Q & A: Sam Roddick, activist & founder of Coco de Mer
14th March, 2009
Sam Roddick on spontaneous pleasures, ethical sex toys and civil disobedience
What is your life philosophy in a nutshell?
I am a true original hedonist. I believe in maximising pleasure (for all ) and minimising pain (for all).
Can you describe a typical day?
My days are never the same. They’re hectic and stimulating. I can work double time and move mountains, but I can also sneak off work in the middle of the day and surprise myself with spontaneous pleasures. When I have my daughter I clock off at 3.30pm to be with her.
What campaigns do you most actively support?
I have just created the activist arm of Coco de Mer, called Bondage for Freedom – we work with Foundation Rwanda, which supports women raped during the 1994 genocide and who gave birth to children. Also, the anti-sextrafficking camp I conceived with Emma Thompson, The Journey, is travelling to New York in February. This year, I want to work on saving the honey bee and freeing Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox, two of the wrongfully incarcerated ‘Angola Three’, known as the ‘Nelson Mandelas’ of the US.
What kind of eco and ethical erotic toys do you sell in Coco de Mer?
I believe in slow sex like slow food. I try to make all Coco de Mer own-brand products in the UK, and the majority in London. We also have a community trade project in India which is like fair trade but better.
What is your top tip for an improved sex life?
Sex is the creative expression of the body. Ultimately it is about personal freedom and communication. It is the most pleasurable dance between you and another. You have to go inwards to unlock your own doors, face your fears, learn to trust and fi gure out how to communicate your desires. Make it a priority in your life and enjoy it. It is the best elixir to keeping you young and happy. It pumps endorphins through your body and it’s free.
Pornography: for or against?
The porn industry is in desperate need of creative talent and in dire need of ethics. What’s wrong with the ‘sex industry’ as it stands is that it is run by men and is badly regulated. I am not against it, but up for transforming it. There is a lot of porn that makes me wince and worry. I would love to make a porn movie. Watch this space.
What radical activist antics have you been up to lately?
I have been curating and designing art protests with massive props, costumes and music then taking to the streets of London. The last one was in October, in aid of the Burmese monks.
What’s your favourite food?
Fresh, sweet cherry tomatoes and hand-torn basil leaves, olive oil, salt and cracked pepper and balsamic vinegar. Italian food is my heritage. My dad taught me how to cook.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learnt from your mother?
My mum was my greatest teacher. She taught me to break all the rules; how to be the ultimate rebel with a cause; to live life with passion, as though it is your last day; to be brave and inquisitive. She also taught me the value in storytelling – and most important: incorporate your beliefs into everything you do.
What book or film would you recommend to all politicians?
The People Speak by Howard Zinn, an amazing collection of speeches quotes and pieces of literature that are the thoughts and inspirations underpinning US democracy. Many are the voices of historical underdogs during their fi ght for freedom. It’s given me a clear understanding that we need continually to exercise our freedom of speech, and that without civil disobedience and protest we have no democracy. We need to demonstrate to our governments that they are in service not to industry, but to us as a public community. Let us not let them forget.
How do you define success?
True success is simple: it’s about enjoying your life and having a loving community to share it with. One of the most thrilling states is taking huge risks and making them come off – but I’m nothing without my friends and family.
What keeps you awake at night?
My current lover, who is inexhaustible both horizontally and verbally. We are either talking endlessly or ‘exercising’.
Where are you most happy?
Up a mountain overlooking a vast horizon. A forested valley scattered with jagged, snow-capped peaks (with my daughter close by). We need to immerse ourselves in nature to reflect on our true place on this planet.
This article first appeared in the Ecologist March 2009
Laura Sevier is the Ecologist’s Green Living Editor.
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