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May 24, 2016

Join me at Woodhull in August!

Sexual rights = human rights! Join me at #SFS16 as we work together towards sexual freedom! Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit 

March 7, 2016

thebodpoe Spring 2016 update

The body poetik is an intimacy coaching service as well as a public awareness effort to foster healthy sensuality (whether this includes sexuality or inspired erotic style) for all bodies and orientations. One of my biggest challenges in doing this work in Florida has been a lack of commonly used language.

For instance, the term "sex positive" was coined by the psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich in the last century and it has, in recent decades, been used widely,  across the U.S. to talk about how to have safer sex, how to change the culture of sexual abuse, how to change tired media stereotypes about who is and isn't worthy of sexual attention. It has also been used to describe communities that are welcoming of LGBTQ folks or folks who cannot necessarily access sexuality in the same way as others, such as people with physical or cognitive disabilities. In general, the sex positive school of thought sees sexuality as a natural, human right and seeks to debunk harmful myths and improve sexual health.



So, when I arrived in the Tampa Bay Area in 2014 and started running thebodpoe, I did a Google search for "sex positive Florida" in the hopes of meeting like-minded people. I was so disappointed that only two results showed up on Google--a defunct Facebook group and an outdated news story out of Miami that made just passing mention to the term "sex positive" in reference to South Beach gay clubs. There was tons of info on "kink" and :fetish" parties, and while these lifestyles are part of thesex positive milieu, the sites I found often played up "the dark" or "dangerous" aspect of kink and this gives the wrong idea for people who want healthy alternative sexual lifestyles. I have spoken to friends and colleagues in other states and lamented that I can barely do intimacy coaching here without adequate search engine results for "sex positive". Without local knowledge of the term, many Floridians mistake my work for something threatening, lurid, or find it confusing at best.

Now, just two years later, I'm really thrilled to see SEVERAL Google hits under the search terms "sex positive Florida". From what I can tell, this is largely due to the inception of the Sex Positive Academy (a virtual center of learning and support connected to the University of Central Florida). SPA is based on similar organizations in Seattle and San Francisco.




Also, along local lines, it was really heartening to take part in the Unitarian Universalist OWL training right here in downtown St. Pete, this January. OWL or Our Whole Lives is age-appropriate, ethical education about sexuality for grades K-12. Here is how the UUA describes their curriculum:

Honest, accurate information about sexuality changes lives. It dismantles stereotypes and assumptions, builds self-acceptance and self-esteem, fosters healthy relationships, improves decision making, and has the potential to save lives. For these reasons and more, we are proud to offer Our Whole Lives, a comprehensive, lifespan sexuality education curricula for use in both secular settings and faith communities.
OWL classes can be lead at your church, regardless of denomination, at your school or rec center, at Girl or Boy Scouts groups.  To become trained to teach OWL in your community, go to their trains page here.

Both SPA and OWL are truly progressive developments for the Tampa Bay Area. ones that couldn't come too soon, considering FL. has one of the highest rates of new HIV infections in the U.S.--due to lack of public education and a culture of sexual repression which creates ignorance.

I can't wait to connect with SPA and find out more about what they do! And now that I am a certified OWL facilitator, I look forward to working with Bay Area kids and parents around healthy body-image and early sexual development.









Feminists and Friends Film Series

December 8, 2015

thebodpoe Winter 2015: Sex Positive in ATL, Disability & Desirability, Sexological Bodywork in the News, Polyamory in the Tampa Bay Area

In October, I went to Hotlanta, GA and had an amazing time at the Sex Down South conference.  This gathering of minds and hearts explored policies, practices, ethics, and creative strategies around positive sexuality and body-acceptance in our culture. Sex therapists, alternative healers, porn stars, vendors of sex toys, feminists, experts on spinal cord injury and sex life, burlesque entertainers, academics, people opening up their marriages to ethical non-monogamy, and so many more sorts of folks were there. The focus was on the role of women and female-identified people of color in the sexual health and personal growth professions.  Here is a photo of SDS organizers, Marla Stewart and Tia Marie with keynote Tristan Taormino [photo from their Sex Down South Facebook page]. This was a historical gathering for the South...these types of conferences usually happen on the West Coast. Having the conference in Atlanta was a chance to focus on the mores and traditions that complicate but compliment a sex positive culture in the South. Personally, I have big big love for Marla and Tia and I never wanted to leave the afterparty--watching them on the dance floor,  laughing and crying with relief for having pulled off the event!





