For 10 years, he danced around and delighted children as Barney the Purple Dinosaur. Now, he brings delight to women through the art of tantric sex massage for $350/hour.
David Joyner spoke with Vice about his new career path and the time he spent inside the hot 70-pound Barney suit between 1991 and 2001. According to the actor he used tantra techniques even then to get through some of those sweltering days on the set.
"Before I got into the 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," Joyner said. "That energy would always drew them in. Children are more connected spiritually than [adults]." While Joyner provided Barney's movements, it was actor Bob West who provided the voice.
Today, Joyner uses those same tantra practices to service about 30 clients, or "goddesses" as Joyner calls them; all female. Women can anticipate a ritual bath, massage and the balancing of chakras, as well as a sexual orgasm. Joyner has unprotected intercourse with his clients to help them achieve a "higher and more blissful state of awareness." He told Vice that a condom can "block the energy," but others in the field find it concerning that he has sex with clients, and particularly that he does so unprotected.
"I can't say there's never a place for intercourse; it's part of the tantric tool set, but in a client/practitioner relationship, it's almost always never needed -- particularly for healing purposes," said Matthias Rose, founder of the Moksha Tantra Center in Seattle.
"Even porn stars in California use a condom," said Kimberly Resnick Anderson, a sex therapist and professor of psychiatry at UCLA. "It's the law. For him not to use condoms is medically unethical and irresponsible. This is outrageous and far outside the standard of care."
Jonathan Kelman, a defense attorney for the state of California, where Joyner runs his practice, said that he could be faced with prostitution charges. "You can't legally have sex with someone in exchange for money," Kelman said simply. Joyner has his clients sign a contract and offers the first session free, which he says establishes legal consent, but Kelman isn't so sure. "If I have a client who gets arrested for exchanging a Big Mac for sex, that's, by definition, prostitution," he said.
Stephen White, head writer of Barney through most of Joyner's years with the program, only found out about Joyner's other vocation a few years back. "When I found out the detail of what's involved in tantra, I was surprised," White said. "I thought it was an interesting transition for Barney. It's kind of still the 'I love you, you love me' deal, but different. I don't judge or anything, but that's a side of David I didn't know."
For Joyner what he does now is not really so different than what he did as Barney. Both are about expressing love and sharing that energy with others. "I always said it was never an accident, and that I was meant to do this character," he said. "Because a lot of the elements of Barney were a lot of the things I was training with in tantra."