Every other Wednesday The CSPH will highlight a Sexuality Professional you should keep your eye on. Their backgrounds are very diverse in order to bring attention to the wide variety of amazing people working in the field. This week we bring you Miss Maggie Mayhem.
1. What do you do in the field of sexuality?
In 2003 I started volunteering as an HIV test counselor at a free and anonymous clinic. After a few years I coordinated the program and took a post as the HIV Senior Specialist at Larkin Street Youth Services in San Francisco, CA. At Larkin Street, I tested out of 4 different clinics, facilitated sex positive harm reduction groups at drop in centers and shelter programs, and conducted a lot of street based outreach. In 2009 I received a grant to do HIV prevention and AIDS care work in Tanzania. I learned how to give some sex education presentations in Swahili, worked at the district hospital, and also did a lot of work out in the field.
I’m also one of the founders of the PSIgasm project. My partner and I engineered a device to read the contractions of the pelvic floor, vasocongestion, radiative skin heat, and more. It’s been a lot of fun to build and study. You can find more of that at http://PSIgasm.net.
On top of all of that, I’m a porn performer. I work primarily with queer indie porn and my partner and I just launched our own couples site as well. It’s definitely NSFW and you can find it at http://meetthemayhems.com
2. Where are you based out of?
I’m based out of Oakland, CA.
3. What is your focus? What do you do?
HIV prevention has been my strongest focus of research, training, and field work but my job always involved a lot more. In the counseling sessions before and after a result disclosure I learned a lot about the infinite diversity of human sexuality. I’m more focused on helping to create more objective information about human sexual arousal and desire.
4. What are your particular goals and passions in the field?
I have so many goals! I hope to do a lot of demos and workshops about the human orgasm in the coming years. It’s always amazing to do a live demonstration of the PSIgasm because the audience can pair about what they see happening on the outside of someone having an orgasm along with the internal objective data projected onto a screen. Seeing it all happen before your eyes really creates an amazing a-ha! moment.
I’m also very passionate about making independent porn. I had an interest in porn for many years before I ever jumped in but I was always disappointed by what was available. I really want to see more people holding cameras and directing projects because erotic content should not just be made by one demographic of people. I don’t ever plan to become a big successful porn producer but I hope that I inspire more people to start making the kind of content that they want to see. I’m passionate about the smut revolution.
5. Why did you choose to work in this field?
I went to college planning to grow up and become a lawyer. In my freshmen year of college, a professor read Larry Kramer’s historic call to action against the HIV epidemic way back before anyone knew what was going on titled, “1, 112 And Counting.” It was the first time I ever read anything that challenged things I had taken for granted about sexuality. That same afternoon I walked past the clinic and noticed a sign outside advertising a call for HIV test counselors. I probably walked by the same sign at least once a day but I hadn’t ever noticed it. I never thought that the work applied to me in any way. There was exactly one day remaining in the application period and I jumped on it. The rest is history.
6. Where did you go for school/training?
I’ve been trained by a lot of different agencies and individuals. I received my first round of HIV prevention and testing training from the Long Beach Department of Public Health. I also received extensive training from the Santa Cruz AIDS Project, Santa Cruz Needle Exchange, the University of CA Santa Cruz (my alma mater), San Francisco Department of Health, San Francisco Office of AIDS, San Francisco Sex Information Hotline, Harm Reduction Coalition, San Francisco Needle Exchange and more. Those are just my formal training hours. I also jumped on any source of sex education, lecture, or workshop I could find.
8. Do you have any literature out (websites, articles)?
My main hub on the web is my own site, http://www.missmaggiemayhem.com which is NSFW. I am also developing another project about consent culture at http://www.consentculture.com. The PSIgasm website is another spot to find my work, http://PSIgasm.net.
9. What would you recommend to future sexologists attempting to get into the field?
Read everything and anything you can. There is no tell-all tome on how to get into the field. Developing critical thinking and intersectional analysis will be a major help. Reading about and studying sexuality is the biggest part of the job but look out for tunnel vision. If you want to work with schools, for example, also keep track of what’s happening with the schools where you want to teach. What we know about sex is influenced by our environments and contexts. Definitely follow the news.
If you want to speak in front of audiences, take an improv comedy class. The things I learned there about stage craft and audience interaction has been invaluable to me on so many occasions.
10. What is the most challenging aspect for you working in this career?
Haters. I’ve had to put up with a lot of problems from anti-porn and sex negative individuals. The most frustrating thing has been the fact that if you start advocating progressive stances on policy around sexuality you’re going to get exciting hate mail and brutal words thrown your way.
11. One must read-what would you recommend? Why?
Atlas Of Human Anatomy by Dr. Frank Netters. His medical illustrations of developmental reproductive anatomy really opened doors for me in my understanding of sex and gender. My copy is close to falling apart because I’m always referring back to it. Sexuality is more than the genitals, it’s the entire human body and brain. There’s no way to know it all because science doesn’t know it all either.