Category Archives: Uncategorized

Are You There Universe? It’s Me, Hayley.

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The Internet is a strange place. It’s even more bizarre that people, like myself, pen blogs divulging personal information, secret feelings and urges, and intimate meanderings for strangers, like yourself, to read. It’s a little like my theory about one-night stands: It’s easier to throw yourself into wild abandon with a stranger rather than a constant partner because there’s no expectations, and you’ll—god willing—never seen this anonymous bedfellow again. Basically you can get as freaky as you want with no judgment, repercussions, or issues to plague your performance. But you also run the risk of leaving the tryst orgasm free—but that’s a whole other story …

What is it about the anonymity of the Internet that makes us so brave? Why can we bear our soul, our fantasies, our insecurities, and our fears to a cacophony of mouse clicks and faceless screens? This idea makes me think of a televised obsession of mine, the cult-favorite MTV show Catfish. In case you haven’t watched this ubiquitous small screen phenom—which is an offshoot of a documentary with the same name—this show profiles aspiring lovers who meet on the Internet and have yet to connect face-to-face. They share secrets and desires with each other using the Internet as their conduit, confiding in each other like a normal, non-cyber partnership. The catch? Many of these Internet relationships are founded on lies.

Hidden or fake identities, picture stealing, and general dishonesty inform these Catfish tales, resulting in broken hearts and dashed dreams. Fueled by insecurity, jealously, or curiosity, the duplicitous lover-to-be or “catfish” assumes a different Internet-only identity and peruses the web seeking a potential mark—er, mate. My husband and I watch as these safe-from-a-distance virtual relationships unfurl into a deeply human discourse about loneliness, alienation, and the need for connections and communication. Why is it so hard to just reach out and touch a corporeal being rather than hide behind a photoshopped avatar?

After a brief hiatus I am back to blogging. Part of the reason why I stopped was because I wasn’t even sure if I was helping people connect to a deeper understanding of themselves as holistically sensual beings—the real purpose behind my blog—or if anyone was even reading it at all. WordPress can feel alienating. Much like the nature of relationships, the things that attracted me to the Internet or the perceived anonymity of blogging are also the things that repelled me. I crave connections, feedback, a community of like-minded men and women to delve into the deeper issues. While I might get a “like” or a comment here and there, sometimes I feel like I am writing in a vacuum. Is anyone out there?

That was until I logged back in to post about a friend’s amazing lingerie company and realized that my humble blog had taken on a life of its own. Despite my absence, Venus in Heels continuously attracts visitors—who cares that much of the traffic comes from unsavory keywords or sexed-up searches. While the search term “blowjobs” or “brothel girl” might bring them to my blog, they actually stay for a while and continue to navigate. So, thank you for coming—in whatever capacity.

Sweet Nothings for Fearless Femmes: Blackbird Underpinnings

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Blackbird Underpinnings, photo courtesy of Kelly Puleio

If you are a frequent reader of Venus in Heels, then it’s apparent that I’m a huge advocate of all-things sex-positive and obsessed with the notion of women feeling empowered through sensual expression. Whether this is by reading steamy lit from Anais Nin, exploring a new dimension of pleasure with a partner or through solo hands-on research, or just donning sweet nothings and dancing around your apartment to swoony jazz music whilst sipping on peach-hued Champagne, women should feel comfortable articulating their sensual side as often as possible.

One company who also embodies this same ethos is Blackbird Underpinnings. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, this female-owned, body-positive lingerie company takes inspiration from fearless females of the past in both ideals and sartorial style. With their debut line, aptly dubbed The MAVEN Collection, co-founders Marin Camille and Julia Zolinsky infuse their locally sourced silky confections with retro-minded details and an empowering state of mind. Crafted to fit the manifold female body types, Blackbird Underpinnings makes the art of undressing fun for every feminine form.

So, you may be asking yourself, “where can I procure some of these silken sweet nothings?” The Blackbird babes just launched a Kickstarter campaign to put their line into production for fabulously irreverent ladies everywhere. The best part? A simple donation comes with sweet gifts like a tote bag, velvet high-waist panties, or even a champagne-hued romper. Check out their site and sumptuous video to get more information, and please help these fine femmes!

