David Wichman is an author, speaker, sexual healer, and entrepreneur who is respected and well-known all over the world to those who seek to live free of stigma, shame, and fear around sex, love, and intimacy.
Raised in Fremont, California, David survived a childhood marked by severe neglect and abuse, which led him into years of homelessness, alcoholism, and drug addiction. After decades of struggle and rehabilitation failures, he finally obtained freedom from his addiction in 2005. He remains an active member of New Thought and recovery movements to this day.
In 2006, David found a calling in sex work. While working with seniors, the disabled, and those with severe intimacy issues, he discovered the profound transformational power that sex work creates for both client and provider. In 2009, he founded his travel-companion company, the Male Adventure, through which he has accompanied clients on life-changing adventures to all seven continents. He is an activist, vocal ally, and grateful member of the LGBTQI2 community.
JRK: Before we get into the interview can you tell readers a bit about David Wichman, where you are from, and all that good introductory stuff?
DPW: I live in Palm Springs California I moved here 8 years ago after 17 lifetimes in San Francisco where my book is predominantly based. I am still very much a sex worker and travel companion. I still believe strongly in advocating and diminishing shame around sex and our need for intimacy as a necessary part of life. I also write and create content in other areas as well especially in tech and personal growth spaces. I own a virtual reality (VR) company that is pretty much still a hobby. I create mediation experiences for VR with covid19 I have had lots of time to create a bunch of cool new meditation recordings and do some deep inner work on what I will be moving through next in my journey. For the most part, I am just looking for ways to be useful in the world. I cannot work right now. Contact with clients is strictly for future appointments and trip planning only.
JRK: You just published your first book entitled, “Every Grain of Sand.” Can you talk about the book a bit?
DPW: The short easy answer is my book is a memoir of my life and struggle with addiction abuse and living through it. More importantly, it is about finding my calling and heeding it.
JRK: What motivated you to write it?
DPW: There were many times in my life even in the dark days of addiction that I had stopped and thought to myself no-one will ever believe the things I am experiencing. One day I am going to survive this and tell this story when I got clean and sober. I spent several years starting and stopping and giving up on writing “MY STORY” all about me just felt self-serving. I felt like it would just be another recovery story. I could better do that in daily meetings and share with people I work with. So I put it away for a long time. There were many times as my life got bigger and more exciting, I felt compelled to pick it up again but the same feeling came over me “more all about you” As I grew in my sex work and after a series of pretty incredible experiences with the men I saw I knew that there was more to telling my story than me. I found a broader purpose. I couldn’t just write about being a sex worker and defend it. I had to tell the whole story so that you the reader could experience it as I did through the lens of where I came from and how I got there. At one point Congress passed FOSTA-SETSA, a far-reaching bi-partisan act that would throw sex workers under the bus. I was upset about that and it triggered my desire again to write this book. With our current societal beliefs around sex and sex workers, I felt it was time to have a voice. I needed to be heard but not shouting from a podium of righteousness. I needed to show the human side of the work I do.
JRK: You stated that your story as recounted in the book is about liberating our minds and hearts to give and receive love. How does the book do that?
DPW: I believe my book permits us to see that our trauma and shame doesn’t have to continue to dictate our reaction to the world we live in. My story clearly shows example after example of how shame and trauma colored the world I lived in and what it did to me. I shed some pretty big moments of awakening to love and being unable to receive it and what that does to people. It has a message of self-acceptance and acceptance of others throughout it.
JRK: You spoke about fear driving our actions and that we pay dearly for allowing that to happen. Based on your life experiences, how can we control and overcome our fears?
DPW: I do not know how to control or overcome them. I do not see it that way. That sounds like we are fighting our fears or trying to destroy them or beat them. That is a set up for more fear. What we fight only gets angrier. You can’t beat fear into submission for long. It will certainly return. Learning to experience it and find out what it is teaching us … well, that is a whole new ballgame.
