Get on your knees baby, and suck my … politics of desirability

Erotic Liberation and Emancipating Sexuality

There are many exploratory erotic spaces that I want to be in. However, the specific spaces I want don’t usually exist. Often, that means I create them, because I want them to be in the world.

Erotic Experiments

Recently, I created two very different erotic explorations, Transexy and Black Velvet. The events had very different intentions and different results. In reflecting and contrasting the two parties, I learned that my desire can’t be separated from my commitment to good body politics, and in fact, I’m turned ON by spaces that actively deconstruct the dominate narrative of attraction! Maybe you are too?!?

The first space I facilitated was Transexy: a sex party for transmasculine folks, many of whom had never attended a sex party. There were probably 50 people initially in the room, as I led us through a series of warm-up games. Games that help you know what you want in the moment, and communicate it clearly to your partner. Games that teach about boundaries and consent, as well as non-verbal negotiation.

You know, the type of sexy education we all should have gotten as teenagers, except we didn’t. And in this particular demographic there’s a higher percentage of folks dealing with really intense stuff than in the general population: dysphoria, shame, trauma, internalized transphobia, challenges receiving touch and having sex at all. So this party was a Big Fucking Deal. Just being naked together was an act of solidarity and revolution in a society that says trans bodies are fucked up, wrong, and that’s often best case.

The second space I facilitated was Black Velvet: a sex party in the dark for all different types of bodies, genders, sexual orientations, races, ages, body sizes, political affiliations. The only thing in these bodies had in common was that they were somehow connected to me or my fellow organizers, and we trust them. This party was held, from start to finish, in the complete darkness. Consent, boundaries, negotiation, desire… all without any sense of sight. Yep.

Black Velvet is an event that a friend and I conceived a few years ago, as we lamented over not getting to be gay males in the 1970’s pre-HIV sex scene. Dark rooms, also known as blackrooms or backrooms, were a common feature of gay bars, where anonymous sex can easily take place. We decided to create an erotic experiment that would recreate the dark room space:

Question: What happens erotically, between a group of people in a completely dark, anonymous, anything-goes-but-consent-is-required space?
Hypothesis: Participants will explore their own erotic desires, curiosities, hang ups, and boundaries, and will move beyond who they know themselves to be as erotic beings.

Having conducted one Black Velvet several years ago, I wanted a chance to go deeper into the experience, and am doing so this fall with a series of three by invite-only events. Last Saturday was the first of the three.

The practice of holding complexity

At the first party for transmasculine folks, I knew the space was radical. There were moments when the healing in the room was palpable. I looked around and could almost see shame constructs crashing through the floor, to be returned as power and pleasure in community. I knew without doubt how powerful and necessary this space was/is. I feel dedicated to continuing to create such spaces for folks with marginalized identities and bodies. And yet.

At one point, I looked around, and the bodies lying on the floor made a map of oppression. Central to the space were the young, white, able-bodied, thin more masculinized body with beauty privilege. Surrounding that central pile were groupings of folks with less desirability cred: the fat, the older, the disabled, POC, less masculine folks. I couldn’t see class status, but I’m sure it was also reflected in the space.

All of the privilege centralized, and upheld by the folks having to do the emotional labor of wrestling with their own self-worth and feelings of desirability. It broke my heart. And this map was somewhat my fault; I didn’t set up a critical space, or invite in the politics of desirability to be named and seen. I don’t think I even realized them so clearly, until this party.

Hey, where did my gender go?

At the second party, because of the absence of the visual, I have no idea if this map of oppression repeated itself. My sense is that it did not. It was a much smaller group, in a small space, and the edges of the space aren’t very far from the center. From the reports that participants submitted, there is no evidence to suggest this happened. While we can never erase oppression and desirability politics from our sex spaces, I’m curious if these become quieter factors when you just can’t see who you’re are messing around with.

Some racial features, and body size somewhat identifiable by touch, but in my experience, most touch started with limbs, where it was pretty impossible to discern the entirety of someone’s presentation. The space was designed to be scent-free, so that a participant with a disability around scent could participate, so again, that subverted some of the centralization of able-bodies, in terms of scent.

For at least a couple of the participants in Black Velvet, the absence of the visual was distracting from being connected to their arousal. I personally found the absence of the visual helped me to concentrate on what I was feeling and experiencing with each body I encountered. It’s interesting to me how the actual erotic energy feels with various folks.

I had significant erotic encounters with four different folks, and a variety of other encounters. Each time, the energy I share with my partners has a distinct quality. There is one person in particular who is running a low base note of Eros, and I lower my dial and feel the connection open like a slow, wide river… deep and sultry and timeless.

I know that I feel more desirable in the dark. I don’t worry about what the connection “means” or how I’m perceived, or if I’m wanted. It is clear that if someone is engaging with me, they want me. It really shuts up the dumb stories in my head about not being hot enough.

Of these two events, Black Velvet is the hotter erotic space for me. And in part, it’s because there has been some negation of the prevalent visual narrative that tells me who I’m supposed to be attracted to, and who is supposed to be attracted to me.

At Black Velvet, I found that I was attracted to all kinds of bodies in the dark. Bodies I would probably never engage with erotically were I able to see them, because they don’t go along with my narrative of who I am attracted to.

Yeah, but what’s this have to do with desirability?

Here’s the thing. We all think that our desires, who we want, what we want, is just mysterious magic. Like, isn’t it surprising that my desire trends towards everything that culture tells me is attractive?

While many may think of who we are attracted to as personal preference, those preferences are not developed in a vacuum. It’s impossible to separate one’s desires from the culture and society in which they were formed, so it’s important to think critically about it. ~Tristan 

There’s this thing called sexual capital. The more you are what culture centralizes as “good, normal, beautiful” the more of this sexually currency you possess. You get to trade it for things like dates, being asked out, make-out sessions, getting laid, etc. Yeah, all the good stuff! The problem is, that just like in other forms of capitalism, some folks have more access to sexual capital than other folks do.

