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Everything You Know About Sex Is Wrong: The Disinformation Guide to the Extremes of Human Sexuality (and everything in between)

Everything You Know About Sex Is Wrong: The Disinformation Guide to the Extremes of Human Sexuality (and everything in between)

Автором Russ Kick

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Everything You Know About Sex Is Wrong: The Disinformation Guide to the Extremes of Human Sexuality (and everything in between)

Автором Russ Kick

оценки:
3/5 (10 оценки)
Длина:
1,178 pages
13 hours
Издатель:
Издано:
Oct 1, 2005
ISBN:
9781934708439
Формат:
Книге

Описание

Orgasms, sexual inventions, spirituality, high-tech porn, gender-blending, hustling, masturbation, politics, airplane sex, disabilities, sex magick, biblical erotica, advertising, first times, sex in space, asexuality, group sex . . . are you ready for Disinformation’s look at the world of sex?

Master anthologizer Russ Kick has immersed himself in the many and varied worlds of sex writing, producing a definitive collection exposing reality that’s way, way stranger than XXX fiction. Profiled in The New York Times as an “information archaeologist,” Russ digs where others would not think to look for delicious details on the present, past, and future of sex, including: The first-ever look at the FBI’s porn collection (the Obscene Reference File), complete with reproduced documents; FAA reports about people having sex on commercial flights—the so-called “mile-high club”; A look at brilliant, kinky, and scarce sex-zines, such as Frighten the Horses, Taste of Latex, Future Sex, and Pucker Up, as well as Sexology, published by Hugo Gernsback, the father of science fiction; The forgotten sex books of Charles Atlas (“Hey, quit kicking sand in our faces, you bully!”)

This massive, oversized anthology features a panoply of sexperts, everyone from prostitutes to professors, legends to newcomers, sexual revolutionaries to sexologists and beyond, providing a varied and unexpected look at sex, challenging our notions of what is possible and in turn exciting, enervating, frightening, and freaking us out.

Издатель:
Издано:
Oct 1, 2005
ISBN:
9781934708439
Формат:
Книге

Об авторе

Russ Kick is the editor of the wildly successful three-volume anthology The Graphic Canon: The World's Great Literature as Comics and Visuals and the bestselling anthologies You Are Being Lied To, Everything You Know is Wrong, and 50 Things You're Not Supposed to Know . His books have sold over half a million copies. The New York Times has dubbed him "an information archaeologist," Details magazine described him as "a Renaissance man," and Utne Reader named him one of its "50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World." He is creator of the popular website www.thememoryhole.com.

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Everything You Know About Sex Is Wrong - Russ Kick

Arizona

Answers

M. Christian

San Francisco Sex Information, can I help you?

If you've been on the phones, like me, you've heard a lot, and even if they sometimes fall into obvious categories, you really don't have any idea who the next caller will be: a woman who has never had an orgasm, a little boy who wants to know what a blowjob is, an older man who wants to step out of the closet and meet other men, a fetish dresser who wants someplace to buy shoes, someone who wants to learn how to have anal sex, or someone else who wants to know how to find his prostate.

San Francisco Sex Information is where those who don't know can call to talk to people who do. How do SFSI workers know so much about sex? We're not thrown onto the phones cold. To be an SFSI volunteer, you have to complete 52 hours of sex training (not hands-on), including panel discussions on aging and sex, sex and drugs, the law, sex work (you'll find me teaching that—I’ve written a lot of porn), consent, S/M, homosexuality, bisexuality, heterosexuality, crossdressing, and just about everything else out there.

And if we still don't know the answers, we can usually find the number or address of someone who does. The switchboard room is packed with reference materials and a wonderful computerized reference file of therapists, hotlines, stores, mail-order companies, social clubs, organizations, support groups, and much, much more.

This day, today, we start off with a question about VD—or, at least someone who thinks it might be.

San Francisco Sex Information, can I help you?

His accent is thick (Asian, Middle Eastern?) and his English isn't all that great, but I manage to put together a rough picture: My wife says she is sick. Says she has something wrong with her—infection?

A yeast infection?

Silence for a moment. Consulting. Yes, that is what she has. I run down the facts, calmly and slowly, telling him that lots of women get them, that they can be very painful, and that she should probably go to the doctor. As I tell him, another of the volunteers has pulled down a book on symptoms and complications for me to refer to. I nod my thanks.

She has gone to a doctor, he says, dismissing. I want to know, did she get from other men? From sleeping with other man?

We are not doctors or therapists. That's one thing the trainers are very clear about. It's not mainly, as you'd think, because of legal issues—rather, we are told that it's because it's better to say you don't know and suggest the caller consult a professional than give them wrong information.

If she had called, we would have told her that her symptoms appeared to match that of a yeast infection but that she should go back to her doctor, who could answer more of her questions. But this isn't really a medical question at its heart; it's a question about fear and possessiveness: He's frightened that his wife has committed adultery (and the disease is the sign).

From sleeping with other man? The cultural wall is thick and well-fortified; still, I hope I can make their lives a bit easier: Lots of women get yeast infections. They can happen all on their own—not from sleeping with another man.

We go on like this for a while: his fear and anger at his wife's supposed adultery and my insistence that a yeast infection is not what you'd normally consider a sexually transmitted condition (though some women can get one from a condom reaction). I finally convince him that his wife (probably) hasn't been sleeping with other men and he hangs up, relieved.

My shift is on Tuesday evening, 6:00 to 9:00 PM. Me, two to five other volunteers (rookies just off training and older volunteers who happened to drop by), and a supervisor, who has watched me with the call to make sure I didn't pass along inappropriate, insensitive, or Just Plain Wrong information. Sometimes, if a call is a rough one, the supervisor can plug in and listen along. Afterwards it's common for us all to talk about a call and share our take on the situation, what we should've said.

You really don't have any idea who the next caller will be.

San Francisco Sex Information, can I help you?

