Buy it online
Think Martha Stewart. Well tailored, tasteful clothes. Honey-colored hair so perfectly coifed it looks effortlessly tossed. An educated, North American voice. Lou Paget is more slender, more elegant, more glamorous, but the overall effect is similar: both women of a certain age with a cultivated WASPy mien and a mission.
The missions, of course, are quite different: even if the approach -- essentially -- is not. Where Stewart can build a stone fence, flock a tree, truss a chicken and bake three different kinds of cookies all in the same uneventful morning -- and all without breaking a sweat -- Paget evangelizes and demystifies the wonders of the flesh. Where Martha can tell you what to do with a trowel, how to make Christmas ornaments out of shoelaces and how to cook your goose, Paget can explain exactly what happens -- on the inside -- when you orgasm, how to get them in multiples and what sex toys will actually work. It's an almost formulaic approach: take what the world-at-large has created as difficult and make it easy. Understandable. And look good while you're doing it. Effortless. And yet... no one seems to do it quite so well.
Paget's first book was published in 1999. How to Be A Great Lover, is now in its 16th printing. Book two, How to Give Her Absolute Pleasure, and the one she euphemistically refers to as "the men's book" is in its seventh. Book three, "the couple's book," The Big O, is barely out of the gate but already screaming off the shelves.
With chapter titles like "Debunking the Myths," "The Physical Side of Orgasms" and "The Beauty of Enhancers," The Big O breaks everything -- everything -- down into digestible chunks. Paget herself is the first to admit that none of the material she covers is groundbreaking: she's not a researcher or even an M.D. She is, however, the first to dig out all the information on the things we really want to know about and put it all into extremely simple, understandable and sometimes even humorous terms. With "tasteful" illustrations, even. "I go and get the information. I distill it down. I make it simple, I make it straightforward. Respectfully. Graciously," says Paget. "What I say is, if I can't wear pearls and talk about it, it's not going to happen."
Paget started out in the biz giving seminars -- often privately in people's homes -- on various aspects of sexuality. The women's seminars are by far the most popular. According to Paget's Web site, although sexual intercourse is covered, the seminars concentrate on "oral and manual stimulation as a means to mutual, safe, sexual satisfaction." The part of the seminar that deals with fellatio, including enhancement techniques, has drawn international media attention.
The 45-year-old "sexpert" was born in Calgary, Alberta and lives in Los Angeles.
Linda Richards: This is your third book?
Lou Paget: That's right. This is my third book in three years. The ladies book [How to Be A Great Lover] is in its 16th printing right now. The men's book [How to Give Her Absolute Pleasure] came out in January of last year and is going into its seventh printing. And this one [The Big O] came out on May 8th [and has been doing very well]. You know the biggest thing that tells me? People want information in this way. [Information] in this area that's accurate, that works and -- please -- could it be given in a way that's simple and straightforward? Because so much of the time when we get information in this area, it comes -- typically -- from two sources: the adult porn industry, which we know is fraught with misinformation. And that's also the biggest area where men will go to get information, because they also know that the guys who are talking about getting all of this stuff happening in the locker room, aren't. But what women also know is that the quiet guys are invariably the deadliest and the best. The other area is that it's also from the attitude of: Unless you're having this in order to produce children... you know, we are not a culture that really is very comfortable with people having pleasure.
Is that true?
Oh, yeah. Particularly in this arena.
The arena of sexuality and intimacy. And yet, if we think about it we look at it from the standpoint of: Our sexuality is where we all come from. No kidding. It's also our most powerful form of communicating. No kidding. It creates life and it creates love. So, if you look at sexuality as a form of communicating in relationships, this is an area where we deserve probably more than anything to be educated about in a way that's accurate.
But what about the 70s and the sexual revolution and all that?
The 70s allowed more sexual expression because women no longer had to be concerned about pregnancy to the same extent. The pill was the thing that really did it. The biggest thing that the 70s did was rip the lid off. Kind of: Hey! People do want to enjoy this. Because women no longer had to be concerned with pregnancy, as a result of the pill. I mean, mother nature was no fool when she put this thing together: it's our most powerful drive. It's the thing that's the essence of us.
I would think that's why nature made it pleasurable: so we would do it.
