by Michael Love
Portland is literally awash with people who are relationship coaches, sex workers, and people who educate and entertain while teaching about sex positivity. It’s a wonder that Portland is not THE hub of the sex positive movement. There is perhaps no one more charming or endearing than Miss Amory Jane. I recently had the pleasure of meeting up with her at a quaint little coffee shop in North Portland, it was a beautiful end of summer day, not too hot but warm enough that you still wanted to be in the shade.
She was fashionably late like all new mothers should be,… but an absolute delight to chat with, and getting to know her was easy, and pleasant. To be in her presence is to take an immediate liking to her. We talked about all things in her life, her love life, her work, her passions, and her views on ethical non-monogamy, but more importantly we talked about her new addition to her family and how having a new baby impacts all things, but also how taking care of a baby in a loving polycule has it advantages…. You’re welcome to join us in our conversation….
So for those who don’t know who you are, tell us a little bit about you, who you are…
I’m Amory Jane, but most people call me AJ. I’m in my thirties. I just had a baby a couple of months ago at the end of June. It was the best birthday present, I got to go home on my birthday with new baby, so that was sweet. That’s taking up the majority of my time right now as you can imagine.
I’m a goofball and a big nerd, I play Dungeons & Dragons. I love storytelling. I’m dabbling in comedy, which just comes from growing up in a really funny family, my mother is hilarious. I’m from the Midwest, so I have some of that Midwest charm. When I go back and teach in the Midwest, I think that people appreciate that I don’t have those West Coast Vibes. I’m still one of them.
How do you identify in non-monogamy?
I’m a polyamorous pansexual. I have two partners and live with one of them (my spouse, who is also my baby daddy). We live next door to my husband’s girlfriend, who owns the two houses. They’re side-by-side and share a quarter acre permaculture… It’s very Portland. My other partner lives in the next neighborhood over, so we’re all nearby.
So you’ve got something of a communal living situation?
Yes, that’s what we’re building. We also have a housemate who’s one of our best friends and she’s part of the commune too. It’s pretty cool!
So tell me what that looks like. Do you spend family time together?
Definitely! Especially now that the baby is here, we do a lot of things together. Before the baby we would have a couple of times a month where we would all hang out, but we would primarily have separate date nights. Now it’s kind of harder to have separate date nights. We also mostly hang out as a group when it comes to weekend outings. This weekend is a good example – we’re all going camping together.
What is it like having a new baby in this kind of living arrangement?
I love it. It’s been so handy with having a newborn to have extra people around. I have actually been able to sleep sometimes! I even get to go on dates occasionally when my metamour watches the baby. I know with most new parents, it’s going to be a long time before they can go out and have date nights, and I was able to have date nights within the first 2 weeks.
What challenges would you say you have faced with having a live-in arrangement?
Honestly, the hardest part for me is that my metamour is also my landlord. So, that’s kind of a trippy dynamic because I love her, and as a metamor she’s wonderful. She actually was interested in dating me first, and I realized, while I liked her, that she would be better fit for my partner. It’s tricky for me, as a person who is kind of anti-capitalist and who feels wary of property owners/landlords as a general rule. I know that she’s not just some money hungry landlord, but I think in my mind sometimes it’s a hard thing having her in both of those roles for me.
So you have to compartmentalize at a bit
A bit, yes. So, like if the sink is broken, I have to say okay I’m not calling my metamour to fix the sink, I’m calling my landlord to fix the sink. If she can’t come over right away and I get frustrated, that needs to be frustration with the landlord, not with my partner’s partner. I don’t want to be frustrated with my metamour about those kinds of things because it’s really important that we keep strong community and really care for and have patience with each other.
As a new mother in non-monogamy what kind of challenges are you’re facing even with the help that you’re getting from your partners?
Definitely sleep… even if someone can come over while I can take a two-hour nap, it’s still only two hours, where I was getting like nine hours of sleep at night when I was pregnant. So, it’s a big adjustment. It’s also been difficult on my career because I feel like I had a lot of momentum going when I got pregnant and I had to step back slightly. I’m trying not to go back too much though, since my career is important to me. I am getting hit up by a lot of people for a lot of events now, from the “seeds” I had planted before I was pregnant, and I want to say yes to everything. Of course, I can’t say yes to everything because I look at the calendar and realize that I’m not going to be able to get that many days of child care covered. Even with the support system that I have, I’m the baby’s food source and I have to and want to really be around a lot. Not to mention, the way I’m wired now, it’s hard to be away more than a few hours without feeling guilty.
