VIP Interview With Somraj Pokras Co-Director Of Tantra At Tahoe And Author

Tantra teacher

Somraj Pokras is a Tantra teacher who works alongside Jeffre TallTrees at the Academy of Supreme Bliss Tantra from Tantra at Tahoe. Supreme Bliss Tantra is a carefully constructed brand of Tantra which focuses on the oldest living spiritual disciplines. Tantra is unique when compared with other organisations since it can be full customised to each individual, so people are able to follow Tantra with a wide range of approaches. This means that they are able to use Tantra in such a way that it is best suited to their individual lifestyles so that they are able to find out what best works for them.  The common themes that Tantra includes is:

Supreme Bliss Tantra combines all of these core philosophies to assist people with western background to be able to follow. It uses sexual and orgasmic energy to form a deep level of expanded consciousness which will:

Tantra At Tahoe have developed eBooks, teleseminars, workshops and coaching sessions. This is a VIP Interview with Somraj Pokras co-director of Tantra At Tahoe. Somraj is also the author of over 10 books including Female Ejaculation, Male Multiple Orgasm, Long Hot Tantric Love Making and Supreme Bliss Tantra Guide to the Ecstasy of Spiritual Sex.

Tantra books
Image: Male Multiple Orgasm and Female Ejaculation books

Tell me about yourself

Somraj Pokras co-director of Tantra At Tahoe, author of 10 Tantric Sex books, sexologist, author, blogger and trainer.

What inspired you to become a sex educator, sexologist and a Tantra expert?

I always had a strong sex drive but little understanding of how it really works. When I met my wife she was studying Tantra so we did a yearlong program together.  It transformed our sex lives individually and collectively so thoroughly that we started teaching others to follow a similar path.

What inspires you?

Books, articles, music for sure.  But even more so from applying consciousness and mindfulness to sexual encounters. My central interest is the anatomy and dynamics of sexual energy. So after we make love we talk and analyze what happened.

How has Tantra developed from Buddhist and Hindu teachings?

Not very accurate. Tantra came first as a grassroots rebellion against these and other organized religions. The earliest Tantra writings created a path to enlightenment without dogma or intermediaries like priests or holy men.

Why is Tantra important to Buddhism and Hinduism?

Buddhism and Hinduism aren’t anywhere near as sex-positive as Tantra has always been. In contrast Tantra doesn’t separate sex and spirit. Though it wasn’t originally a sexual practice, it advocates the awareness and application of the physical, especially lifeforce energy, to spiritual growth. That’s so different from modern religions that in the West it’s become identified with sacred sexuality.

What is the difference between Tantric sex and regular sex?

First, Tantric lovers treat their beloved as a reflection of the divine. A god or goddess. Next, love making happens in a sacred space with ritual practices like meditation, eyegazing, and intentionally calling in desired energies. Tantric sex is more conscious, more communication, more cooperation instead of male dominated. It’s longer because it’s focused on heightening sexual energy and amassing more pleasure instead of the goal of orgasms. Tantric lovers have multiple orgasms, many of them energy based instead of purely physical and triggered by more of the 31 erogenous zones than average lovers contact. When Tantric lovers choose to climax, women usually come first and many times. Many say it’s slower which is true at times. But Tantric sex is changeable, sometimes slow, sometimes fast, and often interrupted by application of hands and mouths.

How can people experience the best orgasms with Tantra?

By taking time, building energy together, targeting erogenous zones, and synchronizing their motions to reach a series of pleasure peaks, first alternately and eventually together.

What are the best Tantric sex positions?

The classic position is yab-yum, with her on his lap with her legs wrapped around his hips. The name means mother father because it depicts the Tantric creation myth, far removed from Adam and Eve. The Tantric view is that the divine beings Shiva and a Shakti create the world by making love in this position. Their secretions overflowed and solidified into the physical  universe. But to ask the question actually shows confusion with Tantra which rarely specifies postures and the Kama Sutra which has a chapter focusing on sex positions.

What can people do every day to experience Tantra?

Become more aware of their bodies, its sensations, its energies. They can do this my meditating before and during sex, practicing relaxation, and breathing more consciously.

Tell me about your product range?

We offer Tantric sex ebooks, long-distance coaching, and live private workshops. We have hundreds of free articles on our website and a steady feed of sexual news, techniques, and discoveries on our blog. Our latest ebook is Long Hot Tantric Love Making available at Tahtra At Tahoe.

Sexpert is our resident full time sex blogger. Having successfully owned and managed a number of blogs relating to women’s lifestyle, she easily blended into her role as chief blogger of the Adultsmart Blog. She is in a long term relationship with her boyfriend. She also runs Good Girl Guide, a sexual lifestyle blog.

