Here's what happens when you go on a Ravishly business trip: you end up in the middle of a plus size sex shop with your Editor in Chief. You talk about bodies and lingerie and vaginal orgasms. You meet Chrystal Bougon, owner of Curvy Girl Lingerie. You ask her for an interview and she says yes. It's a conversation you'll never forget.
How did you get to be so sex-positive? How did you become interested in sexuality, and how did you become so unapologetic about it?
Well, I have a couple of theories. First of all, I come from a long line of lusty women. My grandmother was married eight times; she was kind of a little spitfire. She was a waitress, and she was in the carnival, back in the '20s and '30s. She just liked to get down. I don't know, all the women in my family are just lusty and curvy. I was really brought up to believe there's no shame in your body, no shame in nudity, no shame in sex, no shame in pleasure. So besides the talking about sex, like how not to get pregnant, and how not to get an STD, my parents also talked about pleasure, and how you should be receiving pleasure also, not just your partner. It was just part of the way we talked growing up.
Your family sounds so cool!
We're that kind of family that talks about things to death. Instead of some families that don't talk about anything at all, we're the opposite. We kind of scare some people. But that's just the culture I was raised in. I grew up in Las Vegas, which is a weird place to be born and grow up. There's a lot of sex there, and it was always all around me. I was never taught to be ashamed of it. I guess that's how I became unapologetic.
So how did you learn how to work with women who have to deprogram a lot of shame around sexuality and around their body?
I think people feel like I'm really approachable. I'm just kind of like no-nonsense. You can ask me any question — it doesn't stun me. People find that approachable, and they sometimes ask some pretty intense questions. They tell me their deepest, darkest secrets. When you talk to somebody and there's absolutely no judgment, you feel so much more open to sharing those weird things that you do in your bedroom with those kinds of people. I think it just might be my nature.
My boyfriend was like, "Why do these random strangers tell you all this stuff?" I'm like: "I don't know." Even people that don't know what I do tell me things. I just happen to be one of those people. I guess I'm like everyone's favorite auntie. I have a kind of maybe more maternal nature. They're telling me their wild, wild stuff and I'm like "Oh. OK! Let's break this down!"
People are always looking for maternal figures like that, even with regards to their sex lives.
I'm actually a little conservative. People think that's nonsense, since I sell butt plugs and sex things. Like with my niece [who works in the shop] I would be so "conservative." I used to go to crazy when she was a teenager: "What's going on here? I don't understand." I was a virgin until I was 19, and then I was with the same partner for 20 years. So I like a lot of sex — like a lot. But I don't necessarily like a lot of partners. I'm not that crazy about the hookup culture, I don't think it's very healthy. I do worry about all the access to porn that young people have, and worry like: "What are they going to have to be interested when they're old? Because if you've already seen everything under the stars by the time you're 25, what are you going to do when you're 60, and trying to have an interesting love life? You've already seen it, done it, whatever." It worries me a little bit.
Do you have a lot of women come in with kind of a slanted view of sex because porn is so easily accessed now?
Mostly I hear from them about their male partners. Like, you and I, we're just regular girls, you know? We're just regular people. Porn stars really are the gold medal athletes of sex. They're conditioned, like they can do all kinds of things that most of us can't do on a regular basis, maybe like on a really good day, like a super-turned-on day, we could do more of the deep throating or deep anal sex. The average woman is not prepared to do all, just at any given moment. But I think a lot of — especially men under 35 — they're so used to seeing all that really hardcore porn that they think, "Why can't my partner just do this?" It's because we're not in training to do all this deep throating and all this other stuff!
That's a cool way to look at it. You don't walk outside, as a casual runner and say to yourself, "I'm so disappointed I can't run a marathon." That's just being unrealistic. I think we have placed a really big influence on, like, fantasies. We don't have a really good distinction. I was even talking to my sister about this. She was talking to me about a guy whom she was interested in, and all of these ideas she has about their relationship. I told her: "You need to learn to separate your fantasies about this person from this actual person."
People are just so wrapped up in this internal narrative that they have about their partners.
And sometimes people have all these conversations with their partners that they've never had — they've only had them in their head.
Do you have any practical tips for developing a better outlook on your body and your sex life?
The more pleasure you realize your body is capable of, the more you can start to fall in love with it. Let's just say you're a curvy girl, and you've received a lot of verbal abuse, and all that bullying and shaming. You feel embarrassed and ashamed of your body. I have the Curvy Girl 21-Day Challenge. It's a play on, like, the diet challenge kind of stuff, but my challenge is for curvy girls to masturbate for 21 days in a row. Instead of fasting or cleansing for 21 days, we're going to masturbate for 21 days.
