You might not imagine much of a tie-in between Barney, PBS' beloved purple dinosaur sensation, and tantra, the ancient spiritual practice seeking connection with the divine.
But for David Joyner, a tantra massage specialist who spent 10 years as the man behind the dinosaur costume, it makes total sense.
"I always said it was never an accident, and that I was meant to do this character," Joyner said in a recent profile in VICE. "Because a lot of the elements of Barney were a lot of the things I was training with in tantra."
Joyner, 54, now charges his female-only clients $350 for sessions that run several hours and include a ritual bath, chakra balancing and, according to the magazine, "cosmic, mind-blowing orgasms." His refers to his clients as "goddesses."
And while his methods have been criticized by some as unorthodox and risky, "it's not about sex," the California-based healer said. "It's about removing emotionally blocked energy."
The Barney character, created by a pair of Dallas moms in 1987, eventually became a wildly successful PBS show Barney & Friends, produced first in Allen, then Irving and Carrollton. It would eventually launch the careers of young celebrities like Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato.
Joyner, once a software analyst for Texas Instruments, joined the cast in 1991.
He'd discovered tantra in the 1980s while at ITT Technical Institute and training in Swedish massage to make extra money for school, he told VICE. Tantra dates back to ancient Buddhism and Hinduism, and sexuality is just one of its elements.
Joyner delved deeper into tantra massage after clients told him he aroused them, and he eventually became a vocal proponent of the practice's benefits.
But he was told to cool his enthusiasm, he said, when he was hired to play Barney, a character he infused with all the physical warmth he could muster. Which was apparently a lot. (Bob West mostly supplied the character's voice.)
"I did know David was a very spiritual guy, very positive guy," Stephen White, the show's head writer from 1992-2005, told VICE. "He radiated energy. He was a positive person to be around."
Joyner, who still practiced tantra covertly, said his training helped him maintain energy and "an abundance of joy" during long set takes in the 70-pound Barney costume, in which temperatures could sometimes reach 120 degrees.
"Before I got into the 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,'" he told VICE. "That energy would always draw them in. Children are more connected spiritually."
Joyner launched his current practice in 2004 and sees two to four clients weekly. His website features effusive testimonials from a number of clients and a mission statement that reads: "Connecting your mind, body and spirit together as one, in perfect harmony. Achieving a higher and more blissful state of awareness to your sexuality, and who you are as a spiritual being."
But critics say the fact that some sessions have progressed to include intercourse, in some cases unprotected, is problematic and possibly illegal, despite whatever contracts he has clients sign.
"The fact that there's a spiritual component makes this even more complex, because the terms of engagement may have really been influenced by the participant's desire to be compliant with spiritual standards," Laura Palumbo of the National Sexual Violence Resource Center told VICE. "Especially if they're looking to that individual for guidance or leadership. It's not a level playing field."
White, the show's former head writer, told the magazine he was surprised when he learned about all the details of tantric practice.
"I thought it was an interesting transition for Barney," he said. "It's kind of still the 'I love you, you love me' deal, but different. I don't judge or anything, but that's a side of David I didn't know."
For his part, Joyner is at peace with his practice and the evolution that has brought him here.
"The energy I brought up [while] in the costume is based on the foundation of tantra, which is love," he said. "Everything stems, grows and evolves from love. Even when you have emotionally blocked energy, the best way to remove it is to remove it with love, and then replace it with God's divine love. Love heals and allows you to continue to grow."