Unfortunately, Bethany Stevens was not able to present her talk at SDS due to some health issues. Bethany is a a disability consultant/sex educator that I know from San Francisco. She moved to Atlanta to take a university post.

So, when I returned to Florida, I was eager to get my Bethany fix. Besides catching up on her blog at  cripconfessions.com, I found an interview she did with Anthony Tussler on the Telling Our Disability Stories podcast  There is a part where she explains why she, as a sexologist, she chooses not to focus on the mechanics of sex for disabled people, but instead, on desirability. Here's the quote from a transcript of the interview. Bethany is talking about how she learned to accept her disabled body as a teenager and then develop an erotic self-image.



"And that’s really where I center a lot of my work around sexuality. It’s just looking at those social aspects of sexuality and how the stigma of disability impacts our sexuality, how we’re deemed undesirable and how we need to break that apart. That’s where I spend a lot of my time. I’m not super interested in the mechanics because I really think that’s some of the easier stuff to figure out. You just practice and play and figure it out.But with regard to unpacking internalized ableism, and being able to look at your naked body in a mirror and not hate what you see, because that’s what culture teaches us to believe, I think that requires a lot more work and a lot more conversation."
I've been a bit down on myself for not having more specific knowledge of pulse rate during the orgasmic refractory period and not being able to to recommend which Hitachi vibrator is best for a woman with a tilted cervix. But, once I heard Bethany say "desirability", it hit me--this is also my focus. It is exactly the word I needed to point toward my intentions as an intimacy coach for people with disabilities. It is about building one's own sense of desirability, not just in relation to other's, but in relation to the way one approaches their own life--being a lover unto one's self, the juice and the juju in a daily sensual lifestyle you create for yourself. I have a client with severe cerebral palsy. His current project is to pose nude for a sketch artist. It's not the portrait that will be made, it's not the illicit details of what might happen after he posts online as a nude model, it's not the surprise connections that no one can predict in this project, and its not the rejection or the ignorant assessments he may have thrown his way. It's all these things that contribute to his own self-love, his own sense of his personal desirability that will arise from this erotic project. And, I can't really advise him on any mechanics or logistics for approaching the project. But I can advise him on style, timing, emotional tone, aesthetic details in writing his ad, in taking good self-care as he makes himself vulnerable, in contingency plans for offers gone awry. This stylistic consulting might help him have more delicious outcomes. This is consulting on desirability as it arcs towards intimacy and erotic self-knowledge. With his permission, I'll update you on what happens!

In other news, sexological bodywork (the certification I have through the state of CA) got an interesting plug on Yahoo Health's article about facilitated (sexual assistance) for people with disabilities. While the morality debate over this kind of service rages on among certain groups, the article makes it very clear that these services are gaining international acceptance. The Sessions, a 2012 film starring Helen Hunt, tells a story of disability and sexual assistance based on actual persons and events. The movie was critically acclaimed--however, many people have yet to see it. Here is the trailer.



Oh, and recently I had the pleasure of  discovering the Tampa Bay Area Poly Social Meetup. Group. Tampa has long had an active swingers scene. Swinger lifestyle tends to mean recreational sex-swopping among married couples at parties. It can be fun, but I was looking for polyamorous community.  Poly relationship styles can be broken down in many different ways, but in general, it tends to mean having open relationships in which partners all know and respect one another and work as a kind of family group. Sometimes, it means raising kids together, running a business together, or building a home together. Polyamory is not a religious arrangement, but a social one, for people who no longer feel that monogamy or having just a single committed partner works for them. Poly community has been around for decades, but has not had that strong of a presence in Florida. Admittedly, I had low hopes, afraid that I would meet the Poly Social folks at Panera Bread in Clearwater and that it would feel like just another misnamed prelude to an orgy.  But these folks are well-rounded and legit! They have board game nights, pool parties, camp outs, discussion groups, and more. The emphasis is on friendship and finding community who supports alternative relationships. Check them out if you are curious. No one will tie you up or make you wear a leather corset if that's not your thing!






