Friday, 26 September 2014
Twitter is transformed into a gallery from where Ms Emma J. Styles exhibits her collection of photographs. Erotic photos of beautiful women, alluring, luring the viewer in, enticing the viewer with promises of fantasies to be fulfilled in every delicate detail.
I asked Emma if I could run a blog post about her collection of erotica and I was delighted when she gave her permission.
But I soon discovered that there is more to this tweeter than photographs. Ms Emma J. Styles is also a bestselling writer. I’m going to let Emma speak for herself. She’s also generously giving you an extract from her book.
My name is Emma Styles. I am a English married mother of two. I currently live between Kew, West London and Southern Spain. I have just completed my first book “First Tango In Paris”, which is a true-life account of my sexual experiences and adventures since stumbling into the very elegant but incredibly decadent and hedonistic Parisian swinging scene. The book documents intimately and often graphically many of the more salacious and debauched encounters over a ten-year period, whilst also portraying how I juggled the more predictable side of family/working life with my quest for even greater sexual escapades.
From that very first eye opening evening I just knew Paris was going to be an inspirational turning point in my life. Until that moment I was a young stay at home Mum to two living a very suburban life in West London, coping with all the normal day to day stresses and strains of running a home and raising a small family. Of course this proved exciting and fulfilling in itself, however, that initial weekend opened my eyes to reveal something so different and so sexually gratifying, that after several late evening deliberations over a glass of wine with my husband, we both agreed entirely that it was something that we both wanted to explore further. I found that having my husband’s full approval, coupled with his desire to give me free rein to indulge and to fulfill even my wildest fantasies was exceptionally liberating and empowering.
After a period of throwing ourselves, or more to the point throwing myself head first in to the elegant yet completely riotous sexual freedom that Paris, it’s clubs and people had to offer, whether indulging as a couple or flying solo as a single woman, I began to structure both the family side of things with my new found hunger for wild, and on many occasions anonymous erotic encounters. I have discovered almost endless opportunities to turn any situation into a full blown sexual adventure, from a brief and teasing flash in a bar to a willing participant amongst a group of men in the afternoon clubs of Paris, which caters to the physical needs of a certain kind of confident and self-assured woman.
I very quickly became aware that the French in particular have a completely different outlook to most other cultures in the way they behave and express themselves sexually. In the vast majority of French society circles and in the many thriving chic and sophisticated Parisian “Clubs Privées” being a liberated woman who enthusiastically pursued and achieved her sexual desires is regarded with great respect and the utmost admiration.
Both my husband and myself find that the wide and diverse range of people who indulge in this hedonistic style of sexual gratification are some of the most interesting and intellectually inspiring people we’ve encountered. In fact many of our close friends followed in our footsteps and all say what a positive and emboldening experience it has been for them.
Simply having the knowledge that as well as the hugely rewarding family life at home, there was also a completely self-indulgent side of life, one that was there to be grasped with both hands and relished. I’ve found this in itself to be a huge thrill, both mentally and physically. It has certainly added a very positive “other” dimension to daily life.
I soon discovered that this sexual freedom that we had allowed each other to explore has simply strengthened our marriage. The level of trust that was already in place has only been enhanced further by the openness in which we approach and discuss all situations together, whether sexual or life in general. Almost from the very outset my husband adored me recounting my liaisons and outrageous shenanigans to him (no detail sparred), whether as a teaser over dinner - leading to our relentlessly exciting bedroom games, or wherever and whenever a situation presented itself. It simply keeps everything fresh and frisky.
My main reason to write “First Tango In Paris” was, as “erotic fiction” has recently become a hugely popular genre, I felt that it was all well and good reading about fictional characters in fictional situations, but thought that from my point of view it would be much more inspiring and liberating to read a wholly factual account from a person who has experienced it all in reality, in genuine and existing clubs and locations. Obviously, as with all things in life there are the disreputable places that are to be avoided, however, in my book I document many of the finer establishments where one can go to turn fantasy into reality in the blink of an eye (the majority of which are just a click away on the internet). Go explore your inner desires you’ll be surprised at just how elated and revitalized you’ll feel. For the ladies reading this I strongly recommend you get the man or men in your life to have a sneaky read, their reactions may just surprise you! (at the very least a trip to Paris should be on your wish list)
The following excerpt is one of that will give you a flavor of the book, and an insight into one of the numerous elegant but highly decadent situations I was party to!