It’s funny how that maternal Instinct just kicks right in
That’s the hardest part I think. I’m just kind of being pulled in a lot of directions but know that I’m a mom first and foremost. So, the career has to get set back slightly, but I certainly don’t want to get rid of it all together. I’m still trying to find the balance.
So let’s talk about your career. You’ve got a lot going on. You are the Education Coordinator for She Bop. Would you say that’s your primary job? What does that entail?
I would say sex educator is my primary job, but in terms of taxes, Education Coordinator at She Bop is my primary employment. I’ve been with She Bop for seven and a half years. I was their first retail associate. After my first few months there, I really wanted to start teaching workshops. So, I developed a few and we also had other educators come teach at the shop. The classes grew large enough that we realized that we needed someone to coordinate all the different events that were happening. One of the bosses was doing the coordinating, but that was a lot to do along with running the business, so they passed it off to me. When I took over that position, I started booking three or four classes a month from different educators, some local and some that were travelling. I’m also responsible for booking all of the off-site events. We’ve recently started teaming up with local sex clubs – Club Privata and The Velvet Rope – and we’re teaching classes with them now. We’re also active in the community, doing a lot of stuff with local colleges and their resource centers. It’s my job to be the person who’s coordinating all of those community and in-house events and making sure they are properly staffed and don’t overlap with one another.
It’s awesome how much crossover there is between the different communities, but also in the different businesses that cater to those communities and how they’re supporting one another.
I think the sex positive community is stronger together, especially with politics right now. People are feeling nervous about the backlash against people who are living alternative lifestyles. We’re a stronger and safer community when we all pull together.
What made you want to be a sex educator?
I was a very shy child, but I was super interested in what I call “gross things.” I begged my mom to get me a microscope when I was a kid and she found one at a garage sale so that I could look at swamp water and other stuff through the slides. I’ve always been interested in gross things and just learning about bodily functions and also human psychology, so I was kind of already geared toward being interested in human sexuality. I thought I was too shy to talk about it, but then other students started asking me questions because they didn’t know where else to turn and people knew that I came from a sex-positive household. I realized even if I was shy, I was still able to answer people’s questions, and I started finding confidence in being the person that people came to.
When I went to college for undergrad, I studied psychology and philosophy and had the goal of eventually becoming a sex therapist. I moved out here and went to grad school for marriage and family therapy, and during my internship as a family therapist, I actually realized I was in the wrong career. Everyone tells you that empathy makes a good counselor, but I had too much of being an empath, to the point of where I was feeling other people’s pain. I’d go home most nights after really hard days of work and just cry in the bathtub. I came to realize that I couldn’t do it because it was just too emotionally draining. A lot of times parents yelling at their kids or yelling at each other in session just brought up a lot of childhood stuff. I realized that I wanted to be in a helping field and I wanted to work with humans intimately and go in-depth with them on having their lives be better, but “therapist” wasn’t the role for that.
After I was done with my internship I was in a depressive episode. I didn’t know what to do with myself, but I wanted a full-time job and I saw that She Bop was hiring for a sales associate. I thought I could just do that for a little while until I figured out something else, but I fell in love with the whole environment. I enjoyed the interactions with all of the people that came in. I love the people who run the shop, it’s really important to me to have feminists employers so we have the same values. For the first time in my life I felt like these are people I can work for and not feel bad about making them money. I ended up staying there. I think with my educational background and having facilitated a lot of group therapy sessions, I knew I wanted to do something where I was up in front of people and facilitating learning. So, I decided I’d teach classes, then realized that I had a knack for it and it grew from there. I just kept adding more workshops, and then the podcast, and then the stage show. I have gotten more into the entertainment aspects lately, because I’m finding people enjoy my comedy and unique stage presence, and that’s kind of neat for somebody who was a former shy kid.
Describe what one of your classes is like, I’ve never been to one…
You should come to one – they’re a lot of fun! I think with adults, a big difference is that you have to do unlearning before the learning. About half of my teaching is actually busting myths first because there’s so much misinformation. There’s so much shame in our culture about everything. So I have to deal with the shame and the misinformation first before I start giving the comprehensive education.
