Looking for a simple way to turn up the heat or help a partner feel sexier? You may want to consider genital praising, a type of sexy talk (aka “dirty talk”) that focuses on your bits!
I loved exploring this topic and more with Amy Baldwin and April Lampert of Shameless Sex.
Stream the episode on Apple Podcasts/iTunes, Spotify, iHeartRadio or below! Or read on for a lightly-edited transcript.
“Pussy/Penis Praising with Amy Baldwin and April Lampert”
a lightly-edited Girl Boner Radio transcript
Amy Baldwin grew up in Santa Cruz, California, a gorgeous coastal city known for its expansive beaches, redwood forests and progressive politics. Growing up there, she didn’t learn about pleasure or how to pleasure her body. But she did learn that sex is nothing to be ashamed of.
I remember being really young and being curious about my pussy! And like wow, this smell! And I wasn’t – I actually wasn’t a young masturbator—I wish I was—but I was more curious, just like this about the smell of it and like the texture of it.
I remember checking out and being so fascinated with the smell of and actually going to my mom, after I touched my pussy with my finger. I’m like, “Mom! Smell this!” And she – I remember her reaction was a little bit like, “Hmm, yeah, I don’t really want to smell that.”
And I don’t think that necessarily created shame for me but it did this internal stir because you’re young, you know. I’m four or five. I don’t understand. It’s like, Oh, this – Something about this is bad. I don’t know if it’s my pussy or I’m sharing it in that way but that wasn’t consensual. “You’ve just smelled my pussy, Mom!”
One memory that will stand out as very positive was being maybe 12 or 13 before I was sexually active. And my mom actually told me whenever you want to become sexually active, you can come to me and I – we – you can go on birth control. She brought me to a gynecologist even before I was sexually active.
So right off the bat, I knew that this wasn’t a shameful thing. That I could go to my mom and say “I want to have sex” and I could be safe about it, and she was a safe ally for that.
April Lampert grew up in Wisconsin, a state over from my Minnesota roots and less forward-thinking than Santa Cruz. Even now, sex education is not mandated in Wisconsin and schools that do teach it are required to stress abstinence.
Still, April was an early explorer of her own body. Not because anyone taught her to explore it, but because, like many kids, she stumbled upon it with curiosity.
I had been an avid masturbator since I was – I think I was actually four years old. I got this teddy bear, which I talked to you about, this bear-y for Christmas. I had started humping my teddy bear right after I, I had that Christmas present. I didn’t know what I was doing but I remember I really loved the feeling. And I don’t know exactly how long or how often I would participate in masturbating with my teddy bear but I do recall that I loved that teddy bear dearly.
And when I entered first grade, I would go over to my friend’s house and we would do, like, these dry humping things with each other, with our clothes on, not knowing either. It just felt good. And we never talked about it but I think we both knew that it probably wasn’t something that maybe we should be doing but we never really talked about it. We’re just like, oh—and I don’t even remember—we had a name for it like “The Dance” or something like “Do you want to do the dance?”
I remember going secretly to get birth control, because I couldn’t talk about it with my mother.
So it’s been a struggle for me to have orgasms with partners, because I had only related orgasms my entire life to masturbation. So, for me, it was a, a road, a long journey for me to understand partners or partnered sex and uh, and allowing myself to orgasm through that.
Today, Amy and April work together to inspire radical self-love, sexual empowerment and shame-free intimacy. They describe their podcast, Shameless Sex, as “unabashed real talk about sexuality with a playful twist.”
Amy’s also a Sex and Relationship Coach, Certified Sex Educator and co-owner with her mom of the online pleasure boutique, Pure Pleasure Shop.
April is VP of Hot Octopuss, an innovative pleasure product company you may have heard me rave about. I love how inclusive their toys and imagery are in particular.
The journey to where they are today involved several turning points in their respective lives.
I was opposite of April, where even though I had more of a sex-positive upbringing, I didn’t have a lot of people going down on me. I had penetrative sex before someone went down on me. And then I, uh, didn’t have orgasms.
And I didn’t really have this big desire to masturbate, which is so interesting. I don’t have shame about it, but it’s just like – I kind of touch myself and think, I don’t feel much. But I – Because of my progressive upbringing, I think that it gave me some openness to learning about it, to being open to learning and knowing that there wasn’t anything wrong with embracing that and so I remember ordering my first vibrator, I think I was only 17, from a local sex shop.
