Nico Tortorella wants you to have more orgasms. They want everyone to have more orgasms. They want us to have orgasms and to talk more about them…to talk about them over breakfast even.
“I think that we all have the right to sexual pleasure, right?” they tell me early one morning, before I’ve even had a second cup of coffee. “I think that it needs to be normalized. I mean, it needs to be something that we talk about—as comfortable as, like, eating breakfast or talking about our relationships,” Tortorella says.
For a brief second this made me think about breakfast. “I had scrambled eggs and turkey bacon for breakfast,” I reply. “Maybe talking about orgasms should be as normal as talking about scrambled eggs.” I realize immediately that this is a strange thing to say.
See, I definitely don’t talk about orgasms. I hardly even think about them these days. As a 38-year-old woman in the throes of attempting to make a second baby I’ve almost forgotten about orgasms entirely. That’s just what happens when sex becomes a perfunctory goal-oriented activity as titillating as brushing your teeth or doing the elliptical. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.
And so when Tortorella mentions orgasms, I get incredibly…excited. Yes. We should all be having more orgasms.
I’m even more delighted to talk to Tortorella after spending a weekend battling the flu and bingeing Hallmark Christmas romantic comedies—almost all of them containing a big city lady who gets her heart broken by a bad big city man and moves home to her quaint Christmas-loving small town to ultimately find cozy heteronormative love with a widower who works with his hands and has excellent, if unwavering, hair. There’s always a diamond ring at the end of those movies, but no one ever has an orgasm. Not. A. Single. One.
I needed a different kind of love story. Thankfully, Tortorella and their spouse Bethany Meyers, a fitness instructor, have the opposite kind of love story from the Hallmark movies. Both Tortorella and Meyers identify as non-binary queer individuals—both their pronouns are they/them—and they’re in an open marriage, which for them means they have the freedom to date and sleep with other people. I need to know how they got there.
They met twelve years ago in Chicago as 18-year-olds. Bethany was playing beer pong in some apartment and Nico was trying to look cool and leaning on things. They dated off and on while exploring their own sexualities.
In the meantime, Nico landed the role of the tattooed heartthrob Josh on the television show Younger. The two of them moved to New York. They wanted to be together, but they also wanted to keep exploring.
“At that time, I had already had two pretty serious boyfriends. One of the stipulations of us moving to New York…I was like, Hey, Bethany, let’s give this a shot, but I also want to be able to still explore my own sexuality in dating men,” Tortorella remembers.
Earlier this year the two of them wanted to solidify their union as a family. They were in the jungle in Peru, living without electricity or running water for a week. “[After that], it was very evident that this [relationship] was our foundation. This is who we were supposed to be with,” Meyers says. Tortorella woke up from a nap, leaned over to Meyers and whispered: “Hey, baby. We’re getting married, March 9th, 2018, okay?”
They tied in the knot in an intensely private ceremony, filled with ornate gender-bending costumes so that each of them would get the opportunity to wear the pants during the ceremony. It was the kind of disruption that Tortorella has come to enjoy—disrupting gender, sexuality, and the norms of how people are supposed to be together.
This month, just in time for the holidays, the couple are helping the brand Lovers, a long-time retailer of sex toys, launch their private label of adult toys and their campaign #WeAreLovers. The goal is to talk about pleasure and sex and orgasms in a real and unfiltered way, going behind the cheesy love stories we see on the Hallmark channel to talk about real love, real sex.
And that’s how we get onto the subject of orgasms. Meyers is one of the most open interview subjects I’ve ever met. They’ll talk for days about what they want and like in the bedroom, but that’s not a subject they were always so comfortable with.
Meyers grew up in a conservative religious family in Missouri. “Even the idea of masturbation was wrong, growing up,” they tell me. “My first entrance into sex toys actually came through sleeping with women…. I found that through different relationships, it was actually a way that we could connect and explore more forms of sex.”
For Tortorella, the introduction of sex toys into their life represented, of course, a kind of queer disruption. “I don’t think that Bethany and I ever used any toys until we both started growing into our own queer identities. When I started sleeping with men, that’s when I started to explore,” they say. “It’s like being queer for me is about disrupting the system, and the system of sexuality has been taught—you know, penis to vagina. To bring other things in is disruption, and that can be really beautiful.”
Tortorella wants to talk more about the G-spot. I briefly mute the microphone and holler to my husband, who is trying to feed our baby in the other room. “Do you have a G-spot?” I ask. He doesn’t respond.
According to Tortorella, that’s not surprising. “People that are designated male at birth, that have prostates but may define as straight, have no idea for the most part what this internal G-spot can actually do for you and how amazing an experience it can be,” they tell me. “Toys and accessories and experimentation and exploration can really go a long fucking way.”
Meyers adds, “I think for women, the orgasm is kind of elusive for many, or [we’re not] taught young how to find it or how to get there, and often partners are not taught how to do that either. I think there’s actually a lot of females who have gone through life without a proper orgasm from someone else. That’s something that I hope is changing, and I hope that we are opening up people more for self-exploration, and also teaching partners what that is.”
The couple talk frankly about exploring toys with other partners. Polyamorous relationships raise a lot of questions for a lot of people who aren’t familiar with them: What does that mean? How does it work? Don’t you get jealous? What are the rules?
One thing Meyers stresses when I ask about it is that you can’t just look at a polyamorous relationship through the lens of a monogamous relationship.
“So the idea of your partner sleeping with somebody else in a monogamous relationship would feel like cheating, back-stabbing, betrayal, right?” they ask.
“Right,” I agree.
“Whereas I would know beforehand if Nico were to sleep with someone else, and vice versa,” they continue. “For me, it eliminates a lot of fears that come with a standard relationship, because everything is talked about. You know, when I’m crushing on a girl, Nico is the first person who knows about it, and also gets excited with me. We go and stalk her on Instagram and whatever it may be. I think really what, for me, a polyamorous relationship says is that you don’t believe in the idea that you get every single thing from one person.”
For Meyers, a different model is possible—and desirable. “We’ve grown up with this kind of Cinderella story that says there’s this one person you’re going to find, and love conquers all, and they give you everything that you need—but we know that doesn’t exist, because we also need jobs, and we also need friendships, and we also need these other pieces. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think that maybe we also need a different type of love or somebody who can give something else. Nico is great at so many things, but there’s also things that they aren’t able to give that maybe a female partner of mine can.”
“I think it’s understanding and the ability to communicate how you’re feeling,” Tortorella says. “It doesn’t always have to be right, you know? You have to try it first and explore it, and I think it should all be celebrated. Perfection is wildly flawed.”
What it boils down to, it seems, is communication. You’ve got to talk, in and out of the bedroom, about what you want, what you need. And I’m sure it also helps if you have a partner who actually answers you when you ask him about his G-spot.