It’s your turn. What Is Erotic – to you?

i_want_you_02It’s your turn. You get to be the creator on this one.

Hello my darlings – Happy fall! It’s time to make things. Harvest the richness summer. And I’m not talking tomatoes. I’m talking about making art!

I’ve got a new show in the works. It’s called What Is Erotic? and it’s starring YOU.

I hope!

What Is Erotic? is a cabaret style performance made up of all kinds of people answering that very question. There will be storytelling, song, poetry, dance – all kinds of artistic expression. It will premier in January (details below). This is your opportunity to get involved with Dance Naked Productions in a hands-on way. If you live in Portland, and you’d like to know more, keep reading…..

There is a reason I’m calling this show What Is Erotic? I love to start with a question. I gets my mind churning, seeking, casting about. And this question is one I genuinely I ask myself a lot. What do I find sexy? Does that come from ME, or is that what I’ve been culturally conditioned to believe? (Thong underwear, for example. Stiletto heels. Ugh). But what really turns ME on?

Sometimes, I have no idea. I hunger for more erotic engagement. I want to feel alive. I want to feel ignited. And so, I keep asking the question. 5 years ago, me and a group of women created a show called Inviting Desire. That show (and the ones that followed) were written and performed by professional actors. We asked this question of ourselves and wrote pieces based on our answers. The end result was a series of incredible shows the likes of which no one had really ever seen. Authentic answers to this very question by a cast of lovely, talented women.

But now, I’m asking you. I’d say “the general public” but you’re really not. If you’re reading this blog, chances are good you have some interest in this question. Or at least, it won’t offend you that I’m asking (and if I’m wrong, for the love of vaginas, please close the tab and return to cat videos on Youtube!)

What is erotic? To you? Take your time. Allow yourself to wonder.

In fact, here’s a little something that might help. I just stumbled across the concept that there are seven stages of creative midwifery (this apparently comes from Plato).

The 7 Stages of Creative Midwifery

  1. Ask the question. What are you curious about?
  2. Research. Investigate, explore, experience. Anything/everything counts! It’s YOUR process.
  3. STOP. When enough is enough, stop looking for more input. Rest.
  4. Gestate. Daydream. Dance. Do the Dishes. Distract yourself. (the technical term is divergent behavior, which sounds so much like deviant behavior! Kinda makes you wanna get out the flogger, don’t it?).
  5. Eureka! You know how you get those ideas, tiny flashes of insight, as you are falling asleep, driving, in the shower, looking in the fringe? PAY ATTENTION. Write ‘em down. Don’t dismiss, or hope they’ll come back to you. Honor their arrival by actually recording them. Text yourself. Tell Siri to take a note. Don’t put it off. Capture them!
  6. Take action. Try out your idea. Draw a picture, write a poem. Make something.
  7. Be Seen. Share your idea/art/product with the world. Put it out there.

And that’s how you birth art. Easy peasy!

So now we’ve got this question. What Is Erotic? I’m so curious as to what YOUR answer will be. Start by doing some research! Follow your curiosity. Try something new. Explore something deeper. Then stop and allow the experiences to stew inside yourself. Give yourself time to percolate. And as the answers pop up, start writing them down. Capture those moments, those snippets, those ideas. Create something. Doesn’t matter what it is. Maybe it’s a haiku. Maybe it’s an aria. Maybe it’s a letter to your lover.

Here’s the thing. You have creativity inside you. We all do. It’s so bizarre to me that anyone even questions this anymore. When it comes to eros, to sex, to love, to relationships – we ALL have insight. No matter what you do for a living, or what your medium is, you have something interesting and relevant to share. You don’t have to identify as “an artist.” You just have to start making stuff.

MAKING IT. Not just thinking about making it,  but actually DOING it. And then SHARING it! With SOMEONE. Putting it out in the world. This is so important. Send a letter to your lover. Submit your poem to an erotica website. Post your fantasy on Fetlife (you can be anonymous!) Write a monologue or a song, and perform it! (More details about that option below!).

