The woman rewriting the bedroom rule book
I’m sitting opposite a sex coach in the tea room of the Mandarin Oriental in Knightsbridge. Sex coaches, I can reveal, look like Thomas Hardy heroines. They have milkmaid ringlets and tanned skin. Lauren Brim, 31, lives in LA and has flown all the way from California to tell me about her new book, The New Rules of Sex, a revolutionary 21st-century approach to sexuality, relationships and love.
This is not your average relationship manual. Lauren sleeps with her exes, she likes threesomes, she’s bisexual and she’s on firstname terms with all sorts of isms – Buddhism, shamanism, hypnotism, Taoism. A dancer by training, she has performed with the Radio City Rockettes, New York’s high-kicking dance troupe, and worked in an Aids clinic in Africa, where she was almost eaten by crocodiles.
The New Rules of Sex is part of the current zeitgeist for sexsaturated books that took off with the global blockbuster Fifty Shades of Grey. Like EL James’s bestseller (before it got snapped up), the book is self-published and sexually explicit. But there the similarities end. This is not a work of erotic fiction but a non-fiction book designed to give women permission to explore sex outside the conventional boundaries of marriage and monogamy. “Women are so insistent on partnership and marriage,” says its radical-thinking author, “because culture gives them no other format for sustained and socially approved sexuality and love.”
The book opens in Paris. It’s a balmy evening and Lauren is dressed in a “peach summer dress” that ripples across her body “like bed sheets”. She is an experienced internet dater, she tells us, who has dated “the full spectrum of French men”. Before we can feel sorry for Lauren – All those dismal dates! All those dead ends! – she drops her first bombshell. Lauren’s internet adventures included a threesome with a Russian woman who was “already naked” when she arrived at the apartment.
“Lauren,” I say. “I have to ask you about the naked Russian woman on the opening page of your book. Did you run away?”
Lauren reaches for a cucumber sandwich. “It took me a long time to warm up.”
I wonder if it’s too early for a gin and tonic.
Lauren’s story goes like this: aged 27, relationships “suddenly came to a stop”. Faithful, monogamous males became as rare as Sumatran rhinos. “I looked around and saw there were many single people around me, all of them attractive, talented and intelligent people,” she says. “Some of them hadn’t been in a relationship for years.”
“Ah!” I say. “We have the same problem in London and friends tell me things are no better in Rome, Barcelona and Tokyo.”
“One of my good friends hasn’t had sex for 12 years,” says Lauren.
“Is she very miserable?” I ask, even though this type of drought strikes me as perfectly normal.
“No,” says Lauren. “She has a dog.”
Instead of buying a pet like her friend did, Lauren decided to take a string of lovers. “I don’t believe in putting your energy into waiting for the perfect partner to come along,” she says. “I believe in looking at what’s there.”
Graphic accounts of Lauren’s sex life are interspersed with brief entries on everything from why Samoans are more sexually liberated than we are to how eating chilli peppers produces oxytocin, the “bonding” hormone. It’s a dizzying read. One moment Lauren (a trained midwife) is telling us about the virtues of using doulas during childbirth, the next she is kicking off with an X-rated passage about sex in the passenger seat of a truck.
The underlying message is that sex – in all its myriad forms – is natural, normal and human, but there are moments reading the book when I feel embarrassed on Lauren’s behalf. “I wanted to share my not-pretty side,” says Lauren. “I thought it was important not to put myself on a pedestal.”
Lauren studied humanities at the University of California, Los Angeles and grew up in a Christian household in Orange County. Her grandfather drove around in a minibus with the words from John 3:16 inscribed on the side. Lauren doesn’t go to church any more but believes in a “divine creator of this universe”. She has never had a British boyfriend but finds other cultures “sexy”. liberated if we weren’t lumbered for half the year with coats and umbrellas?
I wonder where she’s off to next. Not the Rembrandt exhibition, that’s for sure. But isn’t all that bedhopping a bit exhausting?
Lauren smiles. “Sex is really energising. What’s tiring is dating.”
Lauren has a website, Healthnow.am, that’s devoted to holistic sexual education for women, including advice on fertility. She also offers “sexual and spiritual coaching” via Skype to clients in the United States, Britain, Australia and Canada.
The New Rules of Sex, by Lauren Brim, is available on Kindle on Amazon.co.uk for £4.89.
Open minded: Lauren Brim doesn’t believe all her energy should be devoted to looking for Mr Right