Got one of those nasty rubber jelly ones that did not do the job and probably gave me a rash because there are a lot of the sex toys on the market are still toxic. Then I ordered another sex toy that was very powerful, it gave me my first orgasm. And by then I’d already slept with maybe three or four different people but I gave myself my first orgasm from a vibrator.
Uhm, I bought books on female ejaculation because I ejaculated with my first orgasm, and then I took a human sexuality class when I was 18, which I think is really the biggest turning point. I took it for fun and enjoyed every second of it, even though the, the instructor was made it very dry and was not most vibrant of instructors and not very passionate about the topic.
Then I still had so many questions about my own body but I had this openness to talking about it. So I put all those pieces together and was like, I want to make this my life’s work to not only to understand my body better, but then to also share this with other people who are confused such as myself. [background laughter]
I grew into my more empowered sexual self my later 20s. I had a couple sexual experiences that were really powerful, where I had the experience of having a more energetic sex. Genitals weren’t even touched between myself and this other person that I had this first experience with him and since then had it with many people.
I mean, I think that’s part of the excitement of it. So you two met. You said you were working in a restaurant. Where were you two, like, in your sexual journeys when you met?
Mmm… I was in a very long term relationship with a person that was my best friend and sort of slipped into a partnership with and I hadn’t really ever experienced orgasm with him, not because of him, because of the whole challenge with me figuring out how to be partnered and orgasm.
And when I met Amy, she actually gave me my first vibrator. And I remember using it. And I remember thinking, why am I 23 years old, and this is the first time I’ve ever had this experience. This is so awesome. And then I tied it into the sexual experiences with my partner and it did help with bringing myself to be able to orgasm while we were sometimes playing or sometimes prior to like any penetration.
So it actually really opened me up to a lot of things but he was a second person I had ever—no, the third person I’d ever—penis owner that I’d ever had penetrative sex with. And then I had been in a partnership with a, with a woman before that. I thought maybe I was lesbian.
I had a lot of, for lack of a better word, beef with the male energy, just daddy issues from the get go. And then my first relationship, the guy that I had sex with for the first time, just cheated on me, gave me an actually an STD that is a gift that keeps on giving. And I was burnt by it. And so I thought maybe I should just quit the penis owning population altogether. [laughter}
Then I realized during my exploration that I was definitely not gay. Like I wasn’t – I didn’t fully identify with being a lesbian. I needed more along the lines of pansexual. Yes, I think for sure. I don’t really think about genitals; more I think about humans and my connection with them. So that’s something that I didn’t realize back then. It was very black and white for me, right?
Obviously you talked about sex because you gave April a vibrator, right, Amy? So was that something that came up quickly?
I was already going to school for psychology and human sexuality, and I knew that I was going to open up a sex shop. That’s one of the first things I did when I was 22-23. I opened up a sex shop here in Santa Cruz. So I was already on that path.
And the way April and I met—and very quickly fell in love with each other—was in the restaurant industry and she was sharing a story about going—and we didn’t really know each other. [Whispers] Who’s this new girl? ‘Cuz I’d worked there for like three years.
And she got high right on the spot. She’s a social savant. She’s very talented at pretty much anything she does. And I was like, “New girl! Who’s this new girl? Cool!”
And she started telling a story about going to a party the night before and getting spanked. And I turned bright red, because I was like, Yesssssss. But to her she was like, Oh, no. I offended her. “Do you not like me?” And I was like, “No, I think I love you.” And, uh, we became—
No, I said, “I’m sorry. Did I offend you?” And you’re like, “No, I think I love you.” And her face did turn bright red. And because I was – I’m very animated. And so I was getting into this.
She’s spanking herself in the kitchen.
I was spanking myself in front of everyone in the kitchen. I was like,
“It was so interesting! There was a stripper pole at the party. I’ve never seen this kind of thing before.”
I was like, she’s my kind of person! And so then we became really close very quickly and part of me opening up a sex shop. I saw one, her work ethic and that she’s just a badass human and even though she had never had any experience really with sex toys, I was like, “Here’s a sex toy. You should work in my store. You’re gonna be the manager. You’re gonna figure it out.” And she nailed it.