We have a cultural scarcity around sharing our sexual selves in an authentic way. Your voice, your vision, your ideas are needed. Please. Share them. Send them to me if you like! Then freakin’ congratulate yourself for adding to the richness of this world, for expanding your soul – for being a creator, not a consumer!

And if you’d like to take it a step further…. I have discovered that my mission in life is to help people access their erotic genius. To provide a forum, a safe space, a means to examine and explore where this genius lives inside you (a creative midwife, if you will).

That’s why I started teaching workshops, and it’s why I am producing this new show. What Is Erotic? is an opportunity for ANYONE to get involved in making art. I’m holding open auditions. There will be an orientation on November 16th here in Portland where you can come and ask questions, and where we will play some games to inspire ideas. This is free and open to everyone. Join the facebook event to be kept informed as to time and location.

Auditions are November 30th at 2pm. (Email me to sign up!). That gives you plenty of time for steps 1-6. I’m happy to provide Step 7.

And if you need help with steps 1-6, there are a few spaces left in my upcoming Sex & Creativity workshop Nov.1-3. This show is an opportunity to be seen, to make a statement, to create a metaphor, to share your ideas and thoughts. You can find out more about it here. There will be a workshop performance as part of the Fertile Ground Festival  in Portland (January 27th & 28th) and a run on Valentine’s Day weekend. I hope you’ll be a part of it (and being in the audience counts!)

I can’t wait to hear your answers.



what is erotic

What Is Erotic? A Call to Artists!

What Is Erotic? A Call to Artists!

what is eroticDance Naked is known for creating and producing sex-positive theater, and offering workshops in Sex & Creativity.  We are now proud to announce a brand new concept.  What Is Erotic? is a cabaret-style curated performance, by and for the community.   Artists of all kinds are invited to present their answer to this question, and share their erotic imagination as part of a group production.  (Prior performance experience not required).  This is your chance to shine!

What Is Erotic? will preview as a workshop production during the  Fertile Ground Festival (Jan. 27th & 28th) and have a full run during Valentine’s Weekend Feb 12-14.

We will have an orientation on Sunday,  November 16th @ 2pm.  Please come with questions,  ideas and enthusiasm! (Sign up on the facebook page and get all the logistical information).

Performance & Artists: The show is composed of independent artists all exploring the question, “What is Erotic?”  Each piece averages about 3-6 minutes long.  We showcase dance, song, storytelling, comedy, spoken word, performance art and more.  Artists are invited to push their edges, work their pieces and go deep to create a raw, open, riveting performance that has an impact on the audience.  What we are looking for is eroticism, unique ideas, do-ability, and talent.  All artists must be available for all shows.  As a participant in the show we value and expect communication with the directors, a commitment to coming to all required evenings, to tell the directors if you won’t be able to make it to a required evening, to show your piece during Works in Progress, to participate in being in community with the What is Erotic? cast members.

Artist Support:  An amazing aspect of the show is the support team created to help artists get pieces that really work well.  We offer two group options for honing and feedback.

1) Group Rehearsal evenings are offered as a means to present your piece in front of your fellow performers and directors, see how it feels with an audience, and get supportive feedback and input on your progress.

2) Individual coaching & support: Each act is assigned one director for feedback, general communication, and support in the full creation of your piece.

In addition- all participants will be invited to participate in a Sex & Creativity workshop led by Eleanor O’Brien free of charge (non-performing participants pay $50).

Audition & Callback:  We have 1 audition and 1 callback.  The audition in November is a showing of your concept and what you’ve developed up until that point, YOUR PIECE DOESN’T HAVE TO BE COMPLETE.  It does need to be a well developed idea that is cohesive, erotic, and doable.  The callback in December is where you will be expected to show a developed piece enough for us to see its shape, IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE IN FINAL FORM.  We understand you will have another month and a half to hone your performance.  You will be told in December if you are part of the final cast.

Production: We have a production team.  Every year we look for awesome people to help create the show.  Do you or your friends want to help with production?  Stage managers, AV, Box Office, Prop Creation.

Promotion:  Part of being in the show is promoting the show.  We ask that you be willing to spread the word when the time comes.

