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Interview with Aurore Founder, Carly Pifer

Can you introduce yourself and what you do?

I’m a writer and the founder of a space for confessional erotica called AURORE. I started the site because I felt a space was needed to celebrate sex and intimacy through the recording of our most memorable moments. It began as an exercise for myself to process relationships and experiences, and has grown to include hundreds of people’s stories about their best sex. I realized I had joined a conversation around sex that was very negative, very nonchalant and focused on finding empowerment through severing any care and connection with sexual partners. Naturally this arose through a series of bad experiences, and I in no way condemn others who find their power this way. However it was a slippery slope for me. The more angry I felt toward all the bad sex in the world and those who performed it, the more isolated I felt from what I sought, which was ultimately intense and vulnerable relationships with men. Through processing my experiences and looking for the beauty in moments I shared with partners, even being sentimental at times, I found my way back to what mattered most to me. AURORE is a space that allows you to be sentimental! Which is increasingly rare on the internet. But sentimental, not saccharine. I’m still a cynical new yorker and I like to keep it real.
I run the site and work individually with writers to help them get to the heart of their stories.

Can you tell us about your solo pleasure series?

I introduced AURORE’s solo pleasure series for selfish reasons honestly—I wanted to know how other women touched themselves. I’m curious about how other people find pleasure and always looking for new ideas, so I figured that’s the case for others as well. We had a massive response to a poll we did. on Instagram, asking people to share about their masturbation habits, their relationship to their body, their sexuality, and specific details about how they get themselves off. It delights me when we get an influx of people wanting to share because it tells me they haven’t felt the opportunity before. The more we open communication pathways around sex, the better sex we will all be having. That includes solo pleasure. Maybe especially solo pleasure because many of us get into a routine, treat our masturbation similarly to
brushing our teeth—we do it the same way every time because we know it works. A healthy solo practice is the beginning of exploring new routes to pleasure. We need to masturbate more intentionally. I think this series inspires people to take a moment to consider their habits, and try on other people’s methods and fantasies.

What does National Masturbation Day mean to you?

You know, I’m not big on social media holidays, or hallmark holidays (though this isn’t one of course!) BUT I know this one is important because it’s trying to normalize something that’s important for health and a human right that women aren’t very educated about or empowered to do. The story behind it is that Good Vibrations, a sex toy shop, named the day for the surgeon general Jocyelyn Elders who was fired by then President Bill Clinton for suggesting masturbation be added to sex education teaching in the US. This happened in 1994, just one year before Clinton began his affair with Monica Lewinsky! The HYPOCRISY! I mean, that says it all. We need more awareness around sex-positive self-pleasure as well as how to navigate instances of sexual assault and coercion.

In what way do you think Aurore challenges people’s perception of porn/erotica/sexuality?

I think people will be surprised and intrigued by the amount of storyline and emotion in so many AURORE stories as a precursor to pretty graphic sex scenes. That both can exist so naturally together. The confessional aspect of AURORE is really a gift you’re getting from each writer, to share in their experiences, and that is so unlike mainstream visual pornography and fanfic-type erotic writing. I think it’s incredibly refreshing to have smut mixed with sophisticated writing, not having to sacrifice substance to read sex.

What has been your favourite collaboration so far?

I’ve become friends with many of my writers, either through them attending workshops I’ve hosted or simply because we’ve gone back and forth on edits through email over very personal subject matter. I love developing these relationships and the fact that we’ve connected across continents and they’ve felt safe to share their writing with me and the community we’ve built is truly beautiful.

What discussions around sex do you think are lacking from mainstream conversations?

God, when I have to tell an older adult or even some people with young kids what I do and there’s shock or a reaction that tells me they think what I do is “inappropriate” or “scandalous”. People are really prudish about sex and it creates so much shame, secrecy, and negativity. We’re all having it! It’s how we all got here! Let’s all be adults.

What are your hopes for Aurore moving forward?

I dream of the day when I can bring AURORE stories to life in film. Visual pornography is something I feel so particularly about—I’d like it to be on par with excellent, escapist cinematography. Until then, I hope the collection of stories on AURORE continues to grow and include new perspectives, new stories that haven’t been told and written by people who haven’t found a platform for their voice.