WARNING: This post contains sexually explicit language. Please read on at your own discretion.
"Jenny! I was supposed to meet you at the door naked!" the gorgeous woman standing before me said before flinging her arms around me. She was almost naked, wearing a thin, white tank that barely covered her behind. "I'm Carlin," she said.
Carlin Ross is the business partner of famed sex educator Betty Dodson. Betty Dodson, of course, is the author of the insanely bestselling book Sex for One, and the consummate orgasm and masturbation guru since the '70s. You might call her a founding mother of women's sexual liberation. I certainly would.
"Come on, let's get undressed," Carlin said, like it was the most normal thing in the world. And if you're there for one of Betty's famous "BodySex" workshops, it is. I followed her back to the vestibule at the entryway of Betty's Madison Avenue apartment, and I slipped out of my yoga pants and tee as she slipped out of her tank.
As Carlin greeted the other attendees coming in, I went into the main room, where back jacks were set up in a circle, each with a towel on it, a pillow behind it, and a tray next to it with a box of Kleenex, a glass of water, a bottle of almond oil, a Dodson Vaginal Barbell, and a Mystic Wand vibrator.
As I tried to decide where to sit, I heard someone say, "Jenny. You're Jenny Block. We know each other." I panicked for a minute. What if she was a PTA mom from my daughter's school? What if we didn't like one another? What if...
"I was at your book signing. In San Francisco. For Open. At Good Vibrations," she said.
"Oh!" I said, incredibly relieved. She hugged me, and it took me a minute to remember that I didn't have any clothes on. Already it seemed perfectly reasonable to be naked with strangers.
More women filled the room, and we all began to take our seats. It's an interesting quandary, trying to decide how to sit naked in a room full of strangers. Legs straight out? Like a pretzel? One knee up? Before I could really decide, Betty entered the room.
I was in awe. Eighty-five years old and she walked in as naked as the rest of us and settled into her back jack as if this scenario were the most common thing in the world, which, to her, it was. Although she has taken a hiatus recently, Betty began doing these workshops in the '70s.
Betty welcomed us and began sharing some of her philosophy about sex and orgasms and vulvas (not vaginas) and bodies. (Note: What we see externally is the vulva. The vagina is the internal canal. Period.)
We started out by going around the circle, talking about how we felt about our bodies and our orgasms, and then moved on to some breathing exercises.
After a few hours we took a short break, and then it was time. Time for genital show and tell. No need to read that again. It said exactly what you think it said.
It was perhaps one of the most profound moments of my life. Like so many other moments during the workshop, it felt tribal and ancient, as if we were gathered in the red tent to be gifted with the wisdom of our sister elder.
At the same time, I simply could not stop smiling to myself and thinking in my head about how nuts this was, all of us naked and peering between the legs of this famed octogenarian.
Betty went first, and then, one by one, we sat next to her and spread our legs as we looked into the mirror with Betty and admired our pussies. Betty would point out certain features and "style" each of our pussies for a photo.
I have a doughnut pussy, she told me as I sat with my knees falling open and my pussy lips spread wide. A doughnut because I have full outer lips that outline the inner lips.
"Your design is perfect," she said. I'm quite sure I blushed. A perfect pussy, according to Betty Dodson. ("The Dodson," as Carlin affectionately calls her, and as we began to refer to her too.) "A post-modern pussy," she continued. I couldn't help but grin. "And what about a name?" she asked. "Do you have a name for your pussy?"
And somehow, something that seemed so impossible just a moment before was over and The Dodson was off on her next pussy review. I felt happy and safe and, yes, validated and empowered too. Having other women look at you, really look at you, is a powerful experience.
The next day we stripped down and circled up without pause.
"Play is the most important thing when you're little," Betty explained. "You don't get enough of it when you're an adult."
And then, without any ado, Carlin, whom Betty affectionately refers to as her "stunt cunt," demonstrated Betty's "rock and roll" method of masturbation while Betty directed and commentated. The method includes vulvar massage, pelvic rocking, focused breathing, a vibrator for the clit and -- most importantly, to my mind -- slow penetration with Betty's Vaginal Barbell.
"The body knows a lot more than your head," Betty explained. "Trust your body. Our heads are monsters."
After the demonstration and another short exercise, it was time for the main event.
Even right up to the moment where we stood in a circle in the center of the room, holding our Mystic Wands to our pussies with Betty directing us, "More pelvis; fuck forward," I wasn't sure I could do it.
But suddenly it seemed equal parts impossible and ridiculous to decline. How could I when I was literally going to be sitting at the feet of the master?
So I went to my towel. I followed the steps. And as time passed, I began to hear some of the other women in the room coming.
One of those women was Betty. I came to find out later that it's quite rare for Betty to come during a workshop, and it had been two weeks since she had masturbated. I was thrilled that I could be part of the group that inspired her.