Recently, my favoured pastime is when I’m alone at our place in Spain I venture the ten minute walk to the local nude/fun beach and get naked and just see what potential situations develop in the heat! I’m always happy when a young “senor” or two park themselves nearby. That when my exhibitionist streak really explodes!
The book is 98 thousand words, covering the first ten years; there will be a concluding book bringing my escapades up to date later in the year.
Emma Styles is @emmajstyles on Twitter
The book is available to download at all Amazon outlets worldwide; here it is at Amazon UK. And at Amazon U.S. It is at Barnes and Noble: And at ibooks and itunes.
And you can view more of Emma's erotic photograph collection, here at her blog; a new pic every day!
Friday, 19 September 2014
It’s been a while since I’ve thought about Fifty Shades of Grey; it’s been even longer since I’ve said anything nasty about E.L.James’ venture into the Erotica genre. But with the News channels buzzing last week about the film adaptation of Fifty Shades, directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson, due to premier on Saint Valentine’s Day next year, I got to thinking about the book all over again.
It cannot be denied that James’ book is an overwhelming success. Her sales figures are astronomical; Fifty Shades is loved by millions. The book has had 7,674 reviews on Amazon alone; it’s amazing!
So what am I griping about?
It’s been about two years since I read the book. I wanted to like it, I really did. My beloved genre of Erotica, at last, having a voice. For far too many years Erotica has lived in the shadows; no one seeming to know how to define it. It’s not Romance and it’s not Pornography; it’s somewhere in between. And, as I say I really did want to like it.
BUT I was BORED! And that, I cannot forgive.
So much has been said about the irritating characterization of Anastasia; her constant bickering with her “inner goddess” and her whiny “subconscious.” But where the book really began to fail for me was James’ failure to establish a cohesive, consistent character in either of the two lead characters. Neither was likable; neither was believable enough to make me care enough about what happened to either of them. As I was reading, it seemed to me that the actions, and reactions of a particular character was so out of touch with what had been presented about them that, for me, the story fell apart. I could not trust the characters and I could not get lost in the tale. I was always painfully aware that I was reading a book. The narrative meanders on with no noticeable change, no plot driven personal growth evident in either character.
In his review of Fifty Shades, Patrick Whitehurst says;
“In some books main characters are expected to remain stagnant with little growth. Fleming's James Bond for instance, but in a book like this, you pray for it.”
Rita Reger’s view is;
“Overall, the book left the reader with a sense of bewilderment, confusion and annoyance. Certainly not the stimulation that it sets out for. I found myself wondering, as smart as Anastasia was supposed to be, how dumb was she to continue to dribble and drool over this self-absorbed, immature and emotionally stunted oaf who had never really been successfully painted as "intriguing" or "dangerous." In my mind, he came across as just beautiful, rich and annoying. He probably smelled good, I'll grant the girl that much, but, still - not enough to warrant that kind of simpering, tripping over herself, compelled "moth to a flame" complex he seemed to generate in her. Sure, there are lots of dumb, beautiful men out there, but does that warrant regressing to 13-year-old teen heartthrob idolatry? She was painted as smart, savvy, capable and sassy, yet responded as naive, inexperienced and insecure. Christian also had the mood swings of a psychopath and was even less three dimensional than Anastasia. It felt like random facts about him were simply thrown together from different jigsaw puzzle boxes (he's had a screwed-up history, he plays piano, he's rich, he's mean, he makes mysterious phone calls to Darfur, he pilots a plane, he likes to spank people, etc.) with no attempt to actually integrate them into a cohesive picture that really tells you who this man is. And maybe that's the point - he's not a man, but a screwed-up, selfish little pouty boy with too much money. There was no explanation, no great reveal, not even an enjoyable journey along the way.
At the end of five hundred-plus pages of confusion and annoyance, you still have no idea what the book was supposed to be about, what its theme was or what target audience it is supposed to appeal to ... or why? Keep the Fifty Shades drawn. If he's supposed to be the fantasy man, I'll take a rain check, and a real man, instead.”
Although Anastasia is irresistibly drawn to Christian Grey sexually, she cannot budge from her position that “something” must have happened to him to have allured him into Sadomasochism. She cannot just accept him as he is with all his kinks; if she’d told him that she couldn’t deal with his predilections and walked away, that would be honourable. He must be changed, in other words “made normal.”
I have no idea whether Ana succeeds in making Christian Grey “normal.” The first book was enough for me; I don’t know what happens in the rest of the trilogy. I had no intention of investing anymore emotional energy in James’ one dimensional characters.
