Rintamaki talks sex
Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
Students looked to the front of the class. Some judged her, while others grew embarrassed as they realized why she looked so familiar. A porn star was standing in front of the over crowded lecture hall. Lance Rintamaki, assistant professor in the Department of Community Health and Behavior, found the secret to attracting students to his class.
Rintamaki taught his first sexual communication course (COM 492) last fall at UB. It was a huge success.
Where it all began
Rintamaki was at dinner with his advisor from the University of Illinois, where he got his Ph.D. in speech communication. His advisor, Dale Brashers, whom Rintamaki considers to be one of his biggest role models, made a suggestion that altered Rintamaki’s career. He suggested they write a book about sexual communication together.
Rintamaki thought about it for days.
It was when he thought about his roommate from Illinois that the decision was made. His roommate, Wesley, was a wrestler and was incredibly buff. He graduated in the top 5 percent and was very smart. He owns two businesses and is financially very well off.
“You put this all together and you think this is someone who’s going to do really well in social situations,” Rintamaki said. “But if you put Wesley in front of a woman that he thinks is attractive, he can’t string words together into a sentence.”
Wesley would call Rintamaki every other month and say things like, “All right, I just read this new book and this one’s called ‘Pimpology.’ You have to do this and then do this and then be mean to her, and then she’ll like you!”
Wesley’s desperation to find advice on how to improve his sexual communication skills inspired Rintamaki to say yes to Brashers and to begin writing the book about the science behind all of what Rintamaki calls “nonsense” that most published books explain about relationships.
On July 5, 2010, Rintamaki suffered a tragic blow. Brashers had a massive heart attack in his office. He didn’t survive.
Rintamaki is continuing to write the book on his own and hopes to use the proceeds to fund a scholarship in Brasher’s name.
He wants to title it “Sexual Communication,” because he just wants a simple title to get the point of his writing across.
“I quite literally think of [Brashers] as my second dad,” Rintamaki said. “We referred to him as my gay dad because he was a flaming gay man. He was very different from my biological father but they both had these major influences on me.
“Dale was so funny. Whenever he was around everyone was happy. It’s just really sad that type of presence is gone from the world. He’s the reason why I’m moving forward with this book.”
In Sept. 2010, Brashers was supposed to teach the first ever sexual communication class at Illinois. After his death, there was no one to teach the class 500 students had already enrolled within in the first two days of registration. Rintamaki quickly helped one of his graduate students from UB, who was attending Illinois at the time, draft up a class structure. She became the new sex communication professor.
Although she was overwhelmed and had no experience in teaching the course, her class of 500 students ended up being 1,000 – half the students just stopping by to hear the interesting lectures.
Rintamaki took her class as a foundation and knew he could improve it for the UB community. Last semester, he was proven correct.
He said he’s never had a learning environment as great as the one in his COM 492 class last fall. Before the semester started, several students talked to him just to say how excited they were for his class.
Inspiration from his past
Rintamaki loves what he does. He was originally studying genetics at Michigan State, which was a very solid and financially satisfying subject of study. When he decided to switch to communication, which was more vague and unsettling, his father was nothing short of excited.
His biological father had just as strong of an impact on him as his “gay father,” Brashers.
“My father grew up very, very poor,” Rintimaki said. “Their home was the size of a conventional garage. Half of what they ate they either shot or caught in the river or the lake, way up in the peninsula of Michigan. His parents died young. He was taking care of his younger sisters when he went to college and worked his way up. He did really well for himself and I really admire him.”