Friday, September 24, 2010

Brad Warner, Porno Buddhist, Returns to Ohio

Posted By on Fri, Sep 24, 2010 at 3:16 PM

Is this the porn or the buddhist part?
  • Is this the porn or the buddhist part?

Akron expatriate, punk bassist, and controversial Zen teacher Brad Warner returns to Ohio this week for a Zero Defex concert and a Buddhist talk. Warner just published his fourth book, Sex, Sin and Zen. Like his previous books, it uses plain language to explain Zen in an everyday context, based on events from Warner’s everyday life, which takes him spiritual retreats to Ozzfest backstage.

You’ll have two chances to see Warner in action over the next week, whether you’re into punk rock or Buddhism. His group, Zero Defex, will play the Kent Stage’s Debacle Concerts, a reunion of a dozen Akron bands from the 70s and 80s, on the second night, Saturday, Sept. 25. Then he’ll speak at the Cleveland Buddhist Temple Wednesday, Sept. 29, at 7 p.m.

Here's our conversation with him...

Scene: Where are you living now?

Nowhere! I'm homeless! I gave up my apt in Santa Monica (L.A.) in March and traveled thru Europe and Japan promoting foreign language editions of my books (German, Greek, Polish and Finnish so far) and running retreats. Now I'm in San Francisco. After Ohio, I'm off to Montreal and then to NYC.

Scene: How does Sex, Sin and Zen compare to the previous books?

It's still me writing, so obviously there's continuity. With each book I seem to be able to cut a little closer to the bone. Even when I say the same things, I feel like I'm able to get just that much deeper into them. Since Sex, Sin, and Zen has some hope of crossing over out of the Buddhist book ghetto, I've gone back and addressed some basic Buddhist stuff that I first talked about in [the 200YEAR debut] Hardcore Zen. But I feel I've been able to get a little closer to the heart of things this time.

Scene: Is the basic approach the same as the previous ones, in the sense that it blends autobiography and more technical Zen talk?

It's not as autobiographical as Zen Wrapped in Karma. But it's informed by my personal experience. I've been a Buddhist for almost as long as I've been sexually active, and I started doing zazen when I was 19. So matters of what was and was not appropriate sexually for a Buddhist have always been on my mind. I've drawn upon those experiences and thoughts.

But I've also cast a wider net and spoken to people whose experiences are different from my own, like Daigan Gaither, who is a gay Buddhist monk in San Francisco and Nine Hartley, a porn star raised by Zen teachers, and friends who have experienced sexual abuse or gone through having an abortion and also have a Zen practice to get their real life perspective on things I can only philosophize about.

There's some Zen technical talk, but not much.

Scene: Outside the Zen crowd, who's a good audience for it?

I never know. I hope everybody buys it and makes me a zillion dollars. I don't think this is a book for Zen nerds. It's for anyone who is interested in a way to view sexuality that is very different from the Judeo-Christian-Islamic view that pervades our culture.

Scene: What are some of the backdrops for this one? The earlier books had chapters from Ozzfest and Suicide Girls.

Nina Hartley's apartment, with the S&M stuff hanging on the walls. That's all that springs to mind right now. It's probably a bit less novelistic than my previous books, so the idea of settings doesn't really come into play as much. There's a few scenes from Zen retreats and the many talks I've been giving around the world in there.

Scene: In your experience, how is sex different when you’re on the Zen?

It's hard to answer this because what have I got to compare it with?

I'd say it's different because Zen practice makes you more present with all aspects of life. So, of course, sex becomes more intense and better. I don't know any special techniques and have not practiced anything specifically to enhance sexual performance. And yet I believe that my own stamina and abilities have actually increased as I've gotten older rather than decreased as many men my age complain of. I don't mean to sound like I'm bragging or making claims. But it just seems to me to be a fact.

Also, there's less drama than there used to be. This could be because I'm older. But I believe the Zen stuff is also working there too. — D.X. Ferris

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