Can our sexual identity be changed or is it fluid? That’s a tricky one – a question worthy of a blog post all of its own. At a very basic level, I would say that you can make someone realise that their desire to do something is wrong, or just plain distasteful – but you cannot take away their desire to do whatever it is. A look at paedophilia illustrates that very point – a paedophile can be made to understand the seriousness of his paraphilia – right up to the point where he stops placing himself in situations where he has access to children, but you cannot take away his desire for sexual contact with children. This has been illustrated so many times – while incarcerated, the offender undergoes intensive therapy with the best psychologists and psychoanalysts on the planet – but the desire is still there -- you cannot stop his dreams and fantasies. He may never offend again, the loss of his liberty is too big a price to pay – but tragically, some do.
Or if I have not made it clear what I’m talking about – an alcoholic can be rehabilitated. He can stop drinking; full stop. But the desire for alcohol is still there; the craving may diminish, but his best ever fantasy would be to drain a bottle of Jack Daniels, or a pint of his favourite beer.
So what’s going on with Christian Grey and his need for bdsm? We learn that at one time, when he was a young man, he was seduced into the role of submissive by a Dominant lady. A position that he responded to and apparently enjoyed. “Aha” – Ana thinks! That’s what lured him into bdsm – at one time he was “normal”— it’s the fault of this scheming woman. But that is not really the point is it? Bdsm requires a negotiation of position. The participants, however many there are, have to be consenting – otherwise, it’s just plain old abuse. By allowing himself to be allured by this older, Dominant woman and going along with whatever she wants him to do he is consenting – he is enjoying the role play.
So, you get the idea that I am not happy with James’ book. Neither is the bdsm community. Their view is that it treats bdsm proclivities as symptomatic of a messed up mentality that needs to be cured through true love. James portrays a relationship that is abusive rather than fully consensual and condones practices that are deeply unsafe. They see the book as unrepresentative and irresponsible.
I said earlier that I was bored; never more so when Ana wades through that turgid contract that Christian Grey wants her to sign. It’s supposed to be sexy – it isn’t. It’s dull. I’m supposed to think; “wow – can he really expect that? Will Ana agree to do that?” I’ve waded through a very, very similar contract, so similar it is uncanny, in Leopold Von Sacher-Masoch’s 1870 book Venus in Furs. Christian Grey’s contract for Ana is indeed so uncannily similar to Sacher-Masoch’s contract drawn up by the voluptuous, whip wielding beauty, Wanda von Dunajew for the submissive, Severin von Kusiemski, that I am tempted to throw plagiarism into the mix.
So what exactly is going on with Fifty Shades? If it is such a ridiculous book, how did it get to be top of the Erotica best sellers lists? Did writers and publishers of Erotica take their eye off the ball? Erotica was a cosy little genre; we all had our favourite writers, even if they remained unheard of by the general reading public. Fifty Shades is an example of excellent marketing; indeed, creative marketing and James has a background in marketing. She brought her own bland version of Erotica to readers who didn’t even realise that there was an Erotica genre.
Oh, Erotica was definitely there, it sat on the bookshelves gathering dust; you had to know what you were looking for to find it.
My own reading illustrates this point. I’d always been turned on by the Victorian writers; Emily, Charlotte and Anne Brontë. I was in no doubt that those ladies, when they talked about Romance, were talking about sex and dark desire – particularly in Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights. The smouldering Heathcliffe is a template for anyone keen to indulge in a bit of extreme bdsm. The only contemporary fiction I could find, which hinted at seduction was in the Romance shelves of book shops and my local library. Then I picked up a Mills and Boon Romance by Samantha Hunter, “Virtually Perfect”. Here was a woman writing Romance who was not afraid to call a penis a cock. She wrote about orgasms, real orgasms whereas Barbara Cartland wrote about “soaring spirits and being at one with the stars”; Samantha Hunter wrote about cuming, the clitoris and ejaculation and I realised that if lovely “safe” Mills and Boon were prepared to stick their neck out and publish such stuff – well there must be something, somewhere that I was missing. I Googled “Erotica” and I was blown away. Here was what I needed; I never looked back and eventually began to write my own Erotica – the stuff that I like to read.There was a massive bunch of readers just begging for more than “just Romance”.