August 21, 2015

Short film about disability civil rights leaders in San Francisco

SF remains the boom-town of opportunity and culture for people with disabilities. It sounds simplistic...but I think we need to add...more poetry, more accessible, day-to-day language to the disability rights movement, so that the culture in SF can really take hold in other places. Many people watching this video will get the general message, but not really understand the definition of the ADA or the 504 that these activists make reference to. In this way, the cause stays segregated in academic memory. (If you do want to get down to the technicalities of those terms, you can always read up on them at ada.gov.)



This film was made by the Paul K. Longmore Institute at San Francisco State University. Paul was a good friend pf mine who passed away unexpectedly a couple years ago. He was a scholar and a cultural commentator, possessing VHS tapes of over two decades worth of telethons for MS, juvenile arthritis, polio, etc. He was in the process of writing a book about the way the telethon charity model keeps disabled people locked away in a box of spectacle and fairytale. I miss Paul and I wish we had that book!

In celebration of 25 years of the ADA,
thebodpoe

August 19, 2015

the bodpoe, Summer 2015

the body poetik was named for Walt Whitman's  famous "I Sing the Body Electric"
“This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.” 
A great poet of the flesh is Seth Taylor, of Port Charlotte, Florida. He and I have been corresponding for almost two years now, via Facebook. Seth has spastic cerebral palsy. His hands are contracted in to tight fists and his voice is impaired, but he is fluent with his toes. Not only does he type with his toes, he has written a book called The World at My Feet, which roams from the landscape and wildlife along the Myakka Rver, baseball, accessible home design, the way the internet has created a socio-cultural revolution for people with disabilities, to many other subjects. 


Seth lives in a group home, he does not drive, and he is on a low budget like many people with disabilities. Planning took considerable time and effort on his part. I was truly flattered when he chose his birthday, last Sunday, to arrange the two-hour drive to come and see me , to have a body poetik session. 

Afterward, Seth treated me to dinner at The Golden Corral. here he is above, with his personal care attendant, Priscilla.  She was an added bonus to finally getting to work with Seth. Priscilla is a musician and young mom who is planning to enter social work. She was very curious about my background as a social worker turned intimacy coach. We talked on and on. The three of us had a beautiful Sunday together.


To me, meeting new colleagues is just as important as finding great clients. Recently, John Arnaldi reached out to me. He is an intimacy coach in Tampa and he stumbled upon my website when doing a search for other professionals in the field. I was thrilled! This intimacy work can, paradoxically, be so lonely. Many people don't understand what I offer and react with disinterest or negativity. 
John and I met for coffee and it was so validating! I especially appreciate that he is my elder and that he  has worked for 25 years as a mental health counselor in the Tampa area. He is also super familiar with the training and sexperts from California that have shaped my practice, so it was very easy to share experiences with him and compare consulting strategies.

"Mixed orientation relationships are those in which your sexual identity/orientation differs from your partner's. I have a lifetime of personal experience living as a bisexual in a mixed orientation marriage. As a sex and intimacy coach, I help individuals and couples come out from the shadows so they can talk honestly, grow in their understanding of their sexuality, negotiate new ways of being together, and decide if they will continue in relationship together. I also lead support groups in Tampa for men, bisexuals, and mixed orientation couples."


Internal Landscapes and Shadow Stories Workshop - with John Ollom (see Internal Landscapes) and John Arnaldi - $150. Tampa, FL - September 19, 2015 - 10 A.M. to 6 P.M. Register before September 1st for $25 discount.  

Get Naked and Get Moving - a clothing-optional movement class for men with John Ollom - $25. Tampa, FL - September 20, 2015 - 10 A.M. to 11:15 A.M. Plus optional Naked Yoga class for men (additional fee of $15) 11:30 to 12:45. 


Soon, John and I plan to team up to facilitate a Building Sex Positive Community Meet-Up group. If you are interested, be in touch so I can email when we have posted details.




