Susie Bright/Reid Mihalko Interview Part 8

by Reid on May 22, 2018

Susie Bright/Reid Mihalko Interview Part 8


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.

Reid: I’d love it, if you’re into it, if you’d take some questions because we’ve got another half an hour. So if you have a question, raise your hand, and I’ll repeat your question, or you can come up and I can give you the microphone.

Joanie: …but now I’ll be all intimidated, not asking questions perfectly, which I’ll try not to be. Let’s see. I’m harking back to stuff you were talking about earlier, about people’s erotic stuff: where it comes from, what’s the variety, and all that kind of stuff. And the piece that you didn’t talk about…

And nobody talked about it – it’s not just you. It’s the piece that, once I figure out what my erotic stuff is, and I don’t have this wonderful Betty Dodsonesque basis, where even if I’m never with another partner, I’ll be fine because my self-actuality in life is so strong and important to me and basic. The fact of the matter is, that when I know – when I or anybody else knows or finally figures out what it is they want – the distance between that and finding that person who wants the same thing with you enough to do it with you is a huge challenge for a lot of people.

And it’s not just people who are sad sacks and can’t get a date. It’s a lot of people who are clear and have become clear thanks to the work that all of us have done in the past 20 years. We have become more and more clear about what it is. They have often talked about to their girlfriends about it – if they are women, they often talked to their girlfriend about it. And by the way, I think that’s a really big thing that’s happened over the time.

Who knows – Sex and the City probably did it more than anything out there. Women actually sit around in public places and talk about their sexuality. That was not happening in the beginning. Even the few of us with the speculums, and our girlfriends, we were talking about it. A lot of people talk about it now. But anyway, aside from that, me getting really clear, even if it’s just how I want to expand… Let’s say that four women are sitting around.

They all have partners – male, female, it doesn’t matter. Let’s assume for the moment that they all have male partners, and they’re sitting around, and all of them have male partners that they are supposedly in love with or not, and they have sex with them sometimes, and they want something different. They want something more, and not necessarily even other partners. They want to have some shift which will make them happier, to feel like they have more sense of agency in their relationship.

And then at the next table, there’s a bunch of women who are really clear in what they want, and none of them have partners, or they have one disappointing partner.

Reid: So your question is do we have any advice for…

Joanie: Well, I’d like your reaction about that.

Reid: Your response?

Susie: Well, some of what you’re talking about reminds me of the recent trend to define what happiness is. There are a lot of books about whether you can achieve happiness. What are the qualities of happiness? How do you make every day a happy day? And some of these books have been on the New York Times bestseller list. It’s like this really powerful preoccupation with the chattering classes right now.

And I hate these books. I despise them. The notion that one is happy and completely satisfied all the time just seems ludicrous to me. Like, are you a ninny? [laughter] You don’t have a brain? If you’re thinking, if you’re knowledgeable, you should have dark and troubling thoughts available at your fingertips at any given moment, as far as I’m concerned.

And those will be interrupted by states of grace and innocence and sensual pleasure and laughter and so on, but it’s going to be a mixed bag. So the idea that I will be lonely and frustrated and thwarted, to me, that is life, and I know it. And I… This is only speaking for myself, but I really do get a lot of mileage off of my own little private world.

There’s lots of sexual things I’ve never done with anybody else, that are just locked up in me, and I don’t even think I’ve ever shed a tear about it. I don’t… I do meet people, as you say, are like, “I’m so thrilled that I finally have my shit together. I can use my words to tell you how I’d like to fuck and get fucked. But now, how do I find someone that’s on the same wavelength?”

My reaction to that was, well, I would not try to figure this all out verbally or in writing before things begin. I would just try, and try it here, and try it there – honestly, how can you say this without sounding like numbers do make a difference – by having more sexual experiences…

Joanie: If you can get them!

Susie: …you will have pieces of this stuff!

Joanie: But you have to have somebody to have them with before you can have them. Come on, Susie!

Reid: It reminds me of the Bill Murray SNL thing where they’re like, “How do you do it?” and he looks at the camera and goes “Volume.”

Susie: Volume! Exactly!

Reid: But this is where, for me, this is about community, right? Because if you sort communities of sex – and you’ve gotten into arguments about this before (and you will not co-op my stage, young lady! We’ll have our own interview one day.) But the idea of expanding your social networks… Because the one thing the Internet did give us, amongst other things, is a lot of people now realize they’re not alone in whatever proclivities of sexual excitement that you enjoy.

But I think your bit about that happiness piece – and I also think there’s a whole trend, for women who date men or male-bodied people, especially in what I’ve noticed working with people over 40 and 50, there can be some frustration around “I did all my work, and where are the men who can meet me?” And what’s interesting to me in those conversations is that now you have these women who are very empowered who are getting angry again. And it’s a kind of anger that the sensitive guys, who are just trying to figure out, “Are we supposed to go dutch? [laughter] Is it okay now? Is feminism far enough along that I can actually buy dinner again? Where are we?”

The cultural conversations haven’t recalibrated yet for any of that stuff to start happening. And there’s a lot of interesting anger and fear and frustration. And it’s not just about sex lives. It’s about romantic lives, and duration really isn’t the measure of success anymore in relationships. You know? They stopped making 75year anniversary cards. [laughter] And it’s not because people aren’t living long enough.

Susie: You have to give me that. I had this strange experience going to a 75th wedding anniversary party, and it was my lover’s grandparents. They had been together that long. They were in their 90s and they were having their 75th anniversary. Plus they’re very tiny and frail and aged, and very slowly, and with white hair, and his grandmother tottered up to the microphone, and everyone came – every possible relative came to this. And they were like, so, what’s the secret?

And she said, “In the end, it all really does come down to good looks.” [laughter] It was priceless! The very thing that we’re always assuring people “it doesn’t matter.” And she’s just so witty – she just blew it out of the water. But I know that Joanie has had this question for me for quite some time, and I know where she’s coming from, and I’ll probably come to a time in my life where I’m railing about it more.

It is obnoxious to realize that women, in the world we live in now, when you reach a certain age, disability begins, and you look at men your own age and there are still 14-year-olds throwing themselves at them, and you’re like, “Goddammit!” And it also makes you realize that, when you were a young woman, my God, the babe magnet thing was happening constantly. And it either annoyed you, or you felt overwhelmed by it. It’s constantly that issue of, once you know that beauty is wasted on the young, and we talk about when you got it all going on at a certain age, that you don’t have the body that you used to have. It is terribly annoying.

So I get that part of it. It’s just that I’m not personally frustrated in this respect right now. I think that I feel more frustrated intellectually for sexual colleagues and political comrades who are on the same page as me. I’m much more depressed by the publishing industry and the mainstream media than I am by my sex life. But ask me next year. You know? I might be whistling a different tune.

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