Women are about to reclaim late night — or at the very least, late on Saturdays — when TLC’s latest gabfest “All About Sex” debuts on Saturday night.
The four-person panel, which consists of comedians Margaret Cho and Heather McDonald (“Chelsea, Lately”), actress Marissa Jaret Winokur and Dr. Tiffanie Davis Henry, will tackle all things sex and relationships in an open and frank way.
You can’t ask for anyone more frank than Cho, whose vast experiences in the bedroom (and boudoir!) make her the “raunchy” anchor to this foursome. She spoke with HuffPost Canada TV about keeping it all on the table, abnormal sexual encounters and why women shouldn’t body-shame themselves.
HuffPost Canada TV: What did you want to bring to this show?
Margaret Cho: Well I have a pretty wild and varied past as a sex worker, and am a certain expert in alternative sexuality. Or any kind of thing that’s different, like polyamory or BDSM. I have a great, great, extensive knowledge and personal experience. I was on the board of Good Vibrations, which is a sex toy company specifically for women. I served on the board there for many years. So you know, my experience through sexuality gives a unique spin. I don’t think there’s ever been a sexpert actually like me! So I’m excited about that and proud about that.
You’re so open about your sex life — do you draw a line at any point?
I don’t really believe in privacy; these are also topics that I’ve talked about a lot in my stand-up comedy and my writing. It’s not anything that I have hidden. My issue is intimacy for intimacy’s sake. Relationships. I went for the wild side, the weird stuff and the craziness rather than actually connecting with another person. So that’s where I channeled all of my energy romantically, in sexual adventure as opposed to really building true love. That’s what these women can help me do, and what I look forward to learning about.
Will you talk about your marriage and divorce?
Yes, and all of my relationships. The majority of my adult relationships have been polyamorous, so that’s something that I can speak to expertly, or intimately. I know the different angles of it and I think any questions about queer lifestyles, any kind of subculture questions … like I think I can really handle all that, because I’ve been in it.
How raunchy will you get for the show?
Pretty raunchy! I tend to shock these girls a lot. So … I’m glad. I’ve done really weird things. They don’t have that kind of theatrical side that I’ve had to have … and really for me it’s something that I retired from. Like I’m retired from orgies. I’m retired from sex parties. I’m retired from getting hung upside-down and getting set on fire as part of a sex act. It’s that kind of stuff. I don’t want to hang from hooks anymore — it’s not that fun! I’m just not that adventurous. But I’ve been there. So I can bring all of that kind of stuff I think people aren’t really very willing to be honest about. Like swinging or group sex or really weird stuff where people use night-vision cameras. I can’t even explain all the weird things I’ve done. I just I’m excited to share it, because it’s going to be fun.
What’s the craziest sex act you’ve seen?
It wasn’t even me, it was a guy I was with … he had rigged a cake dome with a veterinary aspiration machine, which is used during veterinary surgery to suck out blood and fluids from animals. He had rigged it so that he created a giant suction cake dome for his penis. And so his penis would enlarge to about the size of a human head and it was like a marshmallow. It was really spongy and it took about 18 hours to get that way. He wasn’t able to urinate or ejaculate at all during that time but it was very self-contained.
I had never seen anything like that before and I have to admit it was probably the strangest. He was a great guy, but it was a sexual fetish. He was someone who did not necessarily identify in any way as a fetishist or different, but what he did was very, very different and I really respect him for that. I know there are a lot of people out there who do vacuum pumping and stuff on different body parts. But this was the greatest extent of it that I’d ever seen.
Does seeing things like that also make you the safety expert on the panel?
Yeah, safety is really important. In the case of the dome, I don’t really know what kind of damage that would do to your nerves or to the penis … I mean it was kind of like, it would take many hours for the swelling to do down and I guess swelling just goes down, but it was self-contained. It wasn’t really unsafe sex because he wasn’t inserting it, there was no penetration. You couldn’t really penetrate anything! Stuff like that is something that I think was born out of the age of AIDS. We figure out how we can do the sex without harming each other. Or by harming each other in the case of BDSM, which can look very different from sex but is sex. So you know that kind of stuff I think is really interesting and I think it really … the culture really blossomed when you know people were worried about unprotected sex, and were looking for other ways to express themselves sexually.
How do you advise a person wanting to enter a polyamorous relationship?
I think it’s really trying to figure it out in yourself. Everyone should really understand themselves sexually, like really understand what it is that makes them tick. And then there are a lot of resources online, if you read about it there’s a lot of books. There’s a great one called The Ethical Slut, which I think is a perfect entry level for polyamory. My friend Tristan Taormino is the world-renowned expert on not only polyamory, but on anal sex. So she’s really a multi-tasker, a talented person. It’s also just figuring out if polyamory is what you really want, or if you want it in fantasy. Do you feel this is how your life could be?
What I really urge people to not jump into is three-ways. The triangulation of three is a really, really scary thing. It’s a hard thing to manage and the most difficult thing to negotiate. Polyamory is really about negotiation with everybody that you may have intimacy with. It’s really about honesty and trust. It’s a very great thing to want to open up your love life, open up your life in a polyamorous way. But it’s also something you really need to be mature about.
Why do you think we have such a hard time talking about sex as a society?
I think we are kind of socialized to be silent about it, or to not make a big deal about it. Or socialized to not get your pleasure. And I think that’s wrong. You’ve got to figure out what you want, you’ve got to figure out who you are. So that’s what I just urge everyone do to. Men, women, everybody.
There’s so much body-shaming going on with women, but we also tend to body-shame ourselves. How did you get so comfortable with yourself?
I’m so old that I just got really tired of hating myself. If you continue to do it, it just rots your spirit. I gave up on it, it was too exhausting. There’s so much body shame and negative comments. I guess in my life I just want to tell people, don’t read the comments. Just don’t read the comments and it doesn’t matter. Or make up your own comments. Why can’t we just be ourselves and be beautiful and feel good in our bodies? I don’t really care about wearing makeup or getting dressed up. It’s not that important to me. What is important to me is to have something good or smart to say. I encourage all women to just let it go. Let go of this body hatred and this body shame because you’re still going to have that body no matter what. This is it. This is what we have and this is what we’re going to get for life. Why don’t we just enjoy the moment?
“All About Sex” debuts Saturday, Jan. 10 at 11 p.m. ET on TLC.
By Amber Dowling for Huffington Post