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Ars Botanica: Detail from Kristy Rawson's drawing 'God's Favorite Angels.'

Sex Notes

Out and about in the life of the body

By Gretchen Giles

As it is with so many other things, such as apples and children named Maya, Sebastopol is naturally enough also the center of tantra. An ancient lovemaking technique that involves the mind as much as any other pulsing body part, tantra has received a round-heeled rap of late, being overused as a bogus New Age password for heightened sex and the enlightened dude who intends to prove it. But tantra has never just been a pickup jag; it's actually a form of religious worship in which two people meld to form a temple. Or something like that.

Such mumblings of confused authority are generally when Tantra.com founder Suzie Heumann hopes folks will come to her. Offering easy-to-understand philosophy, background and education on tantric techniques, Tantra.com certainly has loads of things for sale, but also offers loads of things for free, including a personals section that's worth great big gobs of time-wasting pleasure.

While based in West County, Tantra.com seems to appeal to an inordinate amount of men in Arizona, London and Belfast. Perhaps they're lured by the delights of those such as Tantralady, who says that she's 28 and from San Diego. Looking suspiciously like a familiar-faced model, Tantralady raises eyebrows because she lists her occupation as "artist" and her income as over $100,000.

Maybe she's able to stash the dosh due to her modest hobby habits, which are encompassed, she states, in "music, having satisfying sex [and] tub-baths." Whether or not she's the real thing, beware, gents--because she definitely has hygiene issues, a fussiness not otherwise seen in the smart environs of www.tantra.com. . . .

On other tantra fronts, author Tim Ward swings by Copperfield's Books and Open Secret Bookstore to read from and sign his nonfiction account Arousing the Goddess: Sex and Love in the Buddhist Ruins of India. While on a six-month tour of India, Ward fell in love with a beautiful German academic, became her research assistant and felt his limbs to be on fire with irrepressible tantric and sexual energy such as he'd never felt before.

Arousing the Goddess is one of those books I longed to hate, yet Ward's voice is so intelligent and friendly, his observations so human and humble, that I found myself unwillingly willing to go along for the ride, fiery limbs and all. He appears Thursday, Feb. 12, at 7pm at Copperfield's (138 N. Main St., Sebastopol, 707.823.2618) and Thursday, Feb. 19, at 7pm at Open Secret Bookstore (923 C St., San Rafael, 415.457.4191). Both events are free. . . .

Free is always good, as little--and not so little--red-headed girls are bound to discover Feb. 14-15 at the Charles M. Schulz Museum. In deference to Charlie Brown's preferred crush-type, the museum admits all red-haired women at no charge Saturday and Sunday of the Valentine's weekend. Tom Everhart, the only artist authorized to use Schulz's images, gives a slide lecture on his original artwork Feb. 14 at 2pm; Patrick McDonnell, the creator of the "Mutts" comic strip, appears Feb. 15. 2301 Hardies Lane, Santa Rosa. Weekend hours are Saturday-Sunday, 10am-5pm. Admission is $5-$8 for blondes, brunettes, the raven-haired and, of course, the male. 707.579.4452. . . .

Meanwhile, things go a bit blue at the Redwood Branch of the California Writer's Club, which hosts erotica author and editor Marcy Sheiner at a dinner lecture. The current editor of the Best Women's Erotica series and author of Sex for the Clueless, Sheiner will, over steaming platters of taut, sizzling meat, show how to "spice up your prose with well-written sex scenes," which lawd knows is a talent many of us could use some pointers on. Or at least a dab of hot sauce. Sheiner appears on Saturday, Feb. 14, at 4:15pm. Hunter Steak House, 3785 Cleveland Ave., Santa Rosa. Event, free; dinner, your discretion. 707.206.0109.

For those whose sex life is presumably spicy enough, even when not found in print, but whose after-dinner-before-bed life could use a shot of fun, the Raven Theater in Healdsburg unveils its masterful Cheap Date Night. Targeting those North Bay couples who are so bored as to believe that a five-buck screening of Fast Times at Ridgemont High (Feb. 18), a reunion with the questionable cinematics of The Lost Boys (Feb. 25), another go-round of the giddy pleasures of The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (March 3) or the my-pretty-pony hero's journey of Mr. Prince in Purple Rain (March 10) will enliven them . . . well, shucks, the Raven's probably on to something. 115 North St., Healdsburg. Films screen at 8pm. Admission is $5 (discount to those who arrive costumed to theme). 707.433.5448. . . .

And from our "Workshop before You Leap" files, we present the doctors Gannon. San Rafael residents with a San Francisco practice, Drs. Michelle and Patrick Gannon lead wildly successful weekend workshops on the hard, dirty work of beginning and maintaining a successful marriage. With the five-year mark finding many divorces among the newlywed, the Gannons provide Marriage Prep 101 workshops outlining all of the many troughs, valleys and ruts that even the most passionate partnership can expect to bump directly down into. Love, they sadly remind, simply isn't enough.

Reporting that it's not unusual for an engaged couple to cancel their wedding plans after having completed a Marriage Prep weekend, the Gannons concentrate on giving skill sets to the engaged that allow them to navigate the murky waters of sex--as in having none. With 46 percent of first marriages and 56 percent of second marriages dissolving, a major culprit is the lousy dwindling of intimacy.

The Gannons estimate that some 44 percent of married men and 25 percent of married women are indeed having sex, but with someone other than their legally wedded spouse. Stressing the importance of honest communication, regular date nights, children who go to bed before their parents do and vacations blissfully free of progeny, the Gannons' February workshop is sold out, but slots are still available in April. For details, call 415.905.8830 or go to www.marriageprep101.com. . . .

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From the February 5-11, 2004 issue of the North Bay Bohemian.

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