Episode 43: Kat Calderon: Breaking Through the Shame Around Sexuality
How’s your “erotic intelligence”? How can you increase your capacity for pleasure? My guest Kat Calderon is an extraordinary trainer and workshop leader, teaching ordinary people to have extraordinary sex. In an open and candid style Kat talks about her own journey and sexual awakening. Listen as Kat describes how she breaks through her sexual blocks, how she incorporates Tantra, communication, a sense of adventure into her sexuality, how she makes sex into the peak experience it was meant to be. And make sure you try Kat’s exercise in openness for your own relationship.
Chip August: Welcome to Sex, Love and Intimacy. I’m your host Chip August, and on today’s show we’re going to be talking about couples and sexuality, we’re going to be talking about all kinds of sexual technique and sexual training. My guest today is Kat Calderon, and among many other things that I’m going to tell you about Kat, Kat and I have co-lead and continue to co-lead workshops in personal growth and in relationship and in communication. Kat is a workshop leader in her own right and tantra teacher. She’s a trained parent educator with parent effectiveness trainings. She is one of the founders of the Relationship Effectiveness Institute offerings workshops and trainings to couples and individuals. She’s worked with many of the top San Francisco Bay area tantra teachers including Laurie Grace, Robert Fry and Joe and Nina Wykoff. And she leads workshops, not just for individuals, but has also done marketing trainings and communication trainings in the corporate world.
Kat Calderon: But over time I’ve come to realize that, you know, you get your pleasure where you can and just, I work it into my sexuality and I have a partner that doesn’t judge it, so, you know, it’s not an issue anymore.
Kat Calderon: Well I think, yes, I think the thing that you learn is to surrender to it, to realize that we’re capable of it, that we’re all capable of it, that it exists.
Chip August: Welcome to Sex, Love and Intimacy, Kat.
Kat Calderon: Thank you, it’s great to be here.
Chip August: We are, we’re here today to talk about sex, which is of course one of the words of the show, so I think that’s a good thing to talk about. You teach sex to adults. Do adults really need to learn sex? Isn’t that something that everybody kind of is born knowing?
Kat Calderon: I don’t think everybody is born knowing it. I know that people come into their adult sexuality with a who variety of backgrounds and experiences and programming, and so there’s different things that people want to learn to expand their capacity for sexual pleasure, for sensuality, for eroticism, for their erotic intelligence so to speak.
Chip August: Erotic intelligence. I’m not sure I’ve ever actually heard that used that way. What is our erotic intelligence?
Kat Calderon: I think our erotic intelligence is our ability to expand our capacity for eroticism. So I think that some people have a natural ability, for instance, to orgasm and other people find a lot of blocks around that. And so they may need different kinds of training and education and experiences to expand that capacity than those who don’t have that problem.
Chip August: Now were you just sort of born sexy? I mean, you just kind of knew this and have learned how to teach it or did you have to learn this yourself?
Kat Calderon: Interesting question. I was thinking about that before the interview today, and really it’s kind of a two track answer. One is that I found at a pretty early age I was already, like I think many children experimenting with sexuality and exploration of genitals and the things kids do to play doctor with both little boys and little girls. At the same time I had virtually no consciousness of any area below my waste as being a pleasure center. So while I was really curious, I was very, very blocked from an early age with anything to do with the genital area being a pleasure center, and in fact didn’t even know what a clitoris was until I was in my 20’s or that there was even such a thing as an orgasm.
Chip August: Now this must have gotten in the way a little bit with your personal relationships, yes?
Kat Calderon: You know, I guess it did, to the extent that there were one or two lovers that didn’t particularly like my sexuality, yes, but I was always in the beginning, you know, before I became aware of the issue, I was always very positive sexuality. I liked the little bit of pleasure that I got from it, and so I always, I was always game. I just had a limited capacity to experience the pleasure that was available.
Chip August: And when did you become aware that you were missing something?
Kat Calderon: A friend of mine, when I was in my early 20’s, bought me a vibrator, and it was the first time that I ever knew that there was such a thing as an orgasm. She told me all about it and, you know, it was one of these silly cheap French ticklers, battery operated, and no sooner did I figure out that this could be a lot of fun, then the budget for batteries went way, way up ‘cause this thing became my best friend, but it was, it was basically a friend telling me about it that had me realize that there was something more.
