SEX :: HOW TO USE YOUR ENERGETIC COCK

By Tina Horn

In the Bay Area, it’s a given that sex and art go together. It makes sense when you think of art as generative movement, or sex as collaborative experimentation with bodies. There are just some humans for whom the lust to screw and the drive to be onstage are one and the same. TT Baum is one such human. He is both a sacred intimate and interdisciplinary artist. This June, at This is What I Want Fest (JUNE 1 – 21, RSVP HERE), he is facilitating a workshop that fuses not only sex and art but also spiritual practices (let’s be real: the latter is also a Bay Area mainstay).

Now in its fifth year, TiWIW is an annual festival that also epitomizes this marriage of sex and art with its series of films, performances and discussions on the subject of “desire as a socio/political/cultural construct.” This will be TT’s third year contributing after his sex work-themed collaboration with artistic director Tessa Wills in 2012, and an untitled short film in last year’s festival. TT’s workshop is called “Penetrative Gayze: Re-Imagining the Queer Cock.” In it, TT will lead participants of all genders in an exploration of the energetic energy and imagery of their own individual queer cocks. I think may look a little like a yoga class and a little like a circle jerk. I wanted to talk to Baum about just how accurate this guess is.

I live in NYC, and Baum lives in San Francisco. Not only does this mean I am not going to be able to attend his workshop or any of the other incredible-sounding screenings, shows, or symposiums that comprise This is What I Want; it’s also not possible to conduct our interview for AHDM4U in the flesh. So we experimented a bit with the possibility of having a conversation about strap-ons, magic, and orgasms over email. In a sense, Baum and I practiced the concepts in his workshop by reaching out and having a friendly duel with our intellectual pomosexual mindcocks. Maybe I got to participate after all!

AHDM4U: Tell me about your involvement in This is What I Want. You’ve been contributing and collaborating for quite a few years, yes?

TT Baum: My first experience was with Tessa Wills as a collaborator and the director for a piece we created called ‘CHARGE’ – It was a multi layered experiential piece that combined sex work, performance art and social practice in an exploration of the economies of desire. That experience placed the festival in a dear and lasting place in my heart. I wish we could remount it!

AHDM4U: So, you’re a sacred intimate, and a sex educator.

TT: Yes, I am both. I also claim the long held title of pleasure activist, as well as tantrika. Besides seeing clients for private sessions, I also teach a series of classes for men called How To Fuck Better. Hoping to expand it to other cities outside of the Bay Area in 2015.

AHDM4U: What would need to happen for us to a have a world in which sex work was more widely considered to be viable bodywork, therapy, and self-care?

TT: Oh wow. That feels like a whole ‘nother interview. We would need to start by doing two things: decriminalizing sex work and teaching our kids that sex is something that is normal and natural. It requires a paradigm shift that I don’t know we are culturally capable of yet. Our country on the whole is very immature when it comes to sex. We definitely don’t equate it with self-care.

AHDM4U: When reading about the Penetrative Gayze workshop, a term that stuck out for me was “energetic cock”. I think the first time I heard this term was in the book Radical Ecstasy by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy. When I say “heard” what I mean is: they used the term and it immediately gave a name to something I had absolutely experienced, especially during strap-on sex. Once I started to actively think about my psychic cock during sex, I started noticing it all the time. Which stands to reason, since people with flesh cis penises don’t just have them while they’re fucking! So I suppose my question is – do you have a definition of “energetic cock”?

TT BAUM: When I use the term “energetic cock” it is related to what you are talking about in feeling the strap-on experience. Believe it or not, all too often cis guys with flesh cocks don’t pay any attention to this at all. It feeds into their unconsciousness and indiscriminate wielding of privilege — but I digress. To answer your question more to the point: When I think of or feel into my energetic cock, it may not have anything to do with where my physical cock lives on my body, or my second chakra, or even to do with sex in the traditional sense. It does however have to do with sexual awareness and erotic energy. When I talk about cock energy, I talk about the part that moves into the world and interacts with other people with empowerment and agency. Sometimes it is forceful; sometimes it is subtle, sometimes erotic, always embodied.