As an older, fat white person with sags and wrinkles and a weird gender presentation, I have less access than if I were younger, thinner, and conventionally hotter. I have more access to sexual capital because I facilitate erotic stuff frequently, and have experience with touch, boundaries, etc. Sexual capital isn’t good or bad, it just is. But sexual capital becomes bad when we refuse to acknowledge the impact it has in radical spaces designed for sexual exploration, especially on those with less access to it.

I had a heart-breaking conversation with one guy with less access to sexual capital at Transexy, who sat on the edges of the party. When I enquired if he wanted my help integrating in, he said simply “I’m waiting to be wanted.”

“this unwillingness to recognize how love, fucking and whom we find attractive is political. It’s like we, as a society, have created this whole untouchable area around intimacy in our lives – and perhaps the most important area – the area I think could use the most critique – leading to this massive resistance around analyzing any decisions relating to love and sex. You hear terms like “preference” or “love is love” or “you can’t help who you like” and the conversation stops there.” ~Hari Ziyad

I mean, of course privilege and centralization of certain bodies occurs in these spaces. It occurs everywhere, and why would we expect radical sex spaces to really be any different?? I always say that there are no safe spaces, spaces where we magically leave all our socialization at the door and show up pure and innocent in our desires. Nope. Never gonna happen. But we can start to create sexual spaces for exploration that deliberately hold a critical lens, and strive towards inclusivity.

Mia Mingus talks about moving toward the ugly. Ugly folks and those deemed less culturally desirable have just as much chance to be good at touching and connecting as folks who hold the beauty bundle, maybe even more, because they are working to gain sexual capital rather than having it handed to them.

I learn that for an erotic space to turn me on, it’s gotta be reflective of my politics. Erotic spaces that oppress, no matter how well-intentioned or revolutionary in their own way, just don’t get my nut off. In this post, I’m publically making a commitment to never holding sexualized spaces again that don’t have an active lens of critique and desire to deconstruct oppression, as opposed to reproduce it unconsciously.

Lemme say that one more time: I’m committed to creating revolutionary, erotic spaces for marginalized bodies and identities that hold a critical lens around sexual capital. I’m committed to bringing my work to people who think inclusivity is the hottest thing. And I am pretty certain that my politics can get even juicer, even bolder. That my personal and professional approach to sexual arousal that lifts people up can expand and evolve. Now THAT’S a hot erotic experiment.

In the dark
We are all desire
There is no age
No race or gender
Only passion
In the dark
We are sweat
Tongues
Flesh
Hands
Hard
Soft
Wet
In the dark
We are delicious

~Jake

If you like this, gimme some comment love below?

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Pleasure for the People: Trauma and Revolution

Feel more pleasure with Emancipating Sexuality

It’s good to talk about the nuances of a pleasure revolution, in particular for those of us with sexual trauma.

It seems like pleasure should be the most effortless of human experiences, yes? After all, it’s the state or sensation we are taught to pursue relentlessly. The abatement of pain, and the enjoyment of pleasure is the promise of all marketing, no matter what the product being sold.

And yet pleasure can be complicated. Or maybe it always is.

What is pleasure? How do you know it when you feel it? What’s your capacity for staying with it? Can you bear it for hours? Do you let pleasure absorb deeply inside you, defining your embodied existence? Does pleasure validate your worthiness? Or, like most of us, do you gulp down the delicious meal, rush towards orgasm, or in other ways try to escape from feeling sustained pleasure?

I work with many folks with sexual trauma. I struggle to not let their heartbreaking stories become my normal; to allow myself to feel the impact of each and every violation of each client, without becoming swamped in despair.

The suck-ass truth is that for those of us with sexual trauma, we bear the burden of working through it. It’s not fair. It’s so not fair. And yet, without our own personal work navigating towards sexual freedom, we remain stuck in a sexuality that is not our full expression. And this is of course an okay choice, but it is not the one I nor my clients are making. We want pleasure.

For folks with sexual trauma history, pleasure isn’t always easy to feel. There may be numbness, lack of sensation, pain. Not only that, pleasure can be triggering to feel.
Pleasure can feel not good; it can be uncomfortable, unbearable, or the bodily sensations of pleasure may cause folks to disassociate away from their bodies. Sometimes it’s easily felt, but remorse, shame and guilt are lying in wait in the wings, as soon as pleasure is done. Sometimes pleasure brings up unwanted thoughts, memories or associations.
I sit with my clients through the weeks and months and sometimes years as they fight for their right to feel pleasure, and as they build their capacity to stay with it
Recently I went to hear the band Alabama Shakes at the Greek Theater in Berkeley. Brittany Howard belted out song after soul-wrenching song, no holds barred. This woman is so full-on, you just know she is born to sing, is here on Earth to bring this particular musical brilliance through her body and into the world. Holy fuck. Listen to this before you read the rest of this post, to have an embodied understanding of what I’m talking about.

While listening, it raised a question I’ve been feeling into ever since.  What is it to live in the world, completely dedicated to expressing the thing you are here to express? To give yourself completely to that thing? That even trembling with fear, flooded with overwhelm and suffering pain you just throw yourself into yourself, and pour yourself out again? To allow inspiration to have its way with you, and to focus focus focus your expression in the way that only you could ever do?

I am committed to developing my full erotic expression in this lifetime. There are moments when I am able to allow pleasure to completely ride me,  moments when my body exists inside of me!

