Kamala Devi shares about the process:
"We are are doing seriously devious shit in the name of art"
WHY I HATE THE HOLIDAYS
By Kamala Devi
After Black Friday, every year, I pack up for a holiday retreat…which usually involves leaving the civilized western world to get the hell away from the comercial temptation to shop for stupid stocking stuffers and sugar cookies. Having been raised by wrathful and guilt-ridden Jewish & Catholic parents, I have a double dose of disdain for the overblown religiosity of the season.
Recently, as the mother of a bright eyed 4 year old boy, who’s birthday falls in the midst of all the holiday madness…I’ve come to realize that it’s not all about me. (Imagine that!) Perhaps there’s something more. Something even deeper for me to explore…?
But how can I bear to wear ugly sweaters drink egg-nog and maintain my Ba-humbug-I’m too sexy for the Grinch like attitude? I’m curious. Really. I want to know what a true tantric christmas looks like.
This year, instead of running away, I’m staying in San Diego to face my demons. Better yet, I’m going to cover myself in plum pudding and wrestle the dreaded Santa Beast myself. (Ho! Ho! Ho!) Who wants to watch?
Tantra Theater is producing a spectacularly naughty little production called “The Sack-Religious Show” with 9 talented performance artists who are willing to get emotionally naked onstage. We each have a diverse degree of religious damage that we are willing to divulge for your entertainment and enlightenment. Add spice to your holiday season with this radical variety show we celebrate our religious freedom and right to free speech with music, dance, song, and comedy about sex and spirit.
PostScript: After the 2011 holiday show closed, I have a sneaky suspicion that this is the beginning of a new annual tradition in San Diego, and though I can’t believe I’d ever want to do a show again, I’m excited to see what San Diego Players come up with for the Sack-Religious show in 2012!
Cum all ye who are Relgious in the Sack!
Writer / Performers:
Katie, Adam, Chris, Coby, Jenn, Michael, Monique and Nate. AND DID I MENTION KATIE? Directed by Kamala Devi
Reflections on the Sacred Slut Series by Kamala Devi
This is the most radical, confronting, and awakening piece of art, I have EVER been associated with (if I do say so myself.) I've been afraid to brag, because I don't want to sound like this one-woman-show is all about me, me, me....but in tonight's rehearsal I got an EXPLOSIVE download and I see that it is not only about me. It's about ANY person who has ever been told that SEX and MONEY are anything less than SACRED.
This show screws social taboos, questions legal limits and defies religious assumptions. I go beyond sharing my personal sexual healing, and deliver you into the arms, onto the massage tables and bedrooms of my sacred sex mentors. I tell the story of 5 outrageous women who share turning points from their lives. Come learn about Veronica Monet, Amara Charles, Mare Simone, Tracy Elise and Annie Sprinkle. Past and present prostitutes, Tantra Teachers, Sex Surrogates, Mother Priestesses, and Porn Stars.
I use oral tradition and temple arts to transmit their powerful teachings, and the show culminates in a sacred self pleasuring ritual. I'm doing a truly transformative tribute to sexy performance art legend, Annie Sprinkle.
Gratitude to my Cast and Crew: From Left to Right starting on top: Peter on Drums, James on lights, sound and slideshow, Michael lighting design and executive producer, Steve Bickell on Videography, Kali Das on Stage Management, Maha Lakshmi on Concessions, Catheleen on Registration, Janos is Set designer extrordinaire, Kamala Devi, Tracey Lontos on Registration, Neil on Sound, Eve Olution on acting coaching, Rita Mooney on Comedy, Adam Paulman on Slideshow, Rae NewWoman on Comedy & Voice coaching. And ofcourse Julie Kondor is taking the photo. And Rob Armstrong with Namaste Media for videography on the final evening.
--Lila Watson, Aboriginal Activist
Not Another Self Indulgent One Woman Show: The Sacred Slut Series by Kamala Devi
There is always a fine line between Art and Therapy, and when Tantra Theater is done right, that line dissolves. Generally we do this through 90 days of group psychodrama before inviting an audience into our process. Now, I am furiously preparing to showcase my first solo performance in about a month.
