Sex Summit Interview Series: Brian Alexander
We’re getting excited for the Good Vibrations Sex Summit! But I couldn’t wait until October 27 to talk with our amazing presenters. So to kick off the Sex Summit interview series, I asked keynote speaker Brian Alexander to get us started.
1) Sex has been used to catch attention and sell products for a long time. But with all of the sex in the media these days, Are people getting saturated with it? Do you think it’s still an effective strategy?
I have zero data to back up the answer to the first question other than observation, but I’d say, yes. Now what do we mean by saturated? I don’t think there’s much debate that sexual imagery permeates pop culture as does sexual talk. As a Los Angeles Times TV critic once told me, “You can’t walk two steps in this culture without running into a masturbation joke.” It’s the rapidly aging go-to crack that used to be taken up by men not asking for directions.
But if by “saturated” we mean that “people are sick it,” I am less sure. I kind of am because it’s making sex less interesting. On the other hand, it represents a victory for people who wanted to bring sexuality into the open for open discussion and not be afraid of it. So I guess I punt here.
2) We hear a lot of people complaining about media becoming a substitute for sex education. What’s keeping us from creating real sex education and what can we do about that?
I think this battle is slowly but surely being won. Comprehensive sex ed is now more widely embraced than it was five years ago because it’s been proven to work. And by “comprehensive” I also include relationship. I think the barriers to full acceptance are well known: political and religious opposition (which is sometimes one and the same). But that’s kind of the easy short answer. It’s also parental discomfort and I do think people like me, who favor comprehensive sex ed, should pay more attention, listen harder, be less dismissive of those who express that element. Parents have the right to make mistakes. I get why some parents who believe that a school is teaching something opposed to their values, or their hopes for their children, might object. I think more engagement is necessary there, especially by approaching comprehensive sex ed as a good health step. Won’t solve everything — look at the anti-vaccine people — but it should be done.
3) What’s your ideal vision of how sex could be portrayed in modern media?
Oh, man, you ask awfully big questions, Charlie. Hate to be pedantic but for whom? And for art? Or as the way people might want to live?
If it’s for art, there are no boundaries. If it’s depicting the way grown ups might actually want to live, I prefer — this is personal taste — sex that’s easy, comfortable, fun, hot, smart-alecky. A cross between the Thin Man movies (which had no overt sex but were very sexy) and Body Heat (aging myself).
If it’s news, or non-fiction, then I prefer non-hyped, straight (not like heterosexual, I mean straight like non-nonsense) not exploitive, not a freak show.
4) What are you looking forward to most about the Sex Summit? What’s one thing you’d like to see come out of the event?
Meeting, or re-meeting, some people I only know by reputation and those I’ve met before but haven’t seen in a long time. And learning something.
5) Can you tell us about any of your upcoming projects? How can people find out more about you?
The big news is that my book, The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex and the Science of Attraction, written with Larry Young, PhD, of Emory University, has just come out. We give readers a grand unified theory of everything starting with gender and moving all the way through the paradox of infidelity and why people are different. It’s from a neuroscience perspective, and man, it still blows me away. I think it’s a very important book.
People can find out more about the book by going to www.TheChemistryBetweenUs.com and they can find out more about me at www.BrianRAlexander.com They can follow me on twitter at @BrianRAlexander not all sex or relationship related there, it’ll include the other topics I write about, cocktails, and possibly old Saturday morning cartoons.
Are you coming to the Sex Summit? We’re hosting a one-day conference, full of amazing speakers, fascinating panel discussions, and more! Plus, your ticket gets you a seat at the Quickies, our erotic short film competition on October 26 at the Castro Theater, and the post-Summit cocktail party. Get your ticket before they sell out!