mission, I personally am not interested in CE credits nor was I planning to have my Bonobo Way attendees do any “exercises.” However, I could certainly see the kink educators’ point.
The AASECT Board mostly just sat and listened as the Taste of Kink people voiced their concerns, some of them quite eloquently. The one Board member who stood and defended AASECT’s anti-touch credit-cutting maneuver was none other than Rosalyn Dischiavo, soon to be my session moderator. I should have probably canceled my session right then and there, gotten my hoagie and gone home, but I felt sorry for Roz “having to” defend such a conservative decision. Later I heard she was instrumental in actually making the decision.
Interestingly, Roz apologized for handling the situation badly. Not that her apology took the sting out of the decision, which was not reversed or changed, at least not at that meeting… though if I was a betting woman, I’d bet it will be changed in the future.
Why take away one credit from a workshop that’s always had two for utilizing educational touch as it has for the past three years? No clear answer was given, though some floated the issue of liability, yet no one had complained about being touched inappropriately at A Taste of Kink itself. More likely, unwanted touch happened between drinks at the bar. This reminded me of my own experience with Sex Week at Yale (SWAY) being banned because of Yale frat house misbehavior, which not only had nothing to do with SWAY, but removed a valuable tool in curbing that behavior in the future.
Others pinned it on “respectability politics.” Apparently, the American Psychological Association (APA) has always treated AASECT like a bastard step-child, and cracking down on Kink was the Board’s (or Roz’s) way of trying to make AASECT seem more buttoned-down to the APA and other conservative organizations “from the Mid-West” feeding into AASECT membership and downline school enrollments. That reminded me of the way some Democratic politicians—Joe Biden comes to mind—act and vote in just as racist, sexist, pro-corporate and reactionary a manner as Republicans, in a hollow effort to woo the “center,” taking progressive support for granted.
I certainly understand the political benefits of AASECT getting APA approval to “sponsor continuing education for psychologists.” However, I personally would not be so eager for blessings from the APA whose high-ranking members have been implicated in torturing inmates at Guantanamo and other secret CIA prisons and “black sites,” “leaving a stain on the discipline of psychology,” even according to the APA’s own president, Antonio E. Puente, PhD.
It is ironic that AASECT appears to be stifling the scrupulously consensual, “educational touch” practiced in A Taste of Kink (at least at this conference), while entreating the approval of the APA, an organization expressly involved in utterly nonconsensual, extremely unethical, physical, sexual and psychological abuse and torture (euphemistically called “enhanced interrogation”) of helpless and, in many cases, innocent detainees.
Meanwhile, back in the meeting, several sexological bodyworkers also complained about their treatment by AASECT, which sounded even more denigrating and dismissive than their handling of A Taste of Kink.
At the time, I didn’t think any of this had anything to do with me. After all, I don’t come to AASECT conferences to get or give credits, but solely to give what I can of the Bonobo Way. I empathized with all the parties who seemed to sincerely want to work things out. Certainly, the Taste of Kink folks had every right to be upset they’d been “demoted,” and the sexological bodyworkers seemed deserving of more AASECT respect, but I was also taken in by Roz’s seemingly sincere apology, as I told her afterwards, expecting… oh, I don’t know, maybe a nod of appreciation, but getting nothing but an even colder shoulder than I’d received from her the day before.
Later, my rose-colored glasses forcibly removed by Roz herself, I could see her apology for what it probably was, a calculated maneuver to deflect righteous anger from the aggrieved parties without actually doing anything to alleviate the grievances she had caused.
Hoagies & Hot Sex
Exhausted by AASECT politics, I hooked up with Max for a kiss and Billy Penn for another self-indulgent selfie. Let the Body Rejoice! Now I was ready to accomplish Philly Mission #2: Eat a hoagie.
