By Suzanne Birrell
I had the opportunity to visit with Dr. Stephanie Torres whose story is the inspiration behind a provocative new musical, Sex, Love & Yoga, written by Kate Sullivan Gibbons and includes music from Snatam Kaur. The story is about two people who meet and fall in love. A cosmic connection, soul mates with just one problem. He's gay and she's not.
Stephanie was working towards her Doctorate in Sexology when she shared her unique story with her professors. Because of the unusual coupling: gay man-straight woman, she was encouraged to turn it into a play as her dissertation project for her PhD. Originally, she wrote the play herself, but realizing that her talents did not lie in that area, she welcomed meeting Kate Sullivan Gibbens. With a Master's degree in Play-Writing and a Bachelor's in Directing, Kate had the chops to take Stephanie's story and make it into something magical. She put the love of life, which Stephanie literally radiates, onto the page and up on the stage. Realizing that there were moments that felt in need of song, Kate wrote all new original music. With a true generosity of creative spirit, Stephanie let Kate re-write (with full credit) and direct the play, even adding new characters, while she became the play's "Creative Sexologist." Stephanie crafted the story with Kate to give each character a sexual challenge to overcome. "There's actually so much to laugh about. It's funny. And charming. And also quite heavy at the same time."
Sexology is the study of what people do sexually and how they feel about it. Ideally, it's being able to remain neutral and non-judgmental when dealing with sex. Because she is a Kundalini Yogini, Stephanie focuses on the body-mind-spiritual aspect of sex. The arc of each character's story is as it relates to sexual wholeness. Sex, Love & Yoga is intentionally crafted to present an honest look at everyday sexual issues. Stephanie hopes that seeing this on stage will help people open up and talk freely about their own sexuality, even if it's only with the person they come to the show with.
Though there will be simulated sex (but no nudity or violence), Stephanie reports the "real kicker" is the intimacy, which she defined as "into me you see." To talk openly about sex is quite taboo in our culture and that's what makes this show so provocative. "Sexual rights are human rights... The story gives people permission to talk about their sexuality... We have this illusion that other people are perfect and the truth is that nobody is... it's time we all start feel comfortable talking about ourselves and what really matters". She knows people are uncomfortable with sex and she's okay with that. She's hoping many will resonate and identify with the issues presented on stage.
Stephanie wanted to tell her story so she could become the poster child that she had once been searching for. After being sexually assaulted at knifepoint as a teenager, she felt like many other women do: that she was "damaged goods" and less valuable. Though she earned a Bachelor's degree in Communication Arts, married and divorced three times, and had two children; she was unable to talk about it for many years. She went back to school to earn her Ph.D. in a subject that had crippled her as a person for most of her life because she wanted to help others like herself. Stephanie says that her play came through her meditation and her yogic practice. She hopes that it will inspire people to have the courage to deal with their sexual problems and wants to liberate people to be who they truly are.
If her play is as entertaining and educational as visiting with Dr. Stephanie Torres, it's sure to be a hit. She was inspiring and uplifting with her stories. I was entertained and I learned. (BTW: the way to ask a transgender person how they'd like to be identified, is to say "What is your preferred pronoun?") Her energy is contagious. Her heart is large and her smile radiates through her eyes.
The World Premiere of Sex, Love & Yoga
August 14 thru August 30, 2015
Fridays and Saturdays @ 8pm
Sundays at 2pm and 7pm.
1107 N. Kings Rd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069
For mature audiences only. www.sexloveandyoga.com
Dr. Stephanie Torres and friend, Yogi Brent, the two characters who inspired the true story of Sex, Love & Yoga.
Dr. Stephanie Torres and Director Kate Sullivan Gibbens problem solving by doing yoga.
Photos provided by Dr. Stephanie Torres