Tag Archives: hugging

Adam is not organising a sex orgy…

Adam: healthy eating but alas no planned sex orgy

“So,” I said to Adam Taffler aka Adam Wilder aka etc etc, “you’re arranging some kind of sex orgy on top of some skyscraper near Canary Wharf?”

There was a pause with two big sighs. “No,” he said. “It’s a festival of human connection and intimacy and togetherness.”

And, indeed, the two-day event in London is called: TOGETHERNESS: AN INTIMATE FESTIVAL OF HUMAN CONNECTION.

We met at a Pret a Manger in Soho.

“I want,” Adam told me, “to make intimacy and human connection more central to our culture; I want to make it more accessible. Studies show our happiness comes from the quality of our relationships and not our bank balance. But our society isn’t very good at teaching us how to have good relationships.

“So the festival is about doing that. It has a whole load of workshops – everything from Listening Partnerships all the way through to Digital Dating Detox and Expanding Your Sexuality… all with some of the best teachers in the world.

“I’m really excited about it and, because I don’t think this stuff is visible enough in our culture, I want to do it somewhere that it’s symbolically really visible. So I’m doing it on 20th and 21st May on top of a skyscraper in Canary Wharf.”

“What if it rains?” I asked.

“It’s inside, on the top floor. … I’m glad you are eating some fruit there and blueberries and pomegranates. Pomegranate seeds are very good for you.”

“Oh dear,” I said. “Am I going to start farting or something?”

“Maybe,” said Adam. “Just maybe.”

Adam is the entrepreneur of the alternative

“The other day,” I told him, “my friend Mary from Manchester told me the budgie seed Trill used to have cannabis seeds in it.”

“That doesn’t surprise me at all,” Adam told me. “It’s very healthy.”

“I had this vision,” I said, “of spaced-out budgies.”

“You can’t get high on cannabis seeds,” he explained. “Believe me, I tried when I was younger.”

“Will there be lots of meat-eating at your festival?” I asked. “Or will it be right-on vegetarianism? Pigs are supposed to be very intelligent but their downfall is they taste so good. Slaughtering happy bouncy lambs IS slightly bizarre.”

“Well,” Adam replied, “I think it’s bizarre the way we do it in our culture and the mass farming side of it. My festival is going to be completely plant-based. All the food is going to be plant-based. That’s a way of saying ‘vegan’  which doesn’t sound so oppressive.

“I think intellect holds us back from having experiences which are really good for us. In my training as a Fool, I learned to trick people into doing things that stretches their comfort zone just a little bit and then you can stretch it more and more and more until, before they know it, they’re in a field with their nipples painted gold.”

“Any nudity at your festival?” I asked hopefully.

“No,” said Adam. “Fully clothed. Two days. Saturday and Sunday. I’ve got some of the best teachers from around the world. And there will be a Saturday night Cacao Dance Party, drug and alcohol free.”

“Cacao?” I asked.

“Some kids are using it as a stimulant but, basically, it’s a euphoric old strain of cocoa bean and, when you make it into a drink, it’s a mild stimulant. It is very gentle.”

“Why are you crowdfunding the festival?” I asked.

“I wanted to try it as a marketing exercise. Tickets have been selling really well but, basically, I want to put all my energy into the curation and execution of the festival instead of putting so much into the marketing like I have in the past and I’m hoping this will make it a bit easier. If we get the crowdfunding, it means we can do amazing stuff like get really good quality fixtures and fittings in there.

The Togetherness Festival – over 35 sessions over 2 days

“Tickets are £99 but, at the moment, through the crowdfunding, you can get a weekend pass for £79 – with access to over 35 sessions over two days with some of the best teachers in the world.”

“What happens,” I asked, “if you don’t reach the £10,000 crowdfunding target?”

“It’s all going ahead, it will just be a bit harder.”

”You’re an entrepreneur at heart,” I suggested.

“I don’t know about that, man,” Adam replied. “What I loved about the (music and open air) festival scene was the freedom. Helping people to get more emotionally naked.”

“You said ‘the festival scene’ as if you have given it up.”

“I don’t really like performing very much any more, John.”

“You prefer the organisational side?”

“I don’t even enjoy organising that much. I’d rather just be running sessions: teaching. I am moving forward as a practitioner and as a teacher. Whatever works to help people surrender to the moment. I’m training more as a practitioner in this field.”

