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What Brings You Pleasure on Your Period?

Team August | 2.14.2022

The conversation around periods is often shunned & unspoken of. Yet, there is a need for education & answers. Periods are powerful and this February 14, Valentine's day we want to continue to shift the conversation to be more dignified. Leiti Hsu, Dining Dominatrix & entrepreneur sat down with August to talk all about feeling sexy, loving your body and being unashamed on your period.

Introduction, who are you and what do you do?

I’m Leiti, a host, speaker, writer, artist, entrepreneur, producer, investor who changes minds and hearts for good.

I created DREAM DINNER PARTY (feat. in the NYTimes), a flavor-filled variety show gathering the world's best chefs and not-chefs for way more than food.

I’m a Culinary and culture expert and champion for mental health in hospitality. My concepts like Dining Dominatrix, Roving Omakase and Noodle Soup Dance Party are about love, food, permission and pleasure.

People come to me for conversations and experiences IRL (or elsewhere in the multiverse) that are fun and delicious—induce feelings and learnings.

I’ve worked with the likes of BMW, Amex, Japanese Wagyu, Rémy Cointreau, Singapore Tourism, Justin & Haley Bieber.

Tell us about your first period, how did you feel & how has that changed as you got older?

I feel like I wasn't having as much fun as I'm having now with periods. My period experience began in the school bathroom in junior high. It's kind of scary to have blood coming out of you. You know, because blood is an alarming color. I think that's actually, inherently why it's easy for society to make women, girls and period having people feel dirty and bad. To have red blood coming out of you is pretty scary no matter how you cut it for a young person. I remember throughout life, these moments buying menstrual supplies at the drugstore with condoms, feeling shame that I'm on my period. I'd feel embarrassed and hide my tampon up my sleeve. I remember thinking, what if I don't have a sleeve that day? And I would even base my tampon buying decisions on how compact the tampons are so I would be able to put it in my fist.

Realizing later on that nobody is perfect, that everybody at some time or another, and quite frequently, experiences leaks. It's just been a lifelong struggle with the permission to not be perfect with my period. It's insane how society ignores the fact that all people who have uteruses menstruate for a large part of their lives. The amount of time and emotional energy that's spent on periods & being perfect around our periods is extraordinary. That time and energy that could be spent instead learning, designing, dreaming, making the world a better place, or having a good time.

It’s ridiculous that society shames things that are just so normal. And later on in life, I am starting to develop this wholehearted unconditional self love. I'm meeting people who are fighting the good fight by their way of being in everyday life by normalizing periods and beyond.

What does being dignified on your period mean to you?

Being dignified on my period means being more connected with my body and with my feelings. Sometimes I wake up, and I get that little tingle– you know, the funny feeling. And I wonder, is my period coming? Instead of dreading it, I get excited when I can guess correctly when it's coming on. I also love the moment when you wake up and the flow hasn't started in full force yet. I go to the loo to have my morning pee and then up it comes! And I'm like, go you, you guessed it, and you guessed correctly!

I'm also more kind and playful about it. I lean into it, rather than feeling like this kind of disgust and self hate at the sight & smell of it. And now instead when I get my period, I get to think of my friend Nadya and the whole team behind August! I get to feel this pleasure about my friends and their companies and brands changing the narrative.

The fact that I use August, which is sustainable, I've now reached another level of dignified on my period. To have had my first ever lingerie shoot be about being sexy on my period? Amazing. I now have these memories of this shoot when my period pops up! August period care makes periods so much more fun.

Do you feel sexy during your period? What can one do to feel confident on their period?

I do exercise and have sex and do other activities as I normally would. I feel my most confident when I'm too busy getting shit done to notice that I'm on my period once I have a reliable tampon in. I strive to feel sexy almost every day. I mean, hot tip masturbate before going out. Folks will wonder what that is! That glow this kind of je ne sais quoi about you? Right? When I'm on my period I love to treat myself and practice self love. I will go for a two hour massage with this one 70 something year old gentle person who worked for the Chinese Olympics team. He really knows how to save me.

Also, as a food lover, I love foods that are saucy and soupy and moist. People are so uncomfortable with this word moist. But you know mashed potatoes should be moist and chicken should be moist and lips should be moist. I'll go for omakase solo or indulge in noodle soup.

How do you think society can work towards de-stigmatizing periods and shifting the negative culture around periods?

Society can destigmatize periods by making non menstruating humans more familiar with periods so they cam be comfortable being supportive of them. I'm always talking about August, and just today I told a male friend “hey, my friend’s period products company is really awesome.” I had to repeat "period products company" three times before he finally got that it meant tampons and pads.

In the New York Times article that August was in recently, there was a super memorable moment for me. They quoted a female doctor who said that her 16 year old son knows to have a tampon or a sanitary pad on him to share with friends. I'm like, WOW, go son. Go mom.

