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A Sexplanation is good plain sex talk

By Jana Monji, AsAmNews Arts & Culture Writer

Do we need to talk about sex?

For some people, it’s easier to drop the f-bomb than say penis or clitoris and perhaps that needs to change. The breezy documentary, A Sexplanation, proves ample opportunity to brush up on sex ed and blush at possible shortcomings.

Writer/director Alex Liu is a thirty-something belatedly trying to come to terms with the shame he’s associated with sex. He knows that means some uncomfortable conversations, but dispels that kind of first-time intimacy talk awkwardness with sight gags, including luscious-looking phallus cake pops, food-related metaphors and animated innuendos.

Before I slide in to A Sexplanation, I need to divulge some pertinent information: I once went to work on Halloween as the Safer Sex Fairy–the funner cousin of the Tooth Fairy. I gave out Halloween-themed condoms, but gave each recipient (almost all men) a short talk about safer sex (because remember there is no such thing as totally safe sex). 

I had received my training at a free weekend HIV/AIDS workshop specifically for the AAPI community. I also helped promote rape awareness workshops and programs in college.

Despite all this, Liu, who co-wrote with Leonardo Neri,  goes where I never went and where many adults never want to go: He has a sex talk with his parents and explores their sexual experience and inexperience. All of this is to penetrate the puritanical approach to sex in hopes of making a sex positive choice. His parents tackled the topic with surprising good attitudes. 

Of course, you don’t have to go there. I never will. If you decide to see “A Sexplanation,” expect some penis and clitoris diagrams and photos. These are medical images–including some horrific flashes of diseased flesh (so quick you won’t really recall them). You might not want to expose your children to these images yet and if you’re on the puritanical side of sex talk, this film might give you heart palpitations. The nudity is mostly presented in natural or naturist settings.

The bad talk about sex is mostly glossed over by which I mean rape and #MeToo concerns and how sex-positive private conversations can, like the free-love of the sixties, become a shame-fest coercive ploy by master manipulators. Liu doesn’t go there.  

Liu does go to neuroscience labs, to churches, to psychologists and to sex researchers for information and informative conversations. 

In A Sexplanation, Liu concludes that families are the foundation for good sex education and even found a group where nearly a dozen parents and kids had conversations about sex and were then told to have 200 one-minute conversations going forward. Silence is the problem and ignorance isn’t bliss.  Sex is natural, but sometimes people need help on what Irving Berlin called “Doin’ What Comes Naturally.” Liu’s A Sexplanation is one way and a particularly gay-friendly way to get the conversation going. 

A Sexplanation made its world premiere at the Cinequest Film Festival in March and was part of the AAIFF 2021. 

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