Kate Sloan's Collection of Kinky Things

Category: POV Podcast

Author: Aria Vega

Kate Sloan is the blogger behind Girly Juice, and co-host of two podcasts, The Dildorks and Question Box. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Have thoughts, feedback, or story suggestions? Send an email or voice memo to askaria@lustery.com. This show features explicit language and sexual content, and is intended for a mature audience.

Theme song by LAS ODIO

Podcast Transcript:

Aria Vega [00:00:00] This podcast contains explicit content. Listeners' discretion is advised.

Aria Vega [00:00:06] POV by Lusery explores culture, politics and creativity in the sex industry, one point of view at a time. I'm your host, Aria Vega.

Aria Vega [00:00:16] [Voiceover] Kate Sloan is a sex writer, podcast producer and as of this month, a newly minted author. Her book, 101 Kinky Things Even You Can Do, just dropped on October 12th. It's a gorgeously illustrated guide for everyone who's into kink, from amateurs to aficionados. The book's release is a major milestone for Kate, whose career as a writer began by following her fascinations.

Kate Sloan [00:00:41] So I had always been interested in sexuality. Adults in my life thought it was pretty strange when I was a kid. But I was just really fascinated by it, and always have been. And when I graduated from high school, I took a year off because I wasn't sure yet what I wanted to do with my life, and it was kind of having an existential crisis about it. I had talents and interests and aptitudes, but I was like, I don't know if any of this is marketable or can make any money, which is also sad that we have to think of it in those terms. So during that year off, I applied for a bunch of jobs, and one of the jobs I applied for was at a sex shop, and I did not end up getting the job, but after I applied, I was like, "I should probably brush up on my sex toy knowledge, see what's out there and make sure I know what's going on." Because I was like, sort of aware of the industry, but didn't have a ton of knowledge. And while I was Googling stuff, I stumbled across sex toy review blogs like Hey Ephiphora and Dangerous Lilly, and I was like, "Whoa, this would be such a cool way to use my interest in writing and my interest in sexuality and maybe get free sex toys!" So I started my blog. I really thought it was just going to be like a summer project until I went back to school, but I loved it so much, and over the next few years it became like a pretty significant source of income. I initially was anonymous and I decided to come out with my my actual name because at a certain point, like the blog was getting enough notoriety that I was like, "I should be getting credit for this because like, it might be useful as part of my career!" And that was really scary, but I did that. And yeah, it's been nine, almost ten years now, and I just feel like I can write about sex forever. I just have so much to say about it. There's just infinite ideas and concepts within human sexuality to explore.

Aria Vega [00:02:32] [Voiceover] It's also never been easier for those ideas to find an audience. In the early 2010s, when Kate first started writing online, sex positivity was just starting to go mainstream. Social media was there to help us educate each other about sex, and pop culture was becoming really steamy. Films like Magic Mike and Blue is the Warmest Color snatched headlines around the globe with their audacious displays of eroticism. Even the literary world became a part of the movement, producing a hit that had everyone talking about kinky things.

Aria Vega [00:03:07] [Interview] The first thing I noticed when I was researching for this interview was that it has somehow been ten full years since the release of Fifty Shades of Grey.

Kate Sloan [00:03:17] I know, isn't that mind blowing?

Aria Vega [00:03:19] It is absolutely mind blowing! Where has the time gone?

Kate Sloan [00:03:23] I know!

Aria Vega [00:03:23] And that's like, that's the entirety of my time as like a sex educator and a writer.

Kate Sloan [00:03:27] Doesn't it feel like as a person in this industry that that it just started recently? You're just like, "Ugh, people have been talking about Fifty Shades so much lately!" But no, it's been ten years.

Aria Vega [00:03:38] Ten entire years, and there's going to be an adjacent franchise told from Christian's point of view?