After about a year of research, development and procrastination, I’ve created a One-Woman-Show about the sacred prostitute. Because I believe in the power of deadlines, I booked a local theater in only FIVE WEEKS. That’s hardly enough time to work through my self doubt, self consciousness and self judgment, let alone enough time to edit, MEMORIZE, rehearse and produce the hour long show.
As a creativity coach, I’m used to midwifing artists through said resistance. In fact part of my job description, as director of Tantra Theater, is to hold the artist by the hand and remind them to speak their truth. “Who cares what your mother, neighbor, rabbi would say, a true artist is willing to be misunderstood!” Now, when I visualize myself standing naked on the stage (figuratively as well as literally) my mouth goes dry, my knees start to shake and I wonder, who’s going to hold my hand?
“What are you afraid of?” I ask myself, closing my eyes to inquire deeper. I allow feelings to focus beyond familiar fears of failure, not trying, looking like an ass, disappointing my fans, not living up to my own standards, sabotaging myself, or getting arrested and having child protective services take away my 4 year old son. To my surprise, my greatest block is …drumroll please… fear of being self indulgent. I got into theater to help other people, my inner critic says, nobody wants to see me get onstage and watch me heal myself, especially if they’re paying for tickets at the door.
I paid to sit through a whole litany of angry feminist rants in the name of self expression while studying performance art in college. When bored by what was happening onstage, I sat in the dark audience imagining a discursive spoof called: “Look at me, look at me, look at me!” The unbearable thought of contributing another self indulgent peice to the already embarrassing list of obscure post modern solo plays, is why it has taken me over 15 years to finally create my own show.
I confess I would rather die than re-tell the story of my dysfunctional upbringing in public– And this is from a woman who is constantly preaching about the value of vulnerability! So, the only way I gathered the gumption to get up there, is by telling other people’s stories. I admit it, I’m too chicken shit to share my own, so I built a show around interviews with five women, my mentors. Now, I am sincerely honored that these powerful pioneers in sacred sex have entrusted me to share their intimate details about being arrested, nearly raped, judged and ultimately liberated. As I refine their powerful stories, I realize the potential we have to affect social change, but the only way to do that, is to personally affect the audience, which requires me to be vulnerable.
This is the most ego confronting work I’ve ever encountered. I’ve spent 3 years supporting other people step up to the stage to heal rape, body image, sexual identity, STD and other taboo issues. After several months scrambling for other performers and/or a different director, I am finally ready to step up and share these stories. And then, the plot thickened. Annie Sprinkle, pioneer performance artist and one of my interview subjects, insists that I do a self pleasuring scene onstage. Hell, If you’re going to be self indulgent, do it all the way!
Ha, ha, ha HA! (This is my awkward ‘oh shit’ laugh of disbelief.)
Then I remember what Ellen DeGenerous’s says in her one woman show. She used to go to therapy and ramble on about her neurosis, (you know, all the dissatisfying details that come with being human.) Then she thought, why pay a stranger to listen to her talk, when she can get a whole room of strangers to pay her to listen to her talk! But she’s Ellen DeGenerous.
And who am I? I wonder. Can I truly get naked and strip off my defenses along with my lingerie? Can I take off the title of author, director, self proclaimed goddess, and just connect with the audience? In the last scene of “The legend of the Sacred Prostitute,” Annie Sprinkle plucks off her false eye lashe, still breathing heavy after a great orgasm, while looking into the audience. Could I do that? And be authentic? Annie promises that the sacred part of prostitution comes when we are authentic. She coaches me to perform her invocation in my own voice, my own style. Could I cum onstage and not be attached to whether it was good for them, or if they will tell their friends that they think I faked it?
I don’t know yet how it’s going to turn out, I haven’t even finished the script, but now at least one thing is clear: I am willing to be self indulgent. And indulging in the self… feels damn good.
