What is it Like to Build a Sex House?

Narrative.ly recently did a feature on Hacienda Villa, the sex-positive intentional community that I co-founded with Andrew Sparksfire.

The piece really got me thinking about my personal path to becoming involved with the Villa, which I don’t think I’ve shared on my blog before. What started out as a passion project, helping my friend Andrew Sparksfire build this community for throwing sex parties, grew to creating a culture worth spreading. The article tells Andrew’s journey into building the Villa. For me, this journey started at one of the lowest points of my career.

My startup, Fit ID, had just failed. That was such a painful experience; I lost my life’s savings and the five years of my life I spent working on it, but the hardest part was disappointing the people who’d invested in me with their hard-earned money. I didn’t want to tell people to eat less carbs and lift more weights anymore. That’s when Effy Blue encouraged me to help Andrew build this sex-positive community.

The core idea of Fit ID was to help people create fitness communities, not only by sharing diets and training, but by finding people who share common values and beliefs. As a fitness coach, I found I would understand people a lot more by knowing their beliefs rather than the diets they’re into. “No pain no gain” tells me more than watching someone lift weights, and “bacon is life” tells me more than hearing about their diet. What I didn’t know at the time was that there was so much potential for people to bond based on their sexual beliefs or philosophies. Learning that really helped me build this community.

So, I decided to support my best friend, Andrew Sparksfire, with this project, to help him build this community that we all enjoy and share privately into something…bigger. Besides having another house that we could throw sex parties in, and have friends who might want to live together, it really turned into something quite magical that I never could’ve imagined. Through the process of building this community, we’ve honed down on the common values we share. We have done the work to figure out what we all stand for, what is worth fighting for, and what is worth spreading.

It’s taken a lot of experimentation to get to that point. We collectively as a community built this paradise for celebrating sexuality. We didn’t know how to scale this or share this with a mainstream audience. I didn’t have any intentional community experience prior. We built a common set of values as a community (which you can read on our website). We found people to join this community who have a common social purpose. This experimentation that we did here is like a lab for building sex-positive culture. We found the values that we shared, and experimented with what policies we needed to have in place to let this community thrive. Uniqueness doesn’t divide us. Rather, how we’re different unites us because we celebrate our differences and collaborate on our founding principles.

This has been probably the most fulfilling project I’ve ever done in my life. I’m very proud to have co-created something that’s bigger than myself. If I die, it will continue to work because it’s not a community created around my values, it’s created around values forged by Andrew’s commitment, and solidified by the community. It’s really amazing to see our members start their own projects, like member Lila’s podcast, Horizontal with Lila. Other Villans are teaching their first classes. We have Villa showcases that are just bursting with talent.

The article also gives an inside look at one of my PlayLabs. I want to thank the community for teaching me what really works, by trusting me and being willing to experiment with me in my early career. I want to disrupt sex education and remove the guru aspect of sex ed. There’s no right way to do it; you have to find what works for you. I found this formula that starts with a Ted Talk-style lecture, then features a live demo, and finishes with practice time for the students. I’ve now been able to offer a very interactive, live-action PlayLab experience that consistently delivers. I have one student who keeps coming back to the same class with each new lover, because she’d much rather for me to do the teaching so all her lovers can acquire the skills to pleasure her. Talk about hacking your sex life, right?

Recently, I watched my mentor, Pamela Medsen, at the Back to the Body retreat create a container which almost instantly allowed women to feel safe to explore their sexuality and eroticism without the fear of judgement, where there’s celebration of pleasure and a built-in support system. Women from all walks of life stepped into this container. Once people felt safe they opened up and started to explore. What I learned is the container is magical. I came home and realized how lucky and privileged I am to live inside a sex-positive culture, and how life-changing it is for people to experience that. It’s not something we can preach to someone, but by creating a bigger and more inclusive container, we’re dedicated to spreading the culture so more people can experience it and learn how to build their own containers. Sex positive culture doesn’t mean that people have to be hyper-sexual. It doesn’t mean you have to have this wild sex all the time. It’s the opposite. What it means is that if someone’s not really into sex, you let them be! It’s about celebrating whatever is authentic to you, as long as it’s not at the expense of others.