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Learning Made Sexy
By Ghia Vitale
Prepare to be educated and entertained by Adult Sex Ed. This live show includes actual sex education with performances of scripted sketches and storytellers talking about sexual topics. The segments leave the audience with practical takeaways and lessons. Others describe the show as inclusive, sex positive, hilarious, and spicy.
Each live show has a different theme. The theme for January’s performance is purity and purity balls. There will be a sex positive Unchastity Ball to protest the culture of purity balls. Dani Faith Leonard discusses more about the show’s format and content below.
You might recognize Dani Faith Leonard from her other accomplishments. She founded Big Vision Empty Wallet in 2010, an incubator program that prioritizes inclusion and amplifies diverse voices in TV and film. She also launched Big Vision Creative, a New York-based production company. Her recent producing projects also include The Light of The Moon, SXSW, and Lez Bomb. Her comedy involves activism and pairs well with tequila.
Check out this exclusive with Dani Faith Leonard. She is a comedian, writer, and producer who hosts Adult Sex Ed, a live show with its next showing at Caveat (21 A Clinton Street, Manhattan, NY) on Saturday, January 19, 2019. In this interview, Dani Faith Leonard opens up about Adult Sex Ed as well as her comedy, previous work, and personal life. Warning: This interview involves mentions of sexual assault, harassment, and stalking.
According to Caveat's event page, the goal of Adult Sex Ed is to “to encourage our viewers to engage in *immediate, healthy, and awesome sex. America’s failure to provide accurate sex education in schools is comedy’s gain!” (*Just make sure you take an Uber home first.) You must be 21+ to enter. The doors open at 9:00 PM, but the show starts at 9:30 PM. You can either buy tickets here for $15 in advance or pay $20 at the show.
Dani Faith Leonard’s responses to my six questions are insightful, informative, and important. Here’s the interview:
1. Hello, Dani Faith Leonard! I see you are a comedian, writer, and producer. When and how did you start getting involved with sex ed?
Growing up in my home, talking about sex was comfortable, but at school, not so much. I grew up in a fairly conservative town on Long Island. In high school, we watched Philadelphia to learn that if you have sex, you will get AIDS and if you get skinny in Hollywood, you will win prizes. As a performer, I did several storytelling shows where I told stories about sex in my childhood and started working on this concept in 2016. In 2019, I think many of us ready to have more open conversations with each other and see the need for it!
2. What inspired you to launch Adult Sex Ed?
Well, it’s no secret that there is a dearth of successful sex education in America! I knew I wanted to do something on this topic, but I was specifically inspired to create a live show last year after my company released the film called The Light of The Moon in theaters. (I was an executive producer.) The Light of The Moon is a brilliant film written that was directed by Jessica Thompson and stars Stephanie Beatriz. It’s an intimate portrait of sexual assault. Although it was a heavy film, the audience wanted to stay after screenings. As a result, we held discussions after many of them. I wanted to create the same kind of environment here except with people laughing hysterically instead of crying.
3. Adult Sex Ed has been described as inclusive. How do you think Adult Sex Ed is inclusive?
When I’m booking the lineup of storytellers, I’m looking for people who have different perspectives! Actual sex ed in schools often excludes LGBTQ relationships, so that’s a priority with the show as well.
4. What do you think makes Adult Sex Ed stand out from other sexual education material? I'll tell you one thing for sure: It definitely sounds more entertaining and engaging!
The show has several elements: an opening monologue, video, deep dives into historical, political, and social issues around sex. While all of these will always be funny, it’s important to me that there are actual takeaways and discussion points. But I think comedy is a great tool for opening people up to learning. Since comedy is my best tool for communication, I’m really excited to bring it to the topic of sex ed. The final element of the show are the lineup of storytellers who aren’t teaching lessons, but talking about personal lessons learned. While the stories are specific, the lessons are universal.
5. I heard that Adult Sex Ed's January's theme is purity. I also heard there's going to be a sex positive Unchastity Ball to protest the concept of purity balls. Can you tell me more about this? I'm very intrigued!
It’s no secret that America was founded by puritans! November’s show dealt with the history of sex ed in America and its origins were very much tied to religion and a focus on purity. Religious leaders would tour America on anti-masturbation tours. There’s still a focus on purity today and unfortunately, the onus is often placed on young women. During the January 19th show, we’ll talk about purity balls (events where daughters promise to keep their virginity and often exchange rings with their dad). We’re not doing this to shame people who have participated, but to point out the problematic elements of those events. Of course, it’s still a comedy show, so we’ll focus on hilarious questions like what does the DJ play? As the show is ending, the audience will be ushered into our photo booth to take pictures at our Unchastity Ball since it should be okay to have sex on your terms, not your dad’s.
6. What lesson or information do you wish you had learned from sex ed, but never received the opportunity to learn about in a sex education class/environment?
I wish we had been having honest conversations about consent and sexual assault, rather than looking at gross pictures of syphilis! Early in my career, I was put in several situations that were incredibly uncomfortable and I didn’t have the language or legal knowledge to protect myself.
Similarly, I wish there were discussions about accepting romantic and/or sexual rejection. There are rom-com storylines that have been internalized by many people, especially boys. Because of this, they think it’s appropriate to keep trying if someone isn’t interested at first. When that’s combined with any kind of anger issues, it’s scary and dangerous. My high school yearbook was destroyed by a guy who I rejected years earlier—he scribbled crap all over it about me “blowing him off.” I had a stalker in college who I found naked in my dorm room. I’ve heard much worse stories from friends of all genders. I wish we spoke about the emotional elements of relationships that can be as scary as the physical repercussions of sex.
I hope you enjoyed reading Dani Faith Leonard’s responses as much as I did! Follow her on Twitter and Instagram for more updates.
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