Gigi Engle, Sex Writer + Educator
First of all, what is the “coolest” thing about you?
There is nothing cool about me. The coolest thing about me is that my friend wanted to interview me for fake cool. And one time I went to the Doc Johnson factory and got to hold a porn star's dick. Not a real dick. A dildo of his dick.
I get paid to write about sex which some might think is "cool."
2. What is the least “cool” thing about you?
I have massive anxiety, which has no chill.
I am also a worm. Queen of the Worms, really. Gigi Engle, Worm Queen. You see, one day my body will die and I will be worm food and once again will be born a worm.
Also, I wear my dad's nature shirts like all the time. With frogs and fairies on them. They're all XXL and fit like dresses. And I wear them all the time. No, I'm not joking like if I'm at home, I'm wearing one of these. I even video-sex people wearing them and don't give enough of a shit to take them off before the call.
3. You do find a mix in your writing of talking about both personal experiences and objective takes in a more educator-esque role. When I think about personal sexual experiences, I have this….part of my brain that I have to re-train to not ask "IS THAT WEIRD" every time I think about my own preferences. Was that ever something that you encountered? (I.e. early on, worrying that your own sexual likes/dislikes were "abnormal", even tho we know there's no "normal") If so, how did you re-train your brain to think differently?
I actually find myself wondering if I'm too normal most of the time. I'm regularly smacked with the weirdest fetishes you can think of. Well, I shouldn't say weird because every consenting adult can do whatever the fuck they want.
But that's just my anxiety talking there too. I see so much stuff that deviates from the societal script and have so many friends who are wildly kinky or into lots of anal or sex work and -- that's not really who I am.
I get kinky and stuff, but I'm not on that same level. So, I often find myself questioning whether or not I even know sex that well. And then I remind myself that isn't what sex ed is about and you don't have to be tied up to a Saint Sebastian's cross and whipped until you bleed to have good sex.
Everything is good sex and everything is normal. Whatever works for you is fine. Really it's about accepting yourself more than anything else. It all comes down to personal confidence and society telling you sex is bad. We don't talk enough about sex, and so every time we're into something that isn't missionary, it feels like you're doing something gross or weird. Or, in my case, I have "vanilla sex" with a partner and really enjoy myself, only to later wonder if our sex life is boring because we aren't doing "enough."
4. Has anyone ever said anything to you about your writing that’s made you doubt yourself? If so, how did you get over that comment & re-build your confidence?
People are always fucking with me. If you write about sex people are going to troll you. I think the worst stuff is when someone doubts my credibility. And worse than that is when someone finds I've made a mistake and calls me out. Like, here's the thing. I don't know everything. No one knows everything. I doubt myself all the time. I make mistakes even thought I'm trained in sex education and coaching.
I still sometimes fuck up. The other day I said something about lube not be regulated by the FDA and it turned out it was and so are condoms. I should have known that. I made an error, because pleasure products aren't properly regulated and I just lumped it all together when I should not have. It was an accident and I swear I will think about it for the next ... rest of my life. But I try to remind myself that this is a BROAD topic and people are not infallible! I am a human and I make mistakes, even in my work. I just have to hope that editors will be kind about it and learn from it and continue to read and educate myself more. Even as an "expert" you should never stop learning.
5. Being a sex writer is a increasingly popular thing. It's gone from like … a token role at Cosmo to…well, a really ripe industry. Do you feel that the space has gotten too crowded? And do you ever think about / worry about what your role is in the landscape of things? (Like…"how do I keep my edge when everyone wants to be a sex writer") (your answer can be "no I'm amazing why would I" - I basically just ask questions based on personal insecurities)
I could understand why someone would think that, but I don't question my role as much as I used to. I think I've finally gotten to a place in my career where I stand out as a — and I hate using this word — brand. And my god does it make me uncool to say something that lame.
It would definitely be harder for someone new coming into the space right now. When I started writing about sex, there weren't that many people doing what I did. The internet was just starting to realize that people wanted to read about blowjobs all over the internet, not just at Cosmo. I'm super privileged that I started out at a company where they were willing to try anything and not censor my writing. It gave me a huge space in which to grow.
6. What insecurity — personal or career-oriented — are you most proud of overcoming in your adult life? How did you overcome it?
I'd probably say a fear of commitment. I used to date people and not be able to keep it in my pants. I wasn't a good partner and always did things very selfishly. I am still Worm Queen, but I am much better at relationships. I guess I'm proud that I know my worth and what to expect in a relationship, but also know how to treat another person with that same level of dignity and respect.
7. What is one insecurity you still struggle with that you're working on?
I'm still really struggling with my identity as a bisexual woman. I came out as bi, officially, about a year ago. I still feel so uncomfortable with it. I can't help feeling bi-phobic about my own feelings. I worry I'm messing with people's heads or, at times, I wonder if I am even bisexual. My feelings change like the wind. Some days, I'm so into women and men aren't even a thing to me. And then, it's the opposite for a few months. And then it's both. Struggling with my feelings about both genders is definitely something I'm trying accept, understand, and work through. I am now pretty comfortable with the term "queer." And I think that's a good start.
8. If you could tell someone who wanted your life but thought they weren't "cool enough" just ONE THING, what would you tell them?
That I am the Worm Queen and if I can eat a body to be born a worm and then become queen, you too can be a worm like me. One day we will all die and once again will be eaten by worms. We're all worm food in the end.
FIND GIGI at @gigiengle