Welcome to The Voluptuary Season - a campaign presented with the aim to encourage sensual and sexual indulgence. 

It explores, through interviews and photography, ways to create space for pleasure, become more connected to our bodies and give and receive love.

  1. a person devoted to luxury and sensual pleasure.
  1. concerned with or characterized by luxury and sensual pleasure.

    "a voluptuary decade when high living was in style"

Today I’m talking with Carol Mikhael, a somatic sexologist, tantrica, sex educator (she's been doing workshops at Passionfruit for more than 10 years) and all ‘round pleasure enthusiast. A true Voluptuary! Carol is probably one of the sexiest people I’ve ever met. Think Sophia Loren meets your mischievous high school best friend. She’s sweet, she’s always got a DEVILISH smile on her beautiful face and it’s her mission to bring more pleasure into all of our lives.

Who is your typical client and what is it you do for them?

People come to see me because they want to feel more pleasure in their lives and bodies. I help them with that by working with the body through touch. The body needs sensation and foreplay to build arousal. It needs to be caressed, stroked, teased and touched for real eroticism and arousal to occur. When we do that we awaken a deeper capacity for pleasure. When we deepen our capacity for pleasure we deepen our sense of self and we ultimately become completely comfortable with our orgasmic capacity. 

"When we deepen our capacity for pleasure we deepen our sense of self and we ultimately become completely comfortable with our orgasmic capacity."

Do you do this through pressure points, massage, talking - how do you awaken the points? What’s the process?

All of the above. We talk on the phone first before the session to establish what they want to achieve, what their boundaries are, what they’re wanting to explore. And when it comes to the actual session it’s really about turning off the mind and entering the state of the body. The body has its own language and we cant’ hear that when the mind is constantly on. My work is about trying to reconnect through sensation and touch. There’s a whole multitude of pressure points and stroking techniques that help to gauge the erogenous zones. We have hundreds of erogenous zones on the body that almost always get ignored yet when we awaken them they allow us to have a whole body pleasure experience rather than it being just genitally focused.

Yep. It all comes back to mindfulness doesn’t it? Being in the present moment? So how can we create our own mindful, sensual space for exploration? What advice do you have for falling into that space for self pleasure?

  1. Firstly you really need a reverence and love towards yourself, otherwise you will never fall into your body. Acknowledge that you’re a gorgeous being that has the privilege of inhabiting this body for 90 or so years. And the best thing to do as an adult is to engage with and give pleasure to that body. 
  2. The greatest way to completely own your pleasure is to self pleasure and celebrate your pleasure capacity. This can be really scary to begin with so start off softly. Use music, candles and oil and lovingly stroke your whole body. Stroke slowly over the heart and breasts and move to the genitals, building up space to go further and enter your own body, whatever that looks like for you.  
  3. You need commitment and mindfulness. Know that you are worthy of pleasure. Allowing pleasure into your life is like a muscle. If you don’t invite it and incorporate and breathe it, then when it comes you don’t know what to do with it. Pleasure is different for everyone. It can be velvet stroking over your naked body and being happy with just that but you need to cultivate it.
  4. Dancing is a gorgeous way to begin self pleasure. It drops you into your body and increases blood flow.
  5. Lastly, if you don’t use it you lose it - so often I hear from people wondering why after years of not indulging in their sensuality they wonder ‘how come I can’t orgasm? We need to have a constant relationship with our body - it has so much information to give us and when we disconnect from it it’s cutting off an entire part of our being.

There’s a shame barrier that stops a lot of us from experiencing full orgasmic bliss isn’t there? How does a person break through the shame barrier and indulge in sensual and sexual pleasure with pure freedom?

There is a huge collective shame and stigma within our bodies from 2000 years of being told that self pleasure is bad. We need to do the work and make a conscious effort to let go of it. It can be a very long process and we need a habit of positive self talk to break through to self pleasure.

But how?