“What field?”

“Human connection. Sexuality. What I find interesting is that sexuality is just the gateway to knowing ourselves better.”

“Are your Shhh Dating events still carrying on?”

I first met Adam at the 2011 Edinburgh Fringe when I asked him to juggle spaghetti

“Yes, but I’ve sold my other businesses. I sold my hot tub business and I’m just about to sell my shares in the Burns Night company as well. I felt, last year, I was doing too many things. I want to focus. I’m now really into the intimacy and connection work. I like working with people. When I was doing performance, it was all about working with people too.”

“No sex orgy, then,” I said.

“No!” Adam laughed. “The most sexy this festival gets is a session by Froukje van der Velde, who is going to teach ladies – and gents – how to tickle a yoni.”

“I’ve read the Kama Sutra,” I said. “A yoni is a vagina. You can’t fool me with posh words,”

“It’s a Sanskrit word,” said Adam. “Everything is fully-clothed. Froukje takes clay and shows people how to make a model of a yoni and, by the time they’ve made it, it goes a little bit hard and she shows people how they can stroke it.

“We are not taught this stuff at school, John. The sex education in school is terrible. I have a friend who teaches deaf children 11-17 and, in one class, she told them: You can ask me anything you want. And this boy asked: Why do women like it when men come on their faces? Nowadays, children learn sex through porn. It’s terrible.

“This festival is partly about sexuality; it’s partly about relationships. What I’m interested in is the quality of relationships, the quality of contact. That was what I was interested in in performing as well.”

“You want to be a guru,” I suggested.

“Not a guru,” Adam laughed. “Just someone who wants to share what he knows with other people. I went to India to see the hugging lady.”

“The hugging lady?” I asked.

Amma. She comes to the UK every year and hugs loads of people.”

“I’m Scottish,” I pointed out. “We don’t do hugging.”

“You should come to Alexandra Palace and have a hug,” Adam told me. “She is pretty remarkable. For the first three nights in India, I was down by the sea  every night, shouting into the sea: What the fuck is going on here? Why is everybody worshipping this lady? This is bullshit!”

“In India?” I asked.

Amma, the hugging saint of Kerala, was a young Cinderella

“In Kerala, in south India. After three days, a friend of mine told me: No. Go and sit as close to her as you can. I did and my experience changed. I started experiencing this… ‘Grace’ is the only thing I can call it. She is maybe 60-something.

“Her skin was darker than all her siblings. Her parents turned her into the Cinderella of the family and beat her and scolded her but locals kept coming to hear her sing and now she travels round the world and raises all this money. She’s really incredible. This sense of grace. It’s nice to sit next to a master who gives you a taste of something that expands your map of the world. That’s what I find interesting. Stretching maps.”

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Filed under Psychology, Sex, Spirituality

There was a comic in England, a comic in India and a comedy critic in Kenya…

(This was also published by the Indian news site WSN)

I guess other people’s half-glimpsed lives always seem more interesting than your own but, if you actually lived their lives, you would only be aware of the hole in your left sock, occasional toothache and a tendency to go to the toilet in the middle of the night if you’ve drunk too much tea before going to bed.

Ah…

Just me, then.

Yesterday, I blogged about chatting to comedian Bob Slayer after a This Is Your Laugh comedy gig in London and his plans to tour Europe with a Swedish rock group. This morning, he told me what had happened to him after the gig:

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Bob Slayer shortly before being kicked in the face

Bob Slayer just before he was kicked

I got kicked in the face by a girl from Slovenia… OK, I did ask her to do it but that doesn’t make it hurt any less…

I was walking home after This Is Your Laugh and I saw two young ladies drinking a box of wine on a bench in Mile End Park. Attracted by the wine, I decided to go over and say hello. They both told me to “Fuck off, weirdo!” Which I suppose is fair enough. A lone man approaching two young ladies in the park after midnight can be a little intimidating.

I was going to just walk on but decided that an alternative way to put their minds at rest might be to acknowledge the situation and at the same time show them that I was friendly.

So I asked them: “Do you want to kick me in the face?”

One of them simply increased her volume of “Fuck off, weirdo!”

But the other showed some interest.

“Can I really?” she asked, as she bounced up and down like a Ninja.

“Um… OK then…” I replied.