VIP Interview With Dr. Michael Picucci Co-founder Of The Focalizing Institute & NYC LGBT Community Center

Holistic psychologist

Sexual Healing As Medicine

Dr. Michael Picucci is an award winning holistic psychologist who has over 30 years of professional experience and expert knowledge with an approach that incorporates the mind and the body as a whole. He looks at each individual or couple and tailors the session to fit their personal needs. Dr. Michael Picucci offers online therapy services and you can find him in New York City and Ulster County, N.Y. at his private practice. Online therapy is a great option for people who would like to receive services from the comfort of their own home.

Michael Picucci offers services to people of all sexualities. When Dr. Picucci established his practice in 1988 in New York City; he was one of the very first psychotherapists who practiced openly as a gay man. With a client base comprising of 50% of people from the LGBTQIA+ community and 50% of people who identify as heterosexual. Michael has seen and been an integral part of raising awareness of sexuality within the community.

Dr. Michael Picucci is well known for having a wide range of services including:

  • Intimacy Therapy: Intimacy facilitation which looks into sexual lifestyle and intimacy problems. Intimacy therapy works towards building a long lasting relationship with a loving and trusting connection and with our selves.
  • Couples Therapy: Couples therapy and conflict resolution in an organic process that is unlike traditional therapy. It focuses on the idea that there is no right or wrong. It transforms the dynamics of a relationship and rebuilds it anew.
  • Emotional Issues: Managing the emotional issues brought on by feeling trapped within a situation like being stuck in a sexual rut or traumas of all kinds including sexual.
  • Life Changing Resolutions: Supporting life changing resolutions for people who are healing from trauma and other inner conflicts.

Dr. Michael Picucci has a remarkable list of accomplishments including:

  • Received the 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards for Co-Authoring Focalizing Dynamic Links: A Human Technology For Collectively Engaging Source Energy & Creating A Better Future at The Harvard Club.
  • Honoured by the Villa Veritas Foundation for his dedication in Nurturing Dreams Into Reality.
  • Honoured as the Unsung Hero at the Caron Foundation.
  • Received the President’s Award at the New York State Counselor Association.
  • Received the Outstanding Leadership in Research Award from National Institutes on Health and the National Association of Professional Addiction Counselors.
  • Co-founder of NYC Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Community Center which is one of America’s largest LGBTQIA+ centers.
  • Co-founder of the Focalizing Institute.

This is a VIP interview with Dr. Michael Picucci a holistic psychologist. This VIP Interview looks into how intimacy, sex and sexuality problems develop within a person or in a relationship and how people can work towards resolving them with a holistic approach which may entail counselling, psychology and psychotherapy. The interview also talks about newer methods that can bring couples together like Focalizing, tantra and massage.

Tell me about yourself

My path was mostly a personal one. My history since birth has been one that some might call tragic. I was raised in an exceptionally troubled household where from a very young age I experienced abandonment and volatility on many levels. This culminated in my mother leaving the family and my brothers and I being raised by my enraged father. In my 20s and early 30s I was abusing substances and required rehabilitation to keep going. When the 80s came I was thrust into the cauldron of the AIDS epidemic in New York City. As a gay man living in the city, I attended funerals for friends on a weekly basis for extended periods time. And within that same decade I survived two near death bouts of cancer.

I say all this because somehow I found my way through. And what I’ve found on the other side is a life I could have never imagined when I was a young boy who grew up in blue-collar areas of Long Island. I’m truly blessed to be able serve people and live this life.

The Focalizing process that I use with clients has its roots in the 1990s.  Already a therapist, I had an epiphany healing through an exposure to one of the somatic (body oriented) therapies. I was so impressed and excited that it led me through a double-decade of studying all of the different body and energy healing approaches available to me. I even did my doctorate in this study. This study and fieldwork was honored by the National Institutes on Health (NIH) with the Outstanding Leadership in Research award in the year 2000.

A dear old friend from the 60’s world recently referred to a photo with my partner Elias Guerrero, M.D. as ‘two crazy dudes.’ I loved Anne’s description. I’ve learned to celebrate all dimensions of myself. I’m gifted to know that I/we are made of similar energy patterns physically manifesting in some larger interconnected universe. This gift allows me, better than most, to be aware that there is an intelligence that comes through this energy and how to befriend it and effectively work with it. This is how I negotiate my physical life by having a body sense that is superior to my typical logical mind.

