Episode 38: Toni Bentley: Talking about Taboo Sex

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As a child, my guest Toni Bentley, developed a passion for dance, ultimately landing a place in George Balanchine's New York City Ballet. In 1982, when she was just 21, her book ''Winter Season: A Dancer's Journal'' was published to wide acclaim. When a hip injury forced her off the stage, she found a new career as a writer. After 4 successful books, Toni had a life-changing sexual experience, which became the source for her memoir “The Surrender: An Erotic Memoir.” In a direct and forthright manner Chip and Toni talk about anal pleasuring and sex. Toni offers insights into her experience, which she describes as “transcendental.” Join us as we talk about the forbidden, the taboo, the dance between surrender and control. And stay with us for Chip’s exercise for you to try in the privacy of your own home.

Transcript

Woman: This program is intended for mature audiences only.

[musical interlude]

Chip August: Welcome to “Sex, Love, and Intimacy”. I'm your host, Chip August. On today’s show, we are going to be talking with Toni Bentley who has written an amazing book called “The Surrender: An Erotic Memoir”.

[musical interlude]

Toni Bentley: I think it was the incredible intimacy and personalness and tabooness of it that made me feel the necessity to write about it. The process of this becoming a book was quite a long one. The idea of fulfilling fantasies, I'm someone who’s fulfilled a lot of my sexual fantasies and I know you often hear that most sexual fantasies are great, they're OK, it's fine, masturbate to them but don’t actually do them. We did not have what you'd call a conventional relationship at all and it's the only kind of sexual experience I've had that literally got better and better and better over the course of a number of years. The relationship came to an end but it certainly wasn't because the sex did.

[musical interlude]

Chip August: Welcome to “Sex, Love, and Intimacy”. I'm your host, Chip August. On today’s show, we are going to be talking with Toni Bentley who has written an amazing book called “The Surrender: An Erotic Memoir”. What we're actually going to be talking about is sex, sexuality, and particularly about anal sex. A subject that I know is titillating and exciting and also scary and brings up lots of feelings in people.

As a child, my guest Toni Bentley, developed a passion for dance ultimately landing a place in George Balanchine’s’ New York City Ballet. In 1982 when she was just 21, her book “Winter Season: A Dancer’s Journal” was published to wide acclaim. When a hip injury forced her off the stage, she found a new career as a writer. She's written articles and reviews for the New York Times’ Book Review, New York’s Newsday, Los Angeles Times, Arts and Antiques, Rollingstone Magazine, Smithsonian, Ballet Review, Dance Magazine, The New Republic, BookForum, and a whole bunch of others.

She's a co-author of “Holding on to the Air: The Autobiography of Suzanne Farrell” which she co-authored with Farrell. She's written a book about the custom designer Barbara Karinska, “Costumes by Karinska” as well as a scholarly study of striptease “Sisters of Salome” centered on four women who danced Salome. Bentley’s most recent book, “The Surrender: An Erotic Memoir” was one of the Book Review’s 100 Notable Books of 2004 and one of the Best Books of the Year by Publishers Weekly and it's translated into 10 different languages.

So welcome to the show, Toni Bentley.

Toni Bentley: It's nice to be here, Chip. Thanks for having me.

Chip August: I thought a great way to start would be if you would just read a short passage from the book.

Toni Bentley: Sure. I will. This is from the very beginning of the book in a presets and entitled “The Holy Fuck”. “His was first, in my ass. I don’t know the exact length but it’s definitely too big--just right. Of medium width, neither too slender nor too thick. Beautiful. My ass, tiny, a teenage voice, tight and tightly wound. Twenty-five years of winding as a ballet dancer. Since age four, the age when I first declared war on my Daddy. Turning out the legs from the hips just winds up that pelvic floor like a corkscrew. I worked my gut all my life standing at that ballet barre. Now it is being unworked.

His cock, my ass, unwinding. Divine. As he enters me I let go, millimeter by millimeter, of the tensing, pulling, tightening, gripping. I am addicted to extreme physical endurance, the marathon of uncoiling intensity. I release my muscles, my tendons, my flesh, my anger, my ego, my rules, my censors, my parents, my cells, my life. At the same time, I pull and suck and draw him inwards, opening out and sucking in. One thing.