She leapt in the air like Chun-Li, spinning around as she did so, then landed her foot directly on my nose in what I believe was a perfectly executed ‘roundhouse kick’.

I didn’t have time to be impressed as I was instantly falling backwards and downwards like a sack of spuds. She didn’t need to tell me that she was a kickboxer but she kindly did anyway.

I was also very impressed with her after-care service.

She apologised a lot, then took out some wet wipes to clean up the blood and we drank her wine together for the next hour before I finally tootled off home…

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That story, if you know Bob Slayer, might not seem to be particularly exceptional.

But this morning, I also got an e-mail from amiable and – I suspect he would not want to be called this, but he is – sophisticated comedian Matt Roper. (He performs as ‘Wilfredo’.) He is taking a break abroad:

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Matt Roper with a hair of the dog

Matt Roper with a hair of the Indian dog

There are sights in India a man should never have to see.

At the top of this list is the sight of yours truly, waking up fully-clothed on a bed in a ramshackle beach hut with my top lip stuck to my gum and wearing just one bright pink sandal.

There is an alcoholic drink made in Goa called Fenny, made from the juice of cashew apples then suitably distilled. One glass with a mixer can make you feel slightly merry. Two can get you utterly smashed. Unfortunately, as I found out far too late, it is also used medicinally as a strong laxative.

I thought I knew India – and my own body – very well. But I have been far too cocky. Stomach cramps. The shits. Five long days spent switching between staring at a rattling ceiling fan and looking at the back of the toilet door. Squatting for five days straight can send a man mad. You can’t go anywhere. You daren’t move.

Many words can be used to describe India but boring could never be one of them. It awakens your senses.

The other day I witnessed a lifeguard on a jet ski almost accidentally killing a swimmer and I have spent an afternoon paragliding with a lesbian from Kazakhstan. I have been called ‘a shit’ by a girl from Eastbourne, which is quite wrong. A bit of a cunt I might be. But not a shit. They are two entirely different things.

A friend from England is here somewhere, following Amma on tour. Amma – a guru from Kerala known as ‘the hugging mama’ – is giving satsang today. My friend, it seems, has become a devotee. I just had a text from her telling me that she is (my friend, not the guru) ‘on the stage’ at 5pm. What she is actually doing on the stage is a mystery which will soon be revealed. It staggers my mind. But, with a bit of luck, I might get a hug from the infamous Amma. I just hope she doesn’t call me a shit.

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Meanwhile, doyenne of British comedy critics Kate Copstick continues her work in Kenya, where her Mama Biashara charity helps poor people (mostly women) set up their own small businesses by giving them small start-up grants. She sent me these extracts from her diary:

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Kate Copstick in Kenya last week

Kate Copstick working in Kenya despite men

Doris is waiting with some groups of Zimbabwean women (the ones who are having to do casual labouring to eke a living) who want a grant, so we head back to Corner to meet Doris and the Zimbabweans.

The women are very sussed. These are terrific women – smart, strong and sooooooo long-suffering you would not believe it.

Husbands divide into three categories:

1) dead

2) ”anaenda anakuja” (he comes and goes)

3) useless/drunkard.

The average number of children is around six.

The women are anything from first to third generation Zimbabwean refugee. Their community is VERY male dominated (albeit the men are useless or drunk) and their religion forbids the use of medicines. If someone gets sick, they pray.

Frankly, I am beginning to thing that the Amoxill/Piriton/Ibuprofen brigade are quite smart after all.

The first group we meet are planning to sell fresh ginger. They know the market, they know their suppliers and they are going (at my insistence) to do half wholesale and half retail to maximise profit. There are nine women in the group, with forty children between them and their total grant is just under £300.

It is around £30 each. And I think this business will fly.

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As I said at the start, I guess other people’s half-glimpsed lives always seem slightly more interesting than your own but, if you actually lived their lives, you would only be aware of the minutiae. Even Kate Copstick’s minutiae, though, are more interesting than the hole in my left sock. She adds:

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My cats are fattening up on UHT milk and tinned sardines. And so are their fleas (I suspect) on ME. Anything that is not a scab is a lump, anything not a lump a bruise. I am considering suing the manufacturers of Doom, the spray with which the air in my lair is heavy and which promises death to anything that crawls or flies.

I am off to scratch.

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Filed under Comedy, Drink, India, Kenya, London