Another personal profile: "How Kamala Devi kicked monogamy"
To parallel Diana Adams's interview at The Atlantic, here's another profile of a high-visibility poly spokeswoman: Kamala Devi, who is best known these days for her starring role in Showtime's Polyamory: Married & Dating. As it happens, Diana and Kamala Devi were part of the same friends network back when Kamala lived in New York. Diana was a presenter at Kamala's Poly Palooza in California last fall.
How Kamala Devi kicked monogamy
Photos by Joshua Emerson Smith
By Joshua Emerson Smith
In the late '90s, when Kamala Devi graduated from the University of Arizona, she was dating a woman and had been an active member of a women's bisexual discussion group on campus. She'd also fallen in love with her yoga teacher, who happened to be man.
The lesbian community she'd identified with in college wasn't thrilled about that development, she said. "As embraced as bisexuality was, it wasn't that you could see a man and a woman. You had to choose."
Devi didn't choose. Instead, with the consent of her partners, she openly dated them both.
"It was scary, because that meant a de-identification with the lesbian identity, and I was estranged from a lot of the community."
That willingness to defy convention started an adventure that, years later, would lead the 38-year-old to own her own business in San Diego as a sex-and-relationships coach, as well as becoming a nationally recognized activist for polyamorous lifestyles....
Shortly after college, she and her male partner moved to Hawaii where they joined an artist commune. Among other things, Devi worked as the director of the gay and lesbian pride festival in Honolulu.
"It was just a field of permission," she said. "People were experimenting and exploring. The environment was really ripe for non-conventional relating."
In an effort to represent a wide variety of lifestyles in the festival, Devi reached out to a local dominatrix, who ended up offering her work. For nine months, Devi worked as a dom, doling out lashes to rich businessmen and other clients.
"It was a profound experience for me, because what I realized is these men were getting healing, sexual healing," she said. "It was obvious when I put my hands on a client that I had a gift."
After two years, Devi took off traveling through Southeast Asia, Europe and China, where she continued to study yoga, as well as Hindu-derived teachings known as Tantra, which focus on meditative and sexual practices.
"It was the spiritual aspects that called me most," she said. "Maybe the hedonism was a little off-balance in my island exploration, and so I started to pursue the yogic and the Tantric path....
Read on (Feb. 11, 2014).