Time commitment:

Required Dates are in RED
Dates are subject to change, read emails carefully as our timeline unfolds.

Sunday, November 16th at 2pm – Call to Artist Orientation
Sun. Nov 30  @ 2pm – 1st Audition:
Sun. Dec 14 @ 2pm – Callback Audition

January 11th @ 2pm – Rehearsal (you must come to 1/11 or 1/18)
January 18th @ 2pm – Rehearsal (you must come to 1/11 or 1/18)
January 25th @ 2pm – Dress Rehearsal
January 26th @ 6:30pm Tech Rehearsal

Fertile Ground Preview Shows
Jan 27th & 28th @ 7:30pm (Call for Artists 6pm)

Promotion Day – TBA

February 8th @ 2pm – Rehearsal
February 11th @ 6pm Final Dress/Tech Rehearsal

What Is Erotic? Show Dates: Feb 12, 13, & 14th @ 8pm (Call for Artists 6pm)

What Is Erotic? is a fundraiser for Dance Naked Productions, and the summer tour of Lust & Marriage to the Canadian Fringe.  Performers will not be paid, but will receive 2 comp tickets to the Fertile Ground workshop, free access to the Sex & Creativity workshop, lots of hands-on directorial attention, entrance to after-parties and a whole new circle of interesting friends!

Sex & Creativity Workshop Nov. 1-3

Sex & Creativity Workshop Nov. 1-3

 Nov. workshop 2014

Get Ready to Get Juicy!

Sex & Creativity is a unique workshop, designed to facilitate creative expansion, offer opportunities for transformational healing, activate the libido, and engage the heart!

Led by Dance Naked Productions Artistic Director Eleanor O’Brien and Portland-area psychotherapist Gwenn Cody, this 3-Day workshop will tap into your artistic genius!

  • When: Saturday November 1st, 11am-7pm (lunch included), Sunday November 2nd, 2pm-7pm (optional morning dance included), Monday November 3rd 7pm-11pm
  • Optional performance Wednesday,  Nov. 5th at 7:30pm
  • Where: SW Portland  (location given on sign-up)
  • Cost: $375
  • Deposit to hold space: $50 (balance paid at first class).


The purpose of this workshop is to explore and expand the erotic imagination, through games, storytelling and writing exercises. It is an opportunity to examine and release old beliefs around sexual shame and judgement, and transform trauma into art.  We invite you to reconnect with a sense of wonder and play around your sexual being. For artists, writers and creatives of all kinds, you will discover how arousal can fuel your work, and inspire your artistic

Participation in this work allows for greater connection,compassion and the celebration of our unique sexual selves. Together we reclaim our sexuality as a necessary and vital part of our whole.  With the help two guides, you will dive into unknown depths and discover material you may only have suspected was there.  You will make friends, tell stories and channel the fuel of arousal into ART!

Similar to The Artist Way, we use different modalities to access our erotic imagination.    We play games that build connection and trust, as well as providing ways to elude our inner critics. Writing and storytelling exercises make up a significant portion of the creative process  (though at all times are participants empowered to chose what they wish to share).   We are dedicating to creating a container that feels safe and healing for everyone.


In addition to engaging our brains, we use embodiment exercises to activate the genius of our bodies.  Though it may be true that the brain is our largest sex organ,  it is but one erogenous zone. We use mindful movement practices to help engage and awaken all the parts of our physical and emotional body (including dance!).

We also include a performance aspect to encourage participants to share what they have discovered.   We believe that allowing yourself to be seen and witnessed adds to the healing and transformational power of the work.  In a safe environment, we create a salon atmosphere in which you may invite select friends to witness your creation.  This is an optional aspect of the workshop, and entirely self-selected.  (Salon will take place at a private location on the evening of November 5th).

If you are ready to discover a unique map into your creative self, join us for a journey into the loins of your erotic imagination! 

All genders welcome.

Questions?  Contact Eleanor O’Brien ( or Gwenn Cody (

I'm Ready - Sign Me Up!


