Introducing Stephanie Theobald, the author of Sex Drive and a long-time sex journalist who got over a terrible break-up by learning how to masturbate from the experts.
What do you do and how did you get into it?
My name is Stephanie Theobald and I’m the author of Sex Drive. I've always been a writer but I wrote Sex Drive as a result of my 10-year relationship going pear-shaped, which resulted in my actual sex drive coming to a halt. So in 2015 I went to a masterclass thrown by 85-year-old feminist Betty Dodson and the scales fell from my eyes. After Betty’s incredible class I decided to make a road trip across America fuelled by masturbation and advice from the country’s leading sex-positive feminist.What is your vision for the future of your work?
I’d like to see women becoming less polite or in denial about their sexuality. I’d like them to masturbate more and learn basics about their own bodies (like their genitals are not “vaginas” they are vulvas because that encompasses the whole sexual works including the clitoris which is our primary sex organ.) My longer vision though is a Hollywood movie called Sex Drive so I can spread the message to more women. I’m relocating to LA at the end of this year for this purpose.
What are the key trends you're seeing at the moment that influence your work?
Increasingly interesting instagram accounts around the vulva, clit and female sexuality fronts. Check out @ScarletladiesUK or @thesexed run by Liz Goldwyn, 42, the granddaughter of Hollywood movie mogul, Sam Goldwyn. I love that public figures such as Labour MP Jess Phillips are coming out and saying that female sexuality is of political importance and that school girls should be taught about orgasms. I do love the fact that “orgasm gap” has become an understood phrase with women. It’s great also that Hollywood is now excited about exploring the subject matter of honest female sexuality in movie form (like weed was the big shocking subject matter 10 years ago)What's the biggest surprise you've had since starting to work in this field?
I always thought sex tech was quite a boring and dry field. Then I met Kate Devlin, the author of Turned-On. Our books came out on the same day last year. Kate is a total sex-positive, out-there, live wire. So now I’m more interested in the potential of an electronic sex future.When it comes to sex, what's the one thing you wish everyone knew?
That masturbation is not a second-rate activity.What did you want to be when you were younger?
At around 4, I wanted to be a fireman (I imagined being a man because in the early 1970s there were no role models for female fire fighters). Later, I wanted to be a cook, then in my teens I thought it would be nice to be in the Diplomatic Service because I thought it was all about travel and handing round peanuts and saying things like, “Nice tie!” Then I went to Cambridge University and met a snooty boy who had clearly been dreaming all his life of being in the Diplomatic Service (and he probably had a more realistic idea of what it was about than me) so I stopped wanting to do that. Writing came about by accident. Back in the early 1990s when I graduated it was still possible to make a living from journalism. I liked the fact you could get up when you wanted and wear whatever clothes you wanted. I worked for the Time Out equivalent in Paris called Paris Passion. My first commissioned article was about sadomasochism in Paris (cover line: 'You Can Beat Them, But You Can’t Join Them'). The second one was about black magic in Paris. I thought, Hmm, this definitely seems like a more interesting job than the Diplomatic Service.What was your sex education like growing up?
I went to a convent school and we had a lesson about frogs, I seem to recall. My mother gave a sweet birds and bees talk when I was 12. She said a line about how “the man kisses the woman all over her body” before she went on about the penetration bit. Being kissed all over the body sounded wild when I was 12. There seemed no procreative purpose to it. The idea of doing something for pure pleasure seemed a radical idea. I was lucky in that I always felt ok about asking my mother questions about sex.What are you currently working on that you are willing to share?
A film script of Sex Drive.Who else in the industry do you admire or look up to?
In the sex world I admire sex-positive feminist legend Betty Dodson, now 89. She’s the author of Sex For One and she recently revived her masturbation master classes. I also love porn-star-turned- performance-artist Annie Sprinkle who has invented the brilliant concept of “ecosexuality” which sees nature as your lover not as your mother.Do you have any advice for someone who wants to make their sex life better tonight?
Try and do something fun during the day with your partner to put you in a playful state of mind: go to the beach, ride a bike, go on some stupid tourist bus ride around your town. Once you’ve had your fun day out, go to bed and masturbate in front of each other with the idea that you’re not allowed to touch each other or have penetrative sex. Watch your partner turning themselves on and see how that turns you on. See how your excitement turns them on. It’s hot! If you’re single, make contact with nature somehow – go to a park if you’re in a city. Try and tune into the sexuality of nature: Big thrusting stamens, thick tree trunks, leaves rustling in the wind. Bring that energy with you back to you bed - or masturbate out in nature- it will give it an added dimension.