His voice is rough and slightly hostile. It's hard to hear him over the static-laced payphone: I have this girlfriend and she's really good in bed but I really like this guy I met on the way home last night and he was really good, you know, and it was really hot and he—

Do you have a question?

Well, I really liked what he did, you know when he— He goes on for quite a while, giving me the play-by-play about his encounter with this other man.

Sometimes we let them run if we figure that they're just nervous. But if they're bragging or trying to get a rise out of us (for whatever reason), we cut them short.

The road traveled might be different for a lot of the callers (a single homosexual experience, being attracted to another person of the same sex, liking a certain movie star a lot), but the question is always the same: Am I gay? he finally gets out.

Some of them are disappointed in the response: I don't know. Only you can really answer that. A lot of heterosexual people have homosexual experiences and vice versa. A lot of people call themselves gay and have sex with the opposite sex. The same goes for straight people. You don't have to be ‘gay’; you could just like same-sex sex all or some of the time.

We talk for a few minutes, me trying to tell him that he doesn't have to label himself or let others do it for him. He is what he wants to be, however he defines it. He really does want to listen, to hear what I have to tell him. After a point he calms down, says he might call again, and hangs up.

It's surprising, though, the number of people who demand negative information—who are actually disappointed when we don't back up their fears by telling them they're gay, sick, perverted: to validate their own crushed egos (I know I’m a freak—I feel like one!). They won't hear that from SFSI; we answer questions, talk, and refer callers to other resources. We try never to pass judgments—we let people say who they are, negative or positive.

Founded in 1972, SFSI is a non-profit, free, non-judgmental sexual information and referral service. At various points we've been the only free sex-information service out there. We get calls from all across the country and around the world. The details of the SFSI training are kept a closely guarded secret, but one of the main points of it is to push the buttons of the trainees and get them to deal with their own prejudices and biased viewpoints before they get on the phones. The one thing we don't want a phone volunteer saying to a caller is, Yech, you're sick!

San Francisco Sex Information, can I help you?

The heart-wrencher. He is either softly crying or has been crying heavily recently. His voice is two parts fear and one part anger. The cause could be any number of things: It just happened; I thought we were being safe; I didn't think it was going to happen; the condom broke; I did something and I don't know if it was safe. The list goes on. The real question, no matter how they frame it, is the same: Am I infected?

I take a deep breath. The first order of business with a call like his is to calm him down—then talk. Sometimes, if they don't ask, we'll suggest: Would talking to a woman help? (if the caller is a woman) or, Would talking to a gay man help? in his case. It doesn't really matter, because we all receive the same training, but it can make a crisis caller more comfortable, more at ease.

I hear that you're upset.

Yes, I’m upset. I’m really scared.

What can you tell me about being scared?

I don't know if I’ve caught it, you know? I don't know if he's got it. It was just so quick and I didn't think about it at the time, and now I’m scared. Do you think I’ve got it?

The technique is called reflective listening—we're trained to use it to help focus or defuse some of the callers. After a few minutes of listening to what he's saying and bouncing it back to him, he's calmed down enough and is breathing deeply. It's always hard, these kinds of calls. I’ve been down that frightening stretch of dark road myself when a condom broke.

I tell him that yes, he is at risk, but from what he says (it was unprotected oral sex), it is a relatively low risk—though not impossible. I reassure him and calm him, soothing him till he can listen. There's no reason to panic till he knows. I give him the information that oral sex is still debatable, but he's still bargaining for his life—especially after the new study that suggests that unprotected oral sex may be just as risky as intercourse—so why take a risk on your life? I tell him that the only way to be sure is to have himself and his partner tested as soon as possible to find out their status. Then, after either abstinence or good safe(r) sex for six months, get tested again.

Besides, I remind him, there are other things out there that are sometimes as bad or worse than HIV: the clap (gonorrhea), syphilis, herpes, hepatitis (which can kill faster than HIV), PID (Pelvic Inflammatory Disease), genital warts—the list is long and scary.

Afterwards, I’m shaking. I let the other volunteers take some calls while I sit and decompress. Sometimes we get hard calls, scary ones—I was abused; I was raped (those we talk down and try to get them to call the police or a rape crisis line); I was hurt. One of the things SFSI trains us for is a sex-positive attitude, but these kinds of calls remind us that while sex can be beautiful, it can also be frightening and dangerous.

By now the night is getting late. Outside, a street I can't name (because the switchboard is a secret) hums with late-night travelers. Next to me one of the phones chirps, and I pick it up.

San Francisco Sex Information, can I help you?

How can I get my girlfriend to go down on me? he says without preamble.

Consent. SFSI is big on consent. In a world that frequently acts without asking, San Francisco Sex Information is a bastion of asking permission, of communication. Have you talked to her about it?

Yeah, but she says she doesn't like doing it.

Does she say what she doesn't like about it? Does she choke? Doesn't like the taste?

Yeah, she says she chokes on it.

I take a deep breath. You can't get anyone to do anything they don't want to do, but you can talk to her. Tell her how much you like it and how much it would mean to you. If she's scared or nervous, take it real slow and at her pace.

He listens. I’ll give him that at least. Sometimes the callers, mainly male callers, are angry at not getting their idealized lovers. We try our best to get them information about consent, safe(r) sex, and communication: Ask, be safe, and talk about it. I hope I get some of it across to him and wish him the best—and tell him he might want to have her call us, too.

Meanwhile, one of our female volunteers is having trouble with a caller. I can hear her voice, angry but level, disengaging from the call. I hear only one side of it, but it's enough to know most of what's going on: Do you have a question? If you don't have a legitimate question, I’m going to hang up. If you don't stop, I’m going to hang up. I’m hanging up.

She clicks him off (I know it's a him) and looks at the phone with frustration and disgust.

I take the next few calls, along with the other male volunteers. We get nothing but hang-ups for about fifteen minutes.

It's a sad, but realistic, fact of life for any kind of switchboard (suicide, AIDS info, or whatever) that you have those callers.

How can I get my girlfriend to go down on me? he says without preamble.