And the other thing is telling people that they're not supposed to be doing it when their hormones are at their most surging. We understand, because if you're going to be creating a child when you're a teenager, you have to know what you're responsible for. These are like the life rules. But when I went looking for the information for myself, which is how the first book got started, I couldn't find it given to me in the way I wanted to hear it. So what I finally realized is, the adult porn industry is men marketing to men about what they know visually works for men, but they forgot about the input of 50 per cent of the participants: the women. So, I thought: OK. I'm not getting it there. I'm not getting it from the typical books that will show me the suggestion of something. I wasn't going to do things with a gazillion people, but I wanted to know what a gazillion people knew, so I started asking my friends: Tell me the best thing someone has ever done? And that was really how the idea started, because I figured, who better to tell you what works than someone who knows what works for them. And then I could put that on a buffet of ideas and go: Hmmm, maybe that might be something I'd like to try. Because assuming that you're all going to want to do the same thing is like assuming that everyone dances the same way. Assumes everyone writes the same way. We don't. We all have different tastes, thank goodness.
I rarely speak about myself in my seminars, but I'm an identical twin. What I like and what my twin sister likes are not the same thing. Not exactly. Not at all.
What brought you to do the first book, How to Be A Great Lover? And by that I mean professionally. What prepared you for all of this?
I wanted the information for me. And I wanted it in a way that would work for me [and] that was done discreetly. I did not want to be doing things with a gazillion people, but I'd left a relationship and knew that the next time I went into a relationship, I wanted more information.
You wanted more orgasms?
What I wanted was more pleasure. And I wanted to know how to ask for it. But it's kind of like, how do you ask for what you want when you're not sure what that is?
What was your professional background at that point? What were you doing?
I had been in sales and marketing. I'm not a therapist. I'm not an M.D.
Do people want you to be?
Sometimes they do, but my feeling is I did not come from the standpoint that something was wrong or something was missing and needed to be fixed. I just knew there had to be more information. I mean, how could I possibly know what everybody else's experiences were? But I wanted to know what they were in order to say: Hey, could this validate something for me? Could it expand what I wanted to know? And the seminars came out of a girlfriend saying: You've got to write a book on this. I was like: Ohmigawd no, I don't want people to know I know this much. Because, as a woman, if you know this much: How did you find out? You couldn't possibly know any other way than having done a lot of stuff. And it's not based on me. As I told my 83-year-old father: Dad, these books are based on what I wanted to know, not based on what I have done. My father knows me and knows that that's the case. And he looked at me and said: Are you making any money? Which is such a Dad kind of statement. Yes Dad. And I said: Dad, I want you to know where the ideas came from. I want you to know this stuff so that when you get asked, you'll be able to say.
He's hilarious. I got no information at home about sexuality. Please, do not be thinking that [in] my household [sex] was kind of like, you know, a topic we could discuss. No.
It seems a shame you have to explain that what you're doing is valid, simply because you're dealing with sex.
I agree. But the other thing is, I've also been referred to as a paradigm pioneer. [One fan said that] you have changed how people are talking about this subject. He said, you have literally created a different way for people to talk about this. It's humbling. When I hear the impact of what this has done, I'm like: Whoa. Because what I do is, I'm an educator. I go and get the information. I distill it down. I make it simple, I make it straightforward. Respectfully. Graciously. Line drawings have to be tasteful and then I deliver it. What I say is, if I can't wear pearls and talk about it, it's not going to happen.
What I found startling with The Big O is that you're coming from a place that a lot of people aren't experiencing orgasms. That surprised me.
A lot of women are not having orgasms the way that they want to.
And it almost sounded sometimes like they didn't even know what that was.
Some. How I describe it for people is, you know, the male orgasm is kind of a forgone conclusion. The majority of men have them. It's rare to find a man who has not had one. And women can have orgasms in their sleep in the same way that men do, which translates as wet dreams, typically. But, for the women who have not, the way that I describe it to them is: If you've ever had a sneeze that is building and building and building and building and then all of a sudden you sneeze, imagine that in your pelvis and genital area and over your entire body. That would be the best analogy I could use to describe the build up of that type of energy. But each orgasm, typically, is very unique. Each woman's orgasms are so unique they're refereed to as 'orgasmic fingerprinting.'
Your response is unique to you. My response is unique to me. The other thing about orgasms is that we've had a lot of misinformation told to us. Masters and Johnson basically only said that clitoral orgasms existed. They did not want to know about G-spot orgasms. Then we came in with the G-spot. Then there was Freud who talked about mature and immature orgasms based on... the number of women he had in his study was tiny. So here's all these groups of people saying: If you're not having a mature orgasm, if you're not having a vaginal orgasm, well, then we have men thinking that the thing they have to do is -- you know, excuse the expression -- have eight-inches of hard, blue steel. [Laughs] And the action of that is not the action that works. So, excuse me: where are we going to go to get accurate information? And the reason the book really got started is the number of times I've been asked in the seminars that I've done nationally and internationally now for eight years, where people would say: Are mine OK? Am I having the OK types? And I'm [saying]: If you're having them and you're enjoying them, could we have this be about the pleasure and the enjoyment of it, not about the performance?