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Blackbird Underpinnings, photo courtesy of Kelly Puleio

Exposed: Digital Footprints, No Turning Back

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As someone who writes candidly about sex, romance, and dating for all the world to read, I have had my issues with feeling exposed. Especially once I found out that certain in-laws had tracked down my Twitter account and hence found my not-so-incognito blog persona.

Whoops.

While I have never been a private person—I tend to learn and grow from my own experiences when I share them with others—for the first time I felt really exposed. Exposed. Visible. Vulnerable. I also felt like what I was writing about on my blog was somehow wrong. I felt dirty. I felt like maybe I should abandon the blog for once and for all. If you haven’t noticed I’ve been a bit absent. Well, now you know why.

But then I realized why I was writing this blog in the first place. I wasn’t here trying to spill my sexiest secrets to the peeps of the interwebs. On the contrary, I was trying to legitimately help people, to connect, and to try to create a safe forum in which men and women can discuss sex, relationships, dating, and gender roles that go unspoken in our normal day-to-day lives. This blog also provides a creative outlet for me, which is something I don’t always get while toiling over copy about fashion trends, “It” bands, and luxury getaways. I didn’t have Carrie Bradshaw ambitions—unless that means being a regular columnist for Vogue—and I don’t spend all my money on shoes and gripe about my unsuccessful relationships. And though I do have an extreme shopping habit, my sole purpose is to connect people to a more honest version of self, or linking desire to a holistic idea of pleasure that’s anything-but-dirty, and to feel like it’s OK to question the status quo of dating, sex, and coupling. My blog also isn’t all about ME, ME, ME. It’s about universal truths that connect us.

Speaking of Vogue, I recently read an article by Karley Sciortino of Slutever fame. How she got into the BIG book is beyond me, but the piece really hit home in a lot of ways. In her uncharacteristically PG-rated piece (it is Vogue after all) Miss Slutever discusses something that’s pretty common for Generation Millennial: growing up with online footprints tracing your every style iteration, sexy picture mistake, and heinously written early-twenties-era article (ouch!). While I am technically too old to be considered part of this narcissistic tribe, I am still guilty of spending much of my formative years online, with my articles, photos, and blog-delivered insight like a scrapbook of personal anecdotes—both good and bad. Pixelated photos, unformed or poorly thought-out articles that my editor let slide, early attempts at blogging—it all exists somewhere, out there for anyone to see or read.

Despite the inevitable embarrassment of said online artifacts, Sciortino makes a really valid point. Web mishaps may haunt you like a really bad break up, but if you’re an unconventional thinker like Sciortino or myself, who is unafraid to speak candidly in such a public forum, you would never consider a job or a relationship that would ever force a fundamentally change. She adds that our notion of self and our identity is fleeting and as a result always changing, but if you’re non-traditionalist or nonconformist by nature, this stigmatization about a racy blog or some kind of past subversion shouldn’t even phase you. From an early age I made a conscious decision to play by own rules. It’s pretty obvious Sciortino made a similar personal pact—have you ever seen her blog?—so I guess the bottom line is that once you put yourself out there, these feelings of exposure should just roll off your back right?

Well, unlike Sciortino I am not an exhibitionist reveling in the shock-factor that comes hand-in-hand with explicit talk. I want to help, heal, and explore. I am not doing this out of narcissism. I am not writing this blog to further my career. I am putting myself out there, yes, but my aim is true, my intentions are good, and I am the furthest thing from a fame whore.

I guess that means I am going to try my best to write truthfully, regardless of the looming threat of further exposure or possible scrutiny.

But at this point isn’t it already too late?

Stay tuned ….

Photo Lust: Witchy Women

I am loving this witchy editorial shot by photog Tim Bret Day. Part Salem Witch Trial, part rock n’ roll, and heavy on the sex appeal, this shot really embodies the juxtaposition of darkness and light, the contrast of masculine and feminine, and the fascination-repulsion contradiction of sex in modern American culture. What are your thoughts?

Photo of the Week: Lara Stone for French Playboy

 

The amazing Lara Stone, image courtesy of French Playboy

 

 

Image courtesy of French Playboy.

 

Maximize Your Morning

Image courtesy of Jean Vallette

Here’s an informative (and fun!) article from Women’s Health Magazine that not only promotes morning sex but also gives some pretty cool tips that I, myself have never tried. The powers of menthol, anyone?

