Smythe is halfway through retelling a sexual encounter she had at this year’s Burning Man event. The tension rises as Smythe explicitly describes the experience. The crowd bursts into laughter and approving hollers and applause. The scene is a representation of what Bedpost Confessions is about: a space where friends, lovers and strangers can listen to and share sexual experiences in a comfortable and friendly setting.
Bedpost Confessions began in 2010. Smythe, Julie Gillis, Mia Martina and Rosie Q wanted to create a place where people could tell their own erotic sexual stories.
Initially, getting people to share their stories in front of strangers was difficult.
“The first couple of months I was reading my stuff once a month,” Smythe said. “People were either hesitant about sharing, or were willing to share but their story was not quite there.”
Regardless of outside participation, the producers began scouting out venues to host what would be the first Bedpost Confessions erotic reading. They chose 29th Street Ballroom at Spider House; taking up the venue’s bar section in between the ballroom and the main entrance.
“We expected maybe 20 people to show up — 60 people showed up,” Smythe said. “Shoulder to shoulder, with Gillis, Martina, Q and I, reading stories from our own sexual experiences.”
Gradually, guest readers participated, with the producers helping them along the way. Bedpost Confessions has featured readers of all sorts: from the semi-famous like Bitch Magazine’s Joshunda Sanders, to former Los Angeles dominatrix Claire Evora.
Applicants must present their story to one of the producers several months prior to the event date to become a speaker. To be chosen, a piece must be about sex or sexuality, well-written and described in a positive light. Stories that receive a majority vote are approved for the stage.
Those still wary about sharing their sexual experiences can participate in audience confessions. This activity, which has become an integral part of Bedpost Confessions, lets audience members write down anonymous confessions, which are then placed in a bag and read by the producers onstage. The confessions are laughably absurd, with gems such as, “I joined the mile high club, while flying the plane.”
Bedpost Confessions’ fun and relatable way of addressing sex and sexuality has contributed to its growth. The event now takes place at ND with over 300 people in attendance.
“Bedpost Confessions is a great show for college students,” recent UT graduate Itohan Okogbo said. “It takes an original and organic approach to sexuality, and the honest and very real monologues of each performer really draws in each audience member, to the unique experiences of each performer.”
Smythe has realized the importance of talking about sex.
“We all do or think about sex, but we necessarily are afraid to talk about it,” Smythe said. “By talking about sex and sexuality, you become more comfortable in your skin and more understanding of who you are sexually.”
Smythe and the rest of the Bedpost Confessions team have big plans for their ever-growing event. They want to expand Bedpost Confessions, and move it into different cities around the country.
“We’re building a community by doing this,” Smythe said. “Our goal is to get people to talk about sex, and our focus will remain that way, until the very end.”
Printed on Tuesday, November 27, 2012 as: 'Confessions' celebrate sex, sexuality