Articles and Reviews:
Sacred Sex Comes of Age
A Video Review
Consious Living Magazine Australia Jan/Feb issue 1994
Sidenote: The film discussed in this article and referred to as Sacred Sex 2, is known and sold under different titles in various countries. In the US it is known as The Secrets of Sacred Sex, in Germany it is called Tantra Sex. It is also available in many other countries. The film referred to in this articele as Sacred Sex is a documentary film produced in Australia and aired on television in Australia and England in 1991. An early version of our Body, Heart & Soul workshops is a prominent feature in this documentary. It is available on video in some countries.
Cynthia Connop's first foray into the ancient arts of Tantra exploded onto the screen in the form of the outstanding film, Sacred Sex, cited as one of the most controversial films of its time. Connop's sequel, Sacred Sex 2, promises to be more educational then the first. SHANNA PROVOST inerviews key people in the film.
CL: How did Sacred Sex 2 come about?
CONNOP: We had created a whole wave of interest after the documentary Sacred Sex and people wanted more in-depth, more nitty gritty, practical information on how to practise sacred sex. We had stimulated the topic in people's minds-got people questioning and thinking about their sexuality and sexuality in general. Where Sacred Sex provoked people to question, Sacred Sex 2 takes sex a bit deeper, showing in a practical sense what it is people actually do to have sacred sex. It also looks at how practicing sacred sex affects the modern relationship and how it can enhance it.
CL: Was it easy to get couples to participate in the film?
CONNOP: No, it was reasonably difficult to get couples to match my brief. I wanted a range of ages and types of people. Finding those people who were practising sacred sex and who were willing and available to show that in public wasn't easy. I also wanted genuine sacred sex practitioners, not models. We used a closed set in Byron Bay with a crew hand-picked for their sensitivity and interest in the subject.
CL: Were aesthetics important to you?
CONNOP: Yes-it's more pleasant to watch a beautiful body, but we didn't set out to find "perfect bodies" for the film. A couple of the women were a bit more on the generous side than if we'd used models, but they look more like real people -- someone you might know. We also used a make-up artist to help people enhance their physical beauty. I was happy to use Diane and Kerry because they are an attractive, more mature couple, so people can see that sacred sex is not just for young beautiful hunks. But don't forget, if you're having sacred sex, then you are feeling yummy and blissful anyway, and your body takes on that glow.
CL: Who is this film for?
CONNOP: It's intended for a general audience, particularly couples, but really for anyone interested in transforming their sexuality -- and who knows who that person will be? When Sacred Sex went to air I received letters from the deep north of Queensland, Africa, the United States- you just don't know who this topic will touch. I wanted to present the ideas in an accessible, not esoteric way. Let's face it, most people would wish to have fulfilling sexual experiences, and if there's something you can watch to help open the door, then that's great, whether you try some of the techniques directly or just talk about it. I hope it's an inspiration for those seeking sacred lovemaking.
CL: Was it difficult to shoot such an intimate film?
CONNOP: I felt the couples were very brave. They all felt that the experience of being in the video was a journey for them. They weren't just 'performing' as we were filming, they were actually experiencing everything and being very real about it. Some of them found it an opening for their relationship to have witnesses to their intimacy. I'm so happy that you can really feel the commitment from the couples in the film.
CL: What are your aspirations for the film?
CONNOP: I'd really like people to see it and be inspired by it. I want the film to apply to people in all different types of sex relationships, not just couples. I believe it contains fundamental concepts that can radically alter your perspective on sex. Sex today is so performance pressured, and I hope the film can counter act that by showing ways to improve sexuality, not performance. I tried to cover lots of different aspects of sacred sex that people may want to pursue in more depth. I wasn't attempting to be an authority on Tantra, I've simply presented ways people have found to help them improve their sexuality which are based on ancient Tantric arts.
Star on a mission
Christine Niyaso Carter acted as couples tutor and sexuality adviser on the film. She spent several years in Asia learning Eastern meditation, Tantric practices, and yoga. Her work is a synthesis of her Eastern training and of therapies such as Gestalt, Voice Dialogue, Breathwork, Movement Awareness and Creation Technologies. Christine and her partner David were one of the couples featured in the film.
CL: Did you have any initial misgivings about demonstrating lovemaking in the film?
CARTER: Yeah, I certainly did. It's very scary to know you're going to be viewed naked by anybody, fantasised about, judged and wanted. But I felt the only material that's out there and the only people that are willing to show sex are porn stars, so I felt the real need to use the technology we have available today fully, and not out of some prudish reason of conservatism to go: "Well no, we'll talk about it, write about but, but not have it be seen." There is so much to be seen in it - you see by a smile, you hear by the sound of the voice the love that actually does transpire in a way that written words cannot. So I was willing to do that, to offer people something different. I know some people may think : "just fancy porn stars" - and may view it that way and use it that way, but I also know that there will be people who will simply be able to appreciate the difference, see the beauty and sacredness and be able to model from it.
CL: How did you extract the best out of the couples you advised on the set?
