Susie Bright/Reid Mihalko Interview Part 2

by Reid on May 28, 2018

Susie Bright/Reid Mihalko Interview Part 2







Join author, feminist and sexpert Susie Bright as professional sex geek Reid Mihalko of interviews her about sex, porn, growing up, raising children, feminism and everything in between.

To download the full transcript and audio from this video series, go to:…

From her life story (recently told in her memoir “Big Sex Little Death”) to her vital role bringing women’s enjoyment of porn out of the closet to her current status as sex-positive stateswoman and cultural commentator, Susie Bright’s seen it all and talks about it with insight, warmth and humor with sex and relationship expert Reid Mihalko at San Francisco’s historic Center for Sex and Culture, October 11, 2011!

ABOUT SUSIE: Susie Bright from is the editor of The Best American Erotica series and host of the weekly audio show In Bed with Susie Bright on She has been a columnist for Playboy and Salon, and has been profiled in USA TODAY, Los Angeles Times, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Mother Jones, and Vanity Fair, among other publications. An international lecturer on sexuality and feminism, she won the 2004 Writer of the Year Award at the Erotic Awards in London. Ms. Bright lives in Santa Cruz, California.

ABOUT REID: The golden retriever on espresso of sex and relationship educators, Reid Mihalko of helps adults create more self-esteem, self-confidence and greater health in their relationships and sex lives, no matter what their self-expression of those happen to be. Know for his charisma, wit, and emphasis on integrity, Reid’s workshops have been attended by close to 40,000 individuals from myriad walks of life, orientations, relationship styles, countries and religions. Reid has been a writer and producer on a number of films and television projects about sex and relationships, lectures often at colleges across North America, and appears regularly in the media. He has appeared on the Emmy award-winning talk show Montel, Fox News, VH1’s Scott Baio is 45 and Single, Showtime’s Penn & Teller’s Bulls**t!, Canada’s The Sex Files and SexTV, on NPR, Sirius’ Maxim Radio and Cosmo Radio, and in Marie Claire, GQ, Details, People, Newsweek and The National Enquirer, as well as media across the globe in thirteen countries and at least seven languages. Follow Reid twittering as @ReidAboutSex.

Many thanks to Cathy Vartuli of for editing this interview and for organizing the transcripts and audio downloads!

Susie: So I was ranting and raving about that. I talked about how my labor classes, the Lamaze teacher talked about oranging the perineum. And I was like, “Perineum? That’s that little tiny space between your anus and your vaginal opening. I’m supposed to rub an orange there? Are you kidding me?” I didn’t understand. I was lost.

I called up Nina Hartley, who at that time was still working as a stripper, a porn star, and was in her RN program. She was in nursing school. And she said, “Oh, they mean fisting. They mean, as preparation for labor, you might want to take a small piece of fruit or hands or fingers and massage this area so that you become accustomed to the idea of stretching.”

And I was like, “No kidding! It’s really fisting! Oranging is fisting!” And they’re doing it in the labor classes that you see in San Francisco, but nobody called it that. So that story I wrote, it covered tons of material about just the very beginnings of motherhood, before the baby is even out. And then early childhood, and trying to think about what you want to do as a parent that emulates your own family and what you want to do that’s completely different.

I would say I had two lists. One was the things that I was raised with, and we’re definitely doing that. Like, I’m going to be reading every night, and we’re always going to sing songs, and we’re always going to dance in the house. And I had all these things that I loved from my parents, their imagination and sense of fun, their love of storytelling and dancing and singing had a huge – it was a huge source of happiness in my childhood. I’m getting all teary thinking about it. It’s not like everything was great, but that part was great.

So, yes, I didn’t even have to make that much of a decision. It was easy. In other respects, I was going to make a break. I was going to not raise my daughter with any religion tradition at all. I mean, of course she was going to learn about religion, but in the same sense that we learn about Greek myths or, you know, religion as mythology or anthropology. And what would it be like to raise a child without a deeply interior sense of sin and a burning in hell, which I definitely was raised with those notions, and it had a tremendous effect on me.

I’m Irish Catholic ethnically, and guilt will last forever. I’ll never escape. I found that part to actually be really easy. If you live in a community where it’s cosmopolitan, lots of different kinds of people, different kinds of political and religious beliefs, it’s easy to have your own path. Some of the more difficult pieces, I would say, were things that aren’t directly about sex, but I think they are profoundly involved in your adult sex life, and that was, I wanted to break the cycle of impulsive violence and physical discipline in the family.