But more often are the complicated pleasure moments. The times I’m using my strategies to stay present, to explore what’s possible in this body in this moment. The days where my libido caught a train to Detroit, or I’m distracted by the books I need to read for my lit review. Or I’d rather just get off quick and nap, than do the work of feeling deep pleasure.

My erotic practice is about practice. My erotic practice is about Practice. Like learning to shape a voice made for rock and roll, or hone muscles that can powerlift heavy weight, or learning the art of feeling the trauma of my clients and letting it move through me instead of getting stuck, I am devoted to my art of subtle, nuanced erotic feeling.

This is my pleasure revolution; to develop sensitivity to sensation, to develop the capacity for feeling, in the face of trauma that says ‘No, don’t feel. You don’t deserve it!’ or ‘It’s not safe to feel that!’

Through practice I’ve learned to fuck harder when shame strikes. To remain soft and open to receiving pleasurable touch when tears come. To speak hard-to-say truths in the middle of beautiful moments. To continue erotic energy when my partner is triggered. To receive erotic energy while I’m triggered. To pause, reset, and continue. To explore how to hold pleasure for a long, long time, through all the bullshit that comes up.

Almost all of my clients long for easy pleasure. Pleasure without tears at the end, or having to stop in the middle. Pleasure that doesn’t require explaining to one’s partner that the reason they can’t touch your left thigh has nothing to do with them, but could they please try and not? Pleasure that is just simple. However, that’s not the hand they are holding. Instead , erotic expression involves work and practice and willingness to experience the grief/rage/anger/sadness/numbness, again and again beyond boredom, ad nauseum. Trauma legacy.

And yet. I’m not totally convinced that complicated, hard-earned pleasure isn’t just a tiny bit more worthwhile. I’m not actually convinced that ‘easy pleasure’ and ‘deep pleasure’ ever coexist. It’s a revolution because it’s an overturning of the false dichotomy of the ‘haves’ who get pleasure and the ‘have-nots’ who don’t. Pleasure for the People!  Committing to full erotic expression after trauma is a seizing of personal power in the face of hegemony and shame.

That said, choosing full erotic expression as a trauma survivor takes the time it takes, and maybe that time is never. I’m not the pleasure police. It is a valid choice to focus self-expression in totally different arenas. There is no ‘should’ about feeling anything. Just choices about where we choose to place the limited resource of our attention. Living a life of hedonism and pleasure happens to be where I choose to rebel in the face of my trauma and upbringing.

Would I have committed my life to this personal and professional exploration of reclaiming pleasure without sexual trauma? I’ll never know, but I doubt it. My pleasure is earned, hard-won. It’s my art. It’s my practice. It’s my connection with self and partner and the Divine.

And truly, not today, but some days, pleasure really is effortless

If this speaks to you, please leave a comment below.

Erotic Being versus Erotic Doing

I’m lying on my bed, legs spread, my lover’s mouth on my junk. And I’m not doing anything.

Not tensing, not thrusting, not helping, not wiggling, not desiring. I am simply being, while my body is stimulated and pleasured. The sensation is exquisite. The pleasure builds and builds. As it builds, I feel each tiny movement towards increase. Meaning, as the pleasure increases, there are moments where I crave MORE pleasure. I move my hips a tiny bit, pushing my bits against my lover’s tongue. Or I tense my PC muscles ever so slightly, to increase the sensation.

All of my attention is focused on my receiving practice. Can I be still and receive? Can I just receive? Each time I notice my miniscule attempts to increase pressure or stimulation, I relax again, and remember my intention to just simply be and receive.

Recently, I learn that the name for someone who allows themselves to receive is disparaging; ‘turtle lesbian’ or ‘pillow princess.’ I’m grateful that I don’t have this framework, and that my practice of receiving can be free from judgment.

I practice and practice receiving. I practice Erotic Being, without Erotic Doing.

In my practice, there are moments of epiphany. For example, I realize the vast distinction between placing my attention ON something (like my genitals) and placing my attention IN my genitals. The difference is so subtle, and yet tremendous; it’s about living, feeling and being inside of my experience. My consciousness can dwell in tissues other than my brain tissue.

An old friend asked, apropos of nothing, “How do you make good decisions?” and I answered that I’ve been feeling into my junk, more and more. When I listen to the truth that is spoken between my legs, my decisions are good ones. My body does not lie.

In order to have more of what I want in my life, my capacity for RECEIVING more of what I want must be increased. I must build the muscle of having, of receiving without doing. Erotic practice is the perfect place to build this capacity. I ask my friends, “How are you good at receiving?” via text. Some respond, befuddled. Two write back that they receive when they get massages from their partners. One person responded that they pay attention to what’s going on in their body when something is being offered, and notices how their body feels different when they are open to receiving and when they are not.

In the spirit of celebrating of Erotic Being-ness, what follow are some thoughts on receiving.  (And what I mean is the practice of receiving things we WANT from the world, not getting all the stuff we don’t want or need.)

  • Receiving is an art. If you want to learn to receive, conduct an Indiegogo campaign. Make it count, make it meaningful. Put something you love out into the world, and ask your people to support it. This is a terrifying practice, not for the meek or inexperienced in receiving. This will shine the light on ALL of the shit you have about wanting, asking, and receiving. There’s pretty much no place to hide.
  • Receiving can be cultivated. I can rest back in my body, pay attention to meeting the world from my back, choose to open my shoulder muscles.  The more I receive, the better I get at receiving.
  • Resistance to a thriving receiving practice can hide out behind egalitarian concepts like “mutuality” and “reciprocity.” Meaning, I am only available to receive if I believe the giver is also getting value from me. We are all so fucked up when it comes to gifting and gift economies, that we sometimes greet gifts with suspicion. We carry a lot of baggage around gifts that came with obligation, gifts that we gave out of obligation, gifts that mean more than just a gift. I can deflect receiving by not simply accepting the gift/compliment/pleasure/promotion/support… I can be overly grateful, or grovel.  Not great receiving.
  • Receiving is an elevated form of connection. Babies are held in “receiving blankets.” Offices have reception rooms, and receptionists whose job it is to receive you when you arrive. Shipping and receiving. Receiving dock. Receiving lines. And of course, the Hebrew Kabbalah, “receiving.”
  • Receiving meets the offering with a full body presence, and an open-hearted welcome.
  • We could choose to pay more attention to how we receive. How we receive others: their ideas, their words, their feedback, their gifts, their gestures. How we receive ourselves: our stories, our wounds, our faults, our gifts and talents and joys.