Are you saying that sometimes people are worried that their orgasms are not correct?
We've been told so often and for so long that our sexual experiences are not good enough unless they look like what's on TV or the supposed person down the street. And everyone thinks the person down the street is having a whole lot more than they actually probably are. And what I say -- and I don't say this from an ego standpoint -- if this book had been written when I went looking for a resource to refer people to, from an educational standpoint for the seminars, I never would have written it.
What I did is, I went out and I picked all the best ideas in all of the books that I could get my hands on. I found that the books were either typically written from either one person's experiences -- and I think that although one person's experiences are interesting, they're not what occurs for the majority of people. And then people have this thing about: If it's happening with them, why is it not happening with me? And I thought: Could we erase that attitude?
Then we have people only talking about clitoral orgasms, only talking about G-spot orgasms or only talking about simultaneous orgasms or only talking about multiple orgasms and I'm going: I know what I'm looking at here. I have a sciences background -- biology, botany, microbiology -- I've been researching in this area now for 17 years. I do know what I'm looking at and I'm getting confused. [Laughs] I thought: this is just nuts. So I finally said: I want to make this as clear, as simple and precise as I can. So I distilled it down to the ten different types that women can have, the seven different types that men can have, then I put in the illustrations for those types in order to induce those types of orgasms should you want to do so. And the best positions are tastefully, line drawn illustrated so that you can try should you wish to.
So what's the prognosis after all that research, Lou? Does size matter?
What women have said is that their best partners have not been the largest. What women have said is that their best partners have typically been the men who are less well endowed. The reason being, these guys aren't just thinking: Hey, I've got it hard. Aren't you lucky? Their more connected with who this person is than: This is all I have to offer. Women have been with men who do five different positions in the first two minutes and the women are like: Whoa! What does this guy think I am? On film? Like, slow down pal. Are you here with me or with a film crew?
All three of your books have chapters on sex toys. It's something you have strong opinions about. Why is that?
The majority of [sex toys] are not designed to work. They're not tested on human beings, much less on women who the majority are supposed to be used on. And they come from the egos and the imaginations of the manufacturers and that's a direct quote from one of the major manufacturers. And then when I asked the one guy, I said: So, do you have them send them out to be tested. And he said: Yes. Approximately how many? Twenty or 25. And this was an impromptu conversation I was having with him. This was not something where I'd phoned him up to specifically ask him, so he had really no idea why I was asking. And I said: When you get the feedback from women, what's your reaction? What happens if they don't like it? He said: I don't care. I'm running a business and they're not buying these toys, the men are. And I'm thinking: You have your head so far in the sand, your ears are full of it.
What I say about this book: it's a book about possibility. It's not a book about performance. It's not about having to have an orgasm, but if you want to and you decide to go down that road, I will probably tell you there's a whole lot more possibility in there than you had any idea.
Why do you think that knowledge about sex has been repressed for so long?
Because it's a type of power. And if you have power over people by telling them they're not supposed to have something you have ultimate power. If you tell one group of people that they're wrong for doing something that is one of the most natural things and only you can give them the OK to do it, you have a whole lot of control and power.
That's religious power, then. Not political.
Yes. But religious attitudes are also closely woven in with cultural attitudes. I've had more than one minister tell me: Hey, organized religion knows it has not been anyone's friend in the area of sexuality. They really have not given people the permission to enjoy themselves. When this is part of a relationship and it's working, it's 10 per cent of the concern. When it's part of the relationship that is not working, it's like 80 per cent or 90 per cent of the concern. There are some people who really have no interest in being intimate and sexual. Thank goodness we don't all like the same things. Typically if you are a woman and you are more concerned about the pleasure of things versus the performance of things and you're with a man who is very concerned about the performance of things, that's where things often run into problems. Or a woman who wants a tremendous amount of sex and he's not interested. That happens a whole lot more than I think people have any idea [of]. A lot more.
You talk about medical ignorance. What about that?
