Jordan Power discovered a family secret that changed the course of his life. Shana James realized she was bringing more to the bedroom than her body and desires. And their experiences hold takeaways for all of us. Hear their stories in this week’s Girl Boner Radio episode!
Stream it on iTunes/Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartRadio or below, or read on for a lightly edited transcript.
“OMG” Sex and Dating Stories: Deep Dive Edition
a lightly edited Girl Boner Radio transcript
Messages we absorb about sex are arguably the most influential part of our sexuality journeys. Think about it. What’s one negative message you learned about sex? Not one that you sort of laughed off, but one that felt either really true or really opposite of how you felt sexually? Now consider how much that’s impacted your sex or dating experiences…or even your whole life.
Today you’ll hear stories of two people involving wonky messages about sex and major turning points in their lives as they started to unpack and challenge them.
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Now, today’s stories.
[a few bars of upbeat, acoustic music]
It’s funny, because I mean, I had an old podcast called Shame on You. We interviewed the guys we had sex with, kind of similar to that podcast, Guys We Fucked, It was completely crazy. And it’s interesting in that whole series of that show I never told the biggest story of my life.
That’s Jordan Power, a writer and comedian and author of Famous Anus, a book that he said documents a decade of his life that descended into chaos. He now hosts a new podcast called Unmentionable.
He told me that that when he shares the wildest story of his life, people often think he made it up. But, it’s 100% true.
My dad left the computer open when I was a kid, I was probably, when I say kid I was probably about 22, and he left the family computer open. And there was, you know, you can kind of see that someone has a message; they get that email you have one new message on the website. [new message sound] Well, the website ended up being called Squirt.org.
And Squirt.org, for most people who don’t know, is a website dedicated specifically just to public sex—public hookups—it’s purely let’s go here, and they actually rate public places to hook up. So, I call it the Yelp for cock, basically, is the way I put it. So, they’ll have like gas station, glory hole five-star. It’s not for me, whatever. Anyway, so he had a profile on there and all his information and that he had a big penis, and I was just sitting in front of the computer.
My whole life I thought my dad was straight. You know, I didn’t really have any inklings. He actually was a penis doctor, which is hilarious. That was his occupation, because you got to do what you love.
And so I opened it and I remember, like, just staring at the computer and freezing and it was me realizing my dad was gay. And not only that, that he was hooking up with men and he was on this website.
And myself, I was closeted, but I had a boyfriend. So I was about to come out but this had obviously superseded that. And so I just stopped.
I told my sister. I was so in shock that my whole thing is, I kept saying to her, like, “Why does he have a big penis, and I don’t have a big penis? Like genetically should have inherited that.” And she was like, “Shut the fuck up about his penis. Like, we have bigger problems.”
Anyways, I ended up telling my mom and that was the basis for their divorce.
Oh my goodness. That sounds intense on so many levels.
That’s why I’m funny. You have to be, right?
Not long after that, Jordan made a clear decision to live very openly. But at the same time, as you can imagine, it was complicated.
Yeah. Well, so after that my dad basically just—it was interesting—because he had, he would live the life of reticence, right? So, when his secret was unmasked, he dealt with it by basically running away. So you get that message in your youth, you get that message of saying like, “oh, if there’s something, if there’s nothing wrong with this, why have you lived an entirely secret life? And why are you leaving?” It does send you that message of that like self-hatred as gay guy.
But after that I came out. I think some people say with their parents they’re going to either be their parents or be the exact opposite of their parents. And for that, that’s why I became kind of this advocate and launch “Shame on You” in this podcast, where I would be the opposite of him. I would talk in a microphone about things that gay guys hadn’t talked about publicly and I would hold nothing back, a shameless existence.
Even though Jordan has never told that story on his first or current podcast, he said the experience was the impetus for both. He described talking to guys he and his cohost slept with on Shame on You as unnerving. They lived their lives in real time, he said, and promised their audience that they would give them the unbridled version of themselves. And people were inspired by that.