When all is said and done, here’s what I think. Receiving, that gorgeous practice of receptivity, is hard work. It’s a special kind of doing-not-doing. When I am receiving, I am BEING receptive. And that is the erotic self I’m striving towards, these days; the one that can fully receive the pleasure that is offered to me.

If you liked reading this, I’d love to RECEIVE a comment from you below.  

Are you all in your head when it comes to sex?

What are you thinking about during sex?  How often do you share what  you are actually thinking with your partners? How often does your mind wander? What does it wander to?

Today I’m writing about one of the most common complaints I hear in my practice: “I feel stuck in my head when I’m having sex!”  Since this is so prevalent, is there a way to reframe this dilemma that would actually help us have better sex? What (and how) you think during sex can profoundly impact your sexual experience, including genital functioning (!) and if/how you orgasm.

A big part of erscreen_shot_2013-01-15_at_3.17.46_pmotic liberation is the ability to CHOOSE where you are placing your attention, and then to maintain it there.  For example, I can choose to place my attention on the sensations that are happening in my body while I’m having sex.

You may not even realize that your mind is wandering during sex, because it happens so frequently. There are many distractions; it can be hard to give ourselves permission for the time it takes to have sex, to have sex even if all of the things on the to-do list aren’t crossed off.  Fantasy can be a distraction, especially if one isn’t sharing what’s going on inside one’s head with one’s partner.

“In society’s rush to assure people that sexual fantasies are “normal”—meaning okay—we have lost sight of the fact that they can nonetheless interfere with intimacy during sex.”  ~David Schnarch

If the ability to choose where we place our attention is a facet of liberation, then living and feeling inside one’s body as opposed to dwelling in one’s head is an emancipatory practice. In this way, sex is like meditation; bringing our attention back again and again to what is happening now; we are developing the capacity to be with ourselves and our sensations.

If you are like many people, you are greatly able to be with your suffering. We ruminate and worry, and think repeatedly of our troubles.  Our capacity to be with our own pleasure is often much less developed.  Staying with sensations that occur during sexual play without attempting to increase them is a challenge. We rush towards orgasm for so many reasons; habit and conditioning, fear that we won’t get there, unconscious desire for the intense feeling to be finished, unknown wish to retreat from the primal animal body back to the ‘safety’ of the thinking brain are just a few.

I am not advocating for backward growth away from the permission we have worked for to enjoy fantasy and porn. Instead, I take a stand for freedom through choice; meaning, I choose how I get turned on. I choose how long I hang out with my pleasure, and I choose to feel all the sensation that is available for me to feel.

All that said, you may want to know that there are different ways that folks connect with their sexy. Donald Mosher was a psychologist and sex researcher who developed a matrix of sexual engagement.  His work is a constructed paradigm that can be overlaid your sexuality, to help you better understand how your mind influences your sexual experiences.  Understanding how your sexual mind works can also help you navigate your sexual relationships with partners.  Having language to put around experience makes it easier for partners to see how they are alike and how they differ when it comes to getting turned on and feeling pleasure.Feel more pleasure with Emancipating Sexuality

Here’s how Mosher breaks it down:

Each person has a primary mode of accessing their arousal; through erotic trance, partner engagement or role play

Each of these modes has an energetic tone, communication style, and physical technique.  Your psychological preference determines your fantasies, your definition of hot sex, and the types of touch you like.  While we each have a primary mode, these aren’t hard-and-fast definitions.  Also, we can learn to access arousal through other modes with practice over time.

Erotic Trance focuses on body sensations.  If you prefer this mode, you most likely prefer private sexual encounters with minimal distractions.  You may prefer taking turns rather than mutual sexual contact. Even being asked a question about what you like may be quite distracting. You want to be able to focus on the experience, and not on communication.  The normal world falls away. Fantasies are often wordless, just visual images or feelings. There are varying depths of erotic trance, and at the deepest level you lose awareness of everything except the sensations.  You can experience erotic trance either as a giver or as a receiver.

Partner Engagement focuses on emotional connection with your partner. This is the sex we see in Hollywood movies. Affectionate sharing and mutual pleasure get you hot. Eye contact, verbal communication, full-body contact and face-to-face positions.  Observing your partner become aroused arouses you, as does their pleasure. There are different levels of partner engagement that run a spectrum of experiences, from predatory to loving.

Role Play focuses on sex as a stage. Performative aspects are important, such as costumes, acting out fantasies, porn, online sex, props that are chosen for their appearance rather than for their sensation, visually interesting positions or settings. You like to become the role you are playing, and have the flexibility to step into many different sexual selves without shame shutting you down.

Considering which of these descriptions fits you and your partner/s the best gives you valuable information about the mental dimensions of how you access arousal.  But the problem that many of my clients face is actually HOW to get into the body so that arousal and pleasure can happen.  How can we practice embodiment?

