Perhaps you’ve seen the Secret Sex Lives Q&As I’ve done with Salon.com, Patheos.com, and – my absolute favorite – Liz and Gianna’s Adventures in Bookland.

But a lot of you have sent me your own questions via Facebook and email. So today’s blog is devoted to you…as you grill me…

From Susan:

When you decided to write something different and “fun” and decided to write about sex, what made you go to a place like Craigslist, AdultFriendFinder.com, Alt.com, etc. to do your investigation? I mean, the majority of those people on those sites tend to be the extremes – more on the “kink side” and not the norm. Was that the purpose of initiating your book?

Susan, let me start with your last question. Yes, the purpose of the book was to investigate Americans’ alternative sex practices – not to investigate “vanilla” sex. So that’s why I went on Craigslist, AFF, and Alt.com.

Why did you not use a different approach to interviewing people – such as friends, surveys, talking with small groups?

One of my very first interviews was with a friend, but, at that friend’s request, I ended up not using that interview. (I didn’t use any interviews where the source changed his or her mind about being included in the book.) But the truth is that I wasn’t aware that I had many friends with alternative sexual lifestyles, so there weren’t a lot of friends to go to.

I also conducted an online survey. More than 1200 people answered it. However, after my countless email, phone, and in-person interviews, there wasn’t enough room in the book to include the survey information. I do hope to eventually use that information in some other way. As such, I’m currently conducting a second Secret Sex Lives survey so that I can compare how Americans’ sex practices and attitudes toward sex have changed over the years.

Similarly, I did talk to small groups as I attended BDSM mixers and the private swing party, as depicted in Secret Sex Lives. I also talked to people at a swing convention, swing resorts, and kink conventions. But let’s face it, when people are confessing their souls about things they’ve kept secret for decades, they’re not necessarily going to reveal all in a small group. They’ll be much more likely to confess all via email, phone, or one-on-one in-person interview.

From Vanessa:

What part of the research was the most “disturbing” and what was the most “enlightening?”  

Initially, I’d say my most disturbing research was BDSM simply because of the physical danger involved. As I state in the book, I was familiar with a serial killer who found his victims through BDSM sites. That knowledge made BDSM much more terrifying for me.

But now I’d say the most disturbing is the lack of safer sex practices among Americans’ in both the alternative and vanilla communities, the lack of communication between partners, which frequently motivates one partner to seek unsafe satisfaction outside the relationship, and the profound loneliness that results from the lack of communication.

What was most enlightening? When I think of “enlightening,” my connotation of the word is something that’s positive. But the first two things I’m going to mention are more of what I learned that surprised me, and whether they’re positive or negative will depend on the point of the view of the reader.

With that in mind, the first “enlightening” thing I learned was that so very, very many Americans are into alternative sex practices. The second was that so very, very many happily married heterosexual men desire to be with another man. And the third thing, which I considered a positive enlightening at the time, but now it’s feeling a bit more negative, is what I learned about myself. (And for those who haven’t read Secret Sex Lives, you’ll have to read it to find out what I’m talking about.)

From Mick:

Has the shrink reacted to SSL?

LOL. I’m laughing, Mick, because you are far from the only person who has asked me about the shrink. And for those who haven’t read the book, I include conversations with my shrink in the book. But to answer your question, I don’t know that she’s reacted to the book. I don’t even know if she’s aware the book exists.

From Scott:

Out of all the experiences you encountered researching “Secret Sex Lives,” which was personally the most embarrassing one?”  

Out of what’s depicted in the book, hands down the ending.

From Kathy:

Would it be the same ending?

Kathy, do you mean would I write the same ending if I could rewrite the book? Yes, because it’s what happened. And moving past secrets through honest communication is what the book is all about. But if you’re asking if I could go back and relive that night and change what happened … as of today, I don’t know the answer to that.

From Jane:

Is your born again Christian persona in the book authentic or enhanced for dramatic effect?

It’s real.

When can we expect sex book two. Book one was great!  

Thank you, Jane. And actually this is a question asked by Susan and Mick, too.

There’s definitely more to the story. After all, I have years more of research and even some research that’s already written. And sequel has always been my game plan, as I stated in my post Katie show interview. But now that the book has been out for one month, there is a part of me yearning to write something completely different.