If you have an orgasm 21 days in a row, your brain is just so much more peaceful. The more you masturbate, the more orgasms you have. The more orgasms you have...the more you practice, the easier it is for you to lubricate later, the easier it is to get turned on later. If you are one of those women, and you have all this shame, and you masturbate 21 days in a row, you'll realize, "My 350-pound, 5'1", fat body can create all of this pleasure."
I think it might help some people to forgive their bodies a little bit, and start to fall in love with it a little bit. Whether you weigh 1,000 pounds or 100 pounds, we can all do the same stuff. You might have to tweak it a bit for positions, but we can still orgasm, and have pleasure, and receive all of that oxytocin from all that touching. Orgasm is so good for your cardiovascular system, and your well-being, and your brain. I just think, you know what, why not?
Women, especially fat women, are told they're not supposed to be present in their body. Their body is supposed to be kind of like a footnote to themselves. When you have to acknowledge that you feel pleasure, through your body, that's a super-intimate and important feeling. You have to be like: "I have a body. It does something."
It does bring you into your body. A lot of fat women are very disembodied, and very much putting everything on hold, until they reach the "magical weight." It's shocking to me how few fat bodies you'll see in the media, that are sexually realized people.
People can do it old school, or they can get a bullet. Curvy women sometimes have difficulty reaching their clitoris. It may be because they have shorter arms, or a larger tummy, or they have both a larger tummy an shorter arms. I know that sounds weird, but some women are born with shorter arms. There are all kinds of really affordable toys, like the Silver bullet, or there's another one called the Orchid G; it's like a bullet on a stick. It gives you eight to 10 inches in addition to what you can normally reach, and then allows you to apply the vibrator or the bullet head of the toy directly to the clitoris. Where there's a will, there's a way. Just wanted to mention that, in case some women read that, and go,"Well, I can't reach my clitoris." There're toys and tools out there that can help.
That's awesome. It's great that you have created a space where women can come and ask that question and not feel bad.
Hey, some days I can't reach my clit, either.
That should be a bumper sticker.
It's one of those things! I feel so privileged and honored when women do confide these things to me. Honestly, it was a woman at a pleasure party who asked me that once. I was like. "You know what? I've never thought of that! Let me do a little research for you — I want to figure this out." Then I started looking it up, and I was like, "Maybe this one, this one, this one." It's nice when I can kind of package it that way, like share a blog post about it, because it might just be something that's been on people's minds, but no one talked about it, because, Oh my gosh, I can't reach it, and people might shame me for that. Well no, hell no, let me help you reach it. I've got some ideas.
You have a new show coming out! What can we expect to see?
For starters, there's no discussion of a cleanse, or weight loss surgery, or diet — I figured there's enough of that out there. There are episodes where we do pole dancing, we exercise, we go dancing, we do a boudoir photo shoot, we have a game night. We do all those things that regular people do. This is just regular day life, but I happen to be fat. It's just really a day in the life at Curvy Girl Lingerie, with all the variety that that can bring. That brings in trans people and poly people and people that want to cross dress and straight people. People who are thin, and fat, and young, and old, everybody under the sun. We love all bodies at Curvy Girl.
Yeah, that's one of the things that really struck me when I went there. I don't know what I thought it was going to be, but I walked in, and I was like, "Oh, it's just a sex shop." There are more sizes available in the clothes, but it's really just nothing different, because fat people are people.
I love how you point that out in your essay about fat sex in Jes Baker's book, which you like to refer to as "regular old sex."
Just sex. We all do it. We all got here the same way. I just have a little more flesh, but I can do everything anybody else can do and I want to do all the things that everybody else wants to do. I'm not gonna let my fat keep me from doing any of that, I want to feel all of the pleasure. For those people who maybe don't have a voice, or who don't know how to ask for those things, I feel like, for whatever reason, I was born with that ability. I want to try to speak for some of the people that can't, you know?
That's so important. A lot of people are scared to, or don't know that they even can. They don't know that that's a conversation they're allowed to have.
Especially when it comes to sex. I think if I just sold laundry, it might sound a little more egotistical to say I'm speaking for other people. But honestly, I sell sex toys and lingerie, I do feel like I'm a little bit of an expert on sex toys. I'm definitely an expert on plus size lingerie. If I can help someone else who's embarrassed to ask those questions, or who thinks like, "Oh my God, I'm the only person this is happening to," I want to be there for them. Just let it fly, you know? Have fun. Go have sex in the afternoon with the lights on. If he or she wants to take you out to lunch, they have a good idea of what you're going to look like naked, even if you wear all black, all the time. They have a pretty good sense of how much space you take up, and they still want to get naked with you, so just let it go.
Well, thanks for doing the lord's work, Chrystal!
I don't know how it happened, but I love it. I just want to help any fat girl I can. Just let them know that, "You're perfect, you're beautiful. You can do it all, and you can have it all, and you're allowed to want it all, just like anybody else."