Being the sluttiest person in her high school, Raquel Rottman’s friend urged her to write a blog about her Miami sexcapades. But those kinds of stories were a dime a dozen, the now 26-year-old thought.
“Like, how many times can you read about the guy who came too quickly?” Raquel tells me over the phone.
As a sex influencer myself, I nodded in agreement. The internet is surely oversaturated with Carrie Bradshaw wannabees, but Raquel is no Sex and the City knockoff blogger. After moving back to Lima, her parents’ hometown, with a biology degree in hand, the college graduate created an Instagram page that quickly cemented herself as the face of sex education in Peru.
Known to the masses by her Instagram handle, Corazon Con Leche (heart with milk), the Jewish Peruvian sex influencer’s following has grown quickly. In just over a year, she landed herself on the cover of Revista Somos (“It’s like the equivalent of New York Magazine”), hosted a sex education mini-series with major news network La Republica, spoke at TedxWomen 2019, and to top it off, her first book, Corazon con Leche: El Placer de Conocerte — a play on words for “pleasure knowing you” — came out last September. What’s next for Raquel? Opening a high end sex store in prudish Peru.
“America isn’t the land of dreams,” Raquel tells me on our WhatsApp call. “If you want all your dreams to come true, come to Peru.”
Full disclosure: Raquel and I are virtual pen pals. I stumbled across her page about a year ago, and I still remember how giddy I was to find the Spanish counterpart to my own sex page, @whoregasmic. Though Raquel’s approachable feed filled with illustrations on menstruation and STIs is more PG-13 than the R-rated memes I share about buttholes and queefs, I was so excited to find a like-minded sexually liberated woman. If I found her exclusively to help me brush up on Spanish for my Argentinian father’s sake, dayenu. But seeing her last name — Rottman — set my Jewdar off, and when she replied to my DM confirming that she is, indeed, a fellow sex-positive Spanish Jewess, I was over the moon. What started out as a journalism inquiry blossomed into a full-fledged friendship that, if not for the dismal state of global sex education, probably wouldn’t have formed. So, I guess there’s that.
Without further ado, here’s my unfiltered (yet slightly edited for clarity) interview with Raquel Rottman, the Jewish bisexual Paris-born, Miami-raised, Lima-based sex influencer making Peru a better place, one Instagram post at a time (and for the record, she’s single!!!).
Have you always been so sex positive? Where did your passion for human sexuality come from?
Since I was moving around a lot in Miami, I somehow never sat through a sex education class in high school. Most of my sex ed came from my parents — they were always super, super sex positive. They had gay friends that would come over with their partners, so I always knew that humans can love and interact and fuck without any gender restrictions.
I was the classic kid that would just rub up against any surface, right? I had this one teddy bear that was my go-to, but definitely any surface available… that was me. My parents always had the opportunity to be like, “You know, you can do this in your room.” They were always really cool about it, much more than the rest of my family.
I don’t know if this has anything to do with it, but I think as opposed to her three siblings who were raised Catholic, when my mom converted to Judaism, she and my dad raised us kids in a really open way, and not just regarding sex.
What does the more conservative side of your family think of Corazon Con Leche?
When I got to Peru and launched my page, my whole family was kind of like, “Oh, there she goes…” I was like the gringa cousin, when I came everyone was like, “Hide your man!” It’s not like I ever did anything, it’s just when we’d go to parties as teens I’d have no problem making out with someone on the dance floor, as opposed to, I don’t know, finding a place to hide and kiss. My boundaries were just a little more extreme than theirs.
I remember when I first started taking birth control when I was 15, my mom was like, “If your cousins see you taking it tell them they’re growth hormones because you’re short, or something.” I was like fine, I won’t let them know, but I was always the cool older cousin. I was like, yeah! Sex is cool!
So how’d you decide to launch Corazon Con Leche?
After college I found a way to channel my sexual energy and the passion I’ve always had. In America, and I’m sure you feel this way, too, there’s an ever-growing audience for sex education, like a lot of people are talking about sex right now. But in Peru, literally nobody was talking about the topic. Like, nobody. Older women can’t even say vagina out loud without freaking out. So I was just like, okay, this is something I’ve always been passionate about, I’m already very explicit about sex, it’s just part of my personality, so let me talk about it here in a way that will help people feel more comfortable. If I can say vagina and masturbation, then they can too.
Being so taboo in Peru, how did you build an audience for sex education so quickly?
I was already pretty well-connected and I’m definitely very fortunate, so when I launched Corazon Con Leche I hit people up and asked them to share my posts if they felt comfortable with it. The thing is, because sex is so taboo in Peru, even open-minded people would be like, “I don’t know, I don’t want people to associate me with that.” I noticed that when I post a really quirky, funny post, people are so quick to share it, but if I share something that’s stigmatized like herpes, or any STI, even people who have suffered from the stigma their whole lives won’t step up to the plate and share it on their story because people are really judgmental here.
