There seemed to be a lot more actual sex happening at sex camp this year. I don’t know if it was just that I was aware of more, or if there was an actual change. It started with the couple in my dorm who made quiet but prolonged noises of ecstasy and pleasure, in between whispered conversations. Their sounds were punctuated by the persistent cough of the person in the next bed who said later she had not been aware of any sex. I also heard more people discussing their own sexual activity or the overheard activities of others. Still, it’s sex camp, what do you expect?
The energy in the lead up was different, too, and I was less sure about what it would be like. I was thrilled when sexgeek friend Kate asked if she could hang out and share a dorm with me like a ‘sexgeek slumber party’. It’s fine to go alone, but good to have someone in particular to connect with. I found a travelling companion via the sex camp car pool page too, and because she’d never visited a sex shop we had to check out the one in Lilydale en route. This research later proved useful for helping answer the sex geek quiz on Saturday night. Lelo toys is the brand with the gold dildo, FYI, and I led the Dinosaur Penis team to a thrilling victory in the quiz, YES! But I’m ahead of myself. I also saw Emma from WA soon after I arrived and had a wonderful sex researcher catch up, and clarified what I’d seen about her facebook doings, so felt connected and as though I belonged from the start.
The opening ceremony included a demonstration of how to put on a condom, and Vanessa’s swagger as she walked about in the demo strap on made me want one too. Including safer sex, and having lots of condoms and lube available everywhere was a great improvement on last year. One of the sex professionals called out ‘What about taking it off and disposing of it?’ which elicited a discussion about not putting condoms in toilets, but showed that those demonstrating had no understanding that how a condom is removed is probably more important for safety than how you put it on. Next year it would be good to get a professional who knows what she is talking about to do the condom demo. The candle lighting ceremony was still lovely.
Everyone held a tea light candle, and extinguished it at the same time.
Last year I’d not attended any Tantra workshops and made them a priority this year. It’s the usual conference gripe, everything you really want to do is on at the same time. I missed the cuddle party in favour of the play session which was sort of an intro to Tantra. We made sculptures of people, held hands and made eye contact with the next person, did lots of activities that relied on dividing into men and women and behaving in a heterosexual manner. This binary was to be repeated a lot in many of the workshops; FYI acknowledging your heterosexual-male-oriented upbringing and making no further changes is not enough to be inclusive of sex, gender and sexuality diversity. The same presenter in the Resonance Tantra session the next day with a significant imbalance of men and women eventually divided us into equal, non gender-specific numbers, but it would have been better if we had done that at the start. The activity centred around one group standing with eyes closed, while the other moved about them, sensing their energy, touching them if the indicated that was ok. I was very tentative during this at first, and when it was my turn to be the statue, loved the more confident and affectionate interactions. In the discussion afterwards someone said it was like being picked as winner of a beauty pageant, and there was definitely that sense of standing there, vulnerable, waiting to be chosen for an interaction. When it was done without the gender division, with equal numbers, it felt much more inclusive, less about sex, and more about human interaction.
The skill of the presenter is crucial to any teaching, and especially so with topics that are potentially threatening or button pushing. Some people are keen to participate and try out the new skill in spanking, kissing or cock and ball bondage, but others prefer to listen and learn and try it out privately. There is great skill in holding a space so that those who participate and those who watch are enabled to feel equally as included and safe.
The best workshop I attended, where the presenter’s skill at inclusiveness and keeping a safe space while delivering a sensational (pun intended) session, was Absolutely Vulvalicious by Laura-Doe http://www.yoniversity.com.au/ . The workshop was on vulva massage techniques. Laura-Doe had a number of vulva cushions, anatomically correct with labia, inner and outer, clitoris and clitoral hood, anus, and a vagina within which could be felt the internal ridges and cervix. Some people used these, and others practiced the techniques on themselves or their partner. Hand sanitiser, gloves, and lube were provided for those working on the real thing. About a quarter of the 40 or so attendees were men, some with a partner. One woman immediately got gloves and lube, lifted her skirt, removed her knickers and waited calmly for the activity. This helped set the mood of acceptance and about a third of those attending got organised to practice on themselves or a friend. After an introduction to the intricate and nerve-ending filled explanation of what was to be found, we were being taught a number of moves with fun and silly names, beginning with Pussy Petting. “I love Pussy Petting” said one woman, identifying this stroke as a favourite. As well as the techniques and how they worked with the anatomy, we discussed communication and the best way to keep in the moment while requesting or offering feedback. No complicated questions that require going into headspace! The use of hand signals was encouraged, with five digits being held up indicating keep going, and one finger suggesting that it’s time to move to something else. Just because something got a great reaction yesterday, or five minutes ago, does not mean it will be ok now. The men commented that the same goes for them. There was some thoughtful discussion and respectful sharing, and much earnest testing out of strokes and feedback. Near the end of this session some women were having orgasms, some audible and some shuddering quietly, and one woman had a loud, prolonged, surprised-sounding vocal expression of pleasure. (Afterwards I heard her say, I can’t do this for myself, how did he manage to do that for me?)
I’ve described this workshop to people and had quite shocked, astonished reactions. But what made it SO perfect, contained, and professional was that Laura-Doe held the space in a dignified, matter-of-fact but fun way. Observing quietly or participating fully were equally ok, in a safe, non-sleazy, sex-positive environment. Kudos to her as a skilled presenter.
The Saturday night entertainment was hilarious and diverse. It opened with the Sexgeek quiz, asking serious (and obscure) questions, such as ‘Which animal gives birth through its clitoris?’* The two presenters, Kate and Louise, were fun, had good rapport, and managed a quiz in a marquee of people with great skill. The bottom percussion which followed was quite astonishing. Visualise, if you will, a fat woman in short purple tutu and no pants, and a man in g string, both kneeling with bare bottoms presented to the audience. Each is straddled by a drummer, who proceeded to slap the bare bottoms in complex and complimentary rhythms, drummers making eye gleeful contact with each other, playing in harmony. Ouch, but so much energy, clearly enjoyed by the drums as much as the drummers, and hilarious to watch.
Sexcamp is a bit like a convention for sex geeks, or at least the sex-positive. The people who go range from the nervous, the curious to the confidently kinky, and all are catered for respectfully. I learnt heaps again this year, which included some emotional shifts and food for thought. I’ll be signing up next year.
* It’s a quadruped mammal and really ugly, I said to my team, trying to remember what this unfortunate creature is called. Hyena, someone said. Yes!