I really like teaching adults because I can be myself more. I don’t have to edit myself as much with my language and all that. People will come up and tell me, sometimes years later and sometimes directly after a class, how much it helped them. Not just in their sex lives, but in their whole lives in general, they found confidence. I love hearing that people are more empowered after taking my classes, or from listening to my podcast, and that’s cool because I do want to change the world. Sometimes I’m like “Am I? Or am I just out there having fun with my job?” Getting that feedback… that’s why I keep doing what I’m doing.
So you said that you’re going to be teaching classes at Club Privata and The Velvet Rope – tell us what the program is going to look like for those two places.
So, it’s mostly myself and my colleague Gretchen. We’re going to be teaching classes with them and we will be alternating months. I believe it’s the second Friday of every month we’ll be at Club Privata and the 3rd Friday of each month we will be at The Velvet Rope. The classes will be held before their nightly events so they will be 7pm until 8:30pm and then the club opens at 9. So, people can get a tour if they want and stick around for a discount to get into the club afterwards. It could be a real fun Friday date night for people!
We’re making sure to not overlap the classes with each other or with the classes at She Bop so there’s always a bunch of different topics happening. That way it really maximizes how many different types of events people can go to and makes it so that the actual venues aren’t having to compete with each other so we can all work together.
The cool difference between the She Bop classes and the sex club classes is that we can actually do sex acts in the classes at Club Privata and The Velvet Rope. I think a lot of people will like that because it’s extra titillating and can be good for those who learn by practicing what they observe. So, people can come and get that knowledge and that extra bit of visual excitement at these clubs, then they can stay after and play.
Will the classes at the clubs be “hands-on?” Like, if I brought my partner, would there be instruction?
Not exactly. At least not for the fellatio class or the anal class. It’ll be Gretchen and me and our demo bottoms showing off skills, but participants won’t be able to practice until they get home or stay after at the club for the nightly party. There’s just not time to go around to 20 different people and say try this technique and try this technique. So, no, there won’t be the ability to do one-on-one instruction at these classes, but I do have some things coming up that are going to be more interactive in that way. In December, I’m planning on having a kind of speed flirting/dating type of event at Club Privata for the polyamorous and kink communities. It’ll be a little bit more specialized than regular speed dating, so that will obviously be people interacting with each other and giving feedback and things like that.
I have a dream of being able to do smaller group workshops, where people can actually practice sex skills with each other, but you just have to have more than an hour and a half to do that well. Those are probably more like “weekend retreat” style things where people can come with a partner and have the whole weekend to have time to practice and get close to each other and get coaching and all of that.
In amongst all of this you’re traveling? I’ve noticed that you do some traveling workshops and that sort of thing too. How far does that take you, and how often do you do that?
I have been for the last two years, every summer, doing big road trips across the United States and teaching in the South and in the Midwest. Because I’m from the Midwest, I know there’s a lot of sex positivity that’s lacking there. I think the farthest I’ve gone from Portland is West Virginia for teaching, but that kind of travel is not going to be happening now with the baby… at least for a little while. We are however, going back to the Midwest for my sister’s wedding soon, so I’m hoping to get one gig while I’m there. For the most part, my traveling now is going to be around the Pacific Northwest and within a couple of hours of home.
I’ve had my podcast for about a year-and-a-half, but it was on hiatus for a few months due to illness. It was going really well – consistently one episode every month – then when I got pregnant I was really sick. I’ve only had a couple of episodes since giving birth but I’m hoping once things kind of even out, and when I get the hang of all this new mom stuff, then I can go back to a more consistent schedule. It’s my biggest platform… I have 40,000 listeners right now. Even with my biggest classes, like Kinkfest classes of 150 people, that’s so different from 40,000. I’m afraid I’m going to lose those listeners if I’m inconsistent with when I release the podcast, so it’s definitely a priority getting that going again.
I’m fascinated with 40,000 listeners that’s amazing
I was really surprised, because I don’t really pay for advertising. It’s just in search engines when you search “sex podcast” and that’s a common topic people try to find. The word ‘sex’ is in my podcast title (Sex on the Brain with Amory Jane), so that helps I’m sure. At first I was worried that it would be censored more, but now I think it helps people find it better. There’s probably some pros and cons to it.
