As modern men and women, juggling careers, relationships, the fall-out from the recent financial crisis, and a bustling social life, it’s sometimes hard to devote time to nurturing yourself sexually. Sure, we’re all familiar with the quick bang, or the sex-laden morning shower, but how much time do we really spend pleasing ourselves, and our partners, without the distractions of our tech-obsessed existence?
It is this type of “fast sex” that sex educator and erotic jewelry designer Betony Vernon abhors. On a balmy Wednesday night, myself and thirty other lovely ladies (and two brave men) attended Vernon’s much-hyped sexual salon “The Art of Sexual Ceremony” at the exclusive venue Mister H, housed in the new Mondrian Hotel in SoHo. As we sipped on high-end cocktails, the beautifully statuesque Vernon enlightened us on the importance of taking back and owning our pleasure. By breaking down what she calls the “pleasure taboo,” Vernon believes that we can enrich our sex lives and as a result be happier people.
“Have you ever noticed how people walk down the street?” Vernon explained while fingering a leather crop. “We live in a stiff-hipped society. People walk around life with their sexual energies blocked.” Her solution? Treat the art of lovemaking as a sacred act, and embrace a slow, sensuous road to pleasure.
A former high-end jewelry designer, Betony Vernon was ousted from the fashion world after taking her erotic accessories to the mainstream market place. She now lives, breathes, and explores ways to enhance and educate people about the inherent joy of coupling, and encourages people to abolish categories in an effort to broaden sexual horizons. Employing philosophies of transcendentalism, tantra, and early Greco-Roman views on sensuality, Vernon pontificates on ways to prolong pleasure in a practical and user-friendly way.
In an effort to move away from the contemporary notion of what she calls “masculinized pleasure,” or the idea that the end of the sexual act is signified by ejaculation or orgasm, Vernon stressed the need to enliven the other parts of the body and to not place so much emphasis solely on the genital region. To “masculinize” your sex, is to only work a small fraction of your potential, and according to Vernon the average sexual act in America last a mere three to fifteen minutes.
While our overworked and undersexed society is a full of frustration and a general lack of sexual fulfillment, the Sexual Ceremony is a way to extend the time that we spend with our partner prolonging the pursuit of pleasure. Vernon insists that we must reprioritize our lives to leave more room for sensuality and satisfaction, and to move away from the type of “fast sex” that most of us are currently engaging in. And how can we make this transition? Accouterments that help to heighten and extend the lovemaking process—something that Vernon goes into great about in her upcoming debut book The Boudoir Bible due for release in 2012.
Another point, which Vernon stresses adamantly between delicate sips of Champagne, is the importance of breaking down the myths and misconceptions that affect our pleasure. One major example of this is pornography, with she says is the “worst teacher” when it comes to honing your sexual skill set and learning to please your partner. Vernon went on to explain what is called the “hysterical arch,” a term coined by the legendary sexologist Wilhelm Reich used to describe that iconic image of a woman arching her back in ecstasy commonly depicted in porn. This position may be aesthetically pleasing to men, but it actually cuts off blood from the pleasure center, hinders correct breathing, and inhibits sexual response. Instead of playing into some sexual role perpetuated by the male-dominated adult industry, Vernon advises that women should make sure to be comfortable, receptive, and ready to explore your pleasure and your lover’s pleasure openly.
As the evening comes to a close, Vernon leaves her salon attendees with one last point about the all-important Sexual Ceremony. “To gradually build tension, you have the body turned on so much that it becomes something that expands,” she explains about the importance of stretching out the pleasure process. “The arousal now will not be localized to the genitals and will move beyond to the whole body, which will leave you trembling.” I think we could all use a little bit of that.
For more information about Betony Vernon, check out her website.