The latter (logical mind) being a wonderful executor of ideas that comes from my body and mind. Our logical minds help execute the ideas, yet it has severe limitations that we’ve been conditioned to avoid. The logical mind knows nothing of love, feelings, and nuance and is a recorder of the often worse information, often outdated and wrong. Further limiting is that it can only perceive possibilities in a linear binary ‘either-or’ fashion. Often seeming to enjoy itself in arguing and creating anxiety within us. It also has no sense of the future. Conversely the body/heart intelligence speaks in ‘yes-ands’, with much nuance and an inner sense of our best turn, and next choice. To know me I must share that I live much of my time in a different yet very allied part of the stratosphere (what could be seen as the crazy dude part of me), so when asked to talk about myself it makes more sense if you know more about me, how I perceive our world and lives.

What inspired you to become a psychologist and a therapist in New York City?

Like many, the inspiration came from my own first therapist yet the ‘desire to help’ had already been innate looking for a way to express itself. This was one tiny step of this journey. By nature the process of healing totally inspires me to the point that it seems like I have no real sense of time.

I see myself as a NYC seasoned psychologist, therapist and healer with a thirty-year old private practice, an author and a teacher of what I have learned. I have books, honors and the respect of my friends, colleagues and clients. Wow, how did that happen? Next year memoir titled The Blue Collar Healer will be published.

Dad was a butcher and I was even a policeman for six years. Those are some of my roots and I’ve got learning deficiencies to show for the early years. Thank the heavens for the many great editors who have helped me. My profession and my life are inseparable and I like this. I also retain a private life with refuge from dancing with all of life.

 

What inspires you?

When you ask what inspires me, I don’t know where to start. You inspire me for soliciting my transmission of my story. Anyone who experiences love and beauty inspires me. My life-partner of 26 years inspires me. The beauty he creates with food, plants, and esoteric grounding and wisdom inspires. Healing and awakening the creative spirit with in us inspires most greatly.

Years ago Scott Peck wrote The Road Less Travelled, it was on the New York Times bestseller list for over ten years. On the first page of the book, in the 1st sentence, which was a stand-alone paragraph, he wrote, “Life is difficult”. The rest of the book demonstrates that until we consent to this basic truth, happiness and contentment will elude us. He also included some wonderful wisdom defining adult love. I was inspired by his writing and influenced by all that followed.

I am most inspired by helping others. It is so affirming, and an honor, to teach people how to free up their innate energy and intelligence. I am often amazed by the ways in which these clients actualize this energy in the physical world. They always find more contentment, joy and connection with others and the world around them. This is astounding to watch. Just read some of their stories on my website, www.michaelpicucci.com. I also love to teach Focalizing to groups and therapists at the Focalizing Institute.

What type of problems with intimacy, sex and sexuality do you find people struggle with the most?

Regarding challenges with intimacy and sex, most have to do with what my European colleagues and me refer to as ‘the polarity stage’ of any ongoing romantic relationship. Unfortunately most of us are not aware that after bonding occurs in such a relationship, invisible body sensations begin to surface from hurtful and betrayed earlier experiences (often from the early years) and with great clumsiness, they begin to contaminate the communication and connectivity. Without realizing it we unconsciously fall into self-created similar hurtful patterns that have been left unhealed. Today healing resolution is possible.

Another problem often expressed is what I refer to as interior sexual barriers that hold people back from many dimensions of experiencing full loving connections and alive, primal sexuality. The resolutions are the same for both or all parties who are motivated to move to a better place together; this new place I call The Power of Two.

There is a palpable energy that comes from authentically aligning their energies sans, hierogamy, that exudes the loveliest energetic expressions and they sense it in their own bones and others sense it also. I love that I have clients who now are seeking understanding and resolution early on in their relationships. It can be a healing opportunity for tending to those wounds.

Usually, some variations of such divisive dynamics will follow us into any loving relationship. Until we disarm the conditioned thinking inherent in our own version of the Polarity Stage, new freer experiences will elude you. Simple and effective methods that can help this process include Focalizing and Tantra.

In this new human technology we reframe the meaning of sex to transcend conditioned thinking. A branding of this experience is Soul Energy eXchange (S.E.X.). S.E.X. can transport you to creative and communal primitive and tender healthy eroticism. If we drop our old concepts of sex (whatever they were) we can explore soulful experiences (even in one-time encounters). I learned a lot about the collective energetic experience of the lingam/yoni (often considered male/female) vortexes within – we double the pleasure. In sexual healing my experience is governed learning that the soulful energy (inner stir) is very different contextually from much of our outdated conditioned thinking.

Can people seek intimacy facilitation to help them with sexual problems?

Yes, if you have two motivated partners. Also many suffer with what they perceive as unwanted or unacceptable (or unlawful) fantasies. A new exploration of theses is extremely expansive and welcomes fuller connection with others. Self-loving (pleasuring) Eros can also be quite liberating

Is Tantra the main method that helps solve intimacy issues?

Tantra is one great technology that helps us human beings remember who we are and also shifts the concept of sex, in a similar way to Focalizing.

What is the importance of looking at your sexual experiences of the past?

