One of my favorite websites from the past was the now defunct “F/lthyGorgeousTh/ngs” run by Debauchette (who seems to have disappeared altogether) and art historian Christina Voss (also MIA). It was a great subscriber driven magazine about sex, art and culture. The editors and I shared several discussions on topics like art and Cyprianism while they were doing a feature piece on my wife, Michelle L’amour (The Most Naked Woman).
Unfortunately, they were either ahead of their time (and low on subscribers) or the travail of running the site proved just to much time and work (see my other site, CookingForStrippers.com).
In any case, before they shut down for good, I downloaded all of the editions of this sexy little magazine and I’ve been going through them recently. With complete respect for the founders and editors, I plan to humbly post several of them here as a sort of “In Memoriam”. I have selected a few that I think will spur Cyprianism-related discussion.
Bad news is that, as it turns out, I only downloaded the first page of the articles. So you’ll have to accept that I’m teasing you with delicious content you can never have. I’m both sorry and amused for doing that.
First up is an interview of Betony Vernon by Christina Voss. It’s called “On the Importance of Ceremony” and I think you’ll find it fascinating. Her ideas about “sexual ceremony” are right in line with our Cyprian idea of “Pleasuria” – that at least once per month we should design our sexual encounters with as much exquisite planning as we are able. Cyprianism has understood since time immemorial that sexual ritual is vital to the overall health and well being of each of us, but especially our relationships. We applaud Ms. Vernon for being a leader in this charge.
/Betony Vernon on the Importance of Ceremony
Interview with Betony Vernon, Introduction by Christina Voss
When I think back on sexuality over the past fifteen years, a lot has changed, and a lot of that change is because of Betony Vernon. She brought high art aesthetics to sexuality at a time when erotic objects were called ‘novelties’ and, worse, ‘marital aids.’ When Betony introduced her designs – smooth forms designed to fit the body and enhance the sense of touch – we required a whole new terminology, and with it, a radical shift in how we perceive sexuality. Where sexual objects had always cheapened sex with their toxic materials and crass design, Betony’s jewel tools elevate the experience, encourage us to go slowly, to take pleasure in aesthetics and sensation. Because as a designer, she designs for the total experience, not just the beautiful surface.
Betony is American-born and based in Europe, both a designer and a true expert in sexual experience. She studied art history and metal-smithing at Virginia Commonwealth University and earned her Masters degree in Industrial Design at Domus Academy in Milan. In 1990, she opened her first atelier in Florence and went on to create jewelry for respected design houses, among them Missoni, Gianfranco Ferre, and Fornasetti. In 1996 she began to develop her ‘Paradise Found’ collection, which consisted of erotic jewels, and what she calls “jewel tools,” ultimately culminating in her ‘Boudoir Box,’ an exquisite, custom-made travel case containing a selection from the Paradise Found collection.
Since 2000, Betony has worked as a sex consultant. She holds sexual skills salons both privately and publicly in Europe and North America,and later this spring, she will also be available for consulting online at betonyvernon.com. She collaborates with renowned pioneers in the emerging field of sexual well-being, among them Sam Roddick, the founder of Coco de Mer. In 2004, Betony founded Paradise Found, a members-only salon in Paris to revive the spirit of the eighteenth-century social custom of the Salon, where like-minded lovers come together to expand on the fundamental theme of sexual satisfaction. She opened its extension, Eden, in 2008. Her work has appeared in numerous international design exhibitions, and she is completing her first book –Paradise Found: Sexual Common Sense and the Joy of Ceremony – due to be released later this year. It will become your bible on sexuality. I know it will become mine.
I chatted with Betony on the subject of sexual ritual and ceremony for this issue, and she’s offered us her insight into the importance of ceremony and the ways we can enhance our sexual experience. It’s valuable advice for everyone, male and female, single and attached. Next month, she’ll talk with us about her jewel tools.
So, to start, what is sexual ceremony or ritual? And why is it important?
If we consider the average duration of a sexual encounter, which most people define in the west as penetration that leads up to an orgasm, and which in men is associated with ejaculation, it can last anywhere between 3 and 15 minutes. In 3 to 15 minutes, most women will be racing to have one orgasm when their multi-orgasmic capacity will be revealed beyond that fifteen minutes. That means that there’s a whole world of orgasms left undiscovered.
It’s because we’re phallocentric. Men are phallocentric – and women have accommodated men by often masculinizing their orgasms – so for me, a sexual ceremony is all about prolonging the act, because the longer you play, the more senses you stimulate, the more you turn the whole body on and learn to engage the entire body as a sexual organ. The more you engage the body as a sexual organ, the more pleasure you’re going to have. The concept of ritual is to, first of all, to plan the encounter, plan out what you’re going to do, and organise the ceremonial space so that you are prepared to stroke all of the senses and the entire body, even beyond the genitals.
Men are reluctant to do this – they think you’re denying them an orgasm, when in reality you’re doing them a favor by saying “Back off baby… Slow down, don’t come yet because I want to come again.” And when they finally are allowed to come, they see stars. Ejaculation is still considered by many to be the symbol of manhood in absolute. For me – and the ceremony could not exist without it – the symbol of manhood is ejaculation control, no?
Women can get themselves off in three minutes if they are concentrated on their pleasure alone, just like a man, but it will result in genital-localized pleasures. The genitals are right in the center of our bodies. They’re like the center of a target. And for a man it’s the same. But when we extend the periods of time that we spend making love, and learn to turn the whole body on, we really get the circulation going. If we treat the whole body like a sexual organ, our entire body will be charged with sexual energy.
So, for me, the sexual ceremony is something you need to plan out, something you need to prepare your body for, your mind for, your space for, and you should be able to dedicate about three hours to it.
People tend to associate long bouts of sex with the early stages of a relationship, and it’s pretty common for people to feel – later in the relationship – like their sex lives are fading out. How can sexual ceremony be applied to a relationship?
It’s about building the sexual bond. Once a couple learns to ritualise their play time, quickies will cease to be their sexual staple.
Often married people and couples with children say, “Well, we just don’t have time for sex anymore.” In reality, your sexual well-being is fundamental to your overall well-being, and it’s the glue of the couple. So if you cannot find the time to create a sexual ritual and spend three full, uninterrupted hours for your relationship, at least once a month, then there is something wrong.
The sexual ceremony can last – in my opinion – three days because it’s not only about penetration but about full-body sensation. It’s also about simply enjoying each other and taking the time to eat, bathe, sleep and even take a walk to get some fresh air when your body demands these things. This will help to enhance the dimensional quality of the ritual. Food turns us on. Love and sex – food and sex – speak the same tongue, literally. So make sure you stock the fridge with light but sexy food.
(The article originally continued on for at least one more page.)
Eight Great reasons Betony Vernon and Cyprianism go hand in, ahem, hand.
VISIT BETONY VERNON AT BETONYVERNON.COM