Ms. Morse recorded her first podcast episode in the summer of 2005 in her apartment in San Francisco. Until that point, right after graduating from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, she had worked in politics and as a video producer, most notably helping out on the mayoral campaign of Willie Brown in 1995, and later documenting Mr. Brown’s re-election bid in 1999 in “See How They Run.”
Ms. Morse was still freelancing as a video producer when she decided to invite a few friends to her apartment to have some wine and share their sex stories while she recorded them, driven by “50 percent curiosity and 50 percent envy,” she said.
“I’ve always been a curious person, but the envy part came in when I heard people talking about the amazing, mind-blowing sex that they were having,” she said. “If someone said, ‘I had great sex,’ I would say, ‘Wait, back up. What exactly do you mean by that?’ I thought that perhaps I was the only one who was having sex that wasn’t that amazing. I thought I was broken.”
Ms. Morse didn’t masturbate until she was 25, she said, and by the time she started her podcast, at 35 years old, she still didn’t fully understand female orgasms. This despite the fact that she had been in and out of several relationships and didn’t have a puritanical or restrictive upbringing. Her mother would tell her to come to her with any questions, but “I didn’t know what questions to ask — when you’re young, you just don’t know what you don’t know,” Ms. Morse said.
That first podcast episode, with a Brazilian bikini waxer and a man named Captain Erotica, got roughly 75,000 downloads, she said — formidable considering how new the medium was.
To finance her new project, she took out a loan; then cleaned houses, ferried friends around for cash (before Uber) and took on modeling gigs. She also put herself through night school for three and a half years to attend the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality, from which she graduated in 2012. (The institute, of which the feminist sexologist Betty Dodson was also an alumna, was not without detractors; in 2016, California’s Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education denied its renewal application to continue operating educational programs, and it closed in 2018.)