None, except reference points with no shame or blame. Yes, we all have histories, some like mine, feeling not a moment’s experience of loving connections as a young person. No judgment, no shame, only right here, right now access to that innate intelligence and it’s direct line (through our old brain) to be able to resolve historic traumas that effect you every day and live in your body. These are physiological barriers out of our conscious control, and they can be resolved in the here and now.

Can two people gain a feeling of transcendence, which brings them to a higher level of consciousness?

YES, that’s what it’s all about. Once this is experienced, there is no going back. It is natural and our body and being are nourished by it.

How would you suggest people become involved with sexual healing?

This website is a good place to start. Research and follow what calls them to the next unimaginable ‘place’ that helps them to feel better all the time. It might be Tantra, Focalizing, or any other method that shares the same healing intention. I encourage people to explore and then follow their ‘inner compass’ as what would work best for them at this time.

You co-founded NYC Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Community Center. It is one of America’s first and largest LGBTQIA+ centers that offers a large range of services and information. You have had an amazing impact on so many people’s lives, what important moments have you been a part of or have seen?

I have been blessed (some might say cursed) by having my own form of an extraordinary life. I also was born on the cusp of the baby boom. This meant anything edgy I explored I soon discovered, that a huge tribe would be smoking pot or whatever after school. This is also true with sex.

One of the many waves of changing collective energies was being part of co-founding the NYC Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Community Center. Coming from a time when love for another same sex person was thought to be a mental illness. We sensed that something and/or someplace was required so none of us ever have to hide ourselves (unless desired). I could never explain what it was like riding the edge of gay/sexual liberation.

Organically, a group of us gathered and created the intention of buying an old abandoned high school from NYC. Around 1980, we quickly gathered the down-payment of $200,000 by inviting ourselves and friends to donate $2000 each. The story of the center is very long and fascinating.

What is enduring is that I will always get a good, warm feeling in my heart with any reference to the Center. There was so much healing going on there every minute of the day, and that continues. A crushed segment of our population found a place where they were welcomed and tended to. I’m not sure if anything will ever move me, or affirm me more than being a small part of that sanctuary existing, and it being a world model whenever called upon. Wow, was I part of that? It is both humbling and affirming. I was a happy crazy dude.

I’ve been astonished that with my background, life experiences and learning disabilities that such a wonder could occur. I do believe in miracles!

New York LGBRQIA+ community centre
Image: NYC Pride Centre

What would you say to people who are currently struggling with their sexuality?

Get help – the tools do not exist within our selves to help resolve your suffering. Find seasoned guides to help light the new path ahead. Google me, or a few words in this interview, and see if any of the offerings call to you.

Sexpert is our resident full time sex blogger. Having successfully owned and managed a number of blogs relating to women’s lifestyle, she easily blended into her role as chief blogger of the Adultsmart Blog. She is in a long term relationship with her boyfriend. She also runs Good Girl Guide, a sexual lifestyle blog.

VIP Interview With Simon Rose Owner, Creative Director And Co-founder Of Libidex

Founder of Libidex

Libidex are at the forefront of creating latex clothing for the BDSM and fetish community who make all their products to order including their new hard and heavy ranges. There clothes are also used by Instagram lovers and latex enthusiasts. The popularity of their products surged with Libidex extending their products from men’s and women’s clothing to also include grading levels of hard and heavy 1, 2 and 3. Their products include all the different types of latex and rubber wear that you could ever think from bondage hoods, bedding restraints, fully body suits and dresses just to name a few! They are amazing pieces clothing that can be used for bondage roleplay! This is a VIP Interview with Simon Rose owner, creative director and co-founder of Libidex.

Tell me about yourself?

I am Simon Rose, Libidex owner and creative director and co-founder. I have a Psychology degree from Lancaster University. I am an avid reader, world traveler and latex fashion trendsetter.

What inspired the creation of Libidex?

In 1994 I was working with English latex designer pioneer Helen Saffery at Libidex in London. The label was still in its infancy and earlier on I spotted a huge opportunity to take Libidex to the next level making it the fetish powerhouse that it is today.

My inspiration came from the idea of offering customers, both fetish and fashion latex clothes in one place.

What are your proudest moments from working at Libidex?

From gluing my first suspender belt in 1990 to the present day, Libidex has had to overcome a huge number of challenges and obstacles. Every collection photographed and each of our fashion shows are always memorable moments. The fact that we are still here, bigger and better and appreciated by rubberists the world over, over 25 years later is what gets me out of bed with a smile on my face.

BDSM latex bed restraint
Image: Vac Bed

What inspires your designs?

I have many different sources of inspiration, from classic literature, to films, music, art, period costumes and contemporary fashion.

