interview by CAROLINE GAIMARI
photography by STACEY MARK
style by AVENA GALLAGHER
The first two sex films that Karley Sciortino did for Purple Television were so much fun that we had to learn more about the young American bombshell. Karley’s blog, Slutever, speaks more candidly and normally — if that’s possible — about human sexual experience than either Alfred Kinsey or Robin Byrd ever did. She’s interviewed fetishists, dominatrices, handicapped people, fat people, prostitutes, and just about anyone else who would open up to her about their sex lives. In fact, the results are much like a contemporary Kinsey Report as proposed by Robin Byrd. And we’re all implicated! Certainly Karley brings up just about everything we think about when it comes to sex. Mostly, though, she reveals not only how much people do think about sex, but also how much people actually do the things they think about. And she reveals just how normal it all is. Karley’s approach is genuine, unassuming, and natural. She’s not afraid to push back boundaries or to speak frankly about sexual rituals and eccentricities, ones that might otherwise seem arcane, if not obscene. Her refreshing approach deflates many of the things people feel are taboo, as she turns her own life into a performance that goes far beyond any human striptease imaginable.
CAROLINE GAIMARI — Where did you grow up?
KARLEY SCIORTINO — I grew up an hour north of New York City. But I moved to London when I was 19 and spent years there squatting, mostly with my friend, the photographer Matt Stone. We would bathe in buckets of water, and we lived with lots of people — drug dealers, a whole Romanian family… There was, like, 100 grams of ketamine in the place at any given time. We were totally poor. At the end of a night out, we’d look on the ground around the bar to see if anyone had dropped any money. I had a part-time bartending job, making four pounds an hour, but I decided to quit because we were finding more money on the ground than I made at my job.
CAROLINE GAIMARI — But you moved back to New York.
KARLEY SCIORTINO — Yes. I was caught by customs on the Eurostar, going back to London from Paris — no visa — and I was sent back to the US. But now I love living in New York. Sure, I was upset to leave London because the move was so abrupt, but I had lived there for so long that it was a nice change being back in New York. I’d already slept with all the hot guys in London, and I figured I was in need of a new crop.
CAROLINE GAIMARI — Where would you say your interest in sex comes from?
KARLEY SCIORTINO — I’m sure my discovery of sexuality was similar to that of most people. I had sex for the first time when I was 16 and had a normal sex life in high school. It may be embarrassing to admit, but I was promiscuous as a young person, not that I think that it’s abnormal. I just wanted to have sex with a lot of people. Maybe my estimation is based on the people I hang around with, but I don’t think I’ve had sex with that many more partners than most people. I’ve just always liked to talk about it. So maybe the interest doesn’t lie as much in having sex, but in creating an open dialogue about it.
CAROLINE GAIMARI — Why did you start your blog, Slutever?
KARLEY SCIORTINO — There was so much crazy shit going on all the time when I was squatting in London that all the house mates agreed that someone needed to write it all down. That’s how it started. I starting to get a little bit of press, too, which brought my site to a wider audience. But my blog developed very slowly. For the first two years, it was mainly just things about squatting — but it also had some things about sex. I think that sex is something that everyone finds interesting, so it had the feel of a secret diary. When people started following it more, I realized that it could develop into something more serious. For a while I toyed with the idea of making it into a magazine.
CAROLINE GAIMARI — So your blog evolved into something more than just a collection of stories about your roommates.
KARLEY SCIORTINO — Yes. Now it’s an exploration of sex, sexual desire, what people find interesting about sex, and what turns them on. The topic is endless. Every time I interview someone about his or her sex life or sexual behavior, I’m amazed to be reminded that in truth everyone is a sex freak, that it’s actually more common to be into something bizarre than it is to have a normal sex life, whatever that means. For one thing, after interviewing a bunch of 50-year-old married men about how they have, like, sex with amputees, I really started to wonder about my parents’ sex life. Especially after having always thought how boring it must be for them to have sex so rarely. Now that my brother and I no longer live at home, I wonder if they actually have orgies. Everyone seems to have a secret sex life. I think the site is a venue for people to talk about sex more openly. A lot of my interviews with people about sex have replaced my recounting of my sex life. I still do it, but now that I have a boyfriend, my sex life isn’t as crazy as it used to be. I’m not as slutty.
