Nikol Hasler's early life was often tumultuous, marked by moving from foster homes, moving frequently, becoming homeless, conquering subsequent drug abuse, and being a teen mom. These experiences have given Nikol a unique perspective of sex education – one that many teenagers are listening to. Why did she start writing about sex? What formed her sense of humor? What does she want to take on next?
Sexually active at a young age, Nikol Hasler didn't have consistent or healthy role models in her young life. Pregnant and homeless by the age of 18, she eventually settled down in Wisconsin. She worked a variety of jobs- from short order cook, to fast food manager, to third shift front desk at a Super 8. In 2008, she reconnected with a high school friend and together they formed The Midwest Teen Sex Show, a very popular comedy podcast for teenagers about sex. The show was done just for fun but quickly gained national media attention. With the show, Hasler was able to use her own experiences and sense of humor to provide straight forward, direct information to teens about sex.
Since then, Hasler has written a book on the subject and moved to Los Angeles where she was hired to create a pilot of MTSS for Comedy Central. She stayed in LA, finally feeling at home, and she currently works as a producer for the non-profit One Economy Corporation. Nikol also currently writes for SexIs magazine on her column “So What Did We Learn?” where she covers topics like nipple hair, porn, and emotional safety. Once described as "More genuinely herself than most people can allow themselves to be", Hasler's style of complete disclosure and frankness make her stand out.
How did Nikol's early life experiences influence how she currently teaches? What advice does Nikol have for someone interested in becoming a sex educator? How does Nikol's innovative style of Sex Ed draw in teenagers' attention? Please join us as in welcoming Nikol Hasler to the Community Interview!
First, welcome to the Community Interview, Nikol! I love your videos on SexIs! If I did the math right, your child should be a teenager by now or close to it. Do you have them watch The Midwest Teen Sex Show?Hey, Leila. You did the math exactly right. My oldest son is a teenager with Asperger's Syndrome. He and I are pretty close and so far he's always come to me with questions about everything, including sex.
They have seen bits of Midwest Teen Sex Show, but quite honestly, I think it bores them. They watch the show and they just see their mom chattering away. They do have a copy of my book, though, and it's come in handy more than once.
Kindred (host): "I find it personally encouraging that you have such a close relationship with your son to include open discussions about sex. I have two young sons and can only hope to have the same type of relationship."
If you wrote an autobiography, what would the title be?I love this question.
When I was 5, as a rather sad loner who felt no connection to the people around me, I used to hide and read. I learned to write and read rather early, and I loved making lists. They were organized, motivated, and secure.
I still have one of those lists, in a frame on my bookshelf. Having moved so frequently, I often lost momentos, pictures, stuffed animals, etc. However, this list was in a bin of a step-parent's house when I reconnected with him as an adult, and I found my little list. I remembered writing it, and what it had meant to me at the time. The title of that list will be the title of my autobiography, along with a photo of the list.
Places To Go.
Alternatively, should that title be taken or sound too Dr. Suess,
A Tale of Two Titties
Kindred (host): "What an amazing story behind that title choice. It can be interpreted in different ways and still have so much relevant meaning. Of course, your alternate does have its appeal as well..."
Welcome, Nikol It's obvious you've been through quite a bit and have come out on top. If you hadn't started started The Midwest Teen Sex Show, where do you think you would be today?Well, I think I'd likely still be in Wisconsin. For the record, I hated living in Wisconsin.
Have you found your style of being open and frank about matters helpful in general? Do you find that people are taken aback by your willingness to speak up?This comes up a lot, especially at work where my frankness about a project can come off harsh. My willingness to talk about any topic at all is respected, but sometimes people aren't expecting such direct language.
Within any community the only time I encounter issues is when I speak up in a way that isn't popular opinion. The sex community lambasts as hard as any, and I when it does it confuses the hell out of me. I expect the religious right to come at me with teeth bared, but sometimes I voice opinions that don't jive with kinkster lifestyles, and I would love it if people were more accepting of that, because what people should understand about my speaking up, my frankness, is that I'm expressing opinions. I'm just doing it loudly.
Kindred (host): "I wonder what sort of a reaction your frankness would get if you were a man rather than a woman?"
Welcome Nikol! I was reading your weekly advice column, and you give very good advice! I wondered has anyone ever written for advice that was hard for you to answer? What do you think is the best piece of advice for parents concerned about their teens sexual lives in this day and time?First of all, thanks. I love that column. I have had some questions that really flip me out, and it's taken me a long time to figure out what to say. For the first year I wrote the column, I operated under some idea that my advice needed to be right. Then one day it dawned on me. Nobody was expecting me to know shit, they were just asking what I thought. I had a Dan Savage moment where I was thinking "Who the hell am I to be giving advice?" and the answer was "I'm the person they asked."
Best piece of advice for parents? Your kids probably don't want to talk to you about sex. They don't want to hear you go on and on about safety and infections and how to put on a condom so it doesn't break. But they also don't want to hear you talk about school or cleaning up after themselves. Keep talking anyway.
Second bit of advice is to keep up with the fucking internet.
It sounds like you've had a lot of life experience and reinvention for someone so young. Do you find you crave new beginnings or are you content to be settled in LA now?I'm sure I will continue to reinvent, based on the conversations I have with myself in the mirror. Brutal. I don't think there will ever come a moment in which I believe I've done or learned enough.
However, one thing I'm pretty darn sure of is that I love LA. I feel so at home here, and with each birthday I feel like I'm reverse aging. Now if only there were some sort of t-shirt that could adequately express my feelings about Los Angeles. Maybe one with, like, a heart on it?
What is your favorite thing about being a producer?The street cred and all the fine honies.
Do you believe that sex education should be the burden of the parents or the schools?Both, but mainly the parents.