 

Suzy Spencer is a New York Times best-selling author and journalist.
  1. Liat Behr Reply
    Hi Suzy, I wanted to let you know that I nominated you for the Liebster Blog Award and I've linked to your site. You can see what it's all about there. I hope you keep it going!
    • Suzy Reply
      Thank you so much, Liat. I'm honored.
  2. SUSAN Reply
    HAVE YOU HEARD FROM ANY OF YOUR "SEX FREAKS" AND GOTTEN ANY FEEDBACK FROM THEM ABOUT YOUR BOOK AND HOW YOU PORTRAYED THEM?
    • Suzy Reply
      Susan, yes, I've heard from many of my "Secret Sex Lives" sources. So far, I haven't heard any complaints, just kind support. Thank you for asking.
  3. Angela Reply
    Well my dear Suzy there is no reason you can't write both the sequel and something different. That could be your next great challenge; writing two entirely different things at the same time. Many authors do this to help keep themselves fresh and to challenge themselves at the same time. Perhaps some of the sex research material could be done as some long essays or a collection of essays as sort of a bridge piece. This could allow you to explore some of the stuff that would otherwise have to be cut from a sequel memoir to keep it a manageable size. And, yes, I will do my reviews of SSL soon. I have literally been gone all week, every week for over a month so my time to ponder and compose has been very limited. I don't want you to lose the momentum you have from SSL because there are so many people who have identified with your story and desparately want to know more.
    • Suzy Reply
      Oh, sweet Angela. I don't know what I'd do without you. You always arrive just when I need you most. Thank you. Now don't work too hard. Keep your health strong.
  4. SUSAN Reply
    I AGREE WITH ANGELA. YOU SAID YOU HAD GATHERED STORIES BY THE THOUSANDS.....AND HAD INITIALLY THOUGHT TO WRITE SOMETHING FUN BECAUSE YOU THOUGHT SEX WAS FUNNY, WELL, I'M SURE YOU HAVE PLENTY OF FUNNY STORIES PEOPLE TOLD YOU. YOU WROTE A BOOK THAT GOT DARK AND DIRTY INTO THE SECRET WORLD OF SEX. NOW THINK ABOUT WRITING SOMETHING LIKE...."SEX FREAKS DO THE DARNEDEST THINGS" or "WHO SAID KINKY SEX CAN'T BE FUNNY?"!!!! I HAVE PLENTY OF FUNNY STORIES I COULD SHARE, TOO!
  5. leonard Reply
    Dear MS Spencer, I purchased SSL yesterday and have finished all but the final chapter(Yes, I am in suspense.) and have enjoyed the book for the most part. Frankly, I was hoping that you'd explore a greater variety of fetishes; no doubt that's because you omitted mine:being teased by ladies--ideally those 55 or older--wearing undergarments and stiletto heels from the 1950s beneath dresses from the same era. Granted, 62 year old toads like me are probably not your target audience, and admittedly, my "sex life" is exclusively autosexua lfantasy. Still, it would have been thoughtful and, in my opinion, congruent with the premise of ameliorating the problems of the lonely. Anyway, thanks for listening; good luck.
    • Suzy Reply
      Oh, Leonard, thank you for buying Secret Sex Lives and reading it, especially reading it so quickly. I must admit I'm chuckling a bit over your fetish because it reminded me of the cross-dresser in the book who loved girdles. BTW, I did interview people about many more fetishes, but I had page constraints, meaning I could have easily written a 1000 page book, did write an 800 page book, cut that down to 600 pages, and then my editors cut that down to 400 pages, which was about 100 pages more than what my publisher wanted. (I'm talking manuscript pages, not printed book pages.) So Berkley Books was more than gracious in giving me those extra 100 pages.
  6. SUSAN Reply
    WELL, MY BEST GF FINALLY FINISHED YOUR BOOK, TOO, SO THAT SHE AND I COULD DISCUSS IT. WE BOTH HAVE A QUESTION: WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM, OR GET OUT OF YOUR EXPERIENCES THAT YOU WROTE ABOUT IN YOUR BOOK, WITH TALKING WITH, MEETING WITH, AND PARTICIPATING WITH YOUR 'SEX FREAKS"? AND HAS IT CHANGED YOUR THINKING OR LIFE IN ANY WAY?
    • Suzy Reply
      Susan, thank you. I hope to answer some of your questions in a future blog post.
  7. Paul Reply
