Normalising conversations about getting it on – from the heavy and heartfelt to the hilarious – is the siren call of Chantelle Otten, a high-profile champion of the sex-positive movement.
Long ago, I had a short but memorable stint as a sex columnist for a newspaper in America’s Midwest. I took my research seriously.
I interviewed exotic dancers who made their living flying wherever the best customers were, whether the Super Bowl or the Republican National Convention. I worked at a seedy sex shop, packaging vibrators and price-checking butt plugs. I visited the Kinsey Institute to ask hard-hitting questions about penis size. I got naked more than once, posing in a Spencer Tunick mass nude photo at an art deco hotel in Miami, and hanging out (literally) at the Ponderosa Sun Club nudist colony, playing tennis in the buff with a 79-year-old grandmother. For two weeks I trained as a drag queen, too, then made my performing debut at a gay club in Indianapolis, dancing and lip-synching to Ce Ce Peniston’s Finally in front of an adoring crowd (which included my adoring wife).
These forays were not my only journalistic expeditions into the world of sexuality, either. Back in Australia, I couldn’t let go of the thread, jumping at the chance to cover Sexpo for The Age, writing about a man named “Pricasso” – a 60-something former tradie who does portraits by dipping the tool nature gave him in paint. But that was almost a decade ago. Enter my editor, last month, with the breezy idea of profiling Australian sexologist Chantelle Otten – a woman who is now as much a lifestyle brand as a psychosexual therapist. “The interview is set,” says the boss. “She’s going to take you out to a bar and teach you how to flirt.”
I tell my wife this excellent plan – I’m going to talk to a beautiful young woman about sex for three hours – and she is suitably unimpressed. Instead, I visit Otten, 33, at her home in Melbourne’s inner northern hipster enclave of Thornbury, where she lives with her partner, wheelchair tennis star and 2022 Australian of the Year, Dylan Alcott, and their adorable dachshund puppy, Sauce…
Photography by Kristoffer Paulsen