Get To Know: The Sexperts behind NTS Radio Show Talk Dirty
Talk Dirty is a project to try and get people talking and thinking more about the sex they are having, the sex they want to be having and how sex shapes their lives. Not So Popular's Jade French caught up with the brains behind the project Rose Payne and Vicky Spratt. Check out their NTS Radio show, and keep your eyes peeled for upcoming events and new projects in the works.
Why did you decide to discuss sex?
Vicky and I first started talking about this project way back in 2014. We were originally thinking about making a documentary about porn (hey there, anyone who might wanna fund that). While researching it one argument kept popping up over and over again: that porn is being used as sex education a) because people don’t talk about sex enough and b) because SRE in schools is totally inadequate. That's when we decided to start a conversation - the whole point is that we need better sex education but, more than that, that the need for sex education doesn't stop once you leave school - we're all constantly learning and conversations are developing. Take consent for example - we still need to push the conversation on this.
We are inundated with sexual images – from porn to steamy TV moments - what’s the difference between engaging with sex visually versus intellectually?
It’s a really good idea to try to move from passively consuming sexual images as they are presented to us to really engaging with them and thinking about why sexual images are there, the effect they have on us, and what we think about them. Something that really interests us is whether things become less of a turn-on once you begin to intellectualise them. There is a great project called A Four Chambered Heart which creates sexual films and images, but which references everything from Adorno to renaissance portraits. And I obviously can’t speak for everyone, but they definitely turn me on. If you think about it - whether you realise it or not your intellectual framework is always present - consciously or not - in whatever you do.
Do you think people are still hesitant to talk about sex in public? Do you see what you’re doing as a form of public service / sex ed?
People are definitely still hesitant to talk about sex in public, I don’t think what we’re doing at the moment is sex ed, but hopefully the shows will inspire people to go and explore the information out there, and become more comfortable talking about sex.
Why do you think people respond to sex talk with shame and fear?
The problem is still that even today, in 2016, shame and fear are instilled in us from a young age when it comes to sex and even our own physical form. Take revenge porn for example - would this sort of abuse even exist if we didn't view nakedness and sexuality as a source of shame, as a way of shaming others? Something that we both really hope for is that society is moving towards a point where the impulse to shame someone for something they do or enjoy sexually no longer exists.
Shame also comes from the fear that you’re not normal and that people will judge you because of that. Talking about sex often leads to “oh yeah, I do that too” moments, which are important, but I think it’s also important to celebrate our differences and peculiarities. Because variety is what makes sex so wonderful.
How does the radio format help combat these feelings of fear?
When you are speaking on radio you are anonymous, to some extent, and this removes the obvious fear of being judged. As a medium radio can be better for dealing with sensitive subjects than TV; it's a less performative mode so you get more intimacy and more honesty. It puts people at ease. It's great that a platform like NTS is pushing for this sort of content.
Unfortunately, we still live in a world where speaking about your sexual tastes and actions can lead to professional repercussions, or falling out with friends and families. We tend to record things in advance to help protect anonymity as well.
What are the most risqué topics you’ve spoke about so far?
We’ve covered everything from pegging to animal porn, but actually the moments which have been the most revelatory have tended to be ones in which people have talked about their vulnerabilities, relationships, or fears.
How do you make sure the show is as inclusive of the sexuality spectrum as possible?
One of the main reasons we wanted to do the show was that we thought that people from different backgrounds, whether that might be social or sexual, might not have frank and open discussions about sex, so we wanted to create a space where that could happen. I don’t think we are there yet when it comes to including as many different viewpoints as possible. This is partly down to time constraints, we both have full-time jobs so we tend to find guests through our own networks, and partly due to the fact that we have found it difficult to find people who are comfortable speaking in some cases. We definitely welcome any input from anyone who has ideas about how we can make the show a more welcoming space.
Do you have any sex experts you look to? Be it Havelock Ellis or Carrie Bradshaw!
We have been lucky to interview some of favourite sexperts for the first show; from Dr. Zhana, who started Casual Sex Project, an online platform for people to share stories of their hook-ups; to fearless sex blogger Girl on the Net, and Dr. Neil Malamuth the world’s foremost authority on the effect of porn. All of the past episodes are now up on NTS.
How do you plan each show? Who do you have coming up in future episodes?
We are currently planning the second season, and we would love to speak to anyone who can talk to us about sex and disability, mental health and sex, difficulties in setting up a sexual business, or just anyone who feels that they have something to say about sex. We take a theme and work out how we can cover it in a way which fits with our values and ethics as Talk Dirty. For us it's about journalistic rigour - speaking to experts and drawing on current academic studies or polling - and mixing that with personal stories, presented in a sensitive way. We want Talk Dirty to be a safe space for people to discuss the issues at hand, ask questions and have conversations.