Kate Sloan [00:03:43] Yes, I started reading those books because they offered — I got like a press release. They were like, "Do you want to review this book?" I was like, "Hmm...maybe, but I definitely want to read it." And it was somehow even worse. I mean, I would say it was more amusing than the original series, but it was also more concerning because he's a straight up abusive character, and to try to get inside the mind of that character is kind of dark and upsetting in its own way.

Aria Vega [00:04:13] This is arguably the most popular story about kink and BDSM in the English-speaking world, however you feel about it. I'm wondering, what is your take on why that particular story touched a nerve? What does the Fifty Shades phenomenon tell you about our collective appetite for kink?

Kate Sloan [00:04:30] It's a really good question. I have spent a lot of time thinking about this because it really, honestly does bother me that this is like, you know, the foremost depiction of a thing that is really important to me, and it's such an unethical and not accurate depiction. But I think that one of the things that makes it so popular is that it is a story about a very normal sort of clumsy, shy girl who falls into this romance with this rich, charismatic, powerful man who somehow can read her mind and sort of know what she might be into. At least that's what I think how people talk about Fifty Shades. When you actually read it or even watch the movie, it's more like he's giving her this ultimatum of "if you're into me, you have to be with me and you have to take all of these sexual interests as part of the deal," and it's much more coercive than the way it's sort of spoken about. But I think that there is something appealing to a lot of folks about the idea that this person could just magically sweep into your life and change your whole life, even if you feel like you're this normal everyday person. But I don't know. There's so much other good kink fiction out there that puts consent and negotiation in its foreground. And yeah, it's really disturbing that this is what we've latched on to as a culture.

Aria Vega [00:05:49] You know, the way you explain that is making me think of how that storyline is a little bit similar to the "The One" idea that a lot of us have about relationships like, "You'll know, when it's the right person because they'll just magically understand you and the sex will be perfect without you having to talk about it," right? It seems like there's a similar centering of the stories that give up our agency in our romantic relationships, which is a connection I hadn't made before.

Kate Sloan [00:06:19] It's like a Cinderella story as well. I mean, it's a similar sort of pattern. Yeah, Kinkerella! I think that a lot of it comes from the fact that we live in a society that still tells women that for them to have sexual desires is inappropriate in and of itself. And so I think that there's something appealing to a lot of women, even on a subconscious level, about the idea of a man already knowing what those desires are and enacting them without the woman needing to explain herself or ask for what she wants, because I think our culture makes it really scary for women to ask for what they want, and this kind of circumvents that problem. But it's not reflective of my experiences. Even my most magical, romantic, kinky relationships have involved a lot of communication because, I think — you just — they gotta!

Aria Vega [00:07:06] Absolutely. All good relationships do write kinky or otherwise. So, so before we dig a little deeper, can you talk a bit about the distinctions between kink and BDSM and fetishes? Those terms are often used interchangeably, and I know that they are not. Can you help us understand those distinctions?

Kate Sloan [00:07:26] Sure! So I think of kink as being the huge overall thing. So it's pretty much any non-standard sexual interest or fantasy, and it can be really broadly defined. I have tried to define the word kink in my book and elsewhere, and I really think that you can't really do it, because there's just infinite kinks out there. But basically, it's a non normative sexual interest. And of course, what we define as normative is very much based on what your particular culture and time period thinks is normative. Whereas BDSM is a specific subcategory of kink, which comprises bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism and masochism, which are definitely some of the most popular and best known kinks. And I think that's why those terms are often used interchangeably in the public eye, because when we think of kink and we're reading Cosmopolitan or that type of thing, typically, we're reading about bondage, D/s, sadomasochism that kind of stuff. But there is a lot of stuff that lies outside of that, some of which falls into the category of fetish. There's a lot of debate about whether kinks and fetishes are the same thing. Some people argue that a fetish is something that is really core to your sexuality, such that you're not going to be satisfied without it. Some people argue that a fetish is basically like a kink that's focused on a particular object or a particular body part. I think it's really kind of like a self-defined thing. I use those terms very loosely, but personally, I don't really define myself as having any fetishes because I feel that my kinks are like a complement to the vanilla sex acts that I enjoy. They're not... I mean, I would say that they're central in my sexuality to some extent, but I would miss oral sex sooner than I would miss spanking. So to me, I think of them as being more kinks than fetishes, but I really think that people define those things, however works for them.