Bliss, I learned from being sodomized, is experiencing eternity in a moment of real time. Sodomy is the ultimate sexual act of trust. I mean, you could really get hurt if you resist. But pushing past that fear by passing through it literally, the joy that lies on the other side of convention. The peace that is past the pain. Going past the pain is key. Once absorbed, it is neutralized and allows for transformation. Pleasure alone is mere temporary indulgence, a subtle distraction, and then anesthetization while on the path to something higher, deeper, lower. Eternity lies far beyond pleasure. And beyond pain. The edge of my ass is the sexual event horizon, the boundary beyond which there is no escape. Not for me anyway.” OK.

Chip August: Wow!

Toni Bentley: When I wrote this book, there were a few things I knew which is that I didn’t want to mess around about what I was discussing so I delved straight in as one of the things I really wanted to do because most books don’t do that.

Chip August: Actually, personally, I just really appreciate the directness of the style. Reading the book is like I'm talking to you and telling me what actually happened to you in a language where I really get so I really appreciate it. The question is, though, people listening to this, I think, that one of the first questions they are going to think of “Is this a dirty book? Is this a pornographic book?”

Toni Bentley: You're asking me.

Chip August: Yes, I'm asking you.

Toni Bentley: Well, yes. Well, it depends on one’s definition of pornography and everything else. People have called it everything under the sun and that’s fine with me because I knew I was taking enormous risk in putting something like this out there. I don’t have a problem with pornography, so if somebody wants to say it's pornographic, I will understand why. I suppose pornographic in that it's graphic, but what I wanted to do when--I get the idea from the many readers I've heard from that I somewhat succeeded in doing something besides just the graphic to really try and get inside the experience of something that is very real, very physical, very visual, very specific, very graphic. Yet, what's really going on is an internal, emotional, spiritual experience that’s far beyond a pornographic image. So I regard this as something I was trying straddle a few worlds at the same time so to speak.

Chip August: The subject definitely lends itself a lot of double entendres and puns.

Toni Bentley: Yes, it does.

Chip August: OK. Anyone who has participated in anal intercourse, I think anyone would say it is one of the most intensely personal and private things one can do sexually. It requires men’s cooperation and it requires really a level of connection and it's still so private. How does one decide to write about such a personal experience?

Toni Bentley: I think it was the incredible intimacy and personalness and tabooness of it that made me feel the necessity to write about it. The process of this becoming a book was quite a long one. I was actually having the experience that I end up writing about and never plan to write a book about it. But eventually as I write in the book, I started needing to explain it to myself. I'd never had a sexual experience of this nature even remotely. It felt like something other than what I knew of as sex. I need to start explaining it myself.

I already had written four books, obviously I'm sort of a writer at heart. I've been keeping old journals since I was 15 and I needed to explain to myself what was happening. So it started as a series of notes that I would take immediately after the experience usually. I wanted to be able to capture the immediacy and probably relive it, of course.

So I never thought about it in the beginning that people would read this. I needed to understand it myself and I wanted to preserve it for myself because it was the most amazing experience I'd ever had aside from dancing Balanchine’s ballets. I didn’t know of anyone who got the same experience. Not one of my girlfriends, they had the usual experience that one they know about [xx] sex with women which is something of a generalization which is that most of them it seems have tried a few times. But usually, it sort of giving in to the guy wanting it and if they liked it, nobody have this amazing transcendence experience that I had. So I also felt a certain kind of loneliness that I had to put this down, I needed to keep a record of this amazing thing that had happened to me.

Then over the course of really several years, I started thinking, “What if I turned it into a book? Could it be a book?” All of which sound totally impossible, therefore, [xx] very good idea to try and that’s what I did.

Chip August: You were one of those people when somebody says, “You can't.” You must.

Toni Bentley: Exactly, yes. That is definitely been something of prompting for me all along. It happened in my dance career as well, and also the idea of fulfilling fantasies. I'm someone who’s fulfilled a lot of my sexual fantasies, and I know you'll often hear, sort of when you’ll ask Dr. Ruth or whatever, that most sexual fantasies are great, they're OK, it's fine, masturbate to them but don’t actually do them. But I've actually fulfilled a lot of mine and found them to be even better than I had imagined.

Most of the books I've written have fantasies that I thought would never happen and this is certainly the biggest one. I mean, being published at the age of 21 when I was a dancer and haven’t been to college and I wasn't a writer. That was something ever happen before I could even fantasize about it but there was obviously a miraculous experience.

But the idea that this book about this erotic experience will actually be published and that people would actually read it became a type of sexual fantasy in itself once I'd had the experience because I thought, “Could this happen?” You know, it seemed impossible but it also was an incredible challenge to the writer in me.

