School celebrating man’s erotic nature touches on community, connection and change
Just because you’re gay doesn’t mean you feel really comfortable being intimate with other men. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
The Body Electric School was created 25 years ago as a response to the fear of intimacy among gay men as a result of AIDS. Before the origins of the disease were known, many gay men became fearful of even casual touch.
The program was developed not only for those infected with the virus, but also for those affected by it. Its founder, Joseph Kramer, did research to create a program that uses massage as one of its major tools. According to current Body Electric school director Bob Findle, the goals of the class are community, connection and change.
"Although the origins of Body Electric began as a response to the appearance of AIDS and the accompanying, crippling fear of intimacy it created among gay men, the work has evolved beautifully to meet the challenges of today where finding intimacy and connection can still be difficult," Findle says.
Nowadays, Body Electric workshops deal more with intimacy issues occasioned by something other than disease: the Internet. With the rise of hook-up sites and downloadable pornography, people feel more disconnected than ever.
"There’s still a fear of getting to know people," Findle says. Because of the Internet, people are "feeling so very lost and alone."
Findle brags about the connections people make; he cites a Denver couple that met during a Body Erotic weekend and is still together.
Classes work on a number of levels, from helping students develop better intimacy skills to simply pushing back from the daily grind and even to acquiring "tools for making you a better lover through creating intentions and developing consciousness around erotic energy." Participants are nude during much of the session to make them feel comfortable with their bodies and the touch of others.
The school offers three levels of classes, one of which, "Celebrating the Body Erotic," is being held in Dallas this weekend (it will be back in Dallas Oct. 24â€“25 specifically for couples). Nationwide, weekend workshops will run in 40 cities across the U.S., Canada and Australia.
"Part of what draws me to Body Electric is how it helps people heal their histories of what it’s been like to growing up in a culture that makes it very challenging to feel good about being erotic, especially when it involves the same sexes," says Eddie Hernandez, Dallas’ Body Electric coordinator. "We allow men to feel love, including for themselves, and to do so in a community setting. That can feel revolutionary."
Classes take place May 30â€“31. $395. More information about location and times, visit Thebodyelectricschool.com or call Eddie Hernandez at 214-517-1932.
QUEER CLIP: ‘EVERY LITTLE STEP’ IS ONE SINGULAR SENSATION
You might not see original cast member (and now Dallas-based director) Michael Serrecchia in the footage, but the documentary "Every Little Step" — now at the Angelika Film Center at Mockingbird and opening Friday at the Angelika in Plano — fascinatingly tracks the development of "A Chorus Line," starting with the first idea in 1974 up through the recent revival.
— Arnold Wayne Jones
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 29, 2009.