BostonTalks: Sex and Our City

THU, FEB 23, 2017 (55:24)

We’re looking at Boston’s sexual history and how it has — or has not — shaped the city we know today. Writer and dance scholar Jessica Berson sheds light on the business and history of erotic performance. Independent scholar Lori Stokes shares how the Puritans might not have been so pure after all. Professor and author Stephanie Schorow takes us back in time to downtown Boston’s adult entertainment district known as the Combat Zone. And Stephanie Berman, inventor of the Semenette, explains how she is making history by revolutionizing the way babies are made. Photo: By Sailko (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

+ BIO: Lori Stokes

Lori Stokes received her Ph.D. from Stony Brook University. She studies the founding decades of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, focusing on the period from 1630-80 when the forms of church and state were put in place that would shape Massachusetts and American history for centuries to come. Dr. Stokes is an editor for New England’s Hidden Histories, a digital history project of the Congregational Library & Archives in Boston led by Dr. James F. Cooper and dedicated to transcribing and studying newly discovered 17th-19th-century New England church records.

+ BIO: Jessica Berson

Jessica Berson teaches Dance Studies at Yale University, and recently won a Fulbright Award to study dance and disability in London. She is the author of The Naked Result: How Exotic Dance Became Big Business (Oxford University Press, 2016), which Annie Sprinkle gave her “highest rating—two tassels way up!” In addition to academic articles on popular and erotic performance, Jessica has written for Salon, Bustle, and Thrillist. Jessica holds a PhD in Theater and Drama from University of Wisconsin-Madison, and is a Certified Movement Analyst.

+ BIO: Stephanie Schorow

Stephanie Schorow is a long-time Boston-area reporter and writer. She worked 12 years for the Boston Herald as a writer and editor and for three years as a Boston Globe freelancer. Her articles have appeared in the Boston Globe magazine, the Harvard Gazette, MIT’s Tech Talk, Bark magazine and other publications. She also writes and takes photographs for travel features.

+ BIO: Stephanie Berman

Stephanie Berman has been in the women’s reproductive health industry since 2003. As co-owner and Vice President of her family business, Sepal Reproductive International, as well as CEO of Berman Innovations, Berman has extensive knowledge and understanding of the women’s reproductive health market. As a woman-owned and operated LGBTQ-friendly company with a business model focused on form and function, an expert team of women drives the design, development, and creation of Berman Innovations’ product line, including its flagship product, The Semenette®, and its award-winning second iteration, POPDildo™. The Semenette® ( and POPDildo™ ( are novelty intimacy products, allowing partners to re-create the ejaculation process in the privacy of their own home, through its proprietary inner tubing and pump system – something that sets it apart from both traditional dildos and “party”-style ejaculating toys. With The Semenette® firmly focused on family planning, POPDildo™ has quickly found an additional fan base in people excited by not only its potential as an IVF alternative, but also for play, who recognize the technology sets it apart from both traditional dildos and “party”-style ejaculating toys. POPDildo™ has since skyrocketed to the top of the “wish list” for a wide variety of adult-play community members, including pegging enthusiasts, kinksters, and fetishists. Berman herself is the first of many success stories for The Semenette®: she and her wife have successfully used the product to conceive both their daughter and son, with many other couples experiencing the same level of success. The product experienced its first viral wave soon after its launch in early 2015, and global media attention has not waned about the company’s innovative approach to at-home conception for the LGBT, FTM / trans, disabled, and serodiscordant communities. Recipient of’s Editor’s Choice Lightning Bolt Award for Emerging Technology, a 2016 NightMoves Award for Pleasure Product of the Year, and a 2017 AVN Award for Best Pleasure Products Manufacturer, Berman’s company has also received industry nominations for Couples Sex Toy of the Year, Specialty Pleasure Product of the Year, and New Product of the Year. Both The Semenette® and POPDildo™ are made of premium medical-grade silicone, and are non-toxic and phthalate-free. Berman Innovations understands both the adult industry and the family-planning markets, tailoring products with features clients want and need. Berman Innovations has licensed, authorized distributors globally, which guarantee efficient, accurate, rapid delivery, so retailers always have available stock. Berman Innovations provides pleasure with outstanding customer service and products.

Romance, Sex, and the Brain
Recommended Lectures

3.19.2015 (1:02:24)

BostonTalks: Rise of the Podcast

2.19.2015 (47:23)

BostonTalks: Fitness 2.0

4.15.2015 (49:47)

BostonTalks: Numbers