The things Netflix Watch Instantly makes me do! This is now the second column inspired by this ridiculous show, Strange Sex. I apologize.
Said inspirational episode follows Barbara Carrellas through her magical ability to achieve (and teach!) “energy-orgasms” which occur without any genital contact whatsoever and through the pleasurable power of your thoughts. “Thinking off,” she calls it. What it looks like is a lot of squirming around, back-arching, breathing, Reiki-esque hand motions to move erotic energy to the naughty places of your body and, in Barb’s case, a lot of laughing—laughing that weirded me out in a way all the “different” porn I’ve watched in my day has not.
Barbara—who, by the way, is a seasoned “theater artist”—admits early on that these orgasms feel… different… than genital orgasms. I assume that by different she means fake, but then she goes to a laboratory and they stick her in an MRI and she proceeds to have a lot of orgasms that produce noisy, maniacal laughter, much to the titillation of the very professional yet prudish, stoic researchers present. And, by Jove! they find out that her brain is indeed firing on all the same cylinders that fire when you’re physically rubbing one out.
So what does this mean for you? Well, you can go to one of her classes in New York, where you’ll learn to slow down and reprocess everything you’ve been taught about orgasming. This isn’t the quiet-and-quick, frantic, breath-holding masturbation session of your youth, she says. You’ve got to unlearn all that. Thinking Off takes a lot of concentration, breathing, erotic visualization and body awareness. And yoga mats. Lots of yoga mats.
Strange Sex takes us to one of her classes, where a handful of strangers squirm around on yoga mats on some random floor, all appearing to achieve what they came for. But—I don’t know, readers. How many times have you buckled to the pressure of a performance-based, public, group dynamic in other parts of your life? Smiled and nodded in math class when the teacher asks if everyone’s ready to move onto the next impossible algebraic nightmare, or suffered through an insanely painful yoga pose that everyone else bends right into without wincing?
This, combined with the added social pressure that commonly convinces us that we should all be born sexperts without self-education, leaves me unconvinced that this is an ideal orgasm-learning environment. If it’s not working for you, are you really going to be lying quietly on your straw mat, texting your way through yet another boring “community class” you found on Craigslist?
Otherwise, wouldn’t it be a lot easier to get off mentally when you’ve got six people around you essentially performing live porn? What happens when you go home and lie down on your own yoga mat with the neighbors’ TV leaking through the walls and cat hair stuck to your cheek? Isn’t orgasming around other orgasmers a kind of cheating?
Wait! Does going to this class count as cheating? (Baby, please, it was just an ENERGY orgasm).
Okay. All cynical, woo-woo-hippie-bashing aside, her inspiration in spreading the good word of Thinking Off is authentically touching (God, the puns!). When she first starting honing her skills in the ‘80s, members of her community were dying off from the then-mysterious AIDS epidemic faster than they could mourn them. Thinking Off, she figured, is the safest way to get off. Well, I’m all about safer sex and the brain as the biggest sex organ!
Realistically, I’d imagine that Thinking Off is a combination of Tantra, that ghostly orgasm you wake up to after a sex dream (it happens!) and a “coregasm” (non-genital orgasms induced by pelvic floor contractions plaguing female gym rats everywhere; see “Let’s Get Physical, Physical,” September 29, 2011).
Is this a teachable skill? Sure! But it’s loud and takes forever, rendering it useless when you’ll really need it: at a wedding, in a traffic jam or in class. But, hey, at least you don’t have to wait around for a partner or batteries in order to have a mind-blowing orgasm. Get it?•