Chip August: So I have to ask, I have a daughter and have your parents read this? Did you tell your family about it?

Toni Bentley: Well, these are the biggest difficulties I had once somebody said that they would actually publish it. No, what happened is I basically--I have a brother, mother, and father--and I told them I was going to have a book published that was an erotic memoir, I didn’t explain any further than that and obviously I sort of prefer for them not to read it and they were all very happy to say they promise not to read it.

Chip August: I don’t think that I would like to read the memoir of my daughter’s sex life. I think [xx].

Toni Bentley: Right. There have been some repercussions--nothing disastrous--because it got far more notoriety and press than I'd expected. So different people in my family ended up reading about it or people they knew would say, “Hey, is that your sister?” So the news got around to my family.

Chip August: Well, this is all fascinating. We're going to take a short break and when we come back, I actually want to talk to you about this transcendence of the experience. I want to focus in a little more about what it actually felt like the sensations and what made it such a transcendental experience for you. But I also want to give a chance for our sponsors to support us and for us to support our sponsors.

You're listening to “Sex, Love, and Intimacy”. I'm your host, Chip August. I'm talking to Toni Bentley. We'll be right back right after this message.

[musical interlude]

[radio break]

[musical interlude]

Chip August: We're back. You're listening to “Sex, Love, and Intimacy”. I'm your host, Chip August. We're talking to Toni Bentley who has written an amazing book called “The Surrender: An Erotic Memoir” and it's actually a memoir about her experiences with anal intercourse and it's quite a wonderful book.

Just when we took the break, you mentioned something about that your friends had had experiences where they did it for their boyfriend and it was OK but it wasn't really anything for them. Yet, you describe your own experience as transcendent. Could you say more about that and what made it so?

Toni Bentley: Well, yes. A lot of me trying to figure out what made it so is why I wrote the book because it was so. In other words, it was totally transcendent for me and I had to come back to where it’s at and say, “My God! What is that?” You know, what happen to me. So every thing I wrote is me theorizing from things that are obviously out there.

There's just a number of factors. For example, I'm definitely a sort of physical extremist which is easily traceable to being a ballet dancer. I know people probably think it's very unusual. I practice [xx] and then I wrote this “low book”. But to me, first of all, where high and low meet is the razor’s edge that is of great interest to me in everything. I learned that actually from Balanchine who knew exactly to be on the edge is where things are interesting, where things might shift or things might change.

So I think the extremity of the experience was very appealing to me as it might not be to many women. I think simply the letting go of control, there's a lot of the Freud 101 in this kind of thing, but you're taught from a very early age--toilet training and all of these--to hold, hold, hold. I think it's pretty well known that when people get stressed, they grab their asses and this is a lot of what goes on. It's really a physical focal point that if you have to let go, if you don’t let go it hurts. People, of course, will say it hurts, they're not letting go. But if you can learn to let go so that it's pleasurable and doesn’t hurt, I found it to be a letting go, not just physically but it completely translated into my mind and my emotions that it was a letting go that I experienced before. What I termed in that section that I read as bliss. I had never had such a feeling of being in the moment and being in a kind of bliss.

But there's so many factors that made it work. I think it got underestimated in some of the media about this book that it was very much between me and this very particular man who I called “a man” to protect his identity. But this isn’t just a woman, me, who is just crazy about anal sex. I would have done it with nobody else and I've actually not really done it since to be frank. Everyone just thought, “Oh, she’s like an anal sex freak.” I know it is so sacred and take such a particular dynamic as you mention before that cooperation and trust between two people. I do think it's much more intimate than what I would call regular sex. It's something I think is much harder to have a good experience at it. But the stakes are much higher and the reward is much higher for me.

Chip August: So did you orgasm?

Toni Bentley: I know, everybody loves to ask about that. Well, the question of orgasm is so interesting. Yes, but orgasm clitorally and stuff going on, but those clitoral orgasms became as much less of interest to me during this experience with this man. I think there was something certainly related to people who do tantra would relate to this about the first shakra or something. But I can only say that I would orgasm in my ass and it was a much more powerful and deep thing. Usually with him, I write about it, I have a chapter called “Anal Orgasm”.

Now, I don’t know if this is documented by Kinzy[sp], I don’t think it was, or Matthews [sp] and Johnson or anybody. But I can only say what happened for me and it had all the qualities of an orgasm of complete letting go, out of my control, [xx] and stuff but it was like something shoot up to the top of my head. It was much, much deeper is really the best I can explain it than a clitoral orgasm. And [xx] that there's no breath orgasm. So this was also very baffling to me because there's not much literature on that subject.

