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by Audrey McManus

Babeland interviews Midori, the beauty and brains behind one of our popular books, The Seductive Art of Japanese Bondage.

Looking at the calendar of events and classes on her website Fire HorseProductions, you might wonder when Midori has time togo shopping for all those sexy latex and leather outfits you might haveseen her wearing as you were flipping through a magazine or checkingout her website PlanetMidori.com.  I hear she picks them up while on toursteaching in fashionable cities such as Toronto, New York andLondon.  She teaches tons of classes (including regular stints at Babeland) and it seems that most of thetime she is traveling around the world teaching them. I was lucky enough to catch up withher recently between travel plans to ask her about living the life ofan international sex educator.

Babeland:  I was checking out your website to see how many classes you offer?

Midori: Over 60 different topics, there are many new classes I haven't added to the site.

Babeland: I noticed that you have way more classes offered for beginners or intermediate folks then you do for more advanced folks.

Midori: Yeah I do.  The reason is kind of arbitrary to tell youthe truth.  There are some classes that are totally basics?introto kink, that sort of thing.  But some things can be intermediateor advanced depending on where a person is.  Someone can bevery advanced at rope play, but they are new to erotichumiliation.  Or they may be exceptionally good at tantric sex,but they have never done kink.  What's to say if a person isadvanced or intermediate? It's kind of like aski slope, when you go to the tiny little mountains, their blackdiamonds are totally different than at Squaw or in Switzerland.

Babeland: I thought skiing in Vermont was impressive until I went to Colorado!

Midori: Things get blurry in the intermediate and the advanced classesbut the beginner classes are definitely beginner. I am going totake more time and be more conscious of the fact that not everybody hasthe same terminology, not everybody comes from that similar communallanguage that certain groups have.  I become sensitive to thelanguage used. There is also emotional and psychological stuffthat certain communities are more accustomed to dealing with then othercommunities. For example, explaining the idea of polyamory andnon-binary relationships is going to be different if I am talking witha college human sexuality course as opposed to say, a swingerslifestyle convention.  If I were presenting to HIV outreacheducators it is important for me to say that there are people out therewho have consensual, non-paired sexuality.

Babeland: It's important to emphasize that polyamory is okay because theymight think?"No, no! They shouldn't have multiple partners! That's high risk!"

Midori: Yeah, so I take into consideration the exposure, the knowledgeand the language.  I also take into consideration what they wantto learn from me.

Babeland: How does it feel to see someone you have had in a basics classwho had never done any bondage before and then come back to teach ayear or so later and you see them at a fetish event showing off theirrope skills.  How does it feel to know you inspired them?

Midori: Oh it's fantastic!  That is probably the bestcomplimentI can get.  Well actually the best compliment I can get is whentheir lovers come up to me and tug at my sleeve and say ?uh?thanks?.You know, they just kind of have this look on their face; they don'treally need to say more.  I recently had a situation where acouple came to my Women's Dominance Intensive weekend I taught in LA. Iwas in LA teaching again later and the two show up. They came upto me and they were both giggly faced and they said it's just gotten somuch better and the insight they got and the clarity they received andhow much fun they are having.  That was just about the mostsatisfaction I could imagine.

Babeland: Do you feel these women are happier in their everyday lives because you inspired them or opened a door for them?

Midori: Well I have given them the tools to improve and discover ways tobe happier and it is tremendously satisfying. I come from manygenerations of socially conscious people. My grandmother was asuffragette, my mom fought for the rights of women to have equality inthe work place...Standing up for principles and freedom, eachgeneration doing our own little bit from a different angle?mine seemsto be around sex.

Babeland: I read somewhere that you were ?wired for sex.?

Midori: Yes, my desire to make the world better seems to be focused inthis small arena.  There is so much in the world to be done, to bechanged; you've got to pick a narrow field.  This is my field and Iguess I am sort of an idealist or utopianist in some way or anotherbecause I do want to make a positive impact on the world.

Babeland: If you influence a whole classroom of people positively and theyare happier because of it, then they can continue to spread thispositive impact on in their own way.

