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Get to know Barbara Carrellas, AASECT

Dr. Mary James

1. Book or movie that changed your life?

The Empty Space by Peter Brook, the great English theatre director. My first lover gave it to me for my 16th birthday. It gave me a language and a way of thinking about making theatre. Although it was written specifically about the theatre, the book’s wisdom applies to all the spaces in which we come together to create magic and transformation. I reread it every few years because it’s become an unconscious operating system that runs in the background of my mind and informs everything I create.

2. Favorite healthy snacks?

Crisp raw radishes. I’ve loved snacking on them since I was a kid.

3. What do you do for exercise?

I walk around New York City. I also love my Pilates class and this past summer I fell in love with yoga on the beach. It’s inspired me to return to a more regular yoga practice. My pug Mollyanna and I are also very fond of brisk off-season beach walks.

4. Guilty pleasure?

I’m addicted to the British soap opera “EastEnders.” It’s been on the air for 30 years and I’ve been watching it since the first episode. British soap operas are totally different from American ones. They feature the trials and tribulations of the working class. In my house we say, “No matter how challenging our day might have been, we can count on someone in EastEnders having had a significantly worse one.” It’s very comforting. ;-)

5. Favorite hobby and things to do when you have time off?

Ha! What time off? There’s not much of it. Luckily I love what I do, so I don’t mind. So much of my work is wildly pleasure-centric. I do love horseback riding. Whenever and wherever I travel, I make a point of hanging out with local horses. I love surfing, although I’m still such a beginner. And if there’s a beach nearby, you’ll definitely find me lying in the hot sun.

6. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I want to go back to Kenya and spend a couple of weeks living in a Maasai manyatta. Some young, progressive Maasai chiefs use the money earned by hosting visitors to pay for wonderful causes such as girls’ education and ending female circumcision.

7. If you had a magic wand what spell(s) would you work?

I’d eliminate shame and violence around gender non-conformity and sexuality. I’d repeal prostitution laws. I’d make consensual sexual activity legal and acceptable in all its wondrous variations.

8. How did you become interested in women’s health and sexuality?

I first became interested in health and sexuality during the AIDS crisis in the 1980’s. My initial quest was to find a way for people to have sex that was both healing and safe. Although my first intention was to help my gay male friends, I quickly realized that safer sex was an issue that affected everyone. My interest in women’s health and sexuality is now grounded in a desire to offer women permission and possibilities to expand their erotic outlooks. I also want to counteract the belief that you are abnormal or broken if your sexuality doesn’t look like someone else’s. Each of us is on our own unique erotic evolutionary path. That needs to be supported and celebrated.

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