We have been together for 9 years. We never had sex. It was one of the first things we talked about.
An interview with Gag.
Gag | Age: 62 | Location: Barcelona, Spain | Born: NYC, USA | Occupation: Artist | No. of sexual partners: 20
Why did you take part?
I trust you. There’s something about you that is honest and clear. That’s it. I don’t need anything other than that.
What events in your life shaped your sexuality? What’s your story?
I was very ashamed of my sexuality when I was young. I used to share a room with my mother. My father wasn’t around - he left when I was 8 or 9. I used to masturbate and my mother would storm in. I was always afraid of being caught. I’d sometimes be in the middle and get caught.
Then we moved to SF and I had to face gender and sexuality issues that I was never aware of. It made me re-evaluate a lot of the perceptions that I had until that time. There was a very open gay presence. Men holding each other’s hands. There were transgender and drag people. At first I was very critical but then after being in that society for a while it was eye-opening. I was rejecting it initially but I felt myself turning towards that path. My grandmother and mother were always upset because I would always dress in my mother’s clothing. My grandmother would make fun of me all the time. It made me pull away from her. I didn’t know what she was talking about but now I see. I am very graceful and sensual in my movement. I was putting on make-up and all those things. They see it. I thought I was sneaky but they saw me.
I hated myself for so long. I was trying to kill myself when I was 27. It’s an extraordinary thing to survive that. I’m so loving and so open about it these days. I’m wearing my dresses and have no concerns if people are looking at me. I’m just being who I am. Some people stare me up and down. They can’t believe that I’m so confident. I was born before the civil rights movement. I was hating myself for my racial makeup too. My mother was black, my father white. My father was Russian Jewish and my mother African Caribbean. I believe that there is also an Asiatic element too. In my youth there was a lot of pressure to identify myself with the black movement and I didn’t. I didn’t identify with the slang I didn’t think I had to be this way or that. It was almost like bullying. I hated it. I was rejecting that part of myself and it made me hate myself.
People would yell at my family because we were mixed race at a time when it wasn’t ok. I thought they hated me. They yelled at us from cars, threw stuff at us. They were yelling at my mom and dad and we’d be in the back seat. I was looking out the window. This made me very conscious and very self-hating very early on. As I talk about it I realise I had a heap of a plate to work with. Self-abnegation at 27. The thing that helped me was opera. I survived the the suicide because angels were telling me I had more work to do. I started to write. As I grew into that world I grew into myself. A creative way of self-healing. My mother hated it. I totally embodied the thing that she so feared. When I started to write my first opera that led to the Academy Award I found a character that was a hermaphrodite and it opened my own hermaphrodite nature in me.
I started exploring sex fairly late and it was mostly heterosexual. Sexuality is not as interesting as eroticism is to me. Sensuality. I’m turned on by all shapes and forms of beings. I had sensual relatioships with men too. Once it was too pressured. It could be construed to be coercion. That was problematic. It caused me to push away and not fully embrace that part of me. I loved this person, they were my mentor. Taught me so many things but he went too far and too quickly in how I wanted to relate with him. It became a problem within our relationship.
Me and Isabelle work so well together because we are so sensual in our natures. We don’t have to own the other sexually. All my relationships before were very ownership based. Jealousy always came up. That doesn’t exist between us. No fear of being rejected for my gender. I don’t even know what that is, it’s very complicated for me. Our eroticism - we give each other our privacy and fantasy. It’s the most unusual relationship I’d ever had. We have sex when we play music. It’s telepathic and very deep. We don’t have sex otherwise. That was one of the first thing we talked about. The need came from keeping a deeper connection. That deep connection would be impinged by having the physical connection come in. The intention to have babies diverts the energy. I wanted to try this with her and she wasn’t interested in being sexual. She’s a virgin. Everything for us is so energetic it’s a finer energy than the physical. The yearning for each other physically is actually made more intense. It makes us yearn forever because it’s never fulfilled. Tantra might say it’s the highest level of teasing. We have the highest yearning for each other so the music we make takes on a very erotic energy.
