Sex and Singing

If you want to work at a high level in any aspect of the performing arts, you will encounter sexual energy.

In so many men and women, I see a lot of inhibition, and downright destruction, of the free flow of sexual energy. Ecstasy doesn’t know boundaries, so a great performance can often mingle with what we associate with “sex” and turn us on and/or freak us out.

People will sometimes dismissively say “Oh he’s just musically masturbating”. Is that categorically a bad thing? Revealing one’s internal cogitations and opinions in books, reviews, and interviews can result in being hailed as a genius, but some people squirm when a performer is honestly in touch with non-verbal parts of their experience and shares them!

I don’t talk about sex in lessons; that could be career suicide. But I do everything I can to keep inferences and analogues open-ended so that singers can be more open to sex-positive integration in their own selves. As a teacher, I think it’s crucial to not assume anything about anyone’s sexuality. If the studio and the stage are warm, open, raw, exciting places, then hopefully more integration can happen in a healthy way, as the singer finds their way. Even if I felt comfortable talking about sex per se with clients, it would likely cause most to become awkwardly self-conscious as opposed to self-aware. It’s too dangerous.

As a queer cis-male pan-spiritual person, I am extremely ambivalent about the current mainstream American discussions about sexual issues. As one who can pass as privileged (as male, as straight, as “typical”), I could ignore a lot of the problems out there, as most white males do, but that’s not possible with any honesty and openness. I see an incredible quantity of false assumptions and garbage in how people treat each other and themselves in regard to sexuality. In order to be a functional person in this world, I am constantly dealing with rules, calculations, and careful interactions that can be exhausting. I am sure that many of you feel the same, regardless of your demographic profile. We live these lives of theoretical boundaries and control, then suddenly, as a performer, we are to “just let go” and become a vessel for deep expression?

I think about these things when teaching and coaching. Ecstatic experience is possible at any age. It may look like what we categorize as “sexy” or “sexual” or it may not. We teachers must create guaranteed safe places in which to allow and increase free expression. We must deal with sexual energy by being honest, clear, and healthy in our choices. We must be guides and witnesses, not participants, when the singer’s guard comes down and a “performance high” begins to emerge. The big trick is to not be so nervous about this energy that we never allow a performance to become fully alive.

If you enjoy this blog, consider grabbing a copy of Sane Singing: A Guide to Vocal Progress, available in print and ebook!

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