Chip August: Now I’m assuming that this was a female friend, yeah?
Kat Calderon: Yes, it was my female best friend at the time.
Chip August: That’s what friends are for. So, so, okay, so your friend tells you, “Look you’re missing out on something here. You got to try one of these. Try this buzz machine here.” You go, you experiment, you find pleasure. I’ve heard some women say, and some men say, that when we attune our body to the vibrator then we never really attune our body to other bodies, that it sort of, it helps in one way but it gets the way in another. Is that true for you?
Kat Calderon: Well I’ve had a long and storied history with the vibrator. I went through many, many years, maybe even decades if I added it up, of a conflicted relationship with the vibrator. And I went to various classes and courses at the time when I first started using the vibrator to try to figure out how to transition from the vibrator to manual stimulation to the whole apex of experience, which is the simultaneous orgasm and all that, and it did get in the way for a long time ‘cause I was really self-conscious about it, and I found that partners were very self-conscious and felt threatened by it. But over time I’ve come to realize that, you know, you get your pleasure where you can and just, I work it into my sexuality and I have a partner that doesn’t judge it, so, you know, it’s not an issue anymore.
Chip August: Now I noticed when you said the, that apex of mutual, or simultaneous orgasms, you rolled your eyes. Our listeners can’t see that ‘cause they’re not looking at your beautiful face. What was that look? What did I just see?
Kat Calderon: Well I think that movies and, yeah movies and maybe even books, I think some erotic literature, pornography, portrays the simultaneous orgasm as this is the way it should be, that this is what we should be striving for, that people that know how to make love and know how to have good sex also know how to have the simultaneous orgasm. And the truth is that from my perspective it’s totally overrated. Number one, it’s one way of experiencing orgasm, but there are so many ways to experience it that to say that that is the best way is really limiting yourself and being very judgmental about all the other ways that can be just as good, if not better.
Chip August: Yeah, the, I think what you’re saying is that whole concept of that there is one right way or a one best way is such a limited perspective, that each of our sexuality is our own and what we love we love and how we love it we love it, and that somebody else thinks something is better or worse is kind of not really that valuable information. Is that what you mean?
Kat Calderon: Yeah, I think we need to decide for ourselves what we enjoy, what we think is good, what we want to explore and not let ourselves be caught in the trap whatever the culture, whatever the cultural portrayals are, even though they may not in fact be the cultural norms.
Chip August: Okay, now this vibrator, you used it externally and internally or just externally? I mean, was this just an invitation to your clitoris or was this, was there more?
Kat Calderon: I used the vibrator almost exclusively externally, although I have tried it internally and don’t find for me that it does much, although I’ve heard other women say they really like it internally. You know, again, I think that’s personal taste and what turns you on.
Chip August: Yeah, but it leads me to so, how did you find things like your g-spot, things like that, ‘cause that, you’re not really going to find that leaning a vibrator into your clitoris I think.
Kat Calderon: That, you know, again, this is a plug for sexuality education, that is, you know, I’m trying to remember now where did I first learn about the g-spot, but I, at some point, again, when I was in my 20’s, I started realizing there was a whole lot of stuff I didn’t know, was never taught, that didn’t come in the sex education in Junior High School, and I started reading books, there was no internet yet then, I started going to these workshops and I started learning about these different parts of my anatomy, and particularly when I went to the Human Awareness Institute and started taking their workshops back in the early 90’s, that I started to realize, “Oh, that’s what that thing is that feels so good when it’s touched inside my vagina.
Chip August: Little personal disclaimer here, those are the Human Awareness Institute workshops that I lead when I’m not doing podcasts, and Kat and I actually met at a Human Awareness Institute workshop. We’re going to take a short break. I’ve got lots more questions. I know Kat’s got lots more information. But I also want to give a chance to have our sponsors support us and us support our sponsors. Listeners do listen in, there’s some pretty good deals for you. Any place where you can use a promo code, you know, if you use the promo code “love”, l-o-v-e, you’ll get an extra discount because you’re listener of this show, and I’ll also get some support. So, please, listen in, and then come on back because we’ve got lots more interesting things and of course there is an exercise for you to try at home. We’ll be right back.