Aria Vega [00:09:24] Can you tell me a little bit about how you navigated the transition process from understanding your sexuality as being vanilla to being kinky? And what sort of guidance did you have?

Kate Sloan [00:09:36] Yeah, it was an interesting journey for me because I had always been a sex nerd like since I was very young. I was listening to sex podcasts starting when I was about 12, so I was always aware of the existence of kinks and fetishes, and I always kind of felt like it would be so cool to have one of those or like a few of those, I feel like I'm just so boring that I'm not interested in any of that. And it took me until I was about 23 to realize that, like, maybe I actually was kinky. And it was a few things that kind of made me notice it. One of the things was that I had always been drawn to stories involving older men and younger women, and in particular, stories where the age gap was pretty illicit. So like Lolita, that kind of thing. I had conflicted feelings about that, and also, as a feminist, I had wondered, how much of that is just patriarchy that I've been conditioned to be interested in older men? But then I was in a journalism and law class one day when I was at university, and there was a professor teaching us about, I don't know, digital contracts or whatever it was. He was lecturing, and I found myself daydreaming about being over his lap and him spanking me and saying stern things to me and calling me a bad little girl and stuff like that. And I was like, "Whoa, that's new!" It's one of those weird things where daydreaming just causes your brain to just go places that you didn't even know that it could go. And I started reading fan fiction after that. That kind of felt like a safe way for me to tiptoe into it, because I didn't really feel ready to talk to partners about it. So I especially started reading kinky Sherlock fan fiction, where typically Sherlock was the dominant and John Watson was the submissive. And there was something about seeing these kinks in these stories played out with characters who I already felt like I knew pretty well that was comforting, and also normalizing. And it helped me figure out what I wanted in my own dynamics, and yeah, I just went from there.

Aria Vega [00:11:31] [Voiceover] Over the following year. Kate's curiosity about consensual pain evolved until her kinks became a part of her identity. She started seeking partners who could satisfy her daddy dom/little girl kink on a continuous basis, and also began wearing a leather collar. She also got the phrase "good girl" tattooed on the backs of her thighs, one word per thigh, each with a pretty pink bow underneath. It's a phrase she loves hearing while being spanked or otherwise receiving pain. In a 2016 blog post about that experience, Kate wrote, "Being a good girl gives me a sense of value and accomplishment that I'd otherwise lack. Pain and punishments help with my productivity and even my mental health. The potential of impressing a domly beau, whether that person is real or just hypothetical, gives me superpowers to do the things I'd otherwise be too weak or scared to do." While Kate derives strength and pleasure from consensual pain, the same can't be said for another type of pain she experiences.

Kate Sloan [00:12:30] [Interview] So I've had chronic pain all over my body for about five or six years, and it was recently diagnosed as fibromyalgia. I have some friends who have fibro or various other chronic pain things, and some of them were kinky before that diagnosis and have felt less able to participate in those activities since their pain has ramped up because they sort of have the attitude of like, "I'm in pain all the time anyway, why would I want more?" Which is completely understandable and reasonable. For me, though (and I know that I'm not the only one who feels this way because there's been increasing coverage of this) there was an article in GQ about this somewhat recently. There are some people who find that consensual pain can relieve or make them feel better about their existing chronic pain for a number of reasons. One of them is that sadomasochism causes a release of endorphins. This is why a lot of people experience sort of like a high type of feeling, or something like subspace when they're being hit or being scratched, or whatever it may be. So those endorphins can have a pain-relieving effect. But also for me, even psychologically, there's something about choosing pain and consenting to pain in these specific contexts that is so healing and empowering when I go through my day feeling non-consensual pain, feeling pain that I haven't chosen and being frustrated with it. There's something really powerful for me about being able to tell a partner exactly how and where and how hard I want to be hit, and being able to have that experience. It's also very intimate. It makes me feel connected to my partner in a way that my regular pain can't like. I think chronic pain can be very isolating in a way, because people who don't experience it really don't understand what it's like. And even other people who do experience that don't understand your specific experience. So when I'm sharing and pain with my partner because they're the one causing it, that for me is much more connective and it makes me feel like my pain can be a source of intimacy rather than just a source of suffering.