They can get to you sometimes, the angry men, the mentally ill (men and women), the just plain lonely (who just want to talk about sex—of any kind), and the self-righteously religious. But then the phone rings again, and it's someone we can help, someone with a question we can really answer.

San Francisco Sex Information, can I help you?

I have, um, a question... He sounds young, maybe mid-twenties. His voice, while nervous, is laced with strength—I bet he's just trying to frame his question and isn't paralyzed by calling.

Sure, that's what we're here for. Go ahead.

I like to, um, ah, wear my girlfriend's panties....

Reflexive listening: And how does that make you feel? I say back, getting comfortable—sometimes it can take a while to coax out the real question.

Good—I mean, it turns me on and all.

For many calls, the bottom line, again, is, Am I normal?

One of the things the training teaches us is the myth of normal. We are who we feel we are, how we feel about ourselves—no one is normal.

How do you feel about that?

Okay, I guess.

I take a deep breath and start down a familiar road. He could have been calling about any kind of thing: I like to spank my girlfriend or boyfriend. Just as long as he or she likes it, as well, we'd tell them. I like to masturbate—a lot. Just as long as it doesn't interfere with your life, we'd say. I like to spy on the couple across the street having sex. Do you think they'd like you to? They aren't consenting to have you watch. Find a couple who want to have you watch, who consent to have you watching. I like to get tied up. Here's some addresses and numbers of where to learn to do it safely. But there's always the hidden, Am I normal?

Lots of people like to dress in another gender's clothing. Some do it because it feels nice or different, others because it feels nasty and forbidden. Some go as far as to dress completely, from shoes to hair, while others just wear women's or men's underwear. Lots of women as well as men crossdress. It doesn't have anything to do with your orientation or preference in sexual partners—many heterosexual men as well as women like to dress like the other sex. There's also a strong tradition of it in the gay male and lesbian communities (drag and doing butch). It's a perfectly acceptable turn-on for many, many people.

I go on for quite a while, responding to his uh-huhs and okays to reassure him and let him know that he's just one of a whole global community of people who like to dress in their partner's underwear—or do full drag. More than anything, though, I tell him that it's only bad if what he does hurts someone (How would your girlfriend feel about you wearing her panties? Maybe you should talk to her or get some girl's clothes of your own—) or if he feels bad about it himself.

He clears his throat and says with a smile in his voice: Oh, she knows. She gives me hers all the time. It's just that, um, she's small and I’m big—where can I get some that fit?

I smile and try to keep from laughing: touché! His voice is strong. This is a fellow with no problems about what he does; he just needs help finding some clothes that fit. I dig up a phonebook and tell him about large-size ladies’ shops that wouldn't mind a guy walking in and certain dress shops (if he wants some fancy underwear) that cater to crossdressers. By the time he hangs up, we both have smiles in our voices.

San Francisco Sex Information, can I help you?

Um, ah, hello? She echoes, shy, embarrassed. She sounds older, maybe in her late to middle sixties, and her voice cracks now and again with fear and embarrassment. It takes a few minutes of casual banter for me to ease out the issue: She wants to orgasm.

Carefully, patiently, I explain the groundwork: knowing her body and what pleases her, how to fantasize (and that there is no reason to feel guilty about any fantasy), relaxation, and even some proper devices she might try (lubrication, a vibrator, and so on). After a point, I get worried that her nervousness and fear might keep her from relaxing enough to get the info, so I ask if she'd like a female volunteer.

No, you're doing just fine. What else should I try?

It's an incredible compliment, to have her reach out such a long way to a stranger, to me, and ask such a deceptively simple thing. We talk for many minutes, she telling me that she never felt this way about her body before, never felt the need to really try out her own sexuality. She tells me of her husband and how he used to just roll off and sleep and how she thought that was all there was to it. She remembered masturbating as a child and how good that felt but always thought that kind of thing was for children—and how she certainly wasn't that anymore and didn't know where to even start.

She rambles a bit, but still I’m incredibly touched. When she finally hangs up, it's with a sense of purpose and release. Yes, she deserves to have a happy sex life—even if it is with herself. No, there's nothing wrong with masturbation. Yes, this kind of thing isn't all that rare.

I sit and stare at the phone for a few minutes, thinking about her, somewhere out there, and the fear that had been in her voice when we started and how that fear had slowly ebbed to relief and laughing hope.

You get many kinds of calls on the San Francisco Sex Information switchboard. All kinds. All of them, in one way or another, are important.

And some of them are just plain special.

You can call the SFSI hotline at 415-989-SFSI (7374) from 3:00 to 9:00 PM (PST) Mondays through Thursdays, 3:00 to 7:00 PM Fridays, and 2:00 to 6:00 PM Saturdays.

San Francisco Sex Information

PO Box 190063

San Francisco CA 94119-0063

ask-us@sfsi.org

www.sfsi.org

Transcendent Sex

When More Than the Earth Moves

Jenny Wade, PhD

A funny thing happened on the way to orgasm. The bedroom I was in began dissolving. Without having imbibed even a glass of wine at lunch, I watched in amazement as the white walls of the familiar room transformed into those of a round pink chamber with a silver Greek key border near the ceiling. Was this just some weird fantasy or daydream? My eyes were open, and I knew intellectually that I was in the same room, but visually I was seeing another place entirely.

I was suddenly no longer in any room with my lover at all, no longer sheltered in his house from the snow blanketing the wintry Northeast, but standing on the sun-bright shores of a sandy beach, squinting at the glittering waves. I was surrounded by vivid sea creatures, fish and octopi. Bemused, I wondered if I had somehow been swept into the water from the beach, but gradually I realized the sea creatures were not real, but images. Images painted in the unmistakable style of frescoes from the ancient civilization of Crete, a culture about which I knew practically nothing. It didn't matter. I was filled with the most exquisite rapture and bliss I had ever experienced.

