46. 12 ways to say no gracefully: horizontal with the co-founder of cuddle party
Play • 1 hr 10 min

horizontal is the podcast of intimacies that’s recorded while lying down.

In this episode, I get the opposite of vertical with Marcia B., co-founder of Cuddle Party, creator of The Good Girl Recovery Program, and co-leader of weekend intensives like “Make Hot Play Happen” and “The Wanted Man,” that teach humans to have more fun, deeper connections, and hotter sex. Her co-teacher for these weekends is Midori, the renowned sex educator and doyenne of Japanese bondage.

Marcia is an educator, a writer, a wild-permission giver, a generator of joy. She's funny and warm and lovely and clear. Marcia is a boundary expert, and the set of rules that she co-created for Cuddle Party have inspired a legion of hosts, including pretty much everyone who hosts an event at Hacienda Studio — the event space housed in Hacienda Villa, the community I live in.

The Cuddle Party rules are so good, so simple and yet so profound, that I am compelled to share them here:

  1. Pajamas stay on the whole time.
  2. You don’t have to cuddle anyone at a Cuddle Party, ever.
  3. You must ask permission and receive a verbal YES before you touch anyone. (Be as specific in your request as you can.)
  4. If you’re a yes, say YES. If you’re a no, say NO.
  5. If you’re a maybe, say NO.
  6. You are encouraged to change your mind.
  7. Respect your relationship agreements and communicate with your partner.
  8. Get your Cuddle Party Facilitator or the Cuddle Assistant if you have a question or concern or need assistance with anything during the Cuddle Party.
  9. Tears and laughter are both welcome.
  10. Respect people’s privacy when sharing about Cuddle Parties.
  11. Keep the Cuddle space tidy

We got horizontal in Kensington, California (Marcia says that I should say Berkeley, because even people from the Bay Area don’t seem to know that there is a Kensington).

My San Francisco stop was right in the middle of my horizontal does america cross-country road trip tour. For synchronicitous stories and pretty pictures, sign up for the missives on horizontalwithlila.com

We are in Marcia’s “Room of Requirement,” a designation borrowed from the world of Harry Potter (which I loooove. I used to re-read all the books every year, for comfort). It’s a space that converts into whatever the seeker needs it for most at that very pressing moment, if they know where to find it. Marcia’s Room of Requirement is a sometime office, sometime guest room, often living room, occasional Cuddle Party space… you get the picture. It’s exactly the opposite of an austere apartment where you feel like you probably shouldn’t touch anything or sit down. In Marcia’s house, you should plop down straightaway. Purrrfect for getting horizontal.

In this first part of our conversation, we talk about Marcia’s coming of age during the AIDS crisis, the some/many/most model of sex information, boundaries boundaries boundaries, the abnormality of “average,” saying no gracefully and… asking for what you want.



If you enjoy lying down with Marcia and I, become a patron of the horizontal arts. You could receive monthly love poems, tickets to a live horizontal storytelling show, or horizontal pillows so that you too can get horizontal with lila. Every bit of patronage goes into continuing to make independent, uncensored, ad free homemade radio. I believe that making private conversations public makes intimacy contagious, and the more intimacy we have in all different forms, the happier we are. Be part of my mission to spread intimacy across the globe through Patreon.com/horizontalwithlila.

Show me you believe in what I'm doing. Patronage begins at $2 a month, and as it increases, the rewards get more sumptuous.


Now, dear ones, come lie down with us in Berkeley, California.



Chad Michael Snavely is horizontal’s editor-at-large. He and the rest of his coterie of podcasts can be found at Chad Michael.com. Alan Markley created my intro jams. He’s plasticcannons on Instagram. And Shana Shay drew the sensual me that comprises my cover art. You can hire her through 99designs.

On next week’s episode, Marcia and I discuss the dog/cat/bird model of play party personalities, touch deprivation, what is “queer enough,” bi-erasure, constellations, poly pods, and the post-nuclear family. Also, Marcia reiterates that “if you can’t say no, your yes is worthless.”

Until next Friday: may you have someone to love, something to do, and something to look forward to.

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