WHY I HATE THE HOLIDAYS
By Kamala Devi
After Black Friday, every year, I pack up for a holiday retreat...which usually involves leaving the civilized western world to get the hell away from the comercial temptation to shop for stupid stocking stuffers and sugar cookies. Having been raised by wrathful and guilt-ridden Jewish & Catholic parents, I have a double dose of disdain for the overblown religiosity of the season.
Recently, as the mother of a bright eyed 4 year old boy, who's birthday falls in the midst of all the holiday madness...I've come to realize that it's not all about me. (Imagine that!) Perhaps there's something more. Something even deeper for me to explore...?
But how can I bear to wear ugly sweaters drink egg-nog and maintain my Ba-humbug-I'm too sexy for the Grinch like attitude? I'm curious. Really. I want to know what a true tantric christmas looks like.
This year, instead of running away, I'm staying in San Diego to face my demons. Better yet, I'm going to cover myself in plum pudding and wrestle the dreaded Santa Beast myself. (Ho! Ho! Ho!) Who wants to watch?
Tantra Theater is producing a spectacularly naughty little production called "The Sack-Religious Show" with 9 talented performance artists who are willing to get emotionally naked onstage. We each have a diverse degree of religious damage that we are willing to divulge for your entertainment and enlightenment. Add spice to your holiday season with this radical variety show we celebrate our religious freedom and right to free speech with music, dance, song, and comedy about sex and spirit.
PostScript: After the 2011 holiday show closed, I have a sneaky suspicion that this is the beginning of a new annual tradition in San Diego, and though I can't believe I'd ever want to do a show again, I'm excited to see what San Diego Players come up with for the Sack-Religious show in 2012!
Cum all ye who are Relgious in the Sack!
Writer / Performers:
Katie, Adam, Chris, Coby, Jenn, Michael, Monique and Nate. AND DID I MENTION KATIE? Directed by Kamala Devi
Reflections on the Sacred Slut Series by Kamala Devi
This is the most radical, confronting, and awakening piece of art, I have EVER been associated with (if I do say so myself.) I've been afraid to brag, because I don't want to sound like this one-woman-show is all about me, me, me....but in tonight's rehearsal I got an EXPLOSIVE download and I see that it is not only about me. It's about ANY person who has ever been told that SEX and MONEY are anything less than SACRED.
This show screws social taboos, questions legal limits and defies religious assumptions. I go beyond sharing my personal sexual healing, and deliver you into the arms, onto the massage tables and bedrooms of my sacred sex mentors. I tell the story of 5 outrageous women who share turning points from their lives. Come learn about Veronica Monet, Amara Charles, Mare Simone, Tracy Elise and Annie Sprinkle. Past and present prostitutes, Tantra Teachers, Sex Surrogates, Mother Priestesses, and Porn Stars.
I use oral tradition and temple arts to transmit their powerful teachings, and the show culminates in a sacred self pleasuring ritual. I'm doing a truly transformative tribute to sexy performance art legend, Annie Sprinkle.
Gratitude to my Cast and Crew: From Left to Right starting on top: Peter on Drums, James on lights, sound and slideshow, Michael lighting design and executive producer, Steve Bickell on Videography, Kali Das on Stage Management, Maha Lakshmi on Concessions, Catheleen on Registration, Janos is Set designer extrordinaire, Kamala Devi, Tracey Lontos on Registration, Neil on Sound, Eve Olution on acting coaching, Rita Mooney on Comedy, Adam Paulman on Slideshow, Rae NewWoman on Comedy & Voice coaching. And ofcourse Julie Kondor is taking the photo. And Rob Armstrong with Namaste Media for videography on the final evening.
If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us walk together.
--Lila Watson, Aboriginal Activist
Not Another Self Indulgent One Woman Show: The Sacred Slut Series by Kamala Devi
There is always a fine line between Art and Therapy, and when Tantra Theater is done right, that line dissolves. Generally we do this through 90 days of group psychodrama before inviting an audience into our process. Now, I am furiously preparing to showcase my first solo performance in about a month.
