Girls, This Is Why You Should Trust Your Creep-o-meter

 

Whether those on the right should accept gals labeling guys “creeps” is contested. Some argue the label is anti-male, merely stigmatizing regular guys venturesome enough to display a typical male behavior: approaching gals who might not find them hot. “It’s not creepy if he’s hot” is considered biotruth by some. On the other hand, many on the right also want women to be more risk-averse about sex, and part of risk aversion is trusting your spidey-senses.

I just found out a longtime spidey-sense of mine has been validated. As a child, I found Barney the Dinosaur creepy. Now we can all know why:

While training to be “a software analyst at Texas Instruments”, the actor we would come to know but not-necessarily-love as “Barney” developed an interest in erotic esoterica, and is now a tantric massage specialist “and spiritual healer”. He heals his clients (“goddesses”, he calls them) spiritually by pleasing them sexually, a process described as releasing a woman’s “blocked energy”.

***

Which, if you’re up on your historical gynecology, resembles, at least in theory, how doctors used to treat female “hysteria”. Treating hysteria was perfunctory and unromantic compared to what the man formerly known as Barney offers, though:

A full session with tantra massage specialist and spiritual healer David Joyner lasts three to four hours and costs $350. For that price, female clients—the only kind he accepts—can [also] expect to receive a ritual bath, chakra balancing, and a massage.

So it’s not just wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am. It comes with a pampering spa treatment, too! Godly pampering spa treatment, if Joyner is to be believed, for Joyner has long led a regular prayer life, praying to God to be used as a conduit of divine love.

He’s the type of guy prone to spitting out a quote like this: “When you [redacted – this is a family website with a wife website and kids at home], it should be just like you’re saying grace, like blessing the food you’re about to receive. No food in the world can compare to goddess nectar because spirit is involved. Before you taste the goddess nectar, give thanks. Say grace.”

Being thankful for the good things in life is important, but what’s most disconcerting about Joyner’s prayer life as erotic masseur is its similarity to his prayer life while he was Barney:

“Before I got into the [Barney] costume, I would pray and ask God to allow his loving divine spirit to flow through me through the costume and let that draw the kids. That energy would always draw them in,” Joyner says. “Children are more connected spiritually than [adults]. A lot of times when I see infants and I’m out and about at the grocery store or whatever, they start staring at me. I make the joke, ‘You know who I am.’”

Joyner says he also used his tantra training to maintain his energy during long days on the set where he wore the hot (temps could reach 120 degrees inside it), 70-pound costume for several hours and numerous takes for various scenes. Tantra helped him “maintain an abundance of joy during the process,” he says.

***

We civilize ourselves by rising above our instincts, but that’s not the same as ignoring them. Girls’ spidey-sense about creepy guys is a valuable instinct, one girls should not be trained to dismiss, despite the possibility of false positives, of classifying guys as creepy when they’re not. It’s not uncommon for detection systems to feature a trade-off between sensitivity and specificity: the price of false alarms might be worth it if it means catching more true alarms.

The optimal balance between the risk of ignoring true alarms and registering false alarms can, of course, be debated. I’d bet most of us have known a smoke-detector or two whose balance we’d call into question – perhaps with a sledgehammer if we could. But because men have a physical advantage over women, a false negative on a woman’s creep-o-meter could spell real trouble. Hence, female spidey-senses are geared toward sensitivity at the price of specificity. Which isn’t fair, but then life rarely is.

***

Maybe we shouldn’t judge the man formerly known as Barney as threatening or “creepy”. After all, he doesn’t have to go prowling for unsuspecting targets: his livelihood relies on women knowingly coming to him. He’s never been accused of harassment. California law (of course he lives in California) does, however, categorize “massage with the intent of causing arousal [as] solicitation”, a categorization which seems especially applicable when Joyner offers his paying clients internal massages with one particular portion of his anatomy. In his defense, he explains,

“Not all of my sessions have sex or ‘spiritual intimacy.’ It’s only in the full-sessions… Because then it’s about understanding that when the lingam and the yoni connect there’s a spiritual exchange that takes place, not physical pleasure. It’s not about sex… It’s about removing emotionally blocked energy.”

