Karen can’t come to the phone now… She’s all tied up.
A raucous live recording of Wild & Sublime’s Chicago stage show, featuring a rope tutorial, music, storytelling, tantra interview, and more. Recorded April 16, 2022, at the Hungry Brain.
Wild & Sublime Podcast Transcript
#S3E15 | April Live Show: Rope, Tantra, and More!
STRANGER: We went to a sex store together, and we bought this little suede flogger. It was black and very cute. And she took me home and she used it on me, and I said, 'Oh, this is kind of nice. I quite enjoyed this. Maybe I'll do a little more of this in my future...' And then we switched and I used it on her, and I went, 'Oh. I see. This -- I've learned some things about myself today.'
KAREN YATES: Welcome to Wild & Sublime, a sexy spin on infotainment®, no matter your preferences, orientation, or relationship style, based on the popular live Chicago show. I chat about sex and relationships with citizens from the world of sex positivity. You'll hear meaningful conversations, dialogues that go deeper, and information that can help you become more free in your sexual expression. I'm sex educator and intimacy coach Karen Yates. Today, you'll hear our April 16 live show in Chicago. Learn about rope as I get tied up, feel groovy with Tantra, and more. Keep listening.
Did you know all Wild & Sublime supporters on Patreon get ticket discounts to our live show, as well as being able to partake in our monthly Q&A with experts, and get other benefits? Your Patreon membership helps Wild & Sublime produce this podcast and really supports us. You can also help by throwing some bucks in the tip jar or forwarding on this episode. All links to giving are in our show notes. Thank you so much.
Hey, folks. Our sold out April 16 show at the Hungry Brain in Chicago was wild and wooly, as you will hear. I don't know -- maybe it was the spring vibe. Maybe it was the prompt I gave the audience: "Tell us about your peak sexual experience." I'm not sure what it was. But I will say it was a lot of fun that night, and you'll be hearing that today. A longer episode than usual, even edited, but worth it. The show took place, and I am recording today, on the unceded land of the Council of Three Fires: the Potawatomi, the Ojibwe, and the Odawa nations.
In the first part, you'll be hearing from musical act Clara and the Great Goddamn; an interview with The Love Warrior, Tony Holmes, a tantric bodywork practitioner and coach; and an erotic story from storyteller and sexual empowerment coach Goddess Erica. Act two, Clara returns. Then you'll learn all about rope and an in-depth conversation and demo with kink educator Stranger where a surprising turn of events takes place. We continue with a Q&A and finish with my Sermon on the Pubic Mound about recent events. Strap in, strap on, and enjoy.
[to live audience] I am so excited to see you all here. It feels very warm. It's feeling very juicy, and it's feeling very full. I like that. I like that feeling. You have paper and pencils, right? Those are for questions, to ask questions of our panel later on in the second act. In addition to asking questions or writing questions down, there is also a prompt. So, if you're not feeling questioning tonight, you can also contribute by answering this prompt: "Talk about a peak sexual experience that blew your mind." Right? Okay. I think all of us can take a stab at that. And in the first act, the guests onstage have written this out earlier. So we'll be hearing some of that. Our first guest -- now, many people have told me about this singer-songwriter. They've said to me, 'You've got to have her on the show. She's amazing. Gotta have her on.' And I'm like, Okay, I will, as soon as this fucking pandemic gets over! I will have her on the show. This singer-songwriter gets inspiration from her experience in Chicago in the kink community for the past nine years. Please help me welcome Clara and the Great Goddamn. [cheering]
CLARA LATIMER: Very exciting to be here at the Hungry Brain. Karen said I've been in the kink community for nine years, and nine years ago in May, just coming up on nine years ago, I went to my first munch, which is a lowkey meetup group for kinky people. And at one of those munches, in the coming weeks after that, I met my husband. Anyway. So, for those of you who find yourself thinking, 'Well, I would like to know more explicit details about this woman's sex life...' Well. I've got the song for you. This is called "Asking for It."
[singing] Some days it feels strange to be feminist
That likes to be held down by the wrists
And I'd like it a lot
If you'd slap me a bit
But it'll make less noise if you use your fists.
Well, I've read Naomi Wolf and I've read Bell Hooks ,
but I'd still like to be bent over and beaten with those books
I know it sounds shocking, but I think they will thank me
if you give it a try when I ask you to spank me.
So let's fuck the sheets right off the bed,
and if I call you sir, don't let it go to your head.
Push me to the edge and I'll enjoy it,
just don't tell my mother, she'd be disappointed.
Explain this bruise. Well, I was asking for it, literally.
That is oh, just ignore it. I know what I want, I won't pretend I'm not a feminist who's into BDSM
Well, I'm proud to be an ethical slut, and my bookshelf proudly features smut
But 50 Shades of Grey is not what I mean,
I'll come to Bukowski or Anais Nin.
So if you know what I need in terms of aftercare, oh, cover my mouth and pull my hair
You know I'm gonna get that endorphin rush. I just wonder which set of my cheeks will blush.
Explain this bruise? Well, I was asking for it, literally, that is
Oh, I'm just ignore it. I know what I want. I won't pretend I'm not a feminist who's into BDSM.
And just to make sure no lines are blurred. You want them to respect you and your safe word
Anything less would be reprehensible,
sex and violence should be fun and consensual
So any creepy drunk assholes, now don't get fresh,
because I write dirty lyrics and look good in this dress.
This song is not an ass-slapping invitation,
You need to ask first and then we'll start negotiations.
Explain this bruise? Well, I was asking for it, literally. That is, oh, just ignore it, I know what I want. I won't pretend I'm not a feminist who's into BDSM.
