I first saw the rough cut when it was screened at a Sacred Sex conference in Virginia Beach. The audience was so shocked, it nearly provoked an energetic riot. Many teachers and practioners are sensitive about the hollywood portrayal of deep issues such as tantra, sexual healing, polyamory and sex magic. Directors Jonathan Schell and Eric Liebman were completely new to tantra when they began working on this project over three years ago. Initially, they were looking for the "dramatic" angle but eventually were affected by the more spiritual dimensions of this story. They started by attending conferences and interviewing tantra teachers but ultimatly followed Dez's personal love story with Maya.
Here are a couple of excerpts from the treatment:
It's a “Boy meets Girl, Boy looses Girl, Boy tries to get Girl back” story with a twist. The Boy is BABA DEZ, a renowned sacred sexual healer, whose polyamorous (multiple relationships). The Girl, MAYA, is a sacred prostitute with a history of sexual abuse. To get her back, Dez must embark on a challenging journey, one that pitches him into a cult of his own creation. Sex Magic takes an irreverent look at very serious people, where devotees and practitioners of the ancient Tantric Arts travel down risky emotional paths, attempting to channel their sexual energy toward spiritual growth and the manifestation of their greatest desires.
But his desire to change for her comes into conflict with his commitment to his lifestyle and philosophy and Dez goes to Hawaii with two lovers to explore Sex Magic; the process of creating a god connection through love making to manifest dreams and desires. He starts writing a book about Sex Magic with one of the lovers, Kamala, whose married with a young child, and claims that by making love with Dez, she's able to “download” all his wisdom given to him by his teachers. And for Dez, she “holds space” for Maya's return. Trouble, however, seems brewing in paradise as the more pleasure is pursued the more Dez pines for Maya, pitching him into an existential crisis and he confronts the very real notion that the tools he’s employed for liberation are in actuality the prison bars of his unhappiness.
Despite not having a happy ending, most of the objections evoked by the first several versions of the movie have been answered. The film still bites off more than it can chew, adn I still have my personal reservations about the way that sex magic is mis-represented, but at the end of the day, I feel the positive impact of showing a powerful sacred sex teacher in his vulnerable daily practices outweighs the negative impact of showing Dez and his attachment to personal love.