Sex, Eroticism & Pleasure with Linda River Valente

This episode is so not a replay of what you learned about sex in health class back in middle school. Linda River Valente is back on the podcast and this time she’s talking about things that make us blush, but shouldn’t. As a Holistic Sexuality Educator, Linda invites us to find a healthy, more comfortable relationship with our sexuality and sensuality.

This is Wendy Halley and you're listening to Lucid Cafe.

Welcome to the final episode of season four. I hope you've enjoyed listening to these conversations as much as I've enjoyed having them. As I do every year, I'll be taking a bit of a break before I get behind the mic again, but I'm excited for next season. It's shaping up to be another good one.

For today's episode. I figured since we started the season with the dynamic, powerful and magical Linda River Valente, I thought it'd be poetic to wrap this season up by talking with Linda one more time. Kind of like bookends. The last time we talked about her work as an astrologer and making magic. And as promised, this time we're talking about sex, eroticism and pleasure. I can't imagine there's enough room on her business card to list all the ways in which she works with folks. Maybe she uses like, a scroll or something. So here's the deal. In addition to astrology and spellwork and tarot, Linda is also a longtime holistic sexuality educator and as you'll soon discover, is very knowledgeable and passionate about her work, helping others to discover their erotic selves in whatever form that takes.

So please enjoy my conversation with Linda River Valente.

Linda: Wendy, people ask me these questions all the time. Don't be scared!

Wendy: Oh, I'm not scared of those questions. I'm trying to figure out how to start.

Linda: Yeah, exactly.

Wendy: Just how to start...

Linda: Here we go again. Here we are again. Back for more fun. You asked for it, we give it to you.

Wendy: Guess who's sitting in front of me right now?

Linda: Here I am.

Wendy: You're not going to guess who you are?

Linda: No.

Wendy: Okay. Well, I'm really excited that you're back. In fact, this morning, just this morning, a regular listener mentioned that she really enjoyed the first episode you were on.

Linda: Great!

Wendy: I've gotten lots of really nice feedback. So today's episode is going in a much different direction than the last one did.

Linda: It will still have magical qualities for sure.

Wendy: Absolutely. Because it's you. That's just a given. But we're going in a different direction. I had hinted that we were going to be talking about your holistic sexual education work in our last episode, and that is what we're focusing on today.

Linda: Yes.

Wendy: And so if you could just give kind of the overview of what that even means?

Linda: So when I think about the work that I do, I will sometimes call it erotic liberation. But I went to get my proper schooling to be a holistic sex educator. And the way that that is different than maybe the type of sex education that you would think of in like an academic or an educational setting is that it has a holistic frame, which is to say that it isn't a way of teaching about sex and sexuality that is just medicalized and about health itself. Rather, it is inclusive of all of the things that inform our sexuality. So it accounts for the emotional, the social, the political, the philosophical, the ways that our sexual and erotic natures are formed on a much bigger frame.

So what I do as an educator is that I work with folks individually or in couples or in more than couple groups. And I have the background in the fluency and the ability to lead them when we're talking about practical questions about, uh, health and sexual health. But really the way that I work is I'm working in a much broader way.

I'm not a licensed sex therapist, but in my training, I had training for what we're called therapeutic skills for the educator. And so I also take my astrology practice and my tarot practice and the rest of the magical work that I do, which has kind of a powerful angle of counsel, being of counsel. And I apply that counsel and that therapeutic approach and the work that I do. So there's education to it. There's absolutely discovery. There's definitely troubleshooting things that people bring that they need support around, helping people learn how to have conversations communication is enormous. And then bringing it more into the embodied, somatic, experiences of pleasure and then larger conversations of pleasure. So there's kind of a whole range of things that happen when I'm sitting with someone or with folks in my space.

Wendy: Yeah, that's a very broad description of a process. Just to get an idea, is there a trend or a typical reason why someone might look you up?

Linda: Yeah. I have found that the majority of the people that I work with and I think it's probably informed by my larger practice because they know what else I do. But the majority of people that I work with are in a position where they need to have a trusted nonjudgmental person to sort of invite them into an awakening or a discovery or an understanding about themselves.

So more often than not, someone will come to me for this type of work out of curiosity, out of a desire to grow. Plenty of times that desire to grow is linked to maybe something that's happening in their world or in relationships and they're realizing, I really want to learn a different way to do this, or I want to understand this whole thing in a different way. Or many times, I mean, honestly, majority of times clients will say, I haven't told this to anybody but you. There's no one else for me to talk to about this. And some of these folks are in long term partnerships or marriages and they're not feeling confident and in the position to talk with their partner about these things. So we kind of have a landing place for it.

So a majority of people are coming because they just so much need support. But plenty of people might have that moment or that awakening or that understanding that lets them know they need support.

Wendy: Right. Okay. So you're talking about people carrying something around sex with them, and it's either so tender or so unusual...

