A self-described “stripper with a PhD,” Dr. Timaree Schmit has established herself as the premiere authority on human sexuality, both as an entertainer and educator, within the Greater Philadelphia area. Dr. Schmit shares with us a bit about the history of her work, the numerous projects she’s involved with, as well has her thoughts on various sexual issues affecting society today.
C.J. Asher – First of all, thank you for the interview! What first interested you in earning your doctorate in human sexuality education?
Dr. Timaree Schmit – Finding out it was possible. Human sexuality is such an inordinately important topic, one that touches on literally everything else and has significant impacts on human lives, yet very few people are comfortable talking about it. I am, so I feel called to do so. It’s my purpose.
C.J. Asher – How was “HoneyTree EvilEye” born, and how did you choose that stage name?
Dr. Timaree Schmit – Remember Spuds McKenzie, the beer mascot? In real life, that dog was a female named Honey Tree Evil Eye. She was a literally a bitch from the 80s, surrounded by booze and women. What better describes my burlesque life?
C.J. Asher – Tell me a bit about your burlesque performances, and what people can expect from one of your shows.
Dr. Timaree Schmit – I use burlesque as a vehicle to be sexy, funny and stupid. My performance style personally is often very dance-based, aiming for some kind of sensual idiocy. The shows I produce, however, have everything: not just all the styles of burlesque but also aerials, drag, sideshow, etc.
C.J. Asher – How did your monthly show, “DTF: Darryl and Timaree Fun Hour,” come about?
Dr. Timaree Schmit – Darryl Charles, my co-host, is a genius and a pervert. We met at a fundraiser comedy show where he did standup and I gave a PowerPoint lecture on obscure categories of porn: super deep tracks, unusual stuff. He approached me afterwards saying, “that was pretty good. I hadn’t heard of one of those.” I knew we needed to work together and we devised this panel discussion/game show where we get to talk about sex with comedians.
C.J. Asher – “DTF” combines sex education, comedy and a game show into one event, which is held once a month in Philadelphia on the second Friday of the month at Franky Bradleys. What types of topics and issues are discussed at a typical event?
Dr. Timaree Schmit – That totally depends on what’s in the news. In any given show we highlight dumb, funny stuff and also dive into substantive, meaningful commentary about issues that are more complex. We include regular segments called The Fucking News, Fucking Idiot/Fucking Brilliant, We’re Here to Help – which is when I really serve as a sexuality educator – and then play a fun game that is a sexified version of a classic like Price is Right, Taboo, or 25,000 Pyramid.
C.J. Asher – Tell me about your podcast, “Sex With Timaree,” and some of the guests you’ve had and will have?
Dr. Timaree Schmit – Nathan Kuruna, the producer, approached me years ago with the idea that I should have an audio component to my work. I had no idea what a podcast was at the time but he took the reins and built this empire of episodes where we talk to everyone from academics to porn stars, inventors and artists. Sometimes it’s someone who wrote a book and we talk about the subject, other times it’s an individual whose lifestyle is particularly interesting.
C.J. Asher – Between being an adjunct professor, hosting your own public events, being a sex writer and columnist AND being heavily involved in fitness, you seem to be one incredibly busy individual! What projects are your favorites and which you find to be most rewarding?
Dr. Timaree Schmit – I love them all, which is why I do them; and I think they’re all part of a larger mission to empower people to feel good about their lives, their bodies, their sexuality. The wonderful problem I have is that I am passionate about too many things.
C.J. Asher – Tell me about some of the sex-positive groups that you work with within the Philadelphia area.
Dr. Timaree Schmit – I’m one of the co-founders of SEXx Interactive, a combination of TEDx style presentations, live performance and workshops that has taken place in Philly for 3 years.
C.J. Asher – How does your own sexuality influence your work, both as an educator and performer?
Dr. Timaree Schmit – I want my work to prove that you can be both a sexual object and a competent adult. So often we think people, women especially, have to choose between being sexy or respectable. I’m a stripper with a PhD. Come at me, bro.
C.J. Asher – What are the most common sexual issues facing today’s youth?
Dr. Timaree Schmit – Regardless of age, people face similar issues, but they look a little different. Everyone needs to be informed on how their bodies work, they want to navigate intimate relationships and be assured they’re normal. Everyone has to learn about consent, risk reduction, expressing desire, figuring out identity and communicating.
C.J. Asher – What advice do you find yourself giving most often to people who approach you with sex-related issues in their personal lives?
Dr. Timaree Schmit – The advice I give is: you’re not alone, good sex isn’t goal oriented, talk to your partner and also facts about how bodies work.
C.J. Asher – What do you think will bring about the greatest change towards LGBT acceptance within our society as a whole?
Dr. Timaree Schmit – What has worked so far is, quite frankly, making it super uncool to be a bigot. You can know LGBT people and that goes a long way, you can be exposed to different views and lifestyles and that may make it easier to be cool. But frankly, I love youth culture for being unabashedly anti-bigotry. It’s not fucking cool to be a homophobe anymore.
C.J. Asher – What can and should be done to address the pervasive issue of rape culture?
Dr. Timaree Schmit – Enthusiastic consent is the bare minimum for sexual activity and that needs to be normalized, not just this “no means no” narrative that leads to victim-blaming questions about whether survivors did enough to convey “no.” The archaic idea that girls are gatekeepers who are responsible for restraining boys’ mindless libidos needs to go. Instead: acknowledge sexual interest in nearly universal and natural and that the only morality around sex is whether or not everyone involved can and does consent. Teach kids sex is collaborative, not a conquest.
C.J. Asher – Can you tell me one or two stories about the positive impact that you’ve had within the lives of people that you’ve worked for and with professionally?
Dr. Timaree Schmit – I wouldn’t suggest my work is that significant, but I do get messages that suggest I opened people’s minds on some issue with which they were previously unfamiliar, that I presented them with resources that led to them to be able to navigate complex circumstances or normalized their experience. Sometimes people know what they want but they just need to be told they’re not alone and that it’s OK to want things. We all need to be reminded that pleasure is inherently valuable and that our bodies are our own to use as we like.