Hoagies are Philly’s answer to submarine sandwiches. I grew up eating them more often than burgers, pizza or mother’s milk. Not that I’m a hoagie purist, or I would have insisted on getting one at an authentic Philly deli. Nah, the WaWa was good enough for me, WaWa being another Philadelphia institution.
Going beyond tradition into high tech food-ordering, we touch-screened our hoagie preferences on an in-WaWa computer. I got a BLT, because not only does it contain three of my favorite foods, it also stands for Bonobo Liberation Therapy.
Of course, Max got in touch with his Roman roots and ordered an Italian style hoagie. Amazingly, Max lost five pounds on this trip. Let’s hear it for the Hoagie Diet!
If “City of Brotherly Love” sounds like gay pride, a nice big thick hoagie definitely looks like gay pride.
And I must say it’s deeeelicious, much better than a sub somehow, but maybe that’s the nostalgia in my taste buds.
After hoagie-ing up, we stripped down and snuggled in to watch whatever was on the big screen which happened to be “Pretty Woman” (1990); Max seeing this Cinderella cis-het-sex-worker classic for the first time, me for the 10th or so. It’s politically incorrect in numerous ways, but it shows the power of a good whore to turn a ruthless corporate raider with daddy issues who specializes in hostile takeovers into a relatively decent, almost bonoboesque businessman. And though someone almost gets raped, nobody gets killed.
Between the jacuzzi scenes, the fire escape proposal—and let’s give AASECT some aphrodisiacal credit too for encouraging us to “let the body rejoice”—we had some of the best, most wildly orgasmic and deeply romantic sex we’ve had in, well… at least a week.
They felt kind of bulky, so I switched to a thong and sauntered over to the Loews to assume my role as moderator of “Finding the Right Fit: Alternative Sexuality Communities,” featuring National Coalition for Sexual Freedom Chair, Susan Wright, MA, Keira Harbison, Dr. Antoinette Patterson, Deborah Rose and Lee Harrington.
I introduced the panel, told the attendees they could take photos and video of the panel (as per their request), but not the other attendees, encouraged everyone to give the panelists a warm welcome, and then handed the mic over to the speakers, not interrupting except to discreetly let them know how much time had elapsed.
It was a great session on how to navigate the somewhat underground and under-served kink, polyamory, sex positive, BDSM, swing leather and fetish communities. I wish I could have attended a session like this before I first discovered kink about 30 years ago. Instead, I embarrassed myself (lol) at my first BDSM party by interrupting a scene to ask an obviously very happy, shackled submissive if she was “all right” (she was).
Well, thankfully we can all learn from past mistakes, and I think the session helped everyone to better assist their clients and students in finding the right fit, according to their individual alt-sex needs and desires. Too bad these folks couldn’t expand upon these points into “Letting the Body Rejoice” with “A Taste of Kink,” as they have at past AASECT conferences.
Dr. Stella Resnick, Dr. Betty Dodson + Food Porn
It was worth it to sit through the long awards luncheon just to hear the luminous Dr. Stella Resnick, who lived through the swinging 60s, give a shout-out to my friend and mentor, the Godmother of Masturbation (now 90 years old!): Dr. Betty Dodson.
At least, Stella didn’t inflict any tedious Q&A’s on us during her session, which I greatly appreciated.
It was nice to share lunch with Dr. Linda Weiner and Heather Rasnick. Linda, a sweet, smart, sensitive and very funny lady who liked my Bill Cosby’s Sleep Fetish article back in 2014 so much, she encouraged me to submit it as an AASECT session (I never did).
She and her co-writer Constance Avery-Clark (who couldn’t be at AASECT this year because she fell and almost broke her neck!) were great audience members at my Bonobo Way talk at AASECT 2016.
While I was taking pictures of the dessert, someone said they “hate” when people post photos of food because they make her “hungry”… or maybe “hangry”?