Joyner’s quaint exotic euphemisms might leave the reader wondering why he doesn’t pepper his conversations with yab-yums, too. And why the doctors treating hysterical women back in the days of Empire didn’t think to combine their duties with Orientalism. (Or maybe some of them did.) Though, to his credit, he seems to have come by his talents as erotic masseur relatively honestly:

[W]hile practicing massage on the side of his main gig at TI, clients began telling him his touch aroused them, he says.

***

While Joyner was employed as Barney, Barney’s attorneys (of course Barney had attorneys) informed him he could not be openly tantric. Nonetheless,

“I often shared with the crew that the energy I brought up in the costume is based on the foundation of tantra—love,” he says.

He adds,

“I always said it was never an accident, and that I was meant to do this character,” he says. “Because a lot of the elements of Barney were a lot of the things I was training with in tantra.”

Many folks can behave decently when called upon to do so despite having skeletons (or, in this case, yonis and lingams) in their closet. But finding out Barney had his closet stuffed full of Orientalized erotica while he was on set cavorting with children strikes me as explanatory: no wonder the big purple dino creeped me out.

It’s no surprise that the man inside the Barney suit had private, adult interests. Nonetheless, girls (and boys, too, though Joyner seems strongly gynephilic) shouldn’t be discouraged from having a guy like Joyner ping their creep-o-meter. Whatever we make of Joyner’s tantric practices, practices which appear to feature an… unusual configuration of sexual boundaries, they risk clashing with the more customary sexual boundaries we’re better-prepared to enforce. Especially if gals are expected to be the gatekeepers of sex, to be distinct from guys in their tendency – and duty – to be more sexually cautious, the instincts supporting that caution ought to be valued, too.

There are 74 comments.

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  1. SkipSul Inactive
    SkipSul
    @skipsul

    So, Barney is a gigolo now?

    • #1
  2. SkipSul Inactive
    SkipSul
    @skipsul

    I will point out that there were plenty of other perfectly valid reasons to find Barney creepy.  The schmalz factor alone was galling.  Barney always struck me as Sesame street, but really really dumbed down.

    • #2
  3. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    SkipSul (View Comment):
    I will point out that there were plenty of other perfectly valid reasons to find Barney creepy. The schmalz factor alone was galling. Barney always struck me as Sesame street, but really really dumbed down.

    After reading the interview (thanks for pointing it out), it seems to me the schmaltz factor was part of the tantrism. Love-energy and all that.

     

    • #3
  4. Dorrk Inactive
    Dorrk
    @Dorrk

    How is this creepy? As long as he wasn’t helping his Barney castmates achieve tantric release, who cares?

    The idea that sex itself is somehow creepy is part of the problem.

    • #4
  5. Matt Balzer Member
    Matt Balzer
    @MattBalzer

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake: Whether those on the right should accept gals labeling guys “creeps” is contested. Some argue the label is anti-male, merely stigmatizing regular guys venturesome enough to display a typical male behavior: approaching gals who might not find them hot.

    I’d say it depends on if you’re using it to describe all guys; or rather, if that’s the only measurement you use to determine creepiness, then yeah, that’s wrong.

     

    • #5
  6. Matt Balzer Member
    Matt Balzer
    @MattBalzer

    In “things that might be creepy” as I’m reading this I’m thinking “this is some kind of Rasputin stuff he’s got going on here.”

    • #6
  7. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Dorrk (View Comment):
    How is this creepy? As long as he wasn’t helping his Barney castmates achieve tantric release, who cares?

    Given all that we cannot know about a person, how comfortable would you be with hiring a budding tantric masseur to animate a character who’s supposed to be children’s special friend?

    And if you knew he used tantric techniques on set (which he did, though “goddess” only knows what they were), wouldn’t you… wonder?

    The idea that sex itself is somehow creepy is part of the problem.

    It’s not that sex itself is creepy, it’s the fact that sex means vulnerability. When you’re vulnerable, it’s more important to avoid threats – hence it becomes more important to detect and avoid “creeps” in advance of potential sexual vulnerability. And children are vulnerable enough that adding in the vulnerability of sex is just too much.