After about a year of research, development and procrastination, I've created a One-Woman-Show about the sacred prostitute. Because I believe in the power of deadlines, I booked a local theater in only FIVE WEEKS. That's hardly enough time to work through my self doubt, self consciousness and self judgment, let alone enough time to edit, MEMORIZE, rehearse and produce the hour long show.
As a creativity coach, I'm used to midwifing artists through said resistance. In fact part of my job description, as director of Tantra Theater, is to hold the artist by the hand and remind them to speak their truth. "Who cares what your mother, neighbor, rabbi would say, a true artist is willing to be misunderstood!" Now, when I visualize myself standing naked on the stage (figuratively as well as literally) my mouth goes dry, my knees start to shake and I wonder, who's going to hold my hand?
"What are you afraid of?" I ask myself, closing my eyes to inquire deeper. I allow feelings to focus beyond familiar fears of failure, not trying, looking like an ass, disappointing my fans, not living up to my own standards, sabotaging myself, or getting arrested and having child protective services take away my 4 year old son. To my surprise, my greatest block is ...drumroll please... fear of being self indulgent. I got into theater to help other people, my inner critic says, nobody wants to see me get onstage and watch me heal myself, especially if they're paying for tickets at the door.
I paid to sit through a whole litany of angry feminist rants in the name of self expression while studying performance art in college. When bored by what was happening onstage, I sat in the dark audience imagining a discursive spoof called: "Look at me, look at me, look at me!" The unbearable thought of contributing another self indulgent peice to the already embarrassing list of obscure post modern solo plays, is why it has taken me over 15 years to finally create my own show.
I confess I would rather die than re-tell the story of my dysfunctional upbringing in public-- And this is from a woman who is constantly preaching about the value of vulnerability! So, the only way I gathered the gumption to get up there, is by telling other people's stories. I admit it, I'm too chicken shit to share my own, so I built a show around interviews with five women, my mentors. Now, I am sincerely honored that these powerful pioneers in sacred sex have entrusted me to share their intimate details about being arrested, nearly raped, judged and ultimately liberated. As I refine their powerful stories, I realize the potential we have to affect social change, but the only way to do that, is to personally affect the audience, which requires me to be vulnerable.
This is the most ego confronting work I've ever encountered. I've spent 3 years supporting other people step up to the stage to heal rape, body image, sexual identity, STD and other taboo issues. After several months scrambling for other performers and/or a different director, I am finally ready to step up and share these stories. And then, the plot thickened. Annie Sprinkle, pioneer performance artist and one of my interview subjects, insists that I do a self pleasuring scene onstage. Hell, If you're going to be self indulgent, do it all the way!
Ha, ha, ha HA! (This is my awkward 'oh shit' laugh of disbelief.)
Then I remember what Ellen DeGenerous's says in her one woman show. She used to go to therapy and ramble on about her neurosis, (you know, all the dissatisfying details that come with being human.) Then she thought, why pay a stranger to listen to her talk, when she can get a whole room of strangers to pay her to listen to her talk! But she's Ellen DeGenerous.
And who am I? I wonder. Can I truly get naked and strip off my defenses along with my lingerie? Can I take off the title of author, director, self proclaimed goddess, and just connect with the audience? In the last scene of "The legend of the Sacred Prostitute," Annie Sprinkle plucks off her false eye lashe, still breathing heavy after a great orgasm, while looking into the audience. Could I do that? And be authentic? Annie promises that the sacred part of prostitution comes when we are authentic. She coaches me to perform her invocation in my own voice, my own style. Could I cum onstage and not be attached to whether it was good for them, or if they will tell their friends that they think I faked it?
I don't know yet how it's going to turn out, I haven't even finished the script, but now at least one thing is clear: I am willing to be self indulgent. And indulging in the self... feels damn good.
Tantra Theater presents The Sacred Slut Show opens July 7,8,9th $20 presale tickets $25 at the door. http://sacredslutseries.eventbrite.com/ The play is inspired by interviews with Annie Sprinkle, Mare Simone, Amara Charles, Veronica Monet, Tracy Elise and other anonymous sacred sex pioneers.
