sex lives

25 Famous Women on Orgasms

“I demand that I climax.” –Nicki Minaj Photo: the Cut

Though the orgasm has been studied and scrutinized in the ever-growing field of orgasm research, the female orgasm remains a mysterious, sparkling unicorn to many. One Yale researcher called it an “evolutionary vestige like the appendix.” Other studies point to a persistent “orgasm gap” and efforts to close it.

Below, famous women, from sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer to Eva Longoria describe their own orgasms — whether they fake them, demand them from their partners, or use creative tactics like sitting on top of washing machines to attain them.

Margaret Cho

“I have probably faked it more than I have had an orgasm. Just because you get tired. Sometimes I’ll just fake it because my back hurts and I’ve had enough. Guys have this completion idea — that you’re not finished if you don’t finish. You have to go to finishing school. They’re pay-off oriented. They don’t acknowledge it as sex unless there is some sort of climax. The orgasm isn’t the be-all end-all of sex; it’s really about the journey. Now, I never fake it. I am sick and tired of pretending about certain things. I don’t tell any more lies, which makes things unpleasant for me. I don’t have as many friends as I used to.” — xoJane, December 2011

Nicki Minaj

“I demand that I climax. I think women should demand that. I have a friend who’s never had an orgasm in her life. In her life! That hurts my heart. It’s cuckoo to me. We always have orgasm interventions where we, like, show her how to do stuff. We’ll straddle each other, saying, ‘You gotta get on him like that and do it like this.’ She says she’s a pleaser. I’m a pleaser, but it’s fifty-fifty.” — Cosmopolitan, July 2015

Miranda Kerr

“Let’s put it this way, I’ve had an orgasm in the air before. Alone. And together.” — British GQ, May 2014

Erica Jong

“I much prefer an orgasm with a cock than without one. That’s the best there is. But I think the distinction between vaginal and clitoral is totally mythic. Because, as far as I can see, every orgasm starts at the clitoris and ends up in the vagina, and it doesn’t matter whether the orgasm is induced by someone manipulating the clitoris with a hand or going down on you or putting his penis inside you. It was Freud who decided there were two kinds of orgasm. What did he know? He wasn’t a woman. I would love to get him back here and ask him to explain it.” — Playboy, 1975

Roxane Gay

“Sometimes — a lot of the time, honestly — I totally fake ‘it’ because it’s easier. I am a fan of orgasms, but they take time, and in many instances I don’t want to spend that time. All too often I don’t really like the guy enough to explain the calculus of my desire. Then I feel guilty because the sisterhood would not approve. I’m not even sure what the sisterhood is, but the idea of a sisterhood menaces me, quietly, reminding me of how bad a feminist I am.” — Bad Feminist, 2014

Betty Friedan

“Until I started writing [The Feminine Mystique], I wasn’t even conscious of the woman problem. Locked as we all were then in that mystique, which kept us passive and apart, and kept us even from seeing our real problems and possibilities, I like other women, thought there was something wrong with me because I didn’t have an orgasm waxing the kitchen floor … Each of us thought she was a freak 10 years ago if she didn’t experience that mysterious orgastic fulfillment waxing the kitchen floor as the commercials promised.” — The New York Times, March 1973

bell hooks

“My mother and other older generations felt that in exchange for the pussy, you should get marriage, you should get something. I’m not that kind of girl, though. I think real sexual liberation means that you’re in charge of your pussy; you don’t have to exchange it for anything.” — Paper, May 1997

Judy Blume

“A lot of people were angry at me for what I wrote. ‘How dare you allow Kath [the heroine in Forever] to have an orgasm in her first relationship. Nobody does,’ they’d say. And I’m thinking, ‘Yes, they do. Of course they do. It’s possible.’” — The Telegraph, February 2008

Dr. Ruth Westheimer

“The important thing is to try anything that can enhance your fantasy life —or anything that is something a little out of the ordinary — to make the sex more interesting … You don’t want every time you have sex to be in the same position. If you can sit on the washing machine, try it. You don’t have to tell anybody. I’ve sent the same warning for years: Make sure you vary your positions! So if you want to sit on top of the dishwasher or dryer, do it!” — Men’s Health, February 2015

Nora Ephron

“I’d been working on [When Harry Met Sally] with Rob Reiner, and Rob had told me all this stuff about guys, right? And how horrible they are and how unwilling they are to commit in any way, even to the bed of the person they’ve just had sex with for the rest of the night. So one day, we were sitting around, and Rob said, ‘You know, we’ve told you all this stuff about guys. Now you tell us anything about women that we don’t know,’ and it was like, ‘I dare you, I dare you. You will never be able to tell me anything about women I don’t know, but try.’ So I said, ‘Well, women fake orgasms,’ and he said, ‘Not with me.’ So I said, ‘Yes, with you,’ and he said, ‘No, no, no.’ I said, ‘Yes, yes, yes.’ Well, he went completely crazy. He really did. I mean, he did a total Meathead moment and went thundering out to the bullpen at Castle Rock Pictures, where all the women were, and said, ‘Get in here,’ and they call came in. He said, ‘Is it true that women fake orgasms?’ And this group of six completely terrified assistants all looked at him and went [nods head]. It was just an amazing moment.” — Academy of Achievement, June 2007