Eventually, I found myself back in the familiar bedroom, still making love. My lover had apparently noticed nothing. Had I lost my mind? How long had I been away? I had never inadvertently slipped out of reality before. I didn't say anything about it, rather ashamed to let my lover know I had strayed so far from his attentions and feeling pretty crazy about it, to boot. But I never forgot it, either.

Later, on other occasions during sex, more strange things happened. I was filled with ecstasies a thousand times larger and more compelling than even the most intense orgasm. One day, I couldn't contain it anymore and began laughing; I embraced my lover and excitedly told him what had happened.

He looked at me oddly, then confessed that he, too, after a lifetime of sex, had been having some strange things happen when he was in bed with me. His experiences were nothing like mine. We both had been afraid we were crazy, but if so, it was the most glorious experience in all the world, one that opened each of us to ecstatic realms we had never dreamed existed, experiences beyond those offered by psychedelics or a meditation practice.

Both of us were experienced in other types of altered states, and, in fact, we're professional researchers of unusual states of consciousness. I decided to investigate what was going on in a more serious way, so I conducted a research study of 91 people who have had such experiences to learn more about them (the results have been published as academic articles and a popular book called Transcendent Sex: When Lovemaking Opens the Veil).

The fact is, the ordinary act of lovemaking can be the most widely available path to higher consciousness for most people. People who have experienced a transcendent episode during sex usually believe they have tapped into divine forces, even if they are atheists or agnostics. These experiences are so extreme, they change people's views of sex and spirituality. They have literally changed people's lives.

This research provides an explanation for the sexual-spiritual basis of most ancient religions by showing that mystical experiences happen every day in the bedroom to a significant portion of the population. Sacred sex is still going on. In fact, it seems to be irrepressible. Most large studies of sex turn up spiritual experiences, and most large studies of spirituality turn up sex. But this linkage has been hidden from the public eye, just as near-death experiences happened but were not talked about until they were recently discovered.

It seems likely that one in every eight to twelve people will have at least one transcendent experience during sex in a lifetime, but most people are reluctant to talk about them for the same reasons my partner and I were. Most of the people I interviewed said they had never told anyone else about what happened to them in the bedroom—not even their lovers—because they were afraid of being called crazy or of having a deeply meaningful spiritual experience mocked or made fun of by others. That was what kept a lot of people from talking about near-death experiences, too, before they became part of the public conversation.

The act of lovemaking can trigger intense episodes that feature the identical characteristics found in the highest spiritual states documented in such diverse religions as Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, as well as those cited in the annals of yoga and recent research on shamanism. The controversy surrounding the combination of sex and spirit has kept one of the most powerful forces for ecstasy and personal transformation in the closet for centuries.

What about Tantric Yoga and Taoism, spiritual traditions that have been adapted to Western culture as a way of working with sexual energy? Those paths have always acknowledged the sacredness and transformational power of sex, but they usually involve special techniques and training, and the modern versions often focus just on more and better orgasms or relating to your partner better.

In reality, you don't need to believe or practice anything special to have a mystical experience during sex. You certainly don't have to be a sex god or goddess. It can happen to anyone at any time, and the experiences aren't necessarily what you'd think. They don't have anything to do with your conscious beliefs about religion, sex, or anything else!

Regular folks, the kind we pass on the street every day—hairdressers, lawyers, sales clerks, shop owners, who had grown up in average American homes, most of them with some kind of fairly traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs—report being transported to other realms during lovemaking. Some were very conflicted about sex, and a lot of them didn't believe in God any more. And then, boom! One day they got ambushed in the bedroom by something they never expected. Baptists had Zen experiences of nirvana during sex. Catholics went on shamanic journeys to other worlds. Jews felt the presence of the Holy Ghost. Atheists were possessed by ancient fertility gods or sucked into past lives. You never know what's going to happen, but it can change your life and change your attitude about sex and spirituality for good.

Transcendent sex is distinguishable from ordinary sex because people's normal sense of reality changes: They no longer feel like themselves, or their lovers may no longer be recognizable; the rules of how the world works may be changed, or they are no longer in the here and now but in another time and place. Sometimes all of these categories break down. Transcendent episodes during sex resemble the altered states associated with high levels of attainment in various spiritual traditions, including:

Seeing visions

Feeling transported to other locations

Experiencing waves of heat, energy, and light

Participating directly in the animal and plant life of the earth or in other natural forces

Reliving past lives

Being visited by gods and other avatars

Being possessed by spirits

Embodying spiritual forces, such as speaking in tongues

Dissolving into the primordial Void, such as nirvana or Samadhi

Dissolving into God or the great I AM

A good example is Chester, a student who had taken a graduate class on my research into sex, gender, and spirituality, and who called me up one day demanding to talk. I was afraid he wanted to dispute his grade, because he hadn't seemed particularly receptive to the material in class, but he wanted me to talk with his girlfriend, Alice, who needed help. She'd had a frightening transcendent episode while they were making love, which he was able to recognize and facilitate, although he had never experienced such a thing himself.

Alice had begun trembling violently in his arms as her soul seemed to leave her body, accelerating faster and faster the farther away it went. She had never had an out-of-body experience, and she thought she was dying.

Chester, unaware of exactly what she was experiencing, remembered what he'd learned from the class and had the presence of mind to encourage her to relax within the safety of his arms and to trust herself to the experience rather than to fight it. He watched her trembling subside, then saw her go into a superdreaming state in which her eyes were moving extremely rapidly behind her closed lids. As he stroked her soothingly, Chester felt what he described as waves of energy radiating from her body, discernible even when his hand was suspended a few inches above her skin.

Once she had calmed down, Alice said that she had permitted herself to go back into the experience, as if she had been willing to go through a doorway. This time, instead of rushing through space away from her body, she found herself surrounded by the presence of God. At once she could feel throughout her entire being how totally precious and beloved she is—and everyone is—and that all the things she regretted in her life made absolutely no difference in this flood of unconditional love and light. God was nothing like she expected. Instead of learning how she didn't measure up or being given an assignment for what she was to accomplish in life, she realized that she was perfectly loved just as she was, regardless of what she had done or would do.

