It was a rainy evening in New York City. It was the kind of rain in which the raindrops fly sideways, slapping your bare face and breaking apart your cheap umbrella.
The last thing in the world I felt like doing was taking the 3 train trek from Manhattan to Park Slope for a class about dirty talk called "Use Your Words," led by Tina Horn.
But alas, not only had I shelled out $21 (no joke on a writer's salary), but I had also dutifully convinced my dear friend Emily to join me on this adventure.
So why was I inclined to trek to the other side of the city on an exhausted Thursday afternoon to enhance my dirty talk skills to begin with?
Good question. Words are an intrinsic part of my identity. I string together sentences for a living. For almost a decade, I've led acting workshops, taught theatre classes and spoke on panel discussions for an audience of thousands of people.
I have words tattooed across my spine and on the curve of my hips. I deeply adore just the f*cking fantastic feeling of pressing my tired fingertips onto a keyboard, typing out w-o-r-d-s.
I also happen to love sex with the same ferocity. I love all kinds of sex: wild, salacious, loving, intimate, mind-blowing and hair-pulling.
One would think, considering my unabashed obsession with both language and lust, that I would be a grade-A national authority when it comes to dirty talk.
But my mother taught me to never lie, so I will confess that I'm not. In fact, I fear I might kind of suck at dirty talk.
The girl who can effortlessly speak to a room of a thousand people just can't seem to find her words when it comes to the delicate matters of the bedroom.
My brain just shuts off during sex, and I find myself only making illegible sounds: moans, whispers, yelps of desire and a laundry list of other indescribable noises.
So why do I care? Why don't I accept the fact that I'm not good at dirty talk?
Because that would be giving up. And if you're not perpetually trying to amp up your sexual prowess, then as far as I'm concerned, you're giving the f*ck up.
Shouldn't we all strive to be the best possible sexual partner's to our lovers? We strive to improve our health, our bodies and careers -- why should we leave sex out of the equation?
Not only that, but I think dirty talk is hot as hell. I just don't actually know how to do it. So Emily and I decided to learn.
I learned new tools for my sexual toolbox.
Tina Horn is a self-described "writer, educator, interdisciplinary media maker, queer punk and true karaoke believer.” She was the special guest at Please, a female-owned and operated sex shop in the center of beautiful, civilized Park Slope, where the dirty talking event took place.
Swimming in an exotic sea of pretty pink dildos, posh leather harnesses and a slew of sex positive literature, I could feel my lips curving into an irrepressible smile. I love stores like Please -- stores that are simply teeming with so much palpable sex-positive energy that you instantly feel wildly empowered in your sexuality.
I was tucked into a small crowd made up of a diverse mix of people. Among us were queer couples, straight couples, singles and best friends -- all spanning across the colorful spectrum of sexuality and race.
Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures at the event. It seemed like an unspoken rule that you shouldn't breach the privacy of innocent people trying to learn about dirty talk. So I sat and focused on Horn instead.
When Horn took to the stage, I could feel my palms sweating and my heart racing. I was starting to feel a trickling of that tireless ol' anxiety creeping up the passage of my airways. I was half excited, half scared sh*tless.
Why was I so nervous? Would I have to practice dirty talk aloud in front of the entire class? It felt like the first day of school.
Horn stood on the small stage of Please looking fierce as f*ck. She was an alternative beauty with short hair, her curvy body clad in a classic wrap dress. She was braless and buzzing with the natural charisma of someone born with an inherent stage presence. Her prowess commanded the room, yet in a gentle and open way.
After introducing herself, she asked all of us to say our names and our favorite dirty word. Mine is "slut.”
Attaching names to the group of unfamiliar faces and hearing everyone confess their favorite dirty word made me feel relaxed. Trust was instantly built. We were all united in our love for peppery sexual words.
My anxiety quickly melted and metamorphosed into excitement as I heard "f*ck me harder" and "d*ck" and "please" echoed around the shop floor. Clearly I wasn't the only freak in the room with a passion for "lewd" language. We were all unlikely freaks looking for fresh new tools to place in our sexual toolbox.
I learned it’s hot to reclaim offensive words.
Horn began to break down exactly why we sometimes like to be called these forbidden "demeaning" names in the bedroom, like “slut," "bitch" and "whore.”
There is something empowering about being called derogatory names in the bedroom from the lips of a person you love and trust in a controlled environment.
It's a reparative experience.
I suddenly had an acutely vivid flashback to middle school. I was called a slut for half of the seventh grade because I let some f*ckboy in training touch my chest under my bra.
It crushed my heart and broke my tween girl soul into a million little pieces. I felt ashamed for my sexuality and my body, and I, in turn, shut that part of myself down for years.
Cut to the present, and I've always secretly felt like a bad feminist for liking to be called "slut" in bed. But eventually, I realized it was my way of reclaiming the word "slut." I was choosing to be called this name with my partner whom I love and trust with every fiber of my being. I was taking a painful experience and turning it into a positive one.
I instantly felt 10 pounds lighter as I freed myself from the shackles of pent up humility.
I learned dirty talk exists in the past, the present and the future.
Horn made me feel even better and even more validated in sexuality when she said it's perfectly normal for the most verbal of people to feel tongue-tied in bed. She claimed this even happens to her.
She talked about how there is actually something kind of hot about being at a loss for words when you're a talkative entity, like myself. That moaning, by itself, can indeed be deemed dirty talk.
Still, if we’re feeling tongue-tied, Horn gave us some techniques. Sex talk, apparently, doesn't only have to happen in the bedroom.
You can talk about the future, like "I'm going to f*ck you later." You can talk about the present, like "I'm f*cking you right now." Or you can talk about the past, like "I just f*cked you."
As a group, our voices repeated these phrases together in perfect unison. We were a team of sex students harmonizing the words "I just f*cked you" as a united force of nature. If that doesn't bond you to strangers, I don't know what does.
I learned communication is key.
She wrapped up by explaining that the most important part of dirty talk is to communicate honestly with your partner.
Set your boundaries before you hop into bed. If you don't like to be called a slut, tell your partner before sex. If you do like to be called a whore, tell your partner before sex. This way weird triggering things don't come up while you're in the act, which will crush the moment.
As the lesson wrapped up, I felt wildly empowered. I felt more in control of my sex life than I ever have, ready to leave my pride at the door and take a stab at talking dirty with my lover.
After all, if I can say my favorite dirty word to a whole group of strangers, then surely I can talk dirty to my girlfriend whom I love and trust with all of my being?
And I ended up with $300 in sex toys.
Just as I was about to walk out and have a decompressing wine with Emily, I decided f*ck it; it's time I, a sex-positive girl-creative, invest in my sex life. So I brought a pink and purple dildo with a plush leather harness to match. It cost me $300.
Thankfully, it was payday.
Emily and I finished off the evening with white wine, discussing everything about our lives -- and not just our sex lives. Once you can talk openly about sex, you can talk about anything.
Sexuality is at the core of who we are. Once we are comfortable with our sexuality, we are comfortable with ourselves.
And I finally feel more comfortable than ever before.