Chip August: We are back. You’re listening to Sex, Love and Intimacy. I’m your host, Chip August, and on today’s show I’m talking to Kat Calderon. Kat is a sex educator, a trainer, a workshop leader, a person with expertise in communication and primarily teaching adults how to have healthy sexuality and, when we went to the break we were talking a little bit about your own background, and I’m kind of curious, had there been, what’s sort of been the breakthrough moments in your own personal history.
Kat Calderon: Breakthrough moments, so, well okay, we covered one, certainly my first orgasm was a breakthrough moment because it, you know, came so late and had never happened before. I would say that when I did the Human Awareness Institute workshops and got the message that there was nothing broken in me sexually, that was a big breakthrough moment for me, that I realized that there is no formula for this, that we each have to find our own way and appreciate and respect our own wants and needs, that was a really huge, huge piece for me. That was probably the biggest, oh, I got to mention another one. Certainly, just from pure sexuality physicality, when I started ejaculating, ‘cause that was kind of another step in the whole process. It never occurred to me, I’d never ejaculated as an adult until, oh probably I want to say eight or nine years ago, and it started happening when I would masturbate, but it would never happen with a partner, and the more I started to accept it and embrace it the more frequently it started happening, and that was a big kind of freedom and release moment. And even before that I think the tantra experiences, when I was exploring my ability to increase my pleasure capacity in doing tantra, learning it, the breathing was a big breakthrough for me because it showed me how to move the sexual energy in my body and open up particularly the places below my waistline that had been blocked before.
Chip August: Okay, now you mentioned ejaculation and I’m assuming most of my customers are pretty comfortable with the thought of female ejaculation, and yet I still bump into people at workshops who actually don’t know what that is and don’t know what you’re talking about. I know you’re not a doctor, but can you say a little bit more, what do you mean by ejaculation?
Kat Calderon: When I say female ejaculation, I’m talking about the experience of actually, my body pushing out a liquid that’s not urine from my vaginal area at the point of orgasm. It’s a different experience than just the orgasm without the ejaculation and it’s, I mean, I, it’s that pushing sensation and an actual liquid coming out, which sometimes can have a little bit of urine in it but isn’t actually peeing.
Chip August: And are you saying this is a learnable thing?
Kat Calderon: Well I think, yes. I think the thing that you learn is to surrender to it, to realize that you’re capable of it, that we’re all capable of it, that it exists and that I, I personally think the main reason that women don’t just all ejaculate is because we’re so trained to hold things tight and particularly not to pee on anything, and that if, you know, during sex, oh my gosh, if, you know, if some pee should come out that would be the worst thing that could happen, so we’re clenching in a way that doesn’t allow that ejaculation to happen. And once we surrender to the idea that it can happen and realize that nothing bad will occur if we just let that liquid flow, then I think everybody’s capable of learning it.
Chip August: And in your experience it deeply intensifies your orgasm?
Kat Calderon: I wouldn’t, okay, so, intense, it’s certainly for me a more intense physical pleasure when I have the ejaculation and the orgasm. At this point when I orgasm without ejaculation it almost feels like something’s missing, that it’s not quite as big a release as it could be, and often I’ll feel incomplete, like I want to have another orgasm, you know, as soon as I can, to have that physical release of the ejaculation. So whether or not it’s more intense, I’m not sure. It certainly feels more freeing in a way.
Chip August: And, I know the answer to this, but I want to hear you say it, this isn’t really driven by your partner, this is totally you, right? This is, it’s not like a guy gives you an ejaculation or a partner gives you an ejaculation, this is about you and understanding and learning about your own body, yeah?
Kat Calderon: Yes, and certainly if I’m with a partner and that partner is doing g-spot stimulation, that will definitely create, you know, a lot of energy for that ejaculation to happen.
Chip August: Okay, g-spot. Now, you found yours through tantra, yeah? And your orgasm is more g-spot oriented, more clitoral oriented or it’s just that something’s happening down there and you’re not really sure what?