    • #7
  8. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    As for why it occurred to me to make an example of Barney here, @dorrk, it’s also because news that the man formerly known as Barney is a tantric masseur is hilarious.

    • #8
  9. kelsurprise Member
    kelsurprise
    @kelsurprise

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake: I just found out a longtime spidey-sense of mine has been validated. As a child, I found Barney the Dinosaur creepy. Now we can all know why:

    He set my sister’s teeth on edge from the get-go, too.  She never let her kids watch him.

    I still remember being out shopping with her once, nearly 20 years ago and without breaking pace as she moved briskly down an aisle in the toy section, she suddenly punched one of the stuffed animals sitting on the shelf as she passed it.  I looked at the felled pile of purple felt and asked “what was that about?”

    “I can’t stand that creepy guy!” she snapped.

    A month later, I opened the New York Times to see a full page ad for the live Barney show, flanked by little quote snippets from kids — alleged “raves” from the pint-sized attendees.  I tore out the ad and doctored it up, turning all the accolades into appropriate quotes from my sister’s kids  . . . “Mom won’t let us watch Barney” and “My mom could beat Barney up” then I mailed it to her.  I think she still has it.

    So when I saw the article on his current line of work I emailed it, sans comment, to my sister.  Just got her reply:

    “I knew it!!!”

    • #9
  10. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Ouch.

    • #10
  11. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    They pay this guy $350 for “spiritual healing”?  The more accurate term is prostitution if the women are aware of what they’re getting into.  That one associates spirituality with sexuality is just the beginning of the problem. Like most filth it is very much creepy.

    • #11
  12. Caryn Thatcher
    Caryn
    @Caryn

    Ew.

    • #12
  13. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    I’m not a creep. I’m a thug.

    Differences matter, people.

    • #13
  14. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Manny (View Comment):
    They pay this guy $350 for “spiritual healing”? The more accurate term is prostitution if the women are aware of what they’re getting into. That one associates spirituality with sexuality is just the beginning of the problem. Like most filth it is very much creepy.

    There are legitimate ways to associate spirituality with sexuality.

    “He who finds a wife finds what is good, and receives favor from the Lord.”

    Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.”

    • #14
  15. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    Barney was way past my time, and I don’t have kids.  I guess I’m glad about that, since this whole dustup totally passed me by.

    • #15
  16. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):
    They pay this guy $350 for “spiritual healing”? The more accurate term is prostitution if the women are aware of what they’re getting into. That one associates spirituality with sexuality is just the beginning of the problem. Like most filth it is very much creepy.

    There are legitimate ways to associate spirituality with sexuality.

     

    Besides marriage, where the two have a direct association, the two have a second-degree association by both spirituality and sexuality associating with eros. I don’t understand ancient Greek philosophy particularly well myself, but passionate or “desire to possess” love is part of spirituality, but not in the “let’s point and laugh at saints for sexually fantasizing about God” sense, though a certain type of immature, snickering mind seems to suppose it couldn’t be in any other sense.

    • #16
  17. Kay of MT Inactive
    Kay of MT
    @KayofMT

    Percival (View Comment):
    I’m not a creep. I’m a thug.

    Differences matter, people.

    I’d rather wrestle with a thug than a creep.

    • #17
  18. Misthiocracy, Joke Pending Member
    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending
    @Misthiocracy

    Moscow Rule #2: Never go against your gut.

    Of course, there’s nothing in the Moscow Rules about maliciously gossiping about people.

    • #18
  19. Kay of MT Inactive
    Kay of MT
    @KayofMT

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):
    Barney was way past my time, and I don’t have kids. I guess I’m glad about that, since this whole dustup totally passed me by.

    I was past this time and my daughters nor grandchildren watched the show. They didn’t like it.

    • #19
  20. DocJay Inactive
    DocJay
    @DocJay

    I always thought Barney was adjusting himself rather than wedging a claw in his lower chakra.

    • #20
  21. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks
    @jameslileks

    Let’s make a movie with Dad’s Camera! 