Right, that’s so tough. Like you need people to share to destigmatize it, but they won’t because it’s so stigmatized. You gotta learn how to play the game.
Exactly. When I first started I had all this drive and passion; I was going to post about sex worker rights and abortion rights, but I had to chill out because that’s really sensitive here. And it goes beyond those rights — people in Peru are living in extreme fucking poverty. So posting about sex education sort of reveals a side of my privilege that I’m always trying to keep in check. I’m always like, “Okay people, I am a cis heterosexual white, privileges woman with an education and health insurance and I can’t speak for the majority of people in Latin America.”
How do you navigate any backlash you receive?
It was frustrating at first. I just hear the dumbest things sometimes, born out of misinformation that just creates guilt. Oh my God, the Catholic guilt they instill in these girls here is fucking crazy. I’m happy that I’m doing this, but it’s really heavy. I’ll be worrying about something small like getting in contact with a publisher and then it’s like, dude, there’s pregnant teens here getting denied abortions and it just puts everything into perspective.
Have you faced any antisemitism? How do you handle it?
Antisemitism here is really nonchalant. I had someone in a WhatsApp group message send a sticker of Hitler that made me super uncomfortable. [Most people here] don’t interact with Jews on a regular basis. So I have to be like, “Hello… I’m right here… my last name is Rottman and my ancestors literally fled Europe to Peru because of antisemitism, so fuck you, dude.” It sucks I have to present my face to them and be like, “I’m real, I’m Jewish, and I’m right here,” just so that they can be conscious of the stupidity they’re doing. But that’s where we’re at.
How does your Jewish identity come into play with all of this? You’ve told me you weren’t raised religiously, but you’re clearly very proud to be Jewish.
I grew up in a household where I wasn’t shamed for my sexuality and I never had any religious guilt about it. My parents were very liberal in that sense. My dad’s fully Jewish, like, Larry David Jewish. We used to say “Woody Allen Jewish” but you know how it is. My mom’s grandparents are Jewish but she was raised Catholic, and when she married my dad she felt pressured to convert because of the intense Jewish community in Lima. So they moved to Paris because they hated their families — they were like, “bye” — and that’s where my brother and I were born. Europe was super expensive so we moved back to Peru, couldn’t stand it, so we hopped to Miami when I was 8, where I was pretty much raised for the rest of my life.
We were in touch with Judaism but not immersed in it. We were in Miami — that’s Jewish enough, right? Aventura is like the mecca for Jews.
I didn’t have a bat mitzvah and I don’t really celebrate the holidays, but I’ve always identified as a proud Jewish woman. And I’ve always felt that in Lima where there aren’t that many Jewish people it’s my job to educate them on certain things that they might not have been exposed to.
Coming from such a liberated attitude towards sexuality, what was it like dating in the Jewish community when you first got to Peru?
The first few encounters I had were pretty similar. The first time the guy got to my house and I whipped out a box of condoms, I was like, “Cool, let’s do this,” and he was like, “Oh my God, why do you have so many condoms?” And I was like, “Because you didn’t fucking bring any…? What’s the issue? If it weren’t for me we wouldn’t be fucking so get on your knees, eat my pussy, and thank me for having condoms.” So that was the first one.
I think it’s a vicious cycle of insecurity and guilt that these kids are indoctrinated with, at least here. You hear the classic story of all the girls going into the bathrooms poking each other’s vaginas and the parents are like, “Blasphemy!” and I’m like, just tell them about their bodies! Don’t just tell them to find a Jewish man and marry him!
So your relationship with the Peruvian Jewish community is kinda complicated, huh?
Yeah. When I was in Lima as a kid I went to school with the Jewish kids, and just so you know, the Jewish population in Lima is only about 3,000 people, so we’re very small, close, and connected. There’s been occasions where I’ve met someone who was actually a distant cousin, and basically what happens is that if you meet a Peruvian Jew anywhere in the world you connect the dots and realize you kind of do know them because the degrees of separation are very low.
That’s what we call Jewish geography, baby!
Exactly, like I’ve met someone who was actually a distant cousin! Anyway, when I moved back to Peru, even prior to launching Corazon Con Leche, I surrounded myself with the Jewish community because those were my friends from school.
It’s really cute, actually, that Desiree Frank, the artist I work with for my page and my book, and I actually have family history. When antisemitism got really bad in Europe both our grandparents heard that Peru was the place to be, and when they got here they became friends. So when Desiree and I started working together my dad was like, “Omg, I used to know your grandpa and he used to smoke tobacco with my dad!” Our abuelos were friends and now we’ve ended up working together, too.