Mama Gena, who's now 44, offers herself as living proof: She has a beautiful 4-year-old daughter and a happy marriage. She works with her (well-trained) husband at home. "I can have sex whenever I want!" she brags. (She favors, for the record, late morning.) And she can get up afterward and put on her gold lamé suit, which makes her feel very "pussified."
Her students start as the inverse of this model -- better trained in deprivation than in indulgence -- and her formula for reversing the balance involves introducing them to their crotches, to the sensual pleasures, like Brie cheese and aromatherapy candles, to their dark sides (the bitch, after all, is just another face of the goddess).
"Before the class I would intellectualize decisions," one sistergoddess explains. "I would make choices based on data and facts. Now I make choices based on what turns me on. Mama Gena would say, what makes your pussy wet. I pay attention to my desire now. You have to be trained to do that. It doesn't come naturally."
They also learn to make their men do whatever they want, just like Sister Goddess Nancy Reagan did. "That man would have never made it to the White House without her," Mama Gena says appreciatively, "so she really got the ride she wanted."
A group of women gather in a circle on the parlor floor of Mama Gena's house to brag. They introduce themselves; they lead sort of dreamy New York lives. Most are married or in relationships. They are thin, pretty, fashionable. They go to L.A. for the weekend, and even though it's only early spring, a number of them look rather tan. "I am Sister Goddess So-and-so," they begin. And then they brag. "This week, men at work called me beautiful," says a women in a rosy Agnès b. top. "Well bragged!" raves Mama Gena. Auntie Beth, her pretty, bright, leggy protégée -- a refugee from corporate America who asks herself when shopping, "Would the Charlie's Angels wear this?" -- agrees.
Another sister goddess boldly ignored her date at Bouley Bakery and flirted with everyone else at the party. One "held court" (a popular sister-goddess term) over her entire table at a benefit. Lots of women took bubble baths. One sister goddess stopped her husband in the middle of hotel sex, turned on the lights, and said, "Would you like to see my clitoris?" (He would.) One woman brags that upon seeing a "gross" woman scarf down sushi on the subway, she did not feel disdain; she did not give her a mental fashion makeover. She sent out a little prayer for her instead. This sister goddess won best brag that night and was rewarded with a pink feather boa and a drugstore tiara.
Mama Gena's suggested curriculum begins with a seven-week, $650 sister-goddess boot camp called the Foundation Course. The class meets weekly for three hours at a time. In addition to the brag, each class has a theme. Pussify your wardrobe, for example (that is, throw out anything that makes you feel less than foxy), or dress up as your favorite woman from history or fiction (several Jackie O's, a Princess Di here, an Auntie Mame there).
There is homework, too, such as watching Mae West movies, or practicing Pussy Appreciation. "Look at your crotch every day," reads a handout. "Write in a journal three things you like about it. Touch your crotch in different places and see what feels good, write in your journal and bring it to class."
And there is reading: A favorite text is called Extended Massive Orgasm and promises, much like a cookbook, fantastic results to anyone who can follow directions. Mama Gena herself doesn't teach the mechanics of masturbation, although she does encourage and even assign it. She calls in her expert friends from California, Steve and Vera Bodansky (the married doctor-authors of Extended Massive Orgasm), who demonstrate during special, one-day weekend courses that cost $300.
After boot camp, the more specific classes open up (like the "Power Play" how-to-hex session, which is less about witchcraft than cultivating sassiness). "What I love about it," says one client, "is that it's not about suffering through the course so you can get results. It's not just about having another therapist." And Mama Gena believes that her goddesses can conjure up things. She has many tales of this female power: the sister goddess who wanted to show in a gallery but didn't know how conjured a dealer during a party at Mr. Chow. Another sistergoddess left for L.A. with nowhere to stay and conjured an old friend on her flight. (The old friend had, naturally, a large room at the Standard.)
You can also send your man to class -- Mama Gena will teach him how to kiss, how to wrangle a bitch, where, exactly, to find your clitoris, and what to do with it when he does. The philosophy behind the men's courses is that men inherently want to make their women happy, they just need to be told how. "Men love to date my goddesses," Mama Gena boasts.
There are many things sistergoddesses are looking for when they enroll: courage, raises, relationships. "They want to feel like they can get any guy they want," Mama Gena says, "and they can." But what they walk away with is another ritual to integrate into their maintenance routine: pleasure. Naps. Massages. Pedicures.
"I'm much more disciplined about my pleasure now," one graduate says. "If I haven't done something pleasurable for myself by the end of the day, I make sure I get it in. I think of it as like going to the gym."