I staved off each orgasm that I felt coming up on me until my brain started to interrupt. Was I having performance anxiety? Was the girl writing a book about female orgasm unable to have one in this super-charged setting? Was I past the point of no return?
I raised my hand when I saw Betty stand up, as I had been told to do if I needed help. I figured she would hand me the high-powered Magic Wand and that would do the trick. But instead Betty Dodson, The Dodson, fucked me to orgasm.
She sat next to me, put her hand on my chest, and began to move the Vaginal Barbell in and out of my pussy. Instantly the sensations switched. She instructed me to keep rocking my pelvis, keep breathing, go with it.
She put her fist against my perineum. She looked right at me. She smiled and encouraged, and the tears began to fall as they sometimes do right before, during, and/or after an incredible orgasm. She stopped me from over-arching my back and blocking the power of the orgasm, as I am prone to do.
Betty stayed with me the whole time, and I collapsed after I'm not sure how many small orgasms and then one grand finale to end all finales.
"Good girl," she said, patting my chest.
I felt powerful and grateful, as if the greatest gift had just been given to me without the smallest breath of apology or shame.
The workshop ended with us splitting into two groups and performing a group massage on each participant.
I felt imbued with an energy that my body recognized as something for which it was desperately hungry. A sexual energy that could change the world if harnessed. I felt so lucky to have had this incredible experience with these truly incredible women
I went to the workshop because I'm researching female orgasm for my new book. I left the workshop feeling like I had been let in on the true secret of female empowerment: owning our orgasms.
And, yes, I had one hell of a chain of orgasms. Betty Dodson may be 85, but she's right. She's got skills. "Give me any woman, any age, and I'll get 'em off," Betty told us when the workshop began. Indeed.
Also on The Huffington Post:
In a 2011 Esquire interview, Megan Fox confirmed her bisexuality, stating, "I think people are born bisexual and then make subconscious choices based on the pressures of society. I have no question in my mind about being bisexual. But I'm also a hypocrite: I would never date a girl who was bisexual, because that means they also sleep with men, and men are so dirty that I'd never want to sleep with a girl who had slept with a man."
Billie Joe Armstrong
The Green Day front man opened up about his sexuality in a 1995 interview with The Advocate: "I think I've always been bisexual. I mean, it's something that I've always been interested in. I think everybody kind of fantasizes about the same sex. I think people are born bisexual, and it's just that our parents and society kind of veer us off into this feeling of 'Oh, I can't.' They say it's taboo. It's ingrained in our heads that it's bad, when it's not bad at all. It's a very beautiful thing."
Twice-married record executive and music mogul Clive Davis came out as bisexual in his 2013 memoir, The Soundtrack Of My Life. Davis opened up about two long-term relationships he had with men after his divorce from his second wife.
Anna Paquin is adamantly open about her bisexuality. The actress told "Zooey" magazine
in a 2009 interview, "For me, it’s not really an issue because I’m someone who believes being bisexual is actually a thing. It’s not made up. It’s not a lack of decision."
After telling The Advocate in 1999 that she was bisexual, Mullally clarified her statements in an interview with Queerty,
telling the blog: "I said that I thought that everybody is innately bisexual. I think there are different levels of awareness attached to that, so I may believe that everybody is innately bisexual, but somebody who is very homophobic may not see that quality in themselves in any way, shape or form. That’s on a very philosophical or even metaphysical level, you know what I mean? It’s not something that I think people are ready for yet. I think if you ask the average guy on the street if he was innately bisexual, he’d be like, ‘What the fuck are you talking about?’ and then he’d punch you in the face. So, we’re not quite there."
The rapper has been openly bisexual
since the early days of her career: "I mean, I'm bisexual, so it makes sense. But I don't want to be that girl who says all gays necessarily hang out together, of course! I have people say to me, 'Oh wow, my friend is gay, too,' and I'm like, 'Yeah, so?'"
Many people mistakenly assume that Andy Dick identifies as gay. However, he told The Washington Post in a 2006 interview
that, "just because I've been with guys, and I'm bi, doesn't mean I'm gay."
Actress Bai Ling is openly bisexual -- and the identity category has often provided some humorous mix-ups involving her first name. According to GLAAD, she discussed it in-depth in a 2009 interview with Entertainment Weekly: "[A]t first when I was in the United States I didn't always have an interpreter in interviews and I didn't speak English so well. There was some confusion. My name is pronounced 'bi,' so when I was asked, 'Are you bi?' I said, 'Yes, I am Bai.' Do you like men? 'Of course!' Do you like women? 'Why yes!' And later I found out what that means and I said, 'Sure, I am bi!' But I think the interpreters and the reporters thought that I didn't know what I was saying because I was so open about it. They were uncomfortable about it. Such a thing is not important for me."
The "Portlandia" star and former guitarist and vocalist for Sleater-Kinney is often assumed to identify as gay. However, she told "Willamette Week" in 2012 that, "It’s weird, because no one’s actually ever asked me. People just always assume, like, you’re this or that. It’s like, ‘OK. I’m bisexual.’”