I believe from my life experience most all of us have experienced a defining moment of shame in our lives. At that moment we shifted and changed from a carefree non-judgmental child to one of self-awareness about how others see us. Many people experience deep rejection and shame and many grow out of it and grow to live pretty functional lives but continue living in the shame-based foundation or I should say indoctrination of that belief system.
There comes a day for all of us that we fit in and thrive in this system of what one might call “normal living” or there comes a time to break free from it. Most people surrender and mold their lives to fit in and seek the comfort of a settled life avoiding the fears. Maybe it includes a partner, job, kids, church, or a community but that shame or shall I call it “the shift” begins to build, especially men who have stuffed their emotions and secrets away for many years. This plays hell on our well being. There is a huge population of men dying faster and earlier due to despair. Men that carry this fear which shame of being exposed or vulnerable. They are at the most high risk because they have spent a lifetime dodging their emotions. Afraid of what they mean or what others will think. This is true for women as well and I do not mean to pour on the men so much. Sadly men seem to be the real problem these days (yes that is bias).
I point out pretty clearly that there is no one size fits all solution to fear which btw I don’t necessarily think of it as fear. Fear is a direct result of a learned reaction that was meant for survival. When you speak of fear in this context it truly is about shame-based beliefs and learned behaviors. We have a long horrid history of telling boys to “man up,” “do not cry.” Be strong and never show your weakness (vulnerability) and now self-preservation has taken on this role and thus we relate it to fear because it feels the same.
“If they only knew” all the hidden parts of us that we fear. All the ideas of how I need to present to the world to “belong” or “be safe” are all tied up around this idea of fear and come from a place of shame.
I am not a big proponent of this idea face your fears. I see it more of a “see your fears for what they are” and then take actions that meet you right where you are.
A closeted gay man may feel a bit of relief when he comes out but he will still have to have the full experience of coming out no matter what that looks like. Same with boys who have been sexually abused and have held it as a secret their entire lives. It will chew away at your core and if not addressed embraced and allowed to be seen NOT necessarily by others but seeing that experience from the past and holding space for that pain and damage that was done. There comes a time when expressing all the guilt, shame, and toxins from that time will become necessary to feel free and safe again. Releasing that trauma and shame can be brutal but lifesaving.
I have great trust in therapeutic modalities. Talk therapy seems to help a lot of people and I have gotten through a lot of my trauma with some intense breath work and mediation. Look if a man can go seek out a sex worker for a couple of hours for therapeutic relief and keep it to himself, he can surely seek out a good breathwork coach to get that trauma moved the hell out of him. I encourage anyone to please find someone you can trust or even a stranger that can provide a safe space for you to get it out. We need to express our emotions, especially the ones we have suppressed most of our lives.
JRK: A significant portion of your story focuses on the abuse you suffered as a child from your parents in a very vivid fashion. How did you keep going? What did you focus on that drove you to deal with the abuse, and live your young life day-to-day?
DPW: I do not know how to answer this. I was in the blur of survival mode. I truly lived in fear and loathing as a child but I had many great escapes. Books, my sister, and some close angels must have been looking out for me. I was able to get out of that experience the moment I felt I had it within me to make that choice.
One thing I knew the entire time was I knew what was happening was not ok. It was never ok. I must have been in a constant state of seeking safety and trying to be ok. That took many forms.
JRK: One never really knows what motivates people to behave the way they do, but why do you think your parents focused on you and not so much on your brother and sister with their abusive behavior?
DPW: Honestly I can’t get inside their heads but I think it was because I was the weaker child. The most confused who needed their love and attention in ways they were not able to give me, especially after I was sexually molested. My behavior was wild and very troubling to them. I think it baffled them. Having the shame-based beliefs that my parents were shown they settled for and they accessed their learned behavior to inflict submission out of me by any means in their reach.