    ALT.com -- ALTernative Lifestyle, BDSM, Fetish & Kink Personals I think the 'key' word is, "Personals" -- NOT!!! I have been a Member for 13+ years now and it has severely decayed as a 'personals' Website for the last 3 - 5 years. Thousands of fake profiles. In the first day alone, I had over a dozen 'messages' .... mostly from Ghana and Nigeria. After only a few hours of communication with a 'woman' on Instant Messenger, she was asking me for airtime for her cell phone. There may be real people hoping to meet other real people, but those Profiles are so few and far between it's not worth your time or money. No one is within a commutable distance from you. ALT.com has become nothing more but a safe haven for fakes/flakes/frauds, liars, posers, scammers and wannabes from around the world whom have read the, "50 Shades Of Grey", series and now think they're either Dom/me, Master, slave or submissive just living out their fantasies via Chat Rooms and/or Interest Groups -- there may be .005% of the Member/ship being 'real' -- but, even that percent might be too high. What else is there to say about an online adult personals Website that allows its Members to change/edit/update their Date Of Birth (a legal, never-changing fact) whenever they get a whim to appear younger??? Due to this DOB change/edit/update feature/function, I have stumbled upon 13 Profiles that according to their DOB and Date Of Membership, they were 11-years-old to 17-years-old when they joined ALT.com!!! Seriously .... 11-years-old when they joined ALT.com!!! I don't think I need to say anymore, but I'll go ahead and list the 'Pros' & 'Cons' below .... Pros: ⦁ Thousands of Profiles with pictures of well-known celebrities and sexy pictures of well-known porn stars -- mostly claiming to live in Canada, Texas and United Kingdom (as a matter-of-fact, just last week I saw Angelina Jolie -- according to her Profile she's single, submissive and living in Austin, Texas) ⦁ Change your Date Of Birth (for free) easier than changing your panties to make yourself appear younger at any time and further dupe other Members ⦁ Chat for free with thousands of fakes/flakes/frauds, liars, posers, scammers and wannabes from around the world via live Instant Messenger (when it's working) ⦁ Create an Interest Group -- then, create multiple Profiles and join your very own Interest Group to make it look more popular ⦁ View webcam shows for your masturbatory pleasures ⦁ CyberSex your brains out in any Chat Room ⦁ Advice Line, BLOG and Magazine Cons: ⦁ Infested with thousands of fakes/flakes/frauds, liars, posers, scammers and wannabes ⦁ Fee charged to change your UserName or Gender, but you can change your Date Of Birth (a legal, never-changing fact) for FREE -- easier than changing your panties to make yourself appear younger at any time and further dupe other Members ⦁ Censorship -- the word 'rape' is a banned topic in any BLOG and Post, automatically declined when clicking-on the POST YOUR REPLY button; yet there are 433 active Interest Groups containing the word 'rape' in their title and hundreds of Members with the word 'rape' in their UserName. But, it's okay to make Posts/Polls regarding murder involving killing your daughter, girlfriend or spouse ⦁ Customer Service is a joke -- I believe it's outsourced to India as the lack of communication is appalling and amounts to NOT understanding written English ⦁ Abuse Team, Legal Department and Site Support lies to you ⦁ Thousands of 'Date Bait' Profiles ⦁ Hundreds of thousands of dead/unused Profiles. Just the other day I viewed a Profile that stated, 'Last Visit: March 17, 1999' -- yet, when I visited the Interest Groups that they belonged to, it kept the number of Members 'active' (I also noticed a lot of the same Members belonged to the same Interest Groups). After doing a Reverse Image Search of the Profile picture/s via Google and/or TinEye, the majority of the Members/Profiles were fake Some warning signs to watch out for: 01. Incomplete, inconsistent and unusual things in their Profiles; and, all info is written in lower case letters including their name 02. Grammar, punctuation and spelling isn't correct (even though they claim to have a Master's degree) 03. They don't carry the conversation like somebody would if they were truly interested in you 04. They immediately want to move the conversation to an off-site Instant Messenger 05. They use a lot of phrases like 'my dear', 'my love' or 'the love of my life' 06. They are vague or fuzzy when you ask them specific questions 07. Only one picture shown and it's a very attractive woman Use common sense. The 'lovely lady' you're speaking to is likely some dude sitting in an Internet café. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is!!! Tip For Users: Do NOT get involved with any Member from ALT.com until you do a Google and/or TinEye Reverse Image Search of their Profile picture. If no Profile picture is available, then request webcam verification from the Member
    • Suzy Reply
      To Readers: I cannot vouch for the veracity of Paul, his identity, his comments, and his claims. I do know that I haven't been on Alt.com in years (Secret Sex Lives takes place from December 2004 to approximately January 2006, with some post January 2006 updates) and that most people I know who are into BDSM now utlize FetLife.com.

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