Sophisticated sex can be a portal to bliss

According to some free thinkers, a fearless and assertive approach to sensuality enriches day-to-day life and promotes self-actualization

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      On the nightstand next to her bed, life and sex coach Kim Anami has a rose-quartz dildo adorned with Swarovski crystals and marabou feathers on display. It’s perched on a 24-karat-gold stand, and it’s a $2,500 reminder that sexuality should never be hidden in the back room of some seedy sex shop.

      “It’s a beautiful piece of art,” said Anami in a soft voice.

      Sitting in a coffee shop on Granville Island, Anami spoke about tantric sex and her fearless approach to all of it. She has been a student of tantra for over 20 years and has spent the last six years teaching individuals and couples to become conscious of who they are sexually.

      “If you think of your life as a pie chart, divided into sections like work, recreation, and family, your sex life ought to be a huge part of that,” Anami said.

      Tantra is a philosophy that has roots in many Asian countries, including India, Cambodia, and China, and has become synonymous with the notion of a liberated approach to sex. Sex is celebrated beyond the physical; the mental and emotional components are not only embraced but recognized as integral parts of orgasmic bliss.

      Tantra’s blend of mind and body has long been familiar to Anami, who has practised martial arts for most of her life.

      “I’m fascinated with the awareness, cultivation, and exchange of energy,” she said, “and my martial-arts studies have helped develop that in me.”

      Anami prides herself on the clean, healthy life she leads, which includes organic foods, daily meditation, preventive and alternative medicine, and, of course, a good dose of amazing sex.

      For Anami, fantastic sex comes down to the ability to surrender to one’s hedonistic and sensual side, and do so without judgment or shame.

      “I think sex should be one of the main places where we can be ourselves completely, nakedly, and vulnerably,” she said. “It’s where we allow the parts of ourselves that don’t come out in day-to-day life to finally emerge.”

      Her raw and unapologetic approach comes from her fascination with the psychology and philosophy of sex. In particular, Anami is an enthusiast of Jungian psychology.

      A pioneer in depth psychology—the psychoanalytical study of the unconscious—Carl Gustav Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist whose work included the study of human personality and behaviour in terms of archetypes. Jung outlined five distinct archetypes, one of which he called the “shadow” and described as the areas of the unconscious that are socially unacceptable and often repressed.

      “Jung explained that the more these areas and thoughts were suppressed, the larger the shadow would grow,” Anami said. She cited the example of a woman who craves being dominated in the bedroom. Her fantasy could be considered a shadow desire. Surrendering to and experiencing that submissive part of herself gives her the opportunity to occupy a more dominant, take-charge space in her day-to-day life.

      This blunt and assertive approach to sexuality is seeing a resurgence, according to John Ince, co-owner of the Art of Loving store, a sex toy store in Vancouver that prides itself on being sex-positive and educational.

      “In the 21st century women became really interested in wanting to have a full range of experiences when it came to sex and basically becoming more sexually sophisticated,” the leader of the B.C. Sex Party (a political party that promotes libertarian attitudes towards sex) told the Straight in a phone interview. “The same is true for men.”

      Ince compares the sexual movement of today to what happened with wine in the ’50s and ’60s. “The average person couldn’t tell you the difference between a Merlot and a Chardonnay back then,” he said. “Now there are sommelier courses and an entire lifestyle dedicated to the pleasures one can derive from wine.”

      Ince points to what he calls the “sexual sophistication” of the culture as an emerging movement in Canada. “This is a visible outcome of a large demographic trend becoming more sex-positive and less and less frightened about sexuality,” he said.

      A few days later, in an apartment in Vancouver’s Coal Harbour, candles and vanilla incense filled the room, throw pillows and lush rugs were strewn about, and seven women drank wine, ate sushi, and discussed why they should be “fucking with a purpose”.

      “So much of the things I talk about, from fantasy play to anal sex and deep-throating, is amazing and wonderful, normal and acceptable,” Anami told the women, “but it’s not random acts of unconscious fucking. Sex can be an amazing portal to self-actualization.”

      Anami will be running an ongoing sexual salon series, called Sexual Savant Salons, starting on August 6 at Tart Boutique on Granville Island and continuing on August 25 at Raw Canvas in Yaletown. The series includes “The Art of Pleasuring a Man”, “The Art of Pleasuring a Woman”, and “The Multi-Orgasmic Couple”. But she hopes that people are ready to explore even more tantalizing topics, as they do in her classes on sensual domination and the use of jade eggs to strengthen vaginal muscles.

      “The classes are multimedia presentations in a beautiful and sensual space, with erotic art, information, and readings that will allow people to gain insight into and improve their sex lives,” she explained.

      According to Anami, when sexuality is repressed, it will ultimately come out in other, inappropriate ways, and the consequences can be terrifying.

      Education and debate about sexuality have come a long way in North American culture in the past century, according to Becki Ross, associate professor of sociology at UBC, but she said there is still “a long road to travel”.

      “There is abiding and unresolved contradiction between the two duelling poles in our sexual culture, causing us to go a couple of steps forward and turn around and take a couple of steps back,” she told the Straight in a phone interview.

      The poles—sexual danger and repression on the one hand and sexual freedom on the other—are in a constant struggle with one another. And although Ross believes that “frank and unapologetic” discussions about sexual desire and fantasy are crucial, they are often stifled by fear and miscommunication.

      One specific area that she thinks requires more attention and discussion is masturbation, which she said is a healthy and necessary aspect of sexuality.

      “If people aren’t capable or interested in or skilled enough to pleasure themselves, then I can’t really imagine how they would be in a great position to pleasure someone else,” she said.