JRK: In addition to the abuse at the hands of your parents, you also dealt with an instance of sexual abuse. You talked about the guilt and shame related to the abuse and how it overpowered you. What were some of the coping mechanisms you used to deal with what you felt about what happened at different stages of your life?
DPW: I have evolved to a place today that I don’t see as a coping mechanism. My friend and author TJ Woodward likes to call them brilliant strategies. Children do not cope they live in the moment and when faced with unimaginable isolation and neglect they devise strategies to protect themselves. Sometimes at a very young age, I would minimize and rationalize what was happening believing that one day I would be redeemable. One day they will love me. I was taught that I was a bad kid. I operated under that belief for a long time even though deep down I knew I was a wonderful child worthy of love. I just did not dare access that for fear it would be shot down by those I trusted to love me.
JRK: One of those coping mechanisms to deal with the trauma suffered in your younger years was an addiction to alcohol and drugs. Can you give us an idea of how your addiction consumed you and drove you to jeopardize your health and safety?
DPW: Addiction is the result of being unable to live in your body with the pain of the trauma and shame left unresolved. It becomes this obsession to not live in the world but to strive for oblivion. There is a real fear that the mounting pain will consume me and overwhelm my ability to live with the pain. The idea that the pain will never go away is a big part of that addiction. The belief that you will be ok if you can just stay high is oftentimes referred to as “the delusion” The risks and costs of this delusion are met with that skill I learned at a very young age called rationalization and minimization of what is happening. If I can be beaten day in and day out and still calls it parenting and believe that one day it will end and I will be ok. That makes it so much easier if I am loaded to believe that the dumpster fire that was my life was just fine with me. Under the influence of a drug or a drink, the delusion was my lifeline. Even today I have moments of painful reminders of my trauma or some unexplained reaction to an event in front of me. It is not easy but I have a long history of drugs not working for me and now I have a long history of being free from them so the delusion has been replaced with freedom.
JRK: Recovery is a constant effort. What are some ways that you maintain your sobriety, and keep the temptations at bay?
DPW: I stay useful in the world. I share my story. I go to 12 step meetings. I help guys like me that are suffering. I feel a sense of obligation to the world of addiction that is where my tribe is. I also have created a life beyond my wildest dreams. I think a lot of the idea that staying sober is a constant effort is a myth. I do not get tempted by drugs any longer. I feel like that part of my life is behind me. That is not to say I am not at risk but I just don’t see that it fits in my life these days. I go to parties have great sex I am around drunk people from time to time. I have a blast. I feel like I am just better suited to not be loaded. Besides if you live the life I do today you would be high on life which is far more seductive than a drug or a drink.
JRK: You describe in your book a point where you decided to right your ship and get your life in order. Can you tell us what inspired you to make that decision to change course?
DPW: There is a great story about that in my book and I do not want to give it away. I will say this though. I got to a place of unimaginable pain and there were no drugs or oblivion to take it away. I had a good long moment of clarity.
JRK: What advice would you give to those who have suffered through or are suffering through the same trauma you did with abusive parents, the addiction, and just the shame and self-loathing that goes along with it all.
DPW: I would say, “I see you on your journey. I know what it’s like to be where you are. I can’t give you the path but I can show you mine. There are so many of us out here waiting to support you and sit with you through your experience. You can and will find a way. You do not have a choice. At a certain point, you will seek out help in some form or fashion. Whether it be from a drug, a drink, a therapist, a program, a God, or a spiritual path, you will find a solution that works for you.
One day you will look back and know it was all perfectly timed exactly how it was so that you can inspire others to make that change as well, even if it’s just by living your best life and not doing anything but finding freedom for yourself.
Your shame and trauma do not belong to you. They belong to another moment in time that is long past. They are being held hostage in your body mind and spirit. Eventually, they will break free. You have a chance to facilitate that at any time. I hope you do so gently and know underneath all of that, is the love you have been waiting for.”
