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WANNA SHARE? The CSPH invite.

Bad poetry. Teeth-smashing makeout sessions. Bra strap snafus.

Most people relegate memories of hormonally-charged agonies to diary entries tucked into sticker-covered boxes hidden under a bed. On Friday, May 9, however, the Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health (CSPH) has found a group of locals willing to not only dust off those memories, but stand in front of a roomful of strangers and share them out loud.

The first-ever “Sticky Stories: Sexual Confessions and Awkward Adventures,” serves as a fundraiser for the CSPH, the Pawtucket-based grassroots nonprofit dedicated to fighting misinformation by elevating the field of sexual education. “Sexual shame has direct consequences on health,” says Aida E. Manduley, programming director and coordinator of the CSPH. “People who are ashamed are less likely to get the healthcare or support they need. Once you feel marginalized in society, you can be afraid to say what you want.”

Creating an atmosphere in which people can say anything was a direct impetus for launching Sticky Stories, Manduley explains. In March, CSPH put out an open call for true-life stories of “wet dreams, strange crushes, embarrassing love letters, coming out, sexual debuts, awkward locker room incidents, menstruation disasters, furtive first kisses, sexual awakenings, or what you thought sex was before you knew what sex was.” CSPH staff then selected 12 performers to share their stories and they have spent the weeks since working with participants to practice.

Alyssa Copeland, a college student who will read from her teenage diary, is one such performer. “I met this totally cute boy today. His name’s Matt and he’s from Missouri! That’s so far away and exotic!” gushed 13-year-old Copeland. “He has such curly black hair that keeps falling into his eyes, I just wanted to push his hair away so I could look at his eyes better. But he would think I was so weird if I did that.”

While Copeland has experience reciting poetry, publicly sharing the details of her first summer romance is a first. “We’ve all had our awkward, weird experiences,” she says. “The majority of my awkwardness has revolved around my body and sex as these mystical, taboo subjects that were never funny and you never talked about to anyone. So, I say it’s time to shed some light and laugh a little.”

Fellow performer Kristina Cerce agrees that a sense of humor is key when revisiting past experiences. Friday night won’t be the first time, however, that Cerce (aka Mistress K) will speak candidly about sexuality. A nurse and “adult novelties consultant,” Mistress K has experience making people feel at ease with the potentially uneasy. She boasts of “epic stories” of her own worth sharing at the event — “especially because I sell sex toys,” she says. Her performance will consist of a series of sketches ranging from depictions of her first “awkward” sexual experience to one-night stands to dating in her twenties.

While a few stories cover events later in life (like the challenges of having sex in a Catholic university), the CSPH focused Sticky Stories around adolescent memories. “There’s correlation between your experiences as a youth and your sexuality as an adult,” Manduley says. “Storytelling helps us exorcise those demons, get muscle memory moving. We focus on adults at the Center, but every adult was once a teenager.”

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