Orchestrating open-minded education, discussion

By Ken Johnson
On October 4, 2013

  • Sexologist Megan Andelloux presented to a packed Granite State Room on Thursday night. Ken Johnson/Staff

Sexologist Megan Andelloux opened her presentation on Thursday night with a YouTube video of a tortoise having an orgasm, much to the enjoyment of the 500 people packed into the Granite State Room. From there, she continued to educate and entertain attendees of "Orchestrating Orgasms" about the merits and science behind sexuality and sexual pleasure. 

Orchestrating Orgasms, featuring Andelloux, was a lecture/workshop that covered the biological, sociological and psychological aspects of orgasms . The event was hosted by the Memorial Union Student Organization (MUSO) and was part of the women's studies program's Sextober series. Students, faculty and members of the community alike attended the lecture and workshop given by the woman known as the "Princess of Pleasure" and "The Sex-Ed Warrior Queen."

Thankfully, according to Taylor Barclay, arts and lecture director for MUSO, no one was turned away. Barclay checked the fire codes for the room and researched how to accommodate the hundreds who poured into the room.

Andelloux is a certified clinical sexologist and educator who holds lectures and workshops across the United States on various sexual issues. According to her website, Andelloux has lectured at over "75 institutions of higher education, medical institutions and in most of the Ivy League universities." She started out studying marine biology, but became interested in sex when friends came to her with questions about masturbation, orgasms, birth control and asked why they weren't having fun. 

Andelloux didn't understand why people had so many of the same questions about sex and became interested in starting conversations about the subject; Andelloux then changed her major to human sexuality. She has worked for Planned Parenthood, a feminist-run sex-toy shop and, in 2010, she founded The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health in Pawtucket, R.I., and The Study Sex College Tour.

"The work that I do, every lecture/workshop, [explains] that it is okay to talk about sexuality, that it is healthy," Andelloux said.

According to Andelloux, sexuality is an important aspect of our health, and she is trying to start a conversation about sex. Her goal is to have people leaving the event feeling more comfortable with their bodies and being safer in their sexual experiences.

Andelloux does 40 to 45 lectures on college campuses each year. 

The Orchestrating Orgasms event started with the comical video of two turtles having sex, before getting into the topics of what orgasms are, how to have them, what prevents orgasms, myth busting and then a wrap-up of everything. 

During the course of the event, there was a clitoris demonstration with a vulva puppet, information on safe toy use, and a Kegel exercise audience participation event, among many other themes. People who participated received vibrators, restraint systems, butt-plugs and other assorted sexual toys. 

"Such a great way to start off the semester," Andelloux said. She said she also liked how caring everyone was towards each other in the audience.

The event exceeded expectations and everyone gained from it, Barclay said. 

Crystal Delights - a manufacturer of erotic toys - has been one of the sponsors of Andelloux's events for three years.

It's good that people sit in a group and talk about sex, according to Shellie Yarnell, creative director of Crystal Delights. One of the things that Yarnell said she has noticed over the last three years is that, originally, more girls than guys showed up, but now the distribution of girls and guys are about equal.

"I think that sexuality is normal, it's okay," Andrew Schwartz, owner of Crystal Delights, said.

"I love sponsoring Megan, I think that she has a really good way to tell her story that engages these kids," Yarnell said. "Look at how they sat here for this event and they were just as engaged at the end as they were in the beginning."

Not everyone seemed as open to discussing sexuality as Andelloux and event attendees, however. On Thursday, the blog Barstool Sports Boston published a post citing concerns by Ashley Pratte, executive director of Cornerstone Action.

Pratte did not immediately respond to a request to comment. 

Erika Mantz, director of Media Relations at UNH, said she wasn't aware of any complaints about the show.

"[It's] great that the school allowed this event to go on," Andelloux said. 

"All publicity is good publicity," Barclay said, adding that many people who hadn't heard about the event probably came and learned something because of the blog post. Barclay said she plans on bringing more events like this to campus.

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