A woman who invented a product to make oral play more fun, an almost psychedelic oral sex experience, why some folks aren’t comfortable with oral and tips for upping the ante if you enjoy it! I loved sharing highlights from past interviews on all-things-oral, plus related tips and excerpts from my Girl Boner book, this week. Learn much more in this week’s Girl Boner Radio episode!
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Or read on for a lightly edited transcript.
“Best of Oral Sex + Tips!”
A lightly edited Girl Boner Radio transcript
Oral sex. How do you feel about it?
Just as HBO’s Sex and the City brought vibrators into the limelight in the nineties, The Godfather and Deep Throat are credited for making oral sex mainstream cool. While that took place in the 1970s, people have been “munching carpet, “gobbling the goose” and “shizzling nizzle” throughout time.
Today we’ll celebrate this oral play with highlights from past interviews — plus added tips to help you up your “going down on” someone ante, if it’s something you enjoy or would like to enjoy.
First, my conversation with Melanie Cristol, founder and CEO of Lorals. Melanie’s personal experience of bowing out of oral play when she wanted it led her to her career and her pleasure-filled mission.
[encouraging, acoustic music]
August: So I often ask people I interview and people I meet at events what they learned about sex and sexuality growing up. Because you specialize in particular in oral sex, I wonder what were the early messages you learned about oral sex when you were growing up?
Melanie: I feel like there weren’t very many messages at all. I really hardly remember sex ed from growing up , whether it was middle school or high school. I don’t remember the lessons that we were taught. I’m almost certain that oral sex was not a component of them.
And I imagine that a lot of the lessons that I was getting back then were fear based, from the people around me, the friends that I spent my time with, there was a lot of celebration of intimacy and romance and connecting with a partner and feeling good about it.
So I guess there were some mixed messages. I didn’t really have a lot of shame associated with sex and sexuality or oral sex.
August: Do you remember a time when you realized what oral sex was? From a lot of people I’ve heard like Cosmo or, depending on when you were coming into your awareness around sexuality, sometimes people found something on the internet.
Melanie: Don’t really remember. I was a late bloomer myself.
I remember, when I first experienced those sensations and I was like, this is really, really incredible, and something that everyone should be able to participate in and something that we should be talking about more. Uh, but gosh, I don’t really remember very much about when it first came to me.
Melanie does recall when oral sex became part of her ongoing professional mission – to make oral play more pleasurable. The seeds for that took root during her college years.
Melanie: So I, I had a bit of a sexual awakening in college, I guess like many of us do. And for me it wasn’t just experiential. It was also educational and, interacting with a lot of people regarding these topics.
So I was a peer sex educator back then. I was a counselor at the National LGBTQ Hotline. And so I was interacting with a lot of people on sex related topics. And like I mentioned when I was younger, even though I didn’t learn very much about sex, I didn’t have very much shame associated with it.
And so then in college, I really liked being able to share that non shaming approach to sex and sexuality and I had a lot of other roles during college that were sort of sexuality adjacent. back then I thought I wanted to be a theater producer and I was in school in New York.
And so I interned with the off Broadway producers of the Vagina Monologues. And that was just such a cool experience being part of that show. And then also seeing what their office culture was like. Because of the play being what it was there are a lot of terms that are thrown around the office that become normalized because they’re part of this art that they’re producing and sharing with society.
And then over time, my career sort of switched and I became a lawyer. so when I was a lawyer, the time in the office and the conversations that we had were so diametrically opposed to
August: Not very Vagina Monologues.
Melanie: Yeah. I mean, it was just a complete difference.
And, I liked being a lawyer. I liked working on those very complex issues, understanding, just really nuanced legal topics, working on strategy, working on teams. But I missed all of those things that I got to talk about in college. I missed working on destigmatizing sexuality.
And basically what happened, was I was having those thoughts in my mind. Then I was also, meanwhile, having thoughts in my mind of ‘is being a lawyer what I want to do forever. Is there something else that I want out of my life?’
And I ended up going on a romantic vacation and I found myself saying no to oral sex when I wanted it to be saying yes.