Elisabeth Moss

“The weirdest thing is having to make, like, sex noises. And I remember one scene [in Top of the Lake] that’s actually not in the series that was cut. There were, like, three love scenes that were cut. And I was doing one, and I did it and then Jane said that I was being too loud! And I was so embarrassed, ’cause you just think, Oh, God, is this what people think I do? You know? It’s very private! And so, you know, it was just embarrassing that like I was — I thought that that was what she wanted, so I was like really kinda going for it, and then she was like, ‘It’s too much.’ I was just mortified.” — Vulture, April 2013

Joan Rivers

“Everybody talks about multiple orgasms. Multiple orgasm — I’m lucky if both sides of my toaster pop.” — Vulture

Amy Schumer

“Do what you feel you want to do while also considering how you’ll feel the next day. Don’t not have an orgasm. Make sure he knows that you’re entitled to an orgasm. I like to say it. I’ll be like, ‘Hey, there are two people here.’ I’ll be like, ‘Oh my God, have you met my clit?’ Don’t be self-conscious.” — Glamour, August 2015

Arianna Huffington

“Orgasms are Mother Nature’s Ambien — without side effects!” – The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, April 2016

Rashida Jones

“Working in this space has for sure affected my relationship with porn. To be honest, I struggled even before we started working together [on the show Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On]. When you go search for porn, the first stuff that pops up is not the stuff I wanted to see. It was very violent and abusive, and it was hard for me to find something to reflect my desires. And now that I know more and more about it, I’m getting pickier with my porn, like I am with my food. I want to know how it was made, I want to know that everybody’s having a good time, and I want to know that the orgasms are real. I mean, I can’t know all that stuff, but I want it to feel that way at least.” — Refinery29, April 2017

Caitlin Moran

“[R]eading Jilly Cooper, for me, was huge, and then Anais Nin. But I still don’t think we really have any female-based pornography and there are a couple of fundamental truths that I’ve still never really seen fully addressed in a book, or anywhere in popular culture. One is that women are clearly hungry—women can come all night. We can start coming and we can go on all night. We can not end. Men can usually only come once, and I still can’t quite get my head around that.” — Vice, April 2015

Ruth Wilson

“I had only done one sex scene before The Affair. Dominic [West] and I are really insistent that those scenes in the show have a narrative. It can’t just be a normal generic sex scene. ‘What are we saying here?’ There are assumptions that women are always the focus of titillation. And I wanted my contract to say: ‘For every female orgasm, there had to be a male orgasm.’” — The Hollywood Reporter, June 2015

Sarah Gubbins

“I think a lot of women when they’re having sex for the first few years, they’re in their head going, ‘Do I look like the girl in the magazine? Am I doing it right? Am I arching my back right? What would a good orgasm look like? I better fake it because I know I’ll be able to make it pretty if I fake it.” — Cosmopolitan, May 2017

Chelsea Handler

“Do I have orgasms during intercourse? Shut up! But who doesn’t? Yes, I have them. And no, the vaginal orgasm is not a myth. Pilates Tina can explain it to you. Anyway, I think I’m pretty good in bed. Recently, I have been very good. I’ve gotten a lot of compliments.” — Rolling Stone, September 2010

Carrie Fisher

“Everyone always lies about sex. If you haven’t lied about it, it isn’t sex. Have you ever faked an orgasm? Some might say that’s a kind of well-meaning lie — but it’s still lying, no?” — The Guardian, September 2016

Amy Poehler

“Try not to fake it: I know you are tired/nervous/eager to please/unsure of how to get there. Just remember to allow yourself real pleasure and not worry about how long it takes … God punished us with the gift of being able to fake it. Show God who the real boss is by getting off and getting yours.” — Yes Please, October 2014

Eva Longoria

“I didn’t begin enjoying sex until I started masturbating. Before that, I really wasn’t sexual. I bought my first vibrator three years ago. It’s a shame I didn’t discover it sooner. Now, I give Rabbit vibrators to all my girlfriends. They scream when they unwrap it. The best gift I can give them is an orgasm.” — Self, 2005

Marina Abramovic

On her piece, Balkan Erotic Epic: “Having orgasms publicly, being excited by the visitors’ steps above me — it’s really not easy, I tell you! I’ve never concentrated so hard in my life. My friend gave me some sexy magazines, but I really didn’t use them. I concentrated on the sounds, and on the idea that I had to have orgasms, as proof of my work. And so I did. I don’t fake it — I never fake anything. The problem for me, with this piece, was the absence of public gaze: only the sound. But I heard that people had a great time; it was like a big party up there! I ended with nine orgasms. It was terrible for the next piece — I was so exhausted!” — New York Magazine, December 2005

Olivia Wilde

“You can lie to your relatives at Christmas dinner and tell them that ‘everything on the home front’s just peachy!’ but you cannot lie to your vagina.” — The Huffington Post, October 2012

Patti Smith

“I feel I’m involved in it right now. On stage at this point, as much as I know how, I’ve been accused of everything, including masturbation. And I come on stage. Almost every night I come on stage. Sex–coming–is about concentration. I can come while I’m writing, if I’m really there. Orgasm is peaking your concentration … Well, any woman is capable of multiple orgasms. What I mean is, a woman can come all day, and even women don’t realize how heavy this is. When I first realized what coming meant, that I could come twenty times if I could come once, over and over again like the ocean. Even self-induced. I’m not necessarily talkin’ about sex now.” — Beat Media, December 2016

25 Famous Women on Orgasms