How does someone set himself or herself up to be a teacher of sensuality? You certainly don't wake up one morning and say, "I think I will teach a sensuality class." As my dear friend and mentor, Gary Austin, says, "You don't decide to become a teacher. It is when someone asks you to teach them that you become a teacher." And that is what happened to me.
In February of 1999, I performed in my home town, New York, in a benefit show for Artistic New Directions, a non-profit theater company. I did an imitation of Madeline Kahn's "I'm so tired" from Mel Brooks' hilarious movie, Blazing Saddles. A dear friend remarked to me, "You’re so brave. I could never do that on stage," to which I casually replied, "Honey, I could teach you to strip." Later that year, she called and asked me to do just that. She was working on a bedroom love scene in acting class, and, blocked by old parental injunctions against "acting slutty", she broke down in tears each time she began the scene. She came to my house, we worked privately for two hours, and, under my attention, she managed to replace the accusing voices in her head with positive loving ones, and now had her energy available to approach the scene.
When she returned to work with her scene partner, he was astonished by the change in her behavior. He, too, had issues with the intimacy of the scene, and called me himself, asking to work with me privately as well. His concern was not worry about “being slutty?but with his perceived inability to detect when intimate overtures on his part were unwelcome to women. In my session with him, I started creating the exercises that now are part of the warm-up in my workshop. I came up with an exercise called “Find the Magic Spot?in which we explore giving and receiving accurate cues from each other about boundaries. We also worked on his perception of himself as an erotic creature.
When the two of them returned with the scene to acting class the following week, everyone there was amazed at the transformation. Hearing I had the magic secret to help people get in touch overcome their fear of intimacy on stage, the students asked me to teach a workshop, which I did, and the results of that have been amazing.
Now I teach acting classes called Body Language & Burlesque bi-monthly in Los Angeles and New York, and three times a year in Seattle and Chicago. Both of my acting teachers, Carol Fox Prescott and Gary Austin, recommend my workshop to their students to help them get in touch with their bodies and to access their sensual selves without shame.
Though most of my students so far have been actors, there have been a number of other professions represented among my students. Stockbrokers, homemakers, sales people, secretaries, blue collar workers have all shown up for the class and all of them take home a renewed awareness of their sensual selves and a renewed appreciation of the other human bodies in their worlds.
In my column I will explore the philosophical basis of my approach to increasing our sensual awareness. I will also discuss the exercises I create, how these techniques help my students gain renewed joy in the world of touch, sight, hearing, taste and smell. And I will illustrate, through examples from the ongoing workshops, how greater awareness of our bodies leads to clearer, more present and more effective communication.
Too often, we allow the to-do lists in our mind and on our desks to keep us from enjoying basic pleasures. The path to greater sensual awareness lies in taking more time, and making opportunities to focus on simple pleasures. That path and those pleasures will be the topic of my column. I hope you will join with me in discovering new worlds of pleasure and mastery.
Cheryl King Bio
Ms. King began her show business career in 1978 in a burlesque show produced by Will B. Able of Baggy Pants and Company. She studied mime, dance and acting and performed and taught mime from 1979 ?1982 in schools and universities across the country. She became a stand-up comic in 1982 and worked full-time at that profession until 1995, performing nationally in clubs and colleges. In 1996, she premiered her solo show, "not a nice girl," in NYC. She has since performed runs of the show twice in NYC, twice in LA and in Seattle and Ft. Collins, CO. Cheryl is a member of the Dramatists Guild and has studied playwriting in New York in the Writer's Wing and with Jeffrey Sweet. She currently studies with and assists nationally-acclaimed acting coaches Carol Fox Prescott and Gary Austin. She also teaches her own workshop, Body Language and Burlesque in five cities nationwide, and teaches a couples and a writing workshop as well. Ms. King is Managing Director of a non-profit thea! ter company, Artistic New Directions. For more information, visit Cheryl's website at http://www.improv.net/CherylKing