Oddly, my drug talk with my own kids sounds similar to my sex talk:
"It feels good. That's why people do it. But before you do anything, you need to figure out what the risks are physically and legally, and you need to figure out the way to make it a safe and enjoyable experience. And don't ever ask me to do it with you." (That last part was a part of the drug talk. Would have been an interesting part of the sex talk, but it didn't come up.)
Kindred (host): "I am totally plagiarizing your drug talk to use with my kids, which won't be for many years still, but I'm learning you can never be too prepared."
What are your thoughts on Polyamory, have you ever been in or wanted a polyamorous relationship before?Are you offering?
Yeah. I have been. It's not for me. I'm pretty fond of monogamy when I am in a relationship. I have fairly strong opinions about polyamory and they aren't all that likely to make people happy.
But you asked, so here goes.
I think that a lot of people in polyamorous relationships aren't emotionally stable enough to be in *one* healthy relationship, let alone two or more. I think that too often married people become poly thinking it will help their marriage, only to find that it further damages the marriage. I think that too often married people use the polyamory ticket as a way to stick their toe in the water of the dating pool and make sure they're still desirable before calling it quits with their spouse. I think that I've seen too many plain jane wives/husbands agree to polyamory in hopes of keeping their spouse around, then hold in their hurt and anger as the husband/wife/partner spends time dating someone more traditionally considered desirable. I think that true, healthy poly relationships take a whole lot of work and I've only seen a few people handle themselves well. Those people get my full respect.
I don't think monogamy is the only gamy in town, for the record. There are all sorts of variations in relationships, and people who know that they need the ability to have more than one sexual partner in order to be fulfilled should be up front about this with any partner, preferably from the off set of a relationship. Even if you're having protected sex with someone, you should know if they have any other current sex partners. It's smart.
Kindred (host): "I knew nothing about polyamory before discovering the EF community, and I admittedly still know very little. However, I think you hit the nail on the head when you say that "true, healthy poly relationships take a whole lot of work." As you point out, too many people get involved in polyamory for the wrong reasons and don't appreciate the challenges it presents."
If this isn't too personal, what made you decide to keep your baby? It seems like a lot young moms decide to abort "accidents" and since you were homeless, it probably wasn't an easy decision to go through with.Wow! Great question.
For the record, no question is ever too personal. Fo Realzies.
I was just about to form some sort of bullshit answer about that one, because I can remember the moment my oldest son was conceived. I was getting poked by this guy in Madison, WI. We were both drunk, and I'd just watched his shitty band play at a bar. He came inside of me and I remember laying there a few hours later, thinking "Holy shit. I bet I just got pregnant. And it's going to be a boy." True story. I dropped the dude off at his band practice the next day. Never got his number, and I don't know his last name.
But why did I choose to remain pregnant instead of abort? This is the most honest thing I can say. I was a drama queen. I had learned that the only time people reached out or cared was in times of crisis, and being a homeless, pregnant teen seemed like a pretty big crisis.
That's not to say that I would do it any differently, of course. I have a really amazing son, and he's already smarter, funnier, and cooler than I will ever be. But yeah. I was a misguided kid who made choices that were based on needing attention. I wonder if that's what other teen girls do. What do you think?
Kindred (host): "This is another example of you being 100% open and honest with people which I admire. I'm not sure many would admit that they went through with a pregnancy as an attention seeking act. However on the flip side, you've turned it into such a positive event in your life."
Your children seem to be younger than the audience you normally target. Has one of them ever asked you a sex question that surprised you? What was it and how did you answer it?Yes.
"There are only two STI's, right? Herpes and AIDS?"
Answered by opening my book to the STI chart, which he read and asked more questions.
"What's a MILF?"
"Where'd you hear that?"
"I just masturbated and stuff came out and I'm freaking out. How many times can stuff come out before I run out of stuff?"
"What did you use to clean it up? Don't use your socks. They'll stain. And you won't run out."
Kindred (host): "I don't think I will ever be prepared for when one of my children asks me what a MILF is."
You've obviously hit the big time! Do you ever feel overwhelmed by your new life of fame and notoriety?Cute. I haven't hit the big time yet.
And no, I never feel overwhelmed. I look forward to the day when I can be overwhelmed by fame. I think I'll handle it well.
Has there been anyone you'd consider to be an inspiration for you?Yup. Eddie Izzard. Violet Blue. Dan Savage.
Do you wish you had been more careful when you were 18?I wish I'd have been more careful about an hour ago when I was standing on this little table in my office trying to hang curtains and I fell over and banged my kneeeeeeeeee. Ow.
If one of your kids found one of your sex toys when still pretty young (say, 5 years old), what did you say?
I guess I've always wondered what I would tell my son if that happened...Well, that was pretty simple. I said, "That's mine." We didn't really need to discuss what it was, because there's all sorts of random stuff around the house that the kids aren't allowed to play with. My vibrator was just one more thing.
However, when my oldest was 11 and middle son was 9, I heard them playing in my room. At one point I heard the older say to the younger, "Don't play with that thing. Mom uses it to masturbate." So, I guess he already knew what it was, even though he and I never talked about it.
Kindred (host): "Sometimes less is more, especially when dealing with children. I'm sure your direct approach when dealing with your kids is extremely effective.
And what kids know and learn these days completely amazes me. Kids are so much more knowledgeable and savvy with the internet these days than when I was growing up. (Good lord I think I was just channeling my mother when I typed that)"
Does it feel strange or do you feel you are liberated and finally living out your teen years, since you are dating now? Tell us, are there any good ones left out there?It feels mostly cool. I mean, I did the married thing and was domestic as could be for a long time. It's frustrating and takes a lot of adjusting to, though. I am used to being a serious relationship person, and I feel most comfortable in serious relationships, which means I am quick to feel like someone is my "boyfriend" instead of just letting things muddle along at a slow pace.