It’s funny how I characterized them to say that because I remember as a kid reading stories about how one must discipline children, and it all sounded very methodical, but in my family, there wasn’t anything planned about it. You know? Mommy would get mad. She would just come in the door mad, and you would run, because if she caught you, bam! You know? And there would be some stupid reason, but it was really clear early on that there didn’t have to be any reason. It was just impulsive, taking it out on the kids, kicking the dog, so to speak.

I think every child who has ever been slapped or hit or punished physically, you sit there and you say, “I’m never going to do this to anybody” or “I’m never going to – it’s so unfair.” You know, you think about the injustice of it all, and you grow up, and if you see raising children ahead of you, you wonder – your arrogance takes a step back. “Well, I have a temper. Am I going to lose it? And then what? How do you honestly do something different?”

Because I had already been through the crap where the violent parent cries and wants you to comfort them after they’ve hit you. I hated that. That was worse than being hit, was having to comfort them and seeing them and get them back on their feet. I never wanted to be around for that part. I didn’t want my daughter to be parentified that way.

And the reason why I think this affects your sex life, it reminds me about conversations people have about incest. I mean, the typical taboo about incest is that “well, we don’t do it because we don’t want to have freakish offspring.” You know? But you kind of like scrape away, “What’s so icky?” beyond just your visceral reaction. And I think what lies beneath that is if you establish physical dominion over your children, you are crippling them in terms of them being able to successfully separate from you and have an independent life.

And that’s the whole point – the metaphor of how they begin to walk? Ultimately they need to walk away from you on their own and have their own lives. They need to be able to argue with you, walk away from you, speak on their own, and have their own opinions.

If you do that, man, you’ve really accomplished something. Well, incest really puts a kink in that. It’s really hard to break it off and rebel when your parent has had that kind of physical relationship with you, and I think physical violence has the same, similar, because your hands, your body, are bigger than them, you know, taking that effect is really difficult. It’s really difficult. You grow up afraid, I’m sure, that you can take those steps.

I mean, I don’t think I’m some sort of saint. I’m still the same girl with a bad temper that my mother had. I think our family are generally just bad-tempered people. But I had to make a plan for what I would do to catch myself before I got to that point.

Reid: Yeah. And you talk about that in the book a little bit.

Susie: I talk about it a lot because I think I’m going to do a whole book on this subject. Fuck the birds and the bees talk. I don’t care if you never have a sit-down where you talk about the egg and the sperm and blah blah. Who the fuck cares?

Teach me how to read and be literate and imaginative and have a good science education, and they’re going to find all that out easily enough.

What’s more important is privacy, is keeping religion out of it, and keeping your brutal, ill-tempered hands off of them! You know? When you touch them, it should be with affection and love and kindness. And that’s always my goal that I look up to. So when you ask me how… There are so many directions you can go in.

So many people say, “How has motherhood affected you?” as a way of asking me, “What is my sex frequency?” wondering, does your love life go to hell? It’s a totally different question there.

Reid: Well, it’s really all about, are you getting any?

Susie: Am I getting any. [laughter] Okay. Yes. That’s the polite way of saying that.

Reid: And that’s the next question too.

Susie: And that is one of these things, where if I was a researcher, I would find it very tricky to take different things apart. Does parenthood put a cramp on spontaneity? Because you are making a sacrifice for someone else. The baby’s crying.

You can’t just say, “I’m masturbating! Shut the door!” Actually you can. You could. You could be so cruel or indifferent. So you are making a sacrifice, and it is a sacrifice that is kind of like, “I love making this sacrifice!” You feel all Christ-like. Sorry to be all Catholic again, but you feel like, “This actually feels good, to love someone so much that my own needs actually don’t seem so important right now.”

So you’ll have that aspect. But of course, if you’re smart, you’ll have lots of babysitters and trades with other parents. You create some time to have fun and privacy for yourself. And then, you add that to the fact that you are getting older. And being older could mean that you feel physically more inhibited or not as like, “I’m going to a party” at three o’clock in the morning. You know? I remember when we used to say, “Yeah, they’re all fucking at the pool at Big Sur, and it opens up at 2 a.m., and it’s free!”

And all six people get in the car with a bong and go there. You know? And I thought that was really fun when I was 19. And now, I would be like, “No,” because I would consider that an uncomfortable adventure. I’m such a creature of comfort that that doesn’t seem like a thrilling idea. But it did when I was younger. It doesn’t have anything to do with motherhood. It just had to do with age.

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