We have all of the tools at our disposal.  Breath is an important element. Paying attention to our breathing is a direct route to the body. Practicing bringing our attention back again and again as it wanders is an important skill. We know how to do this, even if it’s hard. So perhaps the real question is this: why is there often so much resistance to being in our bodies? Why do we struggle so with inhabiting our pleasure?brain-sex_animSm

Does this question ring true for you? Instead of beating ourselves up with the “why,” perhaps it is enough to know that we do resist living fully in our bodies and our pleasure, and that we can choose to engage with ourselves gently here.

If indeed it is a goal to be able to get out of your head and into your body during sex, each sexual encounter becomes an opportunity to practice, to make the choice of pleasure again and again. Acknowledging that we have lots of baggage when it comes to sexuality, and that we are still standing in our commitment as beings worthy of pleasure is enough. Sometimes we’ll get it, we’ll be in our bodies.  Sometimes we won’t.  We succeed through our commitment to examining our resistance, being compassionate with ourselves about it, and gently steering the ship back to pleasure and sensation.

How I masturbated in public and became a teacher of Sexual Liberation: PART ONE

Path of Sexual LiberationMy job is walking with my clients on their path to sexual liberation.  

I meet my clients where they are in terms of their sexuality, and together we discover the blocks, traumas, and limiting beliefs that stand between them and the deeper erotic life that is possible for them.   It’s a process.  Along the way, there are unexpected twists and turns, as the body slowly begins to reveal its secrets and stories.  Almost always we encounter the gatekeeper, Resistance.  It’s how we know we are getting closer to the essential erotic self, which is quite powerful and can be frightening.

I have the capacity to make this journey with my clients because I’ve done it, am doing it, myself.  My body knows trauma, resistance, and both welcomes and trembles at hope. I’ve had to wrestle sexuality back from fear, and reclaim my erotic life from the abyss of disassociation and sexual shut-down.

Being a coach and standing in witness of the journeys my clients make is a magnificent experience. 

I watch, time and again, as the intuition and body knowledge someone has deep inside emerges to guide them home to Eros.  I stand in awe of our power to know ourselves, ever more deeply.

I’ve come to know myself more deeply.  Over the last year or so, I’ve experienced a growing desire to embrace my performer self.  I’ve not had a lot of training in performance, and I’ve been seeking out venues to practice.

It’s good for me to be in spaces where I don’t yet have mastery; it keeps me in the space of beginner’s mind.  But I also fucking hate not being good at something, not having things be easy and effortless.  It reminds me of the vulnerability and courage it takes to enter into a process, not knowing who you’ll be on the other side, and what the price of admission will cost you.

Recently, I was given the opportunity to participate in a transformational coaching process for performance, with Eric Scheur and Reba Sparrow of Mystery Box Show.  

Mystery Box is a story-telling show out of Portland that is real people, telling their real foibles with sexuality.  It’s not porn stars, or people who have it all together in terms of sex.  The stories are funny, tender, heartbreaking, and remind us that we’re human.

I worked with Eric and Reba for three months, developing my story for their San Francisco show.

The story they chose for me to tell is about the very first public masturbation ritual I ever led, when I had never even masturbated with another person before.  Everything was working against my desire to explore communal masturbation.  It was a pivotal moment in my life, one that ultimately led to me becoming a facilitator of sexual liberation for others.

The transformative story coaching process was supportive, and yet humbling. 

Each time we would meet for our skype session, I would have to tell them the latest version of my story.  They’d tell me how great it was coming along, and then they’d basically suggest restructuring many components, or eliminate elements that were non-essential to the story.

Throughout the process, I felt the story getting tighter and more cohesive. I also dreaded each and every coaching session.  It is really fucking hard to show up, with your art, your tender, vulnerable story, and have someone, with the greatest compassion, hold you accountable to an even higher iteration of your ability.

I was a wreck in the days leading up to the performance.  I fought with myself.  I met with them one last time the day before the show, and they wanted me to change the beginning of the story that I’d been working on delivering just right for weeks! I wanted to punch Eric in the face.  But I sucked it up, and kept working on the story, figuring out how to implement his suggestions.

They don’t tell you the order you will be presenting your story in during the show until that night.  I was hoping that I would go first, and just get it over with.  When I met I met the other story tellers, one of whom I’d recently seen perform, I was relieved because I assumed I would go first.  Unfortunately, when they revealed the order, I was the last performance of the evening.  Which meant I had to sit through all of the other stories, heart pounding and palms sweating. 

Miraculously, once I heard “Please welcome to the stage Pavini Moray!” my fear dropped away. 

Pavini performs at the Mystery Box ShowAll of the preparation, the coaching, the support, the reworking, the practice, it all kicked in and was directly available in the moment.

I’d been worried that I’d forget key elements, or that my timing would suck.  I was concerned that my gestures wouldn’t work, or that I’d fuck up with the mike.  None of that happened.  While I was telling my story, I felt the greatest sense of presence, and of pleasure.  I couldn’t believe it when I realized I was getting to the end of the 17-minute piece.

I stepped off the stage, and knew that I had nailed it. The joy and celebration lasted for days.

Two weeks later, I’ve had time to reflect on the experience.  Why was it so successful? Well, as I’ve already said, all the preparation.  But even more than that, I realize it’s because Eric and Reba were there, expecting me to be brilliant.  Their belief in me fueled my belief in myself. 

I’m so grateful that I got to participate in a transformational coaching process, and that the results were so clearly demonstrated. 

I’ll hold that moment of success as a trophy, a reminder of what happens when there is support, high standards, and accountability.  I’ll use the experience to support processes that I move through, and sexual liberation processes that I help my clients move through.

Want to watch the video? Tune in Tomorrow!

Selling what I got: Making a living commodifying Eros

sex-for-saleI sell sexuality.  

As a sex coach, I sell my time, energy, attention and knowledge to assist clients to realize and express their full sexuality.  This is service work, and I feel myself in deep service to my people.  And there is something inside of me that resists the conflation of money and sex.

