Valerie Baber has an unusual and even exclusive perspective on sex and intimacy, formed through her metamorphosis from religious Oklahoma “good girl” to actress, exotic dancer, high-end escort, and now certified intimacy and dating coach. Even before she earned several degrees, Baber was a student of sexuality and psychology through her interactions with clients. Dissatisfied in their relationships, they sought sexual fulfillment elsewhere. Today, Baber calls on her unique, multilayered knowledge to help people of all genders and sexual orientations find and connect with romantic partners.
Sensual.tips: One of the services you offer is a mock date, in which you observe and give a client feedback. Can you walk us through what a mock date looks like?
Valerie: There is no exact script to a mock date just as there is no exact script to a regular date, but generally speaking, one could expect the following:
Once a booking is made, I email the client to learn a little more about their experience and goals of meeting. After we agree on a date and time, we should collaborate to determine a location to meet. This could be over drinks, dinner, a picnic on the beach, a nice walk, anything that they could imagine doing on a date that would give me an opportunity to really get to know them.
On this “date”, I will assess everything from manners, planning, style, hygiene, thoughtfulness, body language, conversation skills, and follow up.
Although these “dates” will definitely not end up in a romantic way, they should be fun throughout and informative at the end. I’ll discuss my observations with them and offer tips and tricks that may help clients be better versions of themselves on future dates. I’m not held to the same restrictions as a therapist or counselor, so I can be candid, but I always try to communicate with empathy and consideration. I am here to support my clients and I want them to feel good about themselves and how they spent time with me.
I always follow up with detailed notes to review what my clients and I have discovered and discussed.
Sensual.tips: Another service you offer is consultations on online dating profiles – sorely needed assistance, as anyone who has browsed Tinder or OkCupid can attest. Not that we’d ask you to give up your secrets, but is there one universal tip you can share with our readers?
Valerie: Lol! Oh yes, I’ve seen plenty of these.
With text, my #1 rule is to keep things positive. Tell us what you love and what makes you interesting. Do NOT tell people what you can’t tolerate or make it sound like you have a chip on your shoulder (even if you do).
With images, be clear and confident! We want to see you in quality, recent images. Potential matches want to see if they’re attracted to you at your current age, not all your stuff & friends or you 10 years ago. Also, avoid only headshots or baggy clothing. This makes you seem like you’re hiding something.
Sensul.tips: Sex remains taboo and surrounded by shame in our culture. And as you’ve mentioned before, it’s hard for people to take an analytical look at their habits surrounding sex and intimacy. What is the breaking point that leads people to seek you out?
Valerie: Some people reach out to me because they’re ready to try something new. Maybe previous coaches or counselors haven’t worked for them and they’re curious about an unconventional support system like myself.
Some people reach out to me because they’ve seen me on TV and there’s a novelty factor in that.
Others seem to see a bit of themselves in me. I have female clients who have had similar life experiences and I believe they feel comfortable with me because a traditional counselor would make them feel judged.
I have also met men who have had the company of mistresses or escorts. They feel comfortable talking to me because I ‘get it’. I’m not going to think they’re bad people for the relationships they’ve had. There’s nothing wrong shameful about the decisions they’ve made.
I know very well what it’s like to sit on the couch across from a therapist and not feel at ease telling them the whole truth. How are we ever supposed to make progress if we don’t feel comfortable addressing all the nitty gritty elements in our lives?
Sensual.tips: What do you think needs to change in the culture for people to feel it’s okay to talk about sex and to evaluate their sexual desires and roadblocks?
Valerie: We need to stop equating sex with smut. We also need to stop thinking that sex is love. We need to understand that sex is with us from childhood and evolves throughout our lives. We have to stop telling ourselves that some sex is good while other sex is bad. That’s like saying vegetarians are bad and meat eaters are good – a healthy diet is a good diet, no matter how you chew it. Perhaps most importantly, we need to understand that sex is a very complex word. It’s about so much more than penis and vagina. It’s an action but it’s also emotion, need, a form of communication. Through sex, we can express a variety of things: that we want to be appreciated, we need to seek revenge, we wish to restore our youth, we want to feel close, we want to be excited again, we want to feel safe, we want to feel admired, we seek escape, we desire power, we’re curious…
What is it that we’re saying when we’re having sex? Let’s focus on that and less on the bits between the legs. If we did, I think we’d discover a lot more about ourselves and gain some perspective on and tolerance for our actions and the behavior of others.
Sensual.tips: It seems as if the majority of your clients tend to be heterosexual men. Is this true, and if so, why do you think that is? Do you think everyone can benefit from this type of help?