And I thought, gosh, this is so sad that, here I am in this beautiful place, we’re trying to have a really wonderful intimate experience, and here I am holding back. And why is that happening? But also, is there a solution for this other than, you know, the immediate change of one’s mind, like, okay, I’m gonna snap out of it.
Sometimes that’s unrealistic depending on what it is, that’s keeping you from experiencing that pleasure.
Back then we thought, well, I guess the one potential solution is a dental dam. They’re basically a six by 10 inch sheet of thin rubber. And they are used for performing oral sex on and dental
August: surgery, like and dental surgery. I picked it up because I thought, why do we call them that? I thought maybe they were used in dentistry, but I wasn’t sure.
It just sounded like a really weird name for something sexual. Yeah. and I was like, no, it is exactly that same sheet of plastic that they would stretch over the mouth. Yes. To do like, certain dental procedures and surgeries and stuff like that.
Melanie: Yeah. Actually, the origin story for dental dams involves a condom company owner being at the dentist and thinking, huh, if I just made this a slightly different shape and flattened it out a little bit, it could be used for cunnalingus.
August: Which is really innovative. And I think it’s really cool that they exist. As I was reading about them there’s a lot of information about, especially queer identifying women saying we love that these exist, but a very small percent actually used them. So what is it that makes dental dams problematic from a oral pleasure standpoint?
Melanie: I think that there’s a few different reasons and this is why, like my partner and I back then didn’t really want to incorporate them because you have to hold them in place. And so that takes two out of the possibly four hands that are involved in the scenario, which, you know, you wanna be able to use your hands while you’re enjoying sexual pleasure.
They also can move from the back to the front of your body, which can cause UTIs. They’re kind of loose on the body. And so they’ll often get caught up the giver’s nostrils or in their mouth, making it a little bit hard to breathe. And then they’re just not a sexy product.
I mean, when you incorporate that into your activity, you’re thinking about dentistry, you know, you’re not thinking about beautiful intimate sexuality. And so I think that for those reasons, the product hasn’t become as popular as it potentially could. And that was sort of my aha moment when I thought, what if there were a sexier version of this product that helped you feel confident and beautiful and not like you’re wearing a Scarlet letter essentially.
And so, Melanie came up Lorals: silky, one-time-use latex undies for comfort, pleasure, and — as of recently, STI protection — during oral sex and foreplay.
August: And they’re helpful for both cunnalingus on a vulva, but also for rimming.
Melanie: Yes. And actually you can switch between, cunnalingus and rimming as much as you want, which is very fun and something you can’t really do with a dental dam because you have to kind of move the dental dam back and forth. And it’s something that you can’t really do with skin to skin contact either because of, you know, concern about transferring bacteria from your anus to your vagina.
August: So how did you come up with the idea? So you knew you wanted to create something. Was this your first, were you thinking I need to make like underwear. Was that your first idea?
Melanie: I think my first idea was that this needs to be hands-free and it needs to be sexy. And also very easy to use. I thought that that was important as well. So I knew that there were products that existed in order to incorporate dental dams into sexual activity in ways that, you know, were hands free. So there’s like dental dam harnesses, and you snap them in place.
There’s a few other products sort of along those lines, but I thought. If I were in that moment and I wanted oral sex, would I really pull out a harness and then grab my dental dam and snap it into place? Or would I just decide, eh, I don’t really need oral sex right now. And I think that the more kind of barriers that you put in place. Ironically, we’re talking about a barrier here, but the more barriers you put in place to actually using the product, the less likely people are actually gonna be to experience that oral sex that they want to be having.
And then at some point, the idea of turning it into a panty, hit my mind and. I was like, how do you do that? How would you design it? And how would you manufacture it? And I just started brainstorming and doing a lot of research when I should have been writing legal briefs. I was thinking about basically how to create oral sex panties.
I’d say her priorities were in the exact right place. Melanie and her team of female engineers went through over 20 rounds of prototyping to land at the right stretch, thickness, texture, and scent. And one of their goals is to make pleasure more accessible to all folks – especially given that some people with a vulva only or most easily experience orgasm through oral.