Spending tRump’s Bday with His 11th Accuser: Jessica Drake
Saturday was tRump’s birthday, so I decided to spend it with one of his sexual misconduct accusers, the lovely and eloquent Jessica Drake, the 11th woman to come forward against tRUMP, alleging that he hugged and kissed her (the same weekend he had sex with Stormy Daniels) without her consent.
Jessica had interviewed me when she hosted a show on Playboy radio, and I’ve long appreciated her upbeat, gal-next-door, politically-engaged, sex-positive style.
She’s also a good friend of Dr. Hernando Chaves, who moderated her session with charming and articulate sex therapist Angela Gunn, “Sex Workers as Allies and Teachers: Exploring Why We Need Them in Our Professional Circles and What We Can Learn from Them about Sex Education, Navigating Oppression and Healing.”
Hernando’s moderation was even more “moderate” than mine; all he did was introduce Jessica and Angela—albeit with hilarious faux “obituaries”—then he just let them do their thing.
At one point, Jessica and Angela flashed a slide of three women I happen to know well and asked if anyone in the audience knew who they were. Surprisingly, no one else piped up, so I identified them for the class: Annie Sprinkle, the late Candida Royalle and Nina Hartley. They asked what made each woman special in sex worker history. I replied that Annie had melded sex work with art (with the help of her first publishers, Willem de Ridder and my very own beloved Max), Candida was one of the first female porn directors in the age of VCRs, and Nina made everyone see that lots of sex keeps you young, still going stronger than ever in porn, sex education and activism.
Jessica chimed in that Nina was one of her great inspirations, especially in the area of combining porn and sex ed, as well as activism. To remind her of the importance of her activism, she writes the number “11” on her palm. In solidarity with her as tRump’s 11th accuser (apparently the Orange Menace’s tiny hands were all over her like a TSA agent the same weekend he had mediocre sex with Stormy Daniels), many of us penned “11” on our palms too.
They asked for another iconic female sex worker, and the first one that came to mind was Bettie Page, whom I was fortunate to interview in 1996 (her first interview!). Kink model, nude model, stripper, sexpot and stalwart freedom fighter who testified before the Kefauver Committee in Congress, a kind of McCarthy hearing against sex, the “Dark Marilyn” is gone but never forgotten, as her millions of imitators prove.
Someone mentioned amputee porn pioneer Long Jeanne Silver, to which I chimed in that Max had published photos of Jean “stump-fucking” Annie in the late 70’s in Annie Sprinkle’s Hot Shit Magazine, for which he spent 18 months in prison on charges of “conspiracy to publish obscene material.”
All in all, it was a great session. I can’t say I learned new things, but it was energizing to see sex work well-represented at AASECT.
I wandered across the hall to “Sensate Focus” with Linda Weiner. I wished I could stay for her whole session, but Max was calling (his heart was a little erratic since the red-eye), and my phone was losing charge, so I had to go.
We picked up a couple more hoagies on the way back to the Marriott, but I was too excited about giving my Bonobo Way talk the next morning to eat mine, so I ran around in the hallway having fun taking silly selfies.
Then I settled in with Max to go over my notes one more time and give each other one more orgasm before dream-time.
Moderator Gone Mad
Bright and early (for me), I slipped into my rainbow pride heels, hat and “peace through pleasure” tank top, organized my notes and slurped down a cup of Delsym to repress my sinusitis, ready to achieve my third and most important Philly mission: Delivering the Bonobo Way to the good people of AASECT 2019.
It was the last session of the entire conference, not to mention Father’s Day, so I didn’t expect a packed audience like last time. I just wanted to give a good talk like I’d given in Puerto Rico for AASECT 2016, DomCon 2019 and countless other places.
PHOTO 1: SELFIE. PHOTOS 2-3: REEMA
I’d completely forgotten that Rosalyn Dischiavo, aka Roz, was to be my moderator. However, as soon as she strode in, she let it be known, her coldness having already given way to that blizzard of fury.
