Finding the Doorbell


Author Q&A

Why did you write this book?

The show, Finding the Doorbell, resonates with a broad audience because it touches on universal cord. The reactions to the show reinforce the idea that people of all ages have questions to which they assume everyone else has the answers. Men and women, old and young, want information about sex, but they don't feel comfortable bringing it up or seeking the many available sources. Humor, when it doesn't put people on the spot in any way, gives people a chance to see their own lives more objectively and ultimately feel more normal. Initially, we hoped to provide sort of a Cliff's Notes for Sex to college-aged men, but when we realized that their questions were remarkably similar to the questions we heard from friends our own age, we decided to aim our book straight to the realm we know best — heterosexual hopeful monogamists.

Who needs this book?

This book can offer valuable insights to newbies, heading in to relationship territory, to couples who are very much in love yet still struggle to keep sex a vital part of their relationship, to couples whose relationships have struggled from negotiating the prickly territory of sex and to couples who want to pre-empt a sex slump. People in mutually satisfying sexual relationships who have no problem communicating with their partners about their sexual needs and getting those needs met, do not need this book. Those people are few and far between, but even they might still get a good laugh out of it. Certain sections of the book may be helpful to a broader audience, but as a whole, monogamous, heterosexual couples will benefit most from this book.

How is this different than other sex books?

We put the responsibility for sexual satisfaction on both partners with a focus on honest communication. Humor can comfortably bridge what can be awkward territory. We give license to people to view themselves and their sex lives through a comic lens. The quotes and ideas throughout the book represent unvarnished perspectives of men and women. Our aim is to help couples understand how other people work through and perceive common sexual issues in relationships. We believe that if sexual satisfaction is the goal, then men and women must first realize that they are on the same team. We are rooting for men as much as women; men will feel equally as vindicated and relieved as women when reading this book.

What do you mean by "Better Sex for the People"?

We believe all people deserve the opportunity to have a fulfilling sex life. Once they are willing to let their guard down, it takes ongoing work, but it is not as complicated as it seems. When a couple's communication stops or wanes, regaining the balance that fosters an open, healthy sex life can seem insurmountable. People often think that living with this imbalance is their unique problem. Pride, fear and feelings of inadequacy lead people to move along without addressing issues that are key to the health of their relationship. People underestimate the power of "the village." Valuable perspective is available to those who open themselves to trusted advisors and good resources. Humor can be the can opener.

Is it difficult to get people to openly talk about sex?

We were continually astounded at how much people want to talk about their sex lives. Not in a raunchy or self-aggrandizing way, but as a pressure release valve. They sort of test the waters with a benign comment but then when you pick up on it with sincere interest and some level of validation for that they are feeling, people jump right in with the details. A lot of that willingness seems to come from a place of wanting to be heard, wanting to feel part of a community and wanting to spare other from they believe to be their own private torture. Common ground is always comforting in some way.

How are your attitudes towards sex different? How did this become a common ground for you two to the point that you decided to write a book about it together?

Edie: We are the perfect combo because our communication skills about sex are so different. I come from the Don't Ask/ Don't Tell line of sexual expression, which is totally ineffective and ultimately leads to a lot of frustration. I got extremely lucky and married a willing communicator who welcomes the opportunity to recognize and unwind the inevitable relationship snarls. Left to my own devices I would stew in the same predicament of a lot of women who I see suffering in unfulfilling relationships. I never would have written a book about sex unless I had known Cindy, and she might not have known how much help people needed communicating about sex unless she knew me. What we do share is an attitude that is pro-women and pro-men, and the ability to be approachable by both.

Cindy: My dad was an impressive Puritan when it came to sex chatter, but my siblings' openness skewed my perspective in a good way. Edie constantly reminds me that I am lucky I have a co-author because I lose touch with how most people don't communicate about sex. The first time I told my stories publicly, it became clear that many people enjoy sitting in a dark audience listening to me (or anyone else for that matter) share my uncanny magnetism for bodily incidents and mishaps. Edie keeps me laughing with stories she only shares with small groups in undisclosed locations. Sometimes my director and I call Edie in the middle of rehearsal to get help with a section of my script that needs to be more clear and funny. She is never fazed even if she is in the thick of a project with her kids or hosting a dinner party. She launches right into the perfect solution. For a woman who once cringed talking about all matters sexual, she steps up without hesitation these days. While writing this book, we wouldn't have time to work on weekends when I was hosting inn guests. We would meet back on Monday to write, and she would have pages of notes on people she interviewed at events, parties or on errands. I was most struck by a long list of quotes from a group of men she cornered at a party who told her all their thoughts on oral sex. That is progress!!

Can you think of one moment that best captures the extent to which your research stretched you beyond your realm?

Edie: In the beginning, just having Guide to Getting It On next to my computer gave me hives. Within weeks, I was unfazed when the rabbit sex toy popped up on my screen in a crowded public space. Of course, talking turkey with (and getting scolded on the proper pronunciation of "clitoris" by) Betty Dodson was right up there. More subtly, I found myself able to talk about sex with an ease that surprised me, and having that ability to communicate immediately paid off. That happened with my husband but also with friends. It deepened the quality of my friendships, and not only within the realm of sex. I have always been someone that people feel comfortable talking to, but I felt the curtain totally drop.

Cindy: Betty Dodson was the first person to make me feel repressed about sex and limited in my views on monogamy but did so in a genuinely respectful and supportive way.

What you surprised you most in writing this book?

Edie: I was, and continue to be, astounded by how much people will share when asked directly, as well as by how much they keep inside when not asked. Really, most people are just so relieved to find out they are within the normal range, and that they are not freaks. Along the way, when people found out I was writing a book about sex, they immediately perked up, and either volunteered information about themselves or were eager to hear what I had learned about the general population. Also, I never imagined giving the book as teachers gifts - in fact, I would have thought that entirely inappropriate - but it turned out they were a big hit.

Cindy: While researching female ejaculation/squirting, it became apparent that there was a lot of conflicting information out there. Considering the low number of women who report or even experience squirting and the sensationalized aspects of it created by porn, it is understandable that it is not a focus in the traditional medical world. However, the lack of accurate and consistent information among the medical research and from interviews with doctors was surprising. Clearly, the prevention of cancer and treatment of sexual dysfunction are the priorities. Almost all the women we interviewed made it clear that they didn't bring up sexual questions or issues with their gynecologists or midwives.

In the realm of sexologists and counselors who conduct female sexuality workshops, the capacity of female orgasms including female ejaculation is frequently reported and discussed. While the conventional medical world may turn their noses up at workshops led by a pelvic priestesses or blood witches, they would broaden their knowledge by hearing about the experiences had by many women in those workshops. I believe that the merging of the wholistic health approach and conventional medicine would increase the potential for sexual health.