by Dan Savage
on Thu, Oct 29, 2009 at 1:25 PM
I'm speaking at Indiana University tonight as a part of IU's annual "Sexploration" week. Indiana University is the home of the Kinsey Institute—Alfred Kinsey pretty much invented the field of scientific sex research right here at IU—and Jennifer Bass, the institute's director of communications, contacted me ahead of my visit and asked if I wanted a tour.
Jennifer showed me around the offices and archives—those are the stacks at the Kinsey Institute (some archivist in a momentary lapse of judgment added my books, which I was to asked to sign, to the insitute's collection). I got to look at rare copies of One, the pioneering gay publication, and what are known as "Eight Pagers," tiny pornographic comic books that eerily resemble Chick Tracts (if Chick Tracts included more representations of oral sex and fewer of eternal damnation). I met with the institute's director, Julia R. Heiman, who let me know that the institute wants to work with me on something—collaborate on a blog or a series of columns or something—which blew me away because I couldn't believe that the Kinsey Institute would demean itself by working with the likes of me.
Finally I was taken on a tour of the institute's gallery. The Kinsey Institute has one of the world's largest collections of erotic art and documentary photographs and right now there's a large photograph of Buck Angel in the gallery, which was nice to see. (Hi, Buck!) I had the pleasure of touring the gallery with the curators and with Dr. Debby Herbenick, Associate Director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at IU and a sexual health researcher and educator at the Kinsey Institute. Debby and I hit it off despite the fact that she writes a sex-advice column for Time Out Chicago. We sex-advice columnists typically despise each other—witness my ongoing feuds with Ask Amy, the Ethicist, and the impostor now writing under the name "Abigail Van Buren"—but we got along great, me and Debby, until...
There were a hell of a lot of vulvas on display in the Kinsey Institute's gallery—not yours, Buck, you're wearing pants in the photo of you on display—and vulvas were to be expected. But I just had to open up about my feelings about vulvas in front of several vulva-having-and-celebrating types and then Debby offered to get the vulva puppet from her office, which might help desensitize me to vulvas, and I said no because I'm fine with being discomfortably sensitized to vulvas, and now Debbie is emailing me pictures of the vulva puppets in her office, and... IT'S NOT HELPING, DEBBIE!
I have to say I'm a little nervous about my talk tonight after touring the Kinsey Institute. It turns out a bunch of people from the institute are coming to hear me speak and you know what that means: I can't just make shit up tonight, not with the world's best sex researchers in the house. I'm going to have to stick to the facts and stick to what I know to be true and can prove. So it should be a very short talk.
Oh, and did you know that the Kinsey Institute has a blog?