Taking the Sting out of tantric sex

What is tantric sex, and does anyone, except Sting and the finely sculpted Trudie Styler, practise it?


I was dumping a handful of potato peelings on to a sheet of old newspaper the other day, thinking how far I had strayed from my childhood ambitions to be a reclusive actress, draped in oyster-coloured silk sheets and faithful Labradors and gazing out across the sparkling Adriatic, when I realised that the skinny bald geezer in the photograph, getting splattered with spud juice, was Sting.

Sting is 61 and – forgive me if I’m bringing you stale tidings – is just about to release a new album called The Last Ship (I mistakenly thought the album was called The Last Straw, until I removed a husk of potato debris from the end of the paragraph. Christ, I’d thought, that’s brave.)

I’m not a particular fan of Sting’s music; I find his lyrics and the clunking narrative behind his videos (are they still called videos?) hard to take. Whether luring some sulky-looking adolescent in a gym slip into the back of his family saloon, imploring Roxanne to turn off her red light or extolling the virtues of voyeurism, there is a kind of underlying tonal whinge in the music that makes me want to slap the back of the man’s knees.

But look, there are plenty of erudite music journos out there, with two-tone shoes and retro spectacles, who are paid in barrel loads of whale bones and wooden buttons to deconstruct Sting’s musical oeuvre, and I’m certainly not one of them. I’m more interested in the sex.

Isn’t that always the first thing that springs to mind when Sting is mentioned? It’s not a brisk dab of antihistamine cream you think of, is it? Or walking on the moon or messages in bottles? Nine times out of 10, when you mention the name Sting, whether to a casual acquaintance or someone you’ll end up buried beside, they think tantric sex.

My question is this: what is tantric sex, and does anyone, except Sting and his lissom wife, the finely sculpted Trudie Styler, practise it?

I asked someone this morning, sitting in traffic, with a broken television in the boot of the car and the one fraying mitten we use to clean the windscreen lying in the caked mud in the foot well, if he knew what tantric sex was. “It’s something you do if you have a lot of time and money,” he replied, missing the lights, again.

I looked it up. Apparently, the tantric sexual journey revolves around experiencing subtle energies while simultaneously challenging one’s egotism into dissolution, cultivating ecstatic consciousness, increasing spiritual awareness of the erotic, and contextualising this embodiment while you’re making a mushroom omelette in kitten heels.

Okay, I’m making the omelette bit up.

Sting, in a recent interview, reportedly said that had he not been a rock’n’roll star he would like to have been a Jungian analyst. I think that may have been a narrow escape for us depressives.

I don’t know if the sexual habits and predilections of one’s analyst have much bearing on one’s experience as a client of theirs, but, given that it would take about three days to shag him, it’s just possible that you could spend eternity on his couch trying to find yourself.

Sting also said that his ambitions to be rich and famous were cemented during a royal visit by the Queen mother to his home town of Down-Thar-Pit-On-Tyne. Something about the way ma’am flourished her lace hankie, and delicately stepped one puffy ankle out of the limousine on to the sooty street, ignited the fires in the young Sting (known in those grimy pretantric days as Gordon), prompting him to reach beyond the ordinary and squire such memorable poetry as found in his popular paean to a teacher-pupil relationship: “He starts to shake and cough/ Just like the old man in/ That book by Nabokov”. (Actually, it’s not bad.)

Fair play to the man. He has millions and millions of pounds, a wife with visible sinews, fields of frisky stallions and an abdomen taut enough to tap-dance on. And if he wants to challenge his ego into dissolution and achieve ecstatic consciousness in his sleigh bed then, let’s face it, who am I, up to my wrinkled elbows in potato peelings and yesterday’s news, to argue?

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