Did the US military’s top secret ‘Sex Ops’ programme – which aimed to create an elite cadre of ‘Sex Assassins‘, trained to kill enemies by projecting their tantric sex energies – really draw its inspiration from a sect of Buddhist priests? This was just one of the investigative avenues explored by film maker Ronnie Johnson during the making of his documentary about the programme: The Men Who Stare at Porn. Working on the basis that, in peace time, the average GI spent approximately 70% of his time either masturbating, looking at pornography or simply thinking about sex, Johnson had already established that the programme had aimed to utilise this idle erotic energy as a weapon system. The only question was – how? “While I was in ‘Nam, I kept hearing stories about a sect of Buddhist priests, sworn to celibacy, who nevertheless were able to take themselves to the highest levels of sexual ecstasy by just thinking about sex,” says retired Colonel Randy Spankler, a founder of the ‘Sex Ops’ programme, interviewed by Johnson in the film. “According to some of the Vietnamese I spoke to, these guys were rumoured to be able to use their sexual energies to boost their prowess at martial arts – using the power of the orgasm to kick down trees and leap over houses, they were said to be invincible killing machines, rendered impervious to pain by the power of the orgasm.” However, As the film makes clear, Johnson still wasn’t entirely convinced by Spankler’s claims. “Could tantric sex really be used to turn men into killing machines?  Men who were, literally, dead sexy?” he muses, as he sets out to consult a leading ‘sex guru’. “It just seemed so far-fetched!”

Nevertheless, top sexologist Willie Wallace, whose Cracking the Nut instructional film was a bestseller on DVD, advised the journalist that Spankler’s claims might have some basis in fact. “It’s true that by suppressing the act of ejaculation, non-penetrative tantric sex forces the energies released by orgasm to circulate around the body, helping to create a higher level of consciousness,” he explains. “It is not inconceivable that a highly trained mind might be able to focus this energy and project it externally. Anyone hit by it would experience an orgasm so powerful, it would tear their internal organs apart.” Indeed, Wallace reveals that the US ‘Sex Ops’ programme wasn’t the first attempt to harness and channel sexual energies as a weapon using tantric techniques. “The whole thing grew out of the Nazis obsession with occultism and their belief in the existence of the psycho-kinetic energy known as ‘vril’,” he explains. “During a Nazi expedition to Tibet in 1939, the German explorer Ernst Schafer had apparently spent time with the Sex Cult, learning some of their techniques for remotely projecting sexual energies. Upon returning to Germany, he was able to convince high ranking Nazis, including Hitler and Himmler that these sexual energies and ‘vril’ were one and the same thing.”

Whilst conceding that tantric techniques could be used to project sexual energy externally, Wallace believes that using them in this way could have serious consequences. “Trying to channel such enormous energies through the human body always results in severe injury,” he opines. “I wouldn’t be at all surprised if these so-called ‘Sex Assassins’ suffered burst testicles and burned out penises. Indeed, it is rumoured that it was his own attempts to destroy the advancing Red Army through masturbation which finally drove Hitler over the edge in the bunker in 1945.” But, as Johnson discovered, the Third Reich wasn’t the only totalitarian regime to flirt with the idea of using tantric sex techniques as a weapon. “One of the strangest stories to emerge from Russia following the fall of the Soviet Union was that of the top secret sex research stations in Siberia,” he explains in the film. “Apparently various bizarre experiments were conducted on political prisoners at these remote institutes, which involved trying to extract their ‘sexual energies’ via extreme sexual stimulation. Clearly, I had to travel to Russia to get to the bottom of these stories.” Arriving in Moscow, Johnson met former top Soviet Sexologist Yulia Legova, who explained that the experiments began under Stalin. “As a true communist, Comrade Stalin believed that sex was essentially a bourgeois invention, designed to distract the proletariat from their historic mission,” she claimed, during their meeting in a dingy hotel room. “For the true Marxist-Leninist, sex was purely for procreation – those who employed as a means to achieve momentary pleasure were clearly deviants and should be arrested and exiled to the Siberian labour camps.”

According to Legova, Stalin believed that this deviant sexual activity should be harnessed in the service of the revolution. “He became obsessed with the idea of using the power from forced orgasms to build a kind of death ray which could knock American nuclear bombers from the sky,” she claimed. “But the casualty rate amongst the political prisoners was very high, with few surviving more than a few sessions.” With Stalin’s death, the focus turned away from sexual death rays to the tantric techniques already experimented with by the Nazis. “Information about these monks came to the Soviet Union from China, after the Chinese invasion of Tibet,” alleged Legova. “Groups of specially selected conscripts were trained in the tantric techniques – the whole programme was extremely secret, with many stories of horrific groin injuries and soldiers going mad, running naked into the Siberian wastes and freezing to death.” Although the experiments were generally considered a failure and the programme cancelled by Brezhnev in the early seventies, Legova believes that it might have scored one spectacular success.

“There are many rumours that President Kennedy was actually assassinated by an operative trained in the tantric techniques,” she sensationally claims in the documentary. “Far from being hit by the so called ‘magic bullet’ which passed through all the occupants of the President’s car, Kennedy and his entourage were hit by Lee Harvey Oswald’s burst of concentrated psycho-sexual energy.” Whilst naturally sceptical of such claims, Johnson does concede that they would explain several anomalies in the Kennedy assassination. “Mystery has always surrounded Lee Harvey Oswald’s temporary defection to the USSR a few years prior to the assassination, following which he returned to the US with a Russian bride”, he muses in the film. “Was she his ‘tantric handler?’ Was the rifle in the book depository – generally acknowledged to have been totally inadequate as a sniper’s weapon – planted by her to conceal the use of tantric techniques?” He also questions the soviets’ motivation for assassinating the US president in such a manner, something Legova believes the has the answer to. “Everyone knows that President Kennedy was hugely over-sexed – he was the very epitome of the decadent Western fornicator,” she opines in the documentary. “To have him killed through the proper, disciplined, use of sexual energy would surely only be fitting and an effective demonstration of the superiority of communist sex.”