When I started researching Jill Hamilton for this interview, I ran into a rather unique problem. Every site I visited had her essays and tips. I kept getting sucked into them and forgetting that I was there to do actual work. I wasn’t there to learn about the weirdest sex inventions, seminars for vagina meditation, or octopus fetishes. I just wanted to find out about her degree from the University of Michigan and any random tidbits on her personal life that I could. I used every millennial surfing trick I possessed. I was all over social media, scouring website “about me” blurbs, and lurking on professional networking sites. I was this close to paying one of those stalker sites to get some good info on her. I knew super intimate details about her, but not the boring surface stuff that I knew about my neighbor’s sister. Jill manages to make it feel perfectly ordinary to read about things I only talk about with my best friend after we split one of the really big bottles of cheap wine. It turns out that reading all of Jill’s entire anthology of essays was all the research I needed on this enigmatic lady. Jill has written for major magazines such as Rolling Stone and Cosmo and Entertainment Weekly. Her blog, www.inbedwithmarriedwomen.com, is hilarious and full of useful information. She agreed to answer a few questions for me and it was every bit as entertaining as I had hoped.
You have built this persona as a sexpert, writing for Cosmo, Salon, Alternet, Jezebel and many others. How did you fall into this crazy line of work where you make money talking about sex?
My first Cosmo story was about 10 Weirdest Sex Devices or something like that. One of the things was a 70s-era bra with built-in nipples. The joke was about would happen if your actual nipples decided to make an appearance. That is, 2 nipples = sexy, yet 4 nipples = not so much.
It mutated into me doing a stint as a sexual guinea pig, testing out Ye Olde Cosmo Tips–Use a scrunchie during a BJ! Smear food all over yourselves! I have literally taken money for having sex (with my husband, for a Cosmo story, but still.) Whorish? Best job ever? Answer unclear.
What was the first big break you got as a writer?
I found out (long story) that there was a concert at a local nudist park in Michigan featuring Foreigner, Eric Burdon and others of that ilk. I sent a query to the delightful Jancee Dunn at Rolling Stone and she sent me to cover it. In case you were wondering, no one in Foreigner got naked, but everyone around me–who were exactly the age and demographic you could expect of older, not especially-toned nudists in Michigan– were butt naked, but for, incongruously, shoes and socks.
At what point did you decide to just embrace the baser side of humanity and write about the kinds of things people read in an incognito window?
Short answer: Why bother with anything else?
Longer answer: I was sitting at the friggin’ Chuck E. Cheese with my friend, and we were discussing our moribund sex lives. What were the other preschool mothers doing about this? Was that one lady who looked like a grandma still banging her grandpa-looking husband? Were people having affairs? Did people just let their sex lives die, chalking it up to “maturity” and focusing really really hard on something like scrap booking?
I decided to start a blog In Bed With Married Women to ask people just this. (I am alarmingly nosy.) The idea was going to be a sociology study, with women just telling their stories. Like Studs Terkel but with more nudity. The thing was, stories about marital sex are about as interesting as actual marital sex.
About the same time I saw an ad for something called Anal Ring Toss and I kind of veered in a whole different direction. This is still the central tension in the blog today–between a serious look at sex and what the hell it even is vs. the immature joy of finding a Japanese sex spray that smells like “secretary.”
What advice do you have for moms trying to live both lives?
My kids are kind of like Stepford children and are bizarrely good and smart. Advice for others: just do the parts you want. Like I don’t really fold clothes as much as bend them into smaller shapes.
Do you ever have trouble making those pieces work together? “Lift your left leg on to your partner’s right shoulder and- Hey! Don’t eat with scissors!”
I actually have said “Don’t eat with scissors.” They were safety scissors, but still. My kids are older now and they know way too much about what I do. I think it’s good though. Knowledge is power and all that. My sixteen-year-old, Maddie, is cheeky as hell and makes up fake positions that I should be sending to Cosmo. I think the most recent one was the New Year’s themed “The Ball Drop” for the older gentleman.
What advice would you give to someone trying to get their first set of words in print?
Write something. If you don’t, maybe you aren’t actually a writer. Maybe you’re a chef or something.
Do you ever get tired of writing about sex?
Positions, yes. So yes. But sex, not yet.
Does anyone ever recognize you and ask for sex advice?
People ask me about sex toys. If you’re asking, I am currently going steady with an iRock by Doc Johnson.
You have a very intimate writing style. It is unapologetically frank and quite charismatic. Did this come naturally to you or did you develop it over time?
This sounds so ick and pretentious, but if you’re not talking about something real, what’s the point?
You seem to go to a lot of sex seminars and workshops, is it usually a sausage fest? Or are the sexes equally represented?
Both; people are generally earnest. They want to be decent lovers, have good sex lives and are open to learning something new.
In the 60s, America had a sexual revolution and women came out of the kitchen burning bras and marching for rights. Women have started to march again. What do you think the future generations will have to say about what women accomplished now?
I think they will think it’s ridiculous that we were so backwards.
Do you think we have gone too far? America’s modern mother is a bread winner, bacon cooker, house maid, PTA president, soccer mom, 5k runner who also is forward thinking enough to want to be on top when the lights go down. Is this equality?
Equality is when we all can feel comfortable and able to be whoever we are. Men women, black, white, whatever.
If you could have a one minute Superbowl ad to impart your wisdom to the masses of men and women in America, what would you say?
Science is real, you fucking morons. Hmmm, maybe should tone that down a little. (Nah!)
You interact with your readers a lot. Are you ever afraid an overzealous fan will use internet skills to find you and show up at your door?
Eighty-five percent of my readers are exactly who I hoped–super smart, funny and curious. I adore them. The weirdest people were a group of Nazis on Twitter who got all roused/riled up by a piece on pegging I did. They were super furious, yet oddly obsessed. They were like “Are you a Jew? Cause you write like one.” I said “No, but thank you!” and they got even madder.
What’s next for Jill Hamilton? Your own sex toy line? Lingerie? A book? Directing female friendly adult films? Parenting books? Cooking show?
I’m eternally working on a book, though by “working” I mean thinking about it, then playing Words With Friends.