The Doctor Is In: Sexology and the new musical Sex, Love & Yoga
Sexual-Spiritual Healer: Dr. Stephanie Torres
BY RYAN M. LUÉVANO
What do you get if you mix Kundalini yoga and sexology? What you get is Dr. Stephanie Torres, Holistic Sexologist, who uses a body, mind, and spirit approach to healthy sexuality. And if you mix Dr. Torres with musical theater, then what you get is a new musical that fuses sexology, yoga and sex. She is the mastermind behind the creation and production of the new musical Sex, Love & Yoga based on her true story and offers sex therapy for all.
“I didn’t become a sexologist because I looooove sex, although I love sex. It’s more that I was sexually assaulted when I was 18 years old […] and that threw a monkey wrench in my whole life. I’m 53 now and back in those days people [girls or women] didn’t talk about sex. . .we were really repressed, and if you were a fundamentalist Christian [like me] then you were really repressed. It created a lot of problems because I couldn’t talk about it. Then I went on a journey to find my wholeness and […] I was able to articulate my thoughts, my feelings around sexuality, my body and my life. I also had a lot of challenging relationships […] and out of all of that I realized that […] I wanted to go back to school to get a degree [in sexology]. I knew that I could help people.
What is the true story behind Sex, Love and Yoga?
“I had moved away from Los Angeles for 25 years, then I got a strong sense that I needed to move back to LA where I was from. I moved back here and I had a really hard time connecting. I was guided to go to a Kundalini yoga class. I hated yoga, but it was not like anything I’d ever done before. And within a few months I had to partner up with a guy and suddenly I had this intense experience: I felt like I knew him, I felt like I loved him and I had this intense attraction to him. He was 20 years younger than me . . .and he was gay. […] I couldn’t stop thinking about him so I googled him, then I befriend him and then I told him ‘my ex-boyfriend was a tantric master […] and I know a lot about red tantra, would you like to learn and you can teach everything you know about the yoga side of it? I know you’re gay, but it doesn’t matter, there’s stuff you can do, right?’ And he said, ‘okay’. So we started a sexual relationship and I was attracted to him, but he was not attracted to me at all. So we had to work around that. […] [but] we both had this spiritual connection. […] So after a while my friends asked ‘what’s going on with this guy, what are you doing?’ And I said, ‘I don’t know, I’m exploring something.’”
What was the process from inception, page to stage of Sex, Love & Yoga?
“One of my gay friends said, ‘Oh my God that’s a play! You should write a play.’ And I said, ‘Yea it’s a play.’ So I bought Playwriting For Dummies and started writing a play. I went back to school and I told one of my teachers and he said, ‘You could make that your dissertation.’ […] I said, ‘Okay, I will!’ I came home and wrote like mad. And over 9 months of intense yoga, and a lot of meditation, I completed the play. Then I did a table read, people loved it. But it was kind of crappy because I wasn’t a playwright.”
“I put an ad on Craigslist for a producer and director—I got nothing. And then about a month later somebody [Kate Sullivan Gibbens] e-mailed me with all this experience that was exactly what I was looking for—she had a BA in directing and a master’s in playwriting. She said, ‘Could I rewrite this play?’ Of course, I said, ‘Yes!’ Kate completely expanded the basic story line, adding depth and new dimension to each character. She also wrote all new music, which added an entirely new level to the play’s impact. So much of the emotion goes on inside the character’s head, and Kate was able to capture that and craft it into beautifully written and powerful songs. It was perfect!”
How is sexology integrated into the show?
“Everyone has a sex problem. [So] every character has a sexual challenge that’s all interwoven around the main character. I want people to come watch it, be laughing, be entertained and also think, ‘Oh my God that’s me!’ […] The plot all unravels around the main character that’s based on me as a sexologist. The main character in the show gives a lot of advice to her friends, and it’s all good advice. Everyone in the show is dealing with some sort of sexual thing—so for me it’s chock-full of teachable moments.”
“I’m even writing the program with supplemental material for people who are watching the show. When people are watching the show they’re going to get triggered. Even in the reading the actors got triggered, and I told them I was available for confidential consultations if they needed help. There will be questions to ask yourself [in the program] about how this show could impact you. There are also two [sexology] exercises that I use that are woven into the show. And I even put these exercises in the program so anyone can take them home and try them. If you come to see the show, you’re also getting free sex therapy.”
What do you want audiences to come away with after seeing the show?
“I want the audience to come away feeling inspired that theater has this amazing ability to get people talking about sex, and not just titillated, but talking about real sexual issues that affect everybody. Issues like sexless relationships, sexual assault, sexual identity, and sexual exploration. […] I want people to say ‘Wow! After seeing the show, I can talk about the show and not about myself.’ This show opens the door: I want people talking about sex and I want people going home and having sex.”
Why are musicals, art, books, and poetry about sex important to society?
“Sex in the arts is a way the world can learn, talk and deal with sexuality. We’re not going to go make an appointment to talk with a sexologist, but we are going to leave the show and talk to the person we came with. The arts break the taboo. Right now the only thing that has broken the taboo is mainstream TV that makes watching porn okay. Can we see some depth? Can we see some humanity?”
Are you aware of this year’s Tony winning musical Fun Home, another musical that also has a team of women behind it, and is about sexuality?
“I caught wind of the Tony’s that happened the night before I met Kate. And she told all about the significance of Fun Home’s five Tony’s awards. Soon after I had to go to New York to help my son get an apartment for school and when I was there I said I’m going to see Fun Home. I talked to somebody and they said there’s no way, it’s been sold out since the Tony’s. But there’s always a way, right? I’m one person; they got to have one seat. So I went to the box office early and I said, ‘I’d like one seat.’ They said, ‘we have one ticket, fifth row.’ I got my ticket. And I was blown away! The subject matter completely dovetails my show—it couldn’t be more appropriate.”
Dr. Torres then pulls out her Fun Home key chain on her ring of keys and remarks, “It says not just a new musical, but, a new kind of musical. And what I hear in that is it’s also a vehicle for change in our culture. We all love the old musicals, but isn’t it about time that theater be potent like that. That’s what I want my show to be.”
Sex, Love & Yoga opens for previews Friday, August 14 and runs through August 30th at the MACHA Theatre in West Hollywood. This show has partnered with My Friends Place, an organization that assists homeless youth; and Kundalini yoga studio Indigo Lab LA. Come laugh, cry, meditate, learn about yourself and take in some free sex therapy on stage.