Joseph Kramer (sexologist)

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Joseph Kramer
Joseph Kramer in 2020
Born (1947-05-20) May 20, 1947 (age 75)

Joseph Kramer or Joe Kramer (born 1947) is an American sexologist, filmmaker and somatic sex educator. He is the founder of the Body Electric School and of the profession of Sexological Bodywork.[1]

Life and Work[edit]

Kramer was born in St. Louis, Missouri. After finishing high school, he entered the Jesuit order where he spent ten years studying, teaching and preparing to become a Catholic priest. Although he left the Jesuits before ordination, Kramer found his vocation as a teacher and thoroughly embraced the Jesuit motto: "To be a person for others."[2] His early work focused on weaving together sexuality and spirituality.[3][4][5]

In 1976, after leaving the Jesuits, Kramer moved to New York City to integrate his call to be a teacher, his Catholicism and his recent identification as a gay man. He became the head of the religion department at Convent of the Sacred Heart, an elite, all-girls Catholic school and continued to practice his religion through DignityUSA - a group for gay Catholics. He was eventually fired from his teaching position at the Convent of the Sacred Heart for being gay.[6]

Kramer then moved to Berkeley, California, where he finished his Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree, graduated from massage school, and began practicing as a massage therapist. Kramer learned from the Jesuits the importance of schools, where like-minded individuals gathered to teach and serve others. To disseminate his somatic teachings, he founded two institutions: the Body Electric School of Massage and Rebirthing in Oakland [7] (approved to train professionals by the State of California in 1984) and Sexological Bodywork in San Francisco (approved as a profession by the State of California in 2003).[8]

The Body Electric School[edit]

Responding to the fear of sex among gay and bisexual men during the AIDS crises, in 1986 Kramer began developing and teaching Taoist Erotic Massage classes as a safe way to sexually connect with others.[9] Because of the presence of HIV in semen, Kramer included the Taoist sexual practice of semen retention as a crucial element of this massage.[10][11]

In the Taoist Erotic Massage, the masseurs genitally stimulated the receivers for more than an hour with thirty different caresses, vibrations, tugs and even pauses. Those receiving were also guided in fast breathing that constantly changed speeds and rhythms. The novelty of the touch and of the paced breathing helped the receivers to stay focused on their bodily sensations. Habits of going off into erotic fantasy or self judgment were ignored as men immersed themselves in sustained sexual arousal.[12][13] The touch portion of the massage ended with a Big Draw, where the receivers clenched all the muscles of their bodies and held their breath for thirty seconds, then relaxed into a fifteen-minute period of quiet often marked by joy, peacefulness, wonder and clarity.[14][15]

In 1992 in collaboration with his intimate, Annie Sprinkle, Kramer began offering Taoist Erotic Massage classes to both men and women.[16] Together Kramer and Sprinkle put the massage instruction on film - Fire on the Mountain, in 1992, and Fire in the Valley, in 1995. Because his earlier films had not dealt directly with gender diversity, in 2017 he commissioned and helped Barbara Carrellas to create Transcendent Bodies - The Erotic Awakening Massage for Trans and Gender Non-Conforming Bodies. Much of Kramer's work has been producing, directing and teaching erotic touch through film. He presently offers more than sixty hours of online streaming education for the public as well as for neo-tantra teachers, sex educators, sex workers, and erotic bodyworkers.[17][18]

In the midst of the AIDS crisis, Kramer recognized the need for an erotic healing profession that offered pleasurable touch to both the living and the dying. The Body Electric began training men as sexual healers, erotic bodyworkers and hedonic midwives to the dying. Kramer named these men committed to erotic service “Sacred Intimates.”[19] This new profession has had a galvanizing effect on thousands of men and women world-wide who now call themselves Sacred Intimates. Their commitment, in the words of Sacred Intimate Don Shewey, is to “help people to wake up to the joy of life in a body.”[20][21]

Sexological Bodywork[edit]

Because Sacred Intimates and other practitioners offering Taoist Erotic Massage did not have legal status in the United States, Kramer approached the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco about offering a professional training for Sexological Bodyworkers. In 2003, after a thorough investigation by the California Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education, Sexological Bodywork was approved as a legal profession in California.[22]

Kramer helped to found and is on the faculty of three Sexological Bodywork schools: the Institute of Somatic Sexology [23] in Australia, the Sea School of Embodiment [24] in the UK and the Instituto Latino Americano de Sexologia Somática [25] in Brazil. He also helped start schools in Germany and Canada. Kramer created the core Sexological Bodywork curriculum used in these schools and helps to upgrade the training materials each year.[26] Sexological Bodywork was featured in Gwyneth Paltrow's Netflix series, “Sex, Love and Goop” (2021) bringing new levels of attention to the profession.[27]