And oh, St. Andrew I cross my heart. I like it when he bites me and leaves a mark
Oh I'll use my agency to this end, I'm just a feminist all tied up in BDSM.
[music ends, clapping and cheers]
KAREN YATES: Woo! All right. So the prompt. We already have some answers here from our guests tonight. The prompt: talk about a peak sexual experience that blew your mind. [reading] "My first orgasm after 360 days in a chastity cage." Okay, we are starting out very hot. All right, we are going there. Okay, what else do we have going? "The first time I slowly fucked a person's mouth with my fingers while looking in their eyes." Okay. And what's so great is some people just kept writing and handing, and writing and handing to me... So there's not just a couple tonight. So just get ready. "The first time I ever squirted. It was with a pretty stainless steel plug and an Njoy." Yeah. Okay, one more. One more before we get to the next part. "Energy sex with two guys in a hotel room. Wowwww." That's what it said here.
Okay, so our first interview for tonight. Tony Holmes, also known as the Love Warrior, is a shamanic tantric bodywork practitioner, and a love, intimacy, and sexuality coach. I have been getting to know Tony in these past couple of months. I love talking with him. Please help me welcome Tony Holmes.
Okay, so. Hi. Tantra. It is a very mysterious term, I think, for a lot of people. And you are among many things a Tantra practitioner. I come from the tantra background as well. So Tantra is mysterious. And I think a lot of people think of it as 'woo' sex. Yeah? Woo, sex. What is Tantra? How do you describe it?
TONY HOLMES: Well, I was telling you, when you mentioned like, doing the show about tantra. I was like, Oh, I just just accepted saying I'm a Tantra practitioner. Because the term itself is kind of bastardized, right. It's like oh, tantra, it means you're either jackoff factory or, you know, a way of getting to orgasm. There's nothing that's -- it's great, orgasm is great. But there's a place where it gets misused. So I just started to accept Tantra back into what I offer, and sharing that openly. Kind of coming out of the closet, y'all. So what Tantra is to me, when I say, you know, tantra, the word means weaving together, weaving all of the things together. We're taught in this culture to compartmentalize -- tomorrow's Easter, you know, and some people may go to church and be like, Oh, my sex is off to the side, and whatever. But in terms of -- all of our chakras are energy centers, our ways of being in the world, they all affect the other. You know, there's no way to work on just the body without working on the mind and the spirit and the emotions. And there's no way to have sex without it, interacting with the other parts of ourselves. And so, tantra, weaving those together is a way of practicing being in the world.
KAREN YATES: You are an energy worker, you're a massage practitioner, a coach, and a Tantra practitioner. What does a Tantra session look like?
TONY HOLMES: Tantra session can look like a lot of things. I used to teach Nude Yoga. I still do.
KAREN YATES: Yeah, I remember. You know, in the meetup groups, I would always see this Nude Yoga, Tony Holmes.
TONY HOLMES: Yeah.
KAREN YATES: And I'd be like, what is that? What is that?
TONY HOLMES: Nude Yoga Chicago was founded back in 2006. And it was a way of revealing ourselves to ourselves. Not as a way of like showing up for other people. And I had my first, one of my first emotional releases, healing experiences, in a nude yoga session. [outside noise] Oh, there's my ride -- with my friend, Pere Eres, who held such a sacred space. It was a men's only class. And I was in this class, and felt so divorced from my sexuality, from who I was supposed to be. And found myself in this space, little pools of light. And it felt mutually supportive. And I wonder if you out there can feel the space of being mutually supportive of each other. And in relaxation, savasana, I had this space of like this bubble kind of opening up in me. And I was like, Wow, what's that yellow bubble? And as it opened up, and kind of like burst, I had tears running down my face. And I was like, okay, my sexuality is not wrong. And I think we carry a lot of that in our day to day, because we're not taught to be integrated, to flow. We're not taught to accept and embrace. Not only all of who we are, but our ancestors. And I don't know why that's coming in. But it's here. Tantra is all of it. It's not just -- in the West, we call it Neo-Tantra. We touch into sexual energy as a way of like, being able to grasp the more subtle energies, the energy of the lake, the energy of the trees, the energy, you know, all of these things that we consider woo-woo. But they're all part of us. They're all part of who we are. And we're often taught to compartmentalize ourselves and suppress parts of ourselves. And that can be unhelpful. It can be a block in terms of connecting with another in intimacy. One way of, you know, intimacy I've heard is like saying "into me, you see."
KAREN YATES: So if you were to work with someone tantrically, what would that look like?
TONY HOLMES: It looks like a lot of different things. Tantra sessions can be both naked, and I've done Tantra sessions fully clothed from across the room with people. It's important, you know, it's important to have consent, you know, it's spring right now. So, imagine the flower buds opening and going, Oh, you're going to be such a beautiful flower! Let me rip you open. It doesn't work that way. We have to feel in together. And once we feel in together and are feeling held and safe, to be who we are, then the flower petals kind of open. So I've had sessions with people fully clothed. I've had sessions with people, clothing optional or sans clothes. And what it's not about is seeking the orgasm, or chasing the orgasm. What it is about is clearing, emptying the parts of ourselves that block connection.
KAREN YATES: So one of the things you and I have talked about a lot is, say, the consent violations that have occurred in the tantra world among leadership. So I think, especially with Tantra, because of the way it's usually set up, my question for you is, for you, what does the consent conversation look like?
