CatalystCon is the event for sex-positive educators and activists with the best damned content ever
I have a confession to make. Usually, I don’t go to a lot of scheduled conference sessions. I find that the best way to derive value from conferences is the impromptu, serendipitous “in the hall” moments. You know, those conversations that spring from a funny badge, a recognized screen name or a quick assist finding the bar. In fact, for many conferences, I use the 1/1/1 rule: go to one session a day (harder than it sounds, especially at BDSM events), attend one hour of a sponsored party each night, and talk to one unfamiliar person.
But those proportions simply don’t work for CatalystCon. Why? Because this conference for educators and activists determined to make a difference in the sex-positive world has content-rich sessions involving some of the best educators in the business. Instead of attending one session a day, I must allow myself to SKIP one session a day so as not to get overwhelmed with too much fantastic information and ideas!
The highlight reel
Opening festivities. Since this is a starter conference stemming from MomentumCon (around 150, I’m told), and since many of us vocal sex educators are in fact a tad introverted, the festivities kicked off not only with some great humor from Maria Falzone, but Reid Mihalko‘s fun social lubrication exercises. During these all-hands-on-deck activities, we were encouraged (nay, commanded) to interact with the cool peeps in the room in a fun and entirely non-intimidating way. In fact, Reid instituted what I believe to be the most brilliant idea of the conference, which was to invite anyone identifying as an introvert to take an “introvert bracelet,” which would encourage the rest of us to initiate conversations with them. C’mon, admit it; you totally want that for your next con, don’t you?
Relationship Models for the 21st Century with Marcia Baczynski. Marcia covered some fascinating material on the historical significance and evolution of marriage, noting that what we think of as “traditional marriage” really covers only the last 50 years or so. And she shared a shorthand for that type of relationship: MMKES (married monogamous kids eternal soulmates). Nothing wrong with the model, of course, as long as we are aware (a) that it is short-lived historically and (b) it doesn’t work for everyone.
Taking Sex Ed to the Streets, a panel facilitated by Carol Queen and with panelists Dr. Robert Morgan Lawrence, Ava, Jessica Drake of Wicked Pictures and Sex Nerd Sandra. Dr. Lawrence pointed out what he calls the “Elders Effect”: once you step up to speak about any aspect of sex, you are an instant source. For most of the panelists, this happened when people started asking them about sex, and they stumbled into an education cycle. What I learned from this: there is always room for another sex-positive educator in the world.
My takeaway: Every non-faith-based study shows that sex education decreases pregnancy and STI transmission.
Orgasm as a Political Act, a diquietingly enlightening talk by the vivacious Megan Andelloux about the misconceptions in the general public based on a dearth of available sex education. Megan teaches sex education seminars to colleges and medical schools, and her disclosures of what the 20-somethings do not yet know about sexuality is frightening! (If you meet her, ask her to tell you the pine cone story. It’s horrifying.)
However, the most impactful segment of her talk was her decision to show the brief, two-minute video clip of Faces of Desire, which depicts men and woman experiencing orgasm from the neck up only, while looking directly at the camera. The reactions to the video were fascinating and ranged from arousal to disgust to violation, brilliantly making the point that not only do we all react differently to sex but that the primary value lies in having the conversation about it.
My takeaway: Think real orgasm isn’t disruptive? Think again.
Sex and the Media, a panel with Charlie Glickman, Lynn Comella and Shira Tarrant. Good discussion of how media’s purposes differ from ours and the importance of sound bites and question redirection. Shira suggests, “Thank you for asking me that. But the real question is… ”
My takeaway: The key to good messaging for any interview is to prepare the connect, lead and takeaway in advance.
Content Creation for the Online Activist Yes, my own talk! It was my first time giving it, so of course I found a million places for improvement. But the crowd was GREAT! Thanks to @lunquil, @sexualcandor, @talesofthepack, @sexnerdsandra, @trixiefilms @marip0zo, @serviceslut @amyjogoddard for engaging, asking questions and Tweeting the shit outta the talk! The slides from the presentation are posted, and you inspired me to find other venues in which this content might be useful, such as a webinar or local sex-positive toy store event. In fact, if you have ideas on venues where this talk might be helpful, please let me know!
The entertainment Saturday night entertainment was sexy fun, with Ducky DooLittle‘s Dirty Bingo (always fun!), a little dancing, and some good, old-fashioned laughter as the best medicine in the Bawdy Storytelling series.
Chillaxing and wrapping up
For me, the conference ended a with mini Poly Weekly poolside meetup with attendees and locals hanging out chillaxing by the pool and hot tub for a few hours before heading back home. And to top it all off, I would be the social media dork that I am without checking my stats and sharing the most reTweeted post of the conference (although note that Charlie’s Twitter ID is actually @charlieglickman):
Yes, according to my analytics report, that one Tweet was the top performer of the week!
CatalstCon was the perfect mix of stunning information and insights, sexy entertainment and phenomenal social opportunities. If you have a chance to attend in the future, you should.