Midori: Pleasure and joy are infectious. Someone once referredto me as the Ambassador of Kink.  I know some people get nervousaround sex educators or kink educators, because there is thisperception that we are looking to convert people?no, no, no,no, no.  I just want to open options, give permission for peopleto be honest to who they are.

Babeland: So as the Ambassador of Kink traveling all over the world, whatare some surprising differences you have experienced teaching indifferent regions?

Midori: Well first of all, the teaching culture is uniquely NorthAmerican.  It really hasn't caught hold in Europe as of yet, although it is starting to in small pockets.

Babeland: How so? When you go to Europe to teach, how is it different?

Midori: There is a strong kink and sex positive community in Europe, alot of great parties and all that, but they are definitely more socialand party and fun event focused. On the down side, the Americans canseem kind of fuddy-duddy and dodgy because they are so educationfocused.  Many Europeans might say? ?Where is the fun?  Whereis the dress up?  You just all talk about it, do you ever do it??There is some legitimacy to their point too.

Babeland: You taught as a part of a series on contemporary practices andancient Asian arts at DesArts in Amsterdam.  When I read aboutthat, I thought: "Wow, that is such an amazing opportunity." How didyou get involved with that?

Midori: Yeah that was great!  A friend of a friend knew a friendwho was looking for just the right sort of teacher to occupy a seat inan intensive education post graduate art school about contemporaryAsian art, performance and identity.  And the curator was somebodywho has his finger on the pulse of contemporary Asian identity andcould identify what I did as being where performance, culture, art andsex intersect. So he invited me to teach.

Babeland: How did the students react to having this kinky sexual information as part of their curriculum?

Midori: Those classes were customized around the idea of presenting toperformers, to lead them through the idea of sex and sexual expressionas performance, as identity.  I took a lot of my core material andthen reworked it around the idea of sex and identity as performance andhow history and culture can affect the expression of an individual. Ihave actually presented to a lot of interesting university classes andI look forward to doing more of that.  I have taught to women'sstudies, sexuality, sociology, gay and lesbian studies, Asian studies,there was a course on global sex work, and a really satisfying classteaching to post-graduate social work students.  I am also goingto be teaching at SSSS, The Society for the Scientific Study ofSexuality.

Babeland: Do you teach human sexuality or do you teach Japanese bondage for those classes?

Midori: It depends on what aspect they want me to focus on for theircurriculum.  I may talk about contemporary Japanese sexuality, Imay talk a little about history - it depends.

Babeland: Really, it's however they can justify it to their department to get you in there and tie up the students.

Midori: Well, often times the demos don't happen, because I'm notallowed to.  A lot of people focus on the bondage because of mybook, but a lot of my classes are more about psychology, you know, theinner workings of pleasure?like my Aural Sex class.

Babeland: That is actually one of the best classes I have ever beento. I loved to watch you interact with the class and workthe fantasies of volunteers into the lesson.  You taught thisclass at our SoHo NYC store as well. Is there a difference, fromregion to region in the U.S., in the participants that come to yourclasses or what they expect to get out of it?

Midori: It depends on the age of the local sex positive kinkcommunity. For example Seattle, LA, Chicago, New York, Bostonhave had long time sexual cultures so there tends to be more access toinformation, the people are less timid, sometimes jaded.

Babeland: I also wanted to ask you about Toronto.  It is clear from your newsletter that you love Toronto.

Midori: You know, I love Canada.  I am actually going up toSaskatoon, Saskatchewan soon.  I have been to Calgary, Edmonton,Vancouver, Winnipeg, Montreal and Toronto. Toronto is a VERY sex-positive city. I LOVE that town.  There is this wonderful networkof sex-positive groups and retail stores that really work well togetherin terms of sex educators.  Toronto is a totally sex-positivecity.  Montreal, totally sexy city, those fabulously naughty,naughty French Canadians - love them.

Babeland: The Canadian Discovery Channel filmed some of your classes in Toronto for their "Sex Files."  Has that aired yet?