Aria Vega [00:14:39] Hmm. What else do you think is really misunderstood about people who enjoy and engage in consensual exchanges of pain? Even as Fifty Shades descends into history, it's still misunderstood and so taboo. What do you hope that your book and your work in general can help enlighten people about that is commonly misunderstood?

Kate Sloan [00:15:07] Hmm. Really good question. There's a couple of things. There's a common perception that people who are kinky or who have fetishes are only that way because they've been through trauma. And for me, it's a little bit complicated because I am in trauma therapy for emotional abuse that I went through as a kid. Part of my childhood involves also like being non-consensually spanked as a disciplinary act, and now spanking is one of my key kinks. So there are people who would say and have said to me, "You're only kinky because you have daddy issues. You were spanked as a kid, you're traumatized, you're messed up." My view on that is basically, I don't know, that might be true, the jury's kind of out on the science of that. But even if that is true, I don't think that that has to disqualify me from participating in kink. I think it's really ableist when people say that kind of thing. That,if you're traumatized, that you're kink is somehow invalid or less real than other people's sexuality. I think this is the brain that I have, and this is the body that I have, and I have to deal with that, and I have to live with the sexuality and the sexual desires that I have, and I'm not going to try to suppress them just because some people on the internet think that it's immoral or wrong somehow. I hate the discourse about daddy issues in general, too, because it's just like blaming women for their dads mistreating them. Pretty sure that that's the dad's problem, but okay! Strange.

Aria Vega [00:16:44] Or like the single mom discourse like, how are you gonna hate on the parent who stayed? It really just seems like a way to go out of our way to punish women for existing and making decisions.

Kate Sloan [00:16:58] Yeah, I think that there's something particularly scary to a lot of folks about, like sexually empowered women, women who know what they want sexually and say it. So I think that there's some kind of impulse in those folks to cut those women down somehow by discounting what they're saying, or making some kind of argument against it. And it's like no, I'm a fully self-possessed, self-aware person. An adult who has seen some shit and been through some shit and self-reflected, and I know what I want, and I don't know... I don't really need anybody to approve that. I know it in myself, and that's all that really matters. And then the other thing that I hear sometimes about sadomasochism is some people assume that it's like a self-harming impulse, that you would only really seek out getting hit or whatever if you on some level hated yourself or were depressed or felt that you deserved a punishment. That certainly does happen. I wouldn't view that as a particularly healthy manifestation of kink, although I have done stuff like that in the past. But in my own relationship, because I have past trauma around being punished, I was very specific with my partner up front. I do like to do sadomasochistic stuff, but I don't like it to ever be framed as a punishment. I like it to be either a reward or just kind of like a neutral thing in the same way that having sex with your partner is neutral, or can be. So my partner is very careful about giving me a lot of verbal assurance while they're hitting me, like I'm such a good girl and I did such a good job with my work or whatever it may be, so that it can be a really positive and often cathartic emotional experience, rather than just kind of triggering old trauma

Aria Vega [00:18:47] [Voiceover] in 2019, when Kate was first approached by a publisher to write the book, she knew early on that it would be about kink.