The fetish scene in Europe and its many clubs and events is an endless font of inspiration. Seeing what people are wearing is a fun and fabulous way to come up with new designs and ideas.

BDSM latex hood
Image: Inhale Hood

 

Tell me about your product range?

Libidex offers a huge variety of styles. From full enclosure catsuits and full face hoods for the hardcore fetishist to a classic pair of jeans and a t shirt. We have over thousand items available on our website. We recently launched our hard and heavy collection which is a sex and play range, it’s mainly male and unisex at the moment, but we plan to add lots of female products soon. The range also includes inflatables and bondage latex gear. We are constantly bringing out new collections and we are in the process of shooting our new male fashion range.

What materials do you use?

We use natural Latex from Malaysia considered the best source in the world. In 2004 we’ve launched our own latex sheeting company – Radical Rubber. Owning our own latex sheeting business meant we could create some amazing new colours such as our Metallic range.

On the Libidex websites there are different levels of wear from Hard and Heavy Level 1 & 2 to Hard And Heavy Level 3, with the more constrictive items that restrain the body from movement and other senses like sight, touch and sound – How does wearing these products make someone feel? Why do people enjoy being fully restrained?

Latex is like a second skin, it reveals all the contours of someone’s natural shape, whatever it is that turns you on, be it a smooth muscled body, a curvaceous or slender being, latex will accentuate your favourite curves and enhance your sexual experience.

I believe the psychology behind people’s desire of being fully encased and restrained, is basically that in everyday life they tend to be always in control and the idea of complete sexual surrender is a very powerful, complex and fascinating concept that they feel drawn to. To completely and utterly lose all control is very intoxicating.

What was your first introduction to latex wear?

Probably a pack of 3 at my local pharmacy aged 16. Just joking. I grew up in a military family and from birth I was surrounded by uniforms, rubberised chemical warfare suits and gas masks (one of my favourite bondage toys). When I first started working for Libidex, I was club at kid at heart and one of the first latex costumes I’ve made was a Clockwork orange inspired straitjacket and cycling shorts in black and white which I wore with my Dr Martins and a bowler hat.

What products would you recommend to someone beginning to use Libidex products?

As an introduction piece I would recommend a dress or jeans and top. For the slightly more adventurous a classic tight-fitting catsuit.  The former are easy to get into but the latter not so, but worth the struggle.

Fully body catsuit
Image: Credit @kink_engineer @frenzy_red

What are your best sellers?

Our best sellers are our catsuits, full face hoods, stockings, gloves as well as fashion essentials like dresses, tops, jeans and t-shirts.

Sexpert is our resident full time sex blogger. Having successfully owned and managed a number of blogs relating to women’s lifestyle, she easily blended into her role as chief blogger of the Adultsmart Blog. She is in a long term relationship with her boyfriend. She also runs Good Girl Guide, a sexual lifestyle blog.

VIP Interview With Lola D Houston CEO And Founder Of Live A True Life

Sexuality coach, counselor, educatior and workshop leader

Lola D Houston is an inspirational sexual lifestyle coach who offers fully personalised teaching, workshops and counselling services to individuals and couples. Lola D Houston helps individuals and couples find deeper meaning through the personal development of self-awareness, love, empathy and compassion. Lola is one of the very first sexual lifestyle coaches in the community who openly identifies as a transwoman. Her teachings allow us an insight into how people can develop the skillset to understand who they are and what they want as an individual.  Lola truly believes you can:

  • Unlock your power of no
  • Give and receive with a willing heart
  • Learn consent as agreement
  • Deepen your relationships and love

This is a VIP Interview with Lola D Houston the CEO and founder of Live A True Life. It is a truly inspirational read that speaks in depth about the importance of saying “no”. Lola D Houston’s looks into consent as a form of agreement, alongside the differences between the answers of okay, no and hell yes!  Consent is an important topics to talk about to raise awareness alongside the community speaking up about sexual harassment and assault cases especially with it reaching an all time high in the media. This VIP interview also looks into how to say no without feeling guilt or ashamed and how and why people can speak up about sexual assault and harassment in a safe environment.

 

Sex and relationship coach
Image: Lola D Houston

Tell me about yourself

I’m Lola D Houston, and I am the sole force in my little enterprise, Live A True Life.  I’ve been a teacher for almost 20 years, and for the past 15, have focused on adult audiences in relationships, sex and sexuality, gender, BDSM, touch and consent.  My focus is strongly on consent these days, and my client model draws upon the wheel of consent as a central approach.  At present, I work with individuals, couples and groups (including larger companies and institutions).  At the individual and couples level, I’m a coach and counselor in the broad areas of relationships, sexuality and gender.  With groups and organizations, I offer workshops, education and training in the subjects of language, appropriate behavior, attitude, gender and consent.

