“When I first heard rumours that the US Army had spent millions of dollars paying guys to sit in a shed at Fort Bragg, staring at pornography, I was inclined to dismiss it as another urban myth,” says investigative journalist Ronnie Johnson at the premiere of his new documentary, The Men Who Stare at Porn. “But then I was contacted by someone who claimed to have witnessed one of these porn staring guys choke a cock – from the other side of the room, without actually touching it! They’d actually harnessed the power of sex to kill remotely!” Even more disturbingly, Johnson’s contact told him that porn staring cock killer had been part of a covert US military programme to develop a cadre of so-called ‘sex assassins’, trained in tantric sex techniques, who would be able to remotely despatch enemies of the US, leaving no trace of violence. “Obviously, I was intrigued,” admits Johnson. “Naturally, like most people, I’d always assumed that the idea behind tantric sex techniques was to make the sexual experience last longer. So I at first thought that perhaps these ‘sex assassins’ were trained to literally shag their targets to death – exhausting them with non-stop endless rogering! I was quite startled by the idea that they could use these techniques to kill covertly, without even touching the target!” Johnson’s contact suggested that the reporter should look into the death of a top Libyan intelligence chief in 1999, whose death in the departures lounge of Damascus airport had been ascribed to natural causes. “He just keeled over and died as he walked through the departures lounge, after attending a meeting with his Syrian counterparts,” says Johnson. “But I turned up several eyewitnesses who reckoned that, as he collapsed, the expression on the Libyan’s face was described as looking like he’d just hit the vinegar stroke. Most significantly, two of them said that at the very moment the Libyan suffered his seizure, they noticed a man in a business suit glance up from an American girlie magazine he was reading, and briefly fix the Libyan with a stare.” Both witnesses agreed that the porn reader hadn’t reacted to the Libyan’s collapse – instead rolling up his magazine and putting it in his jacket pocket, before getting up and calmly boarding a flight bound for Washington. “I subsequently learned that the Libyan had been suspected by the CIA of being involved in the financing of terrorist groups, perhaps even of having helped plan the Lockerbie bombing,” says the journalist. “Naturally, after learning this, I decided that I had to meet my mysterious contact in person if I was to get to the bottom of this bizarre business!”

Johnson’s informant turned out to be retired US Army Colonel Randy Spankler, who claimed to have helped to create a covert unit pioneering the use of tantric sex as a combat technique. “It was the nineties, Clinton was in the White House, sex was big and we were looking for new, low cost and non-risky ways to wage war,” the magnificently moustachioed sixty-three year old asserts in the documentary. “We took our cue from the old hippie slogan: ‘Make love, not war’ – we decided to make love into war!” According the former Special Forces soldier, inspiration for the programme came from his experiences in the Far East in the 1970s. “When I was serving in ‘Nam, I’d heard rumours about the Sacred Sex Cult of Qamdo in Tibet. These guys, like all true Buddhists, believed that the physical world is ultimately illusory, and that the desires of the flesh must be transcended through meditation,” he explains in the film. “Consequently, they wanted to free sex from its physical components and turn it into a purely intellectual activity – they could induce an orgasm in a partner purely through visualising the sex act, with no actual physical contact. They don’t even have to be in the same room!” Spankler’s attempts to uncover the facts behind this legend, he claims, eventually led him took him on a perilous undercover mission to Chinese occupied Tibet, to learn the disciplines of the Sex Cult’s erotic masters. “They’re all based on established tantric techniques. You see, people are obsessed with the idea that true sexual satisfaction can only be reached through penetrative sex, and that the orgasm itself should culminate in ejaculation,” he explains. “However, such a release of bodily fluids represents a wasteful dissipation of sexual energies, preventing them from being properly harnessed. With tantric techniques, no penetration is necessary to achieve climax, and ejaculation is repressed, forcing the sexual energies released by the orgasm to build, before circulating throughout the body, and taking the mind to a higher level of consciousness. The Sex Cult’s masters simply project these energies externally, using meditative techniques.”

However, adapting the Sex Cult’s techniques for military use proved problematic. “The mental visualisation bit proved too much for most of our trainees – soldiers are just too literal-minded and unimaginative, not to mention completely lacking in concentration, which was vital for the meditative parts of the discipline,” explains Spankler. “That’s why we had to introduce the porn magazines for them to concentrate on. Also, they had real trouble in the concept of projecting the sex energy to a specific target – they were just pulsing it out generally, causing sexual chaos across Fort Bragg. The whole project was nearly exposed when hordes of GIs suddenly started tearing each other’s clothes off and engaging in anal sex. Obviously, this was undesirable on several counts – not least that we wanted them to use this energy to kill, not induce remote gay orgies. Eventually we were able to get them to project the energy up the target’s anus, where it could enter their bodies and disrupt their organs.” Although some soldiers were eventually able to master the tantric killing techniques, Spankler concedes that the ‘sex ops’ project has suffered numerous casualties, including the original cock-killer. “He paid a heavy price – his left testicle exploded and he suffered a severe rupture of his urethra,” he admits. “As for the assassin who did for the Syrian guy – when he got back Stateside we found that his penis and scrotum were so badly burned he had to undergo gender reassignment.” Impressed by Spankler’s claims, the film concludes with Johnson’s faith in him being undermined, as he is contacted by another former ‘sex ops’ operative, who asserts that Spankler’s story is merely a cover, to disguise the true, dark, origins of the project. “The truth is that Spankler never went to Tibet. Even if he had, the Sacred Sex Cult of Qamdo hasn’t existed in over five decades – it was brutally repressed by the Chinese when they annexed Tibet in 1959. The whole ‘sex ops’ programme was actually based upon research carried out in the Third Reich – research personally endorsed by Hitler himself,” he claims. “A Nazi expedition to Tibet in 1939 had brought back the secrets of the Sex Cult and the Fuhrer authorised a programme to try and develop these powers into a new secret weapon for use against the Allies. Believe me, in the dark days of 1945, a whole battalion of the Hitler Youth were alleged to be furiously masturbating in unison to pictures of Eva Braun, in the hope of destroying the advancing Red Army.” According to the source, the entire battalion died horribly, their genitalia literally falling apart in their hands. “Just as Spankler later found out, it seems anyone trying to pervert the power of orgasm for violent ends runs the risk of incurring a karmic backlash,” Johnson ponders at the film’s conclusion. “Perhaps that’s why the programme seems to have been abandoned – emasculation is just too high a price to pay for victory in the War on Terror.”