Shelby Sells, a cheerleader for love & sex
PHOTOS AND WORDS BY : BRYNN WALLNER
Gimme a <3!
During some party, somewhere in Los Angeles I met Shelby Sells. I found myself swimming in a sea of sameness yet her warm, magnetic energy stood out. She was funny as hell- wisecracks cascading out of her cherry red lips and a sensual sparkle in her pretty, wide eyes.
I am not the only one charmed by Shelby. Actually, when I met up with her in the East Village for this interview she came sauntering down the street carrying two huge yellow roses, gifted to her by the guys at her corner bodega. As we made our way to the Independent Book Fair in Williamsburg, a girl stopped her on the street asking to take her photo for Dutch Cosmopolitan. It was like I was walking with a really cute dog everyone wanted to pet.
Her snap-crackle-pop charisma and easy nature make Shelby the kind of girl you want to tell everything to, even when you first meet her. After years of writing, photography, designing clothing, and even emerging as an internet sex symbol, she’s pursuing further education to officially establish her title as, Sexologist.
“I moved to LA when I was eighteen,” she recounts. “Going out, making friends, partying a lot, surveying the scene, seeing what’s up.” Shelby talks with her hands, “LA was very different from Idaho, not a lot of clubs or live music.”
It’s hard to imagine that Shelby grew up in Idaho, maybe her roots explain how she’s so genuinely kind. But Los Angeles was a perfect place for Shelby to come into her own as she grew out her her teens and into her early twenties. The hedonistic blur of LA serves as a location, ripe for discovering what makes people tick in love, sex, and everything in between.
“I became friends with a bunch of very different people in LA,” she explains mimicking her past-self buzzing around from person to person at a party- “What’s up? What’s the tea? Who are you dating? Who are you fucking? Sooo do you have a man in your life?”
And people would spill. They’d gush about a new guy they were seeing, or someone they were falling in love with. Shelby, a self-proclaimed cheerleader of love, is never antagonistic toward her friends’ budding love- it was never, “Ew, love? Keep it to your fucking self,” it was always, “Oh my god, I am so proud of you, this is so exciting.”
So in the spirit of the cheerleader for love, Shelby Sells breaks it down for us.
Gimme a S-H-E-L-B-Y!
S is for SEX
Sex is easy to obtain. So sex is starting to phase people less. This is enabling a normalization of the sexualities that have been shunned or shamed in society. Lots of things are being worked out in different communities right now. If we’re all trying to move toward change, it’s not going to be easy. We all have to fight for it. But right now, everything is airing out. Right now the floodgates are open. Everyone is talking about sex and identity, brands are also trying to capitalize off all of it. I feel like it’s going to hit a peak and we need to bring it to a level where it works, to foster a peaceful coexistence.
I think of sex as a positive tool to bring to the table in a relationship. If I’m really good at giving head, that makes me a better girlfriend.
H is for HELP
Some people are ashamed to ask for help in any aspect of life. If you can’t do it alone, you’re encouraged to go to your family, but family isn’t always a safe place. That’s why people often need something else: religion, a higher power, a purpose. Therapy is a great resource, and it works because it’s very personal. You can interact with someone who is a professional, someone stable who can offer a 3rd party perspective. A therapist can give you an objective response to what you’re going through, and provide solutions to work out whatever’s going on. Even if someone talks to you, often you’ve been in distress for so long that the words don’t come out right. With therapy, you have the luxury of time. It’s time for YOU, and you only.
E is for EXPERIENCE
I’ve been talking about love and sex for 6-7 years now. I think we can all learn to be more receptive and communicate with each other on different levels of the spectrum. Sometimes we’re like Twitter personified; we’re talking at each other. We’re in a cycle until we break it. I’m learning to be in control of my emotions and talk to others about what they’re going through in a non-reactive way. To genuinely listen.”
Everyone goes through such different things: the good, the bad, the blissful, the mediocre. It’s good to hear all of it, you can’t put a blanket over anything, all of it counts toward something.
L is for LOVE
Love can be a lot of things. Love can be me checking up on a friend asking ‘how’s your day going?’ or love can be having amazing phone sex and thinking, ‘How am I orgasming like it’s the real thing?’ The difference between love and sex is that you can have sex without love. Love without sex is possible too, in platonic and asexual relationships. But sex you can define, whereas with love – it’s harder to pin down. Sex has a literal definition, which isn’t what sex only is, but no one can define what love is. That is my attraction to it. I love a mystery, I’m like fuckin’ Nancy Drew over here.
B is for BOOBS.
“I love my boobs. I used to be ashamed of them because having big boobs means I am inherently sexualized and judged by men and women. Now I’ve grown to embrace them, accept their beauty and their magic. Not everyone is blessed with big boobs, and while I’m not defined by them, I sure do love how they make me look and feel. Boobs are great no matter the size. People need to stop titty shaming. What’s so bad about a boob?”
Y is for YOU.
“My journey of self-love has been a long one with a lot of ups and downs. I’ve chosen a career path that focuses on very sensitive subjects and everyone has an opinion. At first my friends and family were a little weary of this choice, but after seeing my plan and my actions they are behind me 100%. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to be here. For the first time in my life I really know and love myself. I’m having the best sex and relationships I’ve ever had. I’m happy. There’s been a lot of trauma I’ve had to unravel, work through, and let go of. It’s worth it to be where I am now. I’m excited for the future. Thanks for being on this journey with me.”