Saturday, October 27, 2007

Interview: Stephanie Sellars of "Lust Life"

We continue to steam things up here at Mr NYC. "Lust Life" blogger and former New York Press sex columnist Stephanie Sellars gives us her take on sex, writing, and New York City.

Tell us about yourself and how you started writing your column in the New York Press?

I am a modern Renaissance woman with vintage sensibilities. Everything I do--writing, performing, film making--draws from the past, specifically in terms of style, but has a modern edge. In my column I wrote about kinky sex from a place of lyrical sophistication. When I first started writing for New York Press, I used a pseudonym--'The Libertine'--a word that originated in 1563, meaning 'freethinker.' The term became popular in 18th century Europe when it was used to describe freethinkers (usually men) who lived for pleasure unrestrained by conventions or taboos. It also refers to refined eroticism. A few years ago I wrote an essay called "Confessions of a Libertine" and gave it to my friend Jon Leaf who was the arts editor of New York Press. He liked it and passed my essay onto Harry Siegel who was then editor-in-chief; they invited me into the office for an interview and the rest is history. I wrote as 'The Libertine' for about five months then I did a cover story under a new editor (Adario Strange), and used my real name as the byline. The following week 'Lust Life' was launched.

Is being a sex writer in New York as glamorous as Sarah Jessica Parker made it look?

Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw as the alter-ego of columnist Candace Bushnell is so far from who I am and what I'm doing with the sex column/blog genre. Am I glamorous? Yes. But is being a sex writer glamorous? Not at all. I don't spend my time lunching in trendy restaurants with girl friends or sipping cosmos at pretentious clubs in Chelsea or the Meatpacking District. I write about the alternative sex scene--polyamory, queer sex, S&M, swinging, orgies etc. so my social life is centered around underground loft spaces, yoga studios, and the LGBT Center. Of course some erotic events are very glamorous and take place in gorgeous upscale clubs, but I'm not slinking around in Jimmy Choo shoes 6 nights a week, hobnobbing with fashionistas in swanky Manhattan lounges of perpetual boredom. Besides no sex columnist can afford a life like that on a sex column alone. New York Press paid me $100 per 800-900 word column. Of course I get nothing for the blog.

Although it's a fun topic, how do you prevent your columns and now, your blog, from being repetitive?

Easy. My sex life is the epitome of variety.

How do people (okay, guys) react when you tell them you're a sex columnist?

The most common reaction I've gotten is something like, 'Oh, you're just like Carrie Bradshaw!' It's irritating because I am so not Carrie, and I have no desire to be like her. But once I explain a little about what I write, they are even more intrigued. People also tend to assume I'm an advice-giver like Dan Savage.

Do you get lots of creepy fan mail or messages?

Sometimes. I used to get handwritten letters sent to the old New York Press office. My editor at the time didn't even want me to read them because they were so gross. Once I got an email from a guy asking for advice on what to do about the female roommate he was stalking. I gave him some genuine advice, then he asked me if I would take him to a play party because he would not be able to explore the scene otherwise. I was so offended that I cut off our exchange. A lot of men assume I'm up for anything or I'll be their tour guide into the underground sex scene just because I write about it. I have to get to know someone first before I invite him/her to an erotic event.

Would you call New York a 'sex positive' city? Do you think New Yorkers have more sex than the rest of the country?

Definitely! New York is not only full of sexy people, it caters to people whose sexual expression is outside the norm. With several erotic events a week--from sex parties to Tantric workshops to gay pride--it's hard not to find your niche in a sex-positive community. Although I can't confirm that New Yorkers have more sex than the rest of the country, I'm fairly certain that we are generally more open about sex and therefore more into exploring alternative sex and relationships.

Besides your blog, what are some of your other projects?

I'm working on a book based on 'Lust Life'. It is the story behind the column--my sensual journey from small-town prude to big-city libertine. I also have a feature film project in development. I made two short films--the first was on Independent Film Channel for three years and the second is currently playing at film festivals. I also perform often as a singer and in readings like The Potable Dorothy Parker: A Literary Cocktail, a series that I co-created and curate.

Anything else you'd like to tell us? Any advice for our readers about love and sex in NYC?

Whatever your sexual preference, be honest with others and true to yourself. Don't be monogamous because that's what everyone else seems to be doing. And don't cheat! Monogamy is great if it is consciously chosen. If it is not what you really want, it is better to own your desire to be with more than one lover and enjoy.

Read Stephanie's blog at

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please keep it civil, intelligent, and expletive-free. Otherwise, opine away.