“What I will say about having two partners is: you know, I’m still kind of on my — I was married before. When you’ve got one partner, they have the pleasure of seeing you at your worst, you know, but, even though I know these women very well, and I spend a lot of time with both of them … because I still feel like each of them is my other girlfriend I’m kind of on my best behavior around them a lot of the time. Because they’re not my ‘permanent’ girlfriend — I don’t live with either of them, so, every time I see them is like a little vacation, every date is … we close the door, we hunker down, and have our time. And I do all I can to make it a good time, you know, for them and for me. And so, yeah, I think, having both of them keeps me at my best for the other one.”
– Grant, episode 2
“We call it chemistry, and it is, in a way. I think of it really more as alchemy because there is something that is unexplainable, that is not quantifiable — in chemistry, theoretically, you can account for all the substances, and all the variables and you understand about how they’re going to react, but actually you never know how the substances of people are going to react with one another. You can set people up — you can think ‘Ah, they’d be perfect for one another.’ Yet there is that x factor. For me it’s a lot about smell, but there’s a lot to be said for body language, simple, animal body movements that are undetectable to our eyes, that we couldn’t pinpoint that we’re attracted to … and so to me, it’s alchemy. It’s a little bit of this, a little bit of that, a little bit of magic, a little bit of … God, I don’t know. You know, a little bit of something entirely unknowable.”
– Lila, episode 2
Welcome to horizontal with lila, the podcast about intimacy (sex, love, and relationships of all kinds) that’s entirely recorded while lying down.
I invite you to eavesdrop on stories that might seem almost too personal for you to hear, which is, of course, exactly why I want you to hear them. Many episodes are recorded in bed, on my Casper mattress at Hacienda Villa, a sex-positive intentional community in Bushwick, Brooklyn.
In episode two, I lie down with Grant Stoddard. And now I get to share his dreamy British accent with you.
Grant is an experiential journalist who specializes in reporting from outside of his comfort zone (sometimes way, waaay outside — like the time he delved into the world of sploshing).
sploshing (noun) aka WAM [wet and messy] = a predilection for being profusely doused in substances, often, food.
The wild situations he has experienced bodily have appeared in Thrillist, Vice, T, New York Magazine, Penthouse, and Maxim, among many others. You can read his work on Contently. My favorite article of his, about curating a “gangbang” for one of his girlfriends, there.
gangbang (noun) = a consensual, pre-arranged sexual scenario in which all of the physical attention is focused on one recipient, often a cisgendered straight, heteroflexible, or bisexual woman, or a gay man, and designed to overwhelm them with sensory input and pleasure through different configurations of bodies.
cisgendered (adj.) = a person whose biological (birth) sex corresponds comfortably with their gender identity and gender expression.
gender identity (noun) = the gender someone feels like on the inside, which may or may not align with their biological sex and the social norms of gender expression.
heteroflexible (adj.) = a person who, while primarily engaging in heterosexual romantic and/or sexual relationships, will occasionally engage (usually sexually) with members of the same sex, trans folx, or nonbinary people — typically during group sex, while at a party or other festive occasion, or while under the influence of mind-altering substances.
trans (adj.) = a human who, feeling their gender identity to be disconnected from the societal norm expected from those with their biological sex, decides to offer a different gender expression to the world. [formal, transgender]
folx (noun) = an affectionate way to refer to a group of people, particularly people who have been marginalized in American culture.
nonbinary (adj.) = a person who rejects identifying with either binary of gender expression — male or female — who instead expresses their gender identity androgynously, by mixing signifiers of societally-expected male and female expression, or by dressing in a manner that denotes a rejection of gender entirely.
gender expression (noun) = the way in which a human performs their gender, through costume, mannerism, and activity.
Now that I’ve gone a bit down the vocab rabbit hole, let me get back to Grant.
Grant is the author of one of my favorite memoirs of all-time, Working Stiff: The Misadventures of an Accidental Sexpert. When I was reading it on the bus, I laughed so hard that I completely missed my stop and had to double back about ten blocks. It follows Grant’s journey from lovelorn small town virgin to sex writer at Nerve.