When she came back to the ordinary world, Alice was euphoric—and violently ill for some hours. The terrible nausea did nothing to dampen her ecstasy. She and Chester had eaten exactly the same meal, so they knew there was no physical reason for her sickness, and that was part of why they were frightened and sought my counsel.

Alice and Chester wanted to know if anyone else had ever gotten sick after a transcendent episode during sex, but this was a first. However, Alice gave me some important clues when she was telling me her story. The expressions she used for feeling remorse and shame was that she always swallowed her guilt and pushed the guilt down into her stomach. Recently that guilt had become overwhelming, since Alice felt she had failed in a God-given mission to work with orphaned refugees overseas and had had to come back to the United States.

Now with her new understanding, there was no reason to retain the guilt. Alice said she recovered completely in a few hours and was still ecstatic when I met her weeks later. Of course, I had no expertise she needed beyond the truth of her own experience, but I could tell her that her experience was not unique. Chester's knowing what to do had provided the ground for her transformative episode to occur, and it deepened their love and faith so that both of them were changed.

Alice and Chester's story illustrates another point: Since otherworldly sexual experiences can come upon people unawares, lovers may be far more vulnerable than meditators or others who are deliberately cultivating altered states. People who are unprepared—especially whose worldviews don't include spiritual or supernatural events—can be frightened and even destabilized by such a break in their normal reality. Some underwent several years of psychotherapy or other professional intervention to come to terms with their experiences.

It's important to understand how powerful these sexual events can be. Their dark side can lead to an addictive need to be in a relationship, delusions concerning the partner and rightness of the relationship, and have a negative effect on the person's ability to function.

In a mild example, a young man I’ll call Cameron came to me. He was in almost suicidal despair, which had lasted for several months. He worked in a high-tech industry and had no religious beliefs at all. In fact, he didn't believe in the supernatural. As he was making love with his girlfriend of over a year, he was suddenly swept into an ecstasy he could only describe as spiritual. The experience was so powerful and profound, it completely changed his understanding of the world, and it also seemed to convey to him that his relationship with this woman was meant to be. The net result was that Cameron felt he was a thousand times more in love with her than ever and that there must be a meaning and purpose to his life of which he previously had been unaware. Unfortunately, Cameron's girlfriend, who had not had the experience and was not inclined to a spiritual point of view, couldn't come to terms with the change in him, and she broke off the relationship. He was devastated. He searched vainly for support from therapists and even joined several religious groups to see if anyone could help him understand what had happened—and help restore his relationship.

The fact is, the ordinary act of lovemaking can be the most widely available path to higher consciousness for most people.

Eventually, Cameron did receive help and understanding, but he is still afraid that he'll never fall as deeply in love again as he did with the woman he now believes must be his soul-mate, even though she quickly became involved with a series of other partners. He is afraid he'll never be able to enjoy sex again or even desire to have it with another.

Cameron's case is hardly an isolated one, and it serves to point out the difficulties people can have coming to terms with these experiences and what they mean, just as people who have had other nonordinary openings involuntarily (such as near-death experiences or alien abduction experiences) are often seriously destabilized. There are steps people can take to prepare themselves for this eventuality and to avoid putting themselves in harm's way in potentially dangerous liaisons with powerful partners, such as exploitative gurus or sexual predators who may use their capacity to induce paranormal states to influence the unsuspecting.

For the most part, though, people reported very positive impacts from these sexual episodes, like those of other spiritual openings. Two stories, one from a woman and the other from a man, show how powerfully ecstatic they can be and how they come about. The woman describes a state similar to the experience of the Void in Buddhism or Hinduism. Similar descriptions are found in much of the Zen literature. She says:

The sense of him and my connectedness with him fills my awareness as the physical pleasure of my body begins to shade from foreground into background. What we are doing physically maintains and sustains this state, but awareness of our bodies, of my orgasm is no longer a focus. It becomes the ground, almost subliminal, for a more transcendent state. Our merged selves, our we-ness drops away into nothingness. It is the purest bliss without content, without the flow of time, without even desire because in that moment everything both is and is not. Nothing is there, just a void that has a feeling of whiteness.

On some occasions, this whiteness or void has then disappeared like a flood receding from the landscape to reveal what was always there, say, the furniture in the bedroom, the light coming through the window, the shadows on the walls, my lover's transfigured face. But when this happens, all relationships among these objects and me are changed. The objects seem no more whole or solid than the space around them, so everything seems part of a single web, a continuum in which everything is the same, either three-dimensional or not.

If I move or change, the world moves or changes with me. I am everything, and everything is me, and nothing has a greater or more special value than anything else, not my lover, not me, not anything. There is no me here, there is nothing separate and no time flowing by. I can't say how it is here except that it is being one with God, not even that. It's being God because there is nothing there and nothing you are not.

I never know how long I’m there, how long any of it takes to happen. What changes my awareness finally is either my lover's coming or his withdrawing from my body. It depends upon whether I’m still in the whiteness or in that state of what seems like nonduality with everything. In both, I am still at some level so attuned to him that I know instantly when he is coming, but in the whiteness, somehow some of my sensory channels seem absent and my knowing is at an inchoate, conceptless body level that is cellular. It is somehow without the symbolism of seeing his face or hearing his voice or feeling a difference in his movement. In the nonduality place where I am everything, it is just part of everything with me, but since there is no me and no everything and no coming, it is only somehow a different way of The Way It Is.

However it happens, his climax or withdrawal gradually brings me back to myself…. I’m usually aware of my overall body condition first, racing heart and high body heat, then the breathing. Everything about being so much back in my body and aware of it seems effortful. It's hard to open my eyes, hard to move especially, even if I find myself in an uncomfortable position…. Taking up normal life again, normal separateness is hard, but it's still shot through with love and glory, a radiant softness.

I am pulsating with divine energies that build and build until I feel that I will be annihilated by a shattering explosion.