TONY HOLMES: Well, when I think of consent, what feels most helpful now is to connect to the root word -- 'con,' meaning together, and 'sent' meaning awareness. So we, we feel in together, we bring awareness, together. And sometimes when people say, consent conversations can be like, "Don't, don't, don't don't." But what are you inviting? What are we inviting? What brings pleasure? What gets us out of bed in the morning? What are we going toward? That's part of the consent conversation. And also, I'll ask people straight up, like, are you comfortable with abdomen work? Are you comfortable with chest work? Are you comfortable with sexual energy? Usually, when they come for tantra sessions, they're asking about sexual energy. So we start to unfold that flower. What does that look like? It's just allowing to be what is.
KAREN YATES: So, for the folks who are interested in like, maybe becoming a little more expansive. What are some very specific exercises or tips you can give people?
TONY HOLMES: Yeah, okay, real quick tips. One is empty, empty yourselves. Sometimes we're going through shit and we don't have time to deal with it, our body will hold it for us. It'll hold it in our hip, or in our shoulder, or wherever. And when we bring a certain awareness to it, or mindfulness to it, it can release with emotion, with tears, laughter, happiness. I don't say this to everyone, but orgasm. And it's a movement of energy. And so when we're allowing that to happen, when we create space, when we empty, we create more space for ourselves to be who we are. We create space for our intelleche, as Jung would say. It's our untampered-with core vibration, and I just want to invite everyone to think about, what is your untampered-with vibration? And it's here, it's always here. And it's just waiting for us to show up.
KAREN YATES: Thank you. Thanks, Tony. [applause] Oh, my goodness. Okay, back to the mind-blowing sexual experience. [reading] "The first mind-blowing sexual experience I had was with a same-sex friend in Hawaii. We took acid, had sex. The lights flickered. A gecko laughed. And we saw a UFO out over the ocean."
Yeah, that is quite excellent. Here's another mind blowing peak sexual experience. [reading] "The deep, penetrating strokes where all of time slips away." Yeah. "Peak sexual experience for me was my first tantric orgasm. Time stopped, and it felt as if the sexual energy between me and my partner was a wave radiating out into the world." Ooh, all right. We'll be having more peak sexual experiences in a bit.
So, our next guest has been on the show multiple times. But this time, in a different role than she's been on previously: the role of storyteller. Please help me welcome Goddess Erica, sexual empowerment coach and orgasmic birth doula. Yes.
GODDESS ERICA: So, this true story that you are about to hear was originally written and published for "Make Love, Not Porn," their blog feed on medium.com. But I'm sharing it with you tonight to demonstrate the power of being intentional, even when you are making impulsive decisions. Time travel with me. It's February 2020, on a Friday night in a Brooklyn, New York nightclub. And I am in a celebratory mood. We've been dancing together most of the night. I liked the way his body moved so effortlessly with fine in the dark, crowded bar. I liked the way he smelled. We were strangers, but not completely. He worked with my best friend, and we'vd been introduced while passing the first round of drinks. The energy in the small Afro-Caribbean bar was celebratory and electric. The DJ set was accompanied by a live djembe drummer, as bodies rise to the pulsing cadence, punctuating everything around us. We were there with a group, celebrating my besties birthday, and recent move to New York. Everyone there was beautiful, stylish and approachable.
He and I hadn't spent much time talking. We'd flit from one dance partner to the next, occasionally finding each other amongst the crowd, where we'd sink into a beautiful, grinding rhythm, only to drift apart as our song ended, and the next round of drinks called us to the bar. After a few of these cycles, the dancing with others, finding each other, then drifting apart, we reached that part of the night where it wasn't very late, but the crescendo of the evening had firmly passed. Something stirred and me as I approached him, leaning against a pillar, smiling and observing our group. I was high on the energy of the evening, and I needed his permission to satisfy my desire to touch him more. "What are you doing after this?" The song was ending, so I leaned in and brought my lips close to his ear. "Thinking of going home. Are there other plans?" He responded casually, not quite grasping where I was heading with my question. "Not that I know of."
"Would you like to leave together?"
"Like share an Uber, or...?"
I watched his eyebrow raised as he studied my face, gauging the true intent of my words.
"Would you like to go home with me and sleep together?" I clarified. This time, allowing my lips to gently graze his ear. I drew back and held his gaze through my lashes. I was prepared to receive a yes or no graciously. Though I already knew from the way his hands gripped my body as we dance together, that we share an attraction. But attraction does not equate interest or availability, and a willingness to dance provocatively does not signal a desire to have sex. My direct question to him was just as much a question as an unambiguous statement of my own interest. I took some pleasure in watching him attempt to maintain a neutral expression, but his eyes betrayed him.
"I'd like to kiss you first, if that's okay." He was now gauging the depth of his own interest. This measured response set well with me. Rushing in had no place here. I nodded. We wandered into a more private corner of the bar. He leaned back against the wall, hand on my waist, and gently pulled me in. His lips were soft and welcoming. His tongue, delicious. I allowed my body to melt against his. And when he pulled away, I accepted his eye contact. He smiled and nodded. Our dance would continue beyond the bar tonight. Before leaving, I found my bestie and let her know where I was planning, where I was going, and with who. I asked her if she or anyone else had any concerns about him. She said no. So I told her when I planned to return to her apartment, and that I'd text her if any of those plans changed. We hugged and I skipped off to have a one night stand.
The negotiation began as soon as our Uber pulled away, with the two of us in the backseat. "Before we get to your place, I wanted to get on the same page about tonight. Is it okay if I share your address with my safety contact and take a picture of your ID?" The back of the Uber was dark, but I could see his eyes studying me from the shadows that obscured his expression. He nodded. I pulled out my phone and began to type a text message. "I'm sending a message to my husband to call and check on me in two hours. We have an open polyamorous relationship and I let him know when I'm having casual sex. I'm not interested in pursuing a relationship beyond tonight. Are you okay with that?" He nodded and continued to peer at me.