But oh, those wonderful writers of Erotica, writers who have been crafting their books superbly for years; they still remain unheard of by the reading public. Please, lovers of Fifty Shades, read some real Erotica. And before “Anon” or several little baby “anons” tell me that my books are crap and should be written on toilet paper, I AM NOT talking about my books! I am talking about great writers like Patrick Califia, M.Christian, Janine Ashbless; they are all there on Amazon! Look, I’ll even make it easy for you! Get the Master/slave anthology, edited by N.T.Morley; it’s a cool selection of “tales from the top and tales from the bottom.” I tell you what else you should go for! “Topping from Below” by Laura Reese and her latest book “Panic Snap” -- now there’s Erotica, real Erotica that will blow you away!
And just to make it even easier – here are the links! Master/slave at Amazon U.S. and at Amazon U.K. Here is Topping from Below by Laura Reese at Amazon U.S and at Amazon U.K. And here’s Laura’s latest, Panic Snap at Amazon U.S.and at Amazon U.K.
Finally, for your amusement, here’s a cool review of Fifty Shades, from C.E. Wallis, on Amazon. Made me smile…
“Oh My, I mean really, Oh my, oh my, oh my......No readers, I have not just been whipped (pardon the pun) into a bosom heaving wreck by the size of my partner's "impressive length". I have in fact, just dragged myself through to the final page of this ludicrous nonsense and found myself almost speechless. Almost...
The main character, Christian Grey, is quite obviously deranged. This does not however, deter Ana, who for some inexplicable reason, has spent so long with her head in a book that she has never looked in a mirror and noticed that she is a "total babe". A "total babe" who also happens to be a 21 year old virgin. No, Ana, in the space of 3 weeks, falls so crazily in love with "Mr Grey" that she manages to bypass the whole deranged thing and instead concentrates all her efforts on a) going from virgin to porn star faster than Hussain Bolt off the blocks and b) deciding whether to let him hit her with stuff. As you do.
As for Mr Grey, obviously, readers can't be allowed to see him as simply a deranged, manipulative psycho so let's give him smouldering good looks, a few zillion quid to throw around and hey, and this is the clincher, the ability to love art and music (y'know, like Nazi's do in the war films). (Note - the bit where he plays the "haunting" piano piece, semi naked, with his eyes closed actually made me laugh so much that I almost wet myself - in a non-orgasmic way. Check it out....enjoy! ). As if that wasn't enough he also has a personal and financial interest in saving the world from famine. Just that old world peace and cancer to sort out and then hey, job's a good `un. I mean really, how did the world ever shamble along without him? So what made this beautiful, charismatic and talented man so brutal? Could it be a traumatic childhood perhaps? Why, yes I think it could...yaaaaawn....
So, the 2 beautiful people come together (Oh my, another pun) and the rest of the book is basically about Ana wondering if she should let him hit her with stuff and then letting him hit her with stuff and Mr Grey wondering if he should stop hitting her with stuff but still hitting her with stuff while she whines on about wanting "more" love and less of the hitting stuff and he whines on about how he doesn't know how to give "more" cos he has only ever hit people with stuff.
In between these nonsensical blatherings they have lots of sex, which, like piano playing, speaking foreign languages and making zillions of quid, he possesses boundless expertise. Obviously. Luckily, virginal Ana also has her "inner Goddess" to guide her on the art of sex play and soon becomes an orgasm machine, chucking them out all over the place in a rampant, fevered haze of lust. So much so that she overlooks Mr Grey's general bastardry and bends over nicely for a few beatings. She is also too enraptured to take much notice his incessant stalking, which would have got lesser men arrested. Oh, and his `feeder' tendencies that, if successful, would have surely added a good 10 stone onto Ana's lovely buttocks which in turn would have incurred the cost of a refurb' to the `red room of pain' when his ceiling shackles needed reinforcing. Luckily he can afford it.
As many other readers have noted, the writing is appallingly poor and, if you removed the sex bits, would resemble a love struck teenager's diary. It's all been said before so I won't dwell on it. I will just say, if you are looking for erotic fiction, look elsewhere, if you are looking for an unintentionally laugh out loud bit of fluff and nonsense then crack open a bottle, put your feet up and prepare to be amused. Personally I would just say that there goes a day of my life that I will never get back. Oh my!”
Friday, 12 September 2014
We’re all familiar with Henry Fuseli’s painting, “The Nightmare”. The feelings of stress and anxiety that the image evokes. Freud would consider this work as an example of “the uncanny.” The “unheimlich,” the unfriendly world of the shrieking horror of our unconscious. In our unconscious dwells the taboo; those dark secret yearnings of our worst nightmares. “The hag ridden realm of the unconscious.”