Tantra Theater presents The Sacred Slut Show opens July 7,8,9th $20 presale tickets $25 at the door. http://sacredslutseries.eventbrite.com/ The play is inspired by interviews with Annie Sprinkle, Mare Simone, Amara Charles, Veronica Monet, Tracy Elise and other anonymous sacred sex pioneers.
Sacred Slut Show Synopsis:
The full length show is an embodied exploration of sacred prostitution told through a tapestry of personal narrative, dance, prayer, poetry and interviews. The language and tone will span the full spectrum from sacred to the profane. It will juxtapose modern session-work with ancient myths and sufi poetry. I intend to represent a variety of faces of the Eternal Goddess as she was, will be and is now. Though it was originally conceived as a one-goddess show, there will be one man and an additional woman to play out various dynamics of the male-female duality. The performance will be conducted in the context of interactive ritual with the audience, opening and closing with an invocation and benediction to the Goddess.
I am interviewing experienced sacred prostitutes (past and present) as well as need help writing, rehearsing and producing this Tantra Theater event.I intend to complete the first draft by early January so that I can edit, cast and rehearse a first performance in San Diego early March. Beyond that, I plan to perform it at sacred sex conferences, and plan to have it like video recorded and available on www.TantraTheater.TV
Here the of the basic questions I’ve been exploring during my interviews:
1) Tell me about a memorable time in which your sacred sexual services transformed/healed a client/seeker.
2) Do you remember a session or experience in which you embodied the goddess, or clearly felt this work is your dharma?
3) Tell me about a formative time in which you received money in exchange for sacred sex work.
If your interested in supporting the show, please leave a comment below, and let me know if your willing to volunteer your time and energy toward any aspect of this project. Or if you know of anyone else who would be a good fit for this project.
Tantra Theater NYC
A NYC chapter of Tantra Theater is kicking off their first rehearsal tomorrow with Gia Lisa Krahne, Philip Di Pietro , and Elena Giordano, three yoga teachers & actors I worked with during my recent trip to NY. Break a Leg! (Or as we say in TT, Break a Hymen.)
A brand new weekly Tantra Theater Workshop exploration in New York City!! In a completely safe, intimate setting, we will do guided explorations of past sexual & formative experiences with unique exercises in partners and groups. At the end of the evening, you will have the opportunity, but are no…t required to “perform” in front of the group. This is a healing practice for both participants and observers.
Our current gathering is BY DONATION. Any offering from the heart, no matter how small, will be gratefully received. As will your presence! This is the beginning of an open-ended series of classes which will either be held on Sunday or Monday nights, depending on participants’ feedback. You may drop-in at any time in the series. And we will eventually be moving toward a final culminating performance for those who would like to share a more refined, rehearsed piece of material.
NYC chapter orchestrated by Gia Lisa Krahne, Philip Di Pietro, and Elena Giordano. You are in good hands, all three are yoga teachers & actors, very much impassioned by the idea of embarking on new explorations of the tantra theater experience. Inspired by the teachings of Kamala Devi and the San Diego Tantra Theater Troupe
This week space is limited due to the size of the location, so RSVP’s appreciated. You can message Gia, Elena or Philip to RSVP. Or call Gia at 917.645.2541
Bring on the Dick Debates:
Recently, I’ve been praying, meditating and exploring my own practice of penis worship. When I went on Tantric pilgrimage to Mother India, nearly every temple contained a huge beautiful phallus which was decorated and celebrated on an hourly basis.
However, most temples and teachers insist that interpreting the Shiva Lingam as a phallic symbol is a severe mistake, misunderstand or even heresy. Sivinanda and Vivekanada are among the many religious scholars that debated if the Shiva lingam has any sexual significance.