Sacred Slut Show Synopsis:
The full length show is an embodied exploration of sacred prostitution told through a tapestry of personal narrative, dance, prayer, poetry and interviews. The language and tone will span the full spectrum from sacred to the profane. It will juxtapose modern session-work with ancient myths and sufi poetry. I intend to represent a variety of faces of the Eternal Goddess as she was, will be and is now. Though it was originally conceived as a one-goddess show, there will be one man and an additional woman to play out various dynamics of the male-female duality. The performance will be conducted in the context of interactive ritual with the audience, opening and closing with an invocation and benediction to the Goddess.
I am interviewing experienced sacred prostitutes (past and present) as well as need help writing, rehearsing and producing this Tantra Theater event.I intend to complete the first draft by early January so that I can edit, cast and rehearse a first performance in San Diego early March. Beyond that, I plan to perform it at sacred sex conferences, and plan to have it like video recorded and available on www.TantraTheater.TV
Here the of the basic questions I’ve been exploring during my interviews:
1) Tell me about a memorable time in which your sacred sexual services transformed/healed a client/seeker.
2) Do you remember a session or experience in which you embodied the goddess, or clearly felt this work is your dharma?
3) Tell me about a formative time in which you received money in exchange for sacred sex work.
If your interested in supporting the show, please leave a comment below, and let me know if your willing to volunteer your time and energy toward any aspect of this project. Or if you know of anyone else who would be a good fit for this project.
Kamala Devi does the three Buddhas in NYC.
Tantra Theater NYC
A NYC chapter of Tantra Theater is kicking off their first rehearsal tomorrow with Gia Lisa Krahne, Philip Di Pietro , and Elena Giordano, three yoga teachers & actors I worked with during my recent trip to NY. Break a Leg! (Or as we say in TT, Break a Hymen.)
A brand new weekly Tantra Theater Workshop exploration in New York City!! In a completely safe, intimate setting, we will do guided explorations of past sexual & formative experiences with unique exercises in partners and groups. At the end of the evening, you will have the opportunity, but are no...t required to "perform" in front of the group. This is a healing practice for both participants and observers.
Our current gathering is BY DONATION. Any offering from the heart, no matter how small, will be gratefully received. As will your presence! This is the beginning of an open-ended series of classes which will either be held on Sunday or Monday nights, depending on participants' feedback. You may drop-in at any time in the series. And we will eventually be moving toward a final culminating performance for those who would like to share a more refined, rehearsed piece of material.
NYC chapter orchestrated by Gia Lisa Krahne, Philip Di Pietro, and Elena Giordano. You are in good hands, all three are yoga teachers & actors, very much impassioned by the idea of embarking on new explorations of the tantra theater experience. Inspired by the teachings of Kamala Devi and the San Diego Tantra Theater Troupe
This week space is limited due to the size of the location, so RSVP's appreciated. You can message Gia, Elena or Philip to RSVP. Or call Gia at 917.645.2541
Bring on the Dick Debates:
Recently, I've been praying, meditating and exploring my own practice of penis worship. When I went on Tantric pilgrimage to Mother India, nearly every temple contained a huge beautiful phallus which was decorated and celebrated on an hourly basis.
However, most temples and teachers insist that interpreting the Shiva Lingam as a phallic symbol is a severe mistake, misunderstand or even heresy. Sivinanda and Vivekanada are among the many religious scholars that debated if the Shiva lingam has any sexual significance.
As a middle path Tantrika, I aim to practice beyond duality. The act of linga worship is a celebration of BOTH the formless and the form. I've synthesized several ancient Tantric scriptures and took artistic license in interpreting the following:
God is eternal, omnipresent, and formless. Since it is hard to grasp the concept of absolute consciousness, God appeared on earth in the form of a great wand of light, or Shiva lingam. The Sanskrit term linga translates to mean symbol or sign. Tantric, Hindu and Pagan devotees use the lingam as a symbol of supreme reality. We use our bodily senses to practice more intimate devotion.
Linga worship is considered the highest form of worship since It connects a devotee with the supreme consciousness of Lord Shiva in the world of form. As such, I believe all lingams are extensions of God, and having sex is the most sacred way to merge with The Divine. Whether it's sensual or symbolic, I say: Do it. Do it often. And do it with devotion.