1. What’s your name? Where do you live? How old are you?
Kendra Holliday, St. Louis, MO, 39.
2. Where did you grow up and how would you describe your childhood?
My childhood was chaotic. I grew up in a St. Louis suburb in a loud and dirty ranch-style house. I had four younger siblings and two older brothers my parents adopted when they thought they couldn’t have biological children. We were raised Methodist. My dad was the nurturing parent, but emotionally absent all the same. My mom went permanently insane after the death of my baby brother when I was 9 years old. Around that same time, I was molested by one of my older brothers and the other one became schizophrenic. My parents had to prove in court that they were unfit parents in order to have them removed from the home. As for me, I got kicked out of the house at 18 for not emptying the dishwasher.
3. How would you describe your current family and close support community?
I have a wonderful relationship with my parents and four younger siblings these days. I’m so glad we were able to forgive each other for past hurts and move forward in a positive direction. We are a family of loveable black sheep. I have an extraordinary 12-year-old daughter—she’s a “Magic Weirdo Child”; we’re extremely close. I’m in a long-term open relationship with an incredible man who accepts me for who I am, which amazes me! Given my unconventional lifestyle and past relationship history, I assumed I would be single for the rest of my life. That’s hardly the case; we have lovers all over the country. I also have many dear friends from childhood, as well as a very supportive local and online sex-positive community. All of my relationships are open and honest.
4. What are some of the things you do on an average day?
On an average kid-free day, I’ll get up at 5:30am, write, work all day, see a client or lead a sex-positive event, then enjoy a sexy nightcap with my partner. I’m always having fun or working on one project or another—my adult projects have included things like shaving my head, trying new fetishes, de-virginizing adult men, hosting clothing-optional parties, being a Gynecological Teaching Associate, speaking at universities, filming video podcasts, reviewing sex toys, and more.
On an average day when I do have my kid, I’ll get up at 5:30am, write, work all day, and then pick her up. We’ll do something together like cook miso soup, watch a documentary about people who have disabilities, take a walk around our pretty little neighborhood, make a fantasy costume (my daughter thinks all outfits should include capes), dance around the house, moongaze, and then go to bed early.
I maintain that as long as you take care of your duties and obligations, you can have as much fun as you want, as long as you aren’t hurting others.
5. What do you do to pay the bills?
I work full-time at an office with progressive management where my sex-positive activism work is a non-issue. I also supplement my income with sex work, i.e., modeling, sex consulting, hands-on therapy, and prostitution. The sex consulting involves meeting with people to discuss their sex and relationship issues and offering them tools and ideas that can lead them to happiness.
6. Does your life look like what you imagined it would when you were young?
Maybe? As a kid I daydreamed about being a vet, a witch, an artist, a writer, a teacher, a garbageman, a funeral director, or owning a diner that sells only junk food. I also wanted to make a difference in the world, and I feel like I’ve accomplished that goal in a most unconventional manner!
7. What is the greatest challenge you’ve faced in your life?
I’m a rape and incest survivor. I’ve been homeless twice. I’ve been fired for having a sex blog and was without a full-time job for three years. I’ve also been sued for my sexuality, and almost lost my home and daughter. At the last minute, my ex-husband dropped the case because he could not prove I was an unfit mother. I finally found a job and was able to save my beautiful little brick fairy cottage. I’m proud to say I’ve been living there for four years as an independent, single mom. It’s not easy taking care of everything all by yourself, but I’ve been “rescued” by men more times than I’d care to admit and I’m terrible at the “kept woman” role.
8. Have you made any decisions or choices that have surprised those around you?
Over the past couple years I have come out as a sex-positive activist, sex blogger, nudist, and sex worker. It’s rare finding people who openly share the things I do while putting their face and real name to it. I’m often called crazy or brave. I made a conscious decision to live a fully integrated, rich and beautiful life. Many people are not able to achieve that level of freedom due to their family, work, religion, and societal expectations. The biggest sticking point for most people is that I’m a mom. They disapprove of me going out on a ledge as a mother. The thing is, I honestly don’t believe I’m doing anything wrong. I embrace sexuality without guilt or shame and I’m raising my daughter to be sex-positive.
9. Who have you looked to for inspiration while creating your life? What have they taught you?
I aspire to be what Jane Goodall is for chimps and what Mister Rogers was for children, but for adult sexuality. Annie Sprinkle is my Fairy Godmother. John Waters inspires me to be outrageous, as does Sarah Silverman. Right before I’m about to make a bold move, I hesitate for a split second and think to myself: “What would Sarah Silverman do?” And then I do it.
10. What TV shows, movies, music, or books have been particularly formative or important in your life?
Movie: American Beauty. Music: Country, rap, opera—I love all the languages and fell in love with classical in particular, thanks to my grandfather. Books: Huge book freak. Growing up, I devoured Animal Liberation, Charlotte’s Web, Anne of Green Gables, Ramona the Brave, my mom’s trashy romance novels…
11. Are there any stories not told in media that you’d like to see represented?
I’d like to see more success stories featuring mothers living alternative lifestyles who are out about their sexuality, as well as happy, healthy couples who choose to live their lives outside the norm—not marrying, not living together, not being monogamous. It’d be nice to see more sexuality topics featured in mainstream media that are positive in tone as opposed to negative. I’m a strong supporter of sexual civil rights, sex-positive parenting, body acceptance, and topless equality, so I’d like to see these topics get good coverage.
12. How often do you think about gender roles and whether your life matches what others might expect from your gender?
I asked my partner what my most masculine feature is, and he told me it was my personality. Not many women are as outspoken and unabashed about their sexuality as I am. I’ve taken a lot of heat for being so public about my sex life. What’s more, I’m a MOM, and women who are mothers are not supposed to be in touch with their sexuality—they’re supposed to retire it for the sake of their children and live vicariously through their kids. This is why we have so many mentally ill martyr moms.
13. What wisdom have you gained in life that you think other people would benefit from knowing?
We underestimate our children. They deserve our respect and can handle the truth. It’s better to raise a knowing child than an innocent child. Sex is a natural pleasure in life, like food. Get rid of the shame and guilt baggage. Being open and honest is so liberating. The term “sex-positive” means a lot of things, but my favorite definition is: accepting people—yourself included!—for who they are. We need to be reminded that human beings are not robots or mannequins. We are animals—mammals, in fact—with hair, emotions, bodily fluids, and the capability to produce milk. Sure, domesticating ourselves is tempting, but too much distance from our natural roots is making us sick and unhappy. Far too many people are ruled by fear and it limits them. They put themselves in self-imposed cages. THINK OUTSIDE THE CAGE. In order to become self-actualized, you have to REPLACE THE FEAR WITH LOVE and live your life with courage.