And then she blasted off in the human sexuality realm in the manufacturing side of the sex toy industry. She’s kind of like – She was voted Woman of the Year in the sex toy industry, maybe two different years right or something? So anyways, she’s amazing.
I love how much they support each other and cheer each other on—which is something we can all do, in the genitals department. (How’s that for a segue?)
Pussy praising, penis praising, genital praising. Whatever you call it, the practice can be equal parts hot and helpful. When you first hear these “praising” terms, it might be easy to think it involves overt worshiping – bowing down and the like. But it’s much broader than that.
So I think praising doesn’t necessarily have to mean like worshiping, getting down on your knees, “All hail the holy pussy!” Although if you do that, that’s probably pretty awesome, a lot of people be into it.
But I think for me the understanding is that so many people’s bits, they’ve a lot of shame. They’ve been told that they’re not beautiful, that they don’t smell good. They don’t taste good. They don’t act the way that the other pussy acts, the other cock acts. The other one got harder or the other one orgasm’s really easily and human creates or experiences a lot of shame around that.
And this isn’t everyone. Some people have not experienced this, but a lot of people have. And especially around erectile issues, orgasm stuff, or symmetry—the “pretty pinkness” [girlish voice]—which is bullshit. And also porn has showed us a very specific idea of what genitals should look like and how they should perform. And so this creates a lot of shame for people.
So I think what’s really helpful when we are engaged in sexual activity with someone is to give them some praise. And what praise could look like – it could be anything from the minute your face gets close to the posterior or the cock or the bits or you just take your first look, you let them know how “your pussy is so-o-o beautiful. Your cock is fucking gor-ge-ous.”
And don’t bullshit them, right? If, in your mind, you’re like, This is not a cute cock. Maybe you don’t say it’s gorgeous but I’m sure we could generally find something really wonderful around the bits. So it could be, “I love the feel of your cock. I love sucking your cock. I love having my hands on your cock. I want you cock all over my body. I can’t get enough of your cock.”
So it’s a combination of finding something that’s really authentically true about what you appreciate. And then praising and sharing that with them. And don’t just do it once. You do it as many times as you want. It’s really going to fill people’s worthiness cup, and then they relax. They’re like, Oh, so I can just relax? I don’t have to worry about you judging about me not being good enough? It’s really powerful.
I mean, I’ve had my asshole praised before and I’m like. I don’t, I don’t really know what it looks like. I’ve seen it in the mirror a couple times. But I’m like, Okay, my ass was pretty cool. I’m pretty. I’m down with someone – To have it be in someone’s face. It’s powerful.
I have totally praised an asshole. And I remember saying—this was my authentic comment. It was like. It was either it smells or it tastes like doughnuts.
That’s what I was feeling in the moment.
April said it’s rare that you encounter someone who is into sex and doesn’t enjoy some amount of spicy praising—unless they’d prefer humiliation play. Being on the receiving side of pussy/penis praise can help you feel special, which April said is one of her core erotic themes.
It doesn’t even have to be the genitals all the time. It can be like, “Your skin is so smooth. I could do this all day.”
For some folks it’s not as important and identifying what is, though, for you and being able to have that experience of sharing that with your partner, especially if you, if you really want to have this deep intimacy and this connection and feel more integrated when you’re experiencing each other sexually.
Now, with new partners it can be harder. That’s why throwing out some praise. I know that even when I’ve been in a new experience with someone, or just hooking up, I say something like, “Your cock tastes so good” or “I love kissing your body” or sometimes I say, “I want to suck on your balls or beautiful testicles or -”
“I want your cock in all my holes.”
It helps break the ice and it can really help people get more comfortable. You’re already naked or somewhat naked and vulnerability is a huge thing. If you’re going to share bodily fluids with these folks or you’re going to share even yourself at all, then why not really drop in and have it be as like as awesome as it can be, I guess?
And I think you could say it – There’s not a limited amount, right? We could say it before we’re intimate. We could say while we’re intimate. We could be after sex. We could lay there, now their cock is soft, and a lot of soft cocks don’t get praised, too. They just get praised for the hardness so now the cock is soft and in that you praise it like, “I love your. I love this. You’re touching yourself cock.”