Indeed, Roz walked and talked more like an abusive parent, corrupt police officer, unhinged heckler or a wrathful hyena than any session moderator I’d ever seen, a giant killer bee in her bonnet and her panties in a terrible twist.
Mad Roz’s first order of business was to demand that everyone in the audience sign releases or Max would have to leave. Of course, we didn’t have release forms with us, and neither did she. No one had told us we’d need release forms (though, as usual, we posted signs that said we were filming). Moreover, I saw other AASECT 2019 sessions being filmed, photographed and recorded, including the one I moderated, and no one had asked me to sign anything. I took a deep breath and replied as evenly as I could that we’d received permission from the AASECT administrators to film my talk, just as we’d filmed it in 2016.
Regardless, the Mad Moderator was in a snit. If my mission was to deliver The Bonobo Way, hers was to delay or completely demolish it. Maybe it had been a long weekend for poor overworked Roz who looked like she could use a nap. I wanted to calm her down so I could start my talk, and I was naïve enough to think I could accomplish this. I asked the audience if anyone minded us filming; no one raised their hands, spoke up or left the room, though folks were starting to squirm uncomfortably, seeing the moderator attack the presenter before the presentation had even started.
The great and powerful Roz of Oz (more like the HBO series, not the magical over-the-rainbow place) huffed, puffed and threatened to evict Max and his camera phone if he filmed anyone besides me,. “And that includes recording their voices!” she shrilled. I reassured her that he wouldn’t, that the attendees weren’t mic’ed anyway, and it was fine with me if no one said a word during the whole session. Then maybe I could get through my talk, even though her outburst had already delayed the start by nearly ten minutes.
Brigadier General Roz finally, grudgingly agreed to *let* me begin, giving me the most halfhearted introduction I’ve ever received. Okay, fine, be that way. Maybe now I can talk about bonobos. Apparently not, as within the first five minutes of my talk, Roz interrupted me, waving frantically and declaring that there was a “technical problem.”
I could hardly believe it. Was my mad moderator now insisting that I stop speaking mid-sentence and follow her out of the classroom into the hallway like a naughty schoolgirl? Yes indeed, she was. I went along to get along, still vainly attempting to placate my abuser. Like the bonobos, I’m a lover, not a fighter. But as soon as I followed Roz outside, she whirled around, gnashing her teeth and spitting all over me in her fury (I hope she doesn’t have the plague). Max was “blocking the view of the video,” she hissed, and getting me to “look at the camera” for a few seconds during my introduction. First, Max couldn’t have been blocking the video, because we hadn’t even started playing it yet. But if Max’s position was really such a problem, why couldn’t she come up to him and softly request that he move? Instead, she dramatically interrupted my talk, pulling me out of the room in front of a shocked group of attendees to berate and belittle me like a criminal rather than a guest invited by AASECT.
“And you’re promoting!” she spluttered at me. Ah hah! Here was my cardinal sin in the Church of Roz. But… promoting what? AASECT? Sure, I promoted AASECT in a positive way (at the time), as their own promotional literature encouraged everyone to do. Promoting the Bonobo Way? That was the name of my talk. The Speakeasy Journals? Every AASECT speaker I saw (including Roz) was promoting their books, practices, programs, careers, courses, schools, apps and bogus diet supplements, some even putting their website, social media and email addresses on big screens. I wasn’t doing any of that. So, what was I “promoting” that bothered irate Roz so much? Hoagies? Bananas? My smoking-hot, rainbow-heeled self? Just kidding, of course, though later she accused me of being a “bad stereotype of Hollywood,” so maybe that really was it.
Whatever “it” was, I didn’t want to lose more precious session time quibbling over her nasty accusations, so I quickly replied that Max would stand over to the side, and that I wouldn’t “promote”… whatever she felt I was promoting.
“I’ve never seen or heard of an AASECT session moderator interrupting a presenter for reasons other than an external emergency or running over the allotted time,” observed a prominent AASECT member who (understandably) wishes to remain anonymous.
