MOVIE REVIEW: Sex Magic
Glean insight from the creators of this racy, tantric documentary
Sex Magic: Rates a B.
This is a story about boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy tries to win back girl. And how does he do that? He has sex with multiple other women, trying to channel her love through them.
You see, he’s a sex shaman. Now, you might think Jim Morrison when you hear a phrase like that. He looks more like Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
This documentary is filmed mostly in Sedona, Arizona – where folks go to pay for “sessions.” It was also filmed in Hawaii, and right here in San Diego.
I was reluctant to watch a movie about a bunch of hippies having sex and talking about yin and yang (and wang). I was quickly enthralled by it all. It makes you realize why some cults are able to get off the ground.
The movie gets even more interesting when Maya, the love interest of the sex shaman – Baba Dez (isn’t there an NFL player with that name?) – leaves him.
Now, why would she leave such a charismatic guy? Is it because she’s asked him countless times to cut his hair? Is it because he sits around the house naked? Nope. It’s because he has sex with other women. It does look like that’s a prerequisite for that job. Or is it?
It’s interesting because many folks in the film talk about this polyamony lifestyle (not to be confused with Pollyanna).
I ran into the directors/producers of the film at the Reading Gaslamp Theater (where the movie is screening; also available on Demand). I interviewed them on the phone a few days later.
My first question was how they came about doing a subject on tantra sex in Sedona.
Schell said: “My buddy snowboards with Baba Dez’s cousin. He said we needed to check out the set up he had going on. Dez wanted to make a documentary and he had money to do it. Eric went out there to talk to them and discuss it. He found some great stuff. We had originally planned to talk with five or six heelers and track their stories. Nobody wanted to go on camera, some didn’t want to reveal personal stuff. When Dez got dumped by Maya and became obsessed with getting her back, while he’s [sleeping] with other women to get her back – the irony was behind belief. We took the movie in that direction. And the other thing that came up was whether or not there was inappropriate stuff going on with Dez.”
Baba Dez (hey, isn’t that a Who song?) doesn’t come off in the best light, although I’m guessing he probably doesn’t even realize that. What did he think of the direction the movie took?
Liebman: “We told him we weren’t getting exactly what he wanted, but this other movie would have broader appeal. He said okay, and thought even that would help get the word out on tantra.”
“He got an earful from the people practicing with him,” Schell adds. “It didn’t really deter him. He’s brave and courageous, the way he exposed himself. He has been worn down by the amount of criticism about the movie.”
Liebman said: “Initially, he heard a lot from his community. At the film festivals he heard lots of laughter, but he’s gotten over it. At first he didn’t realize why people were laughing at him. There’s a scene where he gives a woman an orgasm during a sacred spot massage and when this played in front of 500 people, you could hear a pin drop. He then says ‘welcome home’ and the roof came off the building with laughter. He elbowed me and said ‘Why are they laughing?’
"During the making of the album and music video he’s making, he didn’t think we were making fun of that. He wanted more of his music in the movie.”
Schell adds: "He knew we were goofing on him.”
Since the movie is only playing at one theater in San Diego – and sometimes NC-17 movies aren’t run in theaters because of boycotts (this movie isn’t rated, but it’s safe to say it would’ve been NC-17). I asked if they had reservations about this subject for a documentary.
“Our goal was not to get into theaters, and we didn’t even know what we had. We were surprised we got rejected at Sundance because they said they didn’t want another tantra movie,” Schell said.
Liebman added: “It’s risky and when we started, we didn’t even know if we’d get anyone to do anything on camera. When we started editing and cutting we said – okay, this isn’t getting into theatres. We’ll just hit the film festivals and try to win some awards.”
During the movie, Dez is confronted by people he works with. There had been a few complaints from women about him forcing the sex. And it leads to a lot of interesting questions regarding what he does. I asked the filmmakers why this isn’t considered prostitution by the law and they quickly said, “Oh, it is. They work it out where you’re giving a donation and it goes to a church.”
I ask if they think Dez is a sex addict, and Schell said: “Well…when the Tiger Woods thing happened, everyone was talking about sex addiction and how much sex someone would have if they could; if people weren’t limited by looks, money, and of course, monogamy. If no one had those limitations, and Dez doesn’t…”
Liebman interrupts to say: “I don’t think…he might not be a sex addict or whatever that technical term is – but he’s definitely obsessed with sex.”
In the movie, when Maya isn’t happy because of the amount of women he sleeps with, he of course encourages her to get a lover. She does, and soon leaves Dez to be with him. It also comes out that Dez has slept with well over a thousand women (living in a beautiful resort in Sedona, being paid to sleep with women – good work if you can get it).
Everyone that’s seen this movie has been entertained, although sometimes the reaction from people regarding Baba Dez is completely different. The filmmakers told me at one screening, a woman said she was leaving the theater unless Dez did. Another time, a woman approached Dez for a session later that night.
It’s a shame that in a year that a handful of boring documentaries are getting a lot of praise (Waiting for Superman, which Liebman worked on) – Sex Magic is one most people won’t realize is out there.
I’m giving it a B.