My parents gave me The Anatomy Coloring Book for Christmas when I was eight. I colored in semi-permeable membranes, the bones of the left hand, and most of the large muscle groups by the time it ended up face down on the floor in my room. My sister Alison found it under my bed that next summer and called me into her room. >
“You know why they bought this for you,” she said gravely. “It’s a coloring book,” I answered.
She flipped to the end.
“No,” she said. “This is why.” She pointed to a pair of pages facing each other. The picture on the left looked like the universe in wound form, a horrible, endless, frilly black hole. The other picture was of a penis.
“This,” she said, “goes in there. They were hoping you would figure it out. So they wouldn’t have to tell you.”
I burst into tears, hitting her.
“You stupid big fat ugly stupid idiot liar!” I yelled. “That’s not true. That’s the grossest thing I’ve ever heard in my whole life! After Melanie was born, mom had her stomach all taped up! They took her out of there!”
Alison punched me back. “Yeah, ’cause she had her tubes tied! But that doesn’t explain how Melanie got there in the first place!”
Actually, Melanie, who is five years younger than me, had declared earlier that summer that “new elephants come from when other elephants rub their butts together.” I hadn’t paid much attention, mainly because Melanie also talked to someone named Dee-Dah who lived in the closet, and had once eaten a whole jar of Vaseline. I remember being three years old too, riding my trike around naked while a troop of Boy Scouts marched by, not feeling a bit ashamed. But ten years later when I got my first period in math class I ran into the bathroom and cut my wrists open with my pocketknife so I could justify why I had blood all over my clothes. And by the time Melanie was thirteen, she was the same way.
Though shame and sexual repression tend to be degenerative diseases, they aren’t terminal or irreversible. In Salt Lake City, in fact, they may have found a cure. If you look closely as you drive over the train tracks into the industrial part of town, you might notice the giant pyramid, with a sign over it that reads HONESTY SAYS: GOD IS A MASTURBATOR. Most who pass by either throw bottles at the sign or pray for the souls of the unfortunate people inside. A few adventurous souls, however, actually turn their engines off and venture through those grapevine-patterned gates. The trip is not for the faint of heart. Afterall, this is where zealots, prudes, and neurotics alike can learn how to see God in a fuzzy, blue cloud of orgasmic bliss. This is Summum.
Summum was created by Corky Ra. To describe him is difficult. He has a ponytail, eyes like Santa Claus, and often wears a leather jacket, but his presence feels like peach-colored velvet. He used to be a Mormon bishop (he went by the name Corky Nowell back then) and an administrative manager for a large Salt Lake supply company. After he took to meditating in his basement late in the evenings after work, though, his life began to change. He began “to receive ‘visits’ from advanced living beings” called the Summa Individuals. At first he tried ignoring the messages. But this didn’t work. They kept coming. Eventually, after a period of seclusion, he divorced his wife and founded Summum, an organization based upon the principles communicated to him by the Summa Individuals.
One of the principles communicated to Corky is that of “Grand Opposites” – that is, that the entire universe is made up of masculine and feminine energies, that everything is constructed form a kind of sexual flux, and that the best way to understand this principle is to participate in the activity yourself. In Utah, however, few people equate sex with prayer or worship. The dominate church, in fact, teaches just the opposite, and a great deal of time and energy is spent by the faithful praying for the strength to avoid having sex all together. This is primarily the reason why people drive by the Summum pyramid and throw bottles at it, why they leave threatening phone calls on Corky and Gracey’s answering machine, and why the Bureau of Alcohol Beverage Control has cited Summum with a never-ending stream of fines.
“It’s because we challenge the power structure,” Corky explains. “Because when you are in charge of a person’s sexuality, you’re in charge of their life force. And when you’re in charge of their life force, you’ve got yourself a willing flock of sheep.”
Gracey Ra is Corky’s partner. They met in an aerobics class. Corky was the instructor, Gracey was a female bodybuilder, and pretty soon they were a couple. Corky and Gracey do a lot of interesting things together, most of which make their neighbors (and the local government) very nervous. For example, they perform mummifications and create “nectar publications,” (which some might call sacramental wine, but if we call it that, the Utah Alcohol Beverage Control will harass them even more). They also publish Sexual Ecstasy from Ancient Wisdom, which is to be used in tandem with an ancient Egyptian version of K-Y jelly, called MERH, along with their “Sexual Ecstasy” Nectar Publication.
“This community has terrible problems with sex,” Corky says. “Gracey and I have lots of LDS friends in unhappy marriages, and they have terrible sex. They fight all the time. If you follow the techniques in the [Sexual Ecstasy] book, it’s possible for people to eventually have twelve-hour orgasms. And it does nothing but good. It creates joy, it creates health. They can be used by anyone – heterosexual, gay, lesbian – and what it does is bring them closer to God, because it brings them closer to joy.”
In short, what they offer is a new (albeit ancient) form of meditation, one that you would think more people would readily adopt. Unfortunately, sexual sublimation seems to be more popular. Not a terribly productive way to avoid dealing with your sex drive (witness LeVar Withers, the “Booby Doctor of Rexburg,” for instance). At the same time, Summum is not about free love, swinging, spouse-swapping, or love slaves. The guidelines in the front of the book insist that the best way to achieve a twelve-hour orgasm is to be with a monogamous partner.
“[This] is not just some moral statement,” the sexual ecstasy book explains, “[but provides] an environment of trust, devotion, security, love, communication, and sexual freedom which may not exist in other settings.” Other recommendations from the book include shaving your privates, trimming your fingernails, and the use of MERH.