It was all very disturbing, but I tried to stay calm and put my best therapy foot forward as we left that harrowing hallway and reentered the room, hoping against hope I could get on with my mission to present the Bonobo Way, as I had been invited to do.
Ha! As could be expected, considering Roz’s contemptuous treatment of their speaker, the audience was squirming uncomfortably, some leaving, others whispering to each other. After all, they’d just seen their “teacher” being called out for a (verbal) spanking by the “principal.”
Talk about liability: AASECT and the mad moderator could be sued for this kind of behavior; not that I would do that… but Max might! Seriously, AASECT friends, think about it! No speaker should be treated like this.
Of course, I’ve been through far more challenging situations: fights for my life and the lives of my loved ones, demanding HBO specials, death threats and a recent clash with Rush Limbaugh (in which, I’m proud to say, I prevailed), just to name a few.
Comparatively, this was no big deal. Just an out-of-line apparatchik trying to sabotage my talk. Nevertheless, it was more irritating than my sinusitis and unfair to the audience, still squirming, some in empathy, but others eyeing me like foxes who see that a wolf has downed a rabbit, wondering if now they could take a bite too.
I tried my best to win them back, and I did… for the next five minutes. Then rattling Roz interrupted me AGAIN, this time forcefully demanding that I stand away from the screen. But I like to stand in front of the screen. As I explained shortly after I hit “play,” my “bonobo wallpaper” film is not a power point demonstration where the audience has to see the entirety of every frame; it’s an audio-visual mood piece to give them a sense of life in Bonoboville in the wild and at the zoo.
Much of the footage is repeated, and I deliberately walk in front of it sometimes to let the images flow over me. I have shown this film countless times at numerous places, always walking in front of it as I speak, and no one has ever told me to get out of the way before.
But then no one has ever disrupted my presentation before like Ms. Rosalyn Dischiavo, EdD, MA, CSE, CSES, etc., etc.
Maybe she was acting out her yearning to be a good “stereotype of [a] Hollywood” film director. That’s not an excuse, just a possible psychological explanation.
Speaking of psychology, it struck me that Roz would make a great torturer at one of those CIA “black sites.” Perhaps that’s why she was so concerned about AASECT staying in the disgraced APA’s good graces.
I should have kicked her out right then and there, as several attendees later told me I should have (though could I have?), but I cordially moved over. Of course, eventually, as I talked and walked, I was in front of the screen again, just as I like to be. Meanwhile, Roz grunted, snorted and rolled her eyes in vocal and visible disapproval, waving the sign that said my first half hour was gone, most of it taken up with my moderator’s disruptions.
I stepped up the pace, hoping to get through the material I’d prepared just for AASECT 2019, but that was not to be. Even though I hadn’t announced a Q&A, “Director” Dischiavo harassed me into stopping my talk to answer questions. Trying to be agreeable to a fault, I went along to get along (though there was no getting along with Roz), answering all kinds of questions even though these AASECT-paying attendees would have been better served if I’d just been allowed to deliver the talk they’d come to hear.
But Roz was not done interrupting. I guess the attendee questions weren’t antagonistic enough (yet) to please her, so she cut them off to interrogate me on what current human societies lived just like bonobos. None, I replied, since even the most isolated tribes have been affected by human civilization, though human swing groups strike me as very bonoboesque since they are very sexual, relatively peaceful and generally run by women.
Roz looked peeved at my answer, but then her expression was perpetually either peevish or furious. Another woman interjected that what I called “civilization” was really “colonization.” I agreed that so-called civilization often, sadly, involves colonization, among other sins, explaining that I wasn’t praising human civilization, but criticizing it for repressing the bonobo spirit in people of remote tribes as well as cities. But this woman wasn’t hearing it; seemingly wound-up by Roz’s attacks, she also went on the attack, saying that my use of the word “ape” was “triggering” for her as an African American. I always try to be politically correct, but… “Bonobos are apes,” I replied. “Humans are apes.” We’re all great apes. It’s not an insult; at least, I didn’t (and never do) mean it to be. It’s a primatological term, the Latin being Hominidae.
