Sex & Relationships

Melanie Rose Wants You To Have Kinkier Sex

The host of Netflix’s How To Build A Sex Room shares advice on spicing up your sex life.

Melanie Rose, host of Netflix's 'How To Build A Sex Room,' talks to Bustle about how to have kinkier...
COURTESY OF NETFLIX

If you’ve recently finished your annual marathon of New Girl and have scrolled through Netflix’s list of new series, you’ve probably noticed How To Build A Sex Room. Punchy title aside, the show — which premiered in July 2022 — has become a wildly popular watch, thanks in part to its vivacious host, Melanie Rose.

With her British accent, pixie-cut ’do, and fabulous ensembles, Melanie Rose serves both as a skilled designer and sex educator for the show’s couples. The series, filmed in Denver, Colorado, transforms ordinary rooms into immaculately crafted and furnished “sex rooms,” and while the rooms are being built, Melanie Rose leads couples on a journey to sexual self-discovery.

Each couple faces an issue in their sex lives, such as struggling to make time for each other or wanting to explore fetishes but not knowing where to start. Melanie Rose equips them with the tools necessary for their journey, whether that’s literal (like sex toys) or conceptual (like communication strategies).

Clearly, she has plenty of wisdom to share. Below, she offers advice on how to talk to your partner about having kinkier sex.

Courtesy of Netflix

In your experience, what are some benefits of exploring kinkier sex?

It keeps it fresh and alive. It’s that wonderful, lustful honeymoon period you go through with sex when you start falling in love. Oh my God, I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about that. After a few years, that can become a little bit normal, like, “Oh, we should go make love now.” Whereas, if you turn it into a little bit more of a kink, it can liven up the relationship. It can give you more pleasure. It’s pushing your boundaries. It’s exploring something together, which I think is fun.

How has the show helped the couples you’ve worked with, and also those who’ve watched it?

It’s opened up conversations. They open up to me. Then once other people see that, they’re like, “Oh, it means I could also have a conversation with my partner.” It opens up Pandora's box of excitement.

Today, if you type “BDSM” into your search engine, you get all the not-so-pleasant images on the extreme side of BDSM, which is absolutely fine. Whatever gets you going. But I don't think people understand that, when we’re making love with our partners, there might be a little hair pulling or tapping on the bottom. That actually falls under the umbrella of BDSM.

For people who want to have these conversations with a partner, how can they overcome initial awkwardness or anxiety?

I am not a sex therapist, I am not a sex psychologist, I am none of those. I’ve just learned how people work and what makes them feel more comfortable. I happen to be very straightforward. Saying the words “cock, cum, cock ring, and butt plug” doesn’t bother me. But you’re right, some people feel embarrassed about it.

If you feel your partner is going to judge you for your fantasies, I would suggest taking a pen and paper, going to different ends of the room, maybe having a glass of wine, and writing out your fantasies over the course of an evening. Then swap papers. That way, you’re not engaging in conversation [yet]. You’re just reading what the other person would like. That’s a good way to start. And try doing it naked. If you think about it, what could be more vulnerable and intimate than when you’re both stark naked?

Do you think the sex rooms made the couples on the show more sexually confident?

Without a shadow of a doubt, absolutely. Shaneika and Matthew had never been in a sex store before. What I like to do is advise my clients to go to a boutique sex store. Don’t go to one of these big chain stores unless you know what you’re looking for. You could be overwhelmed by the variety, which is why I say to people, “Go and touch these items, and feel what they’re like for you.”

What are baby steps people can take to introduce the idea of kink, BDSM, or fetish into their sex lives?

What about talking dirty to each other?

Oh yeah.

Starting off, I did this with Raj and Ryan, because they couldn't communicate with each other in the sound booth. Again, you have to be careful, you want to be consensual, and you don’t want to be derogatory. But it can be a real turn-on. If that’s a problem for someone, maybe reading an erotica novel to each other would help. Take the juicy bits out of the novel and read them aloud to each other. That could break some of that tension.

If you want to go a little further, get some under-bed restraints, because people are not going to know they’re there. But psychologically, you know they’re there.

I think talking dirty is foundational for anyone who wants to explore these things. It teaches you how to communicate your desires and needs.

Exactly. And it’s all about being comfortable and consensual. People said, “Your show inspired my husband and I to go to an adult toy store and buy a flogger.” If you’re not sure how a flogger works, do your research first. Don’t go blindly. Then going out to purchase it is another thing that can be quite kinky.

Experiment with couples toys. The other day [I saw a] really sexy piece of labia jewelry. It’s almost like a clip-on earring. You clip it onto your labia and it just hangs there. [Imagine] going to dinner with your partner, but not wearing any underwear except this exquisite piece of jewelry? How erotic and how sensual.

How do you handle this with a partner who’s convinced they’re more vanilla?

Again, I’d go back to reading some erotica books. I think that can help give you the language. It’s very difficult for people who can’t talk about sex to actually talk about sex. There are a lot of people who want these things but are too frightened to ask for them. Therefore, they deem it as dirty. It’s not easy. It takes practice. You have to work it out together, find common ground, and not be judgmental with each other.

What role does setting aside a separate space or time for exploring kink play in building intimacy?

Sometimes people have a dedicated space because they don’t want to have toys in their bedroom where other people could see them. It’s also very sexual if you're having a date night with your partner, you’re cooking at home, you’re setting the mood, and you lead them into that sacred room, knowing what’s going to happen there.

Right, setting that expectation of, “There’s a separate time and world we're stepping into.”

Absolutely.

How do you recommend creating this kind of alternative space — literal space, time, whatever it may be — with a partner?

First of all, you need to set aside intimacy time. Today we’ve got Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, televisions, streaming things. There’s so much busy noise around us. Make a promise to each other, [like] “one night a week we’re going to be intimate.” One night.

If someone is brand new to kink or BDSM, what would you tell them about starting out?

Do some research on it first. There are so many articles for people to read and explore. That will hopefully start making you feel, “This isn’t as scary as I thought.”

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.