2nd Annual AltSex NYC Conference 2017

The second annual AltSex NYC Conference was held on April 28, 2017 at the Jerry Orbach Theater.

8:45 to 9AM — Welcome Address by Michael Aaron, PhD and Dulcinea Pitagora, MA, LMSW

9 to 9:30AM — David Ley, PhD
Click to view PDF of slides: “I Didn’t Know I was (Bi, Into That, …) Until …”
The growing world of alternative sexuality is broadening the understanding of human sexuality, arousal and orientation. Gender and orientation are increasingly recognized as fluid in nature, in many people. Sexual expression and relationships, from swinging to the consumption of porn, incorporate intrinsic elements of what was once called bisexuality, and now is better termed sexually fluid responses. Alternative sexual practices introduce people to a diversity of sexual stimuli and allow them to explore their arousal and response to a wide variety of experiences.

Clinical psychologist in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Author of: Ethical Porn for Dicks, A Man’s Guide to Responsible Viewing Pleasure; The Myth of Sex Addiction; and Insatiable Wives, Women Who Stray and the Men Who Love Them. Frequent guest on media around the world, internationally recognized expert on matters of sexual diversity and behavioral health.

9:30 to 10AM — Wardeh Hattab
Click to view PDF of slides: Redefining a Safe Space for Everyone: Clinical Approaches to Working with Queers of Color and Addressing Inclusion in Alternative Lifestyles
Individuals who belong to alternative lifestyles may face exclusion for a variety of reasons from spaces meant to be safe. Being a queer of color and relying on a cultural community for support often means risking that foundational support which may not accept alternative lifestyles. Socioeconomic status factors largely into working longer hours to maintain a standard of living and having the ability to pay for events to access kink/poly-friendly spaces; additionally, these burdens make it difficult for a poly-identified person to have more than one relationship. Queers of color also must navigate safe spaces with anxieties around being non- consensually fetishized or desexualized based on identified race or ethnicity. This presentation will focus on clinicians utilizing multidimensional frameworks with queers of color within the kink-poly community.

Wardeh Hattab is a licensed clinical social worker in a hospital setting. She also has a private practice working with individuals, couples, families, and multi-person relationships. She specializes in working with queer persons of color, immigrants experiencing bicultural issues, and individuals identified with kink and alternative lifestyles. She is a member of Tarab NYC, an LGBT organization for queer Middle Eastern and North African persons.


10:40 to 11:10AM — Galen Fous
Click to view PDF of slides: Erotic Myths, Archetypes, and Symbols: The Dynamic Psychological Forces of Fetishsexual Identity

I define a Fetishsexual as a person driven to orgasm or other deep erotic state through innate, inherent sexually charged enactments of internalized archetypal, symbolic, mythic storylines. I believe it qualifies according to APA definitions as a sexual identity. Fetishsexual desires often fall within a broad range of eroticized psychological, emotional and physical power-exchange dynamics enacted through archetypal sexual personas as either dominant, submissive, sadist, masochist, and a pantheon of sub-categories of each. A Fetishsexual has what I define as a Personal Erotic Myth (PEM) that is engaged from within the unconscious, when they become sexually aroused.

For nearly two decades, Galen has helped hundreds of individuals to be honest and empowered in their sexual expression, and resolve the decades of fear, shame and judgments that held their authentic desire back. He has been interviewed in numerous media such as Playboy radio for his innovative views on conscious sexuality and the archetypal, mythic nature of Fetishsexuality. He has a Masters in Transpersonal Psychology from ITP. Galen is the author of the highly acclaimed book, Decoding Your Kink – Guide to Explore, Share and Enjoy Your Wildest Sexual Desires.

11:10 to 11:20AM — Michael Aaron and Dulcinea Pitagora
Click to view PDF of slides: Research Update: BDSM as Harm Reduction

The field of psychotherapy is moving away from a more authoritarian top-down lens to a more humanistic, harm reduction approach. To further along this body of work, Michael Aaron, Dulcinea Pitagora, and Markie Twist have initiated research to better understand the motivations and subjective experiences of individuals that engage in sexual behaviors that have historically been marginalized and pathologized. Aaron and Pitagora will present preliminary findings from the study, which is currently in final stages of data analysis.

Dr. Michael Aaron is an AltSex NYC Conference co-organizer, and a nationally certified sex therapist and clinical sexologist, with expertise and experience working with a wide range of sexual and relationship issues. Dr. Aaron specializes in working with sexual minorities, alternative/kink/polyamory lifestyles, sex workers, discordant desire and infidelity in couples, sexual dysfunction and anxiety, gender and orientation confusion, and sexual compulsivity. Dr. Aaron holds a PhD in Clinical Sexology from the American Academy of Clinical Sexologists; is certified as a Sex Therapist by the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT); and is a Diplomate of the American Board of Sexology.