What started as a simple question of “What does success mean to me?” has spiraled into an intense reckoning with my personal integrity about being someone who markets sexuality.

It’s the commodification of Eros that disturbs me. 

Do I want to have a big fat bank account?  You bet.  Do I want to put a price tag on your orgasms so that I can have that?  Not a chance.  Selling sexual empowerment for big bucks sit wrong with me.  I have no doubt that people can really benefit from participating in such programs, so then why do they make me feel gross?

When I sink in, I realize I feel ever so protective of our Eros.  Of that magick, fluid energy we humans feel inside of us, that lights us on fire.  That mysterious force that can enlighten our whole lives.

Recently, I watched an fMRI of a woman’s brain as she orgasmed.  At the moment of orgasm, her entire brain was alight with oxygen.  Her.  Entire.  Brain.  Imagine what would happen if we were consistently using our entire brains?  It’s not too far of a mental leap to think (okay maybe it is, but it’s fun to consider) that having more orgasms as a species quickens our evolution.  Eros, friends, is a biological force that deserves homage, and not commodification.

The sexual empowerment model for sale subtly reinforces that sexual power is “out there.”  You must claim it, as if you do not inherently possess it.  It’s kinda like “getting religion.”  (Commodification of spirituality also raises ethical questions for me.)  If sexual empowerment is not within you already, you are fucked, but not in a good way.  And if you’re not sexually empowered, you are what?  Sexually disempowered?

In contrast, let us reframe with a “remembering” model.  You know, the one where we remember who we truly are.  Instead of focusing on sexual empowerment and erotic mastery, I choose to recall my sensual nature, the one I was born with.  The pleasure-seeking self that was entranced by the play of light on water, or wind through leaves.  We can choose call into being our sexual wholeness, to invite home our erotic personage. And I don’t think it’s bullshit to have a companion on that path of remembering, paid or otherwise.  

It’s also not bullshit to desire a degree of mastery in the realm of sexuality, and to seek teaching from those slightly ahead on the path.  Teachers have invested lots of time, money and energy into the wisdom they possess, and paying for solid teaching feels just fine.

There are two deceptively simple free resources are the actual building blocks of evolving personal sexuality. The necessary ingredients for erotic success  are dedicating enough time to exploration and practice, and building the capacity to hold your attention where you place it in the body.

Slightly more difficult to come by but readily available are an attitude of curious exploration, and a beginner’s mind.  The price of both is the unknown. No, I mean for reals.  Like, stepping into the not knowing, and giving up the security and comfort of all that you ‘know’ about yourself as a sexual being.  In the not knowing, you become available for all manner of unexpected surprises.  Scary as hell.

I don’t have any answers yet to my philosophical quandaries.  I’m not sure how to reconcile my desire for financial success, my desire to serve my people and their sexuality, and my desire for Eros to be protected from further commodification.  But my commitment to transparency includes delving into the questions that making me uncomfortable, and offering the process as a gift.  I’ll update you once I know more.

But for now, a little magickal spell casting.Casting a Spell of SynergyHere’s my anarchist, synergistic view of how I want things to work, that’s actually backed by evolutionary history.  Species that cooperate, survive. 

So, I do my part, you do yours.  Interdependence is real and necessary.  We all need each other to help us live to our fullest potential.  Working together, we accomplish more than working against one another. By allowing myself to be vulnerable by needing you, I am strong.

My part is that I think and write about sex and relationships.  I compile resources, and distill the wisdom of many sources, and give it to you in a cogent form, for your benefit.  Your part is to do the work of your soul and your heart, and share the gems with me.  We don’t all have to do all the things.

So Mote It Be.

So Mote It Be!

Sexual Liberation: Calling Ourselves Home to Erotic Wholeness

Emancipating Sexuality Calls us home to Erotic WholenessLast week, a client said to me “Well, I know you have always been free sexually, but I’m not like you, I’m stuck.” I smiled/cried because nothing could be further from the truth. I was sexually blocked for years.  Right now, I’ve got an erotic energy block the size of a small city at my diaphragm that I’m working on.  And, even being able to identify that stuckness is a profound indicator of how far I’ve come.  (We are called home to Wholeness)

No, this sexual liberation that I’m always nattering on about is hard won, every single day.

Each day I traverse the challenging road back to the body, back to my breath, back to pleasure, back to trust and vulnerability and intimacy.  Just as a path quickly becomes overgrown without traffic, this liberatory road of the body must consistently be tread and reinforced.  I must continually reinforce the neural wiring I am consciously choosing for my sexual liberation.

It’s important to name that being sexually stuck is where my journey began.  Stuck in a sexless marriage, stuck with a limited potential for pleasure, stuck.  I was settling for a mediocre sexuality that I knew was problematic.  I didn’t know how to get out of it. I had no support resources.

Around me, I saw those who were going further and deeper into their sexual potential.  I felt tremendous guilt that my sexuality was so limited. Deep shame that I seemingly had no libido.  When my then-partner would try to touch me, I felt fear and confusion at my arousal process, and no ability to talk about it or seek support.

In that ho-hum Eoyore way, I was accepting that this was as good as it was going to be for me in this lifetime. (We are called home to Wholeness.)

In therapy for food addiction, one day my therapist gently pointed out that as I was healing my relationship with food, I must also heal my relationship with my body.  An important next step was to enter more consciously into my sexuality.  When a client comes to me and expresses how stuck they feel, or how blocked their erotic expression is, I completely get it, on a body level.  I KNOW intimately the aversion, the fear, the shut-down.  And, I also know the desire and innate craving for erotic expression that led me out of that painful morass. Ultimately, it has led me to playfulness and joy in my sexual exploration.