Just as this woman's story represents what is associated with the highest levels of attainment in Eastern traditions, this particular man's narrative contains elements associated with unio mystica, the dissolving into God associated with the highest levels of attainment in the Western traditions of mystical Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. He reports moving from a state of continuous rapture, in which love is flowing effortlessly from himself into his lover, to one where he starts to transcend his awareness of his partner altogether:

My awareness of her, though, is intermittent at that point. Where I begin to lose her is after I remember her, after I remember the feeling because it takes over, and it's as though I’m moving through her to something beyond her, beyond me. That's the religious part. She's a conduit, but then in that state, bodies become irrelevant, and in a way she does, too, I’m embarrassed to say. I’m actually opening myself to God and surrendering to God and feeling God entering into me.

The energies are so strong. I can have this experience without coming to orgasm, but it represents, not just physically but in some spiritual way, a climactic point where I break apart, where I fall into the Light. It's everything. Everything is sacred, and I am pulsating with divine energies that build and build until I feel that I will be annihilated by a shattering explosion at the same time I—no longer any I there—will have completely merged into the fires of God like a planet plunging into the furnace of the Sun. It's every possible good feeling, and it lasts just a second, but there's no sense of time. There is Joy flooding everywhere, light everywhere, and then wave after wave of slowly subsiding rapture.

Orgasm is the moment of supreme pleasure and regret all in one because the moment you come, you know it's going to end. It's like suffering is built into any pleasure, and as soon as you have the consummation, you begin to feel the regret because you know this is the beginning of the end. You're going to have to leave God's bosom. It's a real wrenching, moving away, knowing you're coming back to the world, coming back to your body, coming back to look at her. I still feel like I’m part way in that state, but I know I’m coming back from it….

When I can open my eyes and look at my lover again, she is still holy to me, and I know we have experienced this divinity and ours—together. I become more focused on her again and lose the focus on me, the way it was before…. But now I know we are two again and back to living in our separate bodies, which for a time had been discarded like pieces of scaffolding that had served their purpose and then been completely transcended. In that moment, there is an unbearable ache that arises in the heart.

In addition to suffusing love relationships (where they exist—many people had these transcendent experiences during one-night stands, casual affairs, or even with people they didn't like) with a sense of deeper connection, transcendent sexual episodes had other profound effects on people. Former atheists and agnostics became spiritual seekers; people developed more loving relationships, not only with their partners, but with others; still others determined to change dysfunctional life patterns and let go of self-limiting beliefs. Remarkably, a number of participants who had suffered childhood sexual abuse became able to remain present and enjoy sex, even becoming orgasmic. Their own words are convincing of how powerful such experiences are and how transformative they can be.

For instance, Richard says:

Having been a Catholic seminarian, sex was very taboo, and I’d grown up in a home with parents who were forbidding and repressed. These experiences have really helped me rehabilitate sex from this cesspool of moral judgment. I realized for the first time that sex really could be a vehicle for transcendence. That seemed to be the whole point of my experience. It's really deepened [my relationship]. The problems don't matter, because all that matters is our closeness. It has that feeling of a Spirit-guided state, where the point of power is in the present. It's a physical manifestation of my spiritual practice, and I see it as one of the highest forms.

A woman, speaking for many, mentions how much easier it is for her to act with compassion: It transformed my life, my outlook. I have these feelings for my partner now, seeing the hairs in his ears or something that would maybe be ugly or whatever, and I just feel so good for him. It's wonderful. And it translates to other people. It does translate.

Elaine, a woman who lives in a spiritual community and has been a practicing Buddhist for decades, says of her sexual spiritual openings:

I suppose when I describe it, it will sound like a form of psychosis…. Of course, you know this is not a psychotic experience by its results. Once time is no longer still…and normal life resumes, you are changed, but in a good way. Your other relationships are enhanced by the experience also because you have changed. Somehow a string of that love experience is woven throughout your other relationships, career, etc. [You gain] tolerance for others who are not so knowing…and a great compassion for them, as well as others…. The impact of such an experience is immense.

But the variety of experiences people can have is vast, and their background, psychological maturity, and beliefs, as well as the circumstances under which transcendent sex occurs, are infinite. Anything can happen—and whatever happens can have unpredictable results, depending upon the participants.

One woman probably summed up the myriad possibilities best by saying:

A low form of sex makes for a low form of spirituality, and a low form of spirituality may make for a low form of sex. The quality of the sexual experience relates to the capacity of the individual to hold it in a spiritual place. Spiritual sexuality is a very precious thing…. That doesn't mean that it's going to make life easy; it will make it rich.

Gala's Divine Beauty Mark

Salvador Dalí

Editor's Note: When Surrealist painter Salvador Dalí met Russian intellectual Gala in 1929, she had already served as a muse for several members of the movement, including her then-husband, poet Paul Eluard. She eventually became Dalí’s muse, wife, agent, and reason for living. She calms me. She reveals me. She makes me, he wrote. In this worshipful excerpt from his 1973 autobiography, Comme on Devient Dalí (published in English as Maniac Eyeball), the master writes about their early two-month sexathon and the part of Gala's body that gave him the most pleasure.

Had Dalí Already Made Love To Another Woman?

Dalí cannot come with any other woman. It is impossible. You cannot be unfaithful to your shadow, and to lose it is to lose your soul. That is quite enough for me, and I do not think either of having children. Those embryos disgust me. Their fetal aspect bothers me wildly. Nor could I ever, like any genius, give birth to anything but an idiot.

I kneaded them in my hands, smelled them with delight, trying to recapture a bit of her presence and her life.

I also do not want to face up to the reality of Gala's death. My mind would need to call on all of its resources to survive that. But with the training she has put me through I am certain I could maintain my intelligence at the level of my love of life. Though henceforth I could overcome the most abysmal of misfortunes, she would remain irreplaceable. I have moreover so often thought of her death, from the very first day of our love, that I am as if prepared for that tragedy. Gala today, as on that first day, goes on saying that her death would be the finest day of her life. Perhaps I would say, despite my immense sorrow, as I did the day after our first coming-together, in Figueras when I saw her to the train as she was departing for Paris, despite my love and my sorrow at seeing her leave, Alone at last. For nothing is greater than to discover one's true dimensions and put up with one's solitude. Gala taught that to me, so it would be one more way of paying deep tribute to her by going on living as she had wanted.

