"Midwest Teen Sex Show" excites with humor, honesty and controversy
Most modern sexual education classes cover various aspects of puberty, like methods of birth control or the concept of abstinence so kids are clear on how to stay un-pregnant and disease-free.
However, for many teens, the usual pamphlets and textbooks narrated by a slightly uncomfortable gym teacher only scratch the surface of what they really want to know. Hence, in decades past, curious kids turned to older siblings, swiped porn and the walls of public restrooms for more information.
These days, "The Midwest Teen Sex Show," a monthly video podcast with more than 125,000 subscribers, is happy to provide the meaty details in the form of five-minute segments on homosexuality, porn, parents, the first time, female masturbation, the older boyfriend and "backdoor business."
It's not G-rated material, but it's funny, truthful and informative.
"Remember, bacteria lives in the butt, so once you put something in the butt, don't put it anywhere else unless you thoroughly cleaned it. But don't use bleach," says the snarky-yet-sincere host, Nikol Hasler.
Hasler, who lives in Waukesha, is one-third of the successful trio behind MTSS. Chicago-based comedian Britney Barber and director / producer Guy Clark round out the talent.
"My participation was quite an accident," says Hasler. "Guy came to my birthday party last year and we discussed how I really needed to sink myself into something creative. He already wanted to create this show and it occurred to him that I would be a good fit for co-writing and hosting."
Barber made it a threesome after responding to an ad that Hasler and Clark posted on Craigslist.
"Britney is the kind of hilarious that makes things come shooting out one's nose," says Halser. "We got really lucky in finding her back when the show began."
Hasler, a 29-year-old mother of three boys ages 10 and 8 years, and 18 months, says MTSS provides a venue for her to express her humor and life experience.
"As the show progressed it became evident to me how very lucky I am to be able to finally look at my past and understand that I could have benefited from some straight talk," says Hasler.
After her father died and her mentally ill, drug-addicted mother could no longer care for her, Hasler lived in more than a dozen foster homes during her childhood. She was a victim of sexual abuse and become pregnant when she was 18.
"I spent a long time playing the 'Mom Should Have Loved Me More' card until I reached a place where I could see that 'should have' is one of the most banal phrases every used," says Hasler.
Although MTSS is designed for teens, the humor -- and education -- is appreciated by folks of all ages.
"Think about Disney movies that parents have to sit through and how they often incorporate the jokes that will make those movies appeal to parents as well. We're Disney-riffic," says Hasler.
Not surprisingly, MTSS is highly controversial, especially with parents and educators who proclaim Hasler and company lack the credentials to talk to teens about sex.
"We are striving for entertainment first, then we inject it with information that would have been useful to us when we were teens," says Hasler.
The controversy heightened when Hasler made an offbeat comment about cancer in "The Older Boyfriend" episode, when she says, "If you're in junior high and you're dating someone who's out of high school, he's a pedophile. And pedophilia's a disease. Would you date someone with cancer? No."
Hasler, who lost an uncle to cancer, says the comment was intended as a joke.
"That cancer joke really did get people riled up, didn't it? It also got them talking," she says.
Indeed it did. Segments about the show appeared on "The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet" and "CBS Evening News with Katie Couric." Although MTSS is not currently profiting, the massive spike in popularity suggests that the cake is just around the corner.
The show's success comes from skilled writing, hilarious performances and honest, hardcore details. Despite flack from some parents and educators, "The Midwest Teen Sex Show" cuts through the clutter and reaches people.
"Unless your kids are kept locked away in a tower, they are being bombarded with far racier images and ideas in mainstream society every day," says Hasler. "A parent who firmly disagrees with our program could easily show an episode to their teen and discuss what is wrong with what I have said, and it would still be more useful than not talking about it at all."
I didn't realize the MTSS actually teaches anything about sex. I thought it was just for the humor. If there is a real lesson, it's minimal.
Another great source for sex information is Dan Savage's column, "Savage Love," which appears in The Onion. I'm serious. Savage is honest -- usually brutally so -- and he's explicit, which are two excellent ingredients when talking about sex. He's also a breath of fresh air when it comes to how relationships REALLY work, not how they should work. I wish his column was around when I was a teenager.
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