It all stems from experiments I have done with other tantra practitioners in which we explore offering from different points in our bodies. For me one of the most powerful erotic experiences I have had was feeling someone “penetrate” me with her heart. It was quite revolutionary, and made me even more certain that embracing eros in everything we do, whether it’s fucking, going about our day-to-days, or simply interacting with others makes us all better people.

AHDM4U: So it sounds like what we’re talking about is bringing sexual archetypes into our understanding of our own humanity, and also as social creatures. In other words, everything is about sex, but maybe not in the way social critics who claim that the media is oversexed mean that.

TT: Definitely — I believe everything is about sex, and NOT in the way we are typically taught to understand it. Social critics and the media are complicit in perpetuating our mixed up virtue/vice morality around sex. More on that later.

AHDM4U: So how does this concept inform and relate to performance art, and Penetrative Gayze?

TT: As an artist, it is everything. It was not until I embraced the awareness that my creative-artistic energy and my sexual energy were the same thing that I felt my work in the world had any validity at all. Just the fact that we use our bodies as media in our work, and are called to continue doing so makes performance art sexual. The “piece” is actually in the form of a workshop that invites a handful of participants of every shape, size, gender and body to explore their “cock energy.” I called it Penetrative Gayze in keeping with the theme of This Is What I Want 2014, The Gaze. Penetrative because that is literally what you are doing when you are using your cock energy. You are penetrating, injecting, infusing your unique version of your sexuality, and thus your humanity into your situation. I am excited to explore this with a large group of people, partly because awareness of our sex/human presence and using it to communicate is not always well received. It’s tender territory for many of us.

AHDM4U: Is this the first time you’ve done the workshop? Does it have roots in San Francisco’s Tantric and Taoist group the Body Electric?

TT: This is the first time I have done this particular workshop. It stems from my work with BE in the past, as well as other group touch rituals I have facilitated at events in the Bay Area and on the East Coast. The core idea for Penetrative Gayze flourished in conversations that Tessa Wills and I had about our mutual interest in Phallic Image workshops lead by Jack Davis and Keith Hennessey in the ’90s. Those workshops proposed an approach to phallic energy that negotiates and deconstructs the violence that “cocks” symbolize in our culture. The context of this workshop is that it is happening before the evening’s performance of an immersive group theatre piece where 10 female identified artists directed by Wills are making participatory performances with themes of desire and The Gaze. It is a promenade show inside an old porn theater.

AHDM4U: Tell me more about the Phallic Image workshops!

TT: In researching and talking to Jack and Keith about their work in the ’90s I realized that for the most part, opportunities for facilitated conscious erotic exploration faded away in the 21st century. Yes, there are still group play spaces in the Bay Area, but they are not all accessible to people who are unfamiliar with group sexuality. The power of this work was that it invited men, sometimes for initiative experiences with other first timers. I was also fortunate enough to convert old VHS recordings to digital for Jack and Keith and got to watch their work. It inspired me with an even more solid format for Penetrative Gayze, reminded me of the power of group experiences, and gave me a contextual framework that I didn’t have fully formed when I started leading groups a couple years ago.

In the ’90s it was necessity becoming invention that seeded not only Phallic Image but other group healing work like Body Electric, etc. Primarily among the male identified community, their ideas of being sexual and erotic people were being destroyed by HIV/ AIDS. Their identities as men were also threatened. Phallic Image was a response in part to the idea that your dick would get your in trouble, that it was the villain, and as such has always been used as an image of war, plunder, and as you mentioned earlier “colonization.” Penetrative Gayze is just one of a number of explorative workshops I have planned for 2014/2015 and beyond, but it takes the idea of celebrating our cocks and paying attention to how they can be used as a force for good directly from Phallic Image. This time though I was curious to expand the demographic to include the broader “queer” family. My workshop is part of a lineage of important work that helps shift that paradigm I mentioned earlier. This work also speaks to new challenges that we face in the queer community: meth addiction, Internet estrangement, PrEP, new ideas of “safe sex” and so on.