Kate Sloan [00:18:54] My original idea that I had pitched to the publisher was "101 Unusual Kinks and Fetishes," because that's just something I've always been fascinated by. But they had some meetings about it, and they decided that it would make more sense to do something that was more broadly applicable that more people could get into. So they asked me to switch it to be "things that even the average person could or would try." I tried to make it a pretty wide variety of things, so there are the kind of like most popular kinks that you hear about a lot in there. There is like bondage, sadomasochism, dominance and submission, that kind of stuff. But there's also some kind of off the wall things in there: erotic hypnosis, figging, trampling, sounding, various things that some people think are more extreme. But I tried to make it very accessible for the average person, and each kink that's in the book has a description of why people might find it hot, what the main safety concerns are with that particular activity and three suggestions for how to try it. And generally, there are suggestions that you can do either with the partner or without one, because I know that in my case and in the case of many other people, you might not be ready to share that info with a partner if you're just exploring, I think, for the first time. So it's it's good to be able to do those things on your own.

Aria Vega [00:20:16] I know most of us picture partnered activities when we are imagining a kinky scene, but what can it look like to explore with kink on our own?

Kate Sloan [00:20:26] Yeah it can look a lot of different ways. It can be as simple as sort of like fantasizing or imagining that you have a dominant or a submissive or whatever it may be, and putting yourself in that headspace. It can be watching porn and imagining that you're in that scene and trying to feel how you would feel if you were in that scene. But there's also things you can physically do to yourself. You can put nipple clamps on yourself, you can hit yourself with a paddle, you can scratch your skin, you can do orgasm control or orgasm denial with yourself. You can play kinky games with yourself. There's a lot of options, and I wish that more people knew about this because I think a lot of people are really, really scared to raise this stuff with a partner. There are some safety concerns that come along with doing solo kink. There are definitely some things I would not recommend people do by themselves, like breath play or basically anything where if it went wrong, it would go wrong very, very quickly and you would be too incapacitated to to call for help. So nothing involving cutting or cutting off your breathing or anything like that. But there are a lot of things you can do safely by yourself, and I do try to provide, info on how to do that in the book.

Aria Vega [00:21:36] [Voiceover] Kate has done many different types of writing throughout her career, from blogging to journalism — even ghostwriting. Although, she was still a bit surprised to find herself on the business end of a book deal.

Kate Sloan [00:21:48] [Interview] I had never really envisioned that I would write a book like this. I wasn't even really sure that I wanted to write a book. I always kind of felt more suited to short form writing. But this publisher had reached out to me and been like, "We've never done a sex book before. Do you want to do a sex book for us?" And I was like, "Yes, of course!" So we went through a few iterations of the idea, and it was helpful for me in terms of writing it, that it was one hundred and one little chapters. I think that if it had been more freeform, I probably would have struggled with it more. But it was so structured that I was able to create like a kinky protocol with my spouse where I would complete a certain number of chapters every day on work days. And then at the end of the week, if I had completed all my chapters, I would get a reward, which was they would send me a meal, which I find very motivating because I like to eat! It just was very methodical. I only had three months to write it, but it was really helpful to you to map it out.

Aria Vega [00:22:50] Wow! You wrote the book in three months?!

Kate Sloan [00:22:52] Yeah, it was... it was pretty tight. But, you know, I'm very passionate about the subject matter, and there was a ton of fun research to do as part of it. So I got through it.

Aria Vega [00:23:02] I'm still really impressed! I love all of this... So your spouse dommed you into writing your book and getting you to do it in three months. What would you say your favorite part of the process was?

Kate Sloan [00:23:17] Hmm... So another part of my protocol with my spouse was that at the end of every workday, they would read to me out loud the chapters that I'd written that day. Which, normally, is something that I would do on my own, read stuff out loud, but there was something really nice about having them read it to me because I got to hear it in their voice. So I got to kind of hear how a potential reader might understand it. And also they're my dominant, so I care very much about impressing them, and I find that very motivating. And they are also, super kinky and have been a sex nerd forever like me. So they would be like, "Have you considered adding this other thing?" Or like, "What about this?" It was really nice to feel like I wasn't doing the whole thing alone, and I had the support of someone there and just really reminded me of how beautiful kink can be.