“MERH is a luxurious oil-based lubricant formulated from ancient wisdom and designed to liquefy at body temperature,” the book explains. “People who at first oppose using a lubricant discover that the experience of using MERH will change their doubts into adoration.”
It was the next paragraph, however, that really made me curious.
“Please note that cats are extremely attracted to MERH,” it said, “and will eat the MERH directly from the container, preferring it to their favorite delicacy. Experience has shown that MERH is harmless to cats, should they eat it.” (After reading the ingredients -basically a long list of unguents – I began to wonder if my sister hadn’t had some cosmic insight when she ate that jar of Vaseline).
My first impression of Sexual Ecstasy from Ancient Wisdom was that it was an Anatomy Coloring Book for grownups, the On Beyond Zebra of sex manuals. It’s wire-bound and thoroughly illustrated, so you can lay it flat on the bed and follow the instructions step-by-step. The pictures are gray, soft charcoal illustrations, bordered by Egyptian hieroglyphs (Gracey created the first Egyptian-hieroglyph computer font, which they used in the book.) I read the whole thing from cover to cover, but it looked entirely too complicated to actually try. I also had a lazy boyfriend at the time who just wanted to get off as quickly as possible, wanting nothing to do with that tantric stuff – y’know, kung-fu testicle squeezes and spelunking for g-spots. All sorts of sexual micro-gymnastics which require intense concentration and generous amounts of MERH.
I used to be frightened of Corky and Summum, too much so to even come within forty yards of them. I understand why others get freaked out by them. I first heard about Summum when I was fifteen. My boyfriend, Layne, was a Hare Krishna. He went to Summum regularly, as did some of our other friends. I thought about joining them, but then one of Layne’s buddies told me that Corky could read people’s minds.
“One day, we were sitting in the pyramid,” he said, “and Corky pointed at this guy in the corner. ‘You want to have sex with that woman over there, don’t you?’ The guy got really embarrassed, and so did the woman. He does that all the time.”
I eventually did go. It was a Summum picnic. But being fifteen and hormonal, I was paranoid. I was sure everyone knew I was sitting there thinking about sex, so I hid by the buffet, drinking lots of Sprite, and not talking to anyone.
“She’s shy,” Layne explained.
“No, she’s not,” said some woman with a very short haircut, looking right through me. I blushed. I was sure she knew that my mind was just lousy with lust.
According to other members of Summum, Corky can read minds, and cause winds to blow, and constellate the appearance of orgone archangels. Summum members have signed affidavits and given testimonials, all of which can be found on the “Witness to a Miracle” page on the Summum site.
“Amen had all the guys line up on one side,” tells one account, written by Ron Zefferer, “and all the women line up on the other side, and all the women laid down. Everybody had their clothes on. And Amen asked me, ‘Come up here and sit in this chair in front of the altar.’ So I went up and sat in the chair. And he starts telling this funny story. And I’m sitting here and I’ve got this feeling in my crotch. All of a sudden my pecker starts to feel real good. But occasionally I have some interesting thoughts and my pecker feels good, titillated, so to speak. So I thought there was no big deal about that. So he went on with this story, and I was feeling real good. My pecker is feeling righteously fine. And he starts asking all the gals that are lying down how they feel. ‘How do you feel?’ ‘God, I feel like I’m having sex.’ So he’s asking everyone of these women, there were seven or eight. And everyone of them was saying that they felt like they were lying there having sexual intercourse.”
“[T]here appeared four beings around us,” writes another Summum member, Al Greco, describing an experience he had with Corky, back in the days when he was a doubting Thomas. “They had a blue essence to them. They were like a neon or lazer [sic] type of lighting, and they were blue. They were large figures. They stood in a square with Amen Ra and myself in the middle. There was light about us where we were, but in the distance was darkness. I could not tell from where the light was coming from. It wasn’t a light bulb or any sort of electrical appliance providing light. It wasn’t a sun. It wasn’t any type of light that I could relate to as to why it is that I could see. But I could see Amen Ra and myself and these four beings… I don’t know what else to call them. I was frightened because I could not relate to what type of beings they were. In some way they resembled people, and in another way they didn’t resemble a type of animal I’ve ever seen.”
Now, I’ve talked to Corky and Gracey in their element, in the pyramid, in the building where they bottle the nectars, out in the yard; they aren’t blue whirlwind people. They remind me a lot of my parent’s friends. Earthy, the kind of people who can tell dirty jokes and not seem gross. Biker-hippie-flower-children, but ones who know how to cook and balance their checkbooks. They emit this sort of energy that’s like grow-lites, conducive to life. They don’t wear turbans, they don’t pontificate. Well … they do, but it’s a kind of pontification I can live with.
“Sexuality,” Corky says, “[is] a divine and integral part of spiritual evolution. [E]cstasy is a state of union with God…from the smallest subatomic particle to the highest forms of life, every element, at its level of consciousness, experiences sexual ecstasy in its bond-making and bond-breaking.”
God is blue, like orgone. Neon periwinkle blue. The color of Krishna and Kali Ma, Creator and Destroyer. It’s the color of the pilot light in the solar plexus of your lover, burning in the dark. All your body is, all the sky is, all the earth is, are those blue stars, constellating. We don’t need sexy coloring books; we don’t need to learn anything over again. We don’t even need blue crayons or blue paint or even blue Vaseline. “There is no why,” say the Summa Individuals. “It merely is.” The universe is made of respiration, of sex; and to be ashamed of that is to be ashamed of God.