I’m still exploring my gender. It’s as complicated as it gets for me. It’s so wide-ranging. For society gender is mostly black and white and society pressures us into that. I was always like this and it caused me shame from the very beginning. I was ashamed of my physical makeup. I am very definitely very mixed in my gender. I’m both male and female. Though I don’t have female genitals I should. I’m neuter too. Without gender. And all of those things crop up at different times and different places. Isabelle is so accepting of my nature as it shifts from one place to the next. I think of it as fluid. I’d like to believe that everyone is like that. I’m so fluid, racially too. When I was 44 I started to consider myself an angel and for me they are all multi-gendered. It’s much easier to understand it these days. These days it is open, it was never spoken of in my childhood. My mother and grandmother were always telling me things about myself that embarrassed me. I had a sensual need for expressive clothing that was different to the other boys. I had an early not-limited body movement. I don’t know where it may stem from. I am a gemini. During an LSD trip I had an insight into myself that was startling and odd. I saw that I was a twin and that I absorbed my female sister. Almost immediately after that I met someone who studied this and they confirmed it happens. Enormous serendipity. An instant message that I was right about this knowledge. That information helped me a lot.
I feel advanced for this society. I’m waiting for the public to step up. I’m ready. Ready to mentor. I’m mentoring Isabelle. She’s so young and she is blossoming into an extraordinary being. The process will support her in her full erotic and complex gender and emotional nature. She has supported me too. It’s not a one way street at all.
What does sex mean to you?
I don’t know. I’m in constant dialectic about it. Our music making is sex. It’s a bit wider than what is commonly known. Because of my imagination I believe I can have sex without physical contact. I’m not really clear.
I was more physically engaged in sex before and not satisfied. It was very disappointing. A lot of work. I felt like sex was something I had to do. It felt like my girlfriends felt that I wasn’t engaged with them. Which was not the case. They gaged my love according to my sexual engagement. It felt like pressure and I felt uncomfortable.
What’s difficult about sex?
Intercourse always felt very goal-oriented. Like pressure. It overwhelmed me and made me feel like I was less.
What do you most enjoy about sex?
Embracing intimacy, the comfort with nudity without the pressure to penetrate or have orgasm. That feels most wonderful.
Do you orgasm?
It’s always a matter of edging. We are profoundly good edgers. I consider that to be the nature of tantra. I feel like the orgasm is the energy we use to perform with. Both of us do it. The performance is all about making it into an orgasmic experience. We displace the energy into ot. I believe that people then feel it.
How often do you have sex?
Sexual energy is always present for us but we don't have what you would call regular sex.
Do you masturbate?
I do but I don’t come anymore. Everything for me has become a form of teasing. Always approaching. Always holding on to that orgasm. This way it’s always present in my creative life.
How do you see male sexuality portrayed in the society and how does it make you feel?
I don’t like it. It repels me. My favourite men are not the type of men that are portrayed. Men have not allowed themselves to explore their masculinity because they have to be in charge. It causes them to be limited. When I show that I write with both hands women are far more likely to respond. Men almost don’t even see it. I experience women as being more balanced because they’ve had to step into masculine.
What’s your advice to men?
Try to learn to stop trying to control situations. Step away from being goal-oriented. From being a prophet. How many women they’ve had. So many prophets. So disturbing. It needs to be left behind. It causes people to undermine one another. Gaining something from another person rather than just giving. I just wanna come. It’s very masculine to me. My ex-mentor is an example of a man pushing.
What’s your advice to women?
Allow the man to be a different man. Sometimes they want to be different, not as controlling. They may want to be passive. They may not want to be an aggressor. Maybe there needs to be more flow and give and take in the interaction.
Is there anything you want to explore?
My whole thing is to just love myself as much as possible. It’s so difficult today in this era to just support my nature. I seek a support system for myself. I want to continue to model performance and relating. People can derive countless benefit from the way we interact. Relationship and marriage can be blissful. We are not falsely happy. We’re doing it. So many people have this very strict notion of how to be sexual with each other and find discomfort in it. There needs to be a possibility of having another way of relating. Not so child-bearing related. Some people aren’t meant to and shouldn't be castigated for it.