Through some research, Melanie and her team found a range of reasons people might not enjoy oral sex that have little to do with anatomy or preferring, say, deeper internal sensations.
Melanie: So what we found is that so many receivers actually turned down receiving oral sex when they are really interested in it. I’d say one really big one right now is that their partner has facial hair and it physically hurts for them to receive. I mean, it rubs up against their body and it’s just not a pleasant sensation and it sort of negates all of the pleasant sensations that you have from that person’s tongue. Also so many people are not interested in having oral sex on their period.
So, you know, a quarter of the month they’re turning down oral sex when they could be saying yes to those great sensations. So you’re able to receive oral sex on your period without having to worry about mess.
August: Oh, that’s nice. Even if you’re just like in a hotel and the sheets are white, you know, there’s like a lot of reasons for that.
Melanie: Absolutely. Or some people aren’t interested in oral after they’ve just gone to the gym or if they haven’t showered in a day, they just aren’t able to enjoy the sensations. And instead they’re sort of focused. Oh, maybe I should take a shower right now, rather than actually enjoying what’s happening.
A lot of people turn down rimming because they’re worried about poop and it’s such a bummer because the sensations of rimming can feel so, so good.
Lorals might also help make oral more pleasurable if you’re managing trauma or dealing with body image concerns.
Melanie: A lot of folks might find oral to be triggering in some way, perhaps they’ve faced sexual trauma in the past, or if they’re non-binary or if they’re trans and they don’t wanna be thinking about their genitals at this time that they’re intimate.
So there’s basically many, many reasons that receivers would turn down the skin to skin contact of oral when they still want all the physical sensations of oral.
Other reasons you might not be into receiving oral might include a partner’s lack of know-how, as far as techniques that feel good, concerns about smells or pubic hair. As natural as both are, not everyone is comfortable with them. Those same issues can make giving oral less appealing, too.
If oral isn’t your thing regardless and your partner desires it, you could also try things like flavored lube, keeping oral as a bath or shower activity or using a sex toy that mimics oral sensations, like Womanizer toys, which have an awesome clit sucking feature, or a Fleshlight, which provides suction around a penis.
When I interviewed sex educator and friend of mine, Kait Scalisi, for my book, she said, “There’s the old adage that blow jobs are called a job for a reason, but it doesn’t have to be that way for oral sex on anyone.” To make the most of oral, she said to first and foremost get yourself into a really comfortable position.
Melanie added this tip: focus on curiosity.
Melanie: …like what happens if I move a little bit over here and what happens if I incorporate my finger and touch in this particular place?
And I think that that curiosity makes you, as a giver, especially excited about what’s going on and then your partner can often feel that. And I feel like pillows are very helpful. And sometimes if you’re about to, you know, engage in particular sexual activity, you’re not thinking about pillow placement, but I do think it’s often very worthwhile to pause and say, “hang on, let me grab a pillow.”
That can be especially helpful for lifting up the pelvis, which makes pleasure and comfort more likely. Plus, shifting your thoughts to, “how can I make sure we’re comfortable” might help keep you more present than feeling like you have to “perform.”
So that topic — presence versus performance — came up in my conversation with author, Lauren Emily, back in early 2020, too. First, Dr. Megan Fleming weighed in for a listener named Jess, who wrote this:
“I’m with a cis guy now and previously, I was only with cis women. So even though I have heard that penises are simpler, this is new territory for me. What are your suggestions?”
Here is what Dr. Megan had to say:
Dr. Megan: Jess, thanks for your question. Certainly when you’re new to anything, as I always say, we never start as experts.
It’s about energy, right? Have fun, play. So some basic techniques I wanna share with you and then of course give you some resources.
It really starts with the energy and the enthusiasm, the sense of “I’m really looking forward to having your dick in my mouth or making you come.” Really just giving a sense of that—not only is this for his pleasure, but that you get pleasure in giving him pleasure.
And the other thing we have to not forget is the practical, which is making adjustments when and if after time you find that the position is no longer comfortable for you. The third thing I would say is, it’s about the anticipation, the buildup. We want to build arousal. I’ve heard it referred to as the goody trail or the kiss trail, but you could start up like at the nap of his neck and work his way down, working your way down, kissing, maybe sucking, caressing all the way down to then get his pubic hair.
