Viral Israeli sex instructor reveals story behind successful workshop

Liri Yoel Pinkovitch says idea for sex workshop, where among other things she shows men her own vagina, came after she realized how inadequate sexual education is in Israel, and offered ways to improve it

Michaela Hazani|
Sex instructor, Liri Yoel Pinkovitch, aka Liri Ambar Devi, couldn’t have imagined that a post on her personal Facebook page would send shockwaves all across Israel. It was picked up by a number of prominent media outlets, reaching hundreds of thousands of readers.
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  • The post opened with the provocative line: "This is me showing my vagina to 30 men." In the post, she talks about a workshop she holds for men with fellow instructor, Tal Izak, where they explain the secrets of female sexual pleasure, which includes demonstrating on their own sexual organs how to implement what they’ve learned and how to pleasure women.
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    לירי אמבר דווי
    לירי אמבר דווי
    Liri Yoel Pinkovitch
    (Photo: Yaron Sharon)
    The post accrued hundreds of responses, some supportive, others hard to read. Liri admits that she was surprised by the pure noise it all caused, but says she understands that she’s touched on a very serious taboo and that Israeli society has a long way to go when it comes to sex.
    “I got every response you can imagine, including death threats and people threatening to rape me. Someone wrote: 'It’s good your father isn’t here to see what’s become of his daughter.’ That’s very hurtful. But I also get a lot of messages thanking me as well as lots of testimonials.
    "A lot of people just want someone to talk to. I sometimes feel like a priest in a confession box with people revealing things they wouldn’t tell anyone else. I’m just there, with them, listening.
    “I do understand where these responses are coming from – sex is taboo in our society. People are afraid of sex. We’ll be much freer once we get passed the embarrassment. I think freedom also scares people."
    Pinkovitch is a Pardes Hanna resident, and is a sex, sexual awareness, and eroticism instructor. She tells me that sex had been occupying her thoughts ever since her first kiss at the age of 15. She noticed that school sex education lessons don’t teach very much about female pleasure and she wanted to change the conversation about sex.
    “I had my first sexual experience with another person when I was 15. It wasn’t sex, but rather the beginning of intimacy. That experience of being so close with another person felt like coming home. It felt like a good thing. It was pleasurable and it connected us. I wanted to tell everyone. I wanted to celebrate it."
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    לירי אמבר דווי וטל איזק
    לירי אמבר דווי וטל איזק
    Liri Yoel Pinkovitch and Tal Izak
    (Photo: Yaron Sharon)
    "I wanted everyone to know that I’d discovered something called sexuality, horniness or intimacy – and that it’s amazing! So, I started telling people and I was told I shouldn’t be talking about such things. I didn’t want to live in a world where it’s bad to talk about something so wonderful.”
    Do you remember what they taught in sex ed classes?
    “At school, they generally just talked about STDs and anatomy, but it wasn’t very in-depth. They talked about contraception and the importance of not getting pregnant. They didn’t, however, talk about pleasure, orgasms, healthy communication, boundaries, desires or reservations within a sexual relationship.
    "At my school, there was a very open conversation about sex. At home, sex was viewed as something positive. My father gave me a talk about porn. He explained that real life isn’t like porn. My mother encouraged me to masturbate, discover myself, experiment and have sex. She was also very concerned that I should practice safe sex. This’s what I teach today – all the things I wish they’d teach teenagers at school, but don’t.”
    As people spend so much time on their phones, surfing social media, Liri decided to take her experiences about and knowledge about sex onto those very platforms. She kept uploading content, gathering tens of thousands of followers, responding to the uploaded video clips.
    “I’ve always been the sexologist in the group. I was the person they’d come to talk to. People would come to Liri because Liri isn’t judgmental and Liri isn’t embarrassed. Most of the sex ed we receive as teenagers comes from porn, which isn’t what sex is like in the real world.
    "Porn is freely accessible on the internet. I thought healthy sex should be just as easily accessible online. I thought we should be talking about things that are generally discussed in secret, and make them into readily available internet content."
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    גבר ואישה במיטה
    גבר ואישה במיטה
    (Photo: Shutterstock)
    Liri also holds sex workshops for groups and offers counselling for both couples and individuals. The one mentioned in the viral Facebook post is called "The Women's Whisperer." She conducts this workshop with her partner, occupational therapist and alternative sex therapist, Tal Izak."I was out of the country when I heard about the chaos Liri had caused," Tal tells us laughing.
    “I post after every workshop," Liri tells us. "This time, I chose to write about one specific part of the workshop where we practice what we’ve learned on our own sexual organs, but in a non-sexual situation."
    Tal adds: "Liri wrote other things in that post too, but they ignored everything and only saw ‘why I show my vagina to 30 men.' One of the criticisms voiced against us is that we must be telling men what we enjoy and claim that it works on all women - but it’s not like that.