Have a wild romp in the sheets pre-work and enjoy the sexy skip in your step all day. Remember, not only is sex a morale booster but this article also claims that it helps to boost overall happiness and immunity. Don’t hit the snooze button tomorrow morning—tap that ass instead!

Memory Tapes: Best Make Out Music–Ever!

Make out music genius: Memory Tapes' Dayve Hawk

While Venus in Heels might be a relationship-centric blog, I think that there is a total intersect between music and love. I mean, c’mon! Most of the tunes that dominate the airwaves —or your headphones—are sonic tales of love, lust, loneliness, and desire. That said, I figured I’d use this opportunity to turn you on to one of my current favorite artists: Memory Tapes.

This dreamy project is the brainchild of reclusive New Jersey-based multi-instrumentalist Dayve Hawk, who has a knack for creating nostalgic dreamscapes with languid beats, wistful guitar strums, and layered synth tones that are simultaneously  beautiful and achingly melancholy. Since first hearing Hawk’s ethereal tracks late last year I haven’t been able to stop listening. Memory Tapes’ arresting debut Seek Magic consists of eight delicate yet dynamic tracks that bleed seamlessly into the next, making for a different kind of listening experience—one which can easily feel like a transcendent musical haze. rather than a typical headphone sesh. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve idiotically missed my subway stop while being fully immersed in this album.

Memory Tapes is not only a great listen, but it’s even better make out music. There’s something inherently romantic in the drowsy keyboards and heartbeat-like percussion, and the lyrical content on songs like “Bicycle,” which recalls a tender yet naive coupling. If you’re searching for some new music to lock lips to, or just something to rock out to, why not try Memory Tapes on for size.

What’s the Temperature of Your Sex Life?

Photo by Diane Arbus

It goes without saying that sex is an integral part of any healthy relationship. But after watching this week’s intimacy-themed episode of Tough Love Couples on VH1, I was completely blown away by how many people (on the show and beyond) are dissatisfied with the all-important sexual component of their partnerships. Some of the couples never have sex (one boyfriend described his sex life as “ice cold”), and one very unlucky woman has never experienced an orgasm—which is not surprising seeing as recent studies report that around 10% of women have never had one. The bottom line: when the sex isn’t working there’s definitely larger issues at hand.

The sex-related problems of these televised twosomes range from trust issues and infidelity to communication and the understanding of each other’s unique desires, but something that struck me as odd was the fact that the couple dubbed the “Dramaramas,” who notoriously fight dirty, were the pair with the most successful sex life. Funnily enough, my boyfriend and I thought that comical title would be most apt for our own love story. While we are both lovers, we are also fighters, but this seems more like a personality thing rather than a fatal flaw—if you ask anyone they’d describe both of us as opinionated hot heads.

"Tough Love Couples" cast members, courtesy of VH1

In some cases though, frequent verbal sparring might be covering up for something lacking in the bedroom—I am always telling people that if I’m not fucking, I’m fighting—or it’s an indication that perhaps the romance is over and it’s time to move on. But honestly, I am really convinced that a healthy dose of conflict helps to keep you interested. Love and hate are so closely linked, and when you get your tempers enflamed it’s hard not to get all fired up, if you know what I mean. They didn’t call it “hate sex” for nothing.

While fighting isn’t a solution by any means, it is a good gauge for seeing the dynamics of a relationship. It forces you to ask questions like, “is there enough fire here to maintain this?” and “what exactly is the glue that’s holding us together?” If there’s still love and attraction between a couple the conflict most likely stems from sexual tension—I know this from experience. And, in reality, if I find myself in a situation with someone where all we do is fight and everything about them annoys me (which seems like the case with the couples on the show) then it’s obvious that there’s nothing left but animosity between us.

I did find myself in this situation with my ex-boyfriend of three-years. It became apparent that I was using him as a placeholder until I could come up with a better plan, or find a better man. It got to the point where the thought of having sex with him would literally turn my stomach (why did he always smell like sweaty balls?), and we would maybe see each other once a week for an awkward dinner outing and a chaste goodbye kiss in his car. When I finally broke it off with him, he was so blindsided it was painful for me to watch, but ultimately I knew that neither of us were growing or moving forward and I, myself, was far from happy.

