Whether he’s “the world’s greatest sex hacker,” as GQ magazine describes him, or “the world’s unlikeliest porn star,” as he describes himself, Kenneth Play undoubtedly has a better job than you do. A bold assertion perhaps, but one I’m willing to make after visiting Kenneth at his workplace. There I found the sexpert wearing only satin skivvies and a smile, up to his elbows in porn star pussy in front of a few dozen paying customers as he demonstrated how to make a woman squirt. (Props to the delightful demonstrator, adult actress Aria Khaide.)
Not only does Kenneth Play teach sex ed for a living; he teaches hands-on sex ed. You won’t find the man standing in front of a blackboard pointing at a chalk diagram of a vulva. Instead, he’s squeezing together a woman’s labia while teaching anatomy, all to increase his students’ erotic knowledge—to expand their “cliteracy,” as he puts it. On his sex-hacking website, KennethPlay.com, you’ll see the man in various stages of undress as he schools his students in the erotic arts: In one video Play is immersed in a rose-petaled bathtub with a naked vixen while lecturing about foreplay; in another he’s wearing bikini briefs and ball-gagging a girl as part of his course on kink; and in a third he’s sitting on a couch, leather-clad, talking “multiple orgasms” while staring intently into the exposed posterior of a nude beauty on all fours in front of him.
Kenneth laughs when he talks about the feedback he gets regarding those videos. “It’s funny,” he says. “People will say they went online to masturbate, but then, when they found my videos, they both masturbated and learned something!”
Though the 38-year-old Play has today made a name for himself as one of the country’s preeminent sexperts, that fate was far from preordained. A young Kenneth moved to New York City from Hong Kong at just 11 years old, a shy and scrawny kid who saw himself as “lesser than” because he believed all the stereotypes about Asians—for example, that they had small penises. Plus, Kenneth was “super dyslexic,” a trait he cheerfully says gave him the “opportunity to master bad English and bad Chinese simultaneously. Learning was actually very challenging for me,” he says of his dyslexia, “but that taught me to hack my way through life, which is how I ended up viewing the world. Like, I can’t do things the normal way, so how can I do it?”
When he was a sophomore in high school, a teacher’s aide made an offhanded, racist remark, stating that “Asians are not meant to be athletes” because people are “born the way they are.” It was a shitty comment that Kenneth used as inspiration to “master” his body, eventually making the swim team at his high school and becoming a lifeguard. “I decided to get really fit because she told me I couldn’t,” he remembers. “I realized some people don’t have a growth mind-set. They just think things are the way they are. That isn’t how I viewed the world, because I thought people could change.”
For all his wisdom, Kenneth still describes his teenage self as a “super sexually insecure Chinese immigrant.” Although he was a lifeguard at age 16, Kenneth didn’t lose his virginity until years later, in large part because he was worried that his average-size penis wouldn’t be able to satisfy a first girlfriend and feared she might flat-out reject him when he pulled it out. That didn’t happen, of course, but even when Kenneth finally shirked the stigma of his virginity, he couldn’t shake the idea that he wasn’t enough. He remembers a random walk home from school as a teenager, just raging with hormones, thinking to himself that a sex party might be “really fun,” but also that there was “no way” he could ever attend one.