I’m still learning about Jung, but I think he would say that this painting is an example of an ancient story; a mythology. A piece of our collective unconscious. A story that is whispered, by candlelight, while snow falls softly outside. Jung would also talk about “the shadow.” For our emotional sanity, we must acknowledge the shadow. Recognise that we do have indecencies, the taboo, in our psyche. Only then can we live healthy, sane lives. We shun the taboo, yet are drawn to it. It fascinates us, in the same way that we cannot turn away from Fuseli’s “Nightmare.”
Fuseli painted the picture in 1781. He produced at least three other versions of “The Nightmare.”
But what is our place in this painting? We are the voyeur, gazing in horror at the potential violation of this beautiful young woman. We anticipate the violation hungrily, at the same time screaming our denial. There is the stench of sulphur, the ghastly shriek of tortured demons. Why does Fuseli want to show us this depravity? Is he telling us that he knows our darkest, deepest secrets? Is he telling us about his own contaminated desires? Why does Fuseli want us here?
Whatever Fuseli’s reason, his painting is an image to haunt our waking hours. To make us afraid of sleep. To dread our dreams. The sinister creak on the stairs, the screams of hell, echoing down through eternity. It is Fuseli’s “Nightmare.”
Contemporary critics often found the work scandalous due to its sexual themes. A few years before he painted “The Nightmare,” Fuseli had fallen passionately in love with a woman named Anna Landholdt in Zürich. Landholdt was the niece of his friend, the Swiss physiognomist Johann Kaspar Lavater. Fuseli wrote of his fantasies to Lavater in 1779:
“Last night I had her in bed with me—tossed my bedclothes hugger-mugger—wound my hot and tight-clasped hands about her—fused her body and soul together with my own—poured into her my spirit, breath and strength. Anyone who touches her now commits adultery and incest! She is mine, and I am hers. And have her I will.…”
Fuseli’s painting, likely influenced Mary Shelley. Shelley would have been familiar with the painting; her parents, Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin, knew Fuseli well. In a scene from her Gothic novel Frankenstein, (1818), where the creature has murdered Victor’s wife, Shelley seems to draw from Fuseli’s canvas:
"She was there, lifeless and inanimate, thrown across the bed, her head hanging down, and her pale and distorted features half covered by hair."
The novel and Fuseli's biography share a parallel theme: just as Fuseli's incubus is infused with the artist's emotions in seeing Landholdt marry another man, Shelley's monster promises to get revenge on Victor on the night of his wedding. Like Frankenstein's monster, Fuseli's demon symbolically seeks to forestall a marriage.
Fuseli is often quoted as saying, "One of the most unexplored regions of art are dreams".
Tom Lubbock, writing in The Independent, Friday, 7th April 2006, gives us a 21st century reading of Fuseli’s painting.
Can a picture be scary, like a film? You might think not, for a simple reason. What makes a movie scary is not the subject alone, but the timing. You need sequence, you need editing, to create suspense and shock, the horrible realisation, the sudden jolt. And this a picture cannot do - because a picture (so one old theory goes) is all taken in at a glance, in a single blink.
Of course, this is sort of true. Looking at a picture is not like watching a film or turning the pages of a book. You grasp what's going on quite quickly (well, depending on what you notice). A whodunit in paint would be hard to do. But in another way, the glance theory is quite wrong. The eye sees a picture, not in a blink, but in a series of fixations that dart and scatter across its surface.
But the "timing" of a picture - that's something else again. Even though the scene is all before you, a picture can pace and direct your attention. Though it lacks the syntax of a strip cartoon, it can create episodes and sequence and surprises. The sequence may not correspond to literal eye-fixations. (Words on a page have an order, after all, but the eye darts all over the page as it reads). It's a matter of managing the viewer's interest.
To see a pictorial edit at work, take that classic scary picture, Henry Fuseli's “The Nightmare.” The voluptuously flopped sleeping woman is visited in her dreams by a revolting incubus and a frightening horse. All very Gothic, Freudian etc. But put psychology to one side, and look at stage-management.
Look at the picture, and watch how you look at it. It may seem upfront enough, with its three prominent characters, a woman and a couple of creatures. And it's true that these elements are clear(ish) in your field of vision. But you don't attend to them all at once. Fuseli controls your involvement.
