Heroes of The Sexual Revolution

Posted on in On Our Radar by Chas August


In honor of Common Ground’s 40th anniversary, here is a brief list of some of the Bay Area’s heroes of the past 40 years. I am a relationship and intimacy coach, as well as a sex, love, and intimacy workshop leader, so my heroes are the brave men and women who risked everything to bring sex out of the closet, out of the gutter, out of the darkness, and into the light.

I think of these men and women as the heroes of the revolution. I’m talking about the socalled sexual revolution that the media talked about in the 1960s. You see, we “won“ the sexual revolution—sex norms actually changed, and there was a dramatic shift in values related to sex and sexuality. Sex became more socially acceptable, both inside and outside the strict boundaries of heterosexual marriage.

We won the war, but we lost the aftermath. By the mid-1970s we all knew we were supposed to have somehow shaken off the narrow attitudes and roles of the 1950s, but most of us had no tools or training for this brave new sexually awakened world. Thank goodness it all began to change, right around the time this magazine was first published. Teachers, coaches, workshops, and trainings started showing up to help lead all of us out of the chaos and into fulfilling, shame-free sexuality and relationships.

The Bay Area has been particularly blessed with a rich and varied collection of teachers and coaches working in and around human sexuality. A few that come readily to mind are Lori Grace and her Celebrations of Love relationship skills training center; clinical sexologist and psychosexual expert Claudia Six; Reichian therapist Michele Newmark and her Center for Healing and Expression; Nicole Daedone and her Orgasmic Meditation teaching at One Taste/SF; all the resident and visiting teachers, workshop leaders, and therapists at Harbin Hot Springs clothing-optional spa, retreat, and workshop center; Steve and Lokita Carter and their EcstaticLiving Institute and Tantra trainings and classes; alternative healer and “channel” Evalina Rose; Celeste and Danielle, creators of the Somatica Method of Sex Therapy and Relationship Coaching; Dossie Easton and her groundbreaking book The Ethical Slut; sex-positive feminist Susie Bright; and sex columnist Isadora Alman (“Ask Isadora”).

Let me introduce you to a cross-section of my personal Bay Area heroes—teachers and leaders who made a real and lasting difference for everyone reading this.

Maggi Rubenstein

Maggi Rubenstein has been called San Francisco’s “godmother of sex ed.” In 1972 she began working at the National Sex Forum at Glide Memorial Church, offering workshops and courses about everyday human sexuality—masturbation, pornography, men’s sexuality, women’s sexuality, sex and disability, and much more. In 1976 these trainings became the basis for an accredited program that became the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality. In 1973 she also cofounded the Bisexual Center and the San Francisco Sex Information Hotline (SFSI). Graduates of the SFSI training program include Isadora Alman, Susie Bright, Patrick Califia, Carol Queen, Midori, and Violet Blue. The organization answers about 3,000 phone calls and about twice as many emails every year.


Starhawk is a writer of both fiction and nonfiction—The Spiral Dance, The Fifth Sacred Thing—that explores and celebrates what she calls feminist neo-paganism, ecofeminism, and the use and abuse of power. She believes our patriarchal society has confused eroticism with violence and domination, and she passionately advocates sexuality as “sacred because through it we make a connection with another self—but it is misused and perverted when it becomes an arena of ‘power over,’ a means of treating another—or oneself—as an object.”

Marty Klein

Dr. Marty Klein is a licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist as well as an author, speaker, and advocate for understanding and accepting sexuality. His self-stated goal is to tell the truth about sexuality, helping people feel sexually adequate and powerful, and supporting the healthy sexual expression and exploration of women and men. In his own words, “I’ve continually called attention to the social and political conditions that keep so many of us feeling guilty, confused, scared, and hopeless about our sexual feelings, experiences, and relationships.”

Joanie Blank

Joanie Blank is a writer, publisher, sex therapist, and family-planning counselor. In 1975 she wrote and published her first book, The Playbook for Women About Sex. Leading support groups for women who wanted help to be orgasmic, or more orgasmic, Joanie often suggested trying sex toys, including vibrators. Sadly, the only places such things could be purchased were through mail order or at local adult bookstores. The mail order info was mostly found only in men’s sex magazines, and the local stores did not feel safe or inviting to most women.

In 1977 Joanie opened Good Vibrations, the first women-oriented sex toy shop in the Bay Area (and only the second such shop in the country). Good Vibrations offered sex information and education, featured erotica and books about sexual health and pleasure, and pioneered the concept of, in Joanie’s words, “a sex-positive, clean, well-lighted place” to buy sex toys.

“Del” Martin

The late “Del” Martin was the first openly gay woman to be appointed to the SF Commission on the Status of Women (SFCOSW) by then mayor George Moscone in 1977. Martin joined forces with other minority SFCOSW commissioners, such as Kathleen Hardiman Arnold and Ella Hill Hutch, to focus on the nexus of gay women’s rights and racial and ethnic discrimination. Martin was ahead of her time in understanding the cultural aspects of gay health.

Sandy “Mama” Reinhardt

Mama is a leader in the leather, BDSM, and LGBT communities and is very active in the fundraising arena for her annual Breast Cancer Dinners; LeatherWalk (for the AIDS Emergency Fund and the Breast Cancer Emergency Fund), which kicks off Leather Pride Week leading up to the Folsom Street Fair; and Toy Drive for Camp Sunburst, a program for children and families living with HIV/AIDS. She has devoted her life to helping others by networking and organizing community activists for short-term and ongoing campaigns.

Joseph Kramer

Joseph Kramer, PhD, is one of the foremost teachers of erotic massage in the world. In 1984 he founded the Body Electric School in Oakland, where he trained thousands of professional massage therapists, erotic body workers, and educators. The Body Electric is the world’s largest community network offering safe sex education today—and for the last 25 years. Body Electric is committed to expanding people’s understanding of the role that sexuality can play in their personal and spiritual lives.

Joseph has also created and distributed one of the finest collections of videos about our bodies and our sexuality. Videos like Fire on the Mountain and Fire in the Valley offer shame-free, easy-to-understand instructions for genital massage and play that have delighted, educated, and transformed thousands of adults’ sex lives (including my own).

Stan Dale

No list of my heroes could be complete without including my friend and mentor, the late Dr. Stan Dale. In 1972, after being pushed out of his psychotherapeutic call-in radio show in Chicago after 19 years for being too supportive of the anti-war movement, Stan moved to Santa Rosa and restarted his show. And he began looking for a home for the “Stan Dale Sex Workshops,” which later became the Human Awareness Institute.

Stan was the only person I’ve known well who truly loved everyone. He believed and taught that everything we humans do could be seen as acts of love or cries for love. Stan liked to say that “every second we get a second chance” to move toward love and loving connections. His workshops were, and are (they’re still going strong seven years after his passing), powerful, heart-opening experiences that are juicy and fun, risky and completely safe, shameless and innocent.

So, let’s raise a glass and offer a toast to our Bay Area sex heroes. These past 40 years they’ve helped make all of us more tolerant, more loving, more sexually liberated, more educated, more alive, and spicier than we might otherwise have been. And a toast to Common Ground and 40 years of promoting workshops and events that transform us all.

Chas August is a workshop leader, hypnotherapist, and marketing director for Human Awareness Institute Global (HAI.org). He is also a Life, Relationship & Intimacy Coach, and his offerings include the Healing Anger Workshop, Techniques for Listening, Conflict Transformation, and Couples Communication. ChasAugust.com

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