Halifax Chronicle-Herald

Halifax Chronicle-Herald

No blushing allowed: Sex columnist Vogels has new book about Bedside Manners

by LOIS LEGGE

The Chronicle Herald, Halifax, June 14, 2004

It’s enough to make you blush!

And really, should good manners do that?

If it’s bedside manners, maybe so.

At least, that’s the case with sex columnist Josey Vogels’ latest book, Bedside Manners: Sex Etiquette Made Easy.

The graphic, often hilarious tome on everything — that means everything — sexual isn’t for the faint of heart.

The 39-year-old Toronto woman speaks so frankly, in fact, that much of her advice won’t make it into every family newspaper, although chapter titles like The Endurance Test and The Other F Words will give you a PG-rated idea of what’s in store.

Vogels has been writing about R-rated stuff for about 10 years in a weekly syndicated column called My Messy Bedroom, which is carried by a number of alternative weeklies. Her tamer column, Dating Girl, appears in some Canadian newspapers.

The new book, her fifth, takes the more explicit route, a tone the author believes breaks down barriers to education.

“I think it’s really important when you talk about sex to…not talk about it clinically…and the feedback I get from young people is that they really enjoy that because usually when they’re being spoken to about sex it’s in some sort of, like, moralistic or condescending way, so I liked the idea of just talking about it very frankly and openly.”

But Vogels, who says sex is still an uncomfortable subject for many, does get her share of negative mail, too.

It’s mostly from “the kind of people who think if we put condoms in schools it’s going to make kids have sex,” she says.

“My whole philosophy is that…the more you talk about it, the more actually informed people are and the more they can make informed decisions about sex.”

She says sexual etiquette is something people often want to be informed about.

“The theme that recurs all the time when I talk about sex and good sex and…improving your sex life, is mutual respect and communication.

“And so I like the idea of sex etiquette because we talk about good manners in every other aspect of our lives but…having good sexual manners is also important — and Miss Manners doesn’t really address sex, specifically,” she says with a laugh.

“And then also…sex is one of those things where we all sort of take it very seriously, and I think that it’s kind of good to admit that there’s some embarrassing things about it and that it’s good to be able to laugh at it and recognize that everybody goes through all of these embarrassing things…and that we all have questions about it.”

Many sexual questions haven’t really changed that much in the past decade.

Men, for instance, still fixate on one particular area.

“The majority of letters from men have to do with concern about their genitals, as in size, durability, lasting too long and not lasting long enough,” she says.

“And then with women, their number one concern is becoming orgasmic.”

A common concern among people who’ve been together for a long time is how to keep the passion alive.

“Even though we’re talking about it all over the media, I think still people have trouble opening their mouths in the bedroom with each other and really talking openly and freely.

“I think it’s still a huge obstacle for people because we’re embarrassed about sex.”

Vogels says she’s had her embarrassing moments like anyone else, but she’s never been shy when it comes to talking about sex.

“I don’t know why, but for some reason it’s just something that I’ve never been embarrassed about, certainly not because I grew up… in a household where it was an open subject for discussion.

“In fact it was never talked about.”

These days, though, her seven siblings are among the greatest supporters of her columns and books, as is her 79-year-old mother.

“She says we never had an opportunity to talk about this stuff, nobody talked about it, and she really thinks it’s great that I’m providing a forum to talk about it openly,” says the author. But, she adds with a laugh, “you know she wishes sometimes that I didn’t have to talk about it so openly.”

Copyright (c) 2004, Halifax Herald Limited