“The Nightmare,” is not a fluent, unfolding composition, where one thing leads smoothly to another. It's made up of separate incidents, each requiring a distinct act of attention. Move between them, and attention jumps. What's more, these incidents have an order. The picture arranges things so that you move and jump in sequence. This still image is cunningly and abruptly edited.
The brightest patch is the woman's bust, her breasts, shoulder, throat, cheek, closed eyes, the unconscious mind in the helpless and exposed body. This is the first "shot" in the edit. It is not simply eroticism. It uses eroticism to manage the viewer's attention, and it won't just be the eyes of the male viewer that are immediately drawn to this area. Sexy female vulnerability, with a spotlight on it, is a general hot grab. That's where Fuseli begins his sequence. Though far from the centre, it is the picture's hub, the point from which everything else is paced.
This hub, you notice, is not the whole woman, just a part. The woman's body is itself delivered in shots. The bust is one incident. The left forearm and the flaccid hand, trailing its fingers on the floor, are another. (There's a clear jump of attention as you look between them: this - that.) And the rest of her, the tapering mermaid's tail curve, ending in a single toe-point, is a third shot, another jump. This fragmenting of the passive figure is not only fetishism. It's editing. You the viewer have to put this distrait body together from its parts. It makes it all the more passive, less in control of itself.
And then, the monster! - the devilish hunched incubus, that squats on the woman's belly. The jump juxtaposition is obvious here: compact brown lump set upon stretched-out, languid white curve. There's an extra scari-ness in the way this figure lurks. Its lower half is shadowy and formless, blending into the gloom behind, not really anything. Its hideous shape and nature only come to light, materialise, as you go up, with a gradual realisation.
What adds to the fear, when you see what the creature is, is that it isn't actually doing anything to her. It's just sitting on her, inert, like a monkey-ornament. It's not performing a horrible act. It has some calm and horrible purpose, which is worse. And it turns its bulging eyes to meet the viewer's in a way that shows a mind at work, and may invite complicity.
But as this horror is sinking in, the scene's big shock effect strikes: on the far left the crazy nightmare horse, flash-lit, eyes burning, hair standing on end, barges into the picture out of the darkness, out of nowhere, out of control. It enters suddenly, and Fuseli depicts it like something that is seen suddenly, its form not fully grasped. He paints a Francis Bacon creature, in elusive, flickering highlights and blurs that don't integrate into a single solid. It is hysteria and suddenness embodied. Without its white-hot eyeballs, the horse would hardly read as "head" at all.
The scene carefully paces its horrors. It is made of shots and jumps, gradual realisations, sudden shocks. It is thoroughly and dramatically timed. True, the editing of a picture is always more flexible than the frame-sequence of a cartoon strip or the cuts of a film. You can always go back, you can move between things in other sequences, every part can be related to every other. You can do your own edit. But still, a scene such as The Nightmare, emphatically divided into its distinct and horrid incidents, puts a potential scare into your every move.
Thursday, 11 September 2014
Friday, 5 September 2014
A camel composed of copulating humans; gouache painting, 19th century India. Wellcome Images
The Wellcome Collection relaunches in November with an eye-popping show about sex. From scientific studies to sex toys through the ages, objects designed to stop masturbation and much more, it's a survey of human sexuality in all its complicated, kinky and sometimes strange glory.
From raunchy ancient carvings to old-fashioned sex toys, all things erotica will be the focus of a new exhibition set to open later this year.
The Institute of Sexology, held at London’s Wellcome Collection, will feature more than 200 objects including condoms, films and paintings of sex in the first UK exhibition to bring together the pioneers of sex study.
Key figures in the study of sex from Sigmund Freud to Virginia Johnson will be a focus, as the exhibition explores their experiments and research.
The show promises everything from “Alfred Kinsey’s complex coded questionnaires to Samoan jewellery to sex machines” and will look at how sexologists have “shapes our ever-evolving attitudes towards sexual behaviour and identity,” organisers have said.
Artworks exploring sexual identity from the likes of Zanele Muholi, Sharon Hayes and Timothy Archibald will be on display, alongside objects from Henry Wellcome’s vast erotica collection.
A carved ivory statue in the form of a copulating man and woman. The Science Museum.