      On the topic of sex advice, Ross is a great advocate of going straight to the professionals. Although she understands that it may not be a popular notion, she insists that no one could have a better perspective on and understanding of sex than sex-industry workers like prostitutes and strippers.

      “I look to them as the sex professionals, and yet they are the ones who are spurned and judged, criminalized and stigmatized,” she said. “So, in fact, how far are we along the trail to a collective sexual nirvana?”

      Going to an accountant for tax advice or a car mechanic for a tune-up just seems like a natural choice, but Ross explained why society has apprehensions about looking at sex workers as the authorities on the subject.

      “The business is shrouded in so much moral and legal regulation that it’s prohibitive for people seeking out those experts.”

      Despite the cultural challenges to facilitating a new kind of sexual revolution, Ross sees classes and workshops like Anami’s as a great means to open up the conversation and break the barriers between what is and isn’t appropriate behaviour.

      She likened the face-to-face, unfettered conversations happening in these workshops to the efforts that were made by feminists in the ’60s, during the last wave of sexual uprising. Ross urged women to continue to improve their sexualprowess and said she refuses to believe that anyone should put up with a subpar sex life.

      “There is no justification or rationalization to fake an orgasm,” she argued. “Why should we put up with bad sex when we could be having amazing sex, unencumbered by guilt or shame?”

      Back on Granville Island at Tart Boutique, Anami picked up a beautifully crafted glass dildo that looked more like a trinket your mother would have on display in the china cabinet. She is comfortable in the space; she looks to her sexual partners as her allies, and allows herself to go on a sexual journey that few ever take.

      “My aim with the salons is to create a special place for people who have an interest in exploring, learning, and exchanging ideas in a sensual and hedonistic environment. I want people to value the role of sex in their lives. And have a lot more of it!”




      Jul 23, 2010 at 8:20am

      Just go get laid already. Summer is the best time to get OUTSIDE and meet (meat) people.


      Jul 23, 2010 at 3:44pm

      This all seems rather childish. Surely a mature human being can find more interesting things to occupy themselves with than pleasuring themselves, sex outside of love and marriage, and giving expression to dark sexual fantasies. And the concept that people can advance spiritually through erotic explorations has no basis in the real world of venerable religions, the ancient mystery school traditions, and the vast and eclectic streams of spiritual wisdom and enlightened masters. The proposed dichotomy between sexual repression and sexual freedom is an artificial divide. The third dimension of transcendence and psychological, intellectual, social and spiritual maturity which expands awareness into many new realms of connection and intimacy which don't involve physical erogonous zones is a truer measure of freedom and spiritual enrichment.

      Sure, to the extent that one chooses to be sexually active, one may as well heal shame, ignorance and fear and develop awareness and capacity to experience and share pleasure, caring and intimacy, and to minimize the chances of transmitting diseases, creating unwanted pregnancies, and damaging other people and oneself psychologically. But most people gradually lose interest in sex as their consciousness of other dimensions of living expand and their engagement with people and the world becomes far more multi-faceted and eclectic.

      ed nauseum

      Jul 23, 2010 at 4:39pm

      Strategis, you're kidding or you're a spambot, right?


      Jul 23, 2010 at 4:51pm

      What self-absorbed nonsense. I agree with Cooley. Stop talking about it already and if it's legal go out and scratch what itches. And while you're at it, sell that extravagant, ridiculous rose-quartz dildo and donate the proceeds to a local charity.

      Matty K.

      Jul 23, 2010 at 6:55pm

      This is largely a publicity story, because everything you pay to find out in the sessions is widely available on the INTERNET. Heck, you could torrent more info than what she could explain. Good enough for Sting, good enough for you xD

      Universe Lover

      Jul 23, 2010 at 10:46pm

      Love is like playing the piano. First you must learn and play by the rules, then you forget the rules and play from your heart.

      The love we feel for our self, for our family and friends, for humanity, and for the loving universe of which we are a part, gradually expands and deepens -- if that is our intention and we open our heart to the language and transforming touch of love. This deepening and expanding love in turn enriches every aspect of our life, becoming the pulse of everything we do.

      Because I love you, we enjoy a life that makes us strong and healthy.
      Because I love you, we enjoy each day in Mother Nature’s bosom.
      Because I love you, each day we blend with music’s pure rhythms.
      Because I love you, we exercise each day, loving each moment we do so.
      Because I love you, we rest in silence to know Peace’s deeper rhythms.
      Because I love you, we are fed by life's pure energy.
      Because I love you, we have cosmic sex; know tantra at its ripest.
      Because I love you, abundance flows, providing perfection to each moment.
      Because I love you ”¦ and so the song of bliss flows on. . .


      Jul 24, 2010 at 9:58am

      Whenever people start publicly swooning and oozing about love and intimacy and spiritual enrichment like they're channelling Karen Carpenter, it creeps me out and all I want is a foul-mouthed loveless quickie in a broom closet with a Hells Angel.


      Jul 24, 2010 at 2:45pm

      This kind of sex-positive rhetoric is like bad art: you have to apply fancy language and elaborate meanings just to convince yourself that the whole thing isn't stupid, silly and lame.


      Jul 24, 2010 at 5:25pm

      I agree with the first's summer, go outside, make an effort to meet other horny people (hot weather is great for the libido!) and chances are you'll get laid and have some good, lighthearted summertime fun.

      $2500 dildo ( much for this chick getting laid I guess) and pretentious, pseudo-intellectual snobbery not required.


      Jul 26, 2010 at 4:30pm

      So judgemental people... you have to realize that not everyone can just "go outside and get laid"... a lot of people have a lot of hangups... and some people find the titiliation of getting together like this: in a formal, paid, meeting, and talking about sex, irresistible...

      So just let the lady have her encrusted dildo... i think the jewels would hurt tho' wouldn't they?