Yes, there are a lot of good ones. I've met more good ones than bad. I just tend to become friends with them. If you're single, I could totally put you in touch with some great guys.
Ahh, you're so pretty! Haha, so, do employers (and the likes) appreciate your accomplishments and publications or shun them?Starting a question with "You're so pretty" guarantees immediate answer.
You know, my full time gig is with a non profit, and our focus is on technology and low income neighborhoods. They appreciate some of my publications, and they don't mention the others. However, I have spent the past three years being openly 100% myself and it's turned out pretty well for me. I recommend it to everyone.
What is your favorite sex toy or the one sex toy you just couldn't live without? Like, your personal Holy Grail?I absolutely couldn't live without my Hitachi Magic Wand. I've had to use other things, and I can use my hand, but the magic wand is the best vibrator I've ever had. We spend a lot of time together.
I have a list on here of toys I like, too. I think everyone should be using their wish lists. Mine has stuff ranging from lingerie to bath goods.
Kindred (host): "I don't think you are alone when you pick the Hitachi Magic Wand as your go to toy. It actually was the winner in the recent EF "Final Four" contest."
I've watched some of your "So, what did we learn?" videos on SexIs, and the emotional safety one made me wonder...when did you get into wanting "angry" sex? I'm intrigued by this kind of play and am curious about what got you into it, and what your thoughts are on it.Well, I wouldn't say I like angry sex, so much as enjoy rough sex. But I also enjoy role playing that involves forceful situations, age play, fake rape.
The physical aspect is that of challenge. I like to push my limits physically, a constant reminder that pain is temporary. I liken it to the same reason I enjoy hot peppers. They burn my mouth as much as they burn anyone's mouth. But when I eat them I take enjoyment from knowing that the burning is something I can overcome. Because of that mental realization, all sorts of endorphins are released, bringing me from discomfort back around to pleasure.
The role playing, though, is from a darker place. My earliest exposure to sex was violent, and it remained that way for many years. As a child and a teen I associated sexuality with very negative things. When I began to work on accepting my own desires and healing from the abuses, I was afraid of the things I wanted and enjoyed, thinking that they made me as bad as the abusers. Through role play, I was able and am able to reclaim my own sexual desires in a place that is safe, loving, and that ultimately I control.
This is also why I am not suitable for a full time 24-7 submissive role. Within my relationships I tend to be in the power position. The submission is purely a part of the role play. This can be difficult for whoever I end up dating, because they have to be able to deal with the switching as well.
Kindred (host): "Your analogy to eating hot peppers is fascinating. I never considered that aspect to physical play. Much like a marathoner, it's the accomplishment of overcoming the extreme physical challenge that cause the endorphin release and pushes you further. It's honestly nothing I considered before.
Your explanation for role playing is much more familiar. It is by enacting the very things that we so fear that we are able to conquer and reclaim them."
Have you ever found yourself in any embarrassing sexual situations before or do you ever find that there is something sexual that you just won't do?
Part one of that question will be addressed in next Friday's installment of So, What Did We Learn?
And sexual things I just won't do? Well, I guess there are some. Like, I have no interest in being pooped on or pooping on anyone else. It's not come up yet, though, so I am not sure how I would react if someone expressed it as being their biggest turn on. I can't imagine there would ever be a poop-is-sexy moment in my life. But I also couldn't have imagined Steven Tyler on American Idol. Whackier things have happened.
You hear a lot about the trials of single parenting: What are the advantages?Advantage. Obviously you don't have to put up with someone else's bullshit. Parenting should be a team effort, and I think that hot mo-fo Abraham Lincoln once said that the best father is a man who truly loves his wife. But when you're a single parent, you don't expect or rely on that other parent to be there. You know it's all you, and that kind of makes it easier to accept than if you're married and you feel like you're the one doing all the work.
Also, (hate to say it, but) society is nicer to single parents. No joke. If you hear someone is a single mom or dad, you are more likely to go easy on them if you're their employer, their friend, relative, even just some stranger at the grocery store.
Kindred (host): "That's an interesting perspective that you feel society is nicer to single parents. I can see society being sympathetic to single dads, but I feel like single moms would be judged more."
Do kids ask you about issues related to sexual or gender identity? Or mostly sexual mechanics?Mostly they ask me relationship questions, second would be sexual identity and gender identity, third would be biology/how to.
I am planning on staring a family in a year or so. Would you recommend starting a family young (18 to about 25) or older once a career has been established?Eh. It's different for everyone, right? I mean, if you have your kids early, they grow up and you have energy to play with them and by the time they're teenagers you're 32 and can have fun.
But really, the smartest way to go about it is to wait. The economy is shit, jobs are hard to come by, and unless you can afford to take care of the kids without working 15 hour shifts, it's best for everyone if you wait.
Kindred (host): "I had children somewhat later in life at 40 and have to agree there were definite benefits. We were more financially secure, comfortable in our marriage, and wiser with our years. However, there is something to be aid about the energy of youth, especially when you're waking up every 2 hours for feedings. There's probably no perfect time, nor is there really a bad time."
Nikol, I just want to say that I find your writing and videos both informative and very humorous and say that I think you're doing a great job. I'm curious what was the turning point for you where you felt that others could benefit from your experiences and decided to start educating? Also, how did you go about really getting into that?I've been really fortunate, because right at the offset of MTSS parents, educators, teens, and adults began writing in to say that they were getting something from the show. The turning point was pretty quick, and it drove me to continue.
We live in a pretty cool time, too, because all it took to get things going was a camera, a wordpress blog, and a blip.tv account. You just create and hope it sticks; hope that the right people see it and spread it around. We had nothing to lose when we started making that show. There were no designs on success. It was fun.
The bigger stresses are with new things I create. I was really lucky to have done MTSS with Guy Clark and Britney Barber. Her acting/comedy paired with his editing and camera work really made that show something complete. Now as I work on other projects, I have to push myself to try to attain the same level. It's a challenge, for sure.
