The December before lockdown Betty and I lead our last workshop together. There was a feeling of finality in that group. Betty’s skin and hair had turned this glowing translucent white – like an angel. She was peaceful, calm and quite loving towards me. As we sipped champagne at the drawing table in her bedroom, she looked me dead and in the eye and announced, “you’re better than me”. I couldn’t hear it and went into my usual compliment deflection when she repeated herself with a finger pointed in my direction, “you’re better than me.” In that moment, I decided to receive. It was our last conversation. Betty had passed the torch.
After taking Bodysex virtual and enduring three covid waves – it was time to get back to the circle. I knew NYC wasn’t going to work. The only place that seemed right was Menla. We’d hosted two retreats to celebrate Betty’s 90th birthday there. It’s rare to find a beautiful, self-contained space where we can share group nudity. Being surrounded by nature is a form of pleasure in itself. Native American tribes believe that Menla is on sacred land, hit millions of years ago by a meteorite. There is something powerful about the work being supported by the land. It’s a different feeling than being in a hotel or tourist destination.
We posted a link, and the reservations came in. We would be accommodating a larger group of women. The work would have to adapt. Also, I wanted to include the knowledge I gained from the virtual work. I decided to invite several women from the Bodysex community to support the first retreat. It felt right.
As I boiled barbells and unboxed wands, it was like muscle memory. I’d stood in Betty’s kitchen doing the same preparation for over a decade. “I can do this”, I stated out loud. My heart was heavy but I moved forward. I packed up my car and made one last dash to the house. In that moment, I decided to pour some of Betty’s ashes into a small glass bottle. She would be there at the retreat.
A retreat gives you more time with the women because you have your mornings and nights open for rituals. We added education from my virtual work and research, held a night of vulva massage and dancing, took hikes, got massages (the spa is world-class), ate strawberries and chocolate bites between sessions, and finished the weekend with a bon fire. Being surrounded with sex positive energy – female sex positive energy – for several days is healing in indescribable ways. Several of the women who attended are moving forward with Bodysex certification. When an experience is so inspiring that you want to learn the practice, it means everything.
I’d placed the glass bottle of Betty’s ashes on the stage in the shrine room. There was moment when I was standing in the middle of the circle, leading the women as they vibrated around me when I looked up at Betty’s ashes. This was her send off. Our orgasm energy – the sounds of our pleasure – was the closure I needed. Betty Dodson’s spirit would leave the planet heralded by self-love and independent orgasm. Tears welled up and I released them.
The women were fantastic – as always. Bodysex has ruined me for all other friendships. Until you’ve shared your vulva and your orgasm, it’s all bullshit. I drove home warmed by the thought that I am continuing Betty’s legacy…that she would be proud. Then I realized I’m not alone – the Bodysex community is continuing Betty’s legacy. Thank you Laura, Celine, and Frances.
Here I am with Laura after genital show and tell. We’re hosting two more circles at Menla this upcoming June 12 – 15, 2023 and June 16 – 19, 2023. Here is a link with more information: https://bodysex.com/workshop-retreat/