The medical ignorance is just hellacious. Almost every single group is nervous to talk about this topic. Physicians are no different. When you talk about therapists who talk about relationships. What do you think is going to be the number one thing that's going to have people come in: It's when they stop being intimate, when they stop being close. And that is something that therapists invariably know about, but they won't be comfortable necessarily addressing it. There's volumes written on why we don't talk about it. I'm not going to come up with the magic [answers]. What I can say is that this is a beginning. And I'm also not coming at it from a medical standpoint: that it needs to fixed, that there's dysfunction. Can we please get rid of that? Excuse me, how many people want to say: I'm dysfunctional, sign me up. Who wants to say that? What I say is: This is the information that everybody wants but doesn't want anyone to know that they want. It's about our most powerful form of communicating and it's something that is the essence of all of us.
You know, the majority of men and women have said [that] the biggest thing they want to do is make their partners feel amazing. And, to me, we're entitled to this information and we're entitled to have stuff that works. Please: could we please have it work.
Are you in a relationship now?
Have you ever been married?
Yes. When I talk euphemistically about leaving a relationship, I was leaving my marriage. It was ho hum. Now I couldn't hold him completely responsible. And I have this sciences background so I went looking for the information for me.
Do you have kids?
No. [I have] stepchildren. I got along famously with them. They're great.
I know that one of the things you do is have seminars, sometimes for some fairly famous people.
Oh yeah: that's where a lot of this information came from. I have seminars nationally and internationally with the biggest names going, but I will never say who they are. The reason being: I don't care if you're a shipping clerk or a person walking across the stage getting an award. My feeling is that everyone deserves to have this treated respectfully and confidentially. And the other thing is, no one should have to know what it is you're doing. So in the seminars what I say is: I do ask that you can speak anecdotally about anything you want. If they are the really big names, typically I'm at their homes.
You'll do it in a home?
Yeah. There'll be like a group of women sitting around a big dining table. Groups of 10, 15, 20, 25. The largest group I've ever done is 80. It was mayhem. It was a bachlorette party and quite a few adult beverages had already been consumed. [Laughs]
The Vanity Fair article last year was the first time I read about your parties. I loved the cartoon they did. It was very funny. [It shows Paget instructing a group of women, with a banana strategically posed in front of her mouth.]
When the Vanity Fair article first came out, my reaction to the cartoon was: I can't believe they did this. And it was a male artist who had the attitude that they're just going to draw it ... the way they typically think. Because that's not how it's done. I wrote one of those letters to [Vanity Fair editor] Graydon Carter that I then left on my desk. You know how you have letters that you write that you should never send? Well this one I actually should have sent.
So the portrayal was inaccurate?
For heaven's sakes, it's not a banana! The instructional product is: ladies have their choice. Six-inch, eight-inch, black, white, mulatto, or the ever so popular five-inch executive model, also known as the Porsche driver and I did not name it that. [Laughs] In the GQ article the woman was a young studio executive and she goes like this: Well, you better give me that five-inch executive model because that's all I'm gonna be gettin'.
I really started doing it with the instructional product because I'm a jock. I have a guy mind when it comes to how and why things should work. But with the instructional product, if someone just tells me something, it's like the Charlie Brown teacher. You never heard the words, you just knew that she was droning on? That's what happens for me. But if I can touch something... if I'm watching a ski film, it's not the same thing as going down the slope. It's not the same thing as when I actually do it myself. It's like playing tennis: when you go forward for that backhand it's completely different than thinking you're going to do it. That's why the instructional product is used. That's why all three of the books also have safety chapters. And they also have the stuff about product. And the stuff about the novelties. Because I know that people don't get accurate information in those areas. A lot of the lubricants that are out there and supposedly being marketed to be used on women, really should not be used internally. Read the back of the labels, please: your eyes will keep you safe. Not their marketing. Someone said: You're like Ralphine Nader. As my agent said: You're like the Consumer Reports on this stuff because I'll say why it works and why it doesn't work and I will know when someone is telling me something that isn't right. It's not about making a lot of noise, a big fuss. Just tell me the accurate information.
Is that the next book?
[Sighs] The next book is probably going to be something more along the lines of relationships and sex, if I do choose to do that. We're already talking about book number four.
Well, I guess. Since you've been doing one a year.
But you know what's hilarious? I don't think of myself as an author. I'm an educator. It comes in, it goes out. But I have a way of making it simple, making it concise and having it be accurate. | May 2001
Linda L. Richards is the editor of January Magazine. Her fifth novel, Death Was in the Picture, is published by St. Martin's Minotaur/Thomas Dunne Books.