Kat Calderon: I’ve always kind of had a problem with trying to identify which part of my anatomy the orgasm is coming from. I understand that there are studies about this and that some women can actually say, “Well I had a clitoral orgasm”, “I had a vaginal orgasm”, “I had a g-spot orgasm.” I cannot distinguish very well which is which. I know that what is required for me to orgasm at all is an erect clit, and if that doesn’t happen, I don’t care where it’s coming from, I am not going to orgasm. That is required, that my clitoris has to be engorged. Where the intensity of the orgasm comes from after that, anybody, you know, it’s really anybody’s guess.
Chip August: Well lets not start guessing now. So if you were going to give a piece of coaching to Ms. Anybody, you know, some woman comes to you and says, “Sex is a little boring. It’s a little ho hum”, what can I do that would make me go from sort of ordinary sex to extra ordinary sex? Where do you start with somebody? What kinds of things would you advise?
Kat Calderon: I’d need to know more, but I would want to know, when somebody says “Ho hum”, what does that really mean? Does that mean that the person is not responding when her partner does things that are supposed to be arousing? Does that mean, you know, she can’t actually feel a pleasure sensation in certain ways? Does that mean it’s repetitive and it’s always the same and so it’s boring? So I think there’s a lot of different reasons why the experience can be ho hum. Is it because she doesn’t feel sexually, she doesn’t have a high sexual self-esteem and therefore she feels inadequate? I would want to know a lot about the actual experience, and then I would say, depending upon what it is, if it has to do with lack of sensation, then it’s more of a physical approach usually, it’s more of, okay, lets get the breath in there, lets get the energy in there. Lets find movements that accentuate the movement of energy in that area and then take it slowly until you can start to experience feeling in there. If it’s just, you know, ho hum because it’s kind of the same thing over and over again, then I’m coaching about, well, are you able to ask for what you want? Have you had, you know, do you have a partner that you feel you can trust? Have you been able to give your partner feedback? Are you able to vocalize during sexuality so that you can get things flowing and that you can express, even if you don’t say the words, your partner knows you’re enjoying it or you’re not enjoying it. So different approaches depending upon where the problem really seems to be.
Chip August: I also think there’s a, I think life is intrinsically interesting, so I think anytime anything is boring or ho hum we’re suppressing emotion and I think we, we human beings, we live in a life where suppressing emotion is encouraged a lot at work, around the kids, around, pretty much a lot, and so often we kind of lose the capacity to really see how much we’re suppressing our emotions in these times when we’re with a partner.
Kat Calderon: Definitely. If the emotional energy flow isn’t there, chances are the sexual energy flow is also going to be blocked or somehow clogged up. So it’s very important that there be an emotional health between the two people that are having, experiencing sexuality. I’m not saying they have to be lifelong partners or that they have to have some deep, deep intimate connection, just that there has to be a positive emotional experience, even if they just agree that they’re going to be sharing sexuality together for their mutual physical needs, if there’s, if there’s negativity in their emotions or they’re not comfortable with it, it’s not going to be good for the sexuality.
Chip August: Well you’re certainly giving everybody a lot to think about. We need to pause, take a chance to listen to our sponsors and take a break. You’re listening to Sex, Love and Intimacy. I’m your host, Chip August. When we come back Kat has an exercise for us to do, so come on back after the break.
Chip August: Welcome back to Sex, Love and Intimacy. I’m your host, Chip August. I’m talking to Kat Calderon who’s a workshop leader, who’s teacher of sensuality and sexuality, tantra, sexual technique, and also is a communications teacher. When we broke we were talking a little bit about advice you might give somebody who is bored or who’s looking to spice things up, and somewhere in there I noticed, I wanted to ask you a question about polygamy, monogamy, is there, you know, like, heterosexuality, homosexuality, are, do you feel like there’s a right path or a best way to approach sexuality, do, are there rules about this for you?