The reason I initially reached out to you was because somebody had messaged me and said you have got to find the person who runs this Whoopee show and talk to them. Then I looked it up and I found out it was you! So tell me about it, what would I expect to see there?
I’m so proud of that show – it’s really grown into something incredible. I’d had this idea of a sex-positive variety show in the back of my head for a couple years, but then after Trump was elected people were nervous and scared and wanting to come together as a community. I felt like we needed something fun, but that was also powerful, where people could express their sexuality. I wanted it to be super queer, super kink friendly, non-monogamy friendly… just bring all my loves together on stage. I was asking people who are much more talented than myself to come and do different acts. We’ve had comedians, storytellers, burlesque performers, aerial artists, fire dancers, and more. It’s a true variety show. Every act is an expression of human sexuality, so usually something really personal to the performer through whatever medium it is. I host the show with a lot of sex positive banter and jokes here and there. We have sponsorships from sex toy companies and lube companies, so we give out amazing prizes. Everyone who comes in the door gets free stuff, but then we also have a raffle where you can win sex toy gift bags and things like massage oil kits, float sessions, etc. It’s also a cannabis friendly show, so we have Jayne (a dispensary) as one of our sponsors and they often will give little vape pens and apparel to the crowd. The audience gets hooked up! It’s a big happy show where no one leaves empty-handed. Everyone feels inspired and aroused. It’s all about bringing the community together to have fun and feel empowered. We’re at the Bossanova Ballroom now and that’s very cool because they have this giant gorgeous stage which has opened up a lot of possibilities for us. We can do more circus type stuff – like people hanging from the ceiling naked from a hoop while playing music. We can have big fire shows now, where before when we were in a smaller venue, we were more limited. It’s really like a big naughty circus with elements of sex education.
The timing on this is actually really excellent because I noticed that the next one is coming up in October so when are tickets going to go on sale for that, because I want to be there. Is it just one night?
Yes, it’s just one night and it’s a Thursday (10/25) this month. Tickets are actually on sale now. People can go to whoopee.live and the ticket link is on there. We also have an active Facebook page at whoopeelive, where you can get the tickets and updates on prizes and performances.
I’m sure it sells out?
The VIP seats always sell out really quickly because every VIP gets over $100 worth of prizes in a gift bag they receive at the door. The Bossanova is a huge venue though. We can put 400 people in there, so we haven’t sold out to that point yet, but we usually get a hundred and fifty to two hundred people per show.
Is this your first time at the Bossanova?
No we’ve been at the Bossanova since last June, so it’s been a year and a few months at that location. We were at The Secret Society before that.
How frequently do you have the shows?
We took a break during the end of my pregnancy. Our last show was in May and now we’re back. Usually it is held every other month. Because it’s in October, this one is our Halloween, sex magic show. We’ll have another show in December that will be a holiday show. Summer time people like to be outside, so we don’t hold shows as frequently. In the wintertime people are looking for things to do indoors, so we hold our shows more frequently in the wintertime. Last year our January show was one of our most attended shows. So in 2019, we might do monthly through May and then go back to every other month through the summer.
How long did you say the Whoopee Show has been running?
The first show we had was in December of 2016, so it’s been going for almost two years.
The first show was at Crush bar in the back area and it was a standing room only situation. I thought we’d get about 50 people if we were lucky… There were about 80 people and we had to close the door because the fire marshal wouldn’t let any more people in. I quickly realized we were going to need a bigger venue. Then we moved to the Secret Society for a while, which was an awesome venue but, they didn’t have a green room for the performers which was kind of a challenge for us because we had to walk them through the restaurant area. We would have half naked painted people and drag kings wearing horns and everybody in the restaurant would be giving them weird looks… like what the heck is going on over there? It was great for us because it got people talking, but it was also a bit of a challenge for the venue to have to navigate that. At the Bossanova they’re used to sex positive events. They host PDX-Rated every month, Boyeurism, and many other sex positive events throughout the year.
I came away from the interview with great admiration for AJ… she is a very kind and endearing person who is easy to talk to, and eager to get her message of sex positivity out. I am excited to check out her show Whoopee… myself and one of my partners will be attending.. (don’t tell her she doesn’t know it yet) I hope that you will join us…