I don’t know about dinner, though. I meant dinner in somewhere—
If someone starts praising my pussy that I just met at dinner, I might be a little bit off put by that.
Have they already seen it? [talking over April]
Prob – I’m going with no—
Or maybe because if someone’s like, “Tell me your fantasies….”
So we’re saying they’ve seen it before. [laughter]
If they’ve seen it before, and they’re “I just imagine your pussy or I just want to see your cock again,” that could be hot.
Yeah. Yeah. There’s an example of when it doesn’t—
Maybe the third or fourth date. [talking over Amy]
Like a sliding into the DM, and they’ve never seen your pussy before and they like, “Your pussy so hot.” Yeah, “You don’t know my pussy.” [laughter]
She so juicy. [talking over Amy]
You gotta maybe have a little bit of – You gotta know it a little bit.
And I think, too, talking even about this talk seems like it could be important. So, for example, I had a listener write in recently about what she was calling quote, unquote, dirty talk. She wanted to bring it into a relationship of—I think it was like 10 years or something—and she was like, “but I feel so awkward. It’s always so silent.” And so I wonder if this applies in that case, too, to even say something like, “How would you feel if I described your vulva right now?”
Or do you think having a conversation outside of sex about just general comfort, because different terms, I mean, might even be triggering for someone, or how much do you think communication can play a role in advance of this communication?
I think that’s important. Prepping is important. I have my taglines that I use, that I go to, because when I’m in an experience, my brain isn’t thinking about creative things to say about the other person. So I have the taglines, and I have asked my partner, “What do you like to hear? What’s your kind of go to thing that turns you on,” right?
My current partner, he loves talking about me and hearing me talk about myself, you know, like, “Put your fingers in that tight little asshole.” [sexy voice] I’m like, “Okay, yeah.” [laughter]
So there’s things that I think are the precursors and to, to the build up is nice, especially like you mentioned August, when people have trauma around some things or they are not into speaking on certain parts of their body.
What you’re saying is it’s a conversation within the conversation, right? You’re having a conversation about having the conversation, which I think is what happens a lot in sex and relationships.
It’s like we can talk into talking about sex but sometimes we don’t need to talk about talking about sex about “hey”—and I think especially outing the awkward—like: “Here’s what’s really hard for me, here’s what’s really scary for me. It’s really hard for me to talk during sex. It’s hard for me to share what I want or it’s hard for me to talk dirty or and I really want to do this, but I just want to out the awkward or the fear. And here are some ways that maybe would work for me or are you open to exploring this or how do you feel about this” is really, really helpful.
And I think that couples, or not even just couples, but people when they have sex with each other, they don’t do this enough, often. They could really use more conversations about how to have conversations and how to deal with the discomfort of sexuality that is bound to happen. I mean, I don’t know anyone who’s been in a long term relationship that hasn’t felt awkward about sexuality at some point.
And so instead of pretending like we have it all together, because we don’t—we just don’t—we’re not born as sex gods and goddesses. And especially with all the trauma and shame that we get along the way instead of outing like, “Hey, I actually doubt myself in these departments. And here’s what I really want to get better at or learn. What do you think? Are you willing to work with me?”
So let’s say you’ve decided to delve into genital praising, but you aren’t sure where to start. Amy said one of the best tips came from sex educator, Amy Jo Goddard–and it’s such a good one.
She talks about—because we get so in our heads about saying all the right things and saying it in the sexiest way ever—she said just narrate what’s going on in the touch, right?
So like you’re, “Oh, I feel your hands on my nipples. I feel my nipples getting hard. I feel some tingling in my nipples. Now your hands are moving up my neck. I kind of want you to grab my neck. Oh, yeah, I love when you grab my neck.”
And you’re almost sort of like following the thread of what’s present as opposed to be in your head about “I don’t sound like the porn star.” You know, I have to say, “fuck my dirty pussy” perfectly, you know, in the right tone at the right time. So that’s one thing I think that’s really helpful.
It’s also important to know what language you and a partner are comfortable with. You don’t want to just throw out any old word that seems sexy but might feel uncomfortable in the moment.
