Backstage pass to Eros

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Abandoned backstage entrance of an old Vaudeville house. Photo by Eric Francis.

Whether to have sex may have been a bigger question for me than it was for Amanda, but let’s call it equal: she’s a thoughtful person and does not usually jump into things without a bit of pondering. For my part, I was wondering whether I had abstained from sex for long enough. This phase was like a condensed review course of everything I’ve studied, explored and learned about erotic reality my whole life, and I’ve been paying attention for a while.

To review for a moment, I had made a series of choices leading me to take contact sex, that is, intercourse and oral sex, out of my life for a while, and I was taking this in 45 day experiences that went from a cross-quarter day (starting at Sahwen or Halloween) to the winter solstice to Imbolc to the equinox and so on. This had gone on for about six months, and I was now at a point of continuing or making a change.

Beltane was a compelling juncture because the essence of my particular form of Goddess worship involves celebrating sexuality at this particular time of year. Since I started doing this, I’ve been blessed with the right woman or women just at the right time, and it is very much about fulfilling a mutual purpose: to praise the Goddess of love and abundance. Being with the right partner implies awareness of why it’s meaningful as a ritual and celebration of existence and not ‘just sex’.

So, on the way to this encounter, notably an encounter with someone I was curious about, love talking with and found beautiful, I contemplated what my prior six months of experience was about. As I’ve mentioned, I was doing what I call masturbation celibacy – having sex only with myself, or in the presence of someone else (and if the opportunity arose, and it didn’t, more than one person). On a number of occasions, that person happened to be a woman named Neisha, who is the subject of a number of these diaries.

As part of this project, my consciously stated objective was to get as close to as many women who were sexually active as possible, and understand something about their experience of both relationship and sexuality. I was exploring the theme of ‘unavailability’, as well as embracing their pleasure with an approach called compersion – loving the pleasure and passion of others, with no sense of obligation or need coming from me.

Depending on who this involved, I could be more or less open about it, but I got to be pretty open with a good few women. As part of this arrangement, if I desired or was turned on by them I did not have to conceal that fact, but the lack of ‘pressure’ created a safe environment to explore this space.

Onyx, a model I grew close to, was one of them. My studio assistant Sarah, who spends a good amount of time in my personal space and in my artistic life, was another. As for Amanda, who I got to know during this time, her part in the journey was openly expressing her sexual interest in another man, so I got to take a compersion journey with her as well; and through this I gradually discovered that we were attracted to one another. Still, as part of that attraction, embracing her freedom without a sense or rejection on my part was a certain kind of key.

And on this particular Beltane journey across New England, Fabienne blossomed into someone in this role, a woman with a lover she loved to embrace, and I was able to go some unusual, beautiful places embracing her and revealing myself to her.

Compersion is usually described as ‘the opposite of jealousy’. But that’s about as descriptive as calling the color blue something other than orange, green, yellow or black. Compersion is about a full embrace of the pleasure, existence and life-choices of another person. It is a form of amorous/erotic Buddhism. Compersion distinguishes love and attachment like few emotions available.

This embrace can be while they are in the room having their pussy licked, it can be over thousands of miles with no verbal sharing, or it can be in the course of a long relationship where this is one particular theme. I will share some stories about my dear, incredible friend Kimberly in a future diary – during these six months we were drawn closer than ever to one another in our 15 year affair.

The process helped me turn a state of deficiency into abundance. As I moved from experience to experience, I was drawn closer to many, many women, and by closer I mean a space of empathy, respect and appreciation of their beauty. Where there were energetic struggles or where the topic was off-limits, they seemed to drift further away.

Over these six months, I grew more confident in myself. I began to notice who noticed me when I walked into a room. The games I was noticing that many women play, such as with cloaking their desire or interest, became transparent. In what no longer seems like an odd paradox, taking sex out of the equation began to relax my encounters with women. I became deeply self-sufficient, and by that I mean that I learned to give myself very, very good sex and emotional affirmation, which set me free of depending on others as a source of that.

And now it was May, and my body was yearning for penetration and I had met a woman who was coming across vividly on the full spectrum of life and of existence. I felt ready to embrace her, pending getting a good sniff of her, and I was willing to find out if she was ready to embrace me. And so I ambled northeast along U.S. Route 2 through some of the sweetest country I’ve ever known, feeling not like a visit but as one who was at home. I was happy to be traveling agai after so long. I had chosen her as my Beltane partner if she wanted to be that woman, and I also knew I was choosing as friend and companion; as journeying partner; potentially, as lover.

Yet besides by acting on what I felt (i.e., speaking up), felt called to do, and being aware of what I was experiencing, I also knew that was very nearly out of my hands. What was its own reward was that in this experience I was confident of two things at least: that I was appreciated, and that I was welcome to express my affection and appreciation for her. And I felt confident that she would have me be nobody other than who I truly was.

That alone was a profound healing gift, and something I’m not sure I’ve ever quite felt before.

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