Like people came out because of the podcast. We had a priest come out because of the podcast. It was just crazy. We’d get emails from the Middle East, Russia, places where it was illegal to be gay. And we inspired this kind of whole environment among gay guys to just sort of do that.
Meanwhile, on a personal level for Jordan, meeting and dating guys started to get tricky.
But sexually, you know, you’re radioactive. Back then it’s like guys were scared of me because they’re like, oh, everyone that went on a date with me or had sex with me would end up on the podcast. Like I would just real time it.
He was almost like the Taylor Swift of sex podcasts.
But now I don’t do that kind of show, and it still lingers where people are terrified of me. There’s a mistrust that I’m going to share things. So, it’s like I paid a huge price for doing that show.
And I’m happy. I feel like I changed the world a little bit in a certain way. I think also guys are scared me just because I’m a very outspoken. It’s a rarity, let’s say. And the idea is like, if you’re say, you’re slutty, which we were very slutty in our 20s—and we don’t regret it or anything; we had a blast—but it’s like people treat you almost like they want something virginal about you, right? It’s like, “oh, he’ll give it to anyone. Oh, he’s easily accessible.” And we want to get, in life, we chase things we think we can’t get.
So it kind of lowers you in the eyes of society when you talk about sex that way. And I have a real problem with that… I mean, now I don’t even live the life I used to live but it lingers, right? People think that you’re the slut forever.
Those kinds of attitudes about sex and sexuality, and his experiences being on the judged side of them, motivate Jordan’s work with his new show, Unmentionable, where he features people whose voices are too often silenced by society, such as sex workers, strippers and a naked cleaner.
These stories are really captivating and interesting but the mainstream media won’t have them on. So, I think it’s a perfect vehicle for me to have them on because I have a genuine curiosity to be like, when you’re cleaning someone’s house naked, I just have a million questions. And we all do, right?
And so it’s made me more compassionate to anyone in the sex industry, definitely, because I found them to be the nicest people I’ve ever met, which is interesting because they’re cast as these aberrants in society.
Yes, I have absolutely found the same.
What was one of the things, along the way, that then helped you discover more about yourself and maybe find some of that healing?
I think the thing people don’t realize, and I always try to teach straight people this, is that it doesn’t just end, right? You don’t just come out and everything’s fine. There are deep, deep scars inside of you, when you’re taught for decades, as your brain’s forming, that you’re unlovable, that you’re not worthy of love, that you’re an aberrant, that your future doesn’t look bright.
It carries over into a lot of ways and when you enter the, for your first gay bar, and first gay community, it’s like a zoo, like people are aggressive. They’re bullies, they’re making up for lost time. The bullied become the bully. And it’s a really difficult space to navigate. And if you don’t have a solid social network, if you don’t have passions, you can get wrapped up in the drugs.
So for me it was just…I think confidence is born out of overcoming obstacles and things. I mean, I have a young producer, he’s 24. And he always says to me, “Oh, god, you’re like the most confident person.” I was like, “I wasn’t at 24.” But I just overcame a lot. I learned who I was, I spoke my mind, accomplish things. And then eventually I grew up.
And I think for me the last couple years, the big thing was psychoanalysis, three days a week. I had a woman that I mean—I call her the Nazi therapist—she just had no time for my nonsense, which is what I need. I’m type A aggressive. So she called me out on everything. And when someone dismantles you like that, it’s a beautiful thing, because then you really have to start from nothing.
Jordan also leans on friendships with other guys for support, something he wishes straight men were more encouraged to cultivate, too.
When you’re a man, you still have that masculine component, where you’re not supposed to be weak. You’re just supposed to be emotionally constipated. Don’t be a bitch, blah, blah blah. But what’s cool about being a gay guy is you can express that part of yourselves. And I have great gay male friendships that are platonic… We’re inseparable, and we tell each other we love each other.
And so it’s fortunate and I almost feel bad for a lot of straight guys that don’t have that. Because I think one of the most undervalued things in society is friendships. I mean, we all hear about finding the love of your life. And that’s great. And honestly, that’s super important. But like, balancing that with like my friendships, if someone took away my two best friends—I don’t know—I’d probably take my two best friends over a love of my life. You know…they give me everything.