It’s a practice, right? So if you would have asked me 15 years ago about what how I refer to my genitals, I probably wouldn’t have said “pussy.” And I probably wouldn’t have said “pussy” 5 million times like I do. And I think April and I can relate on this. We’re just really well practiced in terms that work for us, right?
So for me, I’m not gonna say, “fuck my dirty cunt.” It’s not my thing. But for someone else that might be their jam. I don’t say “vagina” when I’m having sex because it feels very medical. “Vulva,” I say more for education. So probably wouldn’t say that during sex either. “Twat’s” not really nice for my brain. Uh, there’s a lot of different terms.
Anyways, you find out what works for me. And it’s often how you refer to your own, your own bits. If you don’t refer to your own bits and you call it your “no no” or you just don’t talk about it, maybe start practicing talking about it to yourself. Start writing about it. Start practicing conversation with others or partners and then it can become normalized uh for you, be more natural.
Do you think it is a helpful practice to praise your own genitals, to look in the mirror, to hold a mirror underneath you, if you are someone with a vulva? What do you think?
I think so. I think doing that for your body, as well. Words of affirmation are so powerful, right? And your own talk what—whether it’s outloud or in your head that—it has a huge impact on what you project later on. So when it comes to the genitals, absolutely.
April and Amy really embrace their genitals now, their “pussies,” to use their favorite term. For April, that embracement has been hard-won. At age 17, she endured a traumatic injury to her labia majora, the larger “lips” outside the vagina.
My labia majora was torn in half because of an unlubricated condom and it was nighttime and alcohol was involved and so I had to go get stitches so I have a scar. I lost a lot of blood, and it was very traumatic for my pussy, and I had a lot of shame around the way it looked for many years.
The way that sex felt sometimes was painful, because it would just be this sharp pain, and over the years it has been better and better, and I found when I release the shame and really started the pussy praising, which was looking in the mirror, sometimes masturbating in the mirror—I’ll use a toy—never would do that before. I never wanted to look at my pussy.
I’d go to the gyno to get an exam and say something like, “Oh, can you see that nasty scar?” And, they would be like, “What are you talking about?”
And so it was like really difficult. And I feel like sometimes folks love their genitalia naturally. They think it’s amazing, and sometimes there’s some negative self talk that goes on. My cock’s too small. My cock’s too large. My cock’s too curved. My clitoris hangs low.
My ears hang low, it wobbles too and fro. You can tie them in a knot, you can tie them in a bow. [Amy’s laughter]
So it’s like, absolutely 100% I believe that my shift occurred not because of what someone else told me about my pussy, although I love to hear that, but what I was able to tell myself about my pussy, and it’s a powerful, powerful mechanism of your body, so why not give that some praise?
Amy said her own shame around sex has had more to do with performance and orgasms.
I have had challenges with, you know, orgasm or feeling arousal. I’ve had multiple phases in my life where I’ve felt I had like no sex drive for a couple years, generally in long term relationships that weren’t working out anymore, and I was still hanging in there.
I’ve also had Bartholin gland cysts, which are – Bartholin’s gland, vulva owners have – we have them on each side, kind of in the bathing suit line but they’re internal and they provide the initial vaginal lubrication when you’re aroused, kind of that silky, clear fluid.
And I get – I used to get cysts. I had a surgery on them but they would turn to abscess and abscess. And it was, it was a whole, a whole journey in my pussy.
It was painful for you to get aroused, though for a while, right?
Um, I wouldn’t call it painful. No. It would just – when – just for these little windows when they would turn into an abscess, which is only for like a couple days when it happens, sometimes three rounds or so.
But I think more so the performance of it. I don’t identify as someone who orgasms super easily.
So I think I’ve had a lot to overcome just about the performance and not trying to be what I’m not or trying to be the typical porn star, what my friend is. But in terms of the look of my pussy, I mean love the look of my pussy. I think it’s wonderful. I rock pubic hair. I love pubic hair. I’m like bushier the better. [laughter] And I love it!
I love being a woman. I love that womanness. But I just wish that my genitals were to a certain degree at times somewhat easier for me to work with because they feel complicated.
One really empowering step the pair has taken–one that might enhance the praising process and your confidence and pleasure overall—is having their vulvas mapped.
