After the end of his fifteen year marriage, Jefferson, a bisexual blogger and self-proclaimed “parent, and pervert, in New York City,” has been on an amazing personal journey of sexual discovery and adventure. In addition to writing for his blog, One Life, Take Two, Jefferson is also the founder and host of Bare! True Stories of Sex, Desire and Romance, an curated public event series which appears regularly in Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
C.J. Asher – Tell me a bit about yourself and your background.
Jefferson – I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, and I’ve lived in New York City for twenty five years. I’m divorced and the father of four children—at least, four that I know of. I’m also a kinky queer, proficient slut and humble smut monger.
C.J. Asher – What types of sex education and writing do you do?
Jefferson – My sex education tends to focus on relationships, based on my training and experiences—especially with bisexuality, polyamory and orgy etiquette—and skills such as flogging and my favorite, wax play. I love the love and feel of wax. It reminds me of painting. I write erotic nonfiction, entirely memoir, which also takes shape in performing storytelling.
C.J. Asher – What TV shows and books have you enjoyed recently?
Jefferson – I tend to favor nonfiction. I recently finished The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore and Secret Historian by Justin Spring. Each was a gift from people who know me very well! I’m currently beach reading Sick in the Head by Judd Apatow. My most recent fictions have been Funny Girl by Nick Hornby and Geek Love by Katharine Dunn. Come to think of it, the latter books were also recommendations. Having put Breaking Bad and Mad Men to rest and awaiting another round of Head of State, I’m following comedy, especially Louie, Inside Amy Schumer, Key & Peele and Broad City. Binging BoJack Horseman. I routinely return to worship at the church of Mary Tyler Moore. I am no doubt the youngest American who still watches the evening news.
C.J. Asher – You describe yourself on your blog as “a parent and a pervert.” How does your life as a sex educator and writer impact your personal and professional life, or are the two intertwined?
Jefferson – With the end of my marriage a dozen years ago, my life was cleaved in half. As a parent with joint custody, I lived as a single dad. When the kids were with their mother, I pursued a very active and public sex life. My new sexual freedom found expression in education, writing and performing.
C.J. Asher – How did your blog, One Life Take Two, come to be?
Jefferson – The end of my marriage found me dating after fifteen years of monogamy, which, in our case, was essentially celibate. For all intents and purposes, I had no sex life during half of my twenties and all of my thirties. In those intervening years, my future ex-wife and I had moved to New York and the Internet had been invented. I suddenly found myself waking like Rip Van Winkle to a new world of dating and sex. I frequently wrote long emails describing the surreality of this new life to a friend, who suggested I start a blog. This was in 2004; I had no idea what a blog was. She helped me to set it up. I began by writing anonymously, considering my blog as a kind of safe deposit box for my stories, never imagining it would develop a readership. It quickly grew popular. Soon, I was contacted by people who wanted to get with me because they enjoyed my writing. You’ve had sex with people because they think you’re cute, or smart, or funny. Thanks to my blog, people now desired me, sight unseen, based solely on my writing. That, my friend, is as hot as it gets.
C.J. Asher – How did you first come up with the idea of Bare! True Stories of Sex, Desire and Romance?
Jefferson – I began performing stories at The Moth, at the behest of my friend Lori Baird. The Moth is competitive storytelling in which ten people are chosen from a hat at random to tell a five-minute story on a given theme. Stories are ranked by judges and recorded for possible broadcast on NPR. My first time at The Moth, Lori went up and told a raunchy story about a date with me. It won over the crowd; indeed, she won that night and her story went on the podcast. I decided to give it a shot, staying with the foci of my blog: sex and parenting. My first few times, I bombed or went over time. I simply failed to connect with audiences. Gradually, I got the hang of it and began to win StorySlams. In October 2011, I started Bare! True Stories of Sex, Desire and Romance to create a show focusing on the themes I was pursuing. I encouraged my sex world friends to tell, and my storytelling friends to tell on sexual subjects. The idea took off. The show has been in New York (where it’s based), Boston, Washington DC, Philadelphia and various kink events. A few years ago, it spawned Foreplay! A Sexy Storytelling Open Mic, which is free, every Monday at The Delancey on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
C.J. Asher – What can a first time attendee at a Bare! event expect, either as a guest or participant looking to share their stories?
Jefferson – It’s all first person, true stories of a broad range. A story may be as innocent as a first kiss or as raunchy as last weekend’s orgy. We welcome all genders, all sexual styles. Every show offers an opportunity for audience members to tell a story. They’ll never find a more supportive audience. Our only requirements are: The story must be true and first person; It must have to do with sex, desire and romance; It should have a beginning, middle and end; It must be concluded within seven minutes. I ensure that with my handy stopwatch.
