Art in its myriad of forms is a dynamic force that will forever be intertwined and transformed by sexuality. But is tapping into your deepest desires and releasing them a path to more creativity?
Quick romp before writing that essay?
Quick paddle of the pink canoe before tackling that blank canvas?
Quick fantasy before diving into Bandcamp?
If you think this piece has all the answers, it doesn’t.
There are no blanket rules for all creative endeavours or we’d all be doing them.
But academics, sexperts and authors agree that opening yourself up to the galactic pleasures of the body—one where you feel infinitely more connected to the cosmos or divine and all worries melt away for at least five, maybe fifty seconds afterward—can open yourself up to the potential for creative ideas.
You’re certainly stimulated.
Whether it’s with someone you fancy or by yourself, sex requires both the setting of boundaries and letting go of control – something the poets and mystics have waxed lyrical about for centuries (but said way better).
Sexual energy can fuel inspiration and passion, and when harnessed and properly channelled “is a pleasurable and powerful means to motivate us creatively,” argues author Sharon Skinner in her popular book on overcoming obstacles - The Whispering Heart: Your Inner Guide to Creativity.
Sex is also the ultimate creator of life. It’s the spark for procreation. Myisha Battle is a media savvy American clinical sexologist and sex and dating coach who sees sexual energy as the most powerful kind of creative energy because, in many cases, the act can lead to the creation of life. “But even if you choose not to procreate or if you engage in sex that would never lead to conception, you are co-creating an experience with another human being.”
Making your body feel incredible for that intense experience is like being swallowed by sunshine and stars and racing through the universe in your own glass rocket ship. It doesn’t make you blind (according to legendary American author John Cheever the opposite). It releases those free drugs, endorphins. As Truman Capote said, “You don’t have to dress up for it”. Forget chia fungus smoothies and mindful flower picking, a good old finger paint improves sleep, and circulation and makes everyone more comfortable with their bodies.
You’d never find sexuality and creativity together in a Venn diagram at school.
One is dirty and one is pure, religious types would say.
One is for the night and one for the day, teachers might say.
One is full of desire and one is full of joy (or angst), others might say.
Sex is often cloaked in shame. Or we talk about it from a performance stance. There are numbers and positions and goals to achieve. We don’t talk about the benefits of connection through sex: how intimacy creates a moment together, how good sex is about communicating what you want and don’t want.
And we certainly never learn that it can be a conduit to creativity.
Both involve innovation, and opening up. Matt Schwenteck, Sexual Educator and Faculty Member of International Schools of Temple Arts hones in on the part of the brain where we can make choices and be able to receive and follow spontaneous impulses, needs to be active to have fulfilling sex. “ … no goal-orientated' sex increases creativity. The cellular vibration of a sexually-charged body allows a deeper, more powerful, energised, present, and mindful action.”
Poet Audre Lorde argued in her 1978 essay Uses of the Erotic, that there are many kinds of power, used and unused, acknowledged or otherwise, and “The erotic is a resource within each of us that lies in a deeply [female and] spiritual plane, firmly rooted in the power of our unexpressed or unrecognised feeling.”
She is referring to women in this instance - who are taught under the watchful eye of the patriarchy to suppress too much feeling or desire. But she also widened the palate to refer to all genders:
“The erotic is a measure between the beginnings of our sense of self and the chaos of our strongest feelings. It is an internal sense of satisfaction to which, once we have experienced it, we know we can aspire. For having experienced the fullness of this depth of feeling and recognizing its power, in honour and self-respect, we can require no less of ourselves.”
Tapping into this deep well of desire, abandoning control, and being focused but also relaxing into feelings of infinite abundance and power, is not only a wonderful feeling—something every human should be able to experience—but also liberating. We let go of fears, comparisons, and doubts which is a fine starting point to dive into creativity.
Cindy Gallop, creator of Make Love Not Porn, has been raving about the power of sexuality and the need to talk about it more for decades. She has said, “Having great sex makes you feel great about your sexuality, makes you feel great about yourself, makes you more creative, more productive, more happy—more everything.”
Cheever wrote hundreds of short stories during his lifetime in the 20th century and believed that sex improved his writing, and his eyesight.
Then we have the Impressionists. What happens when you mix sexual liberation - for the men anyway - in Paris with absinthe?
Lots of art.
This idea is not new. The word erotic comes from that intriguing Greek god, Eros. Born out of chaos, Eros personified creative power and harmony. You can interpret this any way you want. Channel some chaotic eroticism. Assert some erotic chaos! Create harmony and chaos, and a side dish of erotica.
Lorde says Eros springs from our capacity to feel — “A capacity that demands of us the difficult courage of authenticity. We have been raised to fear the yes within ourselves, our deepest cravings. This is one reason why the erotic is so feared, and so often relegated to the bedroom alone, when it is recognized at all. For once we begin to feel deeply in all the aspects of our lives, we begin to demand from ourselves and from our life pursuits that they feel in accordance with that joy which we know ourselves to be capable of."
No matter how much you use sexual energy to harness creative power, raunchy sex is a no no in your creative exploits. The fastest way to not find representation, not get the green light (most certainly not the red light) or the funding, is to explore sexual themes too explicitly. Cindy Gallop puts it bluntly - “If you do, you can’t find a gallery or an agent, can’t show your work .. can’t sell it or get published.”
But tap into your inner Eros, the universal experience of deep desire, of saying yes to what you want - even for ten minutes. And see where the creative energy takes you.