What inspired you to develop coaching, counseling, education and training at Live A True Life?

My first “moment” was during a 6 day training in Urban Tantra.  I was teaching a lot of workshops at that point in time, and was actually paid for some of those (gasp!) and they involved sex.  When the time came to share our work, I shared this to the small group, and they replied with:

“So, you’re a sex worker?”

Stop! Think! That flash of recognition when I said to myself

“Yes… I … guess I am!”

That moment, in conjunction with the mission statements we developed, led me to recognize for the first time that I loved that kind of work, loved opening hearts and minds and eyes.  The next major moment was a sequence of events: a beloved partner was raped, and I went to New York City for a training in the wheel of consent.  It was a deep and powerful experience, and clarified what I really loved doing, what I was good at, and really wanted to do.  It took many more years to move from concept to something I am actually doing, and not just thinking about doing.

What inspires you?

Openness in mind, strong value systems (I fell in love with a partner and only a year later realized I’d fallen in love with their values), really good cooking (I do that, so I’m picky!), clear, strong touch, and impeccability of words.  I’m deeply inspired by music (many different genres) on many levels, and also by the outdoors, particularly really big mountains.

What is consent?

Consent is complicated!  The etymology of the term is a problem for me: consent has meant, and still does mean for most people, the idea of permission. “I consent to have you till this soil” It essentially has one person giving their blessing (permission) to another to do, have or hold something.  As a result, the “permission” definition has taken root and only recently have we begun to be see consent as much more than that.  This older form of consent also carries a lot of implicit meaning, including materiality and property ownership – a large problem in many societies today!

Can consent be a form of an agreement?

To me, consent is, at its core, agreement.  This is also very complex, because it is agreement borne from an iteration or exchange by both parties.  Both sides actively participate, both sides actively negotiate, and ultimately both sides have total freedom to choose, and thus to accept.  A vital part of this process is the ability to really get the idea of “yes” and “no”, to be able to say yes and no and know that one means it, that it can be fully trusted .  And this yes and no is tied to “okay”, the place where nearly everyone lives the majority of their life.  “Okay” is a fraught position.  Does it mean “yes”?  Does it mean “no”?  If the three terms – yes, no and okay – are put on a line with yes on the far left and no the far right, then “okay” occupies the entire vast distance between them.  How far into “yes” does someone’s “okay” lean?  How far into “no”?  Where exactly is that line between “okay” and “yes” or “no”?

Thus, really learning consent is step-wise process.  We must first understand “yes” and “no”, and to do that, we have to know what it is we want (itself a frequently difficult question for which we may not have an answer). To get this, learning what giving and receiving really mean is key.  Once understood (and it’s most powerful resonance is in the body, not the brain) then we can approach “yes” and “no” because now we can begin to articulate not only what we do want but what we do not want and stick to that answer.  The result: we can trust the yes and no of the other (a partner or spouse) and then feel good about the actions of giving and receiving that might follow.  Consent, when looked at this way, is a pretty straightforward process but one that takes some really hard work to understand and put into practice.  To be clear, then:

Consent, at least in the realm of sex, relationships, touch, play, kink and many other forms of interpersonal interaction can only be agreement.

What is the power of “No”?

This is a recent “aha” for me in work with clients, even though I’ve known about it for a long time.  What the power of “no” means is that the person who can really, truly, deeply assert and own their “no” experiences a powerful kind of freedom. This is the result of both learning to say “no” clearly and recognizing it’s mirror: “yes”.  When we learn to say no to someone, we’re also mindful that it might hurt or be uncomfortable for that other person. Who wants to disappoint a lover? It’s important to notice that “no” becomes a little easier as the social distance between the two people increases: a server in a restaurant that you are in, for example, is unlikely to be offended if, when they ask “would you like wine with your dinner?”, you answer “no”.  We don’t (usually) know the server, so there’s no personal connection or stake beyond basic human respect.  Move a bit closer socially and it changes: you’re at a social dance, and someone you know asks you to dance.  A “no” here is, of course, fine to give as a response, but one might well pause before giving it, thinking that perhaps this person would be a bit hurt if you said “no”.  Do we move on and dance again or struggle with an answer?  Moving still closer, a lover asks if you’d like to go out on Saturday night.  A “no” here could very well be uncomfortable depending on the circumstances, so we often move to “okay” even if we want to say “no”.  Learning that we can say “no” to those we know and love frees us.  It also gifts us with the ability to say a clear “yes”, and when both people understand this dynamic, that “yes” is really, really sweet.

When can people say “No”?