Chip August: Yes, I can talk to you medically about what in your body would cause that but I also think we're--as a culture--where we talk about orgasm as if there's this one universal experience that everybody has. I actually think our orgasms are incredibly personal and there's a wide range of things that we experience that we call orgasmic. You have one reaction when somebody plays with your clitoris. You have another reaction perhaps if you're having sex that involves bumping up against your cervix. You're going to have a different reaction. And I have experienced orgasm that is an emotional--it's an experience in your body that may have been stimulated by your genitals but it's not actually a genital experience. It's a body emotional experience and we really don’t have language for any of that stuff.

Toni Bentley: No, and a lot of the mainstream shun it aside. I actually was talking with someone who said to me that I orgasm through my eyes but I usually cry and I just thought I was very beautiful like right on, that’s what happens. It's this great opening.

Chip August: So the whole thing about anal intercourse for me is that dance between surrender and control.

Toni Bentley: Right.

Chip August: Can you talk a little bit about that for you?

Toni Bentley: Well, this was my great experience in thinking about it. Actually, it can be done other ways but the way that I experienced it is I was certainly being the boss, the submissive and my lover was in control and it takes a very certain kind of guy. I'd never had a guy either who actually wanted to do this with me. People toy around a bit, but he knew what he was doing. But the dynamic between us which is hard to explain, we never discussed it, it was just there. Chemistry, whatever you call it.

He was a very humble, sort of shy, quiet guy and we [xx], not the controlling-looking of macho guy. I read about this, it's very important to me. He was not a macho guy that would be that classic idea “I want to fuck your ass.” It was not as that, and yet it may be apparent, but between my dancing, my book writing, and all these things, I'm a woman, very much in control. It's the vein of my life, it's how I get everything done and yet this was the only time in my life I felt like I could finally give it up. I realize it was this incredible dance. I could only give it up as much as he would ask for it and would take it and I can trust him with it.

Between you, there's a 100% control and it's a dance of how much and by the time I would have say an anal orgasm, he had 100% of the control and I had none and it was the biggest relief of my life. He's leave [xx] to real life where I know how to do everything. I'm very efficient woman, my house is in order, etc., etc., etc. all the things that we have to do to live, but it was a real dance of that.

I can't speak so much from his side, but he knew himself all of these that was going on and he had a great intuition about me. A lot of men won't react that way to me or like a woman who’s in control or whatever. So it's a very, very unique situation.

Chip August: He saw something that other people don’t think…

Toni Bentley: Yes. I think well, he saw the little girl. Maybe all women have their little girl somewhere but basically I turned into a four-year-old, very very vulnerable and very open and very obedient. I adore being sexually obedient and it's yet another way that I don’t have to be in control. It's another way also I think this relates to being a dancer which is an art that is certainly encourages what we call perfectionism in our culture. So I love someone else being the boss.

Chip August: I love talking about this, this is great. You speak so articulately. We need to stop for a minute here, take a break, give a chance to support our sponsors and let them support us.

You're listening to “Sex, Love, and Intimacy”. I'm Chip August. We're talking to Toni Bentley. Please come on back after the break because I have an exercise for you to do for yourself if you want to learn a little more about this and we've got a little more talking to do here. So come on back right after this break.

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[radio break]

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Chip August: We're back. You're listening to “Sex, Love, and Intimacy”. I'm your host, Chip August. I'm talking to Toni Bentley. She's written an amazing book called “The Surrender: An Erotic Memoir”. We've been talking about anal intercourse and the emotional qualities of it and connection with your partner.

One of the things I notice when we talk about it it's an event, and in the book, it clearly wasn't an experience, it was hundreds of experience. How did it change over time?

Toni Bentley: You mean some of the first experience to the last?

Chip August: Yes, I guess.

Toni Bentley: It got better and better. Everything about this experience, the type of sex, the way it went, the way the relationship in real life went, everything was contrary to anything I've done before. It was definitely what one would be called unconventional. We did not have what you'd call a conventional relationship at all and it's the only kind of sexual experience I've had that literally got better and better and better over the course of a number of years. The relationship came to an end but it certainly wasn't just the sex which is also highly unusual. Everyone had the experience of some very hot connection that lasts whatever six days or six weeks or six months if you're lucky and then suddenly everyone gets a bit bored. This never happened which also stunned me.