Aria Vega [00:24:07] Oh my gosh, I love this so much. I mean, like you're saying, this can be such a solitary process, and you found such a beautiful and creative way to involve your partner. That is really cool! So at this point, you do at all, you're an author, a journalist, a blogger, columnist, podcaster...we have this infinite subject matter, like we're saying, but where do you get your inspiration from? How do you keep yourself constantly generating ideas that feel actionable and not just like, "Oh my god, this is interesting. Everything is interesting!" I mean, maybe I'm telling myself right now, but I'm often overwhelmed with ideas, and how do I figure out which ones are the most substantive? So I guess that's what I'm getting at.

Kate Sloan [00:24:53] Yeah, it is hard. It is really hard to keep coming up with ideas. But I think that the thing that helps me the most is like just seeing and hearing what people are talking about with regards to sex. So I like to hang out on Reddit, the sex subreddit and the Ask Women subreddit in particular, are full of people with questions about sex and dating. I think like being in the sex educator bubble for so long has made me forget occasionally how the average person actually experiences those things, and like what kinds of things they worry about. So I get a lot of ideas from there because I'm like, "OK, a lot of people are worried about this thing, and there's not a lot of resources out there about it. Maybe I could help them." And then also, just trying new stuff. My spouse, I would say, is more sexually adventurous than I am. I very much sort of just like to do the things that I know that I like to do. I do like trying new things, but I'm a little bit more stubborn and have to be talked into it a little bit more. Whereas my spouse is just always looking at Kink Twitter and watching new indie porn stars and just being like, "Wow, I never thought about doing this. What do you think about that?"They really expand my horizons a lot, it's nice.

Aria Vega [00:26:12] How has writing about sex and love impacted your real life relationships? Have you found that your writing has helped you discover new things about yourself? Help you understand things about yourself more deeply?

Kate Sloan [00:26:26] I do think that writing definitely helps me process feelings and come to a greater understanding of myself. I thought for a long time that being in this line of work was kind of messing up my romantic life because I was running into the problem where either people were so scared off by it and intimidated by it that they didn't want to see me anymore. Or they were almost too into it, like they were fetishizing it a little bit and trying to impress me so I would write nice things about them. It was like, "I don't know, maybe I'm asking too much to be able to find healthy relationships when this is my job." But then I met my spouse and they are just like, super chill about it. I've often said to them, like, I can't believe that I managed to find someone who is so well-suited for me as a partner. They were like, "Well, I mean, you've been writing online for all these years about like the type of partner who you want, so those people will find you." I was like, "That's a good point! I didn't really think about that." And it's true, I talk all the time about communication in kink and in relationships and how important it is to ask for what you want. I was sort of doing that indirectly through my writing, and it's been really positive for me. If anything, it's made me more sure that I should ask for the things that I really want and be honest about that going forward, because that's the way that you're likeliest to get them.

Aria Vega [00:27:52] That's Kate Sloane, author of 101 Kinky Things Even You Can Do. To get your copy, head on over to 101kinkythings.com. You can also connect with Kate via her blog at girlyjuice.net, and she's on Twitter and Instagram @girly_juice. Kate is also the co-host of a fantastic podcast called The Dildorks with our mutual friend Bex Caputo. If you love to make clever puns while talking about sex, kink and relationships, you should definitely check it out. Kate and Bex are best friends, and their chemistry makes for a really fun show. You can find The Dildorks wherever you get your podcasts. Now, I'd love to hear from you, listener. Do you have your own story about fan fiction that you read or wrote, helping you to understand a part of your sexual identity? I really love to hear about that. Reach out and askaria@lustery.com, or you can find me on Twitter @vegadreamcast. If you're into the show, please leave us a five star rating and a review. POV is brought to you by Lustery, and this episode was hosted by me, Aria Vega. It was edited and produced by Kathryn Fisher and Adrienne Teicher, and our showrunner is Paulita Pappel. Lustery is the home of real life partners filming their sex lives behind closed doors. If you're 18 or older, you can find us at Lustery.com, and we're on Twitter and Instagram at Lustery POV. See you next week, lovers.