What is your opinion of Bristol Palin and how she's gone from teen mom to abstinence advocate (for a ton of cash)?She's a poopy head.
I honestly don't give Bristol Palin much thought. People ask me about her a lot. I'm no Palintologist. She's swept up in a lot of nonsense with teams of people telling her what to do and say. She's a kid, and it's easy to see why the media attention makes her feel like she's doing the right thing.
What I do notice is that she seems sincere. Maybe one day, once this attention dies down, she can write us a book about what this has been like for her. Or maybe she'll fade into obscurity. Time will tell.
Kindred (host): "I agree in that I think she is swept up in all of the media attention. Whether she truly believes in what she is doing, only she knows. I do feel as though she is being manipulated unfairly because of her circumstances. It would be interesting to see what she thinks in a few years when the spotlight is no longer on her and she can reflect on the experience."
Hi Nikol! It's so great to have you here! I'd love to hear any positive stories from responses to the Midwest Teen Sex Show, something that really made your day, or inspired you to keep going with it. You must get all kinds of great mail!HI Maria! Thanks for the welcome.
We once had a 13 year old send us his allowance as a donation. That was cute. I stopped reading MTSS mail some time ago, directing people to send their sex questions to a group of experts we were working with. Back when I was reading the mail, it got to be exhausting because I wanted to answer everyone and help. And I can tell you there were some really inspiring emails. Good stuff.
Kindred (host): "That's such a touching story and goes to show what a positive effect you have had, even on a 13 year old."
In a previous question you mentioned your teenage son had Asperger's syndrome, I myself have the same diagnosis along with a few others. My question is how as a parent and as a person that discusses sexual topics and likely relationship topics as well have you helped him or plan to help him possibly overcome social difficulties in terms of forming relationships or does he not have an issue doing so?
Sorry if this seems too personal it's just I myself have had very little success over the years forming or even approaching anyone (as in I haven't really) for even a date or coffee never mind forming relationships and having sexual encounters and all that. Basically I'm curious how/if these difficulties can be overcome by a person with Aspergers or if the person has to do that on their own.Interestingly enough, I find myself romantically drawn to people with Asperger's Syndrome. I find them to be open, honest, and straight forward about what they want- when they are able to connect. Sadly, it is difficult for them to be emotionally available, which makes for some pretty frustrating (lack of) communication.
In those relationships, I find that I am the one who approaches them, never the other way around, and often that dynamic remains throughout the duration of the relationship. For example, if I want to have sex, I have to initiate directly. If I want them to spend the night, I have to tell them so, and sometimes they just bluntly say "Oh. No. I'm going home to watch a movie." It can be enjoyable to be pursued, so at times the Aspie person's lack of understanding that sometimes you should do something (cuddle, talk, stay the night) even if it's not at the top of your list, is the good thing to do.
For my son, I'll continue to talk to him as I do about everything, in which I show him examples in life with people or animals who are close to him are feeling something, and then I will relate it back to a time when he might have felt the same way. His curiousities about sexuality tend toward academia right now, but I talk just as frequently with him about love, compassion, and the emotional/psychological aspects of sex.
With Asperger's becoming more widely understood and talked about, I have a feeling that more people are willing to at least try to understand the different ways in which their partner is processing. I know I am, anyway.
I've seen your show and find it quite fun to watch, though from the shows I seen I do wish you expanded on other subcultures a bit more. Examples of such include but are not limited to the kinky community as seen through a kinkster's eyes, not a vanilla person's, swingers, and polyamory.Specific topics in terms of kinky stuff would be very much welcome, many are listed under the 'table' for the article on BDSM in Wikipedia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BDSM ), the big ones obviously being Dominance and Submission, Sadomasochism, Bondage and Discipline, as well as just some general topics such as how poorly much of the vanilla population takes to kinksters due to mis-documentation in movies, tv shows, and (in my opinion) the psychiatric community.
Sorry for the rant but my question is if there are plans to explore these other realms in future shows (or has there been and I just haven't seen them?) or are they too taboo to do shows on?While MTSS is not making more episodes, with So What Did We Learn I plan to discuss as well as I can my own kinks. With Love, Sex, Etc, I never shy away from kink, and in my book I have a chapter on kinks which doesn't assume that kids aren't already discussing these things.
I signed up for a FetLife account in hopes of getting some good talks going, but found people less than accepting (oddly) of listening to any other opinions than the ones of their respective groups and forums. I know it's easy for kinksters to feel attacked. They spend a good deal of time needing to defend their kink. I just wish that people could relax a little bit and consider that even within kink, there will be other schools of thought. It's good to be open minded about being open minded, eh?
Do you ever see yourself entering schools as part of a sex-ed course?I hope one day I have time for that.
For now, I will accept an honorary degree if one is offered. I would also accept an honorary degree from truck driving school, just because that would be funny.
How do your children feel about your talking about them publicly? Do they participate in your podcasts? Listen to them?They have mixed feelings. They have been in the podcasts, and Trast has been interviewed about talking to kids about sex.
My middle son keeps wanting to be in more of the stuff I create. My youngest is only 4, and doesn't seem to have an opinion that's not tied to food, shoes that blink when he walks, or going to the park.
Once, Trast and I were watching CNN and the reporter said "Hasler, who had her first son as the result of a one night stand..." and he hadn't considered what it meant until that moment. That was an interesting talk that I'm sure we'll have again.
Oh, and I know (because I've heard him say it) that when people ask what I do, he says I'm a comedy writer by day and a nun by night. I asked if we could reverse that, because night time would be the lousiest time to be a nun.
How do you respond to the negative people who disagree with teen sex education and who feel educating teens about sex will lead to promiscuity?I throw dicks at them at tell them to get off my lawn. (Just kidding. I do that to everyone. Totally confuses the hell out of my gardener, who has taken to carrying a vagina around to catch them in. He's so heteronormative.)