Chip August: Wow, didn’t get all [xx].

Toni Bentley: No. No.

Chip August: Now, I imagine that men react very differently to this book than women do. Is that true?

Toni Bentley: Yes. Yes. It's been extremely interesting. One of the reasons--once I had the opportunity to actually have it published, that I went ahead along with the fact that many people said “It maybe ruin your career”. A lot of people discouraged me. My curiosity to the reaction from men and women and whoever would read it was overwhelming and I just had to find out. It became very interesting, too, in terms of America versus other countries because it has been published in 10 other countries.

In America, I can say this from a lot of fan mail that I get through my website and stuff. Certainly the proportion of positive fan mail of male to female in this country is 10% women, 90% men including men who want to date or something like that, but not as bad as you would think. I thought I might get inundated. At first, I had people filtering my mail for me sort of disgusting offers and stuff, of which there were very few really. There were some but very few. Then the 10% of American women--shall we say who love the book--were just like as the men were [xx] “You finally put into words, I know what you're talking about”, there was a connectivity.

In the press, what was interesting to me in terms of interviews and reviews, it was almost solely assigned to women to review and to interview me. This is just my theory, of course, but I think it was more politically correct to give a book about a heavy subject like this that is a politically incorrect subject to women because I just imagine if you give this book to a male reviewer and he raves about the book of a ballerina who wrote about anal sex, he is going to immediately being jumped on by politically correct women.

Somewhat across the board with a few very notable exceptions is that women who both interviewed me and reviewed the book were pretty what you would call snorky [sp]. They all wanted to really separate themselves from me. Even if they gave the book like it's very well written, it's funny, it's unusual, it's brave, they would often say that they would always say that they would separate themselves but she's crazy. One of them really said “She's crazy but she's not”. And I said to my publisher, “Can we put that on the paper [xx]?” To have such an obsession with such a politically incorrect act I think made a lot of women really nervous and I can't really say why. But I have a feeling that--somebody said to me very astutely that most reactions to the book--maybe to all books but especially to one from me offering such intimate stuff--is that people’s reactions are very autobiographical.

Chip August: Yes, yes, people always tell you about themselves.

Toni Bentley: Yes, and with this it was very apparent. I had an agent that he was no longer my agent, he thought the book was absolutely disgusting which is pretty hard to hear from your own agent and then, of course, many men who think very, very much the opposite. The thing they say about in other countries which really shows we are basically a nation built on a puritan affect, places like Italy and Brazil, the book was a bestseller and the fan mail was, if anything, predominantly female. They didn’t make the women nervous. The book made women nervous in this country. I don’t know because they felt like it's a pleasure to have it, I don’t know. I have a lot of theories but I can't really speak for them.

But in the other countries, women were all like, “Oh, yes, of course”. They were much more relax to that whole concept and it was also only from other countries that anybody mentioned that it was a love story. In this country--and I'm talking about general mainstream media not people like you or people who really are more on the [xx] about things--but in the mainstream magazines, on the one hand, it's a miracle entertainment weekly reviewed this book. I think they gave me a B plus. I think that was the one literally where they also said, “She's nuts.” “We like it, it's a good read but don’t think that we are part of this party.” That’s what mainstream has to say. But in this country, nobody mentioned that it was a love story, and I kept thinking…

Chip August: Right. Did they miss that?

Toni Bentley: They missed it. They got so obsessed with the A act and it's like, “Oh, my God! And she comes and she wipes with that KY and she talks about the details and she talks about shaving off her [xx]. They're so caught up in that they missed that this is an incredible love story. I think people don’t want to think that you could have such a love story where the woman is so submissive, of course. But as I say, in other countries--all across Europe except for England I might add--but Italy, France, very, very open to the book. This country, I wasn't aloud to do readings in mainstream bookstores.

Chip August: Right. Right.

Toni Bentley: In France, I gave readings. In Italy, very different attitude. In Italy, major intellectuals reviewed the book. Then in this country, [xx] New York Times, they did a lot of coverage of very positive outlook which was amazing, no one could really take the book that seriously. It would have been a little over the top. So very interesting experience to kind of let this test in a sense [sp].

Chip August: Did somebody wanted to get this book or wanted to know more about you? How can they find out more about you or the book?

Toni Bentley: Well, the best way is to go to my website which is very easy. It's www.ToniBentley.com.

Chip August: Toni with an i.