AHDM4U: I would love to hear some of your speculations about how each individual’s complex relationship to masculinity may play out in these exercises. For example, I can envision myself having fun exploring how I can use my penetrative power in a controlled scenario. But I would also be wary of becoming drunk with power. I have observed people harnessing their masculinity and starting to take up more space, feel entitled to space at the expense of others. I don’t feel these are essential aspects of masculinity. But as we all know, rape and patriarchal oppression are the dark corrupt potential of masculinity.

TT: My first thought is: What makes you assume that penetrative power is inherently masculine? For the sake of ease we often see it that way, but I go back to my tantra practice in which we explore variations on what is commonly thought of as masculine and feminine. There is a principle of the “container” and the “inspiration energy,” or tapas and spanda. Tapas is always thought of as masculine, though when we talk about it as a container it’s actually receptive. Spanda is thought of as feminine, but is by its nature penetrative. It can get confusing.

To get back to your query … We are talking about penetrative energy, cock energy in its broadest sense — that which encompasses both feminine and masculine aspects. Without getting too esoteric, we will be exploring our own “power” and what and how we use it or shy away from it; celebrate it or vilify it. Because we are in a closed circle, a contained, facilitated space, it is a great opportunity to let yourself explore as deeply and darkly as you can. Also keep in mind it’s only a four hour workshop. I have been in multi-day workshops where work like this gets VERY intense. I also make sure that in creating the space with the participants we take a good amount of time at the beginning of the day to create group agreements. It instills any limits or boundaries at the group level that we need to have in place to feel safe to explore.

AHDM4U: Sorry/not sorry, but I this has me thinking of Willow on Buffy the Vampire Slayer becoming more and more powerful and skilled with her magic. Drug allegories ensue. Then tragedy causes her to snap and loose control of her humanity. She murders people and almost destroys the world!

TT: Have you ever thought about Willow in that sense as the goddess Kali? Beginning her rampage from a place of finding her limit with everything she sees wrong with the world around her? In the end Kali’s power is unstoppable and DOES in fact destroy the world, but only so that a cleaner version can be reborn. Hmm.

AHDM4U: Here’s one way to put it: how do we condition our energetic cocks not to be colonizing cocks?

TT: I can’t answer that, as that is part of the experiment in this workshop. That is a big question! We may only scratch the surface of consent versus colonization.

AHDM4U: How does one consent to be penetrated energetically?

TT: Well, in my experience it is much like consenting to being penetrated physically, (which also may happen here.) We are going to do some negotiation exercises.

AHDM4U: What are some great ways to use your energetic cock in the “real world” i.e., not in a controlled art environment?

TT: You can use your energetic cock anywhere: making plans for a date, ordering your food at a restaurant, at a job interview. Again it’s about empowerment, agency, awareness. When you use your energetic cock, or move from your “power place,” wherever that may be in your body, without shame or guilt for having that self- awareness, other people respond to you differently. It’s a fun experiment in the “real world” and I hope that the participants can take a little of it with them when they go.

AHDM4U: How do you know you have an energetic boner?

TT: Think about energy. It feels similar but different than physical, nervous system sensation. For example: I know I have a big “heart cock” – when that part of me is aroused (oftener than not) I “feel” bigger in that space. I have more capacity to love. I inject and infuse situations and people with good will. (HUH, I think I might be heart-priapic).

Anyway — you can definitely feel that energy boner. If we were talking right now I would guide you through a meditation to get you in touch with yours.

AHDM4U: How do you know you’re having an energetic orgasm?

TT: Energetic orgasm!? Now those feel similar, even the same as a “regular” orgasm. Because orgasms are inherently about energy. Our sexual energy and our creative energy/life force are the same thing. Life does not just happen, it’s infused.

leatherjacketABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tina Horn is a writer, macho slut and true karaoke believer. Her latest project is producing and hosting the sexuality podcast “Why Are People Into That?!”.  Lately, she has been Vice’s ambassador to American sexual underground. She has won two Feminist Porn Awards, and once sold a golden dildo to Beyonce. Follow her ass.

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