CAROLINE GAIMARI — Your personal life is out there for everyone to read about. Do you ever wish that you wrote the blog anonymously?
KARLEY SCIORTINO — In the beginning I could have never predicted what it would become, and I really didn’t think it would be an issue because I genuinely didn’t imagine I would do it for more than six months, or that people I didn’t know personally would read it. As it became more popular, I questioned if it wouldn’t have been better if I had written it anonymously because now there are things I definitely can’t write about, specifically things about my ex-boyfriend. Now I just think it’s better to be totally unapologetic about it all because people can’t call you out on something that you fully admit to. If you do something passionately and you’re unembarrassed about it, and if you proudly and intelligently write about liking to sleep with a lot of people, then no one can call you out for being a slut. But if you do something secretly — like you’re secretly a stripper — and then there’s this big revelation about it, it makes it seem like you were ashamed of it all along. But if you never claimed to be ashamed, if you were already making fun of something about yourself, then other people can’t really make fun of you. In the beginning my mom was nervous that it would be bad for my future if I wrote the blog under my own name, with me talking about taking drugs and having orgies and things. But I think she slowly realized that I got more work from doing it. I started writing for Vice because the editor really liked my blog. In the end, nothing is anonymous anymore because our generation grew up with Facebook and Myspace, which I don’t think the older generation really gets. Pretty soon, even people’s comments on sites won’t be anonymous.
CAROLINE GAIMARI — Is the only real taboo for you writing about your boyfriend?
KARLEY SCIORTINO — I think that in relationships it’s important that some things be kept private. But if people were less embarrassed to talk about what they’re into sexually, maybe we would have a different idea of what really should be kept private. One thing I talk about a lot on my site is people with physical disabilities. It may seem like a taboo because these people aren’t often thought of in a sexual context. But I’m sure I’m not the only one sexually attracted to people with disabilities because as soon as I started to talk about it, it seemed like everyone agreed with me. Bunny, one of the people I write a lot about on my blog, is obsessed with the idea of having sex with a deaf person. We both joined a deaf dating site, but everyone on it turned out to be pretty ugly, so nothing ever came of it.
CAROLINE GAIMARI — Are you attracted to people with physical disabilities in general?
KARLEY SCIORTINO — Not necessarily. I’m attracted to a specific physical type. I won’t sleep with just anyone. I’m into guys who are really tall and thin — something about that is really hot for me. My boyfriend now is 6’1” and weighs 113 pounds. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone who’s skinnier than he is. When he’s naked, you can see every single bone in his body, and I really like that. When I started the blog, I was dating a guy with spina bifida — he couldn’t really even walk, but he was really skinny. Taylor, another guy I wrote about on my blog, had cerebral palsy, but he was still my type.
CAROLINE GAIMARI — Are you in an open relationship with your current boyfriend?
KARLEY SCIORTINO — No, but neither of us are super-possessive. We have threesomes quite often, but only with another girl. Adding a guy is out of the question for my boyfriend, and I wouldn’t want to be in a sexual situation that wasn’t comfortable for both of us. I really enjoy having sex with other girls and him at the same time. It seems like group sex has always just happened to me. Like in the squat — it was a house full of horny people.
CAROLINE GAIMARI — You’ve interviewed people who have a wide spectrum of fetishes for articles on your own blog and for Vice. Sometimes it seems like you adopt a sarcastic tone, one that could be perceived as poking fun at people with these sexual inclinations.