Midori: Apparently it has, I haven't seen it though. I have receivedsome great feedback about it from my students through my student loungeon Yahoo! Groups. Thestudent lounge is so successful, really amazing. It is a free spacespecifically designed for discussion around sex and kink, and includespeople from Denmark, Germany, South Africa, loads of Canadians, loadsof Australians, loads of Americans and it's a great place for askingquestions and there is not only geographic spread but also experience,gender, and orientation spread?This is different then my newsletterwhich goes out about once a month with my adventures and upcomingclasses.  My Yahoo! Group is so active, and it is active withquality content discussions.  Take a look at the archive; it isactually a really intelligent discussion.

Babeland: I really envy your ability to be able to make a living as atraveling kink sexuality educator.  Do you have any advice foraspiring sexuality educators wanting teach beyond their own backyard?

Midori: It hasn't been easy. You've got to know what you're talkingabout.  I have watched people teach on topics that they don'tknow.  And I think that is insincere. And it does no one aservice.  They have got to know what they are talking about, theyhave got to be passionate about it and they have to be willing to notmake a fortune.

Babeland: I doubt anyone hopes to make a fortune at teaching, but you do get to travel.

Midori: Here is the reality, most of my travel is a lot of hassle atthe airport, then I see the inside of a van or a taxi, then the insideof the hotel and then a leather event that I LOVE and I get to see alot of my friends and all that, but lets take for example Boston, Ilove that city, I love my friends there, I have never done any of thetourist stuff.

Babeland: You mean to tell me you haven't been on a duck tour?

Midori: Hell no! I've wanted to. You know that's funny; a lot ofpeople think all I want to do is the kinky stuff. No!  I want togo do the museums, I want to go to the stupid tourist places AND do thekinky stuff.  The traveling teaching thing does have its ups anddowns.  Here are the benefits: I get to do what I'm trulypassionate about.  I get to see, take part in and in some wayaffect people's lives getting happier and improvingrelationships.  I get to travel, go to exotic places and I get tohave amazing friends.  I get to have great sex, I get to go to allthese amazing events, and I get to perform in front of 3000 people.Downsides: I'm never in town on the weekends so I don't get invited tothings in San Francisco anymore because everybody assumes I'm out oftown.  When I come home, I'm so busy with writing I'm often inself-imposed house arrest in my office trying to work.  I don'tget paid vacation.  I have no 401k.  I have to pay my ownhealth insurance.  If I don't work, I don't get paid.  WhenI'm invited by organizations that aren't accustomed to professionaleducators, sometimes I have to deal with resistance when I talk aboutcompensation and being paid as a professional presenter.

Babeland: Do they think you should just volunteer your time?

Midori: Yeah, and early on in my career it was a daily conversation.If a whip maker, a dildo maker, a writer or a performer would be paidthen I should get paid and compensated as well.  I don't ask for afortune, it's pretty reasonable?I want to make it accessible.

Babeland: So newer educators trying to get out there and teach would have a similar situation?

Midori: You start out teaching for free to earn your credentials andget training. I have spent a lot of time in my early days teaching forfree.  I've done my rounds.

Babeland: How long have you been teaching?

Midori: 8 or 9 years, something like that.  It is interestingthat there is this whole new cadre of sex educators and you know, weall owe it to people like Kinsey and Betty Dodson.  Betty, CarolQueen, Annie Sprinkle.  We sex educators need to understand ourown history of sex education.  Its great that we can all talkabout good sex techniques, but we need to have a larger perspective onhow revolutionary and amazing it is that an individual, especially awoman, could own her own sexuality and not take for granted theknowledge we have today.

Want to see more Midori?

Midori is featured in the January issue of Penthouse where she spilled thebeans on all sorts of sexual adventures. In the next couple of months,look for her new booklet on Shoe and Foot Worship published by GreeneryPress as part of their Toy Bag Series. She is also working on two otherbooks that are expected out this year including a collection ofessays.  Due to her increased writing schedule, she will betouring less frequently in the coming year so don't miss her when shecomes to your town.  If you want to find out more about Midori andher upcoming classes, check out her site.