Neal Wecker

Ithaca, N.Y. — Distorted by superstitions, confused by myths, crushed by outlandish expectations — this is how “somatic sex educator” Neal Wecker views the sad state of our sexual affairs.

“It never has the opportunity to be honored, experienced, valued,” the Ithacan said of sex.

Fifteen years ago, Wecker was an organic farmer who made a living selling vegetables.

Now, Wecker has a growing global sex education practice — traveling regularly across Europe to unleash the “deep, deep erotic potential within all of us,” the 53-year-old said in an interview in Autumn Leaves bookstore on Monday.

The journey has led Wecker, whose sex coaching business is called the “Eros Sanctuary,” to some core beliefs about sex — how it’s misunderstood, why it bedevils so many, and what can be done to improve it.

The chief obstacle, Wecker said, is that vast array of cultural and social norms that cloud natural understandings about sex.

Neal Wecker

Another key, related challenge, he said, is the overabundance of thought — the dangerous habit of slipping into paralytic self-consciousness during and in connection with sex. (This may sound surprising coming from Wecker, a cerebral philosophy graduate with quotes from Aristotle at his fingertips.)

The challenge of Wecker’s work? How to get people out of these mindsets.

“With experience — sexuality, sports — we feel our whole selves. We feel our whole bodies are alive … and are not distracted by our thoughts,” he said.

“I get people into their bodies.”

Entering the ‘Eros Sanctuary’

When Wecker tells people that he’s a sex educator, they tend to misunderstand him.

“Almost everyone says, ‘Do you work with teenagers?,’” he said. “They think I do grade school stuff where you talk about penises and vaginas … I mostly work with late 30s, 40 and 50-year-olds. People who are more ripe and ready for what’s important in life.”

Wecker said these trainings can help his clients enter into a state of what he calls “relaxed aliveness.”

“It’s not about romantic activity,” he said. “It’s about people getting support to go deeply into their bodies, and getting inspiration from that arousal.”

Going global

Though Ithaca is home, Wecker said he now offers his classes in Zurich, Switzerland; Vancouver, Canada; Budapest, Hungary; Berlin, Germany; and New York City.

That often involves hiring a translator for, say, middle-aged Berliners to understand Wecker’s sex tips.

What does Wecker think he can offer that the Europeans don’t?

“It’s the startup mentality,” Wecker said.

“So I show up and I say, ‘We’re going to do this.’ And they’re like, ‘What?’ And I say, ‘Yes, let’s do it.’ … It’s an American attitude that’s not everywhere.”

Wecker’s work began in Europe after friends who he had trained with in California opened the International Institute of Sexological Bodywork in Zurich. (In case you think that’s a joke, you can look it up.)

“Sometimes I look and I think, ‘This is crazy,’” Wecker said. “But I’m doing it.”


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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.