Sex Tut Gut: Explore Your Body in Berlin

Article published on June 24, 2014
Article published on June 24, 2014

De­spite sex­ual lib­er­a­tion, fem­i­nism and gen­der em­pow­er­ment, our bod­ies re­main a puz­zle in the 21st cen­tury. Why is sex om­nipresent al­though we rarely speak about it openly? What is a "body" and how does it work? Sex­ol­o­gist Cata­rina Brazao helps young peo­ple find an­swers to their burn­ing ques­tions - in a lit­eral sense. Ar­ti­cle orig­i­nally pub­lished by Eu­rope&Me

“Breathe into it slowly. If you feel pain, try to ease into the sen­sa­tion. Feel your body.” While a mot­ley crowd of young Berlin­ers are writhing with pain and plea­sure caused by hot wax drip­ping on their bare skin, Cata­rina Brazão qui­etly moves around the room, in­di­vid­u­ally en­cour­ag­ing and sup­port­ing the nine par­tic­i­pants of her aptly named work­shop Sex Tut Gut (“sex is good for you”). “Make sounds and move your body if that helps you deal with the shock and heat.” Tonight’s ses­sion topic is wax which, Cata­rina ex­plains, is in its melted form a per­fect tool to ex­pe­ri­ence your body in ex­cit­ing and new ways.

What seems at first sight like an un­usual method of ex­plor­ing sex­u­al­ity is part of Cata­rina’s pro­ject to help peo­ple re­con­nect with their bod­ies. “I be­lieve that you have to awaken your body con­scious­ness to reach your po­ten­tial. Free your body to free your mind!” It is no ac­ci­dent that Cata­rina’s work­shops find such an avid au­di­ence in Berlin, the Old World’s cul­tural melt­ing pot where Swabian men­tal­i­ties clash with East Ger­man nud­ism, gen­der fuck move­ments col­lide with Mus­lim be­lief sys­tems and Mediter­ranean flir­ta­tious­ness runs into Ger­man walls of awk­ward­ness. Walk­ing around posh Pren­zlauer Berg or mul­ti­cul­tural Kreuzkölln, the spec­ta­tor will no­tice that, de­spite sex­ual lib­er­a­tion and gen­der em­pow­er­ment, sex­u­al­ity re­mains a puz­zle in the 21st cen­tury. When did hip­sters start dress­ing like school chil­dren? Why is sex om­nipresent al­though we rarely speak about it openly? What is re­ally going on under the sheets?

Ex­plore your body with a twist

Cata­rina, who was born in Madeira and came to Berlin as an Eras­mus stu­dent in 2007, was a prac­tis­ing psy­chi­a­trist be­fore turn­ing to holis­tic body work in 2010. Al­though many of her treat­ments are sex­o­log­i­cal, her work isn’t fo­cused on the gen­i­tals only. “The so­matic ap­proach isn’t about sex re­ally, but about mind­ful­ness and aware­ness. Sex­u­al­ity comes into play at a later point be­cause once you’re re­ally em­bod­ied, you’ll re­alise that every­thing is sen­sual and sex­ual.” This is why she and Fed­er­ica Fiore, an al­ter­na­tive prac­ti­tioner and dancer from Italy, en­cour­age body aware­ness in un­con­ven­tional ways. “In our work­shops, we’re cov­er­ing top­ics like body com­po­si­tion, self-plea­sur­ing and erotic con­stel­la­tions in a play­ful and down-to-earth way”, Cata­rina ex­plains. “We were sur­prised to see how well this con­cept worked! At the end of our ses­sions, every­one is happy, al­though some peo­ple are com­pletely naked and oth­ers com­pletely clothed.” Among the par­tic­i­pants, you will meet young cou­ples as well as sin­gle peo­ple of all age groups, gen­ders and cul­tural back­grounds. After all, in the quest for a more whole­some sex­u­al­ity, every­one is in the same boat. “If we’re hon­est, no one ever taught us any­thing. When we were ado­les­cents, we just learnt to get rid of our erotic en­ergy as fast we could”, Cata­rina points out. “I have al­ways en­joyed mas­tur­ba­tion from a very young age, but in the last cou­ple of years I have ex­panded this into a true prac­tice of self-plea­sure and self-love.” This is one of the many things she is eager to share. At the same time, she em­pha­sises that feel­ing out of touch with your body is far from being a specif­i­cally fe­male prob­lem. “Sur­pris­ingly, men face al­most the same is­sues as women. Very often, they are being me­chan­i­cal and un­able to savour the sex­ual ex­pe­ri­ence.”