We are called home to Wholeness.  In each new relationship, we are giving ourselves opportunity anew to heal our wounds, both from our past and from our lineage. I was recently in a group and there was a man there in his mid-seventies who had just come out as gay. He had spent his entire life taking the “easier path” (his words) only to find that hiding one’s erotic identity is ultimately a denial of one’s very life. I am grateful to have learned this truth at an earlier age.  But whenever we do decide that the pain of claiming who we truly are as erotic beings is LESS than the agony of trying to be someone we will never be, coming out allows us huge, instantaneous advances in our own liberatory process. 

This morning, I was reading Susie Bright’s lovely little book called Full Exposure: Opening Up to your Sexual Creativity and Erotic Expression.

Susie writes:

“Not many people are actually looking sexual liberation, at least not until they get to the end of a very weary road of dissatisfaction.  That usually takes a decade or two.  Liberation, per se, is not the sort of thing people count as tops on their to-do list.”

In my perfect world, we all feel and acknowledge the pull of liberation as an imperative of being human. I KNOW we feel it.  I KNOW we deny it. And I know we get ourselves stuck, with the very purpose of later being able to set ourselves free. 

One of the agreements made in order to attend Black Velvet, the erotic experiment in the dark that I hosted last week, was an agreement to reflect in writing on the experience.  We asked participants several prompting questions, including “What were the rules you found, that you made for yourself?” Many people noted internally constructing rules that were not implicit in the structure of the event, or that didn’t necessarily benefit their erotic experience or freedom.  Here is qualitative data about how we construct our own erotic limitations, our own sexual prison cells, often without realizing it.

One of my dear friends, a teacher of erotic education and sexual liberation, has said to me upon several occasions, “I don’t feel sexually liberated, most of the time.”  Ironically, it was my observations of the erotic life of this person that led me to decide I was worthy of sexual liberation, and that I could have it in this lifetime.  That person helped me to realize that the rules I had about arousal, desire, and lust were not mine: they were internalized cultural constructs, or internally created prohibitive rules, that were not expressive of my true erotic nature.

Sexual liberation is a process, not a goal.  For the rest of my life, I will be freeing myself from all of the rules that I have swallowed, either those that culturally constructed or those that are self-imposed.  For the rest of my days, I will be calling myself home to erotic wholeness.

How do we start that sexual liberation process?   How do we free ourselves of the limiting beliefs, constructed and internalized rules and codes about eroticism, sensuality and sexuality?  How do we take those first, scary steps into our own erotic authenticity? How do we call ourselves home to erotic wholeness?

One of my favorite sayings by teacher Liu Ming: “Resist as much as you possibly can.  Only do that which you truly cannot resist.” Ironically, resisting the process is a crucial first step.  (Read my blog post about Resistance) While we can live in denial for a long while, at some point, our own heart becomes our compass. The pull of the truth that resides in our hearts and our genitals may be a quiet truth, but it ultimately is undeniable. 

There is no wrong way to step onto the sexual liberation path you are already on. 

One of the most important things I learned as a Montessori teacher was that I never know more than my student about what they need.  I don’t know when a student is ready to learn something, or if they even need to learn that thing.  All I can do is watch carefully, and be present to offer support when readiness appears.  It’s a philosophy I carry into this work.  I stand in honor of your process, without judgement or agenda.

Whether you choose to put sexual liberation at the top of your list (as I have done, and you could too; it’s fun!) or whether you choose to ignore sexuality altogether, press your legs tightly together, and think of England, there is a biological programming inherent in your cells that compels you to move in exactly the right motions and rhythm for you.  There is something inside that knows exactly what you need for erotic wholeness.

Here’s a final thought for today: you are already experiencing sexual liberation.  Susie Bright again: “When you do finally get laid, and then it happens again and again and again, the confidence you acquire leads you to some new questions about the value of sex, about a lover’s companionship in your life, about your own sense of adventure and mystery in your erotic body.” Let us call ourselves home to Erotic Wholeness.

What is one thing you can do right now to honor your Erotic Self?

Have your commitment witnessed by writing it in the comments below.

Trusting Eros: Being Taken by the Fuck (in an alley)

Sex in an Alley“Can you take it?” Togan asked, his hands wrapped around my throat, as he stands above me, gazing down at my face. 

It was hard to answer: my pussy was being seriously banged by Dramal.  “That’s all you got?” I barely whisper, and watch as his face contorts with anger and pleasure, simultaneously.

Yesterday, I practiced being fucked in a filthy San Francisco alley. 

 I don’t typically have casual sex.  My trust issues prohibit it.  The sex I have is connected, meaningful, intimate.  I am incredibly selective about my partners, and tend to have sexual relations that span decades instead of minutes.  My relationships tend to depend deeply this kind of strong trust. Trust allows me to surrender, to open my body and my heart. This is how sex feels good to me.

And yet. There is a part of me that yearns to explore uninhibited, no-strings-attached sex.  The kind of sex where you have to pick the gravel out of your knees for days after.  The kind of sex that leaves the stench of garbage and piss all over your boots. The kind of sex that burns hot, extreme, and strikes like lightning.  Ironically, the kind of sex that is beyond trust. 

Erik Erikson was a psychologist known for his theory on psychosocial development of human beings.  If you’ve ever said “I’m having an identity crisis” you can thank him for that phrase.  He theorized that there were 8 stages of psychological development in humans, and that each stage allows one to master (or not) a crucial life skill.  If not mastered (because the needs around it weren’t consistently met) it can become a core wound, an area of your life in which you consistently experience challenges.

The first stage of Erik Erikson’s theory centers around the infant’s basic needs being met by the parents.  This experience leads to either trusting or mistrusting the world. Erikson defines trust as “an essential truthfulness of others as well as a fundamental sense of one’s own trustworthiness.”