Gwenn Cody
Gwenn Cody

Gwenn Cody, LCSW, CET, CTE is a psychotherapist and facilitator in private practice.  After 25 years as a therapist and healer, Gwenn is still deeply inspired by the beauty and passion within us and the process of bringing more authenticity to life.  She has extensive education and experience in traditional and somatic psychotherapy, numerous body-mind therapies, mindfulness, Tantra and sexuality studies, Eastern spiritual traditions, work with sexual minorities, and relationship work with couples, dyads, triads and other relationship structures.  She has facilitated many workshops on sexuality, tantra, and personal growth.

Eleanor O'Brien
Eleanor O’Brien

Eleanor O’Brien is the artistic director of Dance Naked Productions, a company dedicated to creating artistic expression around the topic of sexuality.  She is the creator of the solo shows GGG: Dominatrix for Dummies and Lust & Marriage, as well as the ensemble series Inviting Desire.  She has taught workshops in Sex and Creativity for Sex-Positive Los Angeles, Sacred Tantra in Portland, OR as well as at Breitenbush Hotsprings.  She teaches solo show workshops (Portland Center Stage, St. Lawrence University, The Bluestockings Theater Company) and through Dance Naked Productions.  She holds a masters degree from the University of San Diego, and is a trained facilitator for Storyhealers International.

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Sex & Creativity Testimonials

Eleanor is an amazing facilitator who brings rollicking fun, creative insights, and deep emotional intelligence to facilitating group process and performance. She creates a strong container for safe yet intimate exploration. The Sexuality and Creativity class allowed me to go deep, build new relationships, and re-embrace my sexuality and creative voice in a new way. I didn’t want the class to end! ~Lena R

That was the best writing workshop I’ve been to, and I’ve been to more than several. Eleanor is amazing, she sees people, and gets them, and she helped me grow. ~Quiddity

It allowed us to really play with our expression, and to combine our ideas about seduction with our experience in a totally safe way ~ KR, therapist

I think you are really onto something special you are uniquely gifted & empowered to offer. I’ve done lots of group exercises around these themes but there were very different aspects to what you taught that were striking to me. I really appreciated the invocation and celebration of lust exercise. Inviting it, walking around with it, feeling it in your body. It felt very safe to me and I felt very honored and empowered to unabashedly be invited to feel lust in my body. Not to do anything with it. As a male I have felt a lot of shame, repression & distrust of my lust. Just accepting, relishing it openly in a room full of many strangers felt healing and potentially revolutionary. This was especially striking to me and completely unique in my experience. ~HL, contractor

Sex and Creativity is definitely a class I will attend again. Eleanor is a fabulous role model who walks her talk, and an incredibly caring human being. Our group grew and flourished under the passionate, playful, expressive and loving guidance of her leadership. ~Anonymous class participant

Juicy, inspiring and healing! I got in touch with fantasies I wasn’t previously aware of. I remembered sexy moments in past through storytelling starting with a clip from other people’s stories. So many thanks to Eleanor for supporting the unfolding of my sexual freedom. ~Tatva

This class opened up my universe. Getting to explore my sexuality in creative ways made me feel much juicier. I fell in love with each of my classmates. I loved witnessing their opening, their courage, their beauty. Thank you Eleanor for creating such a safe, joyful container for us to open and explore within. This is one of the richest writing/creating classes I have EVER taken and I have a Master’s degree plus another 60 hours of post-graduate work. I really loved this class! ~Stacy

My husband and I were so grateful for your workshop. We had an amazing time together, and these explorations are always so good for a relationship. Thank you for demonstrating such courage and kindness. The shares were fun! ~RF, painter

The woman I was paired with on this was divinely appointed. (She felt the same, as she came up to me after the workshop ended and said exactly that!) Incredible to think in such a short time as the evening was, that I could say what I did to her, and she would reveal what she did to me! Powerful… ~ PK, business analyst

I'm Ready - Sign Me Up! 

Lust & Marriage – 3 Final Portland Shows!

Postcard portland

It’s your last chance Portland!

Lust & Marriage, the latest solo show from Dance Naked Artistic Director Eleanor O’Brien, returns to Portland for 3 nights ONLY!

