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Hardcore Sex Ed Videos Are the Sexiest Sex Ed of All

Hardcore Sex Ed Videos Are the Sexiest Sex Ed of All:

Sex education in schools has always been a volatile topic – what to teach, how to teach it and whether or not learning about sex even has a place in the classroom. Further, sexualities aren’t fixed, and questions about sex don’t stop when you graduate. We can all pretend we got some form of comprehensive fact-based sex education when we were young (which, we didn’t), or we can ask what happens when school is done and you’re on your own? Where do young (and old) adults go to learn about sex?

Many are turning to hardcore adult instructional films. Different from conventional porn, the intended purpose of which has everything to do with fantasy and nothing to do with education, adult instructionals are made with input from educators, experts, and/or professionals. With topics ranging from hot pregnancy sex to basic blowjobs and more, these sex ed videos are a bit more graphic.

Legendary porn star, sex educator and former nurse Nina Hartley pioneered the adult instructional via her Nina Hartley’s Guide To… series. Mega-retailer Adam&Eve commissioned Hartley to create the line during the mid-1990s. Tapping into a clear need, and with 29 titles currently produced, the Guide To… series has been going strong ever since.

“Nurses are charged with, among other tasks, education, advocation and role modeling,” Hartley said. “In our culture, sexuality is (considered) sick, and sick people need a nurse’s care – so, care from someone who is not grossed out by a patient’s ‘condition’ or pulled off center by the depth of the patient’s suffering. And make no mistake: sexual suffering is real suffering.”

Due in part to an expanded awareness of sex-related issues, the landscape of sex ed has shifted dramatically since the inception of Hartley’s guides. The demand for candid sex-related information has expanded, as has the production of adult instructionals. Structurally speaking, your average adult instructional is not too dissimilar from any other sort of how-to video – a talking head talking followed by a demonstration, rinse, repeat. Topics vary and, like any other product or good, so does quality. As such, there’s a lot of variety.

JESSICA DRAKE’S GUIDE TO WICKED SEX

For example, the current powerhouse line for adult instructionals is Jessica Drake’s Guide to Wicked Sex from Wicked Pictures. Spearheaded by adult performer Jessica Drake, this line currently includes 12 titles, each with an aesthetically mild box cover and tasteful art direction. And though this series overall has a decidedly vanilla tone, a few of the titles tackle some relatively taboo topics – anal play for heterosexual-identified men, BDSM, and female ejaculation, for example.

I asked Drake if the overall tenor provided an open door for more “average” folks to explore what may be relatively edgy sex adventures. “I suspect it might,” she said. “I try to make the boxes feel comfortable and not intimidating so that couples aren’t afraid to take them home and share them with their partner.”

The possibility for tacit permission through feelings of comfort is interesting. Also interesting is who participates – who educates, who discusses and who demonstrates. For example, in the Wicked guides, Drake educates viewers almost exclusively. Demonstrations come from professional performers, some of whom are couples in their private lives (or at least they were at the time of filming). Discussion often comes from the performers who are about to be demonstrators. Occasionally, however, we get insights from people who connect with a specific topic but don’t have sex professionally.

Sherri L. Shaulis is the senior editor of pleasure products at AVN, one of the adult film industry’s premier trade publications. She, along with her partner IRL Michael Colbert, were featured in Jessica Drake’s Guide To Wicked Sex: Plus Size. It’s basically unheard of for people who aren’t either sex educators or porn performers to appear in these films. I wondered what prompted the couple to participate.

Producers approached Shaulis and Colbert to speak about sex as a traditional, non-porn, plus-size couple. “We were made aware right off the bat that we would not be expected to appear naked or perform for the camera, so that made the decision quite a bit easier,” Shaulis laughed. “All we had to do was talk and be honest.”

VIDEO VIA WICKED PRODUCTIONS

“Mike and I were in our early 40s when we started dating a few years ago, so we both approached this relationship with a ‘no games, fight fair, listen (don’t just wait to talk), be honest, be mindful of one another’ attitude,” she said. “It’s worked for us, and I think that came across in the questions we answered and the way we appeared on camera.”

According to Shaulis, the experience was just as educational for her and Colbert as it (ideally) was for viewers. “It helped he and I to have some conversations we might not have otherwise had, and hopefully it inspired others to do the same.”

Adult instructionals seem to have a strong foothold in relatively conventional sex practices and conversation, but what about the more fringe aspects of sexuality? Is there room for how-to DVDs in the outer-limits of sex?

Adult content producer Severe Sex has a growing line of adult instructionals for BDSM and kink – Kink School – that originally started as an electrical play (a niche type of BDSM play engaged by some advanced practitioners that involves application of electrical stimulation to erogenous zones) training video shot for a Los Angeles-area sex shop. I asked Jimmy Broadway, co-owner of Severe Sex and executive producer/sometimes director of Kink School, about instruction videos for (relatively) edgy sex practices.

“In Kink School, we walk you through safety, how to select equipment, and how to prepare your body for BDSM and fetish activities,” Broadway said. “In light of the whole 50 Shades of Grey thing … well, 50 Shades is a work of fiction – it’s not meant to teach, it’s meant to entertain. Our distributor thought it would be great if we could come up with some instructional videos. We saw a need for authentic and honest information about BDSM, and it made good business sense.”

VIDEO VIA SEVERE SEX

Broadway told me that Severe Sex has titles on erotic role-play, sissification and cross-dressing in preproduction, which made me wonder about liability. When getting into more niche sex practices, who’s responsible for things like efficacy and safety?

“There is liability with everything these days,” Broadway said matter-of-factly. “The bottom line is, these videos are no substitute for hands-on in-person instruction, which we encourage our viewers to get from their local fetish shop, BDSM club or professional dominatrix.”

In many ways, adult instructionals might serve a bridge, a way to dip your toe into something you may be interested in and test the waters. But who exactly is watching these movies? And more importantly, given the amount of resources available on the interwebs, why?

Greg B., a heterosexual African-American man, told me he once watched a guide to anal sex that featured ladies only. “I mostly wanted to see the sex, but I was also curious if it would teach anything,” he told me. “I was still a virgin [at the time], and the Oklahoma sex ed system is abysmal.” The guide, incidentally, taught him about foreplay – highly necessary when it comes to all iterations of anal.

The need for adult instructionals is clear, as Greg B. can’t be the only person in the entire state of Oklahoma with questions. According to Hartley, “Fact-based, non-judgmental, age-appropriate sex education is vitally important, especially in this day and age. Good sex is consensual, can be learned, and is worth every effort to attain.”

Partly because of our culture’s repudiation of early sex ed, operating in conjunction with inherent human curiosity about actual sex, porn is frequently misappropriated as “educational.” Instructionals are working to close this gap. Put simply: If you’re going to look to porn for information and instruction about sex, make sure it’s a sex ed specific adult instructional. Apparently, there’s anal sex in them.


Chauntelle Tibbals, PhD, is a sociologist in Los Angeles. Her book Exposure: A Sociologist Explores Sex, Society, and Adult Entertainment comes out this July. Follow her on Twitter at @drchauntelle.

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