Capital Xtra: So how are things going for you in the world of sex education, with the economy in tatters?
Midori: The economic situation is affecting people's sex lives. Short bursts of stress are good for keeping the body vibrant, it arouses the system, that's why people like roller coasters. But that sustained kind of stress that people are experiencing, I think it's affecting general levels of sensuality because people are in survival mode. The positive side effect is that people are looking to find pleasures in the simpler things. My speculation is that the cuddles and intimacies, the gentler and tender stuff, are becoming more significant to a lot of people right now, whereas previously in the days of luxury and excess it was about wild and crazy exotic toys and stuff.
CX: How does that tie into the kind of work you do, so to speak?
Midori: People want to be entertained. And when they come to my class, it's two hours of not talking about the economy. It's two hours of — well, you know my classes, they're combination stand-up comedy and play, exploration, talking about the joys of sensuality, and looking at sex and sexuality as a human right. When you walk outside, there's the fear-anxiety-shame-guilt thing, whether about money or sex. People spend time with me and it's not that.
CX: Yeah, there's some definite lack of shame going on with you! Speaking of which, let's talk about your Venus Envy classes, which are coming up on June 27 and 28. First you're teaching Hands-on Rope Bondage. Is that a 101?
Midori: It is. But I take a different approach. I want people to see the potential of rope. People often see it as a static thing, in pictures, the thing you do before you get to a scene. Unfortunately so many people worry about the knots and the ties that they forget the point, which is the play, the intimacy, the connection, the fun. Being the Californian that I am, I want you to talk about your feelings. Your reactions matter. Yes I'm teaching rope bondage, but I'm not teaching knots. In the middle of sex and play, who the hell remembers knots? I cover rope seduction, rope safety, and four basic ties so people can go home and have a shagadelic time.
CX: How about the second class, "Beginning to Top: Scenes, Scenarios and Scripts for Novices"?
Midori: It's a very gentle class. If you haven't topped before, it's scary. It's nerve-wracking. There's a lot on the line, fear of rejection, fear of letting down your partner, of looking foolish and so forth. So this is a conversational class. Topping can feel like a daunting task, so I boil it down to a few bits of information and strategy to reduce scene flop, add a sense of confidence and reduce anxiety.
CX: You sound like a prescription drug.
Midori: I am a prescription drug! It's a pep talk.
CX: And it's mainly for novices?
Midori: Novices or people who have not topped but who may have had other experiences. Imagine you've been bottoming for a long time and your lover asks you to top them. Scary! But what she'd really like is to sit down and enjoy your effort. So I offer some basic strategies. The blindfold is your friend.
CX: So that no one can see the fumbling.
Midori: Exactly. You can take the heels off. You can look at whatever device you were going to use with complete befuddlement.
CX: Who attends?
Midori: Anybody and everybody. I do find, though, that attendance at sexuality classes, whether it's kink skills or more general sexuality skills, is led by women in terms of interest. Women are actually used to talking about sex more frankly with one another, I think. Men talk about sex but not in a frank discussion and disclosure of the good, the bad and the ugly. It's a broad generalization, but when men talk, it's often about comparisons.
CX: Who's got the bigger whatever, who's done the most exciting whatever...
Midori: Yup. Peacock feathers. So the idea you might come to a class and bring new joys to your bedroom and your lover, first they have to get over their cultural conditioning. I actually find Canada's been incredibly easy that way. People here are really not hung up compared to other places I've taught. They are joyful and follow instructions well. There are regional differences though. I've noticed that the Ottawa crowd's a bit more on the quiet side.
CX: They're government employees. They like to sit and take notes! Is there a message for the Ottawa people then?
Midori: Nah. What goes on in my class stays in my class. I pick up the tone of where I'm presenting to. I don't want to push people beyond their comfort zone, and my classes are designed to be gentle.
CX: I know you're an art lover. Any favourite places in Ottawa?
Midori: I'm so looking forward to the National Art Gallery, with Louise Bourgeois' spider out front. I'm a total museum junkie. I get a lot of inspiration from museums and gardens.
CX: Inspiration for your own artwork, I imagine. Do you have any shows coming up?
Midori: I have a solo show coming up in San Francisco at Femina Potens Gallery. I have a piece that was accepted for the Seattle Erotic Arts festival. It showed there and evolved and was destroyed. I think I will do it again. It was an interactive sculpture, The Loveseat, a sofa made entirely of vinyl blow-up dolls. If it's been properly used at an exhibit space, people sit on it, interact with it, experience it, and eventually the dolls become flattened. I don't bother the people by explaining all that's behind it. If they figure it out on their own, great. I want people to just go in and play.