Linda: Or it's unformed, or they just like over the last five or six years, I've come up with a process that I usually lead folks through, and then we can best see what they actually need. And then this process I have, it's, like, in three parts. The first part is reflective, and these questions are looking at and assessing early patterns around intimacy. Oh, it's so fun.

I'll ask you my very first question. I'll ask you that in a minute. The ice breaker question. Right?

So there's the bank of questions that are reflective. Then there's the bank of questions that put us in the now, and then the ones where we're looking ahead to how might we like this to work in the future? Like, what's the shit that I actually want that I haven't even told anybody or asked for or I don't even know how to do that. Can somebody tell me how to do that? So we're sort of… it's retrospective, it's present, and it's moving forward. And those questions have been cultivated and really honed and refined over time, over working with clients to best get a sense of where do people get tripped up and where are they really excited to just burst out and learn and grow, and they just didn't even know it was an option? So that's part of it.

Can I ask you my icebreaker question?

Wendy: I think so.

Linda: I feel like I might have asked you this before, maybe at some point, but okay. I think this is a great icebreaker question, but I'll be the judge of that. Wendy, I have a question for you. Tell me about your first celebrity or fictional character crush.

Wendy: Oh, shit. What could that be? I'm trying to remember.

Linda: For some people, it is like an instantaneous, right? Be rolling back and be thinking, all right, what film did I see?

Wendy: The first one that popped into my head. I mean, I was really little.

Linda: I'll tell you mine after. Go. Tell me yours.

Wendy: Shirley Temple. Yeah. I don't think it was a sexual crush.

Linda: It was a shiny. Yeah, very shiny. Yeah.

Wendy: I used to watch Shirley Temple movies all the time.

Linda: Because there was something, like, commandingly shiny about this person.

Wendy: She was magnetic. She was adorable.

Linda: Yeah.

Wendy: And just how she overcame so many different things. So many. I was like three, four years old. Five years old.

Linda: Now try and bump, it up a little bit and get to try and do, like, nine or ten years old. Nine or ten years old.

Wendy: Let's see. I'm trying to remember back to that time in my life. What was in the popular culture at that time? I'm trying to remember.

Linda: Of course, bands count, musicians...

Wendy: I can go ahead a little bit. So nine or ten?

Linda: Yes. Try and do nine or ten.

Wendy: Okay, I would say Paul McCartney.

Linda: That's right.

Wendy: That was a lasting one.

Linda: Now bump ahead a little bit again. Go like 15.

Wendy: Who did I have a crush on back then? All right, so here's, When did the hockey team win the Olympics?

Linda: Was it like 88 or something?

Wendy: No, it was earlier than that because I had the poster in my room.

Linda: Oh, no.

Wendy: It was the goalie, Jim Craig.

Linda: There you go. So you have a little trifecta here. That's very fascinating. Shirley Temple, Paul, McCartney and hockey man. I'll tell you mine.

Wendy: Okay, let's hear yours.

Linda: Because this is part of transparency, right? If you're going to have these discussions with people.

Wendy: Damn straight.

Linda: You want to be able to say it right back. Alright, here's my first crush. This is real. Seven version of Robin Hood animated Disney. So I was born in 76, so I probably saw this in 80. Right. On tape or whatever it is. Robin Hood is a fox. He has a British accent. He has enormous brown eyes that they're all googlely and spinning and amazing. And he has this bright because he's a fox. Right. So reddish. But then this bright, silvery, white like beard. That's what my husband looks I was.

Wendy: Just going to say you're describing Hanif. Yeah.

Linda: I was four or five.

Wendy:  That's adorable. So my husband is Shirley Temple?

Linda: Yeah. Tell him that. Right. Tell him that.

Wendy: Just kidding. I'm kidding. John out there in the world.

Linda: So that's an icebreaker question for the beginning of this process, which is to say, if we look back over time and we're trying to excavate our erotic sensibilities at the root, well, what things have you responded to before? What things are part of your formation? What really stands out to you as something that spoke to you or touched you or moved you in this way?

Wendy: I love it! That's a great question. It really is. I mean, that's a great icebreaker question, period.

Linda: It's fun. You don't necessarily have to go on to talk about which I do. Which is my next That's third question of three, please. It's not the first.

Wendy: So you move on to porn after crush? Well, it's nice to hear there's a progression.

Linda: There's a progression. not a, very gentle one.

Wendy: You're not putting someone into seizure territory.

Linda: Yeah.

Wendy: All right. So it sounds like people don't always know why they're coming to see you for this type of work.

Linda: People have a feeling. People have a sense, they have a hunch.

Wendy: Something's not right or something is hidden? Or…

Linda: That they want more, or that they want to understand themselves better. That there needs to be a place for them to do this level of discovery. And it's certainly not something that is. In the United States, we have a model of profound erotophobia, at the same time as over saturation with the worst imagery and attitudes around sex possible. So there's both, like, this deep fear and sex continues to be, for a lot of people, a taboo subject, while at the same time, our entire culture is like, we want to sell shit, we use sex to sell it.

