I recently met with Angelique Renee' Washington, a transplant from Pittsburgh, who came to Charlotte to be closer to friends and family and to start a kink-aware, sex-positive business. I was eager to welcome her and get her perspective on how our fair city measures up in the kink world.
Creative Loafing: First, tell me a bit about your professional background and how you transitioned into your current role. You used to be a mental health professional. Now you are a sexuality educator and coach, correct?
I previously did social work, case management, education in youth services, and adult programs for over 15 years. In those occupational positions, I somehow always ended up dealing with clients' relational and sexual issues to the point I had to apply crisis intervention techniques and attain certifications in numerous areas of abnormal psychology, sexual paraphilia, and addictions. I found a niche in all forms of sexual health, sexuality and sex related relationship alternatives. So, yes, in being a mental health professional I used that platform to build my own services geared towards sexuality education. I currently consider myself a sexuality educator, advocate, and promoter of sex-positive culture.
Describe a few of your typical clients. Do you mainly see men or women? Single or coupled? What are the most common reasons people seek out your services?
Typically, clients seek services with me directly or thru Alternative Living Loving Initiative Systems (Allies). Allies are those who seek to improve, explore and evolve their knowledge and or relationship/s in a sexual realm. I deal with organizations who need a sex education program designed or who need support group facilitation for their staff or their clients. As for individuals, I deal mostly with couples, men and single women of all ethnicities and sexual orientations. People seek services for independent reasons, some more serious than others, i.e., sexual addictions, abuse, cyber obsession, and/or fetishes. Many couples, married or partnered, monogamous or polyamorous, enjoy programs designed to coach them into a healthier sex life - whether it is to explore alternatives to monogamy, like swinging, or simply to increase their pleasure by way of better connection, openness to explore, and readiness to move to the next level of sexual intimacy. My goal is to design a sex coach plan or educational program to suit everyone's need and situation.
And you have a book coming out soon?
Even though Dr. Ruth, and more recently Dr. Donaghue (of TV's "Bad Sex"), have made a lucid representations in sexology, the field itself remains under developed by my colleagues in the psychological and behavioral science spectrums. My purpose is to change this and my book debuting this year is a start. It will focus on the realities of living a sexually alternative lifestyle.
Most counselors, even marriage and family therapists, have very little training in sexual health and satisfaction, let alone training in kink-specific issues. What knowledge and skills do you bring to the table that the average therapist doesn't have?
It is a consensus, in the therapy field, that many have little knowledge, awareness, and training in sexuality, sex relations and most definitely not in kink-specific issues. Most know as much as what can be learned on the internet or by watching a late night adult cable program. And more ineffective is that most are fairly uncomfortable dealing with such issues or concerns of their clients. This is where sex educators like myself and you, Becky, come in. We address issues of organizations and people who need the reality of their sexual concerns and relations dealt with professionally. My background is not only academic, with a BA in psychology and MA in leadership, I also have certification as a Kink Aware Professional [KAP], registered as a KAP, and am a verified Sex Educator.
Part of my training to be a sex educator and coach was to get exposure to as much sexual diversity as possible. I have found now that what shocks other people isn't that shocking to me anymore. Do you find that to be true too?
I learn something new all the time, but since I have been in the kink community, BDSM lifestyle, Polyamorous lifestyle, and LGBTQ community for over 25 years, nothing seems to take me by surprise. Now, what is refreshing to me, is this fabulous resurgence of a more '70s and '80s vibe of free love, liberated sexuality, and advocacy for equal love expression. This is part of a sex-positive culture - raising awareness of anything related to individual sexual desire, need, expression, and relationship - in order to endorse freedom of choice and honest and open communication within relationships.
You're relatively new to Charlotte. What's your impression of the kink-community here? I suspect we are more conservative than northerners?
I am. In the South, it is a much different atmosphere, conservative and much more discreet and less open to the public domain. Meaning - more underground and closeted. Yet, there is a vibrant, cohesive, and long-standing kink community in Charlotte. There are a plethora of activities for those interested in exploring, or for those who want to become proactively involved. I have done seminars for a few organizations in Charlotte, Cary, Highpoint, and Gastonia which I call "How to Find Kink People in the Dark." It is usually a big hit with the locals. I worked with National Diversity Committee [NDC] 2013 at their yearly event at the Convention Center to increase awareness and advocacy of alternative populations in North Carolina. Also, there are many transplants from other cities in Charlotte who seek to continue their modern alternatives in relationships. Many home-towners enjoy alternatives that are more spiritual and holistic with their partners. I give interactive sex-educational workshops on Sensual Tantra Massage and Sacred Sexuality which have proven popular with Charlotteans. We all like sex, so why not kick it up a notch in our relationship? I truly wish to help people make their sex life healthier, more fun, more honest, more open, and a more balanced part of their life.
In addition to your private practice, you also facilitate classes and events. What kind of community are you hoping to foster in Charlotte? How has the response been so far?
I am most happy teaching; classes are my favorite. I have facilitated support groups and educational workshops in the U.S. and internationally. Last summer I taught at a week-long event in Spain, France and Italy aboard a swinger's cruise ship where I taught topics like "How to Spice up Your Swing." A few years ago, I did a program on BDSM in London, which has a huge BDSM population. In Charlotte, where the kink is less in demand, I hope to endorse a sex-positive culture where those who seek services, education, advocacy, networking with like-minded people, and counseling will be feel safe to move forward. Allies hopes to promote an allied kink-friendly community of interlinked systems to support education and professional counseling on all forms of sex, sexuality and relationship needs. Allies also does events in the local area. The response is slow but steady and I am passionate about leading the way to real world solutions to everyday sexual desires.
To find out more about Washington's practice and events:
Click here for information on live meet ups and weekly and monthly events and educational workshops.
href="https://www.facebook.com/kinkypeeps">Click here for the Facebook fan page and here for their Google page.
To contact or see more about her, click here.
Also for those who prefer immediate contact, Kik them for help: Alli_es and to set up an appointment for a free consultation.