We’ve all gone through, how shall I say, a “dry spell” in the bedroom department. I sure as fuck have —I still am. I’m fairly certain the next time I’m about to get laid my lover is going to tap on my dick twice and ask, “test test—is this thing on?” But lucky for me, that’s how my friendship with author and comedian Olive Persimmon flourished.
When I picked up her first book, Unintentionally Celibate, Olive’s bout of celibacy was at two years, which is dangerously close to the duration I was approaching (except two years of celibacy equates to approximately 67.8 in gay years). Since then, her quest for coitus (which also happens to be the title of her second book), has taken her on a slew of fun, pleasurable, and downright hilarious adventures.
I caught up with my dear friend in the ever-so-chic SoHo House (whose interior looked strikingly similar to Panera Bread because it was Panera Bread—we’re writers, okay?) to talk about about The Quest for Coitus, fun(ny) fetishes, and life since celibacy.
Okay, we have to discuss the breaking news: your what was five-year dry spell has ended. Do you think this will negatively affect Unintentionally Celibate book sales?
I’m hoping [Unintentionally Celibate] will give hope to all of the celibates of the world. Your brand doesn’t have to become you, you know? But having sex again is causing me to rethink the structure of my second book. You can only walk in the desert for so long before you need some water.
And get real thirsty.
Yeah. I mean, I’m not even dehydrated; I’ve just been seeing sex-mirages for like four years, but now I finally got some water and that feels good.
How have you evolved since releasing Unintentionally Celibate as a writer and human with feelings and other things I personally can’t be bothered to deal with?
It’s interesting because I wasn’t planning on writing The Quest for Coitus. It started when I was at a party and someone was talking about sex and they were like, ‘you look so uncomfortable right now.’ And I sort of had this revelation that I haven’t had sex in four-and-a-half years, and I was like, ‘I have a thing about sex. If I want to be in a healthy relationship and have healthy sex, I have to start doing shit differently.’ That’s how the book started; I was just trying to fix my love life.
So this obviously changed the direction you were going in as a writer and as a human with hormones and emotions.
It changed me as a writer because I didn’t want to be unintentionally celibate anymore. It was funny for two years, then it wasn’t really funny for the next two years, and the last half year it was super unfunny. The joke was played out. My dry, unused vagina needed a rebrand.
So what is your second book about?
The Quest for Coitus is about my mission to get my sexy back by exploring dating and sexuality in New York City. That means going to a BDSM class, exploring fetishes, meeting with pick-up artists, going on twenty blind dates, seeing a sex therapist—anything you could think of that’s related to sex or dating, I’m exploring it.
I’m happy to have someone I can talk to about this because I can never gauge the effect of what I do on my love life. So, let’s get into that for a bit.
About a month ago my friend asked me, ‘Do you find that people won’t date you because you’re a writer?’ And I was like, ‘What do you mean?’ And he told me that he wouldn’t date me. He said that he would be afraid that I would air our dirty laundry. And that’s a legitimate concern—I understand that.
And that concern is doubled for people like us because we’re comics too.
Yes, but I think if people know me, they understand that I believe that comedy exists to make the world better. But I would never use comedy to hurt somebody. But I understand the fear that people have about that.
I think that’s the biggest misconception about dating writers/comics; people are scared to date us because they think everything we do is for a story or material, and we’re scared the people we want to get close to think of us that way.
Right. But if I’m gonna be in a relationship with somebody they have to understand this is just what I do; you have to take it or leave it. If somebody were to be like, ‘It’s the book or me,’ I would be like, ‘It’s the book.’
You went on 20 blind dates in 30 days, right?
Yes, they were all set up by friends or people I knew. So I met date number seven, and he was set up through a friend of mine—ironically it was the friend who told me he wouldn’t date me because I’m a writer—and my friend sent him a screenshot of what I wrote I was trying to accomplish. So I show up to the date and we’re both relaxed and halfway through the date he asked me if this was a real date. He thought I was doing this just to have something to write about and he said he would be fine if that were the case. But I said, ‘No, this is a real date. All of these dates are real dates.’ And he ended up telling me this was the best date he’s been on in a long time.
So do you think it’s better to date someone who knows you as a writer and comedian first? That way they know what they’re getting into? Because you’re not here to exploit anyone, or to be malicious or mean.
That’s a great way of putting it. I tell these stories because they’re mine to tell; I’m not going to tell anyone else’s stories because they’re not mine. I do what I do because I’m on this journey for myself and I’m chronicling it. I think it’s important to put all of your cards on the table. People advise me not to bring up sex, my book, and for people to like me for who I am and I’m like, this is who I am. It’s a huge part of my life. I don’t want to bait-and-switch you.
So is date number 7 here to stay?
I mean, it’s too soon to say I fell for him, but one of the moments where I realized this could be something was after we had been on an eleven-hour date and I thanked him for being so supportive of what I do and my book and he told me that he didn’t give a shit about what I wrote because he thought it was awesome that I’m a writer and loves that I do comedy and in that moment I was like okay, let’s have sex.
So has this breaking news changed the direction you’re going in with this second book?
It has and it hasn’t. Well, it’s become more experiential. So now I can put some things into practice. I’ve been trying and exploring different things like tickling and going to BDSM workshops. [Do] you wanna hear how the tickling session went?
The tickling session was with a guy I went on two or three dates with; we’re friends now. And he asked me if I ever wanted to be tickled, he would do a session with me. It’s always called a session, I don’t know why. So I said okay. And he’s a comedian so it makes sense that his fetish is laughter. So he comes over and we go in my room and he takes out a bag of weapons. And tickling weaponry includes a toothbrush, a hairbrush—like they’re seriously called weapons. So I handcuff him because you know sometimes when people get tickled they wanna punch things. So he takes off his shirt and pants, and he’s just there in his boxers and I just started tickling him. So I started at the feet, then moved to his thighs, belly, and he would just start laughing and I would start laughing because it was hilarious.
So how has your perspective on sex, like how you talk and think about it on the whole, changed since Unintentionally Celibate?
This is a huge question because for me, this is what this journey has been all about. I had a lot of preconceived notions about sex and they were really damaging to my sex life—I mean obviously they were because I didn’t have sex for five years. I had a lot of rules around sex. It was like step one, oral sex; step two, and so on. I had a lot of notions about what it meant. It’s just blowing my brain and my vagina open because I’m trying all this stuff I didn’t know existed. Sex isn’t necessarily binary; it doesn’t have to be just good or bad. It’s nuanced and diverse.
Last question: do you think this interview will hinder or enhance our chances at coitus in the not-too-distant, preferably not distant at all, future?
Well, I’m hoping it enhance it because you have a lot of funny fans, so maybe they’ll wanna have sex with me. Or you know what, maybe we could have an orgy.