JRK: You relate in your book how you turned to sex work as a truly meaningful component of your existence and a profession that was instrumental in the creation of your business “Male Adventure.” Can you tell us about that business, the gratification you derive from it, and how you see escorting as much more than simply gratifying the sexual needs of your clients?
DPW: I go deep into this in my book so I will try to give just a brief. The men I see are seeking what they believe as sexual relief and intimacy. What transpires is something far more meaningful. We deserve to be touched and loved. We all need sex like we need food and water. Even people that feel isolated, alone, or afraid to be touched. It is as much a part of living as taking a shower or staying fit. Our sexual health is a part of a set of necessary components that when intimacy and sexual interaction are lacking, many of our other faculties begin to fail. Without the Oxycotin, we receive from touch, our body has nothing to combat the cortisol that streams through us every time we are afraid or stressed out and we all know what stress can do to the human body.
I love the work that I do. I see men from all walks of life. Many are traumatized, feel ugly, unlovable, and some are disabled. Many are older men that never got to come out because it was against the law back when they were younger. I may see a man that weighs 400 pounds that has not been touched in a very long time. To see this man feel accepted and safe and not shunned is one of the greatest gifts of my work. We all deserve to be touched and held and some of us go to sex workers to provide that. It’s just that simple.
As for the Male adventure, It’s a higher-end part of the work I do. After many years of seeing the men, I see it has morphed into a beautiful experience that includes taking trips all over the world. It is kind of a gift that arrived from being a good escort for so many years. You can see a great video on my website TheMaleAdventure.com for more info.
JRK: Within the context of your turbulent life, you were dealing with your sexuality as well. Can you give us an idea of how all that tied in with all the other stuff you were dealing with?
DPW: I never really struggled with my sexuality I have had a long-held belief about my sexual identity since childhood and it stands today. I never had to come out of a closet I was never allowed in one.
JRK: The death of your sister brought a reunification with your parents. Can you tell us a bit about that? What was going through your head as you prepared to face your abusers once again? How is that relationship today, after that reunification happened?
DPW: I don’t have a relationship with my parents today I have no desire to seek love or approval from them any longer. I am always here for them if they need me. They do not need me. I have nothing but compassion and empathy for them. Again we don’t want to give away all my good stories in my book.
JRK: You have arrived at some semblance of inner peace through your spiritual linkages, and practices. What advice would you give to someone who is still struggling to find and grasping for the peace you have discovered?
DPW: It took me a very long time to realize that I was not a broken person. I was not bad nor good, nor right or wrong. It was just my experience. Every one of us has a path to take. It’s a complicated answer because I am tempted to say find a practice take up yoga etc. The truth is that seeking relief or healing was folly for me. Yes, there was a long road to this point but if I can be so bold as to say “Sit down alone one day and ask a question. What is it I need right now at this moment,” then pause. DO NOT TRY TO ANSWER THAT QUESTION! Allow it to just be a question.”
Stay seated for a few more moments in silence and just be there. If you catch yourself trying to answer it just let it go and begin to just breathe gently and ask again “What is it I need right now at this moment.” Then breathe some more. Then get up and go have a coffee or eat a meal and forget about the question.
We have been trained our entire lives to have the answer to a question and be rewarded if we get it right. That was the first lie you were ever told. We do not need the answers WE ARE THE ANSWER!
Ok I know that seems odd but stick with me for a moment. You may need to begin to do this more often so try it again the next day maybe ask a new question, “What is working in my life that I am NOT seeing?”
If I had enough bandwidth I would go deeper into this but just notice one thing I am NOT asking what is wrong here and making a list of problems I need to solve. I ask questions that are empowering and I am not trying to answer them.
Most importantly take a lot of breaths every damn day. Deep ones! Make them count! Keep trying to find a few moments each day to do this one simple thing.