Though David Bowie has historically played coy surrounding his sexuality, he clarified the subject in a 1976 interview with "Playboy."
"It's true -- I am a bisexual. But I can't deny that I've used that fact very well. I suppose it's the best thing that ever happened to me."
The always-polarizing Snooki sat down with The Huffington Post in February 2012
and sought to clarify her sexual preference. "I would consider myself bi. I've done stuff with girls before. But I would never be with a girl because I like... penis. But I've experimented."
Amber Heard has been openly bisexual
for quite some time, and discussed this aspect of her identity in "Elle." The model and actress told reporters: "[I] didn't want to look like I was hiding anything."
Angelina Jolie has been open about her sexuality for quite some time, having had numerous encounters and relationships with women. She reportedly told OK Magazine that
, "I have loved women in the past and slept with them. I think if you love and want to pleasure a woman, particularly if you are a woman yourself, then certainly you know how to do things a certain way."
Evan Rachel Wood
Evan Rachel Wood came out on Twitter
in 2012: “I myself am bisexual and have always ‘joked’ about Miley giving me gay vibes. Not a bad thing! Just an observation.”
The author of Push,
the book that inspired the critically acclaimed film "Precious," describes herself
Drew Barrymore originally came out in an interview in Contact Magazine in 2003
, saying, "Do I like women sexually? Yeah, I do. Totally. I have always considered myself bisexual... I love a woman's body. I think a woman and a woman together are beautiful, just as a man and a woman together are beautiful. Being with a woman is like exploring your own body, but through someone else."
This former "American Idol" and "The Voice" contestant came out in 2012, telling her fans
that she had been in a relationship with a woman for the past year and had dated men and women.
Musician Vanessa Carlton came out publicly
at 2010's Nashville Pride, announcing to a crowd of 18,000 that, "I've never said this before, but I am a proud bisexual woman!"
The Black Eyed Peas front woman confirmed speculation surrounding her sexual identity in 2009 through an interview with The Advocate
: "Q: After you discussed past sexual experiences with women in an interview with 'The Sun' in May, headlines everywhere read, 'Fergie Admits She’s Bisexual!' A: The funny thing is that I was very open and honest about that from the very beginning, and everyone was acting like it was some new trend. Go back four or five years, people, and you’ll see the same answer."
In his book, Who I Am: A Memoir by Pete Townshend
, this musician confirmed
that he is "probably bisexual" and cited his attraction to Mick Jagger, calling him "the only man I've ever seriously wanted to fuck."
Tila Tequila is not one to shy away from anything. The former Myspace celebrity did several reality shows
centered around identifying as bisexual, beginning with "A Shot At Love With Tila Tequila." She was also the girlfriend of Casey Johnson, the Johnson & Johnson heiress, who passed away in 2010
Amber Rose has long been perceived to be openly bisexual without actually addressing the way she identifies. In an interview with Complex magazine, the model sought to clarify the rumors
: "They label me a bisexual freak stripper that fucks Kanye on a daily basis. To answer that: I’m extremely open with my sexuality. I can be in love with a woman, I can be in love with a man. I’m not into bestiality, but as far as humans go, I definitely find beauty in everybody, whether they’re heavy-set, super-skinny, if they’re white, black, Indian, Asian, Spanish. I can see beauty in anybody. I’m not into threesomes or orgies and shit like that. If I see a women and I think she’s beautiful and I like her, and she likes me back we can definitely try to be in a relationship together."
The first lady to ever come out in "Lady's Home Journal" as bisexual, "Biggest Loser" coach and personal trainer Jillian Michaels told the magazine in 2010
: “Let’s just say I believe in healthy love. If I fall in love with a woman, that’s awesome. If I fall in love with a man, that’s awesome. As long as you fall in love… it’s like organic food. I only eat healthy food, and I only want healthy love!”
Former "Real Housewives Of Atlanta" star Kim Zolciak was in public relationships with both the mysterious "Big Poppa" and DJ Tracy Young before marrying Kroy Biermann. In a 2010 interview with Life & Style, interviewers posed the following question for the reality queen
: "Q: Do you feel you're giving a voice to other bisexual parents? A: I'm among the millions of parents who have been in a gay or lesbian relationship. It hasn't been an easy road lately, but I feel there are no mistakes in my life. Everything happens for a reason. To have the opportunity to speak for myself and to have people understand what I'm going through is really special. I myself was confused and scared at first. Being able to speak from my heart and get this all out, it's a huge relief for me."
Lady Gaga has been open for quite some time about her bisexuality, initially coming out in a 2010 interview
with Barbara Walters.
'Mama June' Shannon
Charles Norfleet via Getty Images
The star of "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" revealed that she's bisexual in an "Inside Edition" interview in April 2015. Her daughter "Pumpkin" Lauryn Thompson also came out as bi at the same time.