What tips would you give to someone interested in breaking into the web series business?Kidnap a successful podcaster and livestream it. Then do a follow up web series from jail.
Orrrr, make sure your topic is appealing to more than just you and your friends. Get a camera (or a mac if it's just straight to camera stuff), edit well. Keep it short. Distribute it all over.
Blip.TV is one of the best distributors out there because you upload and set up account so you can cross upload all over the place.
Don't expect to make money. Do it for the love of doing it.
What would you say was your most difficult moment of your life? did it make you a stronger person?That's something I don't talk about a lot. I gave birth to a daughter, who I gave up for adoption. The most difficult moment of my life was when people came to the hospital an hour before they were supposed to and they took her. For some reason I thought having that last hour was really important.
Everything, even the weaknesses, makes us stronger, because we wince, open our eyes, and the world is still there, and we are still in it. "Oh, hey, check that shit out! I'm still alive."
How have you established family roles, parenting models, etc without any successful role models or extended family? Have you created a "family of choice" for your children? Family traditions?Good fortune has afforded me wonderful friends and entire communities of people who want my sons and I to succeed.
Personally, I was a shitty mother for a few years there. I took a lot of classes, and still spend a lot of time in therapy.
We have some really fun family traditions, and even little inside jokes of sorts.
Do you feel that it is difficult to be different?It was much more difficult when I was trying not to be.
Kindred (host): "It is always more difficult trying to be something that we are not."
You had a four year scholarship, did you have any idea then what you wanted to study or 'be' before you knew you were pregnant with your first child?Double major English Education/Theater with a minor in Radio & Television
How did you respond to Bill o'reilly's rude comments?I called everyone I knew and made sure they watched the reruns.
what would you talk about if you were invited to speak for this years graduating class of your old high school?Not sure, but I know I'd dress up like a robot.
I was hanging out with a 5 year old boy I nanny watching iCarly. All of the sudden he made a funny face then pulled his pants down to look at what was going on down there. Umm...how do I explain that one to him??I do the same thing when I watch iCarly.
You ask his parents how they'd like you to handle it.
Do you think working as a sex educator interferes with your own sex life, because you can are/were so in tune with unhealthy sexual behaviors? Do you feel strange telling people what you do for a living? Has it ever had a negative effect on your children (like with their friends parents)?
I commend you on what you have done and I am very open on sexuality with my children, but I know some parents would wonder what their kid might learn from my kids if they only knew me better....I think being in tune to unhealthy sexual behaviors makes it easier for me to have a healthier sex life.
When the sexual part of my work comes up, sometimes I feel strange. Not always. It's probably hardest when I am dating someone I really really like and I meet their parents.
My kids tell their friends that I am a comedy writer.
Kindred (host): "Being knowledgeable about both healthy and unhealthy sexual behaviors must certainly be a benefit for you, Hopefully someday society will be free to discuss any aspect regarding sexuality, even with our potential in laws.
And you are definitely a comedy writer. Your subject matter just happens to be sex and sexuality."
have you enjoyed the people of Eden?
I've never seen your show before... what topics does it discuss?can it be viewed online?
what is the title of your book?Yes, Eden has been a very cool place. The reviews are great, the SexIS Magazine is wonderful. I'm very happy here.
My show for Eden normally covers topics that are comedic. I talk a lot about moments from my dating life that were a bit catastrophic or at least humorous. It is on The SexIs site.
My book is 'Sex: A Book For Teens" and is available on Amazon, though it would be cool to have it in bookstores.
Kindred (host): "Eden is an amazing place and Sexis Magazine is fortunate to have you as a regular contributor with your "So what did we learn?" series."
Do you have any regrets as far as The Midwest Teen Sex Show? Would you have done anything differently or you happy with the show overall?Loved doing that show. Would likely redo a few of the earlier episodes.
My big regret is that we aren't making it anymore. I was very happy with it.
What is your favorite film or book that relates directly to sexuality?Kinsey.
Thank you for your response Nikol. It was interesting and I agree about the American Idol response (lol). I also read your bio before I asked my question and forgot to mention that you are a well-rounded person overcoming some great obstacles. Is there anything else in life you have a passion for that you may consider doing later in life?This makes me think of a quote from The Bell Jar.
When they asked me what I wanted to be I said I didn’t know.
"Oh, sure you know," the photographer said.
"She wants," said Jay Cee wittily, "to be everything."
...-Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
My passions change and grow and I hope that continues to happen. It's never that I'm unhappy with what I am doing, I just keep on thinking "I bet I can do even more".
Kindred (host): "I think it's a trait of many successful people to enjoy what you are doing, but at the same time never be satisfied. We should always strive to be better."
why did you hate living in wisconsin?I was morbidly depressed the whole time I lived there. I didn't feel like I fit in anywhere, and the cold, snow, and darkness of the region weren't doing me any favors.
If you were given the opportunity to interview anyone (living or dead) who would you choose and what would you ask them?Easy peasy. Warren Beatty. I'd ask him to just keep repeating my favorite quotes from his films. I'd likely also ask him a shit ton of questions about politics, but I would also just want him to say to me
"Ahhh, let's face it! I fucked 'em all!"
I'm only a year older than you when you got pregnant... what kind of experience was it like?I could write a whole book about that. Many people love being pregnant. I am not one of them. I don't wear it well.
Combine that with no money, no insurance, and being given the stink eye by people as they assessed by giant belly and my young age, and I must say, I advise against it.
Do you want any more kids?Yes, I do. I want a few more.
What has been your biggest disappointment when giving out real sex advice? You mentioned making lists, what's your list look like for dealing with this?Ah, well, maybe realizing that people aren't going to take the advice very often. Makes it feel a bit pointless.