You can talk your way past shame - breathe through it , own it and name it. Be gentle with yourself and talk to a professional if there’s deep trauma. Hear what you’re saying to yourself (the shouldn’ts and the negatives) and turn it around to be positive.

Sexual fantasies are one of the most powerful ways to overcome shame and empower us. They reveal our deepest, darkest desires and are a great way to explore our most shameful and taboo thoughts. We can use shame as an erotic tool.  Shame can be eroticised. When you learn to work with your own taboos that’s when you ultimately learn to let go of shame - on a visceral and intellectual level. We are somatic beings.

"Shame can be eroticised. When you learn to work with your own taboos that’s when you ultimately learn to let go of shame - on a visceral and intellectual level. We are somatic beings."

You can use toys and use fantasies to penetrate through shame. You can subvert the shame and make it work for you instead of letting it dictate its limits to you.  It’s very empowering because then you own it and learn to narrate your own script of what is pleasurable to you without it being tainted by culture / tradition and all the ‘shoulds’ and 'shouldn'ts'- it’s such a liberating act to shed shame. Erotic books are a perfect way to fuel your sexual fantasies.

Humans have the most perverse thoughts! How lucky are we that others can’t read our minds! HAHA! Society tries to paint such a one dimensional version of what sex should look like but our minds are perverted and there’s no shame in that. When you see that there are a lot more adult versions of sexuality available to us than what has been prescribed, you’re open to so much more eroticism - you are simply a divine creature who wants to play and explore.

The other great thing about fantasy is that it enables you to get in the moment and stop the mind chatter. Explore your carnal urges and begin to direct your fantasies. You are in control. You run your own story. It's a really hot and sexy dynamic when you can be whatever you want to be and do whatever turns you on.

Your workshops aren't just about sex tips and how to give the best head jobs are they? They're more about learning to receive enjoyment from the giving, about worshiping your lover. Is that the key to being a great lover?

Tantric massage teachers can’t just be mechanical. It's a sensual, embodied event. When you learn to have devotion, you learn to penetrate through the 'shoulds' and delve into other's pleasure because you don't want lovemaking to be a chore, you want to take them to another space where you are both timeless. Take initiative and take time to pleasure your lover. Stroke the whole body, not just the genitals. When you take penetration off the table then pleasure isn’t a chore, it's more like a symphony of sensual layers.

"When you take penetration off the table then pleasure isn’t a chore, it's more like a symphony of sensual layers."

How do you do that if you’re naturally submissive? How do you be a good giver?

Sexuality is always evolving. Re-learn what sexuality is for you by reading, questioning and attending workshops. I encourage you to see what would happen if you played with an opposing dynamic. It's easy for people to slip in to the one dynamic but the result is that it can get very dull and predictable and that's the worst thing that can happen to your sex life! Take a risk and if you're curious then go for it!!

Wise words Carol. What is brewing post covid?

The plan is to have a new website called 'Empowered Pleasures'. It's all about delving into slow pleasure and fantasy. It may happen online but because it's so intimate it’s much better in person. And I plan to teach tantric bodywork. Workshops are so good in person, there's really nothing like it because it allows for deeper transmission.

Lockdown has been a perfect time for self exploration hasn't it?

We've all been in our cages and have needed to create stimulation. Always is the best time for self pleasure. Work with your fantasies, try different types of toys and access different parts of your body. You can never be bored with sexuality. As adults we should never stop playing.

Carol you're never boring and never bored. Thank you for your time and we can’t wait to catch up for more of your wonderfully playful workshops in 2021.

Get in touch with Carol via her website Tantric Touch Massage and look out for her new website Empowered Pleasures.

All photographs by Jessica Ledwich Follow her Instagram

Next weeks interview is with Olivia Bryant of Self Cervix talking about cervical pleasure, healing and orgasm.  Sign up to our newsletter to stay on top of blogs, new products (AND WORKSHOPS) and cat gifs!