  • 1992 Fire on the Mountain: Male Genital Massage
  • 1995 Fire in the Valley: Female Genital Massage
  • 1996 Evolutionary Masturbation: An Intimate Guide to the Male Orgasm
  • 1996 Uranus: Self Anal Massage for Men
  • 2002 The Best of Vulva Massage
  • 2004 Anal Massage for Relaxation and Pleasure
  • 2005 Anal Massage for Lovers
  • 2008 The Best of Penis Massage
  • 2009 Lovers Getting Started with Erotic Massage
  • 2011 Soft Cock Erotic Massage
  • 2012 Erotic Nothingness: Allowing Sex to Have Its Way with Us


  1. ^ "Trusted Bodywork". Retrieved December 12, 2021.
  2. ^ Maves, Carl. "Massage: Singing the Body Electric: New Paths to Healing Found Through the Tao of Touch.” The Advocate 469 (March 31, 1987): 42-43.
  3. ^ Rollan McCleary: A Special Illumination: Authority, Inspiration and Heresy in Gay Spirituality. Routledge, 2017; ISBN 1904768539
  4. ^ Robert E. Goss: Queering Christ. Resource Publications, 2007; ISBN 1556351615
  5. ^ Shewey, Don. "Portrait of a Sexual Healer". Retrieved December 12, 2021.
  6. ^ Shewey, Don. "Sexual Healing: Joseph Kramer Sings the Body Electric". Retrieved December 12, 2021.
  7. ^ Allen Silver: Man of Use, 2021; p.v ISBN 978-0-578-98646-3
  8. ^ Gay, Malcolm (April 21, 2004). "The Wonk of Wank". Retrieved December 13, 2021.
  9. ^ Kramer, Joseph. ""A Social History of the First Ten Years of Taoist Erotic Massage"". Retrieved December 13, 2021.
  10. ^ Tiefer, Leonore. "The medicalization of sexuality: Conceptual, normative, and professional issues." Annual Review of Sex Research 7.1 (1996): 252-282
  11. ^ Zealley, John Kenneth Andrew. "Risky Beeswax: Artistic Responses to the Biopolitics of HIV/AIDS." Doctoral Dissertation (2021)
  12. ^ Thouin-Savard, Marie. "Erotic mindfulness: A core educational and therapeutic strategy in somatic sexology practices." International Journal of Transpersonal Studies 38.1 (2019): 203-219
  13. ^ Caffyn Jesse: Healers on the edge: Somatic sex education, erospirit 2017; ISBN 0973833246
  14. ^ Michaela Riedl and Jürgen Becker: Lingam Massage: Awakening Male Sexual Energy. Destiny Books, pp 108-111 ISBN 1594773149
  15. ^ Savastano, Peter. "Gay Men as Virtuosi of the Holy Art of Bricolage and as Tricksters of the Sacred." Theology & Sexuality. (2007): 13-14
  16. ^ Magdalena, Isa, and Sandra Lee Golvin. "Celebrating the Body Erotic for Women." The Harvard Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide 4.3 (1997 Jul 31): 27
  17. ^ James David Rockefeller: Beginner's Guide to the Art of Tantric Massage, CreateSpace ISBN 1978370490
  18. ^ "Joseph Kramer IMDB". IMDb. Retrieved December 13, 2021.
  19. ^ Caffyn Jesse: Erotic Massage for Healing and Pleasure, erospirit 2015; p.13 ASIN B00TM1VPYI
  20. ^ Shewey, Don. "Sacred Intimate - An integrative approach to sexual healing." Radical Faerie Digest, Winter 2003, Issue 116, pp.24-27
  21. ^ Hutchins, Loraine. "Rethinking the Sacred Ho’." Journal of Bisexuality. Volume 10, Numbers 1/2 (2010): pp. 574-577
  22. ^ Gay, Malcolm (April 21, 2004). "The Wonk of Wank". Retrieved December 13, 2021.
  23. ^ "Institute of Somatic Sexology". Retrieved May 19, 2021.
  24. ^ "Sea School of Embodiment". Retrieved May 19, 2021.
  25. ^ "Instituto Latino Americano de Sexologia Somática" (in Brazilian Portuguese). Retrieved May 19, 2021.
  26. ^ "Yoga of Sex: A Homestudy in Sexological Bodywork". Retrieved December 13, 2021.
  27. ^ Bakar, Faima (November 3, 2021). "What Is Sexological Bodywork, The Touch Therapy From Gwyneth Paltrow's Netflix Show?". Retrieved December 12, 2021.

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