Toni Bentley: Yes. T-O-N-I B-E-N-T-L-E-Y like the car. You can see all my books on there. There's links to Amazon, of course, Amazon is the place where you can buy all my books including “The Surrender”. If you Google my name, it will turn up all kinds of things about anal sex.

Chip August: I did and you do.

Toni Bentley: And there it is. People said to me before this came out, “You’ll always be known as the woman who wrote that book.” I said, “Yes, well, that’s OK. I've also written other books.”

Chip August: When I was making notes for this interview, one of the notes I notice I wrote down here was do we think we now know the first line of your eventual obituary?

Toni Bentley: Well, yes, yes, it's a good point. Yes, I never write anything as controversial but I might write something--I'm working on two other books completely unrelated at the moment, but you know, life goes on.

Chip August: You are a terrific guest and I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to us today. I think you've given a lot of information and I think there's a lot of things that a lot of my listeners will think about and perhaps want to try some things on their own and I just really want to appreciate you for being here.

Toni Bentley: Well, I very much enjoyed it, Chip. Thank you for having me.

Chip August: Yes, my pleasure. Now, listeners, if you want to get in touch with me, you can reach me at [email protected]. I always want to hear ideas for shows and feedback about how we're doing. If you'd prefer to leave it as a voice mail, you can leave me a voice mail. You can leave it as Chip August by calling 206-350-5333, please leave your name, my show’s name “Sex, Love, and Intimacy”, your comment or your question and your phone number and/or an email. When you leave a message on the voice mail system, just note that that indicates your agreement for us to use your message on air. So if you say something nice to me, we can use that as a little bit of a promotion. Thanks.

If you want texts or transcripts of this show or any of the Personal Life Media shows, just come to our website, www.PersonalLifeMedia.com and we have text and transcripts of all the shows.

I would like to leave you with an exercise, something that you can do on your own, something you can do. I'm wondering, Toni, do you have a suggestion that couples might want to try this, could help them maybe find out more about this or would you like me to make a suggestion?

Toni Bentley: You mean, find out more about it [xx].

Chip August: No, something they could try in the privacy of their bedroom that might open up some doors for them.

Toni Bentley: Oh, I don’t know, just keep on touching.

Chip August: So I do. OK.

Toni Bentley: And I'd like to hear what you might suggest.

Chip August: Yes, here's the thing. Anus is really taboo, I think really a lot because of toilet training. We grew up with this idea that this is the part of our body that’s dirty. The real truth about this is the anus is the bottom end of your throat. You put food in one end, it comes through the whole process and then it's there. But we don’t really think of it as the bottom end of our throat and there's a lot of nerve endings in and around the anus and there's a lot of pleasure to be derived.

And I think there's a lot of us that are curious but we don’t know how to begin, we don’t know how to start. I think that I would actually really encourage you, listeners, to do is maybe get some lubricant. You might want to use a latex glove and some water-based lubricant, KY jelly is perfect. Just start by your taking your own forefinger and just gently bring your forefinger to the outside of your anus and just gently touch and rub and just notice that that feels pleasurable to you or not.

If you're with a partner, you might want to do this with your partner. You might want to do this for each other. You want to make sure that you don’t take anything from the anus to any other part of the body because the bacteria that’s used in our digestive process is not actually healthy for us other places. So you don’t want to go from your anus to somebody else’s anus. You don’t want to go from an anus to a vagina and that’s also part of why you're wearing the glove so when you're done, you can just take off the glove and throw it away.

If you notice that touching the outside of the anus feels really, really pleasurable, you might want to see what happens if you gently try to insert your finger just a little bit. You'll find that if you push out a little bit as if you're trying to defecate, everything will open a little bit, your finger can go in a little bit.

I want to say that people pay lots of money for this. If you have hemorrhoid problem, this is a wonderful way to actually gently massage your hemorrhoids and have your hemorrhoids be less swollen. There are many people who pay for this as a medical procedure. But I'm not actually suggesting it as medical, I'm suggesting it as pleasurable. So I really want to invite you if you got intrigued by this maybe start with just a little bit of light touch then just notice if it feels pleasurable.

It is my personal experience it feels pleasurable. Clearly if my guest’s experience feels it's pleasurable, maybe it will feel pleasurable to you, too. And I always think pleasure is healing.

So there's a little something you can do for yourself. Toni Bentley, thanks for being on the show.

Toni Bentley: Thank you very much.

Chip August: You've been listening to “Sex, Love, and Intimacy”. I'm Chip August and join us again for the next show.

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