Opening the Coho Solo Summer Festival, this show premiered earlier this year at the Fertile Ground Festival.  It has since toured to Santa Fe, Los Angeles and Seattle, and will have it’s final 3 performances in Portland this July 3rd- 6th (with no performance on July 4th).


Lust and marriage, they go together like … electricity and porridge? Dance Naked Productions Artistic Director Eleanor O’Brien explores the search for love, lust and life partners in this candid look at modern marriage.  Does hot monogamy exist? Can polyamory save the happily ever after?  #WWDSD? (“What Would Dan Savage Do?”)   In this revealing solo performance,  O’Brien examines cultural beliefs around monogamy, monotony, jealousy and polyamory from a highly personal perspective.  With heaps of humor (and advice from sex-advice columnist Dan Savage) O’Brien creates a nuanced fairy tale that celebrates ALL the options of modern relationship.

Venue: Coho Theater
Address: 2257 NW Raleigh St
Dates: Thursdays July 3rd, Saturday July 5th, Sunday July 6th
Time: 7:30 pm
Cost: Tickets $15 (4 show festival pass for $50)


Reviews for Lust & Marriage

Engrossing…. O’Brien recounts it all with verve and zip and generous heaps of humor… moving easily from autobiographical anecdotes to broader musings about sex, love and marriage. With a presence that’s sympathetic and engaging—and a refreshing lack of preachiness—O’Brien poses questions that transcend her particular experiences. And it’s that ability, even as she’s describing a threesome with her husband and a Bettie Page lookalike or a near-epileptic fit at an ayahuasca retreat, that makes this show stick. ~Willamette Week

At the core there is a truth about O’Brien’s own awakening…..As far as expanding consciousness and entertaining, oh yeah, mission accomplished. It was a fascinating show, to watch her trace this path and her ideas about having multiple partners.  She is luminous…. and totally riveting to watch.”
~ 5 Useless Degrees and A Bottle of Scotch Theater Reveiw Podcast

Well written, well acted, and well meaning Lust & Marriage is a fine way to spend an evening with a very fine actress who’s willing to share the wisdom her life journey has given her. Monogamous, poly, or something in between there is something for everyone in this night of thoughtful, fun, sexy, theatre.  ~Polyamory Weekly




The Night Dan Savage Kissed Me

Mission accomplished!

I went to Seattle this weekend to meet Dan Savage, and tell him about Lust & Marriage (my new solo show – which features an imaginary correspondence between he and I).

I have been trying to get a hold of him for months.  I sent a letter via a mutual friend, with the hopes that having an entree would help separate my letter from the thousands of others he receives everyday (for those who don’t know, Dan Savage writes a sex-advice column called Savage Love.  He gets A LOT of mail).

My friend assured me that he had received it, and promised to respond.

But alas, weeks went by and I heard nothing.

One night at 2am, I woke up compelled by some greater force, and wrote him again.  This time, I didn’t ask for anyone’s help in editing or making it sound professional.  I just wrote from my heart about how much he’s meant to me in my life, and how much I’d love to have him see the show.

Still, nothing.

Now I was getting nervous.  While I don’t  plagiarize his words, I do appropriate his style of advice, and the tone of his responses.  Though I created the letters between us, I really wanted them to have an authentic feel, so I borrow a number snippets of phrases directly from his own writing.  There’s a part of me that has felt nervous about this, that though the show is written with all kinds of love and respect, he might resent his words being used in ways he didn’t actual approve.

When I found out he’d be interviewing Tony Kushner (the playwright of Angels in America) this weekend up in Seattle, I knew I had to go. This was my chance to tell him about the show in person.

He was interviewing Tony at the Town Hall (a venue that holds several hundred).  Tony was in Seattle to promote a huge revival of Angels at the Intiman.

The interview was GREAT.  Dan was his usual intelligent, irreverent, authentic self. He began the conversation by asking Tony about the open lines of Angels, when the character Roy Cohn addresses whether or not he is a homosexual.

Homosexuals are not men who sleep with other men. Homosexuals are men who in fifteen years of trying cannot get a pissant antidiscrimination bill through City Council. Homosexuals are men who know nobody and who nobody knows. Who have zero clout.