She said she was also “triggered” by the term “twerking” as a human parallel to the bonobo female-female sex practice of “hoka hoka,” which I also call the “bonobo tango” (hopefully, that’s not triggering to Argentinians or Uruguayans). Since Dalychia Saah had mentioned “radical twerking” but not elaborated on it, and seeing how hoka hoka encourages female empowerment and peace through pleasure, I thought it was a good, relatable example of “radical twerking” among bonobos. But this woman was triggered by my use of the terms “twerking” and “ape,” as well as “civilization.”
“What terms would you suggest I use?” I asked, trying to be open and consider her answer.
She replied that I could “call (her) for a (paid) consultation.”
Attendees groaned. So did I. Talk about promotion!
Then Officer Roz held up the “STOP” sign. I wanted to say, like my favorite LA Congresswoman Maxine Waters, “reclaiming my time!” But I didn’t, and probably it wouldn’t have done me much good.
As soon as the session ended, I tried to talk to Roz, woman-to-woman, about what had just happened, but she had already slithered away. Max and I looked everywhere for her but, like a hit-and-run, she was nowhere to be found. We did happen to run into the AASECT conference co-chairs, Drs. Jane Fleishman and Juan Camerena, and they listened to our tale of woe with a therapist’s empathy, though they seemed rather helpless.
Some brave attendees came up to us in the bar to let us know that they enjoyed the talk, despite the interruptions; maybe because the bonobos often have that special, almost magical effect on people. But several were even more dismayed by Roz’s behavior than I was. A few murmured about Roz’s stonewalling of A Taste of Kink, and that “Roz has quite a trail of problem interactions.” One told me that a friend of hers had gone to Roz’s Institute, and that Roz had reduced her to tears, “slut-shaming” her because she wore sexy feminine clothing and wanted to marry her boyfriend.
I guess “misery loves company,” and I was a little bit cheered to hear that I wasn’t the only target of Roz’s assaults and insults.
Later, I wrote to Roz and cc’ed the Board, to let them know I’d be writing about the incident in my usual journal installment. Roz responded with a mendacious, ridiculous, defamatory tirade, while AASECT board members wrote they were sorry, but they would rather I keep this “private.” I guess it’s usually like Vegas: What happens at AASECT stays at AASECT.
I invited them, including their Ethics Committee Chair, to call me, but no one did. So, unfortunately, they’ve given me no alternatives. Though I’m a lover, not a fighter, I’ve been a journalist and broadcaster for over 30 years. I write and talk about my journey through life, and Roz has made herself part of that journey.
I was also very saddened to see AASECT so poorly represented, especially by a Board member. Though I understand why Jane and Juan were hesitant, I do hope that by now they’ve discussed this with Roz, so that she can learn from this experience and not disrupt and try to sabotage another AASECT presenter during their presentation. I’d like an apology, but I don’t expect one any more than I expect tRump to apologize to the women he’s assaulted or the children he’s locked up in concentration camps.
Everybody who spoke to me about Roz asked that I not use their name. They are frightened of having their AASECT-certification revoked or credits taken from their sessions. This is understandable; for some, their entire careers rest upon their certification. This is how AASECT keeps most complaints private—or completely silent.
But privacy is not always valued. Just before we left the Loews, someone came up to us with Roz’s moderator pack containing information about me and my session, which she had left in the public area of the Bank and Bourbon bar. Talk about being careless about privacy (in this case, mine).
As we blew Billy Penn one last kiss good-bye, we had to laugh about how hard Roz the Mad Moderator had tried to insult, embarrass and traumatize me, though she only succeeded in making herself look like, as Max whispered in his native tongue, “una cafona.” Max has such a way with Italian slang.
