Food a fun way to learn about sex?

Snacks and sex. Cuisine and coitus. Food and *******. We don’t normally think of one as informing us about the other, but Jay Friedman, the creator of “Sexy Feast,” begs to differ.

Friedman—who besides being a sexual education lecturer is also a food writer and restaurant reviewer—sees food and sex as being mutually inclusive subjects. “I’ve taken my two passions in life [and combined them],” said Friedman. “I do restaurant reviewing in Seattle, where I’m based, but I do write nationally [also]. I wrote a column called ‘Sexy Feast’ for the ‘Seattle Weekly,’ and basically I would go to a restaurant and eat some food and figure out what one of those dishes teach about sex. It’s never aphrodisiac. Everyone thinks, ‘oh it’s going to be about aphrodisiac.’ No, it’s more creative than that. Like, ‘what’s a lesson to learn?’”

The lecture is anything but dry. His quick wit, apparent ease with talking about what can easily be an awkward subject and command over food-related sexual innuendo kept a packed hall of Creative Audience students giggling from start to finish.

“Sexy Feast” presents a food from every letter of the alphabet accompanied by a salient point about sexuality. “This ‘Sexy Feast’ lecture is an A to Z menu of foods,” said Friedman. “I’ve taken sort of the best of [my] column and added more material to try to come up with a real creative way—because people can relate to food—a fun way to learn about sex.”

Eating an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but it also, according to a study cited by Friedman, makes sex more pleasurable for women.

Restaurants who serve up the hottest chicken wings make you sign a waiver before you bib up and chow down because, like sex, it’s all about consent.

Your favorite flavor of ice cream says a lot about your sex life. You like chocolate chip cookie dough? That’s bad news for you, because an affinity for premature cookies means other things might be premature for you as well.

The hardest part about ordering a pizza is figuring out what everyone wants for toppings. As with sex, no one will be satisfied unless all parties know how to communicate and negotiate.
Men and women should practice their Kegel exercises every day, and that’s why Friedman is a backer of the “Kegels with your Bagels” campaign— “it’s taking off like wildfire in the Jewish community,” said Friedman.

Laughs aside, how does a person end up as a sexual educator in the first place?
“This has been my career for 30 years now,” said Friedman. “I’ve been full time on the college lecture circuit for 24 years just traveling from campus to campus doing this presentation—or previous versions of this presentation—and then I worked in family planning here in Vermont for six years. Well, three years in Vermont and three years in upstate New York.”

It is, no question, a notable volume of sex-ed experience. As he explains at the beginning of “Sexy Feast,” it was all triggered by a personal crisis which shattered the youthful illusions he held about sex, as many young people do.

“I was in a relationship,” said Friedman, “with an unexpected pregnancy. I thought I knew everything about sex like most— guys especially—think and that’s what woke me up and made me realize that I need to learn more and that I wanted to help other people be more informed and prevent situations like the one that I faced. I did some volunteer work, but little did I realize it would turn into this profession.”

“Sexy Feast” is just the latest version of his lecture. “The lecture used to be called ‘The J-spot,’” said Friedman, “which didn’t really mean anything; it was just a play on G-spot and my name. The current lecture has a lot of that material, a lot of that content, but it’s repackaged and with new stuff added in.

“For me it’s a challenge in creativity to keep the material fresh,” said Friedman. “So, just to be playful on a topic that a lot of students are a little skittish about because they’re worried that it’s going to be either preachy or doom-and-gloom. [I’m] trying to make it fun.”

Friedman comes across as a man with a real passion for promoting sexual education. Some disapprove; he mentions in the lecture that he has received threats for delivering it, but that is precisely the attitude toward sexual education that he seeks to dispel. He intends “Sexy Feast” to promote three main ideas: “[First,] to communicate more openly because we live in a society where sex is taboo to talk about. Second is to advocate for your sexual rights because I think sex and sex ed are under tremendous attack in this country right now and I think we’re going to see that play out in the big election that’s coming up next year. Third is just to celebrate sex as a positive and pleasurable part of life. That to me goes hand-in-hand with communicating. Part of that ‘sex is taboo’ thing is that we have a very repressive attitude toward sex and we’re trying to change that.

“Students like it,” said Freeman. “I’m catching them up on the education that most students don’t get—but should get—in high school. I often say that this is a high school lecture in other countries, but in America we’re playing catch-up.”