CARTER: First, the couples involved weren't acting, so my role was more about helping them to relax in front of the cameras. They all experienced it as a supportive, enhancing environment, so it felt good all around and they felt they benefited from the experience. In my professional life it is my role to work with couples - in my whole arena of teaching one of my specialities is to be right there when couples are going through an experience. One of the couples were friends of mine who were going through a lot of relationship issues at the time, and it actually helped them because they were so in their process they were willing to accept input that way. I know it's a very unusual type of therapy-here you are, being intimate, getting sensual and loving and here's someone saying: "See if you can just allow your love to come through", or "It's okay to feel your tears and shed them". In the therapy context, as well, working in this way is very avant garde. Some couples you sit with and talk to and hear their problems or listen to their desire for a more fulfilling and sacredness in their sex life, and this in itself is very valuable and sometimes all that is needed or appropriate. But once you actually see a couple interact, that's when you get what their dynamic actually is - when you see how energetically they are in their intimate experience. So it wasn't that hard for me to work with the couples in the film, especially because they were willing and all of them were in tune with exploring themselves.
CL: What do you feel when you see yourself in the film?
CARTER: My first reaction was fear- I have to admit that. Imagining people's judgment and that goes back to my Catholic upbringing. Then again, I also have that part in me that knows somehow this is the right action for me. There are moments in the film where I go: "This is beautiful." There certainly isn't anything in me that would choose to do what I did if it weren't for a reason. But because of my work and because of my personal experience I know how many people are suffering from a lack of information and a lack of right input about their sexual and intimate life, so if there's even a chance that they will discover something new for themselves I'm willing to let myself be involved if I believe that's what it takes.
CL: Who do you think will benefit from seeing the film?
CARTER: Time will tell, but my hope is that the person on the street who has never been exposed to the human potential movement or meditation or Tantric sexuality will discover it for themselves. Everyone has sexuality and almost everyone has trouble with some part of their intimate relating, so the film is something that speaks to people. I hope that through discovering the film they will not only discover a better sexual connection but also meditation and spirituality. I know the film was made for people who hadn't been exposed very much at all to the idea of sacred sexuality or the idea of spiritual sexuality, or any idea that sex can be more than just this thing that you do because you're married and somehow hanker for it. I know this film will talk to just about anyone. Even in the course of making it, couples working on the film who thought they knew it all found a lot of reminders in it. They said after watching it two or three times something shifted in our lovemaking even though they thought there was nothing new in it for them.
CL: And your favorite parts of the film?
CARTER: The real slow, sensual parts. I like all the explanation, it's necessary, but my favorite parts in the film are what my favorite parts of lovemaking are - that moment when you don't really need to do anything because the energy is already at a place where even without any movement at all it's just becoming more and more alive. There are a couple of moments like that where you just see that quiet, yet so incredibly alive static space. I also love the communication segment. I hope it prompts people watching to start communicating about something that's not working for them, and I really hope that will benefit couples.
Kerry and Diane Riley are Tantric teachers - they have been exploring Sacred Sex and Tantric lovemaking during the 15 years they have been committed to each other. There was little information available on the subject 10 years ago, so they set out to explore for themselves, much in the way a craftsman wanting to hone his particular skills would. Their journey has taken them to the United States and India to research Tantric texts and seek out Tantric experts. They have lectured throughout Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada and the United States to more than 50,000 people. Their deep level of expertise made them the perfect consultants for Sacred Sex 2.
CL: What does your work entail as Tantric teachers?
KERRY: We look at happy couples who want to explore all there is in their lovemaking but who see their sexuality as a way to explore more love in their lives. The people we work with are willing to explore all there is together. We've moved more towards the "we-generation". Diane and I are in this thing together- we're going in as a couple on a journey into love. We work with couples who are prepared to say: "I have a happy relationship, I'm in love with my beloved, I'm with him or her for a lifetime, I love my sex, my spiritual connection and we want to be great at the things we really enjoy in life."
CL: Why do we need to be taught sacred sex?
KERRY: Every other skill in society is catered for. If you want to be a great architect or a great scientist you explore all there is to know. You'll go to courses, read books, listen to tapes - go into training. No musician will work just on his own knowledge and experience. They will source the best information available in the world.
DIANE: Women are now allowed to enjoy sex, even able to initiate it. Even though they can have more orgasms, they still say: "'I often feel empty at the end of a wonderful lovemaking session, even with a wonderful partner." I feel this is their lack of being able to connect spiritually with their partner- they want that spiritual connection. For a man to be a good lover in the 90s, not only does he have to be good at technique, be open, be able to cry and share deeply with his partner, he has to be able to connect spiritually as well.
CL: What is ecstatic lovemaking about?
KERRY: The ecstasy we feel is deep love for a human being, and if you can blend that with sex, then you've moved to a different realm of your lovemaking. And if you go further, you can turn that into an experience of being totally lost in the universe, transcending time and space so that there's a sense that something else is being touched beside your emotions, beside your sensations - it's like your soul is being touched. People are often afraid to try Tantric lovemaking because they have this image of it as something where you take off your clothes and everyone watches you screw in the middle of the room. I believe this film is the best vehicle to show people what sacred sex really is about.
CL: When you were approached to be in the film, did you have any reservations?
DIANE: I was excited to participate in the making of this film because I feel education is so important. To explore Tantra in workshops is fine, but to produce a film that can reach so many more people is my ideal. I think it's wonderful to give people an insight that lovemaking can be this way, as well as their own beautiful ways.
KERRY: We chose what we wanted to do in the film. We demonstrated the spiritual side of Tantra: how to turn sex into devotion which is an aspect that really speaks to couples, especially women. I'm happy to show my connection with Diane and my devotion to the world.
CL: What do you see as the film's purpose?
KERRY: Sacred Sex 2 has the potential for being a wonderful vehicle for exploring more love in your life.
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