"Are you in a relationship?" I continued. He wasn't, although he had recently had a break up. So we talked about it for a while before I asked my next question. "Let's talk about safety and boundaries." I let him know when I had last been tested for STIs, and my results. I asked him about his testing status, and I told him how I manage my birth control for myself, and asked if he had condoms.
"I've never met anyone like you before. No one's ever been this direct," he whispered during a pause.
"I'm a sex goddess," I whispered back, as I leaned in once again to taste his lips. On the stairs to his apartment, I told him how I like to be touched, and where I didn't want to be touched. I asked him if he wanted to shower together. In his bedroom, we undressed each other slowly, eyeing and caressing each newly revealed swath of skin with breathless awe. As he wrapped me up in his arms to kiss my neck, I melted into the reverie of feeling in the vibration of his body against mine -- his excitement, his smell, everything about him aroused me. But the thought of washing him with my hands, only to cover him with my scent, aroused me even more. We walked hand in hand, to the shower. In those quiet moments where the only communication exchanged with eye contact and touch, every gesture became ritual. We were in a sacred space. We were preparing to make love.
In his bed, my eyes, hands and mouth sought endless pleasure in the contours of his body. Seeing him respond to my touch thrilled me, feeling his hands and mouth return the pleasure in kind of pushed me towards climax. I drink in his gaze, wantonly, my mouth, hungrily insert any part of him as I allowed my body to submit to his entry. Again, and again. Every moment an exquisite chord resonating from my core, repeating until I lost myself in him. Every moment stretched into a beautiful mind-melting eternity. We touched as if we loved each other, because for those few hours, we did.
When we finally spent ourselves, we laid in each other's arms and marveled at the experience. "I've never had a one-night stand it felt so connected," he said. That's because we made love. We didn't have to plan to be together forever to meet each other from a place of love tonight, I murmured into his chest. I went home to my bestie early the next morning in an Uber. I texted him thank you for our time together. And when I arrived, I let him know I was safe. I never messaged again. It didn't need to. Our dance, beautiful and profound as it was, was done. [applause]
KAREN YATES: We'll return with Act Two in a moment. Are you looking to improve erotic communication with your partner? I work with couples in Chicago, helping them increase pleasure, learn how to express desires, and become more connected. All of this through dynamic, body-centered sessions. Go to the show notes for karen-yates.com to schedule your free consultation with me.
And now, act two of our April 16 live show in Chicago. You'll hear more of the audience's response to the prompt, "Describe your peak sexual experience," Clara and the Great Goddamn returns. Then, our rope demo with kink educator Stranger, followed by a Q&A, and my Sermon on the Pubic Mound.
We're back. I figured the best way to get your attention is just start reading the sex prompts again. I'm gonna tell you folks, I have been looking these over. You are one fucking sexy bunch of people. [cheering]
I could not even get over what I was reading. I am going to read a couple here. "Peak sexual experience for me was the 12-hand massage I received after a goddess-worship scene at kinky sex camp." Oooooh! Right, right? "I don't know if it's a peak experience, but the shrooms turned my partner into a dragon, and that was really cool." Dragon sex. Yeah. Okay. "The time someone knelt down while we were taking a shower and pissed in my mouth." All right, one more. "I'm not sure I'll ever experience again the level of intimacy I did when I was being penetrated by him while he was being penetrated by a man for the first time." Yeah! Ha ha! All right, folks. Oh, my earring! My earring just got all stuck in my hair, because I was like sha-waahhh! It is time again for illustrious singer-songwriter. Help me welcome Clara and the Great Goddamn! [cheering]
CLARA LATIMER: All righty. I was trying to get in tune backstage there, but y'all are just laughing at such a decibel, it was not gonna happen, so. I don't know what the song is called, because I'm not very good at naming them, but feel free to give me a suggestion later.
Look at me, dichotomy, Madonna and a whore
Well, you can call me Helen, though she started a war
And parents always love me, oh yeah, you can take me home for a few days
Anyway, then I want to be alone with you,
I do, really want to do the things that we do, you and I, late at night
Why, yes, I'd love to live in sin,
I'll wash your feet like Magdalen,
Another ukulele lady, she started a rumor
that feminists they just don't have a sense of humor
Some boys may call me crazy, misandry-loving bitch
for a feminist, I sure do make a damn good sandwich
You'd think would make them like me? But I talk a bit too much,
So now some men are missing out on everything this mouth does.
I see you guys got the joke. Okay, good.
I'm Diana at a party, but then when you take me home,
you can call me Cleopatra, call me Eva Peron
And just since I'm a lady doesn't mean I can't have fun.
Well, I'm hot as hell, but I still get my mending done
And yes, I know I'm pretty... vulgar, Aphrodite, not the sculptor,
Sometimes I grapple with those red and gold apples
If you have something to say, I can't hear you anyway.
I can't hear you. I can't hear you. I can't hear you. I can't hear you. I can't hear you. I can't hear you. I can't hear you. I can't hear you. I can't hear you. I can't hear you.
Look at me, dichotomy, Madonna and a whore,
Well, you can call me Helen, though she started a war
And parents always love me, oh yeah, you can take me home
for a few days, anyway,
then I want to be alone with you.
I do, I really want to do the things that we do,
you and I, late at night,
Look at me, dichotomy, Madonna and a whore
You can call me Helen, though she started a war
And parents always love me, oh yeah, you can take me home
for a few days, anyway,
then I want to be alone with... you.