Oh, the lists I have around this house. They can be pretty funny because often I don't remember what I meant by certain line items. I remember one list that had a few very interesting line items:
Kindred (host): "That's funny about your lists. It reminds me of my wife who likes to organize things, then proceeds to forget where she put things away."
how, if at all, has your red hair affected your life?Positively!
I'm naturally a blonde, though, so it doesn't count. I started dying my hair when I was 12 and only twice since then has it been natural. And then, not for long.
What advice do you have for teen moms?Really, the same advice I have for all moms. You need a community around you. Raising a child is difficult, and you should surround yourself with good people who are good for your kids. In the case of teens, this may mean ditching some friends, which sucks, but it's totally necessary.
Whose responsibility is it to educate young people about sex? Schools, parents, both?Yes. And yours and mine and the whole damn world's. Health and safety are important. I know you can't walk up to someone else's kid and hand them a condom any more than you can knock a twinkie out of someone else's kid's mouth.
However, we should all be contributing to all parts of the education of youth, and by putting the right information out there, we are playing a part.
Most kids learn everything about sex from the internet. Go fix a wiki? Find a yahoo answer about sex that's bullshit and change it?
what is the question that you've always wanted to answer but was never asked?I don't know if there's one single question. One people get it that they really can ask me anything at all, no limits, they tend to ask pretty freely.
any advice for youths that find it difficult to communicate with their family?1.) Remember that you aren't going to be stuck there forever.
2.) That said, give it your best. Keep in mind that you are likely a bit difficult for your family to figure out.
3.) Find other people's families to bond with, because that dynamic is important.
Do you have a close relationship with your kids? what do they think of your podcast?We're super close and they are supportive of everything I put myself into.
Traditionally, we ask every interview subject to finish this sentence (And I've not gotten to ask it in awhile so I'm grabbing it now!):
Sex is...This video is in response to the question! http://www.edenfantasys.com/sexis/adult-humor/nikol-hasler-sex-is-funny-0415111/
Kindred (host): "That was an excellent video! I will definitely remember all of those helpful tips."
What do you think about the public school sex ed. system as it is, in a nutshell?Each district, state, etc is a bit different, but if we're putting this in a nutshell, I think it's a pretty good parallel to the rest of the country.
The top 5% or so get a damn fine education. A good chunk of students in the middle muddle through just fine. The minorities and poor kids get swept under the rug, and by third grade are so far behind their peers that it's no wonder they see education as a waste of time, futile. Their parents had the same system to deal with, and in low income households and communities, education is seen as worthless, so there isn't even any support from their family to work hard in school. Your teachers, your friends, your family- all important angles tell these kids to give up.
And as for the curriculum, that middle chunk of kids needs to be worried about as well. They aren't expected to do more than the minimum to pass. They're fed through the system, barreling toward higher education, and then they get to university and they have no study ethic. Still, keep paying tuition and turn in a paper here and there, and you'll get through, get your diploma, then get shit out into the work force which is full up with people just like you, who were trained to do the least amount of work that they could.
Education needs an overhaul.
This message brought to you by Nikol Hasler for President.
do you regret not going to college? you obviously are still quite successful but do you think life would have been different?Sort of. I don't regret not having to pay student loans, and I don't think I'd be any better off with a college education. I might know more shit and be better company at dinner parties when they begin to discuss book-learning topics, but I'm not convinced that 18-24 is a great time to get a college education, anyway. That is a time when you are forming adult opinions of the world, and it can be easy to become set in a way of thinking dictated by your course of study.
Which 5 words would you use to describe your life as an educator?For the record, I am not an educator. Let's call it "informer" instead, but not in the Snow sense of the word. (Nobody try to lick my boom boom down.)
And I can't use 5 words so much as say that in the time in which I have been doing this whole talking about sex thing, I've learned that there are no experts. Each day I have my own notions, ideas, and concepts challenged by new situations.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?Easy. Mansion. You're all invited.
Kindred (host): "Putting that in my Outlook now: Party at Nikol's in 10 years"
Two part question... from all that you've done and experienced in your life so far... what would you say is your biggest regret and also what are you most grateful for?Most grateful for all of the people in my life who not only allow me to be, but encourage me to be 100% genuine in who I am, even the shitty parts.
Biggest regret is this one time when I thought tuna soup sounded good, only then I made it and while I was making it I thought I was some kind of genius to have thought of tuna soup, only then I ate it and I knew right away why nobody had ever made tuna soup before.
Kindred (host): "I think you are truly lucky if making tuna soup is your biggest regret. Although I imagine that was pretty bad tasting soup."
What advice do you have for people who want to do more "acting" or role-playing in their relationships but have little, if any, experience acting or embodying characters?Take up acting classes at the local community college, making sure to loudly tell everyone why you're taking the classes.
Ok, so role playing is hard. It can feel very silly, and it doesn't matter if you've done any acting ever in your life. Adopting a role in a sexual situation is risky. What if the other person laughs at what you said or is turned off by it?
Trust is important, of course, but the best advice I have is to talk through or write the situation beforehand, which makes you more familiar with what you want and some key phrases that can be used in that character's voice.
Also, something that has helped me is to text as the characters beforehand.
What kind of advice do you have for younger women?Moisturize and never settle.
What is the best way to inform sheltered teens about real sex health facts other than through the conservative views of the school system and the skewed views by the media?Hide in the bushes outside their churches and schools dressed as an otter and in between chewing on foliage (or whatever otters do) bleat out sex facts. Do it so they hear you, but when they look at you go back to your otter business and pretend they're nuts. Also, just to keep it authentic, occasionally also say "Nothing to see here. Just a giant otter yellin out sex facts."
Your story is an inspiration... how has it shaped the woman that you have become today?
did you ever think you were going to get this far in life? who would you say are your inspirations?I figured I'd be dead by 15. Then by 22. Add yearly increments, really. So, getting far wasn't on the list. However, never being satisfied with milestones has meant continued growth.