I’s important maybe to include his balls and his testes. And then it’s really to play with the sense of rhythm and speed. And then it’s of course, a decision whether or not you want to swallow or spit. I think it’s important we feel that it’s a choice point to see what you’re comfortable with and that might change, right. It may not be the same all the time. So those are some of the basics.
Megan recommended a couple of books that might help, too, including Blow Him Away: How to Give Him Mind-Blowing Oral Sex by Marcy Michaels and Marie De Salle.
Dr. Megan: In addition to sort of the basics on oral sex, Marcy actually is a speech pathologist. So she gives very good techniques for mouth and tongue muscle exercises, you know, because it’s not every day you get that kind of detailed information from a professional linguist on how to train and strengthen and coordinate basically every muscle that you’re gonna need for giving good oral sex. So that I think is a unique book from that perspective.
Megan also recommended Going Down, by Nicci Talbot.
Dr. Megan: It’s an illustrated guide to giving him the best blow job of his life. I mean, we’re all different learners. Some of us learn best by reading, others by watching. So figure out what is your best learning style.
So in that same episode, Lauren Emily and I talked quite a bit about oral. I asked Lauren what advice one of the characters in her stories might have for Jess.
Lauren: I was actually thinking of my first story. “We Just Work Together“, which you can read on Bellesa.co. The female character, basically we’re in her head the entire time that this encounter is happening. There’s a blow job at one point. And she talks about just always having been self conscious about that, which I think is something a lot of people who have gone down on a penis share. And for me, it’s still kind of a learning process when it comes to going down on a penis.
But, this character, Evie, she’s able to just kind of feel in the moment. It’s not the first act that takes place, which I think is important to note and kind of goes along with like build up is really good.
And it’s also at the point where she feels like she wants to, rather than she has to, which I think is really key. And I think Jess is way ahead. Right there. I think just enthusiasm and intent and wanting to please your partner. I would say both Evie and I would echo the advice to just kind of get out of your own head, which is easier said than done, but, just be in the moment and realize this is someone you wanna please. And ideally, and it sounds like in this situation, this is someone who’s intent on pleasing you as well.
August: Absolutely. I love what you just said about really focusing on the pleasure and the experience. it’s easy to let ourselves judge ourselves and to notice those thoughts, but not let them take over. In my Girl Boner book, I talk about presence over performance.
Lauren: Oh, I like that.
August: Which I think is really big in all types of sex, but in particular with oral sex, because I think a lot of the depictions, a lot of people learn about it from maybe watching porn, for example. And that is supposed to be very visual. Obviously it’s right in front of the camera. So it’s not, it’s not where you’re gonna be able to necessarily recreate in the bedroom. And then also eye contact can be cool during oral, don’t you think?
Lauren: So cool.
August: Not the whole time. You don’t have to like crick your neck.
Lauren: Oh no, I think the whole time would probably literally kill me. But yeah, a significant look up once in a while is really nice. I remember one time, I think it became not, I’m going to give this person a blowjob, but this person is looking for a condom and I’m just feeling good. So I’m gonna start sucking them off. And, almost got ’em a little too far, but I think back to that moment where it was like, oh, like I was really relaxed. It was something I wanted to do. And I just felt very comfortable with that partner.
[encouraging, acoustic music]
I love that so much. We just never know where that ease might lead.
For another author, Beverly Diehl, comfort around oral sex led to one of the most…mystical experiences I’ve heard about. When I interviewed Beverly for the “oral sex sexiness” section of Girl Boner Journal, she said this:
“I have had sensations so intense when receiving [oral], I’ve experienced synesthesia, which involves almost hallucinogenic visions of different textured images, flipping like a slide show through my mind, a white picket fence against a blue sky butter dripping off corn on the cob, a sand dune, a small furry critter burrowing in the snow.”
August: It’s poetry. Tell us a little bit about that.
Beverly: Okay. So synesthesia is a condition that actually some people have all the time and it’s where one sense bleeds into another. So you hear colors or you smell sound, or, in my case, I was experiencing some sensations when a really amazing guy was going down on me.
