August Newsletter

August Newsletter 

Invest in Your Transformation by Tom Kovach

This has been an incredible summer. We have had so many great intensives, starting with Touching the Heart of Stillness at the Bodhi Manda Zen Center in Jemez Springs New Mexico, offered for the first time in a decade and led by Steve Schwartzberg, and Into the Heart of Eros, our first all-genders intensive since we became a nonprofit, led by Suzanne Blackburn and William McMeniman. In June we had our first BIPOC men’s mini-intensive, facilitated and co-created by Andre Martin and JoJo Bear. July brought In the Garden of Life and Advanced Sacred Intimacy Training for the first time in many years, with Craig Cullinane, Mark Fleming, and Steve Schwartzberg. 

Participants reported profound experiences at all of them. Here is some of what they told us: 

  • “Body Electric was an unparalleled opportunity to explore my sexuality with others in a controlled, safe environment.” Into the Heart of Eros
  • “What a blend of expertly crafted curriculum and brilliant facilitation to help achieve an environment which lead to such deep work for so many men.” Touching the Heart of Stillness
  • “When you surrender with your heart and soul, magic happens.” Awakening Our Colorful Souls
  • “It is no exaggeration for me to tell you that my life changed at In the Garden of Life. Come do your work. Push through all the reasons you are creating for not attending and register. This BE work will change your life. It has mine. Every time.” Advanced Scared Intimacy Training

It’s not over yet. There is still a limited window to sign up for Dear Love of Comrades, being held this September in California for the first time in quite a while. This year we will have a team of facilitators, including Craig Cullinane, JoJo Bear, Shai Saliba, and Don Shine. We also are offering our first Women’s Intensive in October with Lizz Randle and Suzanne Blackburn.

If you are a planner, we have some of next year’s intensives ready with early-bird specials and low down payments; New Year’s Visions in Puerto Vallarta, with Craig Cullinane;   Eco-Erotic Tantra Retreat in Bali with Tasneem Hamdani and Sarah Belzile; and Tantra in Paradise: 40th Anniversary Retreat in Costa Rica with Mark Fleming. 

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by Don Shewey

I took my first Body Electric workshop – Celebrating the Body Erotic – in July 1990 in New York City, taught by Joseph Kramer, founder of the Body Electric School. That workshop changed my life. It introduced me to the concept of sexuality as energy. It gave me a new paradigm for understanding my own erotic body. And the combination of breath, touch, and erotic arousal helped break through a logjam of grief I’d been storing in my body as a gay man living through the AIDS epidemic.

Intrigued by the glimpse of healing through pleasure, I took the workshop again two or three times in the course of the next year. And I sat down for a long interview with Joseph Kramer for an article I wrote for the weekly newspaper The Village Voice. In that interview, Joe Kramer talked about a concept he’d been formulating, the archetype of erotic pioneers providing a community service. He called them “sacred intimates.”

“It comes from what was called the sacred prostitute,” he said. “It weaves together spirituality and sexuality. In my work, I see all kinds of gay men who are sacred intimates. When they’re intimate with you, a transformation takes place. You feel your wholeness. There are plenty of prostitutes around, so you can go and get off with a prostitute. And the next day you have exactly the same craving. A sacred intimate is different. This is about being around someone who you’re transformed by. You either model him — that is, you see that vibrational energy and you bring it into yourself — or maybe there’s an energy that comes from higher places through this person into you. Or you have the experience of being with an unconditional lover, just for a while, that changes you and you learn what unconditional love can be.

“The place where the sacred intimate is most activated in the gay culture right now is as midwives to the dying. This is one of those sacred intimate roles. I think lots of people who sit with people while they’re dying or do hospice work have moments where all of a sudden, they recognize that they are living out an ancient profession: midwife to the dying. Tending to someone’s erotic energy is about the departure of that energy, too, leaving the body and going on.”

As I heard him spin out his fantasy of a vocation called “sacred intimate,” I felt myself falling under a spell. I heard in his words a description of myself that I had never heard before. It pulled together my childhood as an altar boy — a kind of temple slave operating behind the scenes of the Catholic worship service by carrying props for the ritual priest — with my experience taking care of friends dying from AIDS, and my long history of committed domestic partnerships with lovers, not to mention my enthusiastic career as an exhibitionistic connoisseur of communal revelry in sex clubs. Suddenly, Joe had connected the dots, and I got a picture of my destiny.

As a preliminary experiment, Joe told me that the Body Electric School would be offering a ten-day training for sacred intimates the following summer at a retreat center called Wildwood in the Russian River resort area north of San Francisco. I signed up for that training, as well as two of the next three that followed. So I like to think I was present at the creation of sacred intimacy.

I was one of the few people brave, inspired, or simply foolish enough to take Sacred Intimate Training as vocational instruction. My new book, Daddy Lover God: a sacred intimate journey (Joybody Books), chronicles my experience participating in Body Electric workshops, launching my own sacred intimate practice, and finding my way through the struggles and discoveries that go with the territory of sexual healing. The book also includes the complete transcript of my interview with Joseph Kramer, which has come to feel like an essential historical document.

At the Body Electric Town Hall on September 24th at 5 PM ET, hosted by Craig Cullinane, I will share some passages from the book and answer questions. In addition, there will space for participants to share stories from their own experience of sex work. It is my experience that, if you scratch the surface of any sizeable gathering of LGBTQ+ folx, you will find a number of people who have engaged in one form of sex work or another at some time in their lives: erotic massage, escorting, sacred intimacy, go-go dancing, stripping, camming for cash, appearing in adult videos (porn), OnlyFans/JustForFans, hosting sex parties, selling used underwear online, etc. And we all have stories to tell. What circumstances brought you into sex work, and what, if anything, made you cycle out of it? What did you learn about yourself in the process? What were memorable triumphs or debacles for you? Bring a story to tell (5 minutes or less) or let yourself be interviewed by me. Connoisseurs of sex workers also welcome to share. 

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