Kat Calderon: I’m not particularly fond of pigeonholing or of labeling, so I like to subscribe to the nateral sexual model which is whatever an individual feels is appropriate for them as long as it’s not hurting anybody else, that’s there natural sexual inclination and that’s what I would support. I think the whole open relationship, polygamy, monogamy this is so individual. From my perspective, I think open relationship and polyamorous relationships are very, very challenging, can be very challenging and add a level of complexity that I personally cannot handle at this point in my life. But I think that’s for each person to decide, and I don’t have any judgments or prescriptions to fix anything around all that. I think what you’re comfortable with, again, as long as it’s not hurting other people, is follow that path.
Chip August: Okay, so if somebody wanted to do sort of one thing to improve their sexuality, and you don’t really know the person well enough to know what’s working, what’s not, is there like one piece of advice that you think everybody benefits from? Is there like one thing, you know, like I think, everybody do this, it’s always better. Or maybe not, maybe everybody’s too sweeping, I am a generalist, I understand. But a piece of advice that’s generally good for people’s sexuality.
Kat Calderon: Well I subscribe to the saying that “communication is the best lubrication”, and I think that pretty much everybody can benefit emotionally and sexually from communication, whether you want to call it better communication, different communication, more communication, it just seems like the more we can communicate honestly and authentically with our partner, the better the sexuality is. So what I would say is there’s an exercise that I do and that my partner and I do called, well we call it “Say the thing you cannot say”. And “Say the thing you cannot say” is very simple. It’s basically you take the opportunity, something like once a week to sit with your partner and each of you shares with the other something that you have not been able to say to them. It may be something you’ve shared before and you felt like they didn’t hear and so you want to say it again, maybe something you never said that you’ve been afraid to say and you’re going to share it with them. The responsibility of the person listening is just to listen, to take it in and to say thank you. At that point in time you don’t want to discuss it, you don’t want to have to go into any defense about it, and you just want to be able to have an agreement at that point that it’s not up for discussion for 24 hours. Basically, the person needs to feel free to say it with no repercussions and then you can agree how you’re going to address it if you need to the next day. And then it would go the other direction, the other person would do the same thing, and the same agreement, no discussion about it for 24 hours. Now you can obviously play with that a little bit for your own preferences and what works for you, but I believe that if you do that on a regular basis, you have very little in the way of the free flow of emotion and the potential for more intimacy and ultimately the sexuality that goes along with that.
Chip August: Well that’s certainly a risky path to take. I have to admit that Kat and I have been doing that particular exercise now for 12 years, so it’s an extraordinary thing. I want to thank you. You’re a great guest. You’ve got a lot of interesting things to say. I want to really appreciate you for being here with us.
Kat Calderon: Thank you so much. You ask great questions and got me thinking about, a lot about what I think and feel about this particular topic, which I’m very passionate about. I just appreciate being here.
Chip August: I want you to know that Kat and I are actually leading workshops together, we have one coming up in May of 2008. If you’re listening to this and it is not yet May of 2008, why check the links to this interview and you will find a link to our workshop. And if it’s after May, why I suspect we’re going to do more and so you’ll find links to future workshops. If you want to have text or transcripts of anything you listen to here, sometimes I know it’s really great to actually have that this, that I, that one of my guests gives, to have that exercise written down, you can get full transcripts of these interviews and you can make copies of them and use them for however you’re going to use them, just go to the personallifemedia.com website, personallifemedia.com, and then when you click on the show you’ll see that there’s also a place that you can have transcripts, and you can get text and transcripts for all the Personal Life Media shows. I always like feedback, I really love to know how I’m doing, I love suggestions for guests, so if you’re a listener and you’d like to get in touch with me, why send me an email to email@example.com. I promise, I’ll read them all, and I’ve had guests on the show just because of your suggestions and really, really appreciate it and always want to know how I’m doing. If you would feel more comfortable doing this as a phone call rather than leaving an email, we do, there is a phone line you can reach me at, you can reach me by calling 206-350-5333. Please leave your name, my show name, Sex, Love and Intimacy, and your question or your comment. Please leave your phone number and/or an email, and just know that when you leave a voice message for us it indicates your agreement for us to use that message on air if it was appropriate for us to use on air. We’re coming to the end of another wonderful show. I want to appreciate you for listening in. I know that you’re learning, I’m learning, we’re all growing. I want to appreciate my guest one more time, Kat Calderon and thanks for listening and join us again next time.