Wendy: Slap some sex on it. I was thinking that our puritanical roots in the white culture that came here, the colonial culture, certainly has left a mark, hasn't it?

Linda: Yeah. And there's a way that right now, when we're in this time of trying to dismantle some of these systems of oppression that have been in place for so long, since the very beginning of this country, so as we're trying to dismantle those systems and have conversations in that way, the erotic and pleasure, those must be parts of our conversation. We can't look away from them or do without them.

Wendy: What are your thoughts on the impacts for individuals of this kind of repression?

Linda: I think that there is a way that they have been cut off from their magic. One of the questions toward the end of the first session that I do is how would you define erotic? How would you define erotic? And of course, like, all of these questions, when you hear someone's answer, it's fucking very telling. It's very telling. Sex is erotic. But sex is not the only translation of erotic. The erotic includes the sensual, the mystical, the magical, the cerebral.

Eros is so much bigger than just sex. So when you have someone who has not grown up in a culture where there is real body positivity, where information is easily accessible, where these conversations are happening, it's not even just repression. It's like an active subjugation of someone's magic. It's like it just it breaks my heart. Basically, it really, really hurts to work with and talk to people who like, they've never had an orgasm or to them, sex is really transactional. Even though they're in a loving relationship, they just figure, well, this is that, this is that. Got to trade that, that equals that.

That's part of why holistic sex ed is so important to me, because I love the idea of educating people on pleasure from a body person. Like, I do all these things, but looking at the larger frame of why was this taken away from you? Why was this not made available to you? And what can we do about that? That's why when people do come to me for this work, we create spellwork that they can do and using art and music and dance and how important those modalities are in this kind of work. So it's not just sort of a dry approach of I learned that. I learned that. It's like, we do this techniques. Yeah, we do like this deep dive first, and then I can absolutely give you techniques. I can give you all kinds of brainstorms. And I do a lot of my brainstorms fold in for people, though, their chart work because it's really someone's chart tells us so much about who they are as an erotic being or who they haven't been able to be or who they want to be. So that's something that comes into-

Wendy: What you're making me think of as far as someone's erotic nature is more of an expression rather than an experience of a sexual act or...

Linda: Yup. Right on. Your erotic nature is a living, breathing thing. It has personhood and your erotic nature, it can't not be expressed. It can be expressing itself as blocked. It can be expressing itself as frustrated. It can be expressing itself as pretty good, except one part missing. It's about life.
It's like when I was a children's librarian, for a long while, I would have parents come and ask me if I could help them to find books that their kids could read for sex ed. And I would go to the shelf and we like, really go for, why is this one that and this one that?

It was always so interesting to me working with parents, where even the most forward thinking and broadly minded parent there is a way that they knew that the subject was either taboo or problematic or something. And I couldn't help but feel like, wait a minute, you let your kid read the shittiest dystopian fiction I have ever fucking I mean, what is happening in these books that your child is reading? This is war. This is violence. It's like sex is life. Let your kids read about life. It was a funny moment that I frequently hit up against.

Wendy: Well, it's very revealing.

Linda: Yeah, exactly. Culturally, it's just like, oh, and just the way that sometimes there would be a sex ed book that I would have shelved in Young Adult rather than in the Juvenile collection. And I'd bring the parents in there and I'd be like, okay, here's this option. It's really going to be good for this. And there was this recognition that we had crossed from the juvenile collection to the Young Adult collection. Yeah, please. The books get good. They get snazzy. Like, there's a lot of information in these books, right? But even that even just watching people kind of digest that and try to determine in what way they wanted to deliver this information and it was interesting.

Wendy: It's such a strange dichotomy, getting back to what you're talking about. The two extremes of either very sexually repressed as a culture, but then it's in your face all the time.

Linda: Yes. And the version of it that is in your face is, of course, a highly marketed refined, glossy. It takes out all the grit and the blood and the sweat and the worry and the passion, really. If there's a way that it becomes stripped of its magic when it becomes, I don't know, sort of there's a way that the visual magic becomes, to me, sad and hollow.

Wendy: I was just going to say empty. Yeah, just like breast implants can be empty. If you have breast implants out there. I apologize, but yeah, I guess that could lead into a whole conversation about body positivity. Right?

Linda: Yeah.

Wendy: And especially the female form and how we see ourselves or don't see ourselves.
Linda: Yeah, exactly. I mean, it's like we've known since the early 70s about the weaponization and manipulation that happens with the female form. So much so that it's like one of the questions I think it's sort of in the middle section that I ask people is how often do you see yourself naked? Do you have a full length mirror? And what comes up for you around that? And sometimes it's a complete non issue, and other times you just watch people sort of take a deep breath and try to figure out how they want to step up and into that answer.