KARLEY SCIORTINO — Someone commented on an interview I did with an amputee, saying “It’s so embarrassing when someone alt makes fun of someone who’s genuinely weird.” If you had read just that one interview, you might think the same thing, but within the context of my whole site, you would never think that. The site is about honesty, and me talking about the weird things I’m into. If you read past entries on the site, you’d know that I’ve had sex with people with disabilities and that I’m personally interested in it. I reread that interview and asked myself how someone could conceive it as poking fun. I guess when I do interviews for Vice, to a certain extent they do adhere to the Vice context and could be perceived as poking fun. I don’t ever want it to seem like I’m making fun of someone, but I do feel that there’s room for things to be funny and entertaining. That particular guy had the most insane pictures of himself — holding his fake leg and wearing a mask — so I’m sure he’s able to poke fun at himself. I do have a genuine interest in people with disabilities, although I personally didn’t find that guy sexually attractive.
CAROLINE GAIMARI — How do you find the people you interview for your site?
KARLEY SCIORTINO — I find a lot of the people through FetLife and another site called CollarMe. Sometimes I’ll look through the forums and discover a new fetish, and I’ll try to find someone who wants to talk about it. Or I’ll just think of people in particular — like amputees, for example — and search for them. Then I’ll look through their pictures. I’ll contact them, introduce them to my website, and try to get an interview. I think people like that amputee want to be seen in a sexual context, and they’re open to being a part of my site. That guy said that he thinks people have an issue with the fact that he’s disabled, and if he talks about it, people may start thinking about him in a different light, or that it might spark a discussion that will help to change the situation.
CAROLINE GAIMARI — So the forums are also a way of discovering kinds of sexuality that you didn’t know existed?
KARLEY SCIORTINO — When I was searching the FetLife forum, I found the Zombie Apocalypse forum — a hundred people on there, learning how to shoot zombies naked in their backyards! I still don’t really understand how zombies and sexuality are connected, besides the fact that all the people on the forum seemed really horny — and overweight — and into zombies. I did an interview with the forum’s leader on my site, which made me think that maybe he was making fun of it all, but those people are living in the most crazy and delusional world. Why would two women want to be his slaves? I guess that when the apocalypse comes, they’re going to need him for survival.
CAROLINE GAIMARI — You did an interview recently with an adult-baby, one who has an on-staff nanny who bathes and changes his dirty diapers. Have you been shocked by anything you’ve heard in your interviews, specifically in those with people who make their sexuality their whole life?
KARLEY SCIORTINO — I do find a lot of the people shocking, but sometimes they’re also extremely interesting. I don’t necessarily relate to them. Sex could never consume my entire life — I mean, I would never build a giant nursery in my house. I Skype-chatted with the adult-baby guy from my parents’ house over a holiday, and I remember my mom telling me she thought he was disgusting. That’s the exact stigma I want to help erase. My first thought was, “What a freak!” But after talking to the guy, I realized he was smart and funny. He made me laugh, and if we met in real life we would probably get along. I still think that he’s strange, but I don’t necessarily think that strange is bad. People can be weirdos and freaks, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If we were honest with ourselves, we would realize most of us are freaks, too, but we hide it. He’s just a freak who’s out in the open and not ashamed of it. He said that the first time he went into a sex shop and found a magazine with an interview with an adult-baby, his whole life changed. He found out that he wasn’t alone.
CAROLINE GAIMARI — Do you think the Internet is a catalyst for sexual freedom?
KARLEY SCIORTINO — Everything is at your fingertips on the Internet. Now, if you’re the only one with a certain fetish, that’s actually pretty impressive. But it’s never just one person. With my blog, I want to contribute something that will make people feel more comfortable about their sexuality. The most amazing response I get on my blog is when someone tells me I have helped him or her feel less like a freak.
CAROLINE GAIMARI — You’re going to be the Oprah of sex. Or the new Robin Byrd!
