Cherry Healey is no stranger to sharing details about her personal life. In the name of documentaries, blogs and podcasts, Cherry has tackled so many challenging issues, including body issues, drinking, and documenting the birth of her first child. Her latest project, The Hotbed podcast, a frank and funny discussion about sex, is just another day at the office for Cherry. Here, we chat to the presenter about the new podcast, and what’s changed since we last spoke back in the 2014.
The Hotbed aims to ‘make life better, one orgasm at a time’. Where did the inspiration for the podcast and blog arise from?
I started the podcast with Lisa Williams and Anniki Sommerville after we found that we were starting conversations about sex after kids, and the moment we did, our friends would be relieved to be able to talk about it. Everyone would open up and share their worries and experiences, and feel much better afterwards, so we thought there might be something in it.
At the same time, some research came out showing that there is a huge gender gap in the number of orgasms we will experience over a lifetime, so we thought we could help women talk about sex and relationships, and get what they want and need, physically and emotionally. Kids can put a huge strain on relationships and we want to help couples stay together.
The podcast is geared towards people juggling work and children, while trying to maintain a sex life. What advice do you have for new parents wanting to revive their sex life after having a baby?
Firstly, not to rush it. Birth and hormones can play havoc with your body and brain, and the sleep deprivation is real! What we encourage is keeping up the intimacy with your partner instead: hugs, massages, a big snog – feeling loved is so important in those vulnerable few months after a baby.
We’ll review sex toys or lube or feminist porn and talk about our own reaction to them, but no one needs to know the gory details…
Communication is key because often if a woman feels as if every kiss needs to lead to sex, she might shy away from kisses. So we suggest a conversation where you say you want the affection but you’re not ready for the sex yet, for example, and then both of you know that it’s not going to be forever.
You’re very honest when it comes to sharing your life experiences. Are parents often forthcoming with details of their sex lives? How do you encourage people to open up?
We have been AMAZED at how open everyone has been. I think because we are so open and playful about the subject matter, people feel it’s ok to share. They send us blog posts to publish, turn up to our live shows to ask questions and to party, and tell us on Instagram which member of Take That gives them the horn.
I think when people hear the word ‘sex’ they assume you want them to go out their comfort zone and try a sex dungeon or something scary, when that’s not our approach at all.
We love your frank approach to topics that are not spoken about enough. Are you ever concerned about oversharing personal details? Or do you believe there’s such a thing as oversharing?
We all have very understanding partners but at the same time, we don’t want to gross people out with intimate details about our own sex lives. We’ll review sex toys or lube or feminist porn and talk about our own reaction to them, but no one needs to know the gory details…That said, we are so passionate about women’s health and happiness that we will share some stuff to raise awareness and create interesting shows. Episode three of the podcast features a story about me wetting myself in front of Beverly Knight, for example. Kegel exercises are so important!
The podcast comes two years after your debut book Letters To My Fanny. Did writing a confessional memoir help you reconnect with your body and your experiences? Has the book had influence on how your perceive sex and relationships now?
Writing the book was incredibly cathartic. It made me face some of my worst habits – like looking at my bum in the mirror before I go out to check it’s not too big and weighing myself every morning with the number determining how happy my day was.
I realised that my daughter would absorb and watch all of my examples so if I really wanted to break the pattern I needed to start with myself. That’s a lot easier said than done, but trying to be kind and honest with myself was a good start.
Really honest, relatable, non-scary, non-judgemental conversations about sex is hard to find and is a game-changer for confidence.
The response to the book was also hugely comforting in that I knew I wasn’t alone, but also made me even more passionate about freeing women from their private world of self hate. Writing Letters To My Fanny also definitely made me laugh a lot at my sexual adventures growing up! I realised how little I really knew – and that if I’d been a little more aware of simple things such as my biology, I might not have done a few things! It took me a long time to feel comfortable in my body and confident (although there’s still a lot of work to be done) in the bedroom – I wish I’d felt these things sooner. Really honest, relatable, non-scary, non-judgemental conversations about sex is hard to find and is a game-changer for confidence.
Your children are still relatively young, but have you considered how you will teach them about sex and relationships? If so, what key piece of advice will you give them?
This is a conversation I am constantly having with my other mum friends! It’s really really tricky and everyone has their own style. Firstly I want my daughter, and my son, to feel unashamed of their bodies – I do walk around naked and never, ever body-shame myself.
I’ve also taught my daughter all the words for her body – the silly nicknames we all use but also the proper biological terms – I never want her to feel that vaginal is embarrassing or something we can’t talk about. In terms of how to talk to them about sex, if you have the answer please let me know! I’d actually love for your readers to recommend any books that give good advice on this. Help!
You’ve racked up an incredible repertoire of documentaries which often relate to your personal life. What’s the most life-changing thing you’re learnt about yourself through working on these projects?
That it’s easy and human to judge. It’s natural as we’re being programmed to compete and survive, so it’s hard-wired within us to place people in certain categories, and to work out if they are a threat or not. But the minute we go beyond that, the minute we hear someones reasons, we hear how they made a decision, we hear about their pain and context, those judgements fall away. I’ve learnt not to berate myself if I catch myself judgement, but to try not to feed that muscle and to be open to allow perceptions to change. I never want to get set in my ways. The more I know the more I know how little I know!
The Hotbed Collective Instagram features celeb crushes, including James Norton and John Travolta (personal favourites). Could you tell us about any famous crushes you’ve had over the years and why?
All of them! John Travolta is a huge one! Michael J Fox posters were all over my wall! And Mark Owen…sigh. I felt actual heart-pain for him!
To download the Hotbed Collective, click here to visit iTunes.
Follow @thehotbedcollective on Instagram here.