There's so much what I say to people as kind of a guiding principle is when it comes to sex and sexuality, you have to stay warm in order to get hot. You cannot have this expectation, right, that you've shut that switch off and you're everybody's chauffeur and this and that and you're doing this, and then all of a sudden you're just going to be able to hit the ground running at 3000 miles an hour. Right?
Our body chemistry is asking for more than that. So when I talk about the staying warm to get hot, that applies directly to sex. But it's more of a sensibility that I have about keeping the erotic awake and alive every day in your life. You are an erotic being. You are made of this type of magic. So what will you do with it? And what you do with it is according to your design, it's on your unique expression.
Wendy: So you would explore with them ways in which they can bring that into their lives.
Linda: So we talk about things like just having a conversation about pleasure. Some people, there's emotional pleasure, there's sensual pleasure, there's sexual pleasure, there's cerebral pleasure. There's so many types of pleasure.

Wendy: There's chocolate.

Linda: There's chocolate. There's Damiana truffles, which are in my refrigerator right now. That is pleasure. But there's so many types of pleasure. And when we are living societally in a way that doesn't encourage us to drop in and have a really, like, intimate experience of that pleasure between ourselves and spirit, really. But between ourselves and whomever or whatever, that's often a really important question. And like, discussion in this kind of work is how do you define pleasure? Do you deny yourself pleasure? What is the difference between sensual and sexual pleasure? Some folks, they don't see that delineation yet. So there we go. That is a perfect place.

Wendy: Great place to start.

Linda: Perfect place to start where we try and get you filled with pleasure.

Wendy: One of the things that strikes me in my work over the years as a psychotherapist is the sense of longing that people have. And the longing is not just for connection. We all long for that. But I think we also all long for that deep kind of intimacy with another person. And that kind of intimacy, I think, can get mistaken for sex, the sexual act. But what I think people are really craving is emotional intimacy, is that ability to bear yourself on so many different levels. It could be physical as well, but it's also emotional. Like letting someone see every nook and cranny in your shadowy self, and you're cringing a bit as you're showing it and hoping that they still love you or they're not going to walk away.

Linda: That sense of emotional vulnerability is like it's really big. And whether you're with someone for a night or a lifetime, that is something that if we let ourselves look at that and feel that deeply, it's like you get called back to your own magic. When I think about this work, the shape of this work really started for me after my divorce from my first marriage because I was partnered with someone for 20 years. And imagine hello, People, 2013 dating apps. What the fuck is it? Dating? Pardon me? What exactly? How does this all work? Right? So I think that so many times it's my drawing from my personal experiences and my learning and accessing some of those stories that help people really respond and kind of key into some of the emotional vulnerability. Like, I had a practice after my divorce. I had what I called a devotional orgasm practice.

Wendy: Oooh, that that sounds good.

Linda: Yup. In this, I set aside a certain amount of time where it was all about self pleasure. And I have a tourist rising, so you bet there were fucking bells and whistles going on there, right? Ample bells and whistles. So here's the time, here's the deal. And what I would do was I had a Divination deck, I had an oracle deck, and it was goddesses through world culture, throughout world culture. And I would hold the deck in front of me and I would meditate for a few minutes and I would say, this orgasm is in the name of and I would flip the card over.

And in that first year after my divorce, damn, that deck had how many fucking cards, right? I turned over and over and over, the Aztec goddess of grief, over and over again. So in my mind, I thought, okay, the pleasure that is generated in my body, every fucking good and magical thing, I'm going to lay this out to grief. This is my offering to grief.

Then, of course, luckily, over time, you get the good ones, right? You start getting the better ones. But that practice of devotional orgasm and how that worked, that was a huge part of shaping the body of work that became my degree work, that became this client work. It was like I went through this I went through this process on my own first.

Wendy: Right. And it sounds like it was your intuitive nature that just kicked it into gear. But I can't imagine how healing it must have been. Like the person you were after that year versus the person you were when you started out. Probably very different.

Linda: Yeah. Sometimes I love when people come to me and they are not partnered because then it is all about them. And the whole point is it actually is fucking all about you. Yes. We want this connection. Yes. It's about but it's like oh, you have to know yourself first. You have to know yourself first.

Wendy: I was just thinking that. I don't know if you found this over the years of doing this work…what I've witnessed again in our culture is that women tend to put their own needs last and serve the other first. That very maternal kind of approach. And I could see that playing out sexually, as well.

Linda: Absolutely.

Wendy: Putting off our pleasure.

Linda: Yeah. There's such a and I think something that I remember working with this client and she was in her early forty s and she had two children and she had never had an orgasm. The first exercise that I gave her was about micro pleasures. And so I said, because I knew this girl, I was like, all right, we got to give her a timer. I said, I want you to take your phone and set a three minute timer. And in those three minutes I want you to apply oil or lotion or body butter or some fabulous thing to your arms and to your hands and I just want you to feel that feeling. And she could barely make that possible. Right.