The answer is whenever they want to.  It’s a matter of choice.  Of course, there’s almost always more involved: social context, necessity, personal loss or gain. Perhaps more important is whether or not we say “okay” when we want to say “no”.  To help resolve these kinds of feelings, it can be really helpful to ask this simple question: who is it for?  When we truly know who it’s for, then the “okay” can make an appearance as a result of a full, open and willing heart.  And, similarly, knowing who it’s for can often lead us to feel stronger and safer in saying “no”.

What happens when someone wants to change their mind?

Changing one’s mind is an integral part of the whole “yes” and “no” process.  If we can’t ever change our mind on something we choose, we’re either going to be very, very careful about saying anything at all, or we’re going to live a life with a lot of regrets.  And, changing your mind really works well when the yes and no is crystal clear and trustworthy.

In some cases people are made to feel guilty or ashamed for saying “No”.

How can people place up boundaries without feeling guilty or ashamed by the other person’s negative response?

Part of the problem here is that saying “no” is often taken as a personal slight, and as a result, most of us are deeply conditioned to avoid it: don’t hurt other peoples feelings!  It’s not a matter of establishing a boundary in the usual sense. The “boundary” we need to set here is internal to us in our choice TO make a choice and say “no” if that’s what we want to say.  It means we need to understand and honor our own limits.  Learning to not avoid difficult feelings is part of getting to and embracing the power of “no”.  And it is something we all CAN learn to do and embrace.  Sometimes the person receiving the “no” is going to have a negative response.  If that response is personal (as in “something is wrong with you”), the question we might then ask is whether or not this person is someone we even want to deal with (or be in a relationship with).  Some situations may not be under our control: saying “no” to a supervisor is its own challenge.  But in the context of interpersonal relationships, particularly intimate relationships, “no” should not leave us feeling shame or guilt.  If it does, we might well wonder how (or even if) we want to be in a relationship with that individual.  Part of the challenge here is that, in the ideal situation, both sides fully grasp this power of no to start with.  Both sides need to “know the rules”, so to speak, and understand that the “no” that is heard is not personal.

How can people speak about sexual assault and harassment in a safe environment?

This is a very context dependent situation.  I’d say that nearly all work environments would require the help of a human resources person to navigate a response.  Not all companies have that, and not all companies have clear guidance around sexual harassment and sexual assault.  It’s important that, as workers, we have some knowledge of, or at least know how to discover, the underlying legal framework that might help us.  Assault is more likely to be codified in case law and thus may be easier to navigate.  Harassment, on the other hand, is not so clear cut, and might require many more steps.

In other contexts – relationships, friendships, family – speaking up is vital and can be very difficult to do.  One good first step is finding a neutral third party – a close friend, a well-known acquaintance, a clergy member – all of these might be good listeners.  If you are seeing a therapist, that’s another avenue.  A doctor may or may not work well.  Some of that depends a bit on the nature of the violation – some professionals are mandatory reporters and might feel obligated to defend you in a different way that could be uncomfortable.  It’s also important to distinguish between harassment and assault.   Assault constitutes the “marquee event” – more easily framed in a legal context when a line is crossed, although it’s important to recognize that even with legal protections, there are no guarantees that resolution can be found.  Harassment, on the other hand, is that constant drumbeat of “paper cuts” – actions and behaviors that take place every day.  Speaking up here can be a very challenging process.

Why should people speak up about sexual assault or harassment that they have experienced?

First and foremost: speaking up might help us to preserve our own sanity.  It’s also a key part of recovery from any trauma – say it, name it, don’t hide it and then we can move through it.  In addition, the more we speak up about it, the more we help others find the courage to say something. And, the more we offer up our own experience as a model for being strong and acting in a responsible manner, the more likely someone else is to feel a little safer in saying something.  This is not to suggest in any way that one is not being responsible by not speaking up – it’s a VERY personal matter, and is so often extremely painful.  We must always choose the course that is best for us in that instance and not feel guilt. There is no single solution.

What services do you provide?

I offer coaching and counseling in the areas of relationships, sex and sexuality, gender, consent, touch and play to individuals and couples.  I also offer training, workshops and education for groups, organizations and companies that are trying to better manage the workplace environment and foster a deeper understanding and appreciation for safety, respect and the ability to be truly open and welcoming to everyone.

Sexpert is our resident full time sex blogger. Having successfully owned and managed a number of blogs relating to women’s lifestyle, she easily blended into her role as chief blogger of the Adultsmart Blog. She is in a long term relationship with her boyfriend. She also runs Good Girl Guide, a sexual lifestyle blog.

Empire’s Sexiest ALL Girl Party Of The Year

Masquerade woman

My favorite time of the year is next month and in this article, I’ll be telling you all about the event I’ll be heading to after the main event.

2018 marks the 40th anniversary of the Mardi Gras parade and at the end of 2017 Australia finally caught up with the rest of the world with gay marriage finally being legalized which means this year’s event is going to be a huge one that you will not want to miss out on!

