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Hi pleasure explorers!

Mara here…


The new intern over at the Pleasure Project.

My experience… When we call ‘sex’ everything else other than sex, we are missing the point, particularly with the young. Sex is fun and safe sex can be erotic. This is exactly why I am working with the Pleasure Project – to learn how to refer to safe sex in a sexy, pleasurable and fun way. And to advocate for the capacity of this approach to influence behavior change, lowering teenage pregnancy rates and STI transmissions among youths.

With over 5 years of sexual reproductive health advocacy and programme development around youth engagement, engaging youths in a discussion around safe sex has been my focal point. Prior to my shift to London’s UCL as a candidate for an MSc in Global Health and Development, I worked in Zambia. First, in a small Bemba village in Northern Province where I worked at the grassroots level with adolescents. Together, we had frank and open conversations about what sex is and how to prevent pregnancy, HIV and other STIs. I learned that a lot of the misconceptions and myths about sex that exist among Zambian adolescents are the same for youths in the America and other developed countries, regardless of wealth and ethnicity.

From there, I worked for the Zambian branch of Marie Stopes International (MSI) and then a local NGO called CHAMP in youth program development and management. During my years with both, I quickly learned that Zambia and the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa are eager to lower their teenage pregnancy rates and address their high burden of HIV among youths. But, at the same time, we continue to run in circles as a global health community by focusing our sex-talk on all the risks of having sex; rather than demystifying it to promote a delay in early sexual debut and making safe sex sexy to encourage behaviour change.

I am EXCITED to work with the Pleasure Project to advocate for a pleasurable approach to safe sex education. Let’s turn it up and turn them on to give our safe sex education a Luther Vandross and Barry White voice, and stop making sex a basic biology and epidemiology lesson that youths want to painfully escape from.

Arushi does a sexy female condom demo

Arushi does a sexy female condom demo

The rapt Goa audience

The rapt Goa audience

The reaction did not surprise me; but the incredulity on our friends’ faces did when we invited them to the first fantasy open mic in Goa, the undisputed party capital of India where ‘anything is possible’ is listed on restaurant menus. A promising open event at a hangout popular for socially conscious events almost did not happen. And then it happened.


 Those who confessed to feeling uncomfortable around sex talk did not come. But many who did not know that we intended them to share their sexual fantasies came too. We shared words of food and pleasure. We read erotica

Reading erotica

Reading erotica

by Indian authors – about people watching, time travel, getting caught, and supernatural sex!, personal fantasies, 384 lovers, poems. We wrote and drew fantasies, shared jokes (even one involving Scarlett Johansson as a literary muse), discussed sexy female condoms as toys, and lamented the lack of language for orgasm and pleasure.


 We also made some music and some danced. The combination of an

The rabab player playing to everyone's fantasies...

The rabab player playing to everyone’s fantasies…

interpretive dance on fantasy with a world-class rabab player kept the full house rapt.

The interpretive fantasy dance

The interpretive fantasy dance

 Pleasure and Desire were there too. They sat on chairs of questions and quips, mingled with beers, chatted with strangers; some without words, heard new stories of open minds and promised to meet more often. Everyone later agreed on the supernatural sex – that pleasure is super and talking about desire is natural. Then they got home safe and happy for the moment.

post by Sameer Thakur

ThisArushi licking lips is a guest blog from our very own Arushi, who is in Bangkok fighting the good fight..she collected this brilliant quote..

“My sexuality is a gift from God and if I undermine it then I’m undermining the image of God. That’s why I teach women about pleasure and encourage them to touch themselves and know their own bodies, because men have no GPS, so the women need to guide them!” (session hosted by TARSHI)

So said a female religious leader at the 11th Asian AIDS conference held in

How else to arrive at the pleasure session ?

How else to arrive at the pleasure session ?

Bangkok last week. The Pleasure Project was there and hoping that pleasure would surround us like a warm mist. However it was a bit of a pleasure void, except of course us with our sessions ‘ Having good safe sex means saying no to bad sex’ and our pleasure comrades TARSHI.

With pleasure being one of the key themes of the conference, we were excited to see who else was sexing up safer sex. We did spot the Vagina Door and , there was some male on male ‘Foreplay – the APCOM pre-conference on male and transgender sexual health  at the pre-conference..

There was some very important messages at the ‘Foreplay’ conference – Chris Beyrer from Johns Hopkins spoke about a study in Thailand that had followed negative males who have sex with males and found that about a third of them became HIV positive over the course of five years. The highest new infections were among the youngest men and he spoke about the fact that while most studies look at individual risk, this was not enough to tell us why they are not having safer sex. Sexual networks and the individuals who make up these networks are worthy of more detailed study with the fact that men who have sex with men might be the top in one situation (putting their penis in for anal sex) and yet be the bottom i.e. getting fucked  by a partner’s penis in another sexual encounter. There is also the scary fact that the probability of HIV transmission per act of anal intercourse is 18 times higher than that of vaginal intercourse (regardless of gender and sexual orientation). Therefore, despite the evidence of effectiveness around treatment as prevention, condoms still needed to be promoted. And what better way to do that than in a sexy, erotic way, we say!