Wendy: Oh man.

Linda: So it's like just we have this perfect situation in which pleasure is commodified. Our lives have been oriented in a way that we have forgotten that pleasure is what heals us. It's what keeps us whole. I mean what experiencing pleasure does to your body, to your brain chemistry. Pleasure heals. Pleasure heals you. You feel good. It feels good. It isn't just a momentary thing. It's reshaping and redesigning. It's changing everything.

Wendy: It's a powerful message.

Linda: It is a big thing. So micro pleasures, being in touch with the erotic. It's a sustainability practice that then makes you be like, great, take out the candles and the wax fetish is happening NOW, but not required, right?! But it's this staying warm to get hot idea.

Wendy: Well, when you're in the frigid area of the thermostat it's going to take a little while so you have to be really patient with yourself.

Linda: And there's so little care and concern have gone into really, until as of maybe the last ten or 15 years, to really properly understanding sexual response differences in a range of peoples. We need to be thoughtful about gender and orientation and biology and all these things. There's a lot to consider about the way that people access their own pleasure or not. So this process honestly fucking changes everything. It makes the entire world look different. When you have given yourself the permission to feel and express who you are sexually, it changes everything.

Wendy: I could see that.

Linda: And it's fun. Good, wholesome fun. Well, make it fun, Wendy. You think we don't make it fun? We make it fun.

Wendy: I know you make it fun. I know you do. That could be a nice transition into burlesque.

Linda: Can do! Yes.

Wendy: Let's talk about your work producing and performing in burlesque shows.

Linda: Yeah, this is a great thing to think about. Right? Because burlesque is an art form that is all about expression. Burlesque is an art form where every body type, every way of expressing desire, every storyline you could possibly hatch, there's room for all of those things is like a playground to translate well, for me, it's a playground to translate what it looks like to basically have your hand on the stove, to be like all the, um, way here with this. So when I think about producing shows, I get so excited because you have an audience. And burlesque audiences are the most wonderful audiences in all the wide world.

Wendy: They really are.

Linda: Because they are there to celebrate and to uplift, and they are there to experience and expand. So you have this audience that you're curating, like, what could we show them and what could we make them feel? And how could this wake them up and how might they think about this? Or where will this sit with them? So the process of producing that is like sort of considering if you had like an erotic buffet for these people, you know, what would you give them that would wake up not just their physical senses, but an even deeper level. So that's one of my greatest pleasures in all of life, really, is to make that kind of space that's inclusive and that's warm and that's fucking super dead sexy. And you're seeing people, you know, from town and you're like, what is she doing?

Wendy: There is that.

Linda: There is that. There is that.

Wendy: Yeah.

Linda: So I love producing shows. And performing in shows for me, is such a ritual. It's ceremonial.
Wendy: It does seem that way when I'm watching you because it seems like you're in an altered state.
Linda: Yeah, definitely. Yeah. It's the, fusion of the music and the, eros and whatever the storyline might be, like the vignette or the narrative that you come up with. And the outfits. The lack of outfits by the end! The lighting. Yes. All of those things. Like, it's so sensuously scripted. Yeah. I'm definitely in an altered state when I perform.

Wendy: Yeah.

Linda: Mmmhmm.

Wendy: You can just tell she means some business right now. And it's captivating. Absolutely. Although I find there's something about all the acts.

Linda: Yes.

Wendy: I guess I should say that I've been an audience member and then I became a participant. I have never taken my clothes off.

Linda: But I'm going for April 2022. That's when I get Wendy on the stage. It's astrological. Just go with it.

Wendy: Oh, is that what's happening?

Linda: Well.

Wendy: Um, I don't know about that. Especially because I'm already being vulnerable.

Linda: Yeah, because you've been our vocalist.

Wendy: Yes.

Linda: You've done live vocals, which is incredible to have in a burlesque show. I mean, just having music, recorded music is moving enough, but to have a live vocalist is like a whole other....

Wendy: And it's been a perfect outlet for me because ever since, I was a little girl, I wanted to sing, and I put that way on a shelf. It is probably one of the most pleasurable things that I do for myself, is sing.

Linda: Yes! And then I just and that's the thing. That's the thing about the erotic. Like, that is part of your erotic expression.

Wendy: It is a big part.

Linda: Yeah. It doesn't fucking matter what you're wearing, doesn't matter who's looking. You are plugged in to source, into Eros. Music, my God, of all things. Right? Such a bridge.

Wendy: Always been that for me. Music has always played a role in my life and in my sexual life as well. It's really a big part of how I experience pleasure.

Linda: Yes. Yeah. But when you were seeing the range of acts in a show, that's the thing. This is the range of ways that people are in touch with their erotic. Sometimes ridiculous, sometimes sassy, edgy. There's room for everything in a show. And I love putting a show together where you see all those flavors.