    • #21
  22. Umbra Fractus Inactive
    Umbra Fractus
    @UmbraFractus

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake (View Comment):
    As for why it occurred to me to make an example of Barney here, @dorrk, it’s also because news that the man formerly known as Barney is a tantric masseur is hilarious.

    It’s even funnier if you read the quotes in the character’s voice.

    • #22
  23. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Umbra Fractus (View Comment):

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake (View Comment):
    As for why it occurred to me to make an example of Barney here, @dorrk, it’s also because news that the man formerly known as Barney is a tantric masseur is hilarious.

    It’s even funnier if you read the quotes in the character’s voice.

    Apparently his voice was dubbed over by another actor. He just did the cavorting.

    • #23
  24. Joe P Member
    Joe P
    @JoeP

    Dorrk (View Comment):
    How is this creepy? As long as he wasn’t helping his Barney castmates achieve tantric release, who cares?

    The quote about what he was doing inside the suit is ambiguous, thanks to the quasi-mystical clap-trap, but one way to read it was that he was “achieving tantric release” himself on a sound stage full of elementary school children.

    I think that’s pretty creepy.

    • #24
  25. Joseph Stanko Coolidge
    Joseph Stanko
    @JosephStanko

    Hey baby, wanna come back to my place and meet my big purple dinosaur?

    • #25
  26. Umbra Fractus Inactive
    Umbra Fractus
    @UmbraFractus

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake (View Comment):

    Umbra Fractus (View Comment):

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake (View Comment):
    As for why it occurred to me to make an example of Barney here, @dorrk, it’s also because news that the man formerly known as Barney is a tantric masseur is hilarious.

    It’s even funnier if you read the quotes in the character’s voice.

    Apparently his voice was dubbed over by another actor. He just did the cavorting.

    Image result for i reject your reality and substitute my own

    • #26
  27. Fritz Coolidge
    Fritz
    @Fritz

    So that makes it all clear to me, why the favorite paper target at my local range for quite a while was the creepy Barney.

    • #27
  28. Dorrk Inactive
    Dorrk
    @Dorrk

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake (View Comment):

    Dorrk (View Comment):
    How is this creepy? As long as he wasn’t helping his Barney castmates achieve tantric release, who cares?

    Given all that we cannot know about a person, how comfortable would you be with hiring a budding tantric masseur to animate a character who’s supposed to be children’s special friend?

    And if you knew he used tantric techniques on set (which he did, though “goddess” only knows what they were), wouldn’t you… wonder?

    The idea that sex itself is somehow creepy is part of the problem.

    It’s not that sex itself is creepy, it’s the fact that sex means vulnerability. When you’re vulnerable, it’s more important to avoid threats – hence it becomes more important to detect and avoid “creeps” in advance of potential sexual vulnerability. And children are vulnerable enough that adding in the vulnerability of sex is just too much.

    Tantra is only partially applied to sex.  If there’s no evidence or suggestion that he was doing something actually creepy with kids, this is all just prudish thought-policing. It is funny, though.

    • #28
  29. Weeping Inactive
    Weeping
    @Weeping

    SkipSul (View Comment):
    I will point out that there were plenty of other perfectly valid reasons to find Barney creepy. The schmalz factor alone was galling. Barney always struck me as Sesame street, but really really dumbed down.

    While I agree that Barney‘s schmalz factor was pretty high, watching it didn’t lower your IQ quite as much as the Teletubbies and Boohbah did.

    • #29
  30. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Joe P (View Comment):

    Dorrk (View Comment):
    How is this creepy? As long as he wasn’t helping his Barney castmates achieve tantric release, who cares?

    The quote about what he was doing inside the suit is ambiguous, thanks to the quasi-mystical clap-trap, but one way to read it was that he was “achieving tantric release” himself on a sound stage full of elementary school children.

    I think that’s pretty creepy.

    Yeah. I’d guess he probably was not doing anything sexual inside the suit on set. There are tantra practices that are ascetic, not erotic, although the ascetic practices are less (in)famous. But “probably not” is different from “certainly not”, and most of us would want to be closer to “certainly not” than “eh, maybe.” The uncertainty causes spidey-senses to tingle.

    • #30
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