Soon you will see your life begin to unfold in ways you never could see before. This is because you were open for a few moments to possibility. Everything else will fall into place. You will know what to do next when you know what to do next. This whole idea that I need to do this or that or get to this place or that place is all noise. You will get to where you are going the moment you get out of the way and let life take you on the ride you couldn’t even begin to imagine.
The answers will come. They will appear in front of you in your everyday living.
I have read all the self-help books for you. I have tried all the crazy juices and dogmas and practices for you. If you choose paths like yoga or a meditation group or some other, “I have the answer for you” stuff. Do it because you want to add it to our life not because you think it will heal you or give you something you do not have. You are missing nothing. We can all do with a little less right now. Go out and help someone less fortunate than you, even if it’s picking up a paper cup off the street or not complaining about the neighbors for one day.
Add something to the stream of life. Be kind to yourself and others it’s very simple. That is what the Guru within you needs from you. That is what the world needs from you right now.
JRK: The title of your book and the cover picture is related to one of your scuba diving excursions. Can you tell us about the image of the boy sitting alone within the silence of the sea?
DPW: Jason deCaires Taylor creates underwater sculptures to bring awareness to sea environments and preservation. Something I care deeply for. He is also a very mysterious artist. I have asked him many times what the Boy at Musa was all about. He has never responded. He has skipped over that question numerous times in our communications.
I have stopped asking. For me when I encountered this boy in the sea surrounded by hundreds of other statues, he was sitting alone head bowed defeated and isolated from his community. It hit me so hard I cried back to the boat.
Something about him reminded me to get busy resolving all that unaddressed shame and trauma I was holding on to and I go into great detail about that in the book. You can say he was a catalyst to uncovering some old buried crud I had yet to be rid of.
The picture speaks volumes about the book and getting permission to use it was a monumental task Jason was amazing and very willing. However the back and forth with the museum and license was quite a comedy but we sorted it out and I knew right away there would be no other cover.
Most publishers want to vote or vet them against other covers. My publisher W. Brand Publishing saw it after she read my book and was like “Are you kidding me? This is beautiful. We have to use this one.” I work with some amazing people. Heather Ebert is the one to give credit to for the book as it is so well crafted and written with such accessibility and flow.
I am a great storyteller for sure because I lived it, but my writing skills leave a lot to be desired. I am the king of run-on sentences with no punctuation. Everybody needs a Heather Ebert in their lives. Even the great writers of our times could take some lessons from her.
JRK: What is next for David Wichman? How is your life evolving? What are some upcoming projects? Is there a 2nd book in the works?
DPW: I am doing some leadership training and some somatic breathwork courses to have under my belt. I still write and create sex love and intimacy workshops and will be touring my book once we open the world back up again. I have published some fun stuff. I lead a group on social media called “Living in the Questions.” It’s on Facebook and called, “LITQ Daily.” Come join me.
I created a fun deck of cards with empowering questions on them for that little advice I gave earlier. We do that practice each morning live online and it’s amazing.
Of course, I am chomping at the bit to go back to work many trips are waiting to be taken, and many clients probably now more than ever that would love to connect. I am so ready for it.
I try to keep it simple. I love being home with my partner and my dogs and creating in my studio. I live a really happy life I feel like I owe that to myself.
JRK: Do you have any last thoughts you want to reflect upon and share that hasn’t been covered yet?
DPW: Be who you are right now. The whole fucked up complicated confused part of you is also your greatest gift. Do not try to change anything about yourself. Start with looking for what you wouldn’t change for anyone or anything and be right there in that pocket. That’s you that can uncover what you are not seeing.
You are a whole unbreakable beautiful human with a life and a message to share even if you don’t see it. It’s there. I stole this from some self-help person years ago and it rang very true for me. We are all doing one of two things. We are requesting love or expressing love. When you can see that in yourself and others, even in the vilest people that is the point where you find true compassion.
So fuck the haters. They are requesting love in ways we cannot see right now. They will get there.