I'm most inspired by scientists, because they are all about figuring shit out to hopefully make life easier.
what do you think are the biggest sexual problems in lower class america faces? i feel it is devastating a large portion of them don't have access to sexual medsNo access to healthcare is a big one, however, the biggest sexual problem exists at a more difficult place to address.
Until members of the lower class begin to teach their children that sexual health is important, that teen pregnancies are keeping low income households stuck by lessening chances at teen parents' educations and jobs that require higher education, that AIDS is still a rising epidemic in areas of socio-economic distress, that early detection of HPV means less risk for cervical cancer- until the people get together and change their own viewpoints about these things, nothing will change.
Even getting into the school systems to try to teach comprehensive sex ed isn't going to matter much for a drop out, or a kid who isn't in class because she's busy changing diapers.
Kindred (host): "That is tragic but true. Until people learn the value of sexual health and accept it as a priority, no amount of education will be successful. It can become vicious cycle always repeating itself."
I think this is amazing!!! What you are doing that is. Do you ever think back to your teenage years? Do you think that you would have listened to someone like yourself? What do you think you would do with your own teenager? I have two daughters and still have no idea what I will do when they hit that age. Do you think being an educator will help you on a path such as that? I think being an educator would be very helpful in raising children and teaching them all the facts and being very open about it. Excellent! Excellent! Excellent work you are doing~! Where were you about 8 years ago? I would have loved to meet you then.I was a bonehead. Nobody could have gotten through to me. Had they started talking to me at a much younger age, maybe.
If my own teen came to me and said he'd gotten someone pregnant, that she was having and keeping the baby, I am not sure what the hell I would do. I have thought about this. I suppose the first thing I would do is make sure the two of them understood that they can still plan for great futures, and I would enroll them in some parenting courses. I think those should be taught in high schools anyway.
8 years ago... I think I was working at KFC. I still have nightmares about the beep of the drive through.
I know all foster care situations are not the same; some are better than others and some may even be great. But as a former foster child with many replacements, can you talk a little about what you see as general failings of the foster care system? Do you have any positive experiences or memories of that time? What do you think professionals in child welfare and foster parents should understand that they don't seem to currently understand and, finally, do you think there's any sort of "magic bullet" to improve the foster care experience for children?What most people in the community fail to understand is that foster children have been removed from a situation that was unhealthy for them. This means they likely encountered trauma. Too often they are then treated like they were bad for having to be in foster care.
The biggest issues facing foster children are detachment from family, which includes the feeling that people are temporary, and the high instance of foster children then being institutionalized (prison, hospital, group home) and/or having their own children removed from their homes.
No magic bullets. Foster parents need better training, foster kids need better resources.
Kindred (host): "It seems like the foster care system is a good concept in principle, but the current application is a total fail resulting in more problems for the children the system should be helping. How sad."
I loved MTSS, and thought it had a great mix of humor and serious information, but I've heard from others who didn't find the humor appropriate. How do you respond to such criticism? Is comedy a necessary tool for engaging teens' interest, or are there others ways to grab their attention which are just as effective?Well, humor is subjective, isn't it? Honestly, the show isn't appropriate for all kids or even all adults. While I think some parents are a bit clueless about what's going on in their kids lives, I think that even having something like MTSS to object to makes them consider how they should be talking to their kids about sex.
One father said he showed it to his kids just to tell them how awful it was. At least they saw it and talked about it.
Emotion is the way to grab attention. Kids love drama as much as comedy. Anything that gets you to a raw, open space where you realize that you are not the only person thinking/feeling something is a learning space.
Kindred (host): "That's a great perspective. Some people understand the show and get it. However, for those that disagree with it for whatever reason, hopefully it at least started a crucial conversation. Either way, mission accomplished."
Is there one particular child that has affected you emotionally and has changed your life or made an impact on you? Minus your own I mean. Of course that one has I am sure! I had my first child at 16 and moved out into this big world on my own! It would have been great to have a mentor such as yourself at that time in my life.Some of the kids who contacted me have stayed in touch and continue to use me as a support. That touches me.
I still would love to work with more teen mothers.
What process do you have to go through to speak? Are officials looking around and seek you out and ask for you to appear or do you set out to find teens in need? How do you choose where you will go?I've never pursued a speaking job, and to date I have yet to turn one down. I have had to set some limits, though, in that I used to pay for plane tickets, lodging, etc to go speak. I just can't do that anymore. So, I have a decent management agency, and they handle the stupid details on that stuff.
Have you received letters/feedback from the parents of kids who watched MTSS? Were they positive or negative?Yes. Positive, mostly. The negative feedback was very scant.
Do you think that it's helpful or harmful to be roundabout with kids' questions about sex? For example: telling a child "mom and dad come together in a special way" or "there's this stork" as opposed to telling the whole truth.Depends on the kids and the situation.
Every sexual situation is different, and every kid is at a different level of preparedness to hear about sexual situations. I don't think lies like "the stork" are a brilliant idea. But if you are telling the whole truth to a four year old about how mommy got pregnant, I don't think you are going to include the glass of wine, the ovulation, the sperm and egg, daddy got hard, pretty much every detail. There are ways to give a kid just as much information as they are ready for, taking cues from them. Then again, that's true for any topic.
How do you feel about the large media spotlight on teen pregnancy today? Such as 16 and Pregnant, or American Teenager. Do you feel that it does a good job portraying the truth to girls? Or does it simply cast a glamor over it?I feel that there is a large public spotlight on the large media spotlight on teen pregnancy today. Which tells me that we know those shows are ridiculous. Which tells me that we're not turning off our own televisions to make sure those shows get canceled. Every bit of press on the matter only fuels the flame.
Hey, America, you want to keep traffic moving along? Stop rubbernecking.
