‘I had a massive orgasm in front of 40 people’ – one woman’s US road trip to sexual discovery

Stephanie Theobald recalls a life-changing adventure across the States that forced her to face the final female sexual taboo - and saved her relationship

In January 2015, I found myself alone in New York following a relationship crisis brought about by a breakdown in my body. I’d felt chronically fatigued but no doctor had been able to properly diagnose the cause. Although things had improved, my ability to orgasm seemed to have disappeared or rather, when an orgasm did come, it felt depressingly slight.

Instead of doing my usual thing of having an affair, getting found out and causing havoc, I decided to be honest and talk to my partner. It was a terrifying conversation, but Jake was amazing. He agreed that I needed to find healing and we decided to ‘open up’ our relationship; I needed to go away. I live in the UK, but ever since I was at university and had a summer job in a restaurant on New York’s Upper West Side, America was a place that made me feel free. I knew this was where I had to go. Inspired, I set out on a road trip across the US, determined to rebuild my orgasm from the ground up with the help of a series of sex-positive feminist legends, many who were now in their seventies.

‘I committed to masturbating every night’

During the trip, I interviewed the legendary 70s rock ’n’ roll feminist, Betty Dodson. She had just relaunched the masturbation ‘masterclasses’ she’d originally started in the 70s. Female self-pleasure is one of the 21st century’s final taboos, but Betty showed me over one incredible weekend how it is actually the cornerstone of female sexuality.

orgasm

My 3,497 mile journey was also a drive slap bang into the counter-cultural heart of America and I was soon immersed in a world of marijuana lollipops in San Francisco, alien pleasure cults in Las Vegas and ‘ecosexual’ sexologists in the hills of California’s coastal redwood forest. I committed to masturbating every night, and as it started to bring me back to life, it spilled over into a desire for sex for two. And more. Being in a foreign country made me keen to try new experiences I’d never have dared at home. For instance, I’ve always had a fantasy about having sex with a biological guy with tits and a dick. It wasn’t long before I met a dominatrix in San Francisco who facilitated a suitably sexy night. My ultimate test came when the dominatrix asked me if I wanted to be her assistant in an educational Kink Weekend.

‘I had a massive orgasm in front of everyone, thanks to one of several ‘‘insertables’’’

On the big day, I lay naked on a table while she tied up my arms and legs with rope in front of an audience of around 40 people. In the event, it didn’t feel sexy at all − more like some biological practical and I was the frog being prepared for dissection. Still, I did have a massive orgasm in front of everyone, when she put one of several ‘insertables’ into me. This was thanks to the culmination of wisdom I’d learned from the women I’d met along the way, but mainly thanks to a breathing technique called an ‘energy orgasm’.

Taught to me by porn star-turned-cult-performance artist Annie Sprinkle, it’s a modern incarnation of tantra where you start out with dirty truck driver-style fantasies but, as you’re on the edge of coming, you stop yourself and imagine breathing that erotic energy into your heart. You repeat this a couple of times until you finally let yourself go and the energy shoots from the bottom of your feet, out of the top of your head.

By the time I arrived back in the UK, I felt in much better shape to think about how the future of my relationship with Jake might look. The final female sexual taboo had taken me to some amazing places but, more than that, it had served as some much-needed self-care medicine.

Sex Drive by Stephanie Theobald is published by Unbound (£16.99)

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