That was my song called "Nugget."
KAREN YATES: Merchandise commercial number two! Haven't you ever wanted a polyamory tote? [audience shout] I know I have! [to audience member] Polyamorous tote? Where are you? Where are you?
I see you. I see a handbag there. All right, I'm gonna get you! I'm gonna get you. I am. I am. I designed this, because I thought having the Infinity heart on a charcoal background made it very sub-tle, very subtle. You can go around Chicago, people won't even know -- and if you're not polyamorous, you're just like, "I like love. I like love, la la... I like infinity amounts of love!" And you got the cat, and on the back, "Love is abundant." So if you like love, it's abundant. But if you like love, you're telling everyone, come to me. Okay? This is a polyamorous tote! It is for sale! Alright! I designed that, thank you very much.
All right. Damn it. You are a hot crowd. This is awesome. Peak sexual experience. [reads prompt] "Hard pounding anal sex with a guy 20 years younger, while I suddenly began to scream in some unknown language." Wait! Two! That was one. This is two -- same person. "My body convulsing in orgasm from rhythmic caning." Oh, oh my god. Okay, we're gonna hold.
Now it is time for the demo. The demo. All right, I've been really looking forward to this. My next guest is queer, consent-focused, sex-positive with special interests in rope bondage, power exchange, BDSM, accessibility, and laughter. Please help me welcome Stranger. [applause]
So, stranger. I love saying that, like, "Hey, stranger." I love that. How did you get into kink and kink education?
STRANGER: Great question. Like everyone, I met a woman in Scotland. We went to a sex store together. And we bought this little suede flogger. It was black and very cute. And she took me home and she used it on me, and I said, Oh, this is kind of nice. I quite enjoyed this. Maybe I'll do a little more of this in my future. And then we switched and I used it on her, and I went, Oh. I see. This is... this. I've learned some things about myself today. So as soon as I went home to the States, I went on Google and searched "fetish community." And I went to a munch, which Clara mentioned earlier as a casual event for kinksters to meet up in a public place. My first mounch was at a very romantic, mysterious place called Denny's. I met great people there, and it's all uphill ever since.
KAREN YATES: There you go. So, tonight we are doing a rope demo. And my first question -- and I was telling Stranger when we talked on the phone, I do like to think of myself in some regard as though I am Jimmy Fallon. Like, I'm both faux-naive and really naive. Like, both together. So, why rope? Why rope?
STRANGER: Great question. Yes, absolutely. So in general, why might someone want to do rope? So before I ramble at you for a long time, I would actually love to hear from you all if you're interested in rope, why? Why might someone be interested? Call it out.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: It's organic!
KAREN YATES: [to audience] Wait, wait, are you the polyamory tote?
STRANGER: It is organic! Yes. Great. What else?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Like a thunder vest.
STRANGER: Yes, right! This compression aspect of it is definitely part of it. What else? COntrol emotions, right, and power. It's sexy, right? It's arousing. Bondage itself can be a fetish that can be really erotic. What else? It can help manifest certain fetishes. It can enable certain kinds of roleplay. Think, "helpless victim and malevolent villain, railroad tracks" kind of visual, all tied up with rope. You know what I'm talking about. Think, cowboys.
KAREN YATES: Wait, do you mean like Brokeback Mountain?
STRANGER: Exactly like Brokeback Mountain! Yes. Great. Think about your sexy rock-climbing teacher that you have fantasies about, and all of the ropey things involved. You know I'm talking about. Great. The aesthetics of rope can be really pleasing. Rope and photography go together really well. Rope is clothing, rope is decor, human macrame. What else? Let's see, sensory. So we mentioned like compression, right? Rope can be really comforting and soothing. It can also be really rough, and you can bring sadomasochism into the picture. You can bring control and power exchange, dominance and submission, handing over your control to somebody else, saying, tie me up please. And another thing, this subcategory of suspension, right, it's something that you might see a lot on the internet, it's very beautiful. Lifting somebody up by rope can be its own world in itself. So, to name a few.
KAREN YATES: Are you going to pass out examples?
STRANGER: I can. Yes. So I want to actually talk a little bit about -- I have this prepared bouquet of rope here. None of it is sacred, if you want to touch it, please feel free. It's just different kinds of rope to feel different materials, because rope can be really soft, it can be really gentle. You can tie roughly with gentle rope, you can tie gently with rough rope. But I do tend to do the tying. I am a top-leaning switch, which means most of the time you'll find me tying people up, sometimes I do like to get tied.
But I also just want to mention -- I just talked, you know, listed a few things about why one might like rope. But I don't like rope for all of those reasons. I like rope for really specific reasons. I don't do all of those things when I play, all of those things are wonderful. But there are some specific reasons why I like rope that I just want to share a little bit about, and then I will show you. I've been doing rope for eight years, teaching for five. And when I think about, you know, why, why am I doing this? Why, why do I like this so much? Why do I keep pulling rope out of my toy bag, every time I go to play with somebody? For me, I keep coming back to this concept of versatility. Rope is a really versatile tool. There are a bunch of reasons we just list for what you can do with rope, you know, these experiences you can have with it. And rope is a tool that's available to you, no matter what you're looking for, in a lot of cases. So just take a body, for example, what can I do with a body and rope? I can, like we said, compress them, bundle them up, make them feel really comfortable and safe. I can pretzel them around and, you know, explore their body and what it's able to do, I can stretch them out and expose them and make them feel really vulnerable, perhaps humiliated in rope. And thinking about moods, you know, rope can be really, really serious, it can be really intense and cathartic. You know, we're thinking about heavy, heavy stuff here. And maybe we're looking at pain and shame, and all of these really heavy things. And that can be the mood that rope evokes.
