Wednesday, April 28, 2004

I recently read an interesting article by Katy St. Clair in the East Bay Express about tantric educators. I was fascinated at the many similarities between how these women go about practicing their alternative sexuality as erotic work and how I perceive myself as a professional domina. You can check out the story for yourself at:

Below are some excerpts I found to be the most compelling, along with my comments.

"In the Bay Area, there are dozens of tantric educators, most of whom lead workshops, write books, or hold retreats. Some go even further and hold private, one-on-one, or couple's sessions. They are mostly women, and depending on their preference, typically refer to themselves as a "high priestess," "tantric coach," "tantric educator," "Tantrika," or "goddess." Just don't call them sex workers."

Similar to these tantrikas, through my writing in this blog and on my site as well as my recordings on Keen, my role as professional domina extends beyond individual sessions to reach out to the community and educate. With regards to the term "sex workers," while I applaud its use in a political sense as a tool of solidarity, I personally describe what I do as erotic work because I do not have sex in a professional scene.

"We had just finished talking about how Bast separates would-be clients who truly desire to learn tantra from those looking for fast kicks. "That was one of them," she said of the call. He was looking for something she said she didn't want to offer: pure sex. It was the type of call that she said usually ends with her telling them "I don't think I'm a good match for what you are looking for."

Like Bast, I am quite open to connecting with many different types of people, but one thing I do require is that they be a serious seeker of female domination, willing to submit to my powers, and not simply looking for a sexual service provider. I have a disclaimer on my site that states: Though professional dominas often advertise in the same venues as escorts, sensual masseuses and other erotic services, there are important distinctions in how we approach our craft (e.g. most of us do not consider ourselves "providers").

"They view themselves as healers and see the act as a teaching tool to let their client move further into tantric bliss. Then there are the women who simply put bindis on their foreheads, declare themselves a "goddess" on their Web sites, and appear to charge by the hour for specific sex acts. "

I recently made the decision to complete strap-on play to those who have been seeing me on a regular basis. The main reason for this change was my coming to recognize the deeply intimate nature of this act and the bond that it creates. As such, I wanted to reserve it as a special reward for those who are truly devoted. All of this speaks to my desire to acknowledge and engender the sacred in what I do. In some ways, SM play and tantric practice seem to be two sides of the same coin. And I think in all of these esoteric erotic practices, you will find those who sincerely believe in the philosophy they put forth, and those who are simply posing for the money. I have been told many times that what sets me apart is how genuine I seem. When I dominate, there is no act. Rather, you are being privileged to a divine glimpse of a rare combination of beauty, perversion and intellect.

"Most teachers know there are naysayers who scoff at what they do, laugh at their New Age approach to sexuality, or accuse them of being Shiva sellouts. They don't care."

I wrote a previous blog entry quite similar to the passage above but referring to professional domination. For us, there are the naysayers who think the SM is just a fancy cover for prostitution and scoff at the philosophy behind it. These are usually men who simply see us as "providers" with a twist. And then there are the SM people who project resentment at our perceived exploitation of their lifestyle. I have also run into a few men in the leather community who believe that all pro dommes are really submissives in need of conversion! Dream on. . .

Finally, we have the grand expert. In the case of tantra, that would be Margot Anand. Sadly, from what the article states below, it appears she is suffering from a bad case of top syndrome. In SM, that is when one's success as a dominant begins to get to one's head and the whole point of what one is trying to convey is lost in one's ego. There are many things I have learned in the past 2 years as a pro domme. And one of them is that things are not always what they seem. Sometimes the most applauded are not all they are cracked up to be, but may just the best marketers. And sometimes they are as great as they seem. Sometimes those in the shadows are quietly doing some of the best work. And sometimes there is a reason why no one has heard of them. C'est la vie.

"Margot Anand is the tantric expert and someone whom every tantric educator in America knows about. Her book The Art of Sexual Ecstasy is a must-read for every tantric student. Fiona studied under her, as did many other teachers. She is the mother of tantra in the West. Since tantric experts take great pains to move the discussion of their art form away from the purely sexual aspects of the practice and into its life-giving, spiritual rewards, one would think that a woman who had been practicing it for as long as Anand has would have the grace and serenity of the Buddha himself.

Not so. Anand was contacted for this story, but huffily declined to talk once she learned she wasn't the sole subject. "I should be featured prominently," she said, "not thrown in with a bunch of people I may or may not respect!" She also was upset at the idea of playing second banana to Joseph Kramer, who is profiled in the accompanying story. "I'm more important than Joseph Kramer!" she shrieked in her French accent. "I was the first on this scene. He is less important in scope!"

After more discussion and the suggestion that perhaps her ego had gotten the best of her, Anand decided that an interview would be okay if she was guaranteed a plug of her books or workshops. "Go see what you can do about that," she said crisply, as if talking to a servant.

Anand had a mantra alright, and it was "What's in it for me?," which she said quite a few times during our conversation.

"There are good therapists, and there are bad therapists," said one tantrika when told about Anand's attitude. "Not everyone has fully integrated their spirit like they say they have." Anand may be widely respected for her teachings, but not so for her immodesty. If the grand queen of tantra can't get her own karmic yin-yang balanced, then how can we trust anyone to teach us this stuff?"