How to Love the Butt (w)hole: Probing Deeper with Berlin’s Sex Educators, Part II

When COVEN BERLIN announced their ASSHOLES digital issue, I realized I had a lot of holes in my knowledge of the butt.  I decided the best answers to my sensitive questions could be found at Other Nature, a feminist, queer-, and trans- focused sex shop in Kreuzberg.  Other Nature has a great reputation as a judgment-free, sexy source of knowledge for Berlin. Lucky for me, they had just started running a workshop titled “How to Love the Butt (w)hole”, and the whole store was overflowing with advice, resources, and great butt-related puns for me to learn from. Read on for my interview with the workshop’s facilitator Pearl Love Lee on all things anal.

So are you getting excited for your upcoming workshop?

Yes! This is the first time I’m teaching this workshop, but I’ve done sex education for years and I really like it. I’ve been to butt workshops, and when they asked me if I would do an anal one I was like, “YES!” And I really like naming things, so when I came up with the title, I was just so enamoured with it.  It’s called “How to Love the Butt(w)hole” – because it’s the whole deal.

In your career as a sex educator, how would you generally characterize the butthole-related questions, desires, or emotions your clients have? Has this changed over the course of your career? Have you seen any butthole-related trends emerge or fade?

The easy answer is that in the last 10 years, this butt trend has been happening. It’s not the newest thing. It’s like the pegging. Now that it’s called pegging, there’s this acceptance that straight, heterosexual couples get a cutie little strap on and peg. We talk about this in the workshop: if you’re not queer, or gay, or bi, and you like anal play, does this mean something for your sexual orientation?  No! Everybody has a butthole, everybody’s butthole can feel good. You’ve got a lot of nerve endings there! There used to be so much more phobia associated with it, and that has fallen away so much more. I don’t get clients so much trying to reassure me that they’re not gay.

So you see it become less of a sexual orientation thing.

Yeah and more of a, ‘let’s get off in different ways’ thing. Look at the proliferation of sex toys. And the quality of sex toys!

*opens a case to reveal her NJOY Pure Wand in stainless steel*.

Look at this thing. It’s like a glorious instrument. You used to go to a sex toy store, it wasn’t this. They banked on your shame! It’s why things could be made shittily and still cost a lot! And then break, and not be exchanged or returned.

And now we have these super nerdy stores, like Other Nature. Look at the quality of sex toys that are coming out because of stores like this. They’re getting more aesthetically pleasing, and they’re helping more people access anal play with less shame. People want to get off!


How has your personal relationship to assholes—your asshole, the assholes of others, or the general concept of the asshole—evolved throughout your life? For instance, do you remember any of your teenage asshole experiences or emotions, and do they contrast with your current relationship to assholes?

At first when you’re a teenager, and you’re horny, there’s shame associated with it. “What does this mean about me? What are people going to think?” The stigma is real, the stigma you feel about accessing your own sexuality, and wondering how you can even do that. So over time, as I’ve explored, that has shed. Thank goodness I can even ask for things that I want in this rape-culture world.

One thing I have noticed about butts in doing sex work is that it’s different than just understanding the concept of body positivity in theory. We do it in practice. It’s easier for you to accept other people’s bodies. But how do you unpack your own body shame? How do you really live with integrity in a body-positive way? One thing, for instance, is that we completely ignore our assholes. Is that so body positive? When you call someone an asshole, is that so body positive?

More and more, people are recognizing sex worker’s expertise in this area. I was recently invited to participate in a discussion – and I have so much pride about this.  The Seeds Collective invited a sex worker colleague and I to facilitate a discussion on body and sex positivity for BPOC youth.  They invited us to be doulas, or midwives, for the conversation. To ask a sex worker to come and participate in that? That’s radical as fuck. Most people wouldn’t touch us with a 10-foot pole, because of how controversial it would be, and the stigma.

But it’s important to educate as a sex worker.  We were hired to do this because we are experts in our own right.  We do body positivity in practice so much more. We think about it in an active way.  And that’s what they wanted there. For instance, we’ve meet a lot of buttholes. We’re in butts all the time. We’re touching, there’s cum, there’s balls, there’s sticky things.  You get desensitized to it, the way a nurse would have no big deal wiping your ass if you shat yourself. I deal with bodies. And because of this, I have gotten so much more comfortable with the human body. That releases shame, also the shame you have about your own body. So it’s easy for me to spit on my finger and stick it up my butt and search around and see how clear it is.  And that came out of accessing and actively being engaged in different kinds of bodies.

I get a comment that has to do with body and sex negativity, people saying “Eew, different kinds of clients, what if they’re this, or what if they’re that! What if they’re ugly!” And I’m like, do you hear yourself right now? I don’t see people so much like that.

Do you see buttholes like that?

Ugly butthole versus not? No, I see it more in terms of, “That’s a really tight ass, wow. You hold a lot of tension in there. You’re having a really hard time releasing.” I teach people how to breathe. Sometimes I talk to my clients about shame. Sometimes I see how someone really really wants something, they want it really really bad, but – it’s like, if you want to squirt, you better relax. Same thing getting fisted, you can’t be really tense and be like, “I want to get fisted!”  It’s not going to work.

That’s the thing: we ignore our butts, until we decide, “OK, now it’s in the game.” That butt is always in the game. Like, right now. You might be holding tension there. Like shoulders are always in the game holding tension, but we see that in people and we’re more aware of it. Here’s something your butt will teach you  – I talk about this in the workshop too, hot tip – it can help you associate yourself, your mind and body more wholly. We think about mind-body connection, and we meditate, but it doesn’t have to be so woo-y. It can just be on a regular basis noticing your body, and asking “Why am I holding this tension?”