KARLEY SCIORTINO — That’s the best compliment ever! Sometimes I feel like I should have more genuine knowledge of all this stuff, like someone who goes to school to study sex therapy. My approach is more naïve. I’m genuinely curious. People do email me a lot of questions, although 90% of them have to do with being 19 and still a virgin. I get a lot of questions from teenage girls, but I can’t figure out if that defines my demographic, or if teenage girls are just more inclined to send in questions than 35-year-old men are.
CAROLINE GAIMARI — One of the most recent story lines on your blog was about shadowing a dominatrix. How did that come about?
KARLEY SCIORTINO — That was unexpected. I didn’t have that much interest in having a slave. My first real experience with it was when I was living with this total sex weirdo in the squat in London. Her goal in life was to become a prostitute, but she was totally failing at it. She had a slave who would come over and clean our house. She would spit on him and be mean to him — and he would just keep on dusting and washing our dishes. I would kind of participate, but it was more annoying than anything. Then, a year and a half ago, a guy who read my blog messaged me on Facebook. He was a sexually submissive slave — and really involved in the BDSM scene in London. I was never interested in that, but he kept insisting on buying me a present, so I sent him a list of stuff I wanted from Amazon — three books and a movie. So he bought them and had them sent to my work. He became known as “Book Bitch” on my site. It became our thing, him buying me books. So I developed a relationship with Book Bitch, wherein he would buy me stuff and, in return, I would insult him via email. He would hint at what he wanted, and I would write him, saying that he couldn’t masturbate until I received my next present, that kind of thing. I started to learn all this stuff about the fetish world he was involved in, and about him seeing dominatrices. I thought it would make an interesting article to follow around a dominatrix, so I asked him for names of ones he knew who would let me shadow them. He put me in touch with one woman — Dee — and told me she was amazing, his favorite. So I messaged her, and she was totally open to me shadowing her for a few days. She’s really successful. She has an amazing apartment in the West Village — and it was her only job. It’s a scene, and you have to work your way up. She’s a prominent player. She’s flown around the world to dominate people, and she makes a lot of money. People have to wait to see her — she just doesn’t have enough time. In the three days that I shadowed her, we really bonded. By the third session, she asked me if I wanted to do it with her, following her lead, because she could sense I was interested and felt comfortable. She really liked the article that I did on her for Vice, so she suggested that we team-up for “double-dom” sessions, which clients pay more for. She said she would pay me to do sessions with her, and so we started working together and became friends.
CAROLINE GAIMARI — Do you have your own clients now?
KARLEY SCIORTINO — Through Dee, I got other clients. She organizes these “piss blasts,” where, say, three girls and five guys get together, and the girls piss on the men, and whichever guy can drink the most pee gets a free session with the girl of his choice. She organizes it, and each of the guys pays, like $300, which is roughly how much a one-hour dom session costs. I did a couple of these with her and met some clients through them, and now I occasionally see people on my own. Dee’s been trying to get me to start a website like the one she has — where she attracts most of her clientele. But my face would be attached to it, and my mom might find it.
CAROLINE GAIMARI — Do you ever get solicited on your own site?
KARLEY SCIORTINO — Not really. I’m a member of the FetLife website, which is basically a fetish site similar to Facebook. Everyone has a profile like in Facebook, with lots of pictures, and you identify yourself as dominatrix, dominant, slave, masochist, fetishist, or whatever. There are forums for everything you can imagine — putting insects in your penis, for example. People do ask me for sessions on [domination], but it’s awkward to meet someone online, from out of nowhere. I prefer to meet them in person. But maybe I should accept clients who contact me on my site because I’m currently only finding clients through Dee.
CAROLINE GAIMARI — Are you always paid for your dominatrix activity?
KARLEY SCIORTINO — Yes, because although I find it fun, it’s not fun enough to do for free. Plus, people pay a lot of money for it, so why not take advantage of it? In sex, I prefer that the guy be in charge. I’m more turned on being tied up than by tying someone up. It’s such an extreme for me for a guy to be that submissive, and I’m not really aroused during the sessions. Also, it may sound stereotypical, but most of the guys are really old, or not good-looking, or fat. Although the other day I had this session with a 19-year-old, and if it was always like that, I’d do it for free!