Wendy: You never know as an audience member, what is going to come next. That's what's cool about it. It's not the same shit over and over again, that's for sure. And I've also performed with my buddy Claire.

Linda: Oh, my God. Yeah.

Wendy: We've done the magic act, and hopefully we'll do other ones in the future. It's a dose of absurdity.

Linda: Yes. And that could be a tagline for sex. Sex: It's a dose of absurdity.

Wendy: There you go.

Linda: That could work.

Wendy: What got you into burlesque to begin with?

Linda: Well, I've always been a dancer. When I was little, what I wanted to be more than anything, when I was three or four or five years old was a Solid Gold dancer. Do you remember this?

Wendy: I sure do.

Linda: Okay. When Solid Gold comes on at 7:30 at night: Watch out. This couch is going to break because I am going to be jumping off, on, off, on. I am, going to be flying across the room. I am ready. I am so ready. When I was little, what I wanted to be was a witch and a Solid Gold dancer. Living the dream. Right?

So, dancer as a kid. And then I was a belly dance performer and teacher for a long while, too. And that was a big part of my practice with spirit and sensuality and all of that. It was sort of an easy shift from belly dance into burlesque because I was approaching it in that very sensuous, like, really body conscious. I want to be in an altered state when I dance when I was five, jumping off and on the couch. Who knows what kind of state I was in then. But as a big girl, yes, that's what I want. So it was an easy shift into burlesque. The first show I did, we did a group performance, the music was from the film O'Brother Where Art Thou. And it was the scene with the river sirens. So when they come out of jail and lo and behold, here are these women down by the river washing the clothes.

Wendy: I totally forgot about that scene until you just mentioned it.

Linda: Yeah. I was one of the river sirens. In that we're dripping wet and we're squeezing out our laundry, whacking it on the floor, whacking it against. And we did a great kind of like reverse strip where we had the, there were six of us. So three river sirens and three of the just out guys. And instead of us stripping, we stripped them, which was super fucking hot. It was amazing. Yeah. But that was the first it was the group number that I was in. And it was such a great time. And we did that in a couple of venues. And then it was like, all right, what do we do next?

Wendy: And it got in your blood.

Linda: Yeah.

Wendy: And that was that. What was it like the first time you stripped in front of a group of people?

Linda: Well, I'm trying to think about am I including my much younger years? Okay, let me think. Yeah. Well, let's put it up to now. So let's see the first time I stripped on stage, fully in performance mode. Fucking awesome. I don't know. I feel like just the room just lifted up, actually. Yes. For that first one, I was just going to go down to a G string and then I just snapped it off at the end. I just felt like the music just took it all and I just...

Wendy: Why not?

Linda: Why not. Yeah. So then after that, that's the gold standard now. But to me, I feel, like I feel very calm when I'm stripping. I just feel like you are looking at a human and you can have whatever thoughts you have about that human.

Linda: Why not. Yeah. So then after that, that's the gold standard now. But to me, I feel, like I feel very calm when I'm stripping. I just feel like you are looking at a human and you can have whatever thoughts you have about that human.

Wendy: I think we need to bottle that and give that to everyone.

Linda: Yeah.

Wendy: Because I'm clearly... I was raised in a very modest kind of way.

Linda: I was raised Catholic. Wendy of all. No way. I was like the great dress code infringer in 9th grade. The vice principal apparently had like a dress code file on me. Talk about disastrous. Like these public schools. I could go on and on, but this is like 91, or whatever. No. When I would leave the house, my mom would say, your skirt is so short, I can see what you ate for breakfast.

Wendy: Oh.

Linda: Please. I had plenty of shit to shake up and fucking get rid of to.

Wendy: Clearly, it didn't impact you because you're like....mmmm hmmm, that's right.

Linda: Right. Breakfast of Champions!

Wendy: Pop Tarts!

Linda: Yeah, Pop Tarts! I mean, this is also part of the work I do with people, is, like, how to reclaim when we have lifetime or Lifetimes, uh, which is true of these overlayers on us, and how do we peel them back? Yeah. I feel like when I'm performing and I get that when I'm the producer of the show, I'm more nervous about how are my dancers feeling. Like, I get really oriented to who needs what and is everybody okay? But if I'm producing and performing in a show, my nervousness is for taking care of my people rather than over getting me on there.

Yeah, I mean, this is also part of the work I do with people, is, like, how to reclaim when we have a lifetime, or lifetimes, which is true, of these overlayers on us. And how do we peel them back? Yeah. I feel like when I'm performing and I get that when I'm the producer of the show, I'm more nervous about how are my dancers feeling. Like, I get really oriented to who needs what and is everybody okay? But if I'm producing and performing in a show, my nervousness is for taking care of my people rather than over getting me on there. Yeah.

Wendy: Well, yeah, it's been a bright spot in my life to be able to participate in those shows. Your Patreon.

