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Shame busters

Local comedians talk sex and relationships, kink and connection

Tom King, Lauren Turner, and Landry Miller are the voices behind the “Digital Intercourse” podcast.

Greg Bollinger

In 2017, comedian and burlesque dancer Tom King had the idea to start a podcast about all things sex: relationships and pleasure, kink and connection. Seeking a witty co-host, King combed through his mental rolodex of local talent. Standup comedian Lauren Turner came immediately to mind.

“I pitched it to Lauren, not knowing she was in mental health at the time and … I was like, ‘Perfect! You can be like the Dr. Drew and I’ll be just some horny jackass.’”

“Which is kind of our dynamic—we both bring our expertise,” Turner added with a laugh.

Digital Intercourse releases four episodes a month—two full-length episodes where the pair bring on a guest with an expertise, kink, or sexual/relational experience they find interesting. They also release two “quickie” episodes with discussions of current events in the wide world of sex, based off research and news articles.

The show is produced and edited by comedian and writer Landry Miller, who occasionally offers input and assists with research. “I learn so much from the show,” he said. “It’s not just sex and kink. They also talk to [people] about being mothers … people moving in together, and all these different sociological dynamics of relationships and how they work.”

Since the show’s inception, King and Tuner’s friendship has strengthened along with their ability to navigate difficult topics, each offering a unique point of view. Turner has worked in various arenas of the mental health field, including two and a half years with Tulsa Cares, an organization offering an array of services and treatment for those living with HIV/AIDS. This background was especially applicable in an episode where the hosts discussed PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis), a strategy that uses medication to prevent HIV from establishing infection in an HIV-negative individual.

King offers experiential expertise from his involvement in the kink and polyamorous (poly) communities in Tulsa. He often frequents BDSM dungeons for pleasure and networking purposes. “If someone is knowledgeable about a certain kink, I build a relationship with them,” King said.

For King, offering listeners the opportunity to get to know the people within these scenes is integral in reducing the shame associated with them. “I carried a lot of shame, and getting out of that is very liberating. Even if you see kink, poly, or horseplay people in some television show, they’re [depicted as] some circus clown. So being able to sit down and have a normal person-to-person conversation about whatever their thing is, is really important.”

King recognizes the importance of respecting all choices, taboo and traditional. “We talk about all the shame that can go into non-traditional lifestyles but if you get too absorbed in a non-traditional lifestyle there’s shame coming back. Bringing in a vanilla couple who has an interesting relationship that’s unique to them and just to them is just as exciting as what anyone else is doing,” he said.

Touching on taboo themes in a state with a long history of abstinence-only sex education, high teen birth rates and sexually transmitted diseases makes for interesting guests with unique experiences. “There are other sex podcasts out there, but I think where we are doing it makes it very interesting,” Turner said. “I think it challenges people’s assumptions about people who live here, and that’s important for me as far as shame busting. I grew up with so much shame around this. This is me kind of turning that on its head.” Since the show began, Turner came out as gay to friends and family and released an episode in February of this year centered around her journey titled, “Coming Out!”

“I think it was important for me to talk about my own experience of coming out so late. In our current culture, this is late as fuck because it’s so acceptable now, so there was a lot of emotional processing behind that,” Turner said.  “It created a safe space for me to explain myself without anyone saying anything back to me.”

For Turner, hosting the show has challenged many of the heteronormative standards of sexuality she and many Oklahomans grew up with and still wrestle today. “It’s been very educational and sometimes it pushes me ask, ‘OK, is my issue with the thing? Is it my repression? What is it?’

“It has pushed me and challenged me,” Turner said. “I’ve learned things that I can apply to my relationship from those communities like communication, consent, body positivity. All those things are very inherent to kink when it’s done appropriately and in a healthy way. So, I can still learn a ton from that even if I’m not going to go home and flog my girlfriend.”

Digital Intercourse can be streamed on most podcast platforms such as iTunes and Google Podcasts, as well as the Digital Intercourse website.

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