Last month in Manhattan’s Theater District, two seemingly mismatched worlds met—academia and alternative sex—at the first Annual Alt Sex Conference. While I was expecting an audience of furries, perhaps an exuberant attendee dressed up as a unicorn with a dildo strapped to their head, it was truly more of an academic conference than a furry convention, stuffier than fluffier if we must.
While sitting all day can feel tedious, the information presented was not. In full force were self-proclaimed “sex nerds,” simultaneously showing off their science chops and love for getting it on. In a small, dark theater, the event’s organizers and speakers took turns holding court over the audience, sharing the latest research on everything from polyamory and kink to how role-playing is being used to treat illicit sexual desires that could otherwise be dangerous to society. Of the fact-filled day, here are 10 things we learned.
Sex Is Smart
As any woman who has dealt with the stigma of sex work will tell you, for whatever reason, many pearl-clutching members of society still have a hard time allowing sex and intelligence to be in the same room. Every old-fashioned thinking person in the world should be required to attend an alt sex conference so they understand that you can absolutely be smarty pants and still be interested in sex.
Along with journalists who wrangled their way in, such as myself, the audience was predominantly made up of academics, some having traveled all the way from Seattle to attend. It was delightfully refreshing to see audience members raising their hands to ask questions on everything from golden showers to adult babies, and not only being taken seriously but having their questions met with legit sex science-backed answers. “With any kind of sexuality, whether it’s orientation, whether it’s gender issues, whether it’s lifestyle issues, you need a firm scientific basis to be able to come to [join] public discussion with evidence that supports your position in the face of bigotry. You need the research. It’s absolutely essential,” says co-founder and organizer Dr. Michael Aaron.