I Love My Job: Sex and Fetish Educator Kali Morgan
The Sexploratorium owner explains how she made sex education her career and why she became a wedding officiant along the way.
Kali Morgan wears many hats. When she’s not leading sex education and fetish workshops, running and styling customers at Passional Boutique and Sexploratorium, or officiating weddings and speaking at events, you can find her pogo-sticking across Philly or participating in an Aqua Zumba class. Morgan has become one of the most trusted sex and fetish educators in Philadelphia and has taken her expertise to local universities for candid talks about topics like BDSM. Here’s how she got her start in the sometimes taboo, but often lucrative sex education and fetish wear business.
I grew up in… Philadelphia by the Margaret Orthodox El station. Philly public school educated, yo.
When I was growing up, I thought I would be… a teacher, and to some degree I have done some of that. I consider myself more of a tutor though. I learn along with anyone who learns with me.
My first job was… lawn work, errands, snow shoveling, house cleaning and other random but lucrative tasks in my neighborhood.
The first time I stepped into a sex store I felt… immediately intrigued and simultaneously endangered. There were only men who shopped in the “adult book” shops at the time, mostly to visit the booths in the back and rub one out before stepping back out into their work, family, and social lives. The toys were ugly and cheap, but there wasn’t much else to choose from at the time unless you ordered from catalogs.
However, the first time I walked into a fetish shop, the vibe was completely different. Staff were knowledgeable, though sometimes a bit snobbish, and many of the products were of higher quality. These early experiences definitely impacted my desire to bring something different to my hometown of Philadelphia.
If someone is nervous to take one of our in-store Passion 101 classes, I would tell them… what the specific parameters and methods of each class are so that they can make an informed decision about what their personal comfort level is. For example, does a specific class focus on hands-on or partner exercises? Is a certain class discussion-based or lecture-based? We also offer private classes and consultations in the store for those who do not wish to participate in a group setting.
My favorite class to teach is… Fire Massage. I have always been fascinated by flames. I will be teaching that again in December, when it is dark…
I expanded my classes into local universities because… I had personally been called to do informal and formal presentations at universities, usually on a BDSM 101 type of topic, which I had comfortably presented dozens of times. However, after one presentation at a local university, students approached the teacher and expressed discomfort with the techniques I employed. I changed my methods after this trial-and-error experience, which is a really painful way to learn and how I mostly learned everything I know about sexuality.
Meanwhile, my store was employing Master’s degree students in Human Sexuality who were graduating and getting jobs in universities, including Ashley Robin, who created the Sexual Intelligence College Outreach Program including the structure, curriculum and content to make it appropriate for young adults who have not voluntarily signed on for any kind of explicit content.
College students benefit from my sex education classes because… young adults in any course of study or professional training should be comfortable with the concepts of consent, expression and communication. Furthermore, all humans of all ages can benefit from an understanding of the complexities of human identities, culture and behavior and how these things are impacted by the desires for fulfillment and pleasure.
The most rewarding part of my job is… maintaining a public space where multiple subcultures interact and connect. Philadelphia has so many rich communities of philosophers, performers, artists, kinksters, and community builders, and I love helping to connect these worlds, and sometimes watch them collide in entertaining ways.
I opened my business because… I felt there was a demand that wasn’t being met locally. Initially, I started off with body positive fetish fashions (it wasn’t called that yet in the mid-1990’s) because very few people in the fetish scene in this area had a source for those fashions in sizes to fit the variety of bodies that exist in that scene.
I added the implements and “pleasure products” because quality sex toys and sensation tools by and large did not exist on the shelves of stores in the Philadelphia area. I entered into business relationships with designers in order to outfit and equip myself and close friends. I expanded upon those relationships and started the business officially in 1996.
An average day in my shop, my schedule consists of… some cleanup, correspondence, set-up and staging, followed by an hours-long party where guests arrive at various times to get dressed and seek our help in strategizing different ways to express and discover their sexiness.
We cater to our customers by… finding out what they ideally want and need, then we brainstorm with them ways to realize their wants and needs—not just by finding products, but also by connecting people to communities of others with similar interests. We offer classes and workshops in our community room, but we also rent out the room to community groups such as a Recovery meeting, a monthly kinky, poly(amorous) brunch, and more.
The most common misconception about my business is… that our staff is somehow for hire in terms of actual fantasy fulfillment. Although we employ a diverse staff of people with diverse interests and experiences, we are not in the business of being anybody’s surrogate fantasy partner.
I started officiating weddings because… I had a hard time finding an officiant when I got married. Many of my friends and community members are not specifically religious or even monogamous, and I felt a need to be there for them. I have married coworkers, former coworkers, friends and customers in various locations, including both of my two most recent store locations.
The most interesting wedding I officiated was… the nude beach wedding of a high school buddy. The two spouses were both opera singers who sang their vows to each other and then ran off naked into the ocean at Sandy Hook.
Public school sex education could improve by… focusing on consent and acknowledging the desires of people to experience pleasure without a permission slip.
Family members react when I tell them about my job by… changing the subject.
Something most people wouldn’t guess about me is… that my favorite sport is the pogo stick. Sadly, I am not an athlete in any sense but at the height of my pogo-ing, I did the whole original Philly Pride route from Rittenhouse to Penn’s Landing.
The food I couldn’t live without is… Ethiopian.
The hardest part of my job is… the paperwork. I pay people to manage papers for me and I am a challenge for even the most devoutly compulsive paper pusher. This weakness has cost me multiple times, but I am happy to report that I have recruited two talented filing people who have greatly minimized the negative impacts of my paper failures.
The most memorable event I spoke at was… the movie premier for Exit to Eden where I was described in the Philadelphia City Paper as “the boss’s daughter from Atlantic transmissions.”
Outside of work, my hobbies are… eating, listening to music, taking Aqua Zumba classes, and taking my socially challenged dog out on secret walks and play dates.
The thing I love most about my job is… there is never time for me to get bored. My business allows me to constantly change gears and to wear multiple hats that are almost all fun to wear!
If I weren’t a stylist, sex educator and business owner… I would be a poet, prophet, politician or pauper. I am not sure which.