A collection of sexual aids, with instructions, in a wooden box, by Arita Drugs and Rubber Goods Company, Kobe, Japan. 1930-1935
Cylindrical lekythos with black figure decoration showing scenes of copulation probably from Attica, Greece, 550 BC – 500BC
Ivory shell, divided into 2 halves; 1 half showing female genitalia, the other half showing a woman looking at an erotic picture
Jugum penis anti-masturbation device; steel, nickel plated, probably British 1880-1920
Les charms de la masturbation; page from Invocation a l’more chant philosophique (A virtuoso of the good fashion) circa 1825 (Wellcome images)
Lili Elba watercolour, attributed to Gerda Wegener circa 1929. Elba had 5 gender reassignment surgeries. (Wellcome images.)
Masked man in a pink tutu. 1840-1902 (Wellcome images)
Painting manuscript of the Kama Sutra, Nepal, 1928 (Wellcome images)
Peruvian pottery vessel with handle, neck broken off, showing a couple engaged in anal intercourse.
Photo of a man dressed in women’s clothing. (Wellcome images)
Plaster impressions from scenes showing erotic scenes. The Science Museum (The Wellcome Library)
Plate from The Secret Companion, a medical work on Onanism, or Self Pollution, with the Best Mode of Treatment of all Cases of Nervous and Sexual Debility, Impotency etc. From 1845, Wellcome Images.
Porcelain fruit, hinged, contains male and female copulating; Oriental.
Solid brass phallic amulet in for of Priapus with hindquarters of a horse. Graeco-Roman 100 BC
Veedee vibratory massage box. German, early 20th century.
Woman riding a man; coloured postcard. Circa 1840-1902
There will be live events, performance art and discussions to encourage the observation, analysis and questioning of sexual theories.
Curator Kate Forde hopes the exhibition will “become a living repository for visitors’ stories, inspiring debate and self-reflection on this most fascinating and vital of topics”.
The Institute of Sexology runs from 20th November later this year until 20th September 2015 and will form part of a “Sexology Season of activity” around the country.
Wellcome Collection is located at 183 Euston Road, Bloomsbury, London NW1 2BE
Friday, 29 August 2014
DURING most days of the week, Rebecca, a 35-year-old mother from Melbourne, lives the life of a regular suburban mum.
She does the school drop off and kindergarten duty, goes for coffee with the other school mums and plays basketball with her two young daughters in the local park.
But for three nights a week, Rebecca slips into her black leather corset, thigh-high boots and PVC mini skirt, and transforms herself into her dominatrix alter-ego, Mistress Jane.
She teaches women — at private classes, hen’s parties and public workshops about how to spice up their sex lives by incorporating elements of BDSM.
“I’m passionate about women getting what they want from their sex lives and exploring and experimenting,” Rebecca, who prefers not to use her last name, told news.com.au.
“I go with my big bag of tricks and I teach women how to tie men up and give them a good spanking,” she said.
Her business, Tamed By Jane, is so successful that she’s able to rely solely on her income from dominatrix work.
“I love it. As soon as you put the costume on, you’re transformed. It’s like putting on a layer of confidence,” she said.
Rebecca says she feels like she lives a double life.
“I don’t talk about my second life [as a dominatrix]. I keep it quiet,” she said. “It is strange. I find it a bit difficult to relate to the other mums at school.
“When I meet new people I keep it to myself. I’ve got girlfriends who live ‘vanilla’ lives and then I’ve got my main circle of friends and they’re the non-vanilla ones I can be myself around and we can talk about anything.
“I’m not ashamed of what I do. I just keep it to myself to protect my children.”
Her daughters, aged three and six, are too young to understand what their mum does for a living.
“Everything I do is after they go to bed or when they’re not with me. It’s completely over their heads,” Rebecca said.
“They’ve seen my company logo and they love it because it’s a cartoon of a dominatrix. They don’t know what a dominatrix is.
“They’ve seen my boots and say, ‘We love your gumboots mummy, can we wear your gumboots?’”
Rebecca is separated from her husband (the father of her children) but is now in an open relationship with her partner of a year.
“It’s the best of both worlds. We don’t have many rules, to be honest. We’re both free to play away from each other.
“He’ll see other people and I’ve got other partners as well. But then we can also play together — we go to swinger’s parties and we’re able to have fun together.
“We’re quite different to some couples who start off monogamous and then decide to explore an open relationship.
“My partner and I met each other and from the first date I said, ‘I’m not looking for a monogamous relationship’ and he said, ‘That’s fantastic, that’s exactly what I’m looking for’.
“He was looking for somebody who would allow him to fulfil his desires and I was looking for someone who would let me play with other people.
“Neither of us believe you can get everything from the one person.”
The couple have one rule — “to put each other first” — and always debrief with each other after a sexual interaction with another partner.