In 2002, Nerve was the very first place where I posted an on-line dating profile, after my friend Marley insisted that it wasn’t a weird and scary thing to do. As a budding sex-positive advocate, I began devouring Nerve’s sexy offerings, including erotica, photography, and Grant’s column, “I Did It For Science!” Last year, he began collaborating with Kenneth Play, our community co-founder, and I met the author of “I Did It For Science” in my hallway.
This episode is the first horizontal with lila recorded on the road, in a cozy, creaky, and charming airbnb in New Orleans, Louisiana, where Grant and I (along with another writer, her fiancé, and my boyfriend Alex) were staying for the weekend in order to attend a Hacienda play party themed “The Year of the Cock.” (I was a showgirl with feathered coral plumage — see visual aid — red pasties with tassels, and gold spangly bottoms. My partner was a rooster in a sport coat, with a big curved feather-tail that he made himself.)
Andrew Sparksfire, owner of Hacienda Villa, the sex-positive intentional community in which I live, created Hacienda Maison down in NOLA as a sex-positive retreat center. The Maison is a sumptuously-appointed, several-storied, meticulously-restored plantation house, available to rent out for your sexiest events.
In this episode, we talk about sex parties (dubbed “play parties” in the sex-positive community) —
play party (noun) = a party in which sexual and sensual acts are welcomed and celebrated, i.e. a sex party
— the alchemy of attraction, the benefits of having two partners, and Grant’s first experience seeing female pubic hair.
So there. Come lie down with us in New Orleans.
Links to things we spoke about:
Hacienda Maison, the sex-positive retreat center in New Orleans
planet friendship and its rings, one of my old missives
The Center for Erotic Intelligence, featuring the work of Lila’s sex therapist friend Mal Harrison
Kenneth Play, sex educator and co-founder of Hacienda Villa
Show Notes (feel free to share quotes/resources on social media, and please link to iTunes, this website, or my Patreon!):
website link: https://horizontalwithlila.com/
Patreon link (the crowdsourcing of patronage!): https://www.patreon.com/horizontalwithlila
[2:58] Are threesome gifts a thing?
[5:50] Grant on New Orleans.
[7:33] What is the NOLA flavor of hedonism?
[8:16] “New Yorkers just have a hunger that comes out in all kinds of different ways. And it’s less pronounced in people from other North American cities, you know. There’s less people eye-fucking each other on the street. I just think people are out and hungry. It’s not necessarily sex, it could be … whatever it is. Whatever your thing is. I think it’s just written on the faces of New Yorkers in New York.” – Grant
[11:45] An unscientific observation about NOLA people and the NY people at the play party.
[14:20] Grant’s unexpected +1 in NOLA.
[14:55] Grant thinks of people as planets?
[15:36] Lila’s Planet Friendship. [see unscientifically-drawn diagram at right]
[19:04] What is Grant’s play party personality? What happened that night?
[21:54] On playing with strangers at a play party.
[22:54] What Lila learned about her sexuality from Zhana’s Hooking up Healthy Intensive workshop.
[25:20] Grant on one-night stands.
[26:01] Lila’s post-college one-night stand.
[26:58] The charisma game Lila used to play to counteract her insecurity about her looks.
[28:02] Lila learns about lube.
[34:16] “I’ve been called the best, and worst, lover a woman has had, in the same week.” – Grant
[36:37] Location, location, location and love affairs.
[37:42] “On a scale of 1 to 10, it’s purple.” – Lila (quoting Alan)
[38:24] Grant on practical things like his automatic turn-ons.
[39:13] What does it mean to be GGG (Dan Savage’s term)?
GGG (Good, Giving, and Game) = An acronym coined by the advice columnist Dan Savage to describe the three requirements of a great lover — skilled, generous, and adventurous.
[40:20] Grant shows Lila his foot.
[42:30] Arousal in the foot?
[44:41] Grant’s view across the street as a boy.