At that time, I was hardly inured despite my pride, and like one obsessed I had to look for my strength and courage among the things she had imprinted with her mark, her odors, her memory: an old pair of rope sandals, a swimsuit, a pebble. I kneaded them in my hands, smelled them with delight, trying to recapture a bit of her presence and her life, and warming my heart with the magnetism they still radiated.

I had my work. I locked myself in my Figueras studio for a month. I finished The Great Masturbator and Portrait of Paul Eluard. I felt it incumbent on me to fix forever the face of the poet from whose Olympus I had stolen one of the muses.

I left for Paris at the end of the summer, to arrange for my first show, which was to open in November at the Galerie Goëmans. That period remains for me a series of strong images that embody the voluptuousness of deliberate defeat.

I am in a florist's shop and do not have enough money to pay for the hundred roses I have just ordered for Gala.

I wait until the very last moment before going to see Gala, whom I am dying to see again.

On our honeymoon at Sitges and Barcelona, I let Gala go back to Paris alone, so as to go and see my father, who tells me it is unthinkable that I should marry a Russian woman. Despite my denials, he believes Gala is a drug addict and has turned me into a narcotics dealer, which alone in his eyes would explain the unlikely sums of money I have been making.

He was to write me that he disowned me. Out of pain, I decided to shave my head completely and, before leaving Cadaqués, went and buried my hair on the beach with a batch of sea-urchin shells fragrant of cunt.

I am on the highest hill overlooking Cadaqués and stare at my village for a last farewell. With my bald scalp, I leave for Paris, a picture of the anguish, pain, and sorrow that indicate the passage to maturity and the landmarks of the Galactite ordeals.

In Paris, all the paintings in the show have been sold and my success is enormous. Gala has just finished transcribing my notes that I plan to publish as La Femme Visible (The Visible Woman). Buñuel wants us to start work without delay on the scenario for L’Age d’Or, a new film that has just been commissioned from him by the Vicomte de Noailles, who put up a million francs, a fantastic budget for those days. A leaf of my life is being turned; I am emerging from the shadow to the light.

To live with Gala became an obsession to me. To digest her, possess her, assimilate her, melt into her. With my shaven skull and fiery eye I looked exactly like a Grand Inquisitor, but one consumed with love. Gala understood that we had to flee the world so as to temper ourselves as a couple in the crucible of life alone together.

A small hotel on the Riviera, at Carry-le-Rouet, took us in. We rented two rooms. In one, my easel, my canvas of L’Homme Invisible (The Invisible Man), inspired by the research of Archimboldo, on whom I had meditated for so long, my books, and my brushes; in the other, the bed. They brought our meals up to us. We opened the door a crack only to let in the valet or chambermaid.

I was methodically exploring Gala with the detailed care of a physicist or archaeologist exalted to high pitch by delirious love. I fixed in my memory the value of every grain of her skin so as to apprehend the shadings of their consistency and color; so as to find the right attentive caress for each. I could have drawn up a map of her body with a perfect geography of the zones of beauty and fineness of her fleshly coil and the pleasures to be derived and evoked. I spent hours looking at her breasts, their curve, the design of the nipples, the shadings of pink to their tips, the detail of the bluish veinlets running beneath their gossamer transparency; her back ravished me with the delicacy of the joints, the strength of the rump muscles, beauty and the beast conjoined. Her neck had pure grace in its slimness; her hair, her intimate hairs, her odors intoxicated me; her mouth, teeth, gums, tongue overpowered me with a pleasure I had never even suspected. I became a sex freak. I wallowed in it to the very paroxysm of cockcunt, voraciously gobbling, frenzied in the unleashing of my finally sated instincts.

Even today, from those passionate hours of our isolation in sex, my memory retains the images of our orgiastic comingstogether—animal but perfect and beautiful in their wildness. We were like two monks of sex, at every hour of the day celebrating the adoration of their god. [...]

How Dalí’s Love For Gala Expressed Itself

During these two months devoted to l'amour and the adoration of Gala, I had gone down to the very sources of the pleasure of living in the abyssal depths of being. It was a kind of journey to the center of being I had made, going back to my intra-uterine memories, to the very nourishment of the birthing placenta, and in my wild mind seeing Gala's cunt and my mother's belly as one. A philter sweeter than honey flowed within me. Gala's senses, Gala's belly, Gala's back exalted my dreams, their shapes mixed together, merged, compounded as the lines and rhythms of the waves of joy that rocked me and carried me over an ocean of felicity. My paranoia knew no bounds. My delirium rose to perfection, and Gala's super-intelligent complicity allowed me to attain the omega point of my inventions. All I had to do was touch the beauty mark on Gala's left earlobe to be carried away on the flying carpet of my wild love.

I could have drawn up a map of her body with a perfect geography of the zones of beauty and fineness of her fleshly coil and the pleasures to be derived and evoked.

This wonderful spot seemed to me to be the proton of my beloved's divine energy, the sun of her heart, the geometrical locus of our passion for each other, the very point at which any contradiction between our two beings ceased to be. All I had to do was rub it with my finger to be flooded with strength and faith in my own destiny. This divine beauty mark to me was the proof of the definitive death of my brother Salvador, his mystical tomb; stroking it, I was rubbing against his gravestone. I thus took blanket possession of my existence in one stroke and had the intoxicating feeling of erasing the memory of this dead brother at the same time that I possessed the whole of the woman I loved, capturing all the beauty of the world and even living and making love to my own life. Even my father was not immune to being symbolically gobbled when I took Gala's earlobe between my lips and let it slowly give me suck.

This wonderful spot seemed to me to be the proton of my beloved's divine energy, the sun of her heart, the geometrical locus of our passion for each other.