That tension can be a cue, a signal. “This person’s talking to me right now, and now that I pay attention to my ass, this is giving me information.” The tension is a marker. You’ll see when you’re not feeling something – or when you’re excited.

It’s like checking your gut, but farther down.

If a gut check is hard for you, then you can do a butt check.

Do you do a butt check?

Yeah! Often. Especially preparing for this workshop – I reread Anal Pleasure and Health, that’s the book I would recommend if there’s any book you’re going to read on the butt.  Also, I went back to butt checking! Because the first time after I read that book, I really started paying attention.  

Obviously you’re a fan, you like assholes.

I like pleasure.

Fair enough! Imagine a society where calling someone an ‘asshole’ is a compliment: what would it mean and how could we use it?

I guess it depends what kind of asshole. Are you a tight asshole, cause then you have tight-ass. Are you a relaxed asshole? It could mean, “you’re so flexible!  I really appreciate the way you can expand or adjust to other people’s needs or circumstances, but stay true to yourself.” Isn’t that a nice compliment? Because the asshole will stay true to itself. Just try to fight it! Don’t! It’s what I say in the workshop: don’t fight it! Romance it! It’s the only way.

You can just do a butt, but it might be more painful, and it might not be so holistic. I’m so nerdy about butt loving. I want you to love the butt wholly. It means acknowledging that your anus is part of you. The rest of you.

Where does the butt end and the body begin?

I don’t think that it does. I think it’s all one and the same, including your mind, including you emotions. Your butt is also not just associated to just this time now. It is associated with your past.  I think the butt is a time traveler.

Could you elaborate on that please?

If you have trauma in the past, the way trauma works is, in your brain, in your body, it doesn’t care about time. When you access that same place, it’s the exact same chemicals that are going to be released, as if that trauma is happening right now.

Do you think there are specific emotions that sit in the butthole more than others?

Shame is definitely one. It depends on people’s experiences.  It could be frustration. You could be angry at your butt, because it’s not letting you do what you want it to do. You can resent your butt. This book I’ve mentioned, its asks you to personify your butt. Before you can engage your butt wholly, see it over there, across the room from you, and interview it. Ask it what’s going on. Really! “What, do you not want pleasure? Oh, you do? Ok. What happened? Are you angry at me? Was it because of that time that I forced something in there and I didn’t use enough lube? I’m sorry. Are you frustrated with me? I’m frustrated with you!” I think that’s what helps you get to know your butt and process some of this trauma! “Are you ashamed, are you sad, are you lonely? Are you feeling ignored? Of course you’re feeling ignored… I only ever give you any attention when you force me. I don’t even push – I just wait ‘til the poop’s there to kind of open and the shit comes out and I just wipe it with some tissue and I don’t want to look.” Unless you’re in Germany, they’ve got these toilets…

I think the toilets are kind of cool here, they really show you what’s going on.

They really get you in touch with your poo. (Ed’s note: we are both Canadian)

Speaking of poo, what is the linkage between a healthy digestive system, regular bowel movements, hygiene, and a loving relationship with your butthole? Do you recommend practices such as anal douching or enemas?

No. I mean sure, if you want to. I recommend not fighting yourself on anything. If you need the douche to feel comfortable, fine, accept yourself, do it. If that’s what it takes, there’s no need to conceptualize some way as better.  Don’t think, “I need to achieve this with my butt.” Why? What is your goal? Is it pleasure? All right, what’s blocking you from that? Are you worried about poop? Fine! Here’s a tip to deal with it. You don’t have to then feel guilty about not tolerating poop. It’s fine, maybe that’s something you don’t feel like you want to work on, it’s your prerogative. Nobody has to.

What about for people who do like poop? Do you have any tips for people who are interested in starting out with scat play?

Pay a sex worker, and tip for that one. You can always change your mind, you don’t have to go through all the way, but if maybe you want to? Pay a sex worker. Done. Tip well.

Do you have any advice or anecdotes—personal or professional—on any of the following: engaging the anal ‘g spot’, eating ass, or anal prolapsing/rosebudding?

My advice is, instead of trying to unlock achievements, go back to the simplest thing: focussing on experiencing, really experiencing, and really receiving. That’s more of a challenge than a trick. A trick can almost be a way to circumvent being present. We don’t need achievement-based sport sex.  

 

Interview by Frances Breden

Haven’t read part I of the interview yet? Click here and enjoy!

 


 

Opened in 2011, Other Nature is a feminist, queer-, trans- and women-oriented, eco-friendly, vegan sex shop in Kreuzberg. It’s a sex-positive and education-oriented place, so you can feel free to ask questions as well as browse the toys, lube, books, and other awesome products. They also host regular workshops in-store. For more details and registration info, check out other-nature.de/workshops. Help yourself to the free tea in the bookroom!

Sara Rodenhizer is the founder and general manager of Other Nature. Kitty May is Other Nature’s Director of Education and an enthusiastic advocate of accurate, empowering sex ed for people of all ages.

Pearl Love Lee is a sex worker and sex/body-positivity educator, working internationally. Visit Pearl’s website or Twitter: @WorkingPearl.  To find out when Pearl will be teaching next, follow Other Nature’s workshops.

Frances Breden is an artist and curator, and has been working with COVEN BERLIN since 2014.

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