I guess what I am really trying to say is that I think everyone benefits from taking action. Whether this means taking positive action and making an effort to love and respect your partner in a way that will make you both happier, learning to communicate what you both want so you will spend more time satisfied in the sack than fighting it out verbally, or to stand up and address what you truly want and need and if your needs aren’t being met then leave, dammit! It’s like what a wise man once told me, it’s better to be alone and happy then with someone and miserable

Photo of the Week: Girl on the Motorcycle Redux

"Girl on the Motorcycle" redux. Image courtesy of Jacques Magazine

Highways and Bi-ways, Part I

Girl-centric photography courtesy of Helmut Newton

If you were to ask me my sexual preference, my immediate reaction is that I’m straight. I have always envisioned spending my life with a male companion, having children in the traditional—but non-suburban—fashion, and getting old with a partner who will most likely need to pop a few little blue pills to get his ya-ya’s out. But underneath my straight girl exterior is a steaming libido for the tender touch of a woman. I would never deem myself a full-time—or even part-time—dweller of the Island of Lesbos, but I have had my girl-on-girl moments that, to me, felt far more serious than some people’s bullshit Liberal Arts college experimentation or feigned fantasies about lip-locking and cherry lip gloss.

In my wild high school days, I was always stealing kisses from girls. But not in the misogynist-centric Girls Gone Wild sense. It was never for shock value, or to say I did it, or to carve another notch on my proverbial bedpost. I have always acted on instinct, and what feels good to me at the time—an urge that has given me many colorful experiences, but has also caused me to hurt people and made me question whether I was living my life selfishly. But, as they say, no regrets. It’s all just free love, right?

In college I met Aja.* We were fast friends at the lame fashion school we both attended in downtown San Francisco. She was a half-Jamaican, half-Filipino firecracker with a pervy older boyfriend, and an energy that just made me feel warm whenever I was around her. While everything seemed very innocent at first, soon she was showing me explicit photos of her and her boyfriend’s raunchy sexcapades—cum shots, amateur blow job photography, and penetration snaps that would make even the jaundiced editors of Penthouse magazine blush. While I was majorly turned off by the very female-unfriendly subject matter of the photos, and the up-close-and-personal angles of my newfound friends, Aja was always a great friend and clothing construction mentor, who would help me sew and draft patterns when my extreme dyslexia took over.

One night everything changed. It was the evening before Easter Sunday, and she wanted to come over to give me a brand new sewing machine and help me with my sewing homework. I think we had to make a vomit-worthy poet blouse and I was getting stuck on the gathered Shakespearian-like sleeves. She arrived at my house in a circle skirt and cropped sweater, all of which she had made and altered herself. She wasn’t wearing underwear. We quickly got to setting up the machine and sewing my blouse. Afterwards we rewarded ourselves with a joint out on the back porch. I began to sense something in the air, like the thick tension when two dogs are about to fight or when firecrackers ignite in the muggy summer night sky. There was a perceptible shift, and it felt imbued with heavy masculine energy.

Photo courtesy of Photo Forum

Once inside she pounced on me. I was surprised but part of me just intuitively knew she wanted me. Aja was not a gentle or experienced lover of women. So accustomed to pleasing her porn-obsessed boyfriend, her touch was rough and her jabbing motions were incongruent with my soft form. Since I knew I wouldn’t find pleasure at her hands, I took over. I figured that if I knew what I wanted I could translate that to her unique urges and then guide myself from there.

In my experiences with men, I find great satisfaction in taking on the roll of the pleaser. But with women I find it to be an otherworldly thrill that moves my body in ways that I had never even fathomed. Watching her get-off was something I had never experienced with men. Their selfish whimpering at climax, and hair-grabbing moves never do much for me, whereas the giving-and-getting of pleasure with women is a mutual treat that has a different ebb and flow that is more wave-like and less like a rocket launcher.

Aja and I spent a few more warm spring nights discovering each other’s bodies and staying up all night laughing. I cut her off when she mentioned that her slime ball boyfriend wanted to join in our innocent fun. I didn’t want his grubby paws anywhere near me or my newly discovered sexual identity and autonomy. I think that is also the reason why I come back to—or dream of—being with women: there is so much inherent power and magic in finding arousal without the presence or aid of a man. And while Aja fucked like a man, she was all woman.

* Names have been changed.