My Work is Steeped in Caring for the Body
On The Whorizon Interviews Sonora Grace
Blog Post Written By: MelRose Michaels
Sonora Grace is a sex worker, sexological bodyworker, somatic sex educator, and ritualist working in New Orleans. Using pleasure as a lens and the body as a portal to heal, she believes we can actively dismantle oppression and trauma individually and collectively.
On the Whorizon sat down with Sonora to talk about somatic sex education, the importance of vulnerability, and how her work impacts her relationship with intimacy.
Can you talk a little bit about what somatic sex education is?
Sonora Grace: Well, interestingly, the lineage of that work comes from sex workers. It's not exclusive to or exclusionary of. And it also ties back to the time of the AIDS epidemic and the time of people who were looking to find erotic services or have erotic experiences, but wanted to have safety and find ways to engage without exchanging fluids necessarily, or having their needs met for touch and intimacy. So a lot of my work is steeped in caring for the body holistically in terms of what might be happening internally or physiologically, and what also might be happening, or have happened in your life — including trauma, including your emotional body, your spiritual body — and not separating those things, but really integrating the whole of the person. And so my training includes a lot of hands-on touch, but exercises that help to let the client guide the experience in a way that feels most juicy, alive, safe, and hot for them.
What is a tool that you would say is the most commonly needed to get to someplace intimate with someone that struggles with intimacy?
SG: It’s definitely in the world of shame and secrecy — it could be something like kink related, or it could be just a fantasy that they think is wrong. Sometimes people don't have friends that they can share those types of things with, right? But I think the creation of the seat of intimacy is, like, really being seen on the inside of who you are, what's happening for you, and something that might be an entire part of your life that you're keeping to yourself or you're not allowing to be seen in the world. And I feel like that is often the barriers to intimacy.
Often what some people are grasping for when they want sex is they want to be seen fully, they want some part of them to be seen in the world. And so I really love when people get to share… They want to wear women's panties, or they want to wear a diaper, or call me mommy — or you know, just sometimes a lot of it is just crying. Like so much. My favorite and most wonderful thing in the world is when I get to see my clients cry, which happens a lot, more than you think.
What kind of work did you have to do on yourself to get to a place in which you can hold that space for other people?
SG: I'm kind of a — I don't wanna say vulnerability addict, but I'm just like, Oh my god, a chance to be vulnerable in a group with a person. I feel better with that… I need people to be vulnerable. So I'm kind of practicing vulnerability everywhere. In my training, we're going around and telling the stories of our genitals to each other, like, just, Here we go… Nothing is shameful anymore. It's just all out there. And I would say that that's something that I've gotten to do with lovers with friends in my community. I mean, like, the other day, I had a group of women over for an erotic practice in the moonlight outside, and, you know, being able to fully expose myself as much as possible — and sometimes I'm discreet in ways, too. But like, I think I look for those opportunities and try to create them if I don't have them already.
What do you feel like you've learned that you would only learn through sex work about relationships, intimacy, and interacting with other people?
SG: I think there's something really deep about self worth here. I learned that I am worthy to be paid for my services, my body, my intellect, even my ability to listen, my emotional labor. I'm worthy of that in a literal, like, transactional way, but I'm also beyond that — it's taught me that worth is translatable to the rest of my life, like, it's not about if I'm paid or not. And in fact, my clients show me beyond money that I'm worth it. And then I get to see in practice that in my life. I was just having this conversation last night where I realized that, like, my role — especially as a Domme but just someone who facilitates an experience of intimacy for someone else — is that my level of confidence, my level of self worth is just, like, grown exponentially because of it.
Some parts of the above interview have been condensed or edited for clarity. To hear the full interview with Sonora Grace, listen to On The Whorizon: What SWers Can Teach You About Intimacy, Pleasure, Relationships.
Follow Sonora Grace on Twitter @GraceSonora and Instagram @sonora_grace. You can find her work at sonoragrace.com.
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