The shows you watch as a kid—whether they be Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers, or Reading Rainbow—can often shape and inform the kind of person you grow up to be. But what about the people who help create these shows? Do the lessons they impart week-to-week end up influencing their outlook on life? What kind of people do they grow up to be? According to a report from Vice, in the case of the man behind Barney the big purple dinosaur, you grow up to become a potentially shady tantric sex guru.
David Joyner, who donned the iconic dino costume from 1991 to 2001 on the PBS kid’s show Barney & Friends, has been running a successful tantric massage practice since 2004 and currently attends to 30 different clients, also known as “goddesses.” Tantric practices are often associated with sweaty, marathon-length sessions of presumably enjoyable love making but actually have their roots in Buddhist and Hindu spirituality. According to to those in the business of tantra, it’s more about letting go of your ego and getting in touch with the energy of all things. Joyner says it was these aspects that actually helped him in his role as Barney, a being of pure, inexhaustible joy.
“The energy I brought up [while] in the costume is based on the foundation of tantra, which is love,” Joyner told Vice. “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. Children are more connected spiritually than [adults].”
That’s not to say that sex isn’t a big part of Joyner’s current tantric practices. In fact, it sometimes seems like the only part. He claims the best way for his clients to reach a higher state of awareness and shed that oppressive layer of self-consciousness is to engage in unprotected, penetrative sex. Vice spoke with tantra professionals and sex therapists who took issue with Joyner’s potentially dangerous practices and claimed that’s not what tantric massage should be about. There’s also a very good chance that what Joyner is doing—accepting money in exchange for sex—could be considered prostitution.
But, if the goddess testimonials on his website are to be believed, Joyner’s clients are walking away happy. Spreading happiness is clearly all Joyner ever wanted to do since first putting on that big T. Rex costume. Still, it really puts a different spin on “I love you. You love me.”