Rythm is a clean sexual wellness platform that is on a mission to strengthen your connection with the vagina and deepen intimate relationships. For our blog series “Humans of Rythm,” we interview founders, thought leaders, and experts in the sexual wellness space and share their responses with you.
Danielle Bezalel, MPH (aka DB), is the creator, executive producer, and host of Sex Ed with DB. Danielle earned a Master of Public Health with a focus on sexuality and reproductive health from Columbia University and she has a BA in Film & Media Studies from UC Berkeley. She was also featured on Netflix’s Principles of Pleasure! She loves to sing and perform on stage, travel to new places, and check out the latest Broadway musical.
We got to chat with Danielle, a sexy Sagittarius, and learn more about how she follows her rhythm.
Where were you born, where did you grow up, and how was sex (the act) perceived in your culture/household?
I was born and raised on Long Island in New York until I was fifteen years old, and then I moved with my mom and my little brother into my stepdad’s house in Napa California. I did my last two years of high school there, then went to college at UC Berkeley, and then came back to New York to get my Master’s in public health. In total I lived in New York for 15 years, then in California for 10, and then came back to NYC.
My mom is an OBGYN who has a private practice in Napa (CA) and is a powerhouse of a woman, so growing up I was comfortable with her coming home and talking about “placentas over pizza” as I say. She was very open about all the blood in the deliveries and how cute the babies were, but also about how challenging certain things were. I think that she really empowered me to care about women’s health and women’s rights and to understand my body more. While sex wasn’t necessarily championed while I was growing up, it was definitely normalized.
What’s a funny or embarrassing memory you have from when learning about or experiencing sex?
I had my first kiss at an 8th-grade graduation party when I was 13 years old which was a pretty funny story.
This really cute guy at the time, who was one of my classmates, Alec, and I were instant messaging each other on AIM and he was flirting with me, but he wouldn’t really acknowledge me in public… classic. We made a bet on AIM that he wouldn’t kiss me – I challenged him to a kiss. We ended up at the same eighth-grade graduation party and as the night went on, I was really anxious and nervous. He hadn’t made a move yet, so I had my friend go over to him to remind him about the bet (also classic). Then he came over, gave me a nudge, and walked around the side of the house. It was raining and we were near the garage alone I specifically remember a few things: (1) my eyes stayed open the entire time, (2) instead of giving me a peck, he full-on put his tongue in my mouth, and (3) I was so overwhelmed that it was my first kiss that I started laughing out of like anxiety. He smirked and we went back to the party.
So, that was my first kiss – it was definitely filled with a lot of anxiety, a lot of stress, and a lot of emotions.
Have you ever walked in on a family member ‘doing the deed’ or Is there a funny, or interesting story you can share with us about your experience? How old were you when this happened?
I didn’t walk in on a family member doing the deed, but I do remember when I was a kid (maybe like 8 or 9), I found a VHS pornography tape in my dad’s house and I don’t remember if I watched it or if I just saw the title but I figured out what it was and was so mad at him. I remember feeling angry that he was watching this or I thought maybe that he was perverted or something just by having this tape. I don’t remember him exactly explaining to me what it was, I think he just said like ‘that’s not mine I borrowed it from a friend.’ I definitely remember feeling very embarrassed and very awkward.
What is your profession and why did you choose to pursue it?
I am a sex educator and a digital content creator. I chose to pursue this career because I love teaching and education, plus I find sexual health and wellness extremely critical to my (and other people’s) happiness. Feeling at home in my body is really important to me.
I’m also super passionate about people having the education and information they need to live happy and healthy lives.
What about your industry surprised you when you were first getting started? What is something about your industry that might surprise those who are not in your line of work?
I don’t think I realized how intense and challenging shadowbanning would be. That definitely has been surprising and really challenging and I didn’t really anticipate that being what I would have to navigate in the profession.
Shadow banning is something that happens on platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook and it is essentially a sneaky way for these platforms to either delete your content/account or prevent it from getting out to your audience. It often happens to sex workers, sex educators, fat people, Black people, and a number of people in different identities, organizations, and professions.
For example, I have almost 30,000 Instagram followers, and all of a sudden if I put out content that’s only reaching 500 people and only getting 50 likes when I usually get a thousand likes, you could almost be certain that that content has been shadowbanned – meaning it’s not getting sent out to my followers or other users on ‘for you pages.’ It can last anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of days/weeks/months and sometimes your content just gets flagged and deleted altogether. In extreme cases, people get their profiles fully deleted without any warning.
What was something you were surprised to learn about your body, relationship with self, and relationship with your vulva in the past decade? How has it changed?
My friend bought me my first ever vibrator when I was 21 years old – I’m turning 30 this December – so almost a decade ago and I don’t think I realize the power that vibrators can have, literally and figuratively. They can give you pleasure with yourself and/or with a partner and to me, that is so incredibly powerful. Over the course of the past almost 10 years, I’ve recognized that there are so many different kinds of toys, lubes, and things that can aid in my pleasure journey. If you’re someone who just wants to use their hands that’s really awesome too, but I do think it’s amazing when you discover a vibrator that just makes you feel so good in your body.
When do you feel the most empowered and alive?
When I’m singing on stage. I feel really in control of my body and my space and I’m able to use my voice to essentially share with people who I am. It’s the thing that I feel like I’m most talented at, so it feels really special to be able to perform in front of people.
What is something non-sexual that brings you immense pleasure?
Chocolate. I get very excited about desserts.
What can a partner do to turn you on in and out of the bedroom?
Honestly, it turns me on when my partner pursues anything that he is passionate about. I’m very turned on by goals and ambition and passion and so no matter what it is – it’s fun for me when he teaches me about his passions.
How do you find your rythm in connecting with your body and self? What wisdom can you impart to us regarding lessons you’ve learned along the way to finding your rythm?
I think for me it really depends on my mood and how I’m feeling otherwise in my life, but there are certain things – like especially in the summer I know that I feel so good in my body in the shower after the beach… it’s a very specific feeling. I also practice looking in the mirror and saying things that I like about myself and taking three deep breaths to kind of feel a little calmer in my body.
It is helpful to recognize when I feel sexy, when I feel really good, and when I feel powerful, and try to emulate that feeling at other times.
What is your favorite quote for ‘finding your rythm’ or ‘living in rythm’?
I don’t remember the exact quote, but it’s something like ‘you’re the one that has to wake up with yourself everyday and you’re the one who has to fall asleep with yourself every night.’
Essentially that quote to me means you are the person who you need to love at the end of the day – you need to figure out what makes you happy, set boundaries, and be in charge of the way in which you live your life. I tend to care what other people think about me and people please, but I think it’s important to remind yourself that you are your biggest champion.
What is your favorite song you are jamming out to these days?
What is your favorite sexual wellness product that you can’t live without?
You can find Danielle and her podcast on the following platforms:
Podcast: Sex Ed with DB
Gillian ‘Gigi’ Singer, MPH
American Board Certified Sexologist, Sexuality Educator, and Sex Ed Content Specialist