trends

From Workshops to Podcasts to Books, Sexperts Are in Greater Demand

Alex Henderson

Adult sex education is not a brand-new phenomenon. The late Alfred C. Kinsey founded the Kinsey Institute and wrote his first “Kinsey Report” book in the late 1940s. Dr. Ruth Westheimer’s popular radio program, “Sexually Speaking,” debuted in 1982. But what has changed since the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s is the amount of adult sex education that is available. From in-person workshops to podcasts and vodcasts to books, adult sex education is much more copious and diverse than it was in the past — and more sexperts are earning a living addressing everything from polyamory to BDSM to bisexuality.

New York City-based sexpert Reid Mihalko, who has been lecturing about sexual topics and holding workshops all over the U.S., observed that the Internet has played a crucial role in making adult sex education more plentiful. “I’m seeing more adults reaching out for sexual information,” Mihalko told XBIZ. “The U.S. is still very sex-negative compared to Europe — our basic insecurities about sex and intimacy, as a nation, have not gone away — but we have a lot more resources now than we did when our parents only had ‘The Kinsey Report.’ If our parents wanted a book on spanking, they couldn’t go to the library for information. But nowadays, if you want information on spanking, you can just jump online and Google it.”

Adults are spending more money on intensive relationship programs that address sexuality as one component of the program, but they’re not necessarily spending more money on stand-alone sexuality workshops. -Dr. Jessica O’Reilly, Sexpert/author

Dr. Emily Morse, host of the radio program/podcast “Sex with Emily” and co-author of the book “Hot Sex: Over 200 Things You Can Try Tonight,” stressed that technology is playing a crucial role in increasing the amount of adult sex education that is available. Morse told XBIZ, “There are so many ways for people to educate themselves: through online courses, weekend workshops, downloading audio or watching video programs. They’re all easily accessible, and people can take courses in the privacy of their own home. When we think of sex education, we usually think about teenagers. But so many adults are in need of sex education as well. They are lacking in the basic knowledge about their bodies, common sexual behaviors, how to communicate their needs to a partner, and the risks of STDs.”

Loveology University founder Dr. Ava Cadell,, who co-hosts Penthouse’s “Sex Academy” videos with Dr. Hernando Chavez and serves as president of the American College of Sexologists International, finds that interactive events are especially rewarding. “For me, the best way for teaching is to make presentations as interactive as possible so that the audience takes away an experience that impacts all of their senses,” Cadell told XBIZ. “Dr. Hernando and I just came back from teaching in China, where we had an interpreter. But we made our lecture fun. Laughter is a universal form of positive communication that creates lasting memories.”

Cadell added: “It was my destiny to become a sexologist, as I was raised with a lot of shame and guilt about sex — which led to having unhealthy relationships. So I made it my mission to find out as much as I could about love, relationships, romance, intimacy and human sexuality.”

Chavez asserted that different approaches to adult sex education — from in-person workshops to online events — all have their advantages. “Personally, I find in-person sex education most effective, as instructors can answer questions and address topics as they arise in presentations,” Chavez told XBIZ. “That doesn’t mean that online video, readings, using interactive technology, or peer-to-peer learning aren’t valuable and effective. All should be considered when teaching as ways to reach broader audiences while producing sex education.”

Toronto, Canada-based author/sexpert Dr. Jessica O’Reilly, who has three books available on Amazon.com and hosts the reality show “Swing” on Playboy TV, noted that adult sex education is now benefiting a variety of businesses. “Adult sex education may be a new market sector,” O’Reilly told XBIZ, “but the financial figures tend to be shared between a number of other markets, including books and publishing, erotica, personal novelty devices, trade shows and entertainment. We therefore don’t have a good gauge of just how much money adults are spending on enhancing their sex lives and relationships through education. In my business, I’ve seen significant growth in the past 24 months related to relationship education that includes a sexuality component. That is, adults are spending more money on intensive relationship programs that address sexuality as one component of the program, but they’re not necessarily spending more money on stand-alone sexuality workshops.”

New York City-based journalist Rachel Kramer Bussel, a widely published sex writer and editor of the book “Dirty Dates: Erotic Fantasies for Couples,” has been sharing her expertise with other sex writers. “I don’t consider myself a sexpert, although I do teach erotica and nonfiction sex writing,” Bussel told XBIZ. “That’s my expertise within the industry. Having been published in these fields since 2000, I wanted to find a way to share the knowledge I’ve gained and help budding authors develop their creativity, learn about what publishers are looking for and experience the satisfaction of seeing their byline in print and being paid for it. It can be challenging any time you’re doing in-person events because you don’t know how many people will show up, and often, students are shy about sharing their work in front of strangers.”

Sexpert/blogger Walker Thornton, who has spoken at many sex education-oriented events, is finding that adults of all ages are seeking to increase their sexual knowledge. “I don’t think age is a factor,” she told XBIZ. “I see people ranging from their early twenties to 60 and up at conferences..…It’s becoming a little less stigmatizing to talk about sex. For example, I spoke to a group of older women, mostly in their late 60s and up to 80 or so — the discussion was dating, and at one point, we began to talk about condoms and STDs.”

Thornton continued: “The most rewarding part of being a sex educator is participant feedback. When someone tells me they’ve learned something from me or that I’ve helped their relationship, I feel like I’m doing my job.”

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