Here’s the bottom line: If AASECT 2019 conference leaders, of which Roz was one, really didn’t like my presentation style or substance, which they had so warmly received in 2016, they should not have invited me back. That would have been just fine and saved Max and me a lot of trouble and expense.
I feel especially sad that, due to Roz’s many disruptions, I didn’t get to talk about the importance of saving the highly endangered bonobos from imminent extinction.
The most urgent question for all of us, even us sex therapists, is ecological. In just the past 40 years, the earth has lost over half of its wildlife. We are all witnesses to the modern Great Dying, the sixth mass extinction.
Of course, all nonhuman life deserves to be saved, from the grizzlies to the gnats. However, I’ve got a boner for bonobos. I don’t mean to gush, but bonobos are my crush! And right now, these highly endangered Great Apes who don’t kill each other are being killed as bushmeat by human hunters. This is genocide compounded by cannibalism. Bonobos are so close to us and so rare, and their extinction is preventable. Unlike Global Warming that few understand, this is simple: It’s just humans killing bonobos—and we can stop them! We actually are stopping them (to some degree), thanks to groups like Lola ya Bonobo, rescuing orphan bonobos whose mothers are killed by poachers, the Bonobo Conservation Initiative, building a Bonobo Peace Forest, and The Bonobo Project (makers of my “I Bonobo You” bracelet), promoting bonobo awareness around the world.
If talking about saving bonobos from extinction is “promotion,” I’m guilty as charged… because if we lose the bonobos, we lose a key to understanding ourselves and our potential for female empowerment, male well-being and peace through pleasure that we can never find again.
TSA Pat-Down: Twice the Fun!
Meanwhile, back in Philly, it was time to say good-bye to the Liberty Bell (well, the picture), and get ourselves to the airport.
As we expected, TSA detained me again, but this TSA agent was kind and compassionate about it; I could see it in her eyes, just like a bonobo, and she made sure a “female” came to pat me down within just 10 minutes of standing to the side of the hordes.
From L.A. to Philly and back, it felt like the entire trip was a lesson in the value of human decency.
Then, for whatever bureaucratic or paranoid reason, TSA gave me two “pat downs”… by two different “females,” hoping to located some boobs—I mean, bombs. I didn’t mind, maybe because both of these gals were sweet and sexy.
Yo ladies, pat me down again!
Speaking of Philly Yo, now I had time to enjoy that hoagie I was too excited to eat the night before.
As uncomfortable as our red-eye had been, this flight was a delight. Sure, the hummus tasted like plastic, but better than Barbie pretzels. More important, Max and I got to sit next to each other.
Let the body rejoice! Amen and Awomen.
To my right was a nice young man about to get married. He was thinking of quitting his job selling luxury cars because he was “sick of working for rich people.” When I told him what I did for a living, he asked me all about cuckolding and sperm wars, as well as marriage, monogamy, polyamory, kink and bonobos. Ironic that the most interesting sex convo I’d had all AASECT weekend was on the plane—aside from my Marriott pillow talk with Max, of course. Fly-by-Night Therapy, or Sex Ed in the Sky.
I dubbed our voyage the “Sunset Flight” because we took off at sunset in Philly, then flew through continuous sunsets in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri for about three amazing hours of splendor in the firmaments before darkness finally fell somewhere in Texas, and then it was home sweet home in Bonoboville, LA.
All in all, I had an “interesting time” in Philly. I saw Billy Penn, ate two hoagies and delivered a truncated portion of the Bonobo Way. I also learned a lot from and about my “fellow American” sex therapists, including some heavenly humans… and Roz the mad moderator from hell.
All in all, I’m grateful for the journey.
© June 29th, 2019. 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 and inquiries, call 213-291-9497. For comments and questions, please email DrSusanBlock@gmail.com.
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