I hope to meet more colleagues like John at the first-ever  Sex Down South Conference in Atlanta, October 15-17. 
"In addition to a diverse range of sexuality based workshops, Sex Down South will offer attendees access to various education stations where participants can learn and practice sexy skills taught by experts, as well as attendance at our one-of-a-kind SEXxATL talks by local Atlanta experts.
The theme of Sex Down South 2015  is Transcending Sex, and will include an in-depth exploration of different tantric practices. With industry experts, keynote speakers and vendors from around the country, the 2015 Sex Down South conference is not to be missed.
Expect over 50 presenters and workshops to choose from including appearances by Sex Celebs including: Devi Ward, Tristan Taormino, Amy Jo Goddard, Lee Harrington, Dr. Ruth Neustifter, and Dr. Tamara Campbell-Griffin!"
 If you are a professional sex-plorer, it is not too late to register, though rates are going up. Or, schedule a consult with me when I return, as I will have plenty of new skills and sensual inspiration to share. 

xoxo, thebodpoe

July 15, 2015

Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit

My friend and colleague, EveLynn Maurine, Awakening Body, an erotic educator and minster out of Orlando, will be presenting at  The 6th annual Summit of the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance. I am not able to attend this year, so she invited me to write a brief history of my work and an update on the Body Poetik's services in Florida. She'll include this is her intensive workshop at the summit. I am so grateful!

If you haven't heard of Woodhull, check it out





 Here is how they describe the yearly event:

"We are at a critical time as the pendulum of social change swings far to the right.  We are going to have to work hard to keep the rights we already have while working to claim those rights not yet recognized.   Our goal at the Summit is to send attendees back to their daily lives with the tools and the inspiration to create the change we want to see in our world. The Sexual Freedom Summit features human rights activists, sexuality educators and researchers, professionals from the legal and medical fields, authors, sexual freedom movement leaders and organizational partners all working toward the time when sexual freedom is fully recognized as a fundamental human right. This Summit is for EVERYONE interested in learning about the issues in the realm of sexual freedom, advancing their current knowledge and in gaining the tools to actually create the change we need to accomplish."
There will be many lectures, classes and planning events. EveLynn's presentation is entitled, 
]


The class description:

"This is an in-depth presentation and discussion designed to bring awareness to expanded therapeutic and somatic approaches to the sexual issues faced by individuals who are sexually challenged due to disability, chronic conditions and the process of aging."




It's very interesting how I got to know EveLynn. 

While I was in San Francisco working as a disability counselor and creative expressions teacher, I decided to change my focus, using the skills and work I was already doing, to empower people to find intimacy and embody healthy sexuality. This, in large part,  was because I attended a workshop lead by Rafe Biggs, founder of Sexability: Transforming Sexuality and Disability

Rate is well known for  retraining (actually redirecting) his erogenous zones after becoming paralyzed (and numb) from the sternum down when he was a young man. He was able to do this by working with a hands-on sex coach.  

Due to my own health issues, I needed to leave San Francisco and move back to Florida. I really despaired, thinking I would never find sexuality community and colleagues in Florida,  folks like Rafe. After many fruitless Google searches, I did find  EveLynn in Orlando and made a kind of leap-of-faith trek via Amtrak (I am visually impaired and don't drive). I took the train from Tampa to Orlando to meet with her. When I got to her home--which is also a gorgeous retreat center with a heated pool, cozy therapy rooms, and snacks--we became fast friends. It turned out she had studied at the same sex institute in San Francisco that i was considering attending. Thanks to her, I went and became certified as a sexological bodyworker. Also, we both knew Rafe! She was working closely with him, long-distance, to develop the aims of Sexability! This seemed like a sign that I was on the right path and it gave me confidence to start advertising as an intimacy coach in Florida!

Always look for coincidences and interconnections! It will lead you somewhere. Oh, and, if you visit Rafe's site and see the sexy-disabled calendar he created to raise funds--yes...yes I did pose topless for the calendar, so be aware of that if you are looking at it with kids!

And, as far as paralysis, numbness or other physical strictures and how to redirect erogenous zones around that...we can definitely consult! Give me a call!