Iraq War veteran David Rodriguez steps into a softly lit classroom at the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco, crosses his legs and sits on a pillow in front of an altar decorated with a rope, a model of a penis and a statue of a Hindu god.
Rodriguez, a retired Navy lieutenant commander who led an engineering battalion that dismantled roadside bombs, is here for a class on “sexual bodywork.” When instruction begins, he will join his classmates in practicing different forms of masturbation.
“They do vulva massage and penis massage and anal massage,” said instructor Ariadne H. Luya, who holds a Ph.D. from the institute, an unaccredited graduate school founded in 1976 by an iconoclastic Methodist minister who amassed a large collection of erotic art and pornographic films, including child pornography, that is kept at the school.
“We want to get people out of their ruts. Have you been masturbating the same way for 20 years?” she asked rhetorically. “How’s that going for you? Would you like to try something new?”
Rodriguez is funding his studies with the GI Bill, which means taxpayers are covering his tuition to pursue a doctorate in human sexuality – more than $20,000 over the past two years.
But in the absence of strong government oversight, Reveal has found a gold rush of 2,000 schools cashing in on the exemption. The list includes schools set up to make a profit by teaching blackjack, scuba diving, dog grooming, taxidermy and yoga. Many are owned by individuals who’ve gone bankrupt or failed to pay their taxes. A handful are owned by convicted felons…
Back at the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco, the Rev. Ted McIlvenna, the school’s president, walks down a narrow hallway cluttered with erotic paintings and sculptures, pornographic magazines and reel after reel of pornographic films.
“This is where we keep the kiddie porn,” he said, pointing at a 10-foot-long locked cabinet. “You have to have a doctorate to open it.”
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