In terms of embracing his sexuality, Jordan said that speaking about it openly has helped him more than anything. Now he’s pretty fearless, but he wants others to know that building confidence in all life areas takes time.
Just starting to talk, to be that sexual person with your friends. You have to start somewhere. I think for us when, you know, we were doing the podcast, it was terrifying. It was like jumping off a cliff. We would turn on the microphone. You still have internalized homophobia—you still have all these things, right—that are with you. And we would turn on the microphone and we would just expel our fears. We would just put it all. It was a catharsis, right? We would just put it all out, everything: I’m not supposed to talk about sucking dick in public, but I’m gonna do it.
And everyone we knew was listening. And so you felt extremely naked. But at the end, you’re just like, Oh, I did this and nothing changed. Except men are terrified of me. But I felt…I felt free, right? And so now I ask for what I want in bed and stuff like that. But again, all this stuff is confidence. It really does take a lot of time. I am not at all the person I was 10 years ago.
This next story features Shana (shae-nuh) James, a relationships and leadership coach who’s worked with more than 1,000 couples over the past 20 years. She specializes in working with men who are struggling or unhappy with their love or sex lives.
When Shana met her current partner, they had both lived and loved a great deal. They were both married and divorced and in their 40s or 50s, respectively, when they crossed paths at a spiritual retreat. They quickly started dating, and ever since, Shana said, shared spiritual practices have been a mainstay in their relationship.
So the relationship that I have with this man is very anything goes. And in our sex life, as well as in our just emotional life, you know, there’s a lot of—what do I want to say… We do this kind of inquiry where we really are alive to what’s happening in the moment and beyond necessarily our physical selves.
Sometimes I feel like I turn into a panther, he turns into a snake, or, you know, there’s all of this taking on different shapes and different forms and different experiences.
That’s so interesting… So it’s like spiritual shape shifting?
Yeah. What we find is that, especially in the sexual realm, because there’s a little bit more permission to be wild or to be free that there isn’t in the rest of our daily lives, that there is a kind of shape shifting.
I love that you call it spiritual shape shifting where we realize that we are more than our bodies—you know—that our souls are present, that we tap into different states and ways of consciousness.
And so as we come together and feel into like oh, well what’s alive in this moment? Not what do we think we should do or what kind of sex is supposedly hot. It’s like really more comes from what is happening in this moment?
And so whether I’m sad and there’s something that my heart is feeling heavy about, or whether I’m angry or, you know, same for him but I would say that it often is guided by my feminine range of experience and expression and he makes a lot of space for it. And then we flow with it in whatever way that happens.
Shana’s “Oh My God” experience really reflects that. Not in the shapeshifting, momentarily embodying animals type way, but in a way that really changed the way she manages particular emotions during sex.
We were laying in bed, and he was kissing me and actually didn’t realize I was distracted until he said something. I was kind of just going along with it and a little bit outside of my normal… Like, normally I feel very present but I was not very present.
And he looked at me—he pulled his head back—and he looked at me and he said, “You’re not really that into this are you?” And I had a moment where I realized that for much of my life I would just lie. You know, a little white lie kind of like, “Yeah, well, I’m fine. I’m good. I’m okay.”
And I realized in that moment that I did not want to do that and that that’s not what creates intimacy or connection or anything good really comes of that. And so I really said, “No, I’m not.” And he, you know, by the grace of God or whatever his—a lot of spiritual work that he had done—he was able to not take that personally.
And as he looked at me with love in his eyes, I just burst into tears. And I realized that I had been at a funeral that day. And I was trying to get over it and trying to come back to myself and trying to want to engage. And yet really what was in my heart was just a lot of grief and a lot of sadness.
So Shana laid there and cried for a while and he held her.
– and [he] kept just really lovingly asking if there was more. You know, he was such an invitation to “all right, tell me more. And what else are you feeling?” And I could just express and speak what was there and share my heart.