Linda: Yeah.

Wendy: You had just made it live, I think, right around the time that our first conversation aired.

Linda: Yes. At the beginning of November 2021.

Wendy: Why don't you talk a little bit about what that is?

Linda: I have a Patreon with seven tiers of membership, one for all of the seven main planets. And in that range of offerings, you can get weekly astrological forecasts, you can be included in my New and Full Moon spell work. You can get art that I make. You can get spell work that I make. You can have one on one sessions. So there's just a whole range of... covers all of the stuff that I do.

Wendy: Okay, so, with respect to Holistic Sexual Education, is there a tier for that as well?

Linda: There is a tier. That is the Venus Tier, predictably, which I call Erotic/Oracular. And in that tier, that is the one tier that has the not suitable for work content that sends,  depends on what your work you do, that is It's suitable for my work. Yeah, there is one there. But if people wanted to do a session and they join at the sun membership level, we can just as easily make that about sexuality work rather than charts. So that's accessible, too.

Wendy: Okay. So there's a lot of flexibility there. And I'll put a link to your Patreon page in the show notes.

Linda: Awesome.

Wendy: But it's a really cool thing that you're doing on that page. And one of the things that I've been encouraging is the idea of doing some burlesque  acts for your Patreon. And I was actually suggesting doing a Patreon specific just for that so it doesn't get lost in all of your other great work. But I think it would be a big hit because then people in the privacy of their own homes can experience some of these acts, right?

Linda: As well as realizing that it is an art form that is accessible to anyone who wishes to access it. This is not an ableist supremacist. You must look this way. It's like you are connected to the erotic. You cannot help but be. So let's see how you do it, how you feel about it, and how these things Move you.

Wendy: So is some of this Burlesque type content available now?

Linda: If you get the Erotic/Oracular level, then I will make that specific content for you.

Wendy: Okay. Since we talked so much about it, I thought I would ask that question.

Linda: Yeah.

Wendy: So we covered a lot of ground.

Linda: Yup.

Wendy: Is there anything you think we didn't really touch on that should be? No pun intended!

Linda: Yes. Oh, hey, that's actually really good. Yeah, I do, because that makes me think about consent. Right. So there is a beautiful body of work by Dr. Betty Martin called the Wheel of Consent, and she is a sexological bodyworker, and she was trained by the Body Electric School as a sacred intimate.
She has a lifetime of amazing work and experience behind her, and she's just kind of culminated some of her stuff in this thing called the Wheel of Consent. And here is a wonderful first thing to start thinking about. Consent is not a binary of yes or no. Consent is actually a three-dimensional or multidimensional wheel in which giving and receiving, doing and being done to these come alive in a much bigger way than just yes’s and no's.

And the thing that is really beautiful to me about this body of work that's very meaningful to me in the moment is when you were mentioning, Wendy, about people not centering their pleasure, not even having access to knowing what their pleasure is about yet how could they center it yet when they haven't really fully found it? There's a way of looking at this Wheel of Consent work where Dr. Martin makes a clear distinction between wanting to do something and being willing to do something. Those are two different things. It is entirely possible that someone would do something that they don't necessarily want to do, but they're willing to. And sometimes that's not for the best in the right connection, in the right chalice, in the right vehicle. Imagine being able to be someone that says, I'm willing to do that and then to realize, oh, I do want to do that. There's a whole build up there. So wheel of Consent, Dr. Betty Martin, is something that I'm touching on and using with folks all the time lately, and I think it speaks widely and beautifully about human relationship in general because of my animals and witchy background between the human world and the more than human world. And I think it's super worth a look.

Wendy: A good place to start.

Linda: Yeah. Gorgeous. Come and talk to me, and I'll ask you questions like, Hi. Who was your first celebrity crush? Hi. When was the last time you watched porn? Do you need resources? I will send them to you. All of that.

Wendy: One of the things that popped in my head was, what do you think about the Netflix series on sexuality that Gwyneth Paltrow did, the goop show? That word is...

Linda: Now, I have not viewed this for myself, so I have not seen primary source material.

Wendy: I've watched some of them.

Linda: So this is my hot take based on whatever, right? So some of the sex educators that are in that series, I know their work and I know their body of work over time, and I am intrigued to know that they are getting exposed to having a wider following and how that might start great conversations.

But I have actually lately worked with folks who, rather than having that series be a wonderful uplifting conversation starter for them. It was a tender point. It brought up some rough stuff in their own dynamics.

For example, one of the sex educators speaks about what she calls erotic blueprints. So this is a system that she has created over time, has a lot of intelligence and beauty to it, but again, this is sort of her signature system. She puts folks erotic expressions within five categories. This is the energetic, the sensual, the sexual, the kinky, and the shapeshifter. Of course, we know there's a squillion more that are not accounted for there, but that's the first whack at five, right? Decent start there.