Sadly though, we didn’t find any other mention of pleasure, apart from our own designing good safe sex

Designing Good Safe Sex

Designing Good Safe Sex

satellite session and skills building workshop and one workshop on Women and Sexual Pleasure by our fellow pleasure propagandists at TARSHI. Perhaps that’s why our Satellite Session was packed to capacity and generated so much interest among people wanting to learn exactly how they can get it on in a sexy way with condoms!

We launched our spanking new website at the satellite and talked all about the

Training on female pleasure ?

Training on female pleasure ?

toolkit that is now available on it for sex educators and others working on sexual health interventions. The toolkit tells you how to help people talk hot and sexy about safer sex and condoms. And because we believe that discussions on pleasure are linked with open communication between partners, our website has a cool, interactive section where you can tell us all about your experience of using the toolkit!

Other stimulating people who spoke at the satellite were, Dennis Altman from La Trobe University, who was categorical that sexual pleasure depends on equality and is very real and great, Ana Santos, our pleasure propagandist from the Philippines, who talked all about her sexy, sassy work with young people and sexuality in her country and Suzanne Noble on skype, who launched, the newest item to come out of the union between the pleasure industry and public health. After The Pleasure Project’s condom consultancy for porn films, brings a steaming mobile app that allows users to download clips of sexy, safe porn.

We then got the chance to share our spicy skills from the toolkit and had a blast with creating erotic adverts for male and female condoms, lube and non-penetrative sex! See the videos here….

Sexing Up Safer Sex Workshop participants jazz it up

The 10th  International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific has just finished in Busan, Korea. On behalf of The Pleasure Project, our brave reporter Revati  hunted out mentioned of good safe sex or any mention of pleasure in sex education at the conference.

Revati is an old time pleasure propagandist who has written sexy tips and  run pleasure workshops.  So she is well equip to seek erotic safe sex in Busan.

Here is her third and final  post. She found someone talking about sexual pleasure as a motivation for sex.


I’ve been at the Asia Pacific AIDS conference for a week and so far, in all the sessions I have attended, only one person has spoken about pleasure and the need to recognise pleasure as a key motivator for safe or unsafe sex and that was a question from the audience.

But hurrah. At last I found someone who confronted the elephant in the room. Dr Malonzo, from Brokenshire College in The Phillipines, please step forward and take a bow.

Dr Malonzo’s study looks at why men having sex with men choose not to us condoms, or have “intentionally condom-less sex” aka “bare-backing”. bare- backing was initially a description used in the 1990’s  by HIV positive men who declared their intention to have sex with other HIV positive men without condoms. It has now become the term used to describe condom less sex in a more generic view, regardless of HIV status. So for example, there are pornography studios who specialise in bare back films, sex workers or dating sites who use the term.  Dr Malonzo studies the current phenomenon in Davao City in The Philippines in interviews with 40 young gay men.

Many of them felt that bareback sex feels good, is their own choice and demonstrates intimacy in their relationships.

Although knowledge was not always great, quite a number of the men thought that HIV could be transmitted in the hot tub or swimming pool. But all the participants knew that condom-less anal sex carried considerable risk.

The study recommends that there should be more focus on testing and signs of HIV infection and “ Focus on the men’s desire for intimacy, closeness, and pleasure needs”

So people we need to think harder about how we can replace bare-backing with other ways of getting intimacy or feeling intimate. Unfortunately condom-less sex has become a sign of  trust, a deeper relationship or commitment.

So pleasure seekers, what could be the replacement ?



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The 10th  International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific has just finished in Busan, Korea. On behalf of The Pleasure Project, our brave reporter Revati  hunted out mentioned of good safe sex or any mention of pleasure in sex education at the conference.

Revati is an old time pleasure propagandist who has written sexy tips, run pleasure workshops at the Colombo AIDS Conference where she diplomatically pointed out that maybe a woman’s head could be part of a pleasure body mapping. So she is well equip to seek erotic safe sex in Busan.

Here is her second  post.


I just came out of a satellite session on Sexual and Reproductive Health and HIV integration called   “Is SRH/HIV Integration serving the needs of key populations?”

There were four presenters, and two discussants. the presenters covered service provision to men who have sex with men and trans gender groups, and one was on sex workers.

One presenter – Sunita Grote from the AIDS Alliance, spoke about the need to reach young people who are affected by AIDS.  At the end of the presentation, two people were given time to speak and one of them was Milinda – from Youth LEAD. His posed a brave question asking about

Why the available services are not being youth friendly and that messages around pleasure are missing in the discourse around sex when talking to young people ?”

(three cheers for Milinda, The Pleasure Project).

The moderator of the session agreed and in his concluding remarks he said that one of the key issues from this session was the need to provide youth friendly sexual health  services including HIV services that do not forgetting that people have sex for pleasure and that sex with only an association with disease needs to stop being the focus.

For the first time in any of the sessions I attended, I heard the words sex for pleasure being mentioned.

I shall keep on hunting…

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