Of questions you have been asked by teens, has there been any that made you step back in surprise? If so, how did you answer them?I guess. I mean, not much surprises me, but I have had plenty of emails from teens that made me want to shake them and tell them not to be stupid. Then I figured out that they got their information from the internet and other teens, so it isn't really their fault.
So, I answer them directly, and with well researched, correct information.
When you have time for leisure reading, what types of books/articles/sites do you like to read?I read often. Right now I am reading A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking, Cat's Cradle, The Loved Ones, and a book about genetic background and taste in foods called Why Some Like It Hot. I read articles on topics from Innovation, Broadband adoption, sex and technology, parenting...
Yeah, I read.
Kindred (host): "Those are some fantastic titles you are currently reading. It is such a wonderful luxury to e able to spend time just reading for enjoyment. I really wish I had more time to do so."
What kind of offers have you had to refuse over the last 5 years or so (and why)? I am sure you have had some funny pitches and have stories you can share. (right?)Only one offer that I said no to. Bill O'Reilly's producers called and asked me to come on. I said "If I wanted to get butt *&%#ed by a stranger, I'd still be dating". They ran the story anyway.
I can't really think of anything I've turned down. People pitch ideas a lot, but I just tend to put them in touch with people who might be better suited.
Kindred (host): "That's a shame you didn't take him up on the offer. I think you would have done just fine educating him."
I think in America sex ed is just not stressed enough for our youth. I am so pleased you are helping the community... what was it like to raise a child at your young age?Hard. And I screwed up a lot.
With all the presentations that you have given, what do you see as the trend in sexual awareness in your audiences? Do you feel that more teens would really like their parents to talk more with them about sex.I feel that teens are much more into self education about sex and are more open to talking about it than ever.
I don't know if they'll ever want their parents to talk to them about sex, though. I think they're much more comfortable talking to friends or unrelated adults.
Do you have any specific advice for sexually active young adults?Not really. Biggest piece of advice is don't have sex until you've figured out that you want to and considered all the possible outcomes. But don't think you've fucked up royally if you have sex before you're ready, either. Your sexuality is not the whole of who you are.
I am in awe that you have been able to talk to your children about the intricacies of sex... my mother never did and i think it would have saved us a lot of heartbreak... do you have any advice for a girl who isn't able to talk to her mum about this subject?
I wanted to say, first of all, that I hope your son is flourishing despite the Asperger's. I dated someone with Asp. for a while and it was sometimes a real struggle to communicate.
I also wanted to ask, what suggestions do you have for someone who would like to incorporate sexual health education into their career?I suppose school is the best answer for anyone who wants to incorporate education into their career, but don't let your schooling keep you complacent. In the field of health, things change frequently. Too many older educators get stuck in older ideas, and because they have the education backing them up they don't want to listen to any new information.
If you had an unlimited funding for guests on MTSS, who would you invite and why?Jeff Goldblum, Warren Beatty, and Kenny Rogers. FOURSOME!
you're a wonderfully brave woman. would you say that we as women should be more proactive in sexual health education?As someone who doesn't identify as a feminist, but a humanist, I think everyone should be more proactive.
Have you worked in any advocacy role for foster care reform or written anything specifically discussing your experiences with child services? I am curious, having experienced serious frustration with "the system" and how it under-serves children, as a foster mother several years ago. I am working on writing about those experiences - but I think former foster children have a more important perspective.Sounds like a great project. If you need any help, let me know.
I am currently working on a documentary about aging out of the foster care system and will continue to work on raising awareness about the issues in the American foster care system.
Kindred (host): "That sounds like it will be a fascinating project. It seems like the public needs to be educated regarding the foster care system."
Thinking back on your youth and the lack of good mentors in your life at that time what would have been the very best advice you could or would have liked to have been given that would have best influenced your life then?Like I said before, I was a total bonehead. I don't think much would have changed me as a teenager. But as a younger child, if someone had let me know I was loved, and worthwhile, it would have changed a lot.
I would love to take you up on that offer of introduction more than you know. Except I'm just a hick in TN doing the very best she can. This is not a question. Just wanted you to know I respect what you've been thru, love what you're doing with your life, and wish you the greatest of success. You deserve it! I'll be watching your shows and following you on Sexis and your advice column. Don't let me down! Handle it very well when your so famous and loved that you might feel just a itty bitty bit of overwhelmed. We all appreciate you here at Eden. Keep on with the laughter!I like your style of questions. And your profile picture.
I love watching your show, and I also enjoy your articles in SexIs!
I admire you for staying strong through all of your hardships, and your relationships with your children!
I hope this set of questions doesn't offend you in any way!
I have noticed recently (I'm sure others have noticed as well) that a lot of teenage girls are wanting to have children just for the hell of it, treating being pregnant and babies like the newest fashion trends. . . this upsets me as a lot of the mothers expect their families or the local government to care for them. How do you feel about this growing trend? What would you say to those types of teenage moms in particular? What would you say to girls thinking of getting pregnant for these reasons?I don't think it's a growing trend, and haven't found any data supporting it. I teen pregnancy has been a problem in this country for a long time, and we keep acting like it's a new thing.
I also don't think there are girls getting pregnant because it's fashionable. Most teen moms I talk to say they just didn't think about using birth control. Never thought about it. They didn't *not* think they would get pregnant, they just didn't think about it at all.
With the stigmas of teen motherhood, drug use, and homelessness/living below the poverty line, you probably had to deal with a lot of spoken and unspoken criticism in those troubling times. Now that you're published and by society's standards a far more successful individual, do critics from your past come back to kiss ass? How do you react to that?Nah, nobody has ever stepped up to say they're proud who wasn't already proud. I think most people in my life wanted me to do well. They just didn't think I would. Now that I have, I get unending support and warmth from family and friends. But the critics remain critics and likely always will.