Apparently on the show are couples that range through all these types of dynamics. Well, definitely folks that I have worked with that saw the show when it came time to have a discussion about the erotic blueprints because they didn't have the backup in the moment live like me not sitting on their couch. They were having this discussion in a way that felt really fraught and really stressful. And one of the partners kind of pointing out, hey, see, that's what you don't do.

Wendy: Ooooh. Okay.

Linda: Right. And this couple is one of the coolest. These two, man, they work. They are just as dear as dear can be, right? And open to these things and open to these discussions. And in viewing this for them, it was tricky. It was a little point of discomfort rather than an opening. Now, is that still important? Fucking, yeah. Right.

What is the larger agenda or the framing or the pace or the protocol of the show? I can't speak from not having seen it head on, but I am very interested to see that this is turning heads and eyes and attention to the idea of this premise called an erotic blueprint, because that's very much what I'm looking to do when I'm doing client intake. I want to find out how do you naturally express yourself? What are your strengths and where do you need backup? What seems like a no to you? And shall we keep it on the no shelf because it is appropriate to do so because we're not trying to win the fucking Olympics of kink by a long shot? Or is there actually shit that you're kind of intrigued by and you just need the right helper or delivery to get you to that information? So I've been really the buzz around this show has definitely been something that clients have shared with me.

Wendy: Yeah, I could see having watched a few episodes, and I saw the one you're talking about, because that's just one part of a lot of the different modalities that they're presenting to the couples who are participating in this. Very bravely. I could see how it could open up some things that if you don't have the skills or the ability to communicate well, things could go south very quickly. But I also was intrigued by the idea that it's kind of normalizing a lot of things that feel maybe particular to you.

Linda: Yeah, anything that can be done to try and expand. I mean, this is the librarian in me, right? This is like expanding access to information. You have to have a very thoughtful eye about from whom does this information emanate? And is Gwyneth really my BFF of what you know, oh, my God, please. Right there's. That but does she potentially have some great educators and something's happening that's great to consider?

Wendy: They're pretty New Agey, so that made me a little uncomfortable.

Linda: Yes.

Wendy: Just the language they would use and the lingo.

Linda: Yeah. It's like there's a lot of meeting people where they are is the cornerstone of really being able to do this work. Because if people cannot be vulnerable with you and be really honest with you, we can fucking link you up to everything you think is the sexiest thing on the planet.

Wendy: But if you're not...

Linda: But what is your actual sexiest thing on the planet? I don't care what other people are saying. I want to hear what you are saying, because that's real and that's yours.

Wendy: Well, that is the first step in healing, is when you're working with someone who feels safe and comfortable. Otherwise, nothing is going to happen.

Linda: And of all things, when we're talking about how for some people where sex feels like a performative thing, it's like you certainly don't want to be fucking sitting with someone about sex and having to feel like that conversation itself is performative. Fuck that. We need to be able to drop that.

Wendy: Let's just get real, yeah. So if you watch that Gwyneth Paltrow series on Netflix and it stirred stuff up for you, please don't sit with it.

Linda: Come see me.

Wendy: Go see Linda. Or if you're not in Linda's area, in the central Vermont region.

Linda: We can be zooming!

Wendy: Oh! Okay. Then you can do it via Zoom. But yeah, please get support for yourself.

Linda: Yeah.

Wendy: Because, don't sit with that.

Linda: Yeah, don't sit with that. And don't be afraid to discover what is real for you. Do not be afraid to discover what is real for you, because that's the level of honoring the erotic. That it's part of the bigger spell, it's part of the bigger magic.

The more people that can just be who they are, as they are, whatever that looks like. And you get to change it as many fucking times as you want. It's a dynamic process. Plus, you're going to find out really great shit that you didn't know before. You're going to be like, I like that. I want that. What does it mean to want that? Yes. All of that stuff.

Wendy: Well, on that note, big thank you.

Linda: It's been a pleasure, Wendy. A pleasure.

Wendy: It's been pleasurable for me, as well!

Linda: Good! See that's reciprocity! Yes. Like, a two-way street.

Wendy: Absolutely. Crazy pleasurable. No, I really enjoyed this conversation.

Linda: Thank you.

Was that not a great way to wrap up this season of Lucid Cafe? I hope you're inspired to invite more pleasure into your life. I'm going to have some chocolate after I finish recording this.

To connect with Linda, please visit her website:, or her Patreon page. Links can be found in the show notes.

Thank you so much for listening, for the amazing feedback, and for supporting the podcast. I hope you can feel how big my gratitude is, wherever you are. It's immense.

And thank you, Stephanie, for your enthusiastic support and for your very generous donation to the podcast. Holy shit. I'm a lucky girl.

All right, that does it for season four. I'll be back in the Fall with more thought provoking, maybe even mind-bending episodes.

Until next time, please take care of yourself...and have some chocolate...

Sex, Eroticism & Pleasure with Linda River Valente
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