As a middle path Tantrika, I aim to practice beyond duality. The act of linga worship is a celebration of BOTH the formless and the form. I’ve synthesized several ancient Tantric scriptures and took artistic license in interpreting the following:
God is eternal, omnipresent, and formless. Since it is hard to grasp the concept of absolute consciousness, God appeared on earth in the form of a great wand of light, or Shiva lingam. The Sanskrit term linga translates to mean symbol or sign. Tantric, Hindu and Pagan devotees use the lingam as a symbol of supreme reality. We use our bodily senses to practice more intimate devotion.
Linga worship is considered the highest form of worship since It connects a devotee with the supreme consciousness of Lord Shiva in the world of form. As such, I believe all lingams are extensions of God, and having sex is the most sacred way to merge with The Divine. Whether it’s sensual or symbolic, I say: Do it. Do it often. And do it with devotion.
During the Auditions for Dick Dabates we borrowed the following interview from Betty Dodson and Carlin Ross: “How to Celebrate your cock!”
In the interest of healing men’s attitude toward the appearance and size of their genitals, we offer a view of men’s sex organs generated by men who speak in their own words about how they feel about their adorable dicks.
1.How do you feel about the general appearance of your genitals; the color, texture, size, the shape of the glans, foreskin (if any), testicles, etc?
2. Do you talk to your dick? What did you call your sex organ as a child? Have you given him a pet name? Does he have ideas of his own?
3. How does he like to be lubricated, touched, and stroked?
4. Is your pubic hair natural, trimmed, or shaved?
5. What is your favorite method of masturbation?
6. How and when did you have your first orgasm?
7. Have you ever shared masturbation with another person? Where and when?
8. What kind of fantasies do you have?
9. What do you like best about the orgasms you have with yourself?
10. What else do you want to share about your relationship to your dick?
Happy 1st Birthday SD Tantra Theater:
Almost one year ago, we were a group of mostly virgin performers who were nervously preparing our first public showcase in my backyard. We’ve since traveled to conferences, performed at festivals, maintained a monthly gig, designed this new website that features hours of streaming video, but we’re most proud of the deep connections we’ve made with hundreds of open-minded audience members! This month, we’re stepping up to professional venue in a hip downtown hotel where we’ll be offering radical, improvisational, experimental tantra theatre events.
You may be wondering: What’s the connection between Tantra and Theater? To which I say, Tantra acknowledges that desire, sex and pleasure are as sacred as prayer, worship, and ritual. While Theater, as a medium, is the culmination of the 64 tantric temple arts (music, song, dance, mimicry…see blog post below) Together, Tantra Theater is a sensual ritual where the community comes together, turns down the lights, breaths together, laughs together and cries together as they focus their attention on provocative entertainment. By transparently dramatizing our personal narratives Tantra Theater players give the audience permission to see their sex as sacred, and their life as art.
Director's Notes on Opening Night
I hate to be one of those directors who, at the beginning of the show goes on and on about how significant the collaborative process was. HOWEVER–This show was intended as a “process piece” which means we spent 90 days of sharing wild hot inspiration on subjects ranging from birth to death.
Whenever you get together in a concentrated circle of powerful alchemists for the purpose of creating …you’re likely to manifest life circumstances with similar themes. It’s true, “life imitates art” and ofcourse, the converse is true. Together we moved through marriage, the death of several troupe members, pregnancy, divorce and new love. Always with a keen eye on what is thereapy and what is art.
Through this process, we generated over five hours of deep intimate performance material. And ultimately, my greatest challenge as the director is the burden to whittle it all down to a manageable show. If the weather weren’t so damn cold, and our audience wasn’t sitting in the grass under the stars…I’d probably make them witness more of our process and disclaim that tantric theater is like tantric lovemaking… long and challenging.
Alas, for those who don’t have the endurance of a rock star, I selected only the most inspired pieces and pocketed the other performances for an future encore where we might share our outtakes and give birth to our”creative miscarriages.” I look forward to hearing how our process sets fire to yours.
My Top 10 Favorite Acting Tips
10 Top Acting Tips. Acting is challenging, rewarding, deep, and sometimes even painful, but it is arguably the most growthful art under the sun. Here are my top 10 favorite tips to help you break through to your full expression!