    "We talk about everything during the workshop, including what we don’t like. We talk about vaginas being like faces and just as there are all kinds of faces, there are all sorts of vaginas, that every vagina is different and that every woman is different.”
    People ask why you have to demonstrate on your own vagina. Why do you have to show it to them?
    Liri: "We also show people models and diagrams. But there’s something to be said for the experience of displaying a real vagina in a non-sexual way. There’s no chance that men at our workshops could do anything with it other than respect it, respect boundaries and watch as gently as possible - which we also teach them how to do.
    "I hear of very few women who really let their partners have a look. It scares a lot of women who are so repulsed by their own vaginas, that they could never imagine anyone wanting to look at it, let alone want to taste, smell or touch it."
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    לירי אמבר דווי
    לירי אמבר דווי
    Liri Yoel Pinkovitch
    (Photo: Yaron Sharon)
    How did the workshop come about?
    "This workshop came primarily from our genuine desire to introduce healing and education in a rather different way. It came to us suddenly and we decided to do a workshop to teach men how to pleasure women, and how to help a woman orgasm.
    "The main idea was to inform and take the burden off men, saying: ‘Listen, let’s put all the myths behind us and let’s understand how to approach sex the way it is in real life, not the way it is in porn.'”
    People may say that you’re using the workshops for your own sexual pleasure.
    Tal: "We don’t masturbate in front of men. We sit down, explaining the different kinds of caressing - which finger’s best to use, which finger’s stronger, which is weaker.”
    Weren’t you afraid that men would just come to your workshops to get turned on?
    Liri: "No man needs to register for a workshop to see a vagina. He can just go to the internet. It’s freely accessible. Who’d come to a six-hour workshop to see a few minutes of vagina? If men come for that, they’ll be extremely disappointed when they find out it’s preceded by six hours of lectures."
    Who’s your demographic?
    “We’ve had 20-year-olds and 77-year-olds. Arabs have come to our workshops, as have religious people who’ve walked here on Shabbat. Everyone’s welcome at this workshop.”
    What can a 77-year-old learn about a vagina?
    Tal: "Wow! A 77-old-man in a recent workshop learned what a clitoris is and where to find it. As I was demonstrating, he said to me: ‘One moment, could you show me that again? Show me what a clitoris is?’ So, I said ‘sure’ and I invited him to come have a closer look. He held his head in his hands and said ‘I can’t believe it. I’ve been looking for the wrong organ for 50 years.’"
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    סקס בגיל השלישי
    סקס בגיל השלישי
    (Photo: Shutterstock)
    How do people respond to your workshops?
    “People have told us that it’s changed their lives. Women had written telling us that before the workshop, they hadn’t known what they wanted or how to explain it. Women have been sending their men to this workshop for some time.
    "It’s beyond the boundaries of a lot of women to have their partner go to a workshop about female pleasure and see another woman’s vagina. Other women take it well because they know they don’t know how to explain it themselves.”
    The workshop has impacted Liri’s immediate surroundings, including her parents. "I started dealing with sex while my dad was still alive," Liri tells us, referring to her father, the late stage director, Roni Pinkovitch, who died two years ago.
    "My parents helped me pay for my holistic sexuality studies. I know that my dealing with sex improved my parents’ sex life and strengthened their bond. Although my father did set boundaries, saying he didn’t need to hear all the details, he was very supportive. I still feel it."
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    לירי אמבר דווי והוריה
    לירי אמבר דווי והוריה
    Liri Yoel Pinkovitch and her parents
    (Photo: Courtesy)
    How did the conversation about sex affect your family?
    “Our family meals changed. I think that because I created a space that’s very simple, open and devoid of shame and embarrassment, my sisters gradually felt more comfortable talking about sex. My mother was also more at ease, even when my cousins and grandparents were around. Sex became something you talk about at the Shabbat dinner table."
    Do you think it’s possible to change your parents’ generation’s attitude to sex?
    “I know you can. I see the messages people send me. Women in their 40s, 50s and even their 60s write to me saying: ‘Our sex life has changed. I had my first orgasm with my husband and we’ve married for 20 years.’ I get messages like this on a daily basis – from both men and women."
    That must be very moving for you
    “It’s extremely moving and it makes it all worthwhile. If a person tells me that I played a part in their sex life improving by learning how to set healthy boundaries, experiencing further kinds of pleasure, it makes me happy. If I can play even a small part in that, it’s worth all the fear, hardship and the harsh responses."
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    לירי אמבר דיווי
    לירי אמבר דיווי
    Liri Yoel Pinkovitch
    (Photo: Yaniv Gabai)
    How do you think Israel compares to the rest of the world when it comes to sex?
    “Israel’s very interesting: we have both the super-conservatives and the super-open liberals. Israel is a world leader when it comes to Tantra. I see that other countries now have what Tal and I bring to the workshop and the things I talk about online.
    "In Germany and the United States, these things are far more accepted, because they are much more open in their conversation about sex and in the kinds of workshops they have. I hope Israel starts catching up soon."
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