Later, Picasso capped my great happiness by showing me he had the same beauty mark as Gala in exactly the same place. That day, he even made her a present of a Cubist painting—showing that even that awesome personage's possessive genius could not resist Gala's radiation. It is true that Gala selected the smallest among the paintings he let her choose from. A fulcrum is all you need to raise the globe, and with Gala's beauty mark I can reconstruct the geometry of Dalínian intelligence. Her sacred ear sucked away all the dizzinesses of my soul to allow me to be reborn lucid, complete within unity, the master of the genius of my twin's personality, capable of overcoming my father's curse, the virile son of my mother. My entire unconscious found stability around that axis, like a planet around its sun, a believer taking his Host. Magical beauty mark, alpha and omega of Dalí!

My First Fist-a-Thon

Tristan Taormino

In 2002, I went to my first kinky summer camp and had a ball. Two years later, the organizers invited me back to the seventh annual event, now relocated to a more adult-friendly retreat on 200 acres of secluded land. In addition to teaching classes, I was asked to host a special event. Their suggestion: Tristan's Fist-a-Thon. Since fisting, and in particular, deflowering anal-fisting virgins, is one of my passions, I wasn't hard to convince. The premise was that we'd see how many people I could fist both vaginally and anally, plus how many could be fisted by others, in the span of two hours. We weren't raising money like a typical ’thon, more like raising consciousness in a did-you-know-I-could-expand-you-and-your-orifice-like-this? kind of way.

In an old barn converted into a dungeon, we set up a row of massage tables and spanking benches draped in disposable, absorbent bed-sheets. Next to each one sat a folding chair with paper towels, gloves, lube, and baby wipes. There were thick black mats on the floor for the overflow of fistees. On the stage, I laid out an assortment of toys, including a purple-and-white-swirled buttplug that looked like a candy cruller, a red rubber, teardrop-shaped plug, and a black vinyl plug I nicknamed Superstar for its ability to help me get people's asses to go where they'd never gone before.

I welcomed everyone and reviewed the ground rules:

Fistees, please warm up before I get to you. Play with your ass or have someone else do it, so by the time I get to you, you're already on your way. Feel free to use any of the toys, but cover them with condoms. I can only fist one person at a time, so please be patient. General orgy rules apply: Don't touch anyone without permission! Once I have gotten my entire hand inside you, the fisting will be added to the list by the official tally master; then, unfortunately, I must move on. But I encourage you to keep going with a partner, ask a friend to take over for me, or finish yourself off.

First up was one of my camp cabinmates, a gorgeous, curvy blonde woman who'd never been vaginally fisted before. Her fiancé licked her pussy during my announcements, and when I made my way over, he moved to kiss her and play with her nipples. I snapped on a purple nitrile glove, and she moaned as I worked my way inside her pussy. She was wet and open. I played with her for a while, eventually getting all five fingers in, but when it came to that point where my hand's diameter is thickest, it felt like too much for her. She was disappointed when she decided to stop, but her man stroked her face, and I knew she'd be okay.

The premise was that we'd see how many people I could fist both vaginally and anally, plus how many could be fisted by others, in the span of two hours.

I moved over to a fiftysomething guy I recognized from the audience at one of my classes earlier that day. He had one of my favorite toys in his ass—a clear acrylic plug with a convex base that acts as a magnifying glass; I often use it in demonstrations during workshops to give people a chance to see all the way inside someone's butt. We worked together for a while, and when I slipped in him all the way, I heard faint clapping in the background. Two down, a roomful to go.

I moved onto the stage, where another guy had been warming himself up with a colorful, corkscrew-shaped dildo. As I slipped four fingers inside his ass, with my peripheral vision I saw a woman in a corset with her hand in another woman's ass. A few minutes later, I followed suit and buried my right paw in this man's butt. I realized I had forgotten his name. I heard moans all over the room and saw the tally master busily making notes on his clipboard.

One woman named D. was sprawled on a mat, surrounded by four or five people and howling in ecstasy. They beckoned me over, announcing that she had already been vaginally fisted several times by different people.

Does it count more than once if it's by someone else? a fister cheerily inquired.

Yes, absolutely! I exclaimed, and the tally master nodded. Then I got down on my knees between her legs, and it took me all of one minute to slide inside her up to my wrist.

She's already warmed up for you, one of her gang of pals said.

You've got small hands, the woman whose pussy surrounded my fist said. Can you fit them both in there? The answer was yes.

I moved on to a guy from the Midwest who'd introduced himself the first day of camp; his wife said she was shy and didn't want to be in the midst of the action, but I encouraged her to watch so she could practice doing it when they got home. We managed an impressive five fingers but just couldn't get past that widest part of the hand. We decided to call it a success at almost, and I took a deep breath.

My next fistee was a sweet guy I’d done a demonstration on earlier in the day, when I slipped a Lucite plug in his ass and told him to return it to me whenever he wanted. His partner was a redhead whom I’d seen naked in the striptease contest the night before. I came over, excited to see the progress they'd made. She had gotten in for a second, but it was uncomfortable, she said. I concentrated, and we all took some deep breaths in unison. I was suddenly channeling all the energy of everyone before him; the intensity deepened, and he opened up around my hand. I felt like I stayed inside him for hours, although I know it was only a few minutes before I came out. I was high. I was exhausted. It was five minutes to

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    2 people found this helpful

    I'm very open-minded - let's get that out on the table right off.I was expecting something completely different when I ordered this book - from the reviews, it sounded like a descriptive account of "out there" sexual practises, human sexuality and psychology...Which to a point, it was. But I found the interviews with porn stars to be very lacking...It was set up in the "Here's the subject. Here's the commentary" format. And some of the commentators probably should have stuck to the film industry than hopping over into the interview niche. A lot of them were tiresome to read simply because the editor never edited them beyond grammar and spelling.The book had its good points. But not many of them. If you feel like filtering through the slush, you can play psychologist and get what you really wanted out of this book.

    2 people found this helpful