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!

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.  

So you wanna be a porn star?

Masturbation

Joseph Kramer, my mentor and teacher, says that if you want to change your life, change the way you masturbate.  I want to tell you a story about how I have learned to masturbate better.

I’ve written before about how this sexual liberation stuff has been quite the journey for me.   I’m from Cleveland, Ohio.  We did NOT talk about masturbation as I was growing up.  None of my friends admitted to ever doing it.  I thought I was freaky and perverse (well, okay, maybe I still think that) until I moved to San Francisco.  (I find it COMPLETELY ironic that I now coach people in masturbation!)

But, there was this one time… when I wasn’t here yet, and somehow I got it into my head that I could videotape myself masturbating.  Revolutionary, I know.  So, I did.  And when I watched it, I was completely stunned by how sensual and beautiful I looked as I touched my body, and aroused my pleasure.  Unfortunately, I had a HUGE shame response, and not only erased the scene, I then DESTROYED the tape.  (Pre-digital.)  Yeah, I know, sooo sad!

So fast forward to now, years later.  I now record my sessions with some degree of regularity.  What I find is that they are very instructive.  When someone tells you to ‘masturbate better,’ it can be daunting.  What does that even mean?  How do you know what to do?  Are you doing something wrong?

So what do I pay attention to when I watch my video masturbation sessions?  When I look at the videos, I pay attention to the signs of arousal I see myself displaying.  If I watch it soon enough, I may be able to remember that particular moment, and connect what I am seeing on the outside with the memory of my internal experience.  I notice how much time I am taking (or not) and the quality of the touch I am giving myself.  I pay attention to my breath, and also especially focus on any points I notice that I may be constricting.  Just like athletes watch tapes of their performance to gain insight, masturbators can do the same.

I invite you, in honor of National Masturbation Month, to videotape yourself doing yourself.  Take your time.  Turn yourself on.

When you watch it, (hopefully soon after) notice how you feel, seeing yourself in your arousal.  Notice what feelings come up.

Wash… Rinse… and….. Repeat!  Try it again, and this time touch yourself for the camera.  Play it up.  And also pay attention to the quality of your own touch.  It’s kind of like the mirror, only a different format which you can use to change up the ways in which you touch yourself.

And, keep it!  Don’t erase it.  Try again in 6 months, a year.  Compare technique.  It’ll be like an erotic journal of your pleasure journey.  I’m guessing you’ll be surprised by what you notice.

And by the way: there is no wrong way to masturbate.  

Doorways to Arousal: Erotica is Hotica.

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As a sexologist, I believe there are various ways to enter into our sexy space.  And just like different strokes for different folks (did a masturbator come up with that saying?) different people enter into erotic energy different ways.  

With purportedly, 30% of all internet traffic  to porn sites, obviously visual stimulation is a well-traveled inroad for many wankers. Fantasy will do the trick, and of course good old fashioned friction also get us there.  And then there is erotica.

I’m a big fan of erotica.  Starting with reading Penthouse “Forum” as a young person, I learned early to masturbate while reading.  I would say that a majority of my teenage masturbation involved the use of printed material.  My session today led me down this road of sweet stimulation.  I like erotica because I can fast forward and freeze frame mentally, at will.  It’s not so much the images that are created, but rather the phrasing.  Words like “throb” and “sopping” and “turgid” and “slit” are not often used outside the realm of erotica. I find them incredibly turny-ony.

The kind of orgasm I have when using erotica is very different from an orgasm when my focus is on my body.  There is a very particular heat that is generated by reading steamy stories.  I’m super picky: it has to be well written, and detailed enough to dampen my panties. It can’t be stupid, or have too many characters with hard-to-believe names like Sally and Fred.  Enough plot to be believable, not too much that I’m having to read about feelings other than arousal, turn on, shame, or prohibition.  My biggest turn-ons involve situations where there is a conflict of interest: desire + shame, or pleasure + power imbalance, or headfuck situations that involve someone being turned on even though they are being manipulated.

Part of what erotica does for me is give me a space for permission to be turned on by things that I would never really do.  Taboo is hot in erotica, in my opinion.  I’ve noticed that  erotica is often ‘given the shaft’ so to speak, and dismissed as softer porn, for girls and sissies.  I beg to differ.  Raunchy, saucy and dirty are all qualities I seek out when looking for a thigh-squeezing missive.

What I do consider important is not to get stuck in only one pathway to arousal.  I regularly mix it up, just to keep it all working.  While I don’t consider porn a problem per se, what I do have concern about is people only being able to access their erotic energy through one pathway.  Why limit yourself?

If you liked this post, do me a favor and leave a comment below answering this question: what is your favorite pathway to arousal?