“It’s just the gen­i­tals after all”

That is why Cata­rina, with her Ger­man col­league Ma­reen Scholl, of­fers ses­sions in Gen­i­tal Med­i­ta­tion, which aim to con­tribute to in­di­vid­ual erotic em­bod­i­ment. Through three dif­fer­ent strokes which are slowly ap­plied to the gen­i­tals for pe­ri­ods of up to 15 min­utes, the prac­tice in­vites you to sim­ply enjoy a “heal­ing touch" with­out being obliged to give any­thing back. “It’s just the gen­i­tals, it’s just sex­ual en­ergy. It’s yours and it’s not a bad thing to feel it,” Cata­rina em­pha­sises with a smile. “In our sex lives how­ever, we al­ways want to give some­thing back, to a point where we can’t focus on sim­ply re­ceiv­ing and feel­ing plea­sure any­more.” The Gen­i­tal Med­i­ta­tion work­shops seem to be es­pe­cially ap­peal­ing to women, al­though Cata­rina has no­ticed an in­crease in the num­ber of men in­ter­ested in re­fo­cus­ing on their bod­ies as well.

Even though Cata­rina has been based in Berlin for sev­eral years now, she is also or­gan­is­ing work­shops in other Eu­ro­pean coun­tries aimed at rais­ing aware­ness of the need for unity be­tween body, spirit and mind. “This is not just about the stereo­type of North­ern Eu­ro­peans being cold and in­hib­ited. I see my work af­fect­ing peo­ple in Por­tu­gal, the Czech Re­pub­lic and Spain just as much.” Ac­cord­ing to her ex­pe­ri­ence, peo­ple from sup­pos­edly “sen­sual coun­tries’ sim­ply have dif­fer­ent prob­lems with their bod­ies. “Just be­cause Mediter­ranean peo­ple are more flirty doesn’t mean they are bet­ter lovers,” she adds, laugh­ing.

Giv­ing at­ten­tion to the body as a whole

While the drip of hot wax on bare flesh con­tin­ues, pro­vok­ing the oc­ca­sional scream, sigh or groan, the at­mos­phere at the Sex Tut Gut work­shop is re­laxed. Some par­tic­i­pants are vis­i­bly ex­pe­ri­enc­ing their bod­ies in dif­fer­ent ways, ex­plor­ing their per­sonal ap­proach to sex­u­al­ity by them­selves or in pairs. Oth­ers are sim­ply be­com­ing more aware of their bod­ies. “It’s a very in­ter­est­ing process,” Cata­rina whis­pers with a smile. “Once you be­come truly em­bod­ied, the gen­i­tals are just an­other part of your body and al­most lose their ex­cit­ing qual­ity. When you begin to ac­cept and to re­spect your whole body, you’ll also love your­self more.” As young Berlin­ers start re­think­ing their con­cepts of the body and sex­u­al­ity, they are em­bark­ing on a long jour­ney that is sure to lead them to un­fore­seen and ex­cit­ing re­gions. And those won't lie solely be­tween their legs.

This ar­ti­cle was orig­i­nally pub­lished in the  Spe­cial Edi­tion 2014 of the Eu­ro­pean on­line mag­a­zine Eu­rope&Me. All rights lie with the au­thor and Eu­rope&Me.