This kind of mapping is having your vulva, or other genitalia, mapped out so you can learn more about it. Some people do the mapping on their own with self-exploration and maybe a professional’s guide book or course. Amy and April went to a sexolical bodyworker to have it done.
I went after Amy but the vulva mapper told me—
Yeah, yeah, she’s amazing.
She’s incredible. She was like, you’re really, where my clitoris is, she’s like “you’re really DTF aren’t you?” I was like, “I am.” And then she told Amy, “You’re – It’s like a whole different world.”
“Your clitoris is it’s own world.”
“It’s its own world and it’s like a Rubik’s Cube for Amy.” And for me, it’s just like—
It’s further away from my vaginal opening—and, and I – My pussy is tucked in. I mean, I have, I have labia majora and labia minora that you can see. So they’re my labia minora, which is the thinner lips. They are external, but it’s underneath me. So if I was naked standing facing you, you can’t see my pussy. You can see my pubic hair, but it’s tucked in inside under me. If April’s naked—I’ve seen her naked—I can see her pussy and so it’s a little bit more like accessible and everything’s a little closer.
And I think this is important information, though. Because a lot of people don’t consider this. Anatomy does make a difference and we’re all so different where nerve endings are where things are placed.
I think that is such an important point. People ask me so often about ways to masturbate the “best” or experience the most pleasure, and those answers really start with knowing your own body and what feels good–whether you go with mapping or your own solo exploration or both.
I really appreciate the work Amy and April are doing to take shame out of sex. If you’re working on that in your own life, here are some thoughts they wanted to leave you with. Amy said, “It starts with you.”
So instead of waiting for someone else to take the shame away from you, and yes, we can work with therapists and things. So yes, go seek support and help. So maybe not only trying to do it on your own, but trying it with yourself, too.
And like we talked about the mirror work or the praising your own genitals or learning a lot more about sexuality and practicing talking about sexuality can just be really, really helpful.
And if you can’t do this work on your own, finding you’re still stuck, then go find support. There’s so many people out there, like April said, that can help us with this journey, whether it’s sexological body workers, which was the vulva mapping we were talking about, genital mapping, or sex therapists or sex coaches. It’s endless. And we can do a lot of that work online now; we don’t have to live in a place where we can access them.
So yes, starting with you, for sure. And if you, working with you is hard, go find someone else to help you through that and don’t rely on other partners to be able to solve that for you.
April pointed to a common phrase and practice in sex education and sex-positivity: “Don’t yuck another’s yum.”
That can mean so many things. It can mean, Okay, wow! My partner really wants to use sex toys. That doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with me. That just means we’re going to experience something that maybe is a new channel. It’s something we’re opening up, something new. Or maybe they’re sharing a fantasy with me that is super taboo, and I don’t know what to do with it. What do I do with this? I’m going to listen. Maybe I don’t have to participate, but at least hearing it, we can talk about it. That can be hot, too.
So keeping an open mind, creating the spaciousness to explore different avenues that you may not have known of before, and this is the age of information. And so there are a lot more, uh, folks out there exploring, I think, fantasies and different kinks and the world of BDSM than never before.
So, the good news is you can do all of that in a consenting way and explore your deepest desires in a way that’s that’s that’s great. And I think that you and your partner if you are having this, this, this stagnated sexual relationship at all, then that can really bring it to a hot new level.
[a few bars of upbeat, acoustic music]
To learn more from Amy Baldwin and April Lampert, follow Shameless Sex on Instagram: @shamelesssexpod. Find fun and spicy bonus content for Girl Boner episodes, including outtakes from my chat with Amy and April about one of their top-recommended sexual practices, at patreon.com/girlboner.
Another way to explore your sexy parts is running your fingers over your genitals with lube, to get to know your body and what feels good, whether that leads to orgasms or not. The brand I’ve been using and loving lately is Promescent. Their aloe-based lube has such a nice texture, and as a bonus, it’s good for your skin. Promescent is also known for their Climax Control Spray, which helps people with a penis last longer during penetration, whether they struggle with premature ejaculation or not.
To hear the full episode, which includes thoughts from Dr. Megan Fleming and me for a listener who finds sex unappealing and uncomfortable lately and feels pressured to engage in it frequently, up above or on your favorite podcast app!