Learn to breath. Start with complete full breaths and then you can play with extending the length of your inhale and exhale. One great way to expand the diaphragm (and increase your ability to project) is to inhale as deeply as possible and exhale for twice the amount of time you spent inhaling. Breathing helps with stage presence, stress and stage fright.
Support your fellow actors. Making your peers look and feel good will cultivate community, improve the show and ultimately bring out your best. Nobody likes a scene-stealer or a prima dona. Chemistry within the cast is one of the primary indicators of a successful show
Practice! Practice! Practice! The more you speak your lines out loud and move your body the better you will get. (Scroll down for more tips on how to memorize.)
Be willing to “look the fool.” If you’re afraid of looking silly, you are in your ego. You are not your role. A true actor does whatever is required of the character to make it the most engaging role possible. Remember you are not your character, and you cannot be fully expressed if you’re holding back.
Don’t fling your body around randomly when you act. Outstretched arms and excessive gesticulation is a sure sign of an armature. Channel that distracting energy into your voice, eyes, and characterization. Be strong and still so the energy is projected to the audience, not haphazardly about the stage.
If you forget a line: stay calm and always remember to stay in character. Breaking character during a performance is theatrical suicide. Ask yourself what would your character do in this situation, or how would they respond? Eventually you will recognize your cue and the lines will come back. Plan B, in worse case scenario is to skip ahead to a line that you remember.
Hold for laughs. If you or one of your cast mates induces chuckles from the crowd, be sure to pause a little until they quiet down; this way your lines don’t get lost in the sea of noise. Do not laugh, no matter how much laughter you get from the audience, Stay in Character.
Do your scene work. Ask yourself the 3 Ws or basic questions about your role:Who am I? Where am I? What do I want? Fill in all character activity not provided in the text. (Where does he go when he exits? What he was doing before entering the stage?)
Use Creative visualization. Imagine your character’s phycial appearance and run them through your mind until it become second nature. Visualization is a secret shared by all successful athletes, performers, and leaders. Visualization is mentally picturing yourself successfully performing in the play. Spend time each day imagining your ideal performance. Relax and go through all your senses and notice what you imagine seeing, hearing, tasting, feeling, even smelling, within the world of the play. Breathe deeply and easily as you imagine your success into reality.
Be professional and prepared. Show up early or on time, will give you the necessary warm up time and, mental peace that you need to perform at your best. Know your script. Read, re-read and then read again. (Especially at night before bed, this is the most effective time to read and dream about your script.) From this foundation you can go on to identify the reason for your lines, (Subtext) this will add depth to your lines and make remembering easier. (Scroll down for more tips on memorization.
Top 5 Memorization Tips:
All the preparation in the world is useless if you don’t know your lines!
You can’t really begin to act at all, or to develop your character, until you have your lines (off book). So the sooner you get started the better. The process of memorization boils down to one thing: Repetition. There are several different tips which, when practiced in repetition will lead to success:
1. Memorization takes conscientious work night after night. (I recommend you do it right before bed and visualize a perfect performance.)
2. Be sure to say your lines out loud in each of these methods. You can’t merely reproduce the words: you have to speak them into birth. Try recording your monologues or lines in a tape recorder or MP3 player and play it back while your driving around or before going to bed. I recommend you record them in a monotone voice so that when you repeat it back you can try different inflections. Don’t fall into inflection patterns too early on. Setting inflections too soon often prevents the scene from growing and changing as you discover more things about it. Your director may have input that will change what you thought the line meant, or how you need to respond.
3. By focusing on the motivation behind the words and WHY you would say them, you not only add depth, but you can memorize your lines easier and they make more sense in the context of the play as a whole.
4. Beats. Large chunks of text can be broken into smaller sections, called “beats,” to make memorizing easier. Each beat may have a specific theme: for example, the actor may be manipulative in one beat, and pleading in the next.
5. Add in the movement as soon as you have the blocking: this will help you link the sense
of the word to the action and to the environment. And you optimize your body memory and it helps you remember your text.
