You Think Tantra Is Just for Marin Yuppies? Well, Urban Tantra Is for Everyone Else

Certain people seem to live several lives in the one lifetime that they are given. Barbara Carrellas is one such person. Carrellas started her career on Broadway. In 1982 Carrellas was a general manager, her show Nine won five Tonys including Best Musical, and she was on top of the world. Then a lot of people close to her started to die. The 1980s was the height of the AIDS epidemic, and the number of people it claimed was astounding. Carrellas lost as many as four friends per week, and she needed a way to cope with her anger and grief.

Carrellas learned about the New York Healing Circle, a support group for people with AIDS and their loved ones.

“It was a great group, and it helped me with the guilt and incredible bitterness and anger I was feeling,” says Carrellas.

At this healing circle Carrellas met Annie Sprinkle and Joseph Kramer. The three realized they all had the same question: “What are we going to do about sex?” The sexual revolution continued in the 1970s. How did a group of people go from that to the horrors of the AIDS crisis?

Sprinkle and Carrellas began to study the ancient spiritual practice of tantra, while Kramer began to research forms of Taoist sexual teachings.

“We were looking for clues as to how we were going to find hot, satisfying, and safe sex, with a spiritual component. The spiritual component being one that is so important, after all that death. When I started studying tantra, I essentially took the genitals out of sex — I studied just the energetic components of tantric sex. I was floored, gobsmacked, and amazed at the amount of energy that can run through a human body,” says Carrellas.

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