Dulcinea Pitagora is an AltSex NYC Conference co-organizer; licensed therapist; and the founder of ManhattanAlternative.com. Pitagora holds a Master of Arts in Psychology from the New School for Social Research, a Master of Social Work from New York University, and a Master of Education in Human Sexuality from Widener University, and is pursuing a Ph.D. in Human Sexuality at Widener University. Pitagora has a practice in NYC working with individuals, couples, and multi-partner relationships. Pitagora’s practice is collaborative, person-centered, and strengths-based, and focuses on self-determination and empowerment. Pitagora has published articles in peer-reviewed journals and presented at conferences on the topics of alternative sexuality and gender diversity. Pitagora also conducts research, lectures, and seminars pertaining to these communities.

11:30 to 12PM — Dylan Selterman
Click to view PDF of slides: Moral Psychology and Monogamy

An overview of research on monogamy (including studies on consensual non-monogamy), that bridges this line of research with burgeoning theories in moral psychology. My aim is to help understand how and why people gravitate toward/away from monogamy based on a diverse array of moral concerns and other personality traits.

Dylan Selterman received his B.A. in Psychological and Brain Sciences from Johns Hopkins University in 2006 and his Ph.D. in Social/Health Psychology from Stony Brook University in 2011. He is a social psychologist by training, with background in developmental psychology as well. Dr. Selterman runs the DREAM Lab at Maryland, with research interests including romantic attraction/dating, emotions (e.g., jealousy), attachment in interpersonal relationships, patterns of dreaming, sexual behavior, and morality/ethics. Dr. Selterman has published original research in Social Psychological and Personality Science, the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, Attachment and Human Development, Motivation and Emotion, and Dreaming.

12 to 12:30PM — Brooke Wells
Click to view PDF of slides: Characteristics of US Sex Parties and Sex Party Attendees

Sex party attendees may possess particular health risk and resilience factors, such as increased condom negotiation skills and sexual assertiveness (Conley, Moors, Ziegler, & Karathanasis, 2012), high levels of sexual risk behavior and substance use (Friedman et al., 2008), and social stigma (Conley, Moors, Matsick, & Ziegler, 2013). However, very little research addresses attendees of marketed private or commercial sex parties, which represent specific subcultural communities with norms and practices that likely influence health behavior and outcomes. As such, we conducted an anonymous online survey wherein we enrolled 1,389 participants via recruitment on social and sexual media, at sex parties, and on sexual networking websites. In this presentation, I will detail (1) the demographic and psychosocial characteristics of the sample, including various identities and the role of identity in behavior and sex party participation; (2) characteristics of play parties; and (3) respondents’ health behaviors (sexual behavior and substance use).

I hold a PhD in social psychology from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and I am currently a professor of human sexuality and the PhD Program Director at Widener University, where I teach research courses, supervise dissertations, mentor emerging sexuality professionals, and collaborate with other faculty and students to conduct research. Broadly, my research focuses on cultural changes in sexual attitudes and behaviors over time, sexual minority health and communities, HIV prevention work, particularly the potential applications of expressive writing, and the associations between substance use and sexual behavior.

1:50 to 2:50PM — Laura Jacobs
Click to view PDF of slides: Hormones and Handcuffs: The Intersection of Transgender Identities and Alternate Lifestyles

Transgender and gender nonconforming people have nontraditional relationships with their bodies. Anecdotal evidence suggests percentages of transgender and gender nonconforming people involved in ‘alternate lifestyles’ of BDSM and nonmonogamy are significantly higher than in cisgender populations. Why? And how do we as providers assist our clients engaged in these lifestyles? This lecture examines the intersection between transgender identities and sexuality with a focus on nontraditional expressions of sexuality and relationships as well as how involvement in these lifestyles impacts a person’s exploration of self. This workshop is intended to help providers develop cultural competency and improve their ability to assist clients.

Laura A. Jacobs, LCSW-R is the chair of the Board of Directors for the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, as well as a Trans and GenderQueer-identified psychotherapist, activist, writer, and public speaker in the New York City area working with transgender and gender-nonconforming, LGBTQ+, and alternate lifestyle communities of BDSM, nonmonogamy, and sexwork. She has been featured in television, radio, and print media, has presented at countless community and healthcare conferences, professional organizations, medical schools, and other organizations. As Lawrence Jacobs, she worked as a musician, composer, photographer, and less glamorous positions such as corporate middle management.