Make sure to get to Oxford Street, Sydney early to ensure you have a good spot because usually the street is packed full of people hours before the parade even starts. Best to get a train or bus there and back home as some streets will be closed and the ones that aren’t are a lot busier than usual. Bring your friends and family and have an amazing time!

Now about the after party, I’ll be heading to after the parade is over….

Empire Sydney is one of the newer lesbian events, it happens once a month at the Hudson Ballroom on Liverpool Street in the city. They have been around for about 7 months now and every month it just gets better and better which means their Mardi Gras event is going to be massive!

Mardi gras party in Sydney
Image: Empire Mardi Gras After Party

Empire Mardi Gras Masquerade

This event is masquerade themed and lucky enough we have just the masks for you here at Oh Zone Adult Lifestyle Centres. Come into any of the three stores located in Penrith, Kogarah or Caringbah and make sure to ask our friendly staff to show you our full range of masks available. Or, if you’re not located anywhere near the stores here is a link to the online sex toy shop fancy dress mask range where you can order one to be delivered to you.

Doors open at 9 pm and unfortunately there is a lockout at 2 am so make sure to get there as early as possible. There is a trusty cloakroom for you to leave your belongings if you can’t be bothered holding them all night and there is also a lost and found area if you’ve misplaced anything during the night. Do not be the person who sees a phone or wallet on the floor and puts it in your back pocket, it’s not the type of club for that dishonest shit.

Everyone that walks into these events is super friendly so be prepared to make plenty of new friends and have a great night. They do not tolerate drunken boy groups that are just there to make the girls feel uncomfortable. If you find that anyone in there is making you feel unsafe, make sure to go straight to the security guards and let them know exactly what is happening so they can fix the situation. I’ve never had a negative experience at Empire and I’ve been to nearly all of them so I’m sure you won’t either so don’t stress about that.

There are plenty of different drinks to choose from at the bar and different DJs all with great different music to dance to all night. It starts with one room at the start of the night and then as more people start walking through the doors the second room opens up. Both rooms have a bathroom and couches with tables for you and your friends to sit down and chill if you need to just chill out for a bit. The smoking area is outside of the venue so just make sure to keep an eye on the time so that you don’t get locked out after 2, the security guards are usually pretty good at reminding how much time you have left when it gets closer to the lockout time but please don’t rely on that.

Important information from Empire to all the single humans who wouldn’t mind going alone but also do secretly want people to go with.

# NO GIRL LEFT BEHIND MISSION

Don’t know anyone to go with? Are all your hetro friends too hetro to support your queer girl clubbing neeeeds? That is OKAY… cause WE GOT YOUR BACK here at EMPIRE. We create groups of 4-6 girls who are in the same situation as you. Then we send all the details on what time you can meet our lovely promoters who will guide you around the club and introduce you to girls alike, make sure you’re feeling comfortable and most of all having fun making new queer gal pals ❤ We know it’s scary exploring the other side, so we just wanna make sure you’re looked after ♥ Message us with the hashtag #NoGirlLeftBehind if you’re interested! Be sure to check out the event on Facebook!

If you are interested in going to this event make sure you and your friends grab tickets as soon as possible before they sell out! Click the link bellow for tickets.

Buy EMPIRE GIRLS MARDI GRAS MASQUERADE tickets, NSW 2018

Buy EMPIRE GIRLS MARDI GRAS MASQUERADE tickets for 2018 at Moshtix. Taking place at Hudson Ballroom on the 3rd of March 2018, you can find more ticket and event information…

They also have another event next month so if you like the sounds of this awesome girls night out and can’t wait until Mardi Gras to check it out, have a look on the Facebook event page for Empire No.7.

On Thursday nights they have an event called Art House and Yeah The Girls at Monkey Magic, Darlinghurst. Art House is at the start of the night where you’ll sit down to have some happy hour drinks and food whilst listening to all the local performers either singing, reading poetry, dancing and more. Yeah The Girls then begins in the back room till late.

THIS IS EMPIRE

EMPIRE is a new QUEER GIRLS event to come to Australia. Being the first ever queer event to bring RnB Hip Hop Rap Bangers Dancehall Swavy and Trap to the LGB… For more ways to party the night away, be sure to check out the top 30 LGBTQIA+ nightclubbing venues and dating apps! There are also many amazing queer venues!

Hope to see you all there! ❤

Author: Elliana is a consultant from Oh Zone Adult Lifestyle Centres

Sexpert is our resident full time sex blogger. Having successfully owned and managed a number of blogs relating to women’s lifestyle, she easily blended into her role as chief blogger of the Adultsmart Blog. She is in a long term relationship with her boyfriend. She also runs Good Girl Guide, a sexual lifestyle blog.

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