And on the other hand, I can string someone up like a pinata, stuff a bunch of candy into condoms, and you know, put it in there and beat the living sweets out of them with a group of my friends. And have this wonderful, wonderful time.
KAREN YATES: Inside I'm going, what? Not yucking a yum. It's just like, what?
STRANGER: Yeah, so rope allows for all these different kinds of possibilities. What else? You can use rope by itself in a play experience, you don't have to combine it with anything, it can just be the rope, it can be pristine and beautiful and look perfect. And that's what it's about. That's what you're going for. And on the other hand, it can be purely functional. And it can be like a means to some other end. It can be you know, messy and imperfect. And you know, you can combine it with other kinds of toys, like, for example, using rope to tie dildos to every possible part of your body, as many as you can. I do also teach that class, by the way.
KAREN YATES: Wait, wait, wait. Okay, but then have people partake in the dildos that are strapped on another person's body?
STRANGER: Just recently, I used rope to strap a dildo to somebody's chest. And I rode that dildo while a dear friend was across from me penetrating the person -- who, you know, it's kind of an Eiffel Tower situation. For example, you know, food for thought. The point is, rope is really versatile. And over time, with a lot of practice, it became this sort of language for me, this language that I use to communicate a lot of different things to different people, or the same person, you know, I'm going from mood to mood within like five minutes within the same play experience. Maybe we start out comfortable and comforting. And then we move into something a bit more rough and aggressive. And, you know, I'm using the same tool to go through all of those different experiences.
KAREN YATES: I think it's time for the demo.
STRANGER: I think it's time for the demo as well.
KAREN YATES: [to podcast listener] Stranger now begins the demo. And if you want photo documentation, go to the April 16 show page at wildandsublime.com to catch the action. We've cut out some of the silence here, while Stranger ties me, but kept their narration throughout. They tied my wrists, wrapped rope around my torso, and more. But what you need to understand, and you might not get as you listen, is that I dropped immediately into subspace as Stranger began tying me
What is subspace? It's a serotonin rush that can occur when you're being dominated in a kink scene. And that headspace can last for a while. I did not see this coming. It took me completely by surprise. And it took me some time to get my head back together at the end of this segment. Have a listen.
STRANGER: So like I was mentioning, I like to use rope to have a lot of different kinds of experiences with people, using it as a language to have a lot of different kinds of conversations, if you will, rope conversations. So I want to just go through a couple of different styles of these conversations. And when I think about conversations that I want to have in rope, I think what kind of conversations do I like to have when I'm just speaking to people? So the first one, I like to have conversations that are gentle and chill and relaxed and low key and you know, talking with a friend that I really care about and pouring that care into one another where you leave that conversation feeling like you've just left a big hug.
KAREN YATES: [audience laughter] I think I'm understanding the allure.
STRANGER: And this brings me to my next one. I love to have laughter in my conversations. I like to act really silly with people that I care about. I like to have a good time and giggle with my friends. I also like to have conversations that are really serious where there's a lot at stake, even sharp tongue where there's a lot of back and forth, give and take, push and pull.
And then I like to have conversations that are slow, dreamy, as though you're laying under the stars talking about life, where it's no longer about the words or the rope anymore, but just the fact that you're together.
For example, [crowd laughter] so what you just saw was a lot of me, what you just saw was a lot of me tying and then untying really quickly, but for some people, that's not the point, right? They want to get the rope on, and then the fun happens, right? So I want to let Karen perhaps tell you all about her impressions of what just happened, while I get a quick harness on.
KAREN YATES: So at this point, Stranger is creating a chest harness, and I have been reduced to babbling.
STRANGER: Well, anyway.
KAREN YATES: And these are my boobs.
STRANGER: These are Karen's boobs, everyone, a round of applause, please, for Karen's boobs. And so on. The possibilities are endless. I could have Karen have her arms in this, sort of like you saw before. But with that, you know, would come some extra conversations about safety. And as you go, if you're interested in learning more about rope, then you'll also learn hand in hand a lot about safety. So. Thanks, Karen. [cheering]
KAREN YATES: Oh, okay. [singing] Coming back to reality, there's people staring at us... All right, another another round for Stranger! Yes.
[narration] The guests then returned to the stage for the audience Q&A. Tantric bodywork practitioner and Coach Tony Holmes, kink educator and rope enthusiast Stranger, and storyteller and sexual empowerment coach Goddess Erica, and Stranger starts us off.
[live] First question, [reading] "How do you sanitize rope?"
STRANGER: That's a great question. It depends on the material of rope. So if you were looking at the ropes that were passed around, some of them are synthetic material, and others are organic. So for synthetic material, you can just put it in a pillowcase put it right in the wash. For more natural fiber ropes, like jute or hemp, things like that stuff that can absorb more easily, and you can't just toss in the wash and clean easily. There's extensive cleaning procedures for each type of rope. They're easy to find online.
KAREN YATES: One of the questions from last time that I wanted to ask folks tonight, the person asked, "How do I more effectively masturbate? I have trouble orgasming." And I thought we have a bunch of folks with probably very interesting ideas about how to explore masturbation. Goddess Erica, why don't you go for it?
GODDESS ERICA: I would suggest turning it into a sensory experience. So if you are used to touching one particular part, try touching another part. If you are touching the, you know, the Super Fun Zone, maybe try touching near the Super Fun Zone, or work your way down. Or touch something that isn't considered a super fun zone. And the same way that you channel that desire to come to your super fun places, you can channel that same desire to something as as innocent as your ear lobe. And when you breathe pleasure into different parts of your body, and you really start to acknowledge sensations that anything can feel pleasurable and sexual. It's really about the container of intent. That's when you can really open up your masturbation experience to any part of your body.