CAROLINE GAIMARI — Do you have to dress a certain way for the sessions?
KARLEY SCIORTINO — I had to get some stuff to wear, like a leather bra and leather skirts. Dee has the most amazing wardrobe ever, with these skintight latex dresses, but they’re like $300 or $400 each. But everyone has his or her preferences. Like one client whom I pee on — who makes me these little comics about our sessions for my fridge — he likes it when I dress like a secretary, so I just wear a blouse and a skirt. You don’t necessarily have to dress sexy — you can just wear a nice black dress. If you dress too slutty, you reverse your position of power.If you’re naked, you lose some of your control.
CAROLINE GAIMARI — Are you interested in porn?
KARLEY SCIORTINO — I know that porn can be a feminist issue, and that a lot of people don’t consider it a positive thing and think that it degrades women. My first response to porn was very positive. I’m not super thin — I’ve always had curves, and I’m totally comfortable with them — but in high school I wanted to look like a model, and I couldn’t deal with having a big butt. When I started watching porn, I realized that the kind I liked the most had these curvy women with big boobs and asses. In skinny-girl porn there’s no bounce. Curvy porn is hotter. It helped me with my body issues to realize that it’s sexier when girls aren’t so thin. Watching porn has made me more sexually confident. It helps you work out what’s hot and what you like — and it gives you ideas.
CAROLINE GAIMARI — Would you be interested in doing porn?
KARLEY SCIORTINO — I don’t think so. But I like watching my own home videos. By the time you’re a certain age, I don’t think you should fear your parents getting mad if you do something. But I feel like my doing porn would hurt my family too much. I don’t think my dad knows my blog exists — I don’t think he even knows what a blog is. My mom knows about it, but she doesn’t read it anymore because it caused too many fights between us. We agreed for her to stop reading it, to save our relationship.
CAROLINE GAIMARI — Do you have any dream interviews?
KARLEY SCIORTINO — For a while I wanted to interview Sasha Grey, but she’s so famous that it’s not even that interesting any more. There’s also Faye Reagan, the porn star who was in American Apparel ads. She’s the most beautiful woman on earth. She had a boyfriend who was also a porn star, and for a while she would have sex only with him or in front of him, or have lesbian sex, to remain faithful to him. I would love to interview the American novelist Dennis Cooper, who writes gay erotica — novels that follow around these sexually ambiguous skinny boys with long hair who do drugs and have really violent gay sex. He uses really common language to write about sex, love, and emotion, which made me realize that I could be casual in my own writing and still convey intense feeling. He writes about being obsessed with someone — something I can really relate to — about how just looking at someone can make you want to just puke and die all at once. There’s also Mary Gaitskill, who comes from a place near where I grew up. One of my favorite books is her Bad Behavior, which is a compilation of short stories. She writes about sex, and all her characters are porn stars, strippers, or people in power-play relationships. I admire her for being a woman who writes intelligently about sex. There’s also Paz de la Huerta. I love her attitude towards sex — she doesn’t seem to care about it at all. No one can make fun of her because she embraces her sexuality. She has the most amazing body, and she’s never fully clothed in her fashion stories. I like her more because she’s always naked.
CAROLINE GAIMARI — What’s next for you?
KARLEY SCIORTINO — My goal for 2012 is to have more naked pictures of myself on the Internet.
Dennis Gots @ JED ROOT using CUTLER/REDKEN, hair — Ralph Siciliano @ D+V MANAGEMENT using MAC COSMETICS, make-up — Dawn Sterling, manicure — Amy Henry, prop stylist — Julia Comita, photographer’s assistant — Nicolas Royal and Stefani O’Sullivan, stylist’s assistants — House, printing
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