Today we’d like to introduce you to Ashley Manta.
Ashley, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
CannaSexual was the product of a few things coming together at once. I grew up in Pennsylvania, and I’ve been doing sexuality education since 2007. My focus was originally on sexual violence prevention and awareness and healing trauma – I worked as a rape crisis counselor, victim advocate, and mental health crisis worker – then shifted to sexual health, pleasure, and body confidence.
In 2013, I moved to Los Angeles and started working full time as a sexuality professional, first as a phone sex operator, then at the Pleasure Chest in West Hollywood as their online retail manager, and finally going into business for myself in the summer of 2015.
Moving to California also meant access to cannabis, so I got my medical card right away and started visiting medical cannabis retailers. I quickly realized that there was a massive knowledge gap when it comes to cannabis and sex. Most folks in the cannabis industry are untrained in human sexuality, and across the board, most people don’t know much about cannabis.
I vowed to learn as much as I could about cannabis and use that knowledge to help people combine sex and cannabis mindfully in their own lives, and to share my knowledge with cannabis professionals and sexuality professionals so that they could have these conversations with their respective audiences. I’m still learning things every day and adapting my perspectives as I receive new information.
On a more personal note, as a trauma survivor, I found that cannabis had a powerfully positive impact on my sex life. After I had a pretty hardcore PTSD resurgence in March of 2015, cannabis helped me with my panic attacks and constant anxiety and allowed me to get into my body and enjoy pleasure again during a time of pretty severe sexual despondency.
I saw that there was a myriad of ways that cannabis and sex could be combined, and I made it my mission to find and explicate them. I started writing for Leafly.com and published over 70 articles in two years. I started writing a personal blog for Dope Magazine about my experiences. Altogether I’ve published over 150 articles about sex and cannabis since 2015.
I started getting mainstream press and more high profile speaking gigs, like SXSW and the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit. In 2018 I had a lot of TV coverage and appeared on CNN, Viceland, Bravo, and Playboy TV. So far in 2019 I was featured in a video for ATTN on Facebook and was on the cover of Sexual Health magazine.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The road has been anything but smooth. I’ve lived well below the poverty line, had unstable housing, and had some challenging mental health struggles due to my PTSD, all while running my own business and supporting myself. I’ve struggled as a business owner–advertising on social media is not an option for anyone with a sexuality business, and cannabis businesses face similar struggles.
And yet, I realize that as a white cisgender woman, I operate daily from a place of immense privilege. I am fully aware that there are still a disproportionate amount of people of color sitting in jail for nonviolent cannabis offenses, and that it is incumbent on me to use my platform to raise awareness and encourage change.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
I trademarked CannaSexual® in 2017 for educational services. I’m known as a sexuality expert who specializes in mindfully using cannabis to enhance sex, although my work is not exclusively cannabis-related. The thing my clients tend to find most surprising about combining sex and cannabis is that using cannabis does not have to mean getting high. There are multiple non-psychoactive methods of consumption and many options for products to consume, but most people are unfamiliar with them.
My business is largely based on my services as an educator and coach. I work mostly with women-identified folks and couples (of all gender configurations) to find practical solutions to the things that get in the way of pleasure and intimacy. Sometimes, cannabis is one of those solutions. Sometimes it isn’t, and the client is actually needing help with self-awareness and effective communication. Some folks just need guidance on toys, lube, and specific sexual skills.
One of the things that sets me apart is my network. I’ve met and befriended a myriad of thought leaders in both the sexuality field and the cannabis industry, which gives me unparalleled access to expert knowledge. It has given me the opportunity to train and practice my skills with some of the best in the world. The thing I’m most proud of is having the opportunity to interview one of my professional heroes, Betty Dodson, the grandmother of masturbation, for my article in Dope Magazine’s January 2019 issue.
In the five-page spread, there are hand-drawn vulvas that Betty created in 1986 and a flyer from her in-home workshops dated 1975, plus Betty’s brilliant insights and full endorsement of cannabis as medicine. This irreverent trailblazer was changing the world before I was even born, and it was an honor to bring her work to a new audience.
What were you like growing up?
I was the quintessential bookworm growing up. A-student, honors classes, advanced placement in high school. I never had a detention. I was mostly a social outcast among my peers, but I got along quite well with my teachers, leading me to be branded a “teacher’s pet.” I loved horses and convinced my parents to let me take horseback riding lessons.
My musical tastes mostly consisted of Billy Joel, The Eagles, and show tunes from musicals including Jesus Christ Superstar, Fiddler on the Roof, Annie, The Sound of Music, and Newsies (the Christian Bale version). I was born and raised Catholic and was an altar server and sang in the choir. All I ever wanted was to escape the rural, conservative area I grew up in, so I went to college and grad school outside of Philadelphia and never looked back after that.
- Relationship Coaching – $200 per hour for a full session or $30 per 10 minutes for “micro sessions”
- Online Hand Sex Course – $297 for 10 segment course
- Website: www.ashleymanta.com
- Phone: (424) 294-8249
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/cannasexual
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ashleymanta/
- Twitter: www.twitter.com/ashleymanta
- Other: www.elevatedintimacy.com/masterclass
Click Save Photo, Foria Wellness, Lizzy Jeff