Dan asked if Tony felt there was truth the that line.  How he responded was really beautiful.  He said that at the time he wrote it, he felt Roy Cohn was speaking about HIM.  He himself was part of the group of people trying to get antidiscrimination passed through City Council, and they had long been unsuccessful.    But that AIDS had done something incredible – it gave the LGBT community a rallying point, and the strength and motivation to fight – and that indeed, they had won the fight.  The changes in our society over the last 20 years, in terms of the visibility and attitude about gay people, are amazing.  Miraculous really.    And they might not have happened without AIDS.  That AIDS could have crushed the small gains that had been made, and instead it fertilized the will of the people to stand up to oppression.

I loved Tony’s answer – how something so powerful had come from something so terrible.   He said many, many other wise and interesting things – he spoke about theater and film, and which he prefers (he is also a screenwriter, as well as a playwright).  He spoke about fantasy and reality onstage, and whether or not the theater is a good vehicle for social issues.  But the other thing I realized was that he had put words into Roy Cohn’s mouth.  Who is a historical figure.  And nobody ever questions whether or not Roy Cohn actually said those words (of course he didn’t.  It’s a play!)  But it gave me a real sense of relief. (Granted, Roy Cohn is dead, but….)

Dan was the perfect interviewer – giving Tony Kushner space to expand, but keeping the conversation on track, asking a mixture of questions both lighthearted and deep (they talked about Ru Paul’s Drag Race and Breaking Bad).

It was thought provoking and inspiring and I’m SO glad I went, even if I might not get a chance to meet Dan face to face.

At the end, the two of them hugged and as they were leaving the stage, and a man sitting next to me rushed the stage with an manilla folder, trying to pass it along to Tony.  He was physically removed by security.  Fuck, I thought, how am I going to get to Dan?

I cased the building, and found a backdoor.  I stood there with my envelope that held the DVD, and postcards from my last 3 shows. Plus, a handwritten note of appreciation for all that he has done for the world, and gratitude for the ways he has influenced me.

I waited about 15 minutes, and was about to give up.

And then, a man came out with his hoody up and his earbuds in.  It was Dan.  He didn’t look left or right – he wasn’t going to stop.  But when he saw me he said “Hey, you’re from Portland, right?”  and took out his ear buds.  They dangled from his ear the rest of the conversation.  He mentioned our meeting at Hump (the local amateur porn festival he curates), and remembered  the film I’d been a part of – which he’d seen, though it hadn’t made the cut.   When I told him I’d written a show about our imaginary relationship, he referred to our initial conversation where I’d asked permission to make him a character in my solo show.   He was so gracious and lovely!

“So that’s still ok with you?”  I pressed.  “Yeah, of course!” he replied, “And it can’t be any worse than the play about me and Anne Coulter fist fighting in an elevator.”  (Apparently, that is a real thing, being done in Memphis).  He asked me if I’d moved to Seattle.  No, I told him, but I’ll be back in June for a run of the show.

:What dates exactly? he inquired.

When I told him, he seemed genuinely sorry that he was going to be shooting a pilot in LA.  “But put the DVD in my backpack” he instructed, “And I’ll watch it later.”

I put the DVD in his backpack, and we shared for a few more minutes about the amazing Tony Kushner, and he held out his arms for a hug, and I stepped into his space.  So while it wasn’t actually a kiss, it was a great connection.  I feel so pleased to have been able to speak to him directly!

So the DVD of Lust & Marriage is in the outside pocket of Dan Savage’s backpack, and I have no idea if he will ever watch it, but I know that I did everything I could do to share the show with him.  I hope he sees it, I hope he loves it, I hope he offers me feedback and constructive criticism.  (And I really hope he is ok with how I have written in his voice!).   But most of all, I hope he feels how much respect I have for who is is, and how he has profoundly influenced our culture.

Fingers crossed.

I’ll keep you posted if I hear back.


(PS and for those who don’t know, the title of this blog post is an homage to another solo show called The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me by David Drake).