TONY HOLMES: I love that.
KAREN YATES: And Tony, you were talking with me before the show started about taking pictures of parts of yourself that you didn't like, as a tip.
TONY HOLMES: Yeah, so along with what Goddess Erica was saying, we have selfies that we take that we don't show anyone. My invitation is to take those selfies. And also send love to those places when you self-pleasure. Like, how do we love our love handles? How do we love the places that feel dead? So let's get into that. Like, I'm gonna love myself.
KAREN YATES: Yeah, makes sense. Stranger, you do a lot of self-tying. That's fascinating to me. I don't know, how do you do that?
STRANGER: Yes. Actually, I do self tie for a few reasons. One is just for practice. If I don't have a body in front of me, I love to just tie on my own legs. It's a great way to get rope into your hands. For me actually, self tying is not a distinctly sexual experience. For me, it's much more similar to what you were mentioning of just like getting out of my head and exploring the experience for what it is, and not really going with an end goal in mind. And so this can definitely be translated also to sex and masturbation. For me, especially, I had some time where I was really, really focused on orgasm, and orgasm was the center of the experience. And this was the goal, every time I had sex or masturbated. And I really, really enjoyed the process of letting that go, and exploring other purposes for sex or masturbation, even if it's just to relax. So starting at a place where it's like, I'm not doing this orgasm, I'm just doing this to relax or to feel good. And just letting it be that. For me, that was a really, really great starting place for relaxing. And then if orgasm comes, it literally comes.
GODDESS ERICA: And I want to add to that. Sometimes, when you're not planning to have an orgasm, and you are enjoying yourself so much, it comes by surprise. And sometimes you kind of gift yourself with these little surprises of letting go and just being in the moment and experiencing what you're experiencing. And that can ratchet up to a point of of release that is unexpected and probably much more juicier than if you had been focusing on trying to get there in the first place.
KAREN YATES: Absolutely.
TONY HOLMES: One more thing. Just like sometimes, like we have these places where it's easy to identify the places that don't fit in. And I just want us to embrace those places that don't fit in. And can we love those places?
GODDESS ERICA: COmplete acceptance.
KAREN YATES: Yes, yes. Here's a question. "How to best navigate a fearful-avoidant attachment style? Namely, 'the world is unsafe, and people want to hurt me,' with dating and kink?"
GODDESS ERICA: When someone is avoidant and, and they have set a boundary, respect that fucking boundary. That is the greatest gift that you can give to someone who is afraid of opening themselves up. Be a safe space, Be a safe space. That's it. Accepting someone unconditionally, showing that you're accepting them unconditionally, where they are, meeting them where they are.
KAREN YATES: And I think too, part of it is being in the place of being fearful and avoidant, it is a slow process. You know, it might seem like micro slow, but if you are able to communicate that to someone, as you just said, ganas, Erica, if you can say to someone, I need you to be a safe space, that might be very hard to say. You know, I mean, that might be a level of intimacy that feels maybe unobtainable. But it might not always be unobtainable, that might be something to like work toward, I think what comes with that sometimes is the sense like I'm, I'm never going to be able to get it. I'm never going to be able to work out of this place. And you have to give yourself a break. You just have to really accept where you're at and then make incremental changes. I wanted to ask, Stranger, I mean, one thing about certain ties is they bring a feeling of real safety. And can you talk about that aspect of rope? Where the feeling of, like, the was it the perpetual hug? Can you talk about that a little?
STRANGER: I mean, one thing I really like about rope is something that I mentioned, is that it can completely exclude the pressure for stereotypical sex, right? Of like, you need to look like this certain picture of what sex looks like, or else you're broken in some way, or you're not doing it right. And one thing that I really like about rope, or at least the way that I like to do it, is that it can look like anything you want. And so, when you're looking for the things that you want, you're like, I'm really anxious about this, I'm not sure is it going to be safe? You actually, especially in kink, in these communities, where active communication is really encouraged, you have the opportunity, you have the power within yourself to say exactly what you want. And you know, in most cases, in these communities, that's embraced, to say, I want to be tied with my clothes on in a way that is really safe. It's not going to look stereotypically sexy, but it's going to make me feel really good, right? People are like, Yes, I can't wait, I can't wait. And so you're gonna find a lot of enthusiasm when you really just take a second to think all of these other pressures aside, what do I really want, and then asking for it. That's going to be the hardest, most terrifying step. And you might have to do it a few times, but really, when you find it, it might not be what you expect, but it's really, really wonderful when someone is like, Absolutely, I'm so enthusiastic about this thing that you want, even if it doesn't look like porn.
KAREN YATES: Awesome. I want to thank all of the panelists tonight. Stranger, Tony Holmes, and Goddess Erica, thank you so very much for your wisdom. Thank you.
All right, I'm gonna read a couple of more peak experiences, and then we're gonna finish with my Sermon on the Pubic Mound. Let us get a couple of more of these jewels. I might not be able to read them all, but I will put them on Instagram over the next week, and people will know the truth of tonight. "Peak sexual experience: enjoying my first strap-on experience. The breast and probe combo was delish." Oh my god, I love that. "Using a partner's penis to fuck another woman the way I instructed." I mean, I feel like I'm in sex grad school tonight. I am so blown away by the breadth of experience. So blown away. I mean, I'm serious. "Lots of fun and orgasms during my 40th birthday party. Threesome FFM combo. He tied me and the other lady together and fingered both of us, pushing us together by our pussies. After a three-way kiss, we reminded him to lock the door on his way out." I guess -- right? That as an applause. "Peak experience: Orgasming during my blowgun seminar, where my partner is shooting needles through a blow gun into my butt." Oh, a blowgun seminar. Okay, gotcha. You know, the blowgun seminar. Silly me.
