Her list is naughty

… but she’s not

Kourtney Jason goes from Orion sex columnist to author.

Kourtney Jason goes from Orion sex columnist to author.

Photo courtesy of Kourtney Jason

When on a first date, Kourtney Jason typically avoids telling her dinner partner she authored a book about sex—or more specifically, The Naughty Bucket List: 369 Dares to Do Before You Die.

“It’s hard because I’m so proud,” she said during a recent phone interview. “Usually I try to wait to bring it up on the third date. You always wonder what someone is going to say when you tell them you wrote a sex book.”

The 26-year-old Chico State grad is no stranger to the social implications that come with writing about sex. During her tenure as the sex columnist for Chico State’s student newspaper, The Orion, she had more than one man approach her at a bar with a line like, “Hey, am I going to end up in your column next week?”

“There were those guys who would be total douchebags about it,” she said with a laugh. “It’s just tacky. I don’t want my own stuff used on me.”

For someone who has built a writing career around her interest in all things sex, it might seem odd that she never intended to write about relationships at all. As a journalism student on The Orion staff, she originally covered breaking news around campus. As she worked her way up the ranks into an editor’s position, she realized she might be more suited to writing full-length features.

“I love magazines,” she said. “I realized I could write for a magazine, and that steered my career path toward more interesting topics for me.”

Late one evening, as she was writing her features column, Jason received an email from E. Jean Carroll, the longtime advice columnist for Elle magazine. Carroll had read Jason’s work online and wanted to feature her in Elle’s list of the top-10 best college advice columnists in America.

“It was weird because my column was basically my own personal ramblings, and all of the others were sex columns,” Jason said.

And so the sex-column seed was planted in her mind. The next semester, she asked the paper’s student adviser, the since-retired Dave Waddell, for approval to revive The Orion’s sex column, which had been absent for years. Waddell gave her the thumbs-up, and she was soon off and writing about a variety of sexy topics.

Although more recent Orion sex columnists have leaned heavily on their personal experiences to produce content, Jason felt her background covering hard news lent itself more to a research-based approach.

“I was always quoting studies, interviewing experts and talking to other students, so it wasn’t so personal,” she said. “I’m not so open about my own sex life; I just like talking about sex in general.”

Jason’s interest in talking and writing about sex jumpstarted her career in a way she never could have imagined. Her work at The Orion led to a six-month internship at Seventeen magazine in New York City, a full-time position at Twist magazine (where she doled out kissing advice for 13-year-olds), and eventually her current job as a publicist with Ulysses Press in Berkeley, where she was approached with a book deal.

“They knew I had a successful sex column and had a little bit of a following, so my name was pitched for the project,” she said. “They came to me with the general layout, and I produced the content.”

Content, indeed. Each page of The Naughty Bucket List has two or three short entries offering steamy suggestions varying from the exciting “Arbor Day Sex” to the good, old-fashioned “Corkscrew Blowjob,” and everything in between. Jason maintains she generated ideas by discussing her friends’ exploits and simply imagining the sexual possibilities.

“Very little is personal experience,” she said. “I haven’t even counted how many I’ve done, but I really should since I get the question all the time. There is a lot of fetish stuff in there, which doesn’t really float my boat, but if something gets you excited you shouldn’t be embarrassed about it.”

While she will continue avoiding talking about her book on dates, she certainly doesn’t avoid the topic with her mother.

“My mom thinks it’s hysterical,” she said. “We’ve always had an open and honest relationship—we can talk about anything.”