And finally, I love what the August founder AKA my friend Nadya, is doing to expand the conversation and share stories, tips, photos and videos of periods to the masses! Because why not? Surprise periods are normal.

As an artist, do you feel more creative on your period?

The pussy is the source of creativity. After all, it's a source of creation and human life. Periods create human life. My sexuality and sensuality, my feelings, and my pussy are the source of energy and creativity. These days, I've been overflowing with creativity. This truth that menstruation enables the creation of babies and the continuation of humankind is one society is so bad at facing for some reason--and the truth makes for the best stories. I wake up every day, and I have my calendar, my game plan, and then the day and then the night goes better than I could have even dreamed or planned it. And this includes the day that we got to do our sexy on your period shoot together.

Let’s get real about the shock factor of mixing period care and lingerie. What was your gut reaction when you heard the concept for the shoot?

My reaction was a resounding yes. F Yes. I've been buying luxury lingerie since my 20s when I really really shouldn't have and couldn't properly afford it. Truly gorgeous lingerie is expensive. When I first heard about the concept of the shoot, I felt ecstatic to be thought of. I felt like the shoot was made just for me. I got to wear some of the lingerie that I've invested in recently. Opening up my suitcases was like going into a real life fairy tale of my own gorgeous reality with you all.

I love that this shoot concept is filled with contrast and I love juxtaposing something that's considered sexy, and something that's considered not sexy. I love interrupting the male gaze and society's judgment and freeing the period!

I remember the fun and the glory that we had on set. I had so much fun creating content with Nadya, she and I go to food things together which is my passion, and now we get to do period things together which is her passion!

Do you have period sex? What tips do you have for first timers?

Find yourself a partner who's grown up in the best way. I wouldn't tolerate somebody who yucks my yum, so to speak. Periods are a part of my identity Giving ourselves the permission to welcome the having of periods something quite normal and natural is a big part of my support and self advocacy. This is a part of my ethos of food, love/sex, permission, pleasure and empowering period having people. Periods are part of my body so you can't have a problem with it if we're going to have sex.

Another tip is to have a sense of humor about it. Real Life, real sex, real periods. You know real life isn't just like the movies with all the fun and funny parts cut out– I actually enjoy the fun and funniness behind the scenes. That's why they've got outtakes you know, Im all about the process and the journey!

Do you have a period x dating story to share?

I still feel a little shy about being on my period when diving into it with someone. But this one fellow, we were getting, you know, hot and bothered, having a romp in bed and he was a total pro. He didn't even let me think twice or flinch, he just calmly pulled out my tampon in the middle of foreplay with permission granted.

It was so suave and sexy and adoring! And in fact it's not surprising that it was with this dear male friend of mine that at the ripe age of 35 I was able to orgasm from just penetration for the first time.

You’re the Dining Dominatrix. How does this identity translate into the other areas of your life like your period & sex life?

As the dining dominatrix, I've come to realize that I have to spoil myself with food, love, permission and pleasure before I can do so for others. During sex it's a big deal I've been feeling like a butterfly coming out of a metamorphosis, the saran wrap, peeling off. I've come to realize that healing leads to more feelings, and really feeling things creates food, sex, pleasure and art of all forms music, film, dining cocktails, the art of every day.

I am working on deepening that kindness to myself and slowing myself down and being okay with imperfection when I'm on my period. So if I'm going to recommend that you have more permission and pleasure in your period and sex life, it means that I need to do that for myself.

Being a foodie, how do you honor your cravings and your body on your period?

I honor my period cravings. My serotonin increases when I dream up my cravings because the body knows what it wants. It's not just the nourishment and nutrition that comes from food but the balance of having a little bit of everything with the joy and the pleasure of eating something yummy.

Whether I'm craving chocolate, dark chocolate, or even something as simple as sauteed spinach, I honor my period cravings by giving myself the permission to feel pleasure in what I'm eating. I have had a combative or fearful relationship with many things, like money or saying I love you, but not with food. At my childhood dinner table there were no words of advice or stories. Not a lot of laughter. Not a lot of fun. That's the truth–And it was pretty traumatizing. But the one thing that my mom and dad did do for me is feed me– feed me really, really well. Thus food was my first ever love language.

The day that my mother passed away. That morning when I got the phone call from my baby sister. She had a long bout with cancer. And she died in her sleep. That night, I happened to be cooking Taiwanese beef noodle soup for 120 people at a conference called Summit Series. And it really took the day that my mother died for me to allow myself the permission to take up time and space and tell my story. And that was the day that I realized that hunger and wanting and craving, it is a privilege. When you're not well, you can't be hungry until I saw my mom get less and less well and less and less hungry.

To be well and to be hungry is one of my favorite feelings in the world. Because for the most part I get to satiate my hunger with this abundant smorgasbord of a gorgeous reality. I feel gratitude for my hunger and my cravings. Food is my friend. Food is my friend.

AUGUST

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