I am thrilled to be back in the writing saddle for A News Café. Thank you so much, Doni. Who knew that by saying “yes” to your offer in 2010 to write the As You Desire column, I would find myself where I am today? It’s been quite a ride!
A big shift happened in 2011 while writing the As You Desire article about the difference between pornography and erotica. I knew the difference for myself, but wondered what others thought. Through interviews and feedback, I discovered men and women viewed these topics very differently. Go figure.
Making a long story reasonable, it all started with a weekly coffee date with my husband, Mark. I was sharing discoveries around gender variations and erotica. As he often does, he presented me with a challenge; to find film festivals that would validate my world view of erotica. At the time, everything I found focused on was raw and overtly in-your-face pornography; which wasn’t my idea of erotica. I wanted something that left room for my imagination to play. For me, I wanted it to make me bump my nose on the screen trying to see more.
No source in sight, Mark suggested I create a festival. Right. (Let me be clear, I’d never even attended a film festival, let alone knew how to design one.) While considering his words, I had one of those “visions”. I saw the whole thing unfold in living color. One of my pivotal life changing moments.
Fast forward 18 months to September 2012, and the first sensual erotic film festival, created by a woman for women (and the men who adore them). It was held in a week-long event in Jamaica. We showcased documentaries, music videos, short and full feature films from 12 countries including Israel, Spain and India. Many were from women film makers. It was a vision that came to reality. We really can build something from nothing. But that isn’t the best part.
A film festival needs a judiciary panel. Our sexy panel consisted of a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon and erotic artist, the Curator from the Erotic Heritage Museum in Las Vegas, a supermodel/actor and CEO of Jollywood Jamaica, a Tantra Master/Sex Educator/Film maker, and The Sexologist to the stars in Hollywood, Dr. Ava Cadell.
My introduction to Dr. Ava took place in her Sunset Boulevard office. Sitting across her desk chatting about the festival, she paused and asked, “Nancy, where do you see yourself in five years?” At that moment, feeling quite high on life, I tossed back without blinking, “Sitting behind a desk like yours, doing what you’re doing!”
Five years later, I earned my doctorate degree in Human Sexuality and became a board certified clinical sexologist. Ava continues as my mentor and has become one of my dearest friends. I thank her daily!
From the start of my doctoral journey, I’ve been traveling internationally helping people understand their fears, experiences, and thoughts, as well as their beliefs, confusions, fantasies and desires around human sexuality. As a sexologist, my role is to accurately correct misinformation; help rid shame, guilt and judgement; normalize what was mistakenly pathologized; and create a safe place to have honest and open conversations about the most personal experiences. I spend much of my time reminding people of their birthright to design their lives based on who they authentically are, and what they truly desire. The art of communication - speaking, and more importantly listening - is at the epicenter of my teachings.
Until now, my work has been away from northern California. I've taken several trips to China, Jamaica and Mexico; even teaching and counseling aboard cruise ships. This year of 2018 is filling up with teaching tours in Europe, Jamaica, Los Angeles and New Orleans. My private practice is 90 percent international clients via Skype sessions.
Coming home to Redding and A News Cafe
Most of my family and many of my friends are here in Redding, which makes the fact I’ve been asked to bring more of my work to our community even more exciting!
This is a very important time for women, and in turn, men. Communication around “what is consent” is high on the list of life’s priorities as the #MeToo conversations turn into #TimesUP. The tolerance for abuse and assault is now zero, and no one will be “cut slack” or “let off the hook” - as has been done throughout history. We need to be proactive, as men and women need to help each other grow into even finer beings who treat each other with honesty and the utmost respect; regardless of our upbringing. No more excuses for any of us.
The new “Intimate Concerns” advice column will happily accept real questions about any topic related to human sexuality, intimacy, relationships and communication. All inquiries will be held in strict confidence, and no names will be revealed. This is not a substitute for professional therapy. This is a start to a more open conversation around a topic that is as natural as breathing or blinking. Remember, our sexuality is the reason we are all here.