[46:00] “Kenneth says he thinks that ‘normal’ is the most dangerous word in any vocabulary that refers to sex, love, or relationships. If we think that there is something normal, then everything outside of it is ‘abnormal’ and usually it’s much much broader, what’s on the outside of normal, and actually the truth is closer to the fact that normal is … I was talking to a sex therapist, Mal, in the hot tub, last week, and she said ‘Normal really is variety. Normal really is, that there is no normal.’” – Lila
[47:50] Grant’s date with an Argentinean in Buenos Aires.
[49:44] Lila’s dating-across-the-world project.
[51:24] How do Americans date differently from the Brits, and whyfore?
[54:13] What words do people use to make a decision that we’re going to be in a relationship? How Lila and Alex made that decision.
[58:11] What we call each other when we’re in a relationship.
[59:17] What kind of relationship structure does Grant have?
[1:00:44] How often does Grant see his partners and what are those dates like?
[1:01:04] “I go from harlot to short order cook in the morning.” – Grant
[1:02:54] Love them or in love with them?
[1:04:00] How long does infatuation last?
[1:07:20] Cohabitating as the measure of a “real” relationship?
[1:08:18] “I think a lot of codependent problems and a lot of issues in relationships come from people essentially giving up their domains to move into the domain of the other person.” – Lila
[1:10:30] Grant’s married partner’s dream of a poly commune.
[1:11:12] About the Villa’s rule of not sleeping with one’s housemates.
[1:12:24] A question Grant won’t answer.
[1:14:05] What was Grant’s open marriage like?
[1:16:40] Grant on dating and the deluxe experience.
[1:18:08] Is Grant skilled in compersion?
compersion (noun) = often described as “the opposite of jealousy,” compersion is a term that polyamorous and ethically nonmonogamous people use to describe the experience of feeling joy for their partner’s joy, particularly as it refers to the partner’s sexual or romantic exploits
ethical nonmonogamy [abbreviation: enm] = the consensual practice of relationship styles that allow for sexual and/or romantic interactions beyond a dyad, inclusive of hierarchical polyamory, non-hierarchical polyamory, solo poly, swinger lifestyles, and other radically honest relationship styles.
dyad (noun) = a couple in a romantic/sexual relationship
polyamory, hierarchical (noun) = a relationship style in which the simultaneous, consensual relationship roles are clearly defined in order of priority, such as primary partner and secondary partner, or primary, secondary, and tertiary partners. Sometimes the people in the primary relationship hold “veto power” over their primary’s other relationships.
polyamory, non-hierarchical (noun) = a relationship style consisting of multiple loving, simultaneous, committed relationships, in which the practice of ranking one’s multiple partners in order of priority is rejected.
poly, solo (noun) = a relationship style in which a person retains their polyamorous identity along with corresponding values of honesty and transparency, during times when they aren’t involved in committed romantic or sexual relationships.
swinger(s) (noun) = a member of a couple practicing a monoamorous relationship style which allows for sex with other couples, typically in a two-on-two configuration and only when one’s partner is present.
monoamorous (adj.) = having an emotionally loving romantic/sexual relationship with only one person.
[1:18:20] How Grant & Lila feel about storytime erotica.
[1:19:40] Why Lila thinks that many men lie to women.
[1:21:40] Relationships with asymmetrical rules and Lila’s feelings about fairness.
[1:27:42] How Grant feels about Lila’s voice. (The acronym he couldn’t remember is ASMR.)
ASMR [Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response] (noun) = a phenomenon in which a person’s voice makes one’s head fizz and skin tingle.
[1:29:11] cafuné (noun) = the Brazilian Portuguese word for acts of affection that focus on the hair and scalp.
[1:30:24] On Brazilian waxing and Lila’s ex.
[1:31:04] The surprising discrepancy between his public voice and private voice.
[1:32:02] “Maybe it’s that his need to be noticed was so much greater than his need to be masculine.” – Lila
[1:33:12] Horizontal voices.
[1:37:03] Grant tells Lila a story about being a 13 year-old boy.