My core wound is trust.  I am petrified of betrayal. 

This fear has haunted me in all of my relationships.  It has been prohibited me from exploring the full extent of my sexuality, because I seek to meet my need for trust in my sexual relationships.  Perhaps you can relate!  I am often suspicious, and can question a lover to the nth degree, until I find the betrayal I am certain exists.   This behavior is not particularly conducive to intimacy, and thus my sweetheart has requested me to examine when I am viewing through a situation through my betrayal lens, and I am attempting to comply, by finding situations where I can practice and be held with love.

This weekend I attended a Body Electric workshop called “Outside the Boxes.”  It was a time for queers and genderqueers of all flavors to explore body, sex and pleasure.  The intentions included to expand Eros through embodiment, especially using breath and pelvic focus.  To discover edges, and to deepen into living in one’s whole body. To participate in communal erotic ritual, in a container that is about presence and Self, as opposed to hooking up and Other. It is an amazing chance for us to do our personal work, in a supported, focused environment.

There were many interesting activities and rituals over the course of the weekend.  However, it is the last encounter about which I write today.  The culmination of this weekend was in giving and receiving erotic massages in groups of three. To tell you about this, I must rewind a few weeks into the past, and tell you about attending an event at the Center for Sex and Culture called “Perverts Put Out.”  Writers and storytellers ply their erotic crafts and share their work this juicy evening.  One of the stories that night was read by local writer Jen Cross, who conducts Writing Ourselves Whole writing workshops for survivors of sexual abuse and trauma.  The story she told pierced into my brain like an arrow shot through an apple, and has remained lodged there in the weeks that followed.

She told a kinky tale of mindfuck: a submissive boi being taught a lesson on manners and assumptions about power and gender. As if I were there, I saw it… in a crumbling alley off of Folsom… the three of them locked in a gritty urban embrace of filth and power.  In my mind, I watched the scene unfold: the boi choking and gagging, learning to deepthroat from a woman wielding a large silicone cock while Daddy watches on.  Boi assumes Daddy is in charge, and he’ll get to play with him if he tolerates the attentions of the skirt.  The mindfuck is that actually the Top in the situation is Mommy, schooling the ignorance right out of the boi’s disgustingly stupid head.

Back at the workshop, I’m asked what my intention is before getting up on the table.  The truth is, I want the kind of internal trust that would let me experience being that boi in the alley.  It’s not that I want his role, I don’t want to be someone’s boi, per se. It’s just that I want to be able to open my body, beyond trust, beyond safety, and know that I’ll come out the other side intact.

I choose my partners.  They are edgy, genderqueer and I’ve watched each of them get fucked in turn, both preferring hard fucking and not so much the lovey-dovey.  I haven’t met either of them before this weekend, and while I have an affinity with them, I’m scared as I walk towards them.  They are waiting, blindfolded, at the massage table, for us to make our choices.  Perhaps I should choose less dangerous types for partners, perhaps picking instead a gentle older woman or a young sweet femme. I head towards the tattooed and muscled pair, my hands sweating.  They uncover their eyes, and I see them appraising me, wondering how this will go.  I don’t expect either of them to turn down the volume of their Eros, I just pray I can open to receive it. 

I tell them the story of the alley.  I tell them my intention is to practice having sex in an alley.  I see the diabolical light enter into Togan’s eyes.  I know I am in a safe container to practice this, but it’s still scary.  Dramal’s touch is gentle at first, and I want more.  Each time he asks me, “Is this okay?” until I say that I actually don’t really want him to ask me… and he gets it quickly.  “I’m asking you once and for all, do I have your permission to Handle you?” he whispers scathingly in my ear.  My yes is weak on volume, but it will do.

Their touch is strong.  I fight against it, and the slickness of the oil and sweat covers us all as we wrestle and fight.  I’m laughing, mocking them into giving me more, making it more real.  I want them to Want to do this, want to force their touch on me.  My face, smashed into the table, searing hands around my throat, fingers slamming into me.  It’s not exactly pleasurable, but there is something here, something erotic beyond what I can name.  It’s brutal, primal.  I check in with my pussy: “How are you doing down there?” and my pussy screams back “Shut the fuck up!  This is amazing!”  I smile, inspiring more force.

I see the rats, smell the garbage, feel the rough pavement beneath my ass.  I use my imagination to practice being in this scene.  I allow myself to become that boi, taken and used. It is delicious.

Sex in an Alley

When it’s over, we collapse against each other on the table, panting, sweaty, spent.  I wonder how it’s been for them, if they felt the animal of Eros as I did, or if they were just good at crafting this kind of experience so that I could play with what happens in the space that is beyond trust.  They wrap me in sheets, and stand with their attention focused on me for the next ten minutes as I dream and fly.  Smiles and giggles come and go… I feel so happy, so free.  I have opened my body to two people I don’t know, and probably won’t ever see again.  I have trusted in my own ability to stay present.  I have travelled a new road of Eros, that was often beyond what I would have named as my desire, and found it exquisite and satiating.  It’s sex, but not how I’ve known it.

This is the kind of trust I want in myself.  I want to be true to all of my desires. I want to explore my edges and beyond, trusting that I will never fall into victimhood.  I burn with the need to expand my erotic capacity.  I like practicing.  I don’t know when I’ll be ready to enter that wretched alley and have that kind of sex.  I trust that I will know when I am ready, and I trust that when I do it, Eros will take me exactly where I am meant to go.

If you are interested in exploring trust, and wanting to learn how to expand your capacity for it, plan to attend the Intimacy Technology class I am offering on Monday, October 28.  We’ll practice trust skills in a gentle, supportive way (in my living room, not in an alley!) and you will be in choice about all activities we do.  You can register here for Terrifying Trust.