“It’s totally up to the other person about how much detail we go into. We’ll say, ‘Do you want the blow-by-blow or just a quick summary?’ Usually it’s somewhere in the middle, for me.”
[My partner] says after being with someone he feels closer to me. He feels so grateful and lucky to have a partner that lets him do this. He says, ‘I’m so lucky to have a girlfriend that lets me do what I want to do’.
Rebecca says the couple practice the concept of “compersion” - “the idea that you can get pleasure from the thought of your partner getting pleasure.”
“If something good happens to them — it can be sexual, if your partner has an awesome night with someone else or even if they get a new job — and all you feel is joy because they’re getting something that they want.
“It doesn’t come naturally to most people. I think it’s human nature to feel jealous, but if someone you love is happy, why wouldn’t you be happy that something good is happening to them?”
And she says the main message she teaches to her clients is communication.
“There are certain ways you bring things up with your partner — you can’t just bring out the ropes — you have to talk about it. Don’t be afraid of talking about what you want.
“You have to be honest and true to yourself, accept what you want and embrace your kinks,” she said.
Jane is @tamedbyjane on Twitter
Friday, 22 August 2014
There’s an old church built of stone; they don’t build structures like that anymore. I have an image in my mind of grey age. Yes, I am correct; the writer, Christina Harding tells me that the church has been standing for centuries. Something else they don’t do anymore is put Gargoyles on the roofs of churches; and there are gargoyles here, on this building, another testament to age. Yes, the gargoyles too have been perched here for centuries, watching and waiting. It’s spooky, for whom are the gargoyles watching and waiting? A tremor tickles up my spine…
Trisha, our protagonist, walks to the entrance of the church. The gargoyles watch her. Trisha challenges them with a stony glance; she has no fear of their menacing gaze. And this first chapter of Christina Harding’s erotic novel, “Underneath the Gargoyles,” is defined by watching, looking; voyeurism drives the narrative.
It is choir practice in the church. Trisha is asked by Father Cohen, the choir master, to sing a solo. Trisha watches her boyfriend, Kyle as she sings; she watches Kyle watching her. The novel is in the first person and the reader is privy to Trisha’s rapacious, lascivious thoughts; Kyle naked. Kyle’s swaying, proud erection; she replays the ripping thrust of Kyle’s erection penetrating her. And Kyle watches Trisha watching him. Trisha also watches Kyle’s dad; Father Cohen. She notes his strong forearms and wonders how long it has been since he has been with a woman. She also wonders about his body beneath his priest’s robes; her eyes undress him. As Trisha sings her lovely lament, she watches Father Cohen’s eyes fixing on her, watching the rise and fall of her ample breasts.
And if fetishistic voyeurism drives the narrative, fetishistic exhibitionism is hot on its tail. As Trisha sings, she knows that she is turning on the two men, father and son and that thought alone is enough to provoke an arousal which cannot be ignored.
Trisha’s friend, Olivia watches all three.
Father and son; Trisha has had one. She wants both.
Christina Harding’s protagonist is defined by her outrageous promiscuity.
Trisha’s fingers stray to her clitoris and she masturbates; she needs to have sex soon, very, very soon. Remember, this is all taking place in a church. The air is heavy, scented, saturated, not with the odour of holy incense, but with the stink of sexual tension and Trisha’s giddy pheromones. Olivia watches her friend’s erotic display. And the Gargoyles watch too. And the fetishistic ending to this story will blow you away, really it will; it blew me away.
I cannot believe that this is Christina’s first venture into erotica, but it is. She has learnt and honed her craft well. Christina knows exactly how to titillate her reader, how to seduce; she writes carefully, with her aroused reader always in mind. She knows how to keep her reader reading. Trisha’s sexual antics are raw and lusty. I’m getting a vicarious thrill from Trisha’s predatory demands for sex; she wants it now and she wants it a lot. Christina has indeed created a monster; but Trisha is a monster who delights the reader. She’s sacrilegious; relishing in the profanity of having sex in the graveyard and she has made me laugh out loud at her refreshingly, guilt free, outrageous behaviour; read this book and you will be shocked and delighted at Trisha’s healthy yearning for sex. No hang ups for this lady; she’s refreshing. A strong young woman who turns sexual gratification into an art form.
Christina has created a book of Erotica that will delight the lover of the genre. She writes with a style and panache that other writers of the genre will envy. Christina Harding is a bold, provocative, creative writer; absolutely and most definitely, more, more, more from her…please.
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