And all of a sudden I started seeing the slideshow in my mind. I started seeing these visions in my mind and I was like, wow, this is really interesting. When we were done, I was talking to him about it and he goes, “oh yes, synesthesia.” I’m like, oh, that is like the only thing that gives me more of a girl boner is when the guy actually knows what I’m talking about and has the vocabulary.
Oh, that is so exciting. Yeah. But, what I realized is that my brain was experiencing sensation in such an intense way that it was trying to come up with comparative textural mm sensations. All the images in my mind had to do with some kind of texture, but it was coming up in my mind in a visual way.
August: That’s really fascinating. And have you experienced it since?
Beverly: I actually have with oral sex and occasionally other kinds of sexy play.
August: Something erotic though, it like taps into your, almost like you’re feeling so much that you need more to represent it.
Beverly: Yeah. That it kind of went into overload. It’s really cool.
August: Yeah. a fair number of people feel self-conscious about receiving oral sex. What advice would you give someone who feels that way?
Beverly: Well, I think, so here’s, here’s a hard and fast fact is not all men or women like to perform oral sex.
And if you’re with a partner who doesn’t enjoy giving. You know, personally, I would rather have had a V8. Like that commercial, you know, it’s like, no, you know, let’s do something that we both enjoy. Don’t go through the motions.
Beverly: And be checking your watch to see if you’ve done it long enough.
August: Could I trade this for a beverage please?
Beverly: So, so, so that’s part of it. You wanna have a partner who really actually does enjoy it. So I do have partners who really enjoy it, and I have partners who are kind of meh about it and I don’t receive cunnalingus from them.
August: Because there’s a ton of other ways to have fun and pleasure that yeah, you both enjoy. That’s great.
Beverly: So, of the men who enjoy it , they like the look, they like the smell. They like the taste. They like, you know, all the things about it. They’re not self-conscious about it. And that makes it incredible. And I think that, I also enjoy performing. And my partners have told me, it’s my enjoyment that makes it good for them. Again, the feeling that I’m not just checking my watch and seeing how many minutes I can do the thing and.
August: Right. Getting it over with is not a good place to be when you’re yeah, yeah. Enjoying it and I think that is evident. I mean, there are ways to express it. You could also express it and not be really meaning it. You know, acting like you enjoy giving it is not the same thing. Like finding ways to enjoy it, or like you said, do something else.
Beverly: Yeah. I prefer, in my relationships, to really connect emotionally with a partner and that comes through sexually. Other people have a different approach and that works for them. But I think you know, every person that has labia and a clitoris and a vagina, whether you were born with it, or whether you got some help from a surgeon later on, whatever kind of genitals you have, you have good genitals. You should not ever feel ashamed of the way your genitals look. And as long as you do, you know, basic hygiene, and you don’t have an infection, which you, you know, you take care of that thing. There’s nothing wrong with the way your generals look, smell, taste.
August: Thank you for that. Yeah, there’s no standard. There’s no thing you need to measure up to. There is a whole industry that will try to tell you otherwise, so it’s so important to hear that message.
You may recall Beverly from previous episodes, where she talked about her journey with breast cancer and a sultry photo shoot. I’m sad to share that she is dealing with cancer again — and thankfully getting the care she needs. If you’d like to support her and cheer her on along the way, please visit her Caring Bridge page at caringbridge.org/visit/bevscancerbattle2022.
We’ll wrap up today with a few tips from my Girl Boner book, in a section called Purrrrfecting Pussy Eating:
- Take your time (more…)
- Tease and titillate (more…)
- Use your fingers, too (more…)
Learn more about the guests and products featured in this episode through the links in the show notes or in the transcript on my blog at augustmclaughlin.com/oral. You can also download oral sex journaling prompts to help you take your exploration deeper at patreon.com/girlboner.
And if you’re enjoying the show, please take a moment to give it a rating or review on Apple Podcasts – the purple iphone app – or the iTunes Store. Those ratings really help more folks find the show and I appreciate every one. Thanks so much for listening.
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