It's not uncommon to overhear intimate conversations on public transit in San Francisco, and being gay, bisexual, transgendered or lesbian is less taboo here than wearing white after Labor Day.
How do urbanites handle sex in the city these days? Which sexual issues are still considered racy and taboo in the 21st century? And are we as free to do what we want in our private lives as we think we are?
Join our panelists as they hold a frank talk about sex and where it stands in these times- The Commonwealth Club of California
Brian Alexander is an award-winning contributing editor at Glamour magazine and writes the "Sexploration" column for msnbc.com. His six-part online series, America Unzipped, received more than one million viewers per month. He lives in San Diego, California.
Nina Hartley was born in 1959 to a Lutheran father and a Jewish mother, who were both members of the communist party.
It was twelve years after her father was blacklisted from jobs due to his membership in the Party, in 1969, when her parents began studying Zen. Because Nina was only ten years old at the time, she was greatly influence by this when she was growing up, and her early years were a great contrast to the normal church upbringing of the time. Hartley has stated in interviews that she still practices Zen philosophy as she finds it "useful" in her daily life, but she is not an active Buddhist.
After graduation from Berkeley High School, Nina decided to attend San Francisco State University to study nursing and graduated with the highest honors available. During the second year of the her nursing course, Nina decided to start work in the adult entertainment industry.
She started her new career by working as a stripper, most notably in the infamous Mitchell Brother's theater. This work served as a springboard into the world of pornographic videos, and Nina began acting in 1984 at the age of 25.
The 1984 Atom production Educating Nina, produced by Juliet Anderson (also known as'Aunt Peg' and 'Judy Carr'), was Nina's breakthrough role. Anderson had discovered Nina after meeting her in a market. The film featured Nina in the two scenes and is regarded by many as the one that launched her career through its high sales volume.
Nina appeared in four more videos that year, and in the years afterwards, her popularity reached new heights. She has appeared in over 720 titles and has directed 15 videos (and appeared on many websites), working for companies such as Adam & Eve, Caballero, VCX, Bizarre, Vivid and many more.
Nina has now become one of the most sought after mature porn stars in the industry and, as of 2006, she is still performing regularly, mainly in mature niche videos or those featuring classic porn stars.
Julia Ingle is a student at the University of California, Berkeley. Julia is a sex columnist for The Daily Californian and her column is "Sex on Tuesdays."
Emily Morse is an SF-based radio host, actress, and filmmaker. Emily founded ChickFlick Productions, LLC in 1999. She also directed and produced an award-winning documentary, See How They Run.
Emily's radio show Sex with Emily launched in 2005 as a weekly Internet-distributed show that then hit the radio airwaves in early 2006 on SF's 106.9 FM. More than half a million listeners tune in each month to hear interviews with experts, authors, and celebrities on sex, relationships, love, dating, cheating, methods, mistakes, and more.
Dr. Carol Queen is a writer and cultural sexologist with a doctorate of education in human sexuality. She is a noted essayist whose work has appeared in such publications as Male Lust, Whores and Other Feminists, The Erotic Impulse, Bisexual Politics: Theories, Queries and Visions, Madonnarama, and Women of the Light: The New Sacred Healer.
Her essay collection, Real Live Nude Girl: Chronicles of Sex-Positive Culture, was published in 1997; it is used in Women's Studies, Queer Studies, and Cultural Studies classes in universities across America.
Her erotic stories can be found in Best Women's Erotica, the Herotica anthologies, Libido, and Best American Erotica 1993, 1994, and 2000, and in many other anthologies; her erotic novel, The Leather Daddy and the Femme, was published in 1998 and won a Firecracker Alternative Book Award the following year. Her first book, Exhibitionism for the Shy, published in 1995, explores issues of erotic self-esteem and enhancement.
Queen is co-editor of the anthologies Best Bisexual Erotica, Sex Spoken Here, Switch Hitters, and PoMoSexuals; the latter won a Lambda Literary Award in 1998. She has appeared in several explicit educational videos, notably Carol Queen's Great Vibrations: An Explicit Consumer Tour of Vibrators and Bend Over Boyfriend: An Adventurous Couple's Guide to Male Anal Pleasure.
Queen works as staff sexologist at Good Vibrations, the women-owned, worker-owned sex toy and bookstore in San Francisco, and writes regularly for the Good Vibrations web magazine at www.goodvibes.com. She has spent the last several years consulting with the company's emerging video production department, Sexpositive Productions, which released its first videos in 2001.
The panel debates whether so much sexual freedom, growing female independence, and the abundance and frequency of sex are creating female empowerment or maintaining the status quo of sexual objectification.