Valerie: Yes, I’m a female with a sexy modeling history. I’m naturally going to draw the attention of men more than women. That’s ok for now but I hope that as I grow as a writer and coach, I’ll capture the attention of more women and couples. Everyone needs someone they can tell their secrets to, ask questions they don’t feel comfortable asking anyone else and express their insecurities or private delights with. Some may have friends for that but there are plenty who simply don’t ‘go there’ with people that they know.
Sensual.tips: What type of person has never been a client of yours that you wish would seek you out?
Valerie: I just developed a couple’s class that allows for some fun, erotic, hands-on interaction between lovers. I’m excited to welcome lovers (or lovers to-be) into these 2.5 hour experiences.
I’d also love to speak with more adult entertainers. It can be rough for a girl in the business. Hours, attitudes, and clients can be brutal. It can also be extremely challenging for women to get out of the business. I know that, in my dancing days, I needed a mentor more than anything, but I never had one. It would have made such a huge difference. I’d love to be that difference to someone else.
Sensual.tips: What do you say to people who think being analytical about sex and intimacy kills the romance?
Valerie: On the contrary, I think that someone who’s put a good amount of thought into their sexual ethics and behavior make more confident and better lovers! Sort it all out beforehand, then when you’re in erotic moments, you can flow more freely and that makes a better experience for everyone.
For instance, let’s say Joe and Jane are about to get it on. Joe asks Jane how many partners she’s had. Jane says 5 and Joe freaks out. So much for Jane and Joe having a loving, trusting, erotic relationship! He’s stuck on a number and he’ll never be able to relax during sex with her. She’ll always feel judged by him. Relationship over.
But if Joe put more thought into exactly what it was he was asking when he was asking for a number, this could have been avoided. If Joe had spent more time on this, he would have realized that he just wanted to understand if Jane could possibly think that he’s good enough. Joe wants to feel admired and adored and he fears that if Jane has had more than a couple partners, she won’t love him or enjoy him the way he’s hoping she will. Jane has had more than a couple partners, but her experiences were average, and she’s never felt towards them the way she feels towards Joe. She would love a physical connection with Joe and would probably be able to give him the confidence he needs if only he would give her a chance to show him how much she enjoys him (and isn’t thinking about anyone else), but because he hasn’t bothered to ask himself “what does this mean to me and why does it mean that”, he robs them of what they really want. If they could have delved a bit deeper into their sexual thought process before engaging, their conversation would have gone more like this:
Joe: I like you a lot and I’m a little nervous that I’m not going to be enough for you.
Jane: Are you kidding? You’re hot AF and I’m totally into you. You’re more than enough.
Joe: Are you sure you won’t judge me?
Jane: My only judgement of you is that you’re amazing and I am sooo looking forward to sharing myself with you. Take me now, you sexy beast!
Sensual.tips: What would you say to a person who considers themselves “unfuckable” or “undateable” – have you ever worked with someone who was beyond help?
Valerie: Ha! Some of us need more work than others, for sure. I tell you this much, I can’t perform miracles, but I can help people create better versions of themselves.
Sensual.tips: You spent your early career in the U.S. but then studied in the U.K. before returning. In terms of attitudes toward sex and intimacy, did you perceive a difference between the U.K. and U.S. – and how about specifically Los Angeles, where you are currently based?
It’s interesting. One does not discuss sex with the English, however, there is plenty of sex on Channel 4 and prostitution is legal, whereas, in the US, I believe we can talk about sex more casually, but we also make it illegal if it isn’t done the one way we deem acceptable. It’s also important to remember that within every culture, there are subcultures and micro-cultures, and my perspective is limited to one person’s over the course of only a few years.
Regarding LA, everything is sexy in Los Angeles. Can you think of a movie or TV show that doesn’t have sex in it? And let’s face it, because of the promise of stardom and wealth, this city draws some of the most sexually desirable people in the world to it, but there’s hypocrisy here, too. If you’re an actress in a high budget production and you have a love scene, it’s cinema! If you’re an actress in a low budget production and you have a love scene, it’s porn. If you pose nearly naked in front of camera for an advertisement, it’s fashion! If you pose nearly naked on stage next to a pole, you’re a skank. It’s also ok to have casual sex, but only if you’re drunk and you do it for free…
I do feel like we’re pretty open minded regarding alt lifestyles, like polyamory. I don’t know that you’d find the same sort of acceptance in London.
Sensual.tips: A fun one for last – what historical figure would have most benefitted from having an intimacy coach?
Queen Victoria desperately needed an intimacy coach! Oh, what a project that one would have been…