3 to 3:30PM — Miki Mosman
Click to view PDF of slides: Sex Worker Identities: Voices from the Community

While there is ample academic literature on sex workers, and there are frequent reports on sex workers in the popular media, it is much more rare to hear about sex workers’ experiences through their own words. This presentation’s focus is on amplifying the diverse voices of sex workers in order to gain a greater understanding of their identities, their strengths, and the type of support that they might need. Through a discussion of the data collected from semi-structured interviews with current, former, and considering sex workers, we will learn how doing or thinking of doing sex work has formed, shaped, or defined their identities. We will hear from the voices of sex workers about the different ways that sex work has influenced their identity development personally and professionally, as well as sexually and relationally. We will also learn about the different experiences of individuals who identify as sex workers, and those who engage in sex work as a means of survival.

Miki Mosman is an artist and documentary filmmaker who has dedicated her artistic life to topics and issues surrounding expressions of sex and sexuality within our society.

This qualitative study explores the motives of students who engage in sex work and how they perceive their ability to coordinate academic responsibilities and their work. The research seeks to evaluate whether stigmatization is a concern described by student sex workers. Furthermore, the projects wants to offer participants a space to describe positive and negative aspects of their involvement within the sex business.

Ute Anderson is an MSW graduate student and porn star. She has been working in the adult business for 15 years and has appeared in nearly 1000 adult movies. She graduated with her BA in psychology summa cum laude in 2014. Currently, she is pursuing her masters in social work at California State University, Northridge. Alex Petro is an MSW graduate student at California State University, Northridge. Petro earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology; his educational focus has been centered on the behavioral aspects of trauma and has conducted research on behavioral neuropsychology. Petro is currently conducting research with student sex workers.

4 to 4:10PM — Dulcinea Pitagora and Michael Aaron
Working with Sex Workers—Clinical Application
Aaron and Pitagora draw from their respective clinical work with clients who identified as sex workers to illustrate some of the issues that arise in therapy, and clinical approaches to working with them. Pitagora discusses the potential for countertransference, in terms of over- and under-identification in working with sex workers, and approaches for therapists experiencing countertransference.

This presentation provides an overview of contemporary human vampirism and its relevance for clinicians and helping professionals. Specifically, various self-selected vampire identities are discussed with a focus on how such identities sometimes intersect with various sexual motivations and practices. The presentation draws from current quantitative and qualitative research that explores demographics associated with self- identified vampirism and clinical and therapeutic alliance issues pertaining to clients with these alternative identities. The importance of clinician openness combined with accurate risk assessment is also addressed.

D J Williams is the Director of Research for the Center for Positive Sexuality and a social scientist at Idaho State University. He completed doctoral and postdoctoral studies at the University of Alberta (Canada), and his scholarship intersects sexology, leisure science, social work and critical criminology. D J is a founding co- editor of the Journal of Positive Sexuality, and a leading expert on deviance as leisure. His research has been published in several academic books and journals, including Social Work, Critical Social Work, Leisure Sciences, International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, Critical Criminology, Sexualities, and the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

4:50 to 5:20PM — Courtney Plante
Click to view PDF of slides: Dispelling Stigmatizing Misconceptions about Sexuality in the Furry Fandom

When it comes to sexuality, there are few groups who are as frequently misrepresented and stigmatized in popular media as furries. Television shows, websites, and news reports routinely reduce or trivialize the complex and multi-faceted nature of furry identity to a fetishistic interest in fursuit sex. A decade of research on more than 20,000 furries worldwide has found no evidence to substantiate these misconceptions and, in fact, strongly suggests that furry is not a fetish at all. Instead, it is best conceptualized as a diverse and inclusive fan community that includes far greater proportions of genderqueer and non-heterosexual members than is found in the general population. Rather than a sexual identity itself, the furry fandom is an inclusive space for all identities and orientations who share a common interest in media that feature anthropomorphic animal characters.

Dr. Courtney “Nuka” Plante is the co-founder and lead analyst of the International Anthropomorphic Research Project (IARP) – a team of social scientists who study identity development, stigma, and inter-group / inter- species dynamics in the furry fandom. His research has been funded by the Canadian Government, published in peer-reviewed psychological, social work, and fandom journals, and has been featured on television shows such as National Geographic’s “Taboo”. A recent graduate from the University of Waterloo, Dr. Plante is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Iowa State University.

5:30 to 6PM — Panel Discussion & Final Words

The closing panel Q&A discussion, featuring all speakers.

The post-conference networking happy hour mixer was held at Latitude Bar & Grill, 783 8th Avenue, NYC.

The 2nd Annual AltSex NYC Conference was produced by
Michael Aaron, PhD and Dulcinea Pitagora, MA, LMSW, MEd.

Save the date for the 3rd Annual AltSex NYC Conference: Friday, April 27, 2018!

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