The Badger Herald’s resident sexpert sat down with the famous Sandra Daugherty, otherwise known as Sex Nerd Sandra, for an intimate look into the mind of this “sex geek teacher with a hardcore fetish for curiosity.” You can check out Sandra’s podcast every hump day or meet her on campus tomorrow, April 25, at 7 p.m. in 1310 Sterling for her Sex Week presentation “Amp Up Your Sex Life.”
The Badger Herald: How do you pick the guests and topics for your podcast?
Sandra Daugherty: Oh god, it’s so hard. I look for passion, I look for knowledge. I don’t shy away from any of the topics in sexuality. For me, I have a lifelong dedication to sexuality, education and all the aspects of it: Exploring it, learning about it and broadcasting it to people… How can I NOT cover something?
BH: Do you remember what your sex ed was like?
SD: I don’t recall any sex ed until I was about 12 or 13. I mean there was the, “Hey, your boobs are gonna grow some day” in fifth grade. It was more like, “Here’s deodorant ‘cause your gonna smell bad soon. And here’s some tampons because you’re supposed to bleed.”
I think I spent a good couple hundred hours just at bookstores getting lost in the self-help section. So I knew everything by the time we got there [in school]. It was like review for a class I had already taken on my own.
BH: What is a topic you geek out over and love learning more about?
SD: Underneath all the myriad things that I’m interested in is a craving for understanding. It’s just a constant, moving picture. It’s so lovely and interesting and has so many layers. I like to make my brain work. It’s engaging and fun, and I love to make the picture more clear to other people.
BH: What sort of big questions do you still have left?
SD: Right now I have a question about muscle tension. There’s a natural building of tension — that’s what an orgasm is, its the release of that tension. But then some people clench. Sometimes clenching helps encourage orgasm whether or not a quicker orgasm is what somebody is wanting. And sometimes it can deter from orgasm. There are different types of muscle tension. I don’t really understand the differences and I need to call a few trained experts in the field and pin this one down. But I feel like there’s a lot of important information there that I haven’t found out that could help a lot of people.
BH: What is your favorite question to be asked?
SD: Oh man! Depending on what my mood is … Butt questions, always a good time. Anything butt-related just cracks me up. It’s funny. I basically get paid and entrusted to tell people about their butts. I mean, who does that?
What I love is when people are afraid of their question sounding weird, which it never does. I’ve heard it before. But some questions are special in that they tell me something about culture and what they’re experiencing. It’s an insight into their minds and their lives.
For instance, I was just on a cruise ship with 1,000 nerds — self-identified nerds. For three days, every day, I got someone asking me the same question: “What do you do when the guy’s sex drive is not as high as the girl’s sex drive in a heterosexual relationship?” and variations on that question. And not only was it interesting to notice that pattern because there are so many assumptions and stereotypes that go along with that. But then when I would tell people that there is a pattern, they would say, “Oh yeah, of course nerds, duh. They have low sex drives.” So then I picked up on that stereotype of what it means to be a nerd within our culture and perception of sex drive of a male nerd.
BH: You mentioned burn out. Do you ever feel SATURATED with sex information, like it’s not even sexy anymore? Like it somehow takes the eroticism out of it?
SD: Sex or not, taking your work home and the way it affects your life is something a lot of people deal with. And I, for a long time, was one of them.
I actually feel like I have a little bit of a superpower in the bedroom because I have pretty great recall. I can replay what has happened and gather information after the fact so I don’t have to be analyzing everything in the bedroom.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but my eroticism changes month to month. It just keeps it interesting. Like I remember accidentally developing a boot fetish.
BH: Did you say accidentally?
SD: Yeah, I just accidentally got turned on by a shoe. Because my partner and I were having sex — doggystyle — so basically I was facing away from them and I just happened to have my eyes gazing at their Doc Martins that were on the ground. So, you know, I wasn’t thinking about it. Then I noticed I would be aroused whenever I looked at the shoes. And it just made me laugh!
BH: A lot of college campuses are celebrating Sex Week, including University of Wisconsin. Do you remember having a Sex Week when you were in school?
SD: Oh goodness, no. I don’t remember any Sex Week. There may have been some, but I was so head-deep in my studies. I was an A-student through class, obsessed with school.
BH: That is definitely a nerd thing to say. What do you think about the idea of a dedicated week to talk about sex topics?
SD: Sex Week is important. It’s a step in the right direction. A lot of people assume that by talking to people about sex you’re just encouraging people to have more sex. I think they call it Sex Week to get the college students to show up. But the truth is, it’s sexual health week.
Even though I’m coming to campus and making jokes about pleasure and orgasm, and I’m fun — happy times — I’m still sending a strong message about respecting yourself. There’s a lot of hidden mental health messages.
There’s already porn. There’s already sex-negative images in “Game of Thrones.” There’s already slut-shaming going on in news. To have a week that is magical, mystical, committed time to bring people to campus to go, “Hey, this is happening” — we need it. That is the minimum of what we need to add to the conversation in such a healthy way.
BH: It’s about trying to get people in the door so that they’ll take the free condoms.
SD: Yeah, that’s not the heart of safe sex though. Condoms are not the answer. I mean, they are a tool. And they are a resource, and they’re important.
What I needed for a healthy sex life [as a teenager] was knowing how fun sex could be when nothing was going inside me. The pinnacle of sex was putting their stuff in my stuff, which was really limiting. And honestly, it’s the least interesting part for a lot of people of a sexual experience. The actual genitals in genitals experience is such an endgame approach to sex. It’s where sex ends. Sex starts with a glance across the room. Sex starts with a flirt. Sexiness is where sex starts.
BH: There’s been a lot of trend pieces investigating “hookup culture” this year. Do you have a take on this?
SD: The phrase hookup culture just kind of makes me laugh. It means there’s more information to explore. And that’s what humans do to learn about their world — they explore. And if these kids are doing it in a healthy way, if you’re doing it for the right reasons, not to please anyone else but to please yourself, then what’s the problem?
We need to get more creative in the ways we find pleasure and express ourselves in general. Let’s just have a parade around mutual masturbation. I didn’t find out mutual masturbation is the best thing ever until a few years ago. Like, “This is amazing! Why didn’t we do this sooner?”
Hook-up culture, I think, is the Rorschach test. It is the inkblot test of sexuality. It would be pathetically reductionist for me to say yes, good, or no, bad. It’s a complex issue.
BH: I think the concern people probably have is around consent and especially the alcohol piece. How would you suggest approaching a healthy, satisfying hook-up?
SD: Thank you for mentioning the alcohol thing. PUT DOWN THE BEER, YOU IDIOTS. You realize what you’re drinking is a depressant? You are losing the ability to maintain erection and to feel things. Sex is a sensual experience, and you’re losing it. If you’re drinking in order to find the courage to do that thing you’re kind of curious about doing, keep it to one drink. Or like half the drink. You don’t actually need that much alcohol to loosen up. And if you feel tense, do some friggin’ yoga. Get a therapist. I’m sure they’re free on campus. Alcohol is used way too much.
Alcohol is sort of naughty itself and there’s a certain ritual about blowing off steam at the end of the week. But sober sex is like punk-rock sex. It is feeling everything that’s there.
BH: I like it. Sober sex is punk rock.
SD: Well I’m definitely excited to come to campus and talk about pleasure skills. I get really excited talking about the capabilities our hands have for giving pleasure. We usually only talk about mouths and genitals. But our HANDS! The more and more I study and pay attention to what I can use my hands for, it blows my mind. It’s like being a magician.
There you have it folks, Sex Nerd Sandra — the punk rock magician of sexual pleasure.