Remember that if you get your lines and movements memorized in your nervous system, it opens you up to be more present and alive when onstage. Have Fun!
Theater Improv has the same rules as Sacred Sex!
It’s no secret that I’ve become infatuated with tantra theater. And when I’m not directing the sacred sexual stories of my friends and lovers in our weekly rehearsals, I’m spending my spare time playing with a new comedy improvisation troupe. What’s this obsession about? At first I thought it was just the sultry hot endorphin rush that I got from doing it. Then I realized it is the most ego-confronting practice I’ve ever engaged in. And now I’m starting to see how this art form is no different from tantra. Infact, famed masters of modern improv, Charna Halpern and Del Close even said:
“Improv is like sex, even when it’s bad, its still pretty good.”
— Truth in Comedy.
But they had no idea that many of the basic principles they teach can be cross-applied directly to Sacred Sex. (This is distinctly NOT the case with acting.) Infact, the more someone ‘acts’ in bed, the less sacred the sex is.
Here are some of the basic tenants of good improv that I could just as easily say about tantra :
You can not learn it from books, it is a whole body experience that must be practice with devotion.
The first and most important rule that must not be broken is agreement (Also known as YES…AND) Agreement forwards the action. If there is no agreement in the scene it falls apart. The improvisation dies. It becomes rape!
A true practitioner must gives up all control without any attachment to how they think the scene should go.
If you adore and admire your playmates their expression becomes brilliant and by making them look good, you will look better and have more fun!
Get out of your ego and let a larger story be told.
Surrender to the spontaneous co-creation in the moment.
Mistakes are all part of the play.
No matter how much laughter and play is involved, you must have deep reverence for the craft and the scene must be taken seriously.
Unlearn your stock responses. Let go of whatever you planning to say. Jokes, like witty pick-up lines will make your audience groan. Don’t try to create an effect in your audience, but be true to the deepest impulse that arises in you.
Trust is essential. Be willing to follow your partners lead.
Listen deeply to what your partner is saying, not only in their words but in their body language. Take notice and be responsive. Try to recall what they are saying or doing and reflect it back to them later in the scene when it will illuminate new meaning.
Initate physical movement. Reveal yourself through your actions.
Interact with your environment
Don’t be afraid of the silence, pausing at the right place can be dramatic.
Go for group mind…where possible perform as if one player with multiple heads.
Remember the wise words of Del Close “Listen to your inner voice” and “Take the unusual choice”
All rules are just suggestions. There is an exception to every rule.
Whether we’re in the bedroom or on stage, the spontaneous flow continues. Tantra and Improv continue through everything you do. Practicing either craft can improve your performance in all other aspects of life, from your technical expertise to your sales. I hope to see you at one of our upcoming Tantra theater shows!
Kill the Buddha on the Road.
At the end of every performance, a masterful actor must kill his/her character. Imagine how powerful this is when the character you’ve been playing is YOU!
When the last Tantra Theater show closed we gathered to burry the production.
In the spirit of art therapy or psycho -drama we used the following incantation:
You are not my mother, you are not my father, rapist, ex-lover, brother or director. Thank youfor playing that role so that I can better know myself. I am the writer of my own drama. I am the director of my own life. Aho!
Got Creativity? Audio with Zental & Devi
Enjoy this free 1 hour recording of Kamala Devi interviewing Freddy Zental of TantraNova. We thought you’d like to evesdrop in one of our creative conversations.
We’ve been dialoging about Tantra and Theater for over a year and we’ve had so many transformative conversations that I finally decided share the inspiration with you! For your benefit, we will discuss: How to overcome the fear of public speaking? How to handle the ego when doing public performance? How can Tantra and Theater unleash your full expression? How to manifest more creativity and less drama in your life? Zental’s work has assisted me, and thousands of others, to cut through the illusion that keeps us from fully actualizing our dreams and passions. Learn how creativity can lead to more intimacy & love. We will introduce you to Tantra Theater based technologies.