And then I ended up at some point in—I don’t know if you know that way where you start laughing and crying at the same time—because of just being so beautifully held and, you know, loved through the process.
And then my body actually started to feel turned on again. And we chose to continue lovemaking.
You know, some people might have said, “Okay, that’s, it’s not the right time or right the place, the right place and that’s okay.” But I have a knowing in my body that actual love making, right, can move the energy through and release and help us get to deeper places in our soul and our consciousness.
And so, we did continue to make love and it was so rich and beautiful and connected and sweet and tender, you know? It was like that way of our hearts really melted together.
Oh my god, it radically changed the lovemaking from just being two bodies there, you know, kind of not really fully there into this beautiful, emotionally connected like actual lovemaking.
Shana told me that every time something like that happens, she senses a deeper trust and a deeper belief in what’s possible.
So now, when she and her partner reach a moment where either of them feels frustrated or irritated or just a lot of emotion, they’re ‘less scared to go there.”
And it seems less like a wall and more like a doorway where it’s like, oh, well, let’s see what happens if we walk through this and if we walk through it together.
And that’s a huge shift, she said, from how things started.
You know in the beginning of our relationship, there were more of those places of one of us would get anxious or fear the other one was leaving and the abandonment and whatever.
And now, through going through a lot of those experiences there’s such a relaxation. Actually we don’t even know if we’re going to be together in a few months or not. I might be moving away.
You know, we both have kids. We’re trying to figure out where they should be and global warming and all kinds of COVID and everything. And yet, there’s still so much love and connection between us.
Shana told me that one takeaway she hopes others will learn from this story is the value of slowing down during sex and focusing on connection—especially when emotions run high.
When you expand your definition of sex into “Wow! If we touch our bodies together and really enjoy that, that’s a win, right?” It’s not like we’ve got to go for the home run and if we get to first base only there’s something wrong there. [laughs]
So I just love the idea of people slowing down, realizing there’s nowhere to get to, making themselves right such that any time, you know, if you’re feeling pleasure and the pleasure goes away, or if you’re feeling connected and the connection goes away, that speaking to that can actually bring more depth and pleasure versus the fear of Oh my god. Well, if I speak to this, I’m gonna ruin everything. It’s gonna all gonna fall apart. Then we’re not gonna have sex and it’s all over.
And I think, especially for the person who’s less emotional who can kind of be like “oh god,” to realize that when you actually welcome what’s going on for the more emotional person, it doesn’t have to shut everything down.
You can actually hold it in such a way, she said, that you can move through it.
I think most of us are shocked and don’t expect that when we start to open ourselves sexually, or with connection and intimacy, that often what is there is something that we haven’t been allowing ourselves to really feel or digest. And I think that’s part of the beauty of romantic relationship or partnership.
And yet, because we’re not taught that, it often seems like it’s just in the way. Or it’s this thing that I have to get over or get through or put down or, you know, put away, so that then we can move on and we can be connected or we can have sex.
Part of our spiritual practice is that anything is a doorway back into connection with ourselves in connection with other. And so when we look at it that way, instead of oh shit, there’s this thing in the way or god, I hate this part of myself and I wish I could just get over it. Instead, it’s like, you bring curiosity and compassion and love. Often it opens into something really magical.
Shana is currently writing a book about “the overlaps between honesty and sex and the overlaps, in a way, between sex, psychology and consciousness.” She told me she’s attempting to look at why many couples are dissatisfied, in their sex lives, and why passion fades when it doesn’t actually have to. And the experience she shared about here will likely appear.
To learn more about Jordan Power, follow him on Instagram at @jpowercomedy or search for Unmentionable where ever you listen to podcasts. Learn more from Shana James and to see her TEDx Talk, What 1,000 Men’s Tears Reveal, at shanajamescoaching.com.
Stream the full episode, which includes Dr. Megan Fleming‘s thoughts on getting started with “dirty talk” for a listener, up above or on your favorite podcast app! To support the show and get fun extras, join me on Patreon: patreon.com/girlboner.
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