C.J. Asher – Tell me about some of the crazy personal stories that people have shared at the Bare! events… any favorite ones come to mind?
Jefferson – First rule of storytelling: don’t tell other people’s stories. That said, we’ve had amazing stories from the most gifted storytellers I know, and some revelatory tales from novices in the audience.
C.J. Asher – Besides Bare!, what sex-related events do you host or attend? Do you have an upcoming calendar of events for anyone interested in attending?
Jefferson – I curate and host Bare! True Stories of Sex, Desire and Romance. Each Monday, I host Foreplay! A Sexy Storytelling Open Mic at The Delancey on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. I also contribute to a variety of private sex events. Those open to the public are posted at my profiles on Facebook and FetLife. I enjoy attending events with my girlfriend and circle of friends. My girlfriend is drawn to kink, so these days, we’re mostly likely to be at a BDSM event.
C.J. Asher – What has been the most positive aspect and greatest discovery of your own personal sexual journey?
Jefferson – Early on, just learning that I am desirable was an enormous boost to my withered self-esteem. But above all, the most positive ongoing aspect has been the great friendships and community I’ve found and fostered.
C.J. Asher – What do you feel will be the greatest driving force behind moving towards sexual equality as well as acceptance of alternative lifestyles in this country?
Jefferson – Being out has been a great strategy for social change. I recognize that not everyone can or wants to be out, and I respect that. But it’s incumbent on those of us who can be out to do so, as visibility removes stigma and fear among the ignorant. Marriage equality was helped tremendously by the increased awareness that gays and lesbians are not an unknown cohort; most straight Americans came to realize that their friends and families were affected by the denial of marriage rights.
C.J. Asher – I’ve read that you host sex parties in Manhattan. What other debaucherous escapades do you enjoy engaging in?
Jefferson – I enjoy a wide range of activities. I came into a renewed relationship with sexuality as I approached middle age. Early on, I found I no longer approached a novel activity by asking “What’s hot about that?” but asking rather “What’s *not* hot about that?” I gave myself permission to try things from various perspectives rather than making decisions based on presumptions. I most enjoy exploring the desires of my partners and friends. I like to make things happen.
C.J. Asher – What advice do you have for someone looking to explore their own sexuality, either through experimenting with same sex relationships, swinging or dabbling in their own fetish and kink desires?
Jefferson – First and foremost, be safe and be honest. Take care of yourself and those in your life. Take risks without risking yourself. If possible, find community with experienced people you trust. And don’t judge all experiences by your first: you may find your attractions change as you gain knowledge.
C.J. Asher – Besides FetLife.com, what other websites and resources do you recommend for someone looking to explore the kink and fetish community?
Jefferson – FetLife can offer great resources though, like any social media, it contains a multitude of subjective voices and perspectives. Some are wise, many are contradictory and not a few are plain misguided. I most recommend looking into established texts and authors—“The Ethical Slut,” Kink Academy, anything by Lee Harrington—as these basic resources are valuable as you interact within communities and form your own views. For sheer arousal, I really like the films available on Kink.com.
C.J. Asher – I read on your blog that you had a false positive for HIV after participating in a study last year. How has that impacted yourself personally as well as your sexual lifestyle?
Jefferson – Well, first of all, it wasn’t truly a “false positive.” The text accurately detected some compromised immunity. Further tests conclusively showed this wasn’t due to HIV. It’s unclear what the issue may have been, but it has passed, as I no longer test reactive. That said, for a week I believed I had HIV. From 1990-92, I helped my high school boyfriend Donnie as he died of AIDS. I now worried I may have exposed my girlfriend of five years, with whom I was fluid bonded, and that she would suffer my possible illness as I had suffered his. She tested nonreactive and was proscribed post-exposure prophylactics. We were confused by my diagnosis, as I couldn’t recall any possible exposure risks. Throughout this changed circumstance in our relationship, my girlfriend trusted me. We were freaked out, and still worked on the faith that, no matter what, we would stay together. When it turned out that I did not have HIV, I felt we had weathered an extraordinary test and were bonded by it. I had never felt safer or more secure in a relationship. My girlfriend had just started dating a friend of ours. We were in an open relationship; I had introduced them. When he heard she was negative, his response was the opposite of mine: where I found security, he found a rational to insist on barebacking. She refused, saying it would hurt me too much. Then, for reasons I don’t fully understand—she was head-over-heels for a new relationship, very anxious to please him—she complied. Our relationship never recovered and we broke up. In the end, she dumped me for him. As a consequence, I survived an HIV scare only to suffer betrayal, heartbreak and profound depression. With love, support and therapy, I survived.
C.J. Asher – Are there any items remaining on your “sexual bucket list” or have you experienced and grown as much as you’d like?
Jefferson – I fully intend to leave this mortal coil still curious and exploring.