Let's read this again, shall we? "Orgasming during my blowgun seminar where my partner is shooting needles through a blow gun into my butt, and orgasming on camera with an Asian eggplant for a feminist porno movie." Yes. All right. "Peak sexual experience: Making a 69 square during my first MMFF foursome." Making 69 square... Wow. Ambitious. All right. How about this one? I guess I'm gonna get through them all. "The time I fucked a plunger in an alley." [audience cheering]
I did not expect that response. That was a shriek. That was a collective shriek! Okay, final one. I guess we got through them all. "When a stranger asked if I was interested in their friend. I looked into her eyes and could tell how intensely she wanted me. We were at my place, and addressed within 20 minutes of meeting, and it was incredible." Thank you all, this is marvelous. Thank you.
So this is the final moments of the show, as you know. I'm going to do my Sermon on the Pubic Mound now. So, a couple of weeks ago, a couple of weeks ago, I received several emails. I received several emails from people I did not know, letting me know that a guest who had been on the show more than once was being accused of consent violations. And had harmed multiple people. And I was shocked, because I knew this person, and I considered this person a friend. But over the next few days, as I looked on social media, where people had posted their experiences, their experiences of writing about how they felt they had been harmed, and talking to people as well, on the phone, talking with the person themself, who had these violations reported on him, it became clear to me that I was starting to see several large patterns, patterns that were destructive. And I made the decision. One person looking at what I saw, and I made the decision not to have this person on the show again. In addition to that, I realized that I needed to change the way I vetted people coming on the show. And that was on me. And that it was time to change the process. Bring more people into the conversation about who should be on the show. I would like your opinion. Do you know anything about this person? Can you tell me things? Have you had experiences? Have you seen them teach? What's your experience?
And since this is a sermon, you know, where am I going with this? You know, over those days, and it's still really not over, I saw the anguish, or I read the anguish, of the people who had written about the harm that they felt they had experienced. I heard the anguish of this person, my friend, as he talked to me. I felt and heard the anguish of community organizers trying to make sense of it and improve policies. And after I'd made the decisions about the show, about how I was going to change the vetting process, and not having this person on again, I found myself, last night, sitting by myself, crying. As I got in touch with my own anguish around -- I knew this person. I trusted this person, and they most likely have caused a lot of harm. And the worst part of all, was realizing, in retrospect, did I see this potential exist? If I look at it, in retrospect, was there something here that I should have seen, or something that I should have known? And that is something I'm still grappling with. But the fact of the matter is that this show covers a range of sexuality. And we talk about in the show about becoming more free in your sexual expression. And that happens, sometimes through communication, that which leads to mutual consensual benefits. But sex pulls directly from the chaotic. We want to control that.
And we can't control it. And the fact of the matter is, is that people will continue to use sexuality as a vehicle for abuse of power. Now what I know, what I feel, I should say is that we are changing. This community is changing, the sex positive community is changing. The greater world is changing, I do believe that. It might seem painfully slow, especially if you've been harmed. But I think change is happening. People are more willing to stand up and say something and speak to harm, and speak to perpetrators. And the systems are changing. So slowly, but things are changing, policies are changing and awarenesses are happening. Because more people are willing to confront each other and have difficult, hard conversations. In the midst of all this unhappiness, I could feel for myself a new opening developing inside myself. The more I talked to other people. Perpetration, inaction and silence. As we move into freedom, we have to confront these uncomfortable and disheartening aspects of ourselves. We all have to confront this in ourselves. Perpetration, inaction, and silence. But in these past few weeks, I have felt, as I said, a new openness. And I realize that in tumultuous times, sometimes all we can do is feel our way through each moment, except where we're at. Ask for help. And be willing, if possible, to change.
I am grateful to those who brought my attention to this. More importantly, I am grateful for them holding me accountable. And I am grateful for those who availed themselves of me when I asked for help. And there were many people. I have been talking to many people. I know this show, Wild & Sublime, will be the better for it. You've been an awesome crowd. Thank you so much.
To learn more about our show guests and to see pictures from the April 16 show, go to wildandsublime.com. You can find that link and others in the show notes. Wild & Sublime is supported in part by our sublime supporter, Full Color Life Therapy, therapy for all of you at fullcolorlifetherapy.com.
Well, that's it folks. Have a very pleasurable week. Next episode, have you ever wanted to talk to your therapist about sex but didn't know how to start the conversation? I talked to three therapists about what to do and how to find someone who will help you. Don't miss it. Thank you for listening. If you know someone who might be interested in this episode, send it to them. Do you like what you heard? Then give us a nice review on your podcast app. You can follow us on social media @wildandsublime and sign up for newsletters at wildandsublime.com. I'd like to thank associate producer Julia Williams and design guru Jean-Francois Gervais. Theme Music by David Ben-Porat. This episode was edited by The Creative Imposter studios. Our media sponsor is Rebellious Magazine, feminist media, at rebelliousmagazine.com.
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- Clara and the Great Goddamn – Singer/songwriter
- Tony Holmes/The Love Warrior – Kintsugi Coach & Tantric Bodywork Practitioner
- Goddess Erica – Storyteller, Sexual Empowerment Coach and Tantric Doula
- Stranger – Kink Enthusiast & Educator
- What exactly happened? Rope demo images at Wild & Sublime online!
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