Dana Hamilton


Dana Hamilton

Dana Hamilton.jpg

Occupation: Sex Columnist at Playboy

Location: A digital nomad often living between New York, Boston, and Los Angeles, United States

The Sex in My Business: I write essays about sex and culture, but always through the lens of humor and self-love. I want to normalize discussions of sex and help people feel good in their bodies. The topics I write about really run the gamut when it comes to sex; I’ve gone to a Furry convention, attended a naked yoga class, made my stomach its own Tinder profile, interviewed international humanitarian aid workers, adult film stars, and members of the blind community about their sex lives—the list goes on and on. I most recently finished a huge project on male bisexuality for Playboy’s Summer 2019 print issue where I interviewed the top researcher of male bisexuality and five bi men so the public could get a better understanding of a sexual orientation some sadly still don’t believe is real. A lot of my work revolves around debunking harmful myths that were created to shame people’s sexual autonomy, normalizing topics that have been deemed “taboo” by our society, and helping people feel more comfortable in their skin.

A Typical Day: Being a freelancer, no two days look the same for me. I might be pitching a story to an editor, writing an essay, creating content for my social media accounts, following up on invoices or combing through email. I also host weekly sessions on my Instagram account (Sex Talk Sundays) where I answer questions that fans submit to me about sex, dating, body image, eating disorder recovery, and more. I was laid off in March 2019 (I had a full-time day job in tech on top of maintaining my weekly blog and freelancing for magazines), so I very recently transitioned to full-time freelancing. I try to take on stories about the intersection of sex and travel as often as I can—those are the assignments I like the best.

The Best Part: I love when I get to write something that makes me laugh. It is very often that I do. I try to make my work as accessible and entertaining as possible so sex feels less scary and clinical, and people feel more comfortable with the subject matter. I have found that the best way to do this is through humor because listen: sex is hilarious. It is meant to be a joyous act and the human body is inherently funny—farts are funny, boners are funny, queefs are funny….you get the idea. When I laugh while writing, or an editor or a reader messages me to tell me something I wrote made them crack up, it makes my day.

The Worst Part: Harassment makes my job hard. Sadly, I get harassed often (especially by men), which makes it difficult to feel safe. I also don’t like when people message me after reading my work and act like they know me—I hate that. It drives me nuts when people think that because I speak openly about my sex life it means I have no boundaries, and that because I share so freely in my writing, they can share so freely with me. The thing is: sex writers have boundaries. In fact, we tend to have more and stronger boundaries than the average person. A reader has to consent to read my work—they have to make a conscious decision to click on an article I’ve written or follow me on social media or read my blog. They have a choice. People sometimes misunderstand my openness as consent to being bombarded with sexually explicit messages from people via email or DMs on social media. 90% of messages I receive are things people would never say to my face while walking down the street, which gets very tiring to put up with.

How I Got Here: Well, the road to get here has been full of twists and turns, but I always knew I wanted to write personal essays and I’ve always been a huge comedy nerd. I majored in writing and nutrition at NYU because, at first, I wanted to write material on eating disorder recovery (I am 12 years recovered from anorexia/bulimia). After graduating college in 2010, I worked at a literary agency that dealt mainly with nonfiction, then moved on to work as an editor at two of the “Big 5” publishing houses in New York City, where I paid my dues and was lucky enough to acquire my dream nonfiction humor book, Suck Less: Where There’s a Willam, There’s a Way (2016) by “RuPaul’s Drag Race” contestant Willam Belli. In my mid-twenties, I started writing funny stories about dating in the city on an app that no longer exists and gained a little bit of a celebrity following, including John Mayer, Anders Holm, and Samantha Ronson. Eventually, after some major burnout as an editor in book publishing, I left the industry in 2015 to try writing for magazines while working a day job in tech. I tried my hand at writing about sex and dating professionally and within my first month, I landed a story at Cosmo. Six months later, I became a contracted contributor for Playboy.

What Society Thinks: My family has always been sex-positive, so they understand it’s my job and aren’t weird about it. They are actually super supportive and proud of me—I am very lucky in that regard. The reaction I get from romantic partners has been more mixed, but that is actually how I weed people out: the partners who are supportive of my career and not ashamed of me or my work are the people I keep around. I’ve ended up dating some truly exceptional people because they’ve been so cool about my career. When strangers find out what I do, I’m mostly met with curiosity—people tend to have a lot of questions. Sometimes, I have to remind folks that I’m not a sex therapist (but can point them in the direction of the resources they’re looking for if they’re interested), which can be a bit tiring. However, the fact that people are curious and are usually dying to talk about sex is encouraging. We all walk around pretending we’re not interested in these things but when people hear what I do, they immediately show interest and get excited. They ask questions. The fact that people are voracious for this knowledge makes me feel like I’m doing the right thing.

When I’m Not at Work: I work so much that I don’t have a ton of free time! I travel constantly for work and pleasure, but I also try to read as much as possible and love to do things to move my body since I’m at a laptop most of the day. My favorite ways to move my body are swimming, kayaking, hula hooping, yoga, and Pilates.

For more about Dana, please check out her website or follow her on Twitter and Instagram