Most sex educators don’t hold demonstrations with a cupcake and finger condoms. But Reid Mihalko isn’t like most sex educators.
A self-proclaimed slut and “dildo for hire,” Mihalko was also a self-styled “sex and relationship geek” on a mission to get as many colleges talking about sex as possible. On his 10th stop of the month, Mihalko has flown over to Stony Brook University from his home on the West Coast to talk to a room of 40 students about all aspects of sex: what is safe, what is enjoyable and why learning about sex from watching porn is just like learning to drive from watching The Fast and The Furious. (Hint: it has to do with real-life applications.)
SBU’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Alliance hosted this month’s stop of his Sex Geek Chic Challenge tour for colleges. In his second appearance at SBU, the co-founder of Cuddle Party had two hours to run through a series of punch lines and gags last Tuesday in the HDV/GLS Center. And he doesn’t believe in euphemisms.
“A great blowjob is a great handjob with a mouth added to it,” Mihalko said. “You’ve got these f***ing amazing tools! With thumbs! Use them.”
Other times, he would criticize the modern technique of couples keeping silent in bed. “You’re like ninjas,” Mihalko said. “You can come and not make a peep.”
But behind his snappy one-liners and straight-faced retorts, Mihalko had a serious message sneaked in amongst the jokes.
Nina Lin: Where do you get your sex expertise from?
Reid Mihalko: Life experiences, and being a geek. I didn’t go to school [Brown University] for sex and relationship stuff. I’ve read a lot and now at this point in my career, I hang out with all the people who wrote the books I’ve read. And so we get to talk about it and do a lot of thinking, and geeking out on coming up with new and better ways to teach adults how to navigate sex and relationships.
NL: How long have you been talking to college students around the country?
RM:I’ve been doing this for at least six years. In 2004, I created a workshop, Cuddle Party, and that got really big in the media. So I’ve been doing this stuff professionally since 2004, and speaking to colleges since 2006.
NL: Why did you start the Sex Geek Challenge? You’re going around all colleges trying to get them to talk more about sex. What’s your reason for starting this?
RM: The idea is to get college campuses rallied around the idea that … people get excited about team activities and having a goal. The goal is to get people more excited about learning more about their bodies and being better communicators in relationships. So by issuing a challenge, some people work really hard to meet it. “I’m responding to a challenge!” So that’s where the idea came from. How could I get people excited in using peer pressure in a positive, constructive manner?
NL: How many colleges have you lectured at so far?
RM: Four this year. Last year, I was at Yale’s Sex Week. Sex weeks are awesome, you just take an entire week to give students opportunities to come to a bunch of different things, and get them talking about sex and relationships.
NL: You gave a lecture at SBU in 2011. What was your impression of our campus?
RM: It’s huge! The campus is very big. I got lost twice. But I really love it, I love the students. I love the LGBTA, they’re doing really great work. And the students that show up are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and really hungry for good information. I think that it’s not just this college, but colleges across the country. Students and young adults are starving for accurate sexual health information and useful communication in relationships.
NL: Do you also talk outside of colleges?
RM: Yep. I teach all over the country. I teach at stores and organizations, and lecture at colleges and conferences.
NL: Why use humor in your lectures?
RM: Humor’s a really great way to get people to have a shared experience. And to let off some of the pressure and steam and the upset that we have from being knocked around in relationships and in the bedroom. You know, people just being clumsy and all that BS that can accumulate after years of bad relationships.
NL: Why do you think it’s so important for students to be educated not only about sex, but about their sexuality as well?
RM: I think it’s important, giving people more tools and resources on how to figure out what they like and how they want to interact in the world and in the bedroom. It’s giving people the tools to figure out their orientation, their identities, for them to have more choices than just what they see on television or film or were taught growing up. And of course, tools and skills sets for being able to communicate their wants, needs and desires more powerfully and more accurately, I think those things, when you add them together, prepare young adults for the rest of their lives.
People who know themselves better, they’re better at listening to other people’s bodies and listening to other people in relationships. They’re better at business, they’re better communicators.
And they have more self-confidence. People with low self-esteem and low self-knowledge tend not to do really well in the world. And in what other place can you learn more about yourself, about your own sexuality and about better communications with the ones you love?
Behind Mihalko’s many jokes was a plea for his listeners to not only learn how to better their love lives, but also to learn to respect the wishes of others. “’No’ is a complete sentence,” he said. “And if they do say it, tell them ‘Thank you for taking care of yourself.’”