Order an orgasm from the tech queen of shame-free sex

‘We made it as easy as ordering a sandwich’

Andrea Barrica would like to help you order your ideal orgasm the way you order a sandwich. So she’s created a handy form on her website, www.o.school. Here’s how the idea came to her:

“I was standing in line at Whole Foods,” says Barrica with suave confidence and a blinding smile. “If you’ve ever ordered a burrito or a sandwich, you know that you can say ‘I want no onions,’ extra lettuce or whatever.

“Some people don’t know the options. So we created a fun form, which makes it as easy as ordering a sandwich. But instead of no onions or extra tomatoes, it’s ‘slow or fast on this part of my body in this direction for this amount of time.’”

Now, admit it, you’re filling out that order form right now in your mind. And it doesn’t feel dirty. Barrica started O.school (the O is for orgasm, if you really need to know) for exactly this reason. “We’re not here to arouse anyone,” Barrica says reassuringly. “We’re just here to have science-based and judgment-free conversations about sexuality.”

Barrica, 31, is a Berkeley-educated venture capitalist, author, speaker and founder of O.school, the friendliest sexual education website for adults you will ever see. Her four-person Bay Area team at O.school creates original content for grown-ups with questions. (Example article: “‘Vanilla’ Isn’t Boring: 11 Ideas for Sexual Exploration if Kink Isn’t For You.”)

She’s preparing to launch a sexual-wellness venture capital fund, and is much in demand as a speaker at TED and other conferences. She is among 100 other entrepreneurs and founders around the world from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex and Asexual communities featured in “Gaingels 100,” a handsome collection of portraits and mini bios.

So let’s talk sex like it’s a sandwich!

“We make a lot of food comparisons,” she says. “We talk about spiciness. Some people like spicy foods and some people don’t. And we use that to describe different levels of play and exploration. What’s spicy to me may not be spicy for you. And like with cooking, some things require a lot of equipment, some things don’t. Comparing sex to food takes a lot of the scariness and stigma out of it.”

Setting aside what kind of cooking equipment we’re talking about and what kinds of gourmet food can be whipped up with those mixers or double boilers, those sexwich order forms add up.

“They create a really interesting anonymized data set for us on how people want to be touched. There’s not a lot of research being done around sexuality pleasure. And we think that’s a real open area,” Barrica says. “We publish some of this information to our community in our email list. You have all of your answers to the top five ways that people like to be touched in this or that part of your body. It really starts a lot of conversations because people are like, ‘Oh, I didn’t even know that that was a possible option.’”

Who knew you could get melted Brie when all this time you’ve settled for Swiss?

The key to understanding Barrica is that she didn’t settle for Swiss. In 2016 she was building accounting software, married to her seemingly straight, male high school sweetheart, and “being a very good Filipino daughter,” she says. “That was really challenging for me.”

Barrica grew up “in a culture where talking about sex was not OK. It was, ‘don’t have it till you’re married.’ And that was pretty much it.”

To explore her queerness, Barrica started Googling, and found two extremes. “There was Planned Parenthood, WebMD and other medical websites — or porn. That’s why I founded the company: Because there should exist a very rich area between Planned Parenthood and porn.”

What she found in between those extremes was personally miraculous. “My ex came out as a trans woman one year after we separated and is living happily married to another woman. And I’m also out and a happy queer lesbian. It’s pretty awesome how things turn out.”

And if the idea of Barrica being close friends with her trans woman ex-husband makes you smile, this might make you cry.

Early in her sexual awakening, her parents’ friends took notice on Facebook. “Right away someone saw me and tagged my parents and said, ‘What do you think of this? This is pretty out there.’

“I’m Filipino, so divorce is taboo in our culture, let alone queerness, homosexuality, LGBTQ. And my father spoke out and said, ‘This is amazing. I completely support her.’”

She ordered her sandwich, and opened a deli so you can order yours.

“I was speaking in Pittsburg, Kansas. A young man came up to me and said that a nurse at his school told him that masturbation would lead to erectile dysfunction. Pure misinformation. I told him that, in general, this is a healthy practice, and it’s one of the safest forms of sex you can have at his age.

“This relieved young man sprinted out of the auditorium to go take care of things.”

Another case study:

“A 70-year-old woman messaged O.school and told us about the very satisfying sex she was having with her new boyfriend. But she did need advice on positions because she had a sore hip. We ended up writing an article about sexual positions and oral sex positions for people at an age where maybe they and their bodies need some accommodation.”

And here is perhaps the most important lesson Barrica says she has learned. Her team was surprised to discover that their website was No. 2 on all of Google in search rankings for a common, cat-like slang term for female genitalia. That was a powerful lesson, she says, that “the people who really need education, we have to meet them where they are.”

Because that education is badly needed. “Right now half of U.S. students are getting no sex ed at all. I meet college students graduating today who can’t identify basic anatomy on a chart,” she says.

“Not everyone went to college. Not everyone got a gender studies degree. It’s OK to make mistakes. It’s OK not to understand everything. That’s where you start learning.”

So, sandwich lovers. What’ll you have?

Send items to jelder@sfexaminer.com

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