Lovehoney Sex Expert Interview: Sandra Daugherty
Sandra Daugherty punches sexual shame in the face. The sex educator is a firm believer in the right to healthy intimate experiences and the skills that get us there.
Sandra is known the world over for her podcast, "Sex Nerd Sandra." At once irreverent and educational, the show has earned a top spot on iTunes. Its loyal listenership (over 14 million downloads) is vocal about Sandra's impact, describing her as "inspiring" with "contagious enthusiasm" and an "awesome nerd-like ability that [she's] not afraid to show."
Her weekly podcast has run since 2011 under the Nerdist Industries banner with no end in sight.
Her professional journey began in 2009 normalizing sexuality through sex-positive workshops and she continues to teach as well as appearing across other platforms including web and TV shows, podcasts, documentaries, panels, lectures, personal coaching and consulting.
Her background in cultural anthropology, philosophy, and broadcast journalism provide crucial lenses through which she views her work. Sandra has completed the comprehensive sex educator training program provided by San Francisco Sex Information (SFSI), attends professional conferences and workshops regularly, and is passionately committed to creating a safe space for each person's unique intimate needs.
Her methods include heavy doses of physical comedy, playful insight, and surprising disclosure.
Tell us about the Sex Nerd Sandra podcast! What inspired you to start the podcast, what have been your favorite episodes, and what's coming up next?
You wanna know about my podcast? The quick version is that I lightheartedly skip across the landscape of sexuality. I'm a dabbler. I interview folks who know a whole lot more about sex, love, and relationships than I do. Topics are all over the place - from skills for a lasting marriage to how to dog train your human.
I'm re-launching my show soon. The plan is that I'll be listener-supported through Patreon. It means the world to me that I finally get to channel all my sex nerdery bonus material into one place.
Oh, background: In 2009, I began teaching workshops as Sex Nerd Sandra on all sorts of entry-level sex skills, like oral sex and kink. That led to writing for Nerdist and an invite to podcast with their new network. That's how I discovered the art of interviewing was a perfect vehicle for my intense curiosity about love and sexuality.
How can incorporating toys into the bedroom help strengthen and increase the level of play in a couple's sex life?
Well, first off, let's not talk about play like we're leveling up in a video game. I look at play as pleasure for its own sake - not to impress anyone or fulfill expectations.
I think of it as keeping a sex life fresh by disrupting habits and patterns. Expanding your options through toys also expands your mind.
I didn't understand how helpful sex toys could be until I worked at an adult store. You can layer sensations with vibrators and tongues and fingers. You can alternate between a thuddy paddle and a delicious, warm massage candle. You can pretend you're having a threesome, you naughty, naughty human you.
One neat thing about toys is that even if they don't float your boat right away, sometimes reintegrating them a few months down the road knocks your socks off. We're dynamic, us humans. Toys can help us remember that every time you sleep together, you're a different version of you.
It's fun for its own sake.
Out of all the sexuality workshops you teach, what themes do you find couples need the most education and/or emotional learning around?
You mean beyond forgiving ourselves for being enough just as we are? I'd say couples often are hungry for ways to communicate while turned on. Here are some ideas:
- A or B: Asking "Do you like this?" can be loaded with wanting to protect your partner's ego, so it's better to ask "Would you like it like this?.... Or like that?"
- Safe Word: Even for vanilla sex. You know you can trust someone if they use their safe word. All it means is a pause and check in. Using it doesn't ruin the night. And what comes after is often much hotter and honest.
- Compliment Sandwich: It can be worrisome to speak up when something isn't working. Put it in a sandwich: "You feel so good when you're on top of me. It hurts a little on the right, could you shift left? Wow, that is so hot."
What are some of your very best practical tips to help couples fully express their hidden desires to each other?
First, find the core of that desire. So you want to be a naughty school girl/boy, huh? Cool. OK, what about it?
People often don't think past the initial image. Is it the outfit? A well-placed hand? Is it a word whispered in their ear?
Other logistics: Do I need to buy anything for the experience? Do I want to orgasm? Have I seen examples of this fantasy in stories I can point to?
Perhaps the most important question to answer is: what does a successful experience look like to you?
The more details you have, the easier it is to help your partner get into it and bring it to life. In my example, if you just say "sexy school girl fantasy," they might think you want a spanking, while you might be wanting a sexy anatomy lesson! Be clear.
I recommend the book The Erotic Mind: Unlocking the Inner Sources of Passion and Fulfillment by Dr. Jack Morin for more skills to better enjoy your fantasies.
What's your very favorite bedroom advice to give couples?
Be on Team Fun, instead of Team You-Suck. It's easy to blame your partner for difficulties. Heck, the reason I came up with Team Fun is because I often need an attitude readjustment during an intimacy rut.
A healthy relationship means being on the same team working toward an agreed-upon goal. What is that goal? Is it orgasm? Connection? Laughter?
Being on Team Fun is realigning your joys. If you find yourself in a You vs Me headspace, it means only one of you wins while the other one loses.
Win together. Team Fun.
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