Interview with Sex-Posi Queen, Jenni Holdsworth
Jenni Holdsworth is South Africa’s OG sex-positive shero. Well before Instagram was even a thing, Jenni was leading a sexual revolution in the heart of conservative South Africa with her store, Bella Rouge. Her second book, Nothing But The Butt was released last month, and I couldn’t not interview her about it and all her other current and upcoming projects. Here we are, talking sex, stigma, and B-U-T-T-S-!!!
I had the pleasure of chatting to you on the phone recently, and you mentioned you had been in the industry for over a decade. Could you chart your time for me? Where did you start? How did Bella Rouge come about?
When I started in the industry, I was working for someone else. My best friend organised me the job, because she knows me super-well and knew it would be a fabulous fit! After a couple of years of basically running someone else’s business for them, I thought f#!k this! I can do this for myself, and so I started Bella Rouge. That was in February 2010. I started with a shop on William Nicol Dr in Fourways. That store started doing well straight away and I soon opened two other stores in Pretoria and in Durban. Unfortunately both those stores didn’t take off like the Fourways store did, and after a year or two, I closed the doors to them. My focus was primarily on the Fourways store from then on.
About 4 years ago, I moved from Jozi to Cape Town and in March this year, I sold the Fourways store. In November 2017, I overhauled my website, and it took off completely, so I decided I didn’t need the shlep of going to Jozi every month and my focus is solely on my website now.
How have South Africans changed the way they think about sex and sex toys in the time you've been in the industry?
South African views were extremely conservative when I first entered the industry, and this definitely contributed to the failure of my Pretoria and Durban stores. However, I like to think of myself as one of the pioneers in the industry that has helped to break down the taboos and negative outlooks that were rife throughout the country. Through regular article contributions to leading women’s magazines, helping clients on a 101 basis and approaching sex and sexuality without shame or guilt, has helped set the example that a lot of modern women are now following.
How do you personally go about dealing with stigma around sex - whether it be from friends, family, or the public?
I am completely open with everyone I know about what I do for a living. I like to talk about sex in a light-hearted, fun way that helps people to relax and move past the initial awkwardness. By approaching the subject in a shame and guilt-free manner, it allows others to approach it in the same way.
You recently launched Nothing But The Butt, a daring and in-depth guide to anal sex and anal pleasure. But this isn't your first book. Could you tell us more about your previous work on orgasms? Where can we grab it?
Sure, it’s called The Basics Of The Big O and is a Beginner’s Guide to Orgasms. There is SOO much to say about orgasms, that this will be the first in a series on books. Here it is.
It feels like the butt is very in vogue right now. Everywhere I go on the internet, I see memes about eating ass. It's the best. How do you account for this trend? How do trends in our collective sexual experience rise through pop culture? Which trends have you seen come and go? What do you wish would be the next big thing in sex? What trend do you hope never comes back?
There has definitely been a lot more focus on the butt in pop culture, from Beyonce twerking to the Kardashian’s voluptuous butts. Anal sex is spoken about a lot in sitcoms and shows – even if it’s in a joking manner, all of this still helps to break down the taboos around it and encourages people to give it a try. We recently saw this trend with BDSM and the release of Fifty Shades of Grey. There were loads of people that started to try it out and some actually finally had the courage to embrace the kinky sides of their natures. I am always open to any sexual trend that happens, so in my view, keep all coming and coming back.
In Nothing But The Butt and elsewhere on Bella Rouge, you've written quite a bit on pegging. I liked your advice on how to approach pegging as a beginner. Do you mind sharing it here?
My advice on pegging is actually the same for anything new you want to try in the bedroom, be it sex toys, BDSM or anal sex. And that is communication. I believe it is the single most important thing in a relationship and the key to a happy, fulfilled sex life.
Most importantly, where can we get Nothing But The Butt?!
Nothing But The Butt has launched to Bella Rouge customers only. You can get a copy by becoming a customer. Just log onto our web page, wait for the pop up, enter your details and you’ll be sent a mail with a link to the book.