A “quickie” interview with Dr David Hersh
by Petra Boynton, PhD
February 23rd, 2009
This week I’m having a quickie with Clinical Sexologist David Hersh. I’ve always enjoyed David’s straight talk about sex, that’s always matched by his ability to promote sex positive messages. You may find learning more about his background within sexology and therapy interesting – particularly his links with trailblazers like Wardell Pomeroy.
David is a Clinical and Consulting Sexologist and Psychotherapist in private practice. He is Board certified by the American College of Sexologists and the American Board of Sexology, and is the Founding Fellow of the American Academy of Clinical Sexologists (FAACS). He’s a founder of the Sex Therapy Consortium in San Francisco, CA, and licensed in California by the Board of Behavioral Sciences as a Marriage and Family Therapist. He practiced in California since 1966 and British Columbia since 1990. David is a Registered Clinical Counsellor with the British Columbia Association of Clinical Counsellors, and also qualified as an expert in Human Sexuality by the Supreme Court of British Columbia. He’s listed in The International Who’s Who in Sexology (1st ed.), and is a member of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS), and the Sex Information and Education Councils of the United States (SIECUS) and Canada (SIECCAN). David’s also served as Educator for Planned Parenthood Association of BC -Nelson Branch, and is on the Board of Advisors for The Center for Sex and Culture in San Francisco, California.
His website is www.sexualwellness.ca and it contains a number of useful (and free) articles about sex and relationships, and what sex therapy can offer.
What have been your proudest achievements?
I found a way to make a living from my hobby. It’s been a wonderful process getting here. I got to study and be trained in sex therapy with Dr. Wardell Pomeroy, who worked with Kinsey.
What do you still have left to achieve?
I want to pass on to the next generation of sexologists the ability to interview people about their sexuality in a clinical setting, and use my edited version of the Kinsey Sex History.
Who are your heroes/role models?
Alfred Kinsey, Wardell Pomeroy, Albert Ellis, and a few others whose names don’t readily come to mind.
Tell me one thing about you that might surprise me
I’m a rabid atheist who loves church music and religious art. I find them both to be highly sexual. I also have a low bullshit threshold, a short fuse, a hair trigger, and I’m an acerbic curmudgeon.
What do you do to relax?
I play duplicate bridge. I love to cook and bake sourdough bread. I enjoy live classical music concerts and opera, and the blues in bed.
What makes you happy?
I like sex a lot. Most things that I choose to engage in make me happy. I also have a low boredom threshold.
What projects are you currently working on?
I keep trying to get people interested in my teaching a workshop on sexual interviewing and my version of the Kinsey Sex History.
What are the main problem areas in sex/relationships we need to deal with currently?
Except for procreation, sex is about havin’ fun. My definition of Catch-22 is “Disparity of libido coupled with sexual exclusivity. The one who wants more always loses.”
What can’t you live without?
What sex education did you receive when you were a child/teenager?
I got lucky. When I was growing up, I had a mother who honestly answered every question I had about sex. She was so good at it that I never realized how shy she really was about it. The family story is that she held my father off from first intercourse for two months after their marriage. He was a patient man, and he loved her. She was a 31-year-old virgin. They had a wonderful, 39-year marriage until his death.
What sex information do you wish you’d been told as a child/teenager?
That my intense interest in so many things about sex was really OK, and that I should study it.
What’s the best sex tip you’ve ever heard?
Hide all clocks in the room. Shut all telephone ringers. There are no goals in bed. The whole body is potentially erotic. Keep your eyes open. Talk to your partner during sex. Laugh. You really can have sex for eight hours. Sex is not necessarily about intercourse or orgasm. It’s about scratching the itch.
Then there are the 6P’s (Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance). When you’re gonna have sex, plan ahead what you need and set up your space… towels, lots of lube, refreshments, music, videos, etc., so you don’t have to jump up and down to get stuff.
Name your guilty (or not so guilty) pleasures
A good gin and tonic.
What do you consider to be the main innovations in sex/relationships over the past century?
Adequate contraception, and that women are entitled to sexual pleasure and adventure as much as men.
Where do you see our sex lives going in the future?
In and out, and up and down.
What are the main threats to our sex/relationships lives today?
I still see religion as the main threat, as it has always been has been so toxic to sexuality.
Is it possible to have great sex?
You bet it is. Great, non-gendered, transcendent sex.
What are the main things people worry about in relation to their sex lives?
Am I normal?
What causes those worries?
Religion and cultural, sexual myths.
If you could plan school sex education programmes, what would you put on the curriculum?
I’d trust Planned Parenthood to design the program.
What sex/relationships issues are worth campaigning for?
As Trudeau said, “There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.”
Are there any issues in sex/relationships are given too much attention?
There ain’t no such thing as “sexual addiction.” There are horny people who make bad choices. Also, too much attention is given to sexually explicit material or sexual entertainment.
Are there any issues in sex/relationships are overlooked or neglected?
Yes. This is it! Though it may appear so because of the change of seasons, life is not circular. You don’t get to do this one-time sprint down the track again. If Harry Houdini couldn’t make it back from the dead, you won’t either. The damage done by lying to children about sex is despicable and all in the name of religion. The early leaders of tribes clearly understood that if you could control a person’s sexuality you could control anything about them. They also feared the potential sexual power of women.
Thanks David, and we may come back to you at a later date for more about your edited version of the Kinsey Sex History.