Tag Archives: Sex

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

Mother F*cker: Grappling with Baby-Making

david-bowie-angela-bowie-baby

 

 

 

 

Perhaps it’s the maniacal ticking of that proverbial biological clock. Maybe it’s the “grownup” version of peer pressure. Or even a primordial urge that’s greater than rational human understanding. Whatever the case, everything around and inside me has forced some serious contemplation about the abstract notion of motherhood. I say abstract because, to me, I am experiencing this strange dichotomy where having a child seems both a far away concept that happens to “more mature,” fully formed people as well as something so innate and inherent in who I am and what I hope to experience as a woman.

It’s literally like I am walking through Times Square and every flashing neon light, animated billboard, and larger-than-life poster is screaming: “HAVE A BABY—NOW!

(((Shudder)))

Around me everyone is pregnant. Or they’re talking about fertility treatments or about the elaborate getaway they’ve planned—its sole purpose for baby-making. Or I am standing in line at the pharmacy and the headlines are filled with baby bump-this and maternity chic-that. My dreams are also inundated with my hypothetical baby-to-be. Sometimes it’s like Rosemary’s Baby, but minus the pixie haircut. Other times, it’s beautiful and profound and what I always imagined. Maybe having a child is somewhere in the middle between the horror of having a devilish little foreign body inside you and the real-life miracle of conception. Obviously, I have no clue, but according to my subconscious, impending motherhood is seen in this hyperbolized black and white.

It’s strange how we spend our promiscuous twenties avoiding pregnancy by any means necessary. As we usher in our thirties the narrative changes to women searching either for the perfect potential mate or to procreate with a previously procured partner.

My decision to finally abandon birth control for once and for all two years ago had nothing to do with pregnancy. In all honesty, I was convinced the extra dose of hormones surging through my body was the cause of some chronic health problems. Once off the pills it was obvious that my initial suspicion was correct. My health improved. Strangely, so did my sex life.

Thinking about it now, maybe there’s something so passionately primal about the possibility of conception that makes sex that much more exciting. While there’s the tangible orgasm—an expected byproduct of sex—a baby is the ultimate corporeal gratification of coupling. It’s the end-all, be-all creation. The extra-added risk and the feeling of sex with Russian roulette-like odds bring a different level of excitement. Or maybe my body is calling.

And how apt this post is. Just in time for Mother’s Day. I think my subconscious is working overtime. Mother fucker.

Love and Marriage?

 

So it’s been a year since I’ve written anything on my beloved blog. There have been many ups and downs, with many learning experiences along the way. Jobs gained then lost, new friends made and old relationships evaluated. The one thing that’s been a constant is my impending wedding—like a familiar shadow following me everywhere. While the planning of my nuptials has had its annoying moments or frustrations, it has been a nice distraction from the tumultuous year. As has my relationship with my fiancé, who has been at my side for every last smile or tear.

This past year I have also watched many relationships dissolve. It’s been interesting to witness a seemingly solid partnership fizzle out, the couple relegated to near-stranger status. Two people once bonded are now just a piece of each other’s past. How sad is that? I’ve had many breakups, but as I watch these long-term relationships devolve from intimacy to spiteful pettiness it just makes me realize how much we change over the course of our partnerships. This is obviously not a bad thing, but it’s interesting to study and wonder if I, too will one day wake up feeling like a different person and like my current beau is no longer a perfect fit. Honestly, I feel as though I have made the best choice for me in terms of a life partner—someone who makes me laugh, someone whose smell is the pheromone equivalent of home, and who gives me comfort and satiation in equal measure. But that doesn’t stop me from thinking, on the eve of my wedding season, whether there is truly nothing definite, even when it comes to true love.

We all marry and cling to each other for different reasons. Whether you’re searching for comfort and security (either emotionally or financially), companionship, or the dizzying, intangible notion of love, the decision to devote yourself to one person for eternity is daunting and in a sense—after watching many celebrity parings end miserably or even the supposedly solid relationships of our parents end—seemingly impossible. What does it take to stay in love? How can we insure that we never lose sight of our partner’s needs, and how do you prepare for the inevitable changes we are all destined to face?

All this uncertainty and these unending questions swirl in my head as I attend the tastings, the consultations, and fittings for my wedding ensemble. But, instead of giving in to them, like a weird sick and twisted peer pressure, I feel almost more strongly and sure about my future and my decision. Perhaps being armed with the knowledge of how other people’s marriages have crashed-and-burned is allowing me insight into what to prepare for or at least how to potentially detect what I should stay aware of.

With the future so uncertain all we can do is trust in our own personal version of love, happiness, and the bond of our partnerships. Maybe I am naïve, but I still believe.

Emotional Eating: Is Food the New Sex?

Crystal Renn photographed by Terry Richardson for Vogue Paris.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In case you couldn’t tell from my recent barrage of disgruntled tweets about Points Values, calories, and my lack of Pinot Noir, I am on a diet. This is the first diet of my entire life—except for the impromptu wine diet of summer 2010, which was fueled by relationship hardships and provided the increased calorie count that paved the way for this new, real diet.

I recently came to realize that I lost the script—and like lost it big time.

Through all the dramatic highs and woes of the past year-and-a-half, I unknowingly fell victim to the dangerous cycle of emotional eating. Between the almost-breakups and make-ups with my boyfriend—um, now fiancé—to job stress, financial ups and downs, and the shaky freelance world, it’s been a tough uphill battle. The more and more things went haywire, the more I resorted to my social life that revolved around pleasure and comfort. That meant going out for dinner and drinking as much red wine as I could get away with before it was hangover territory.

The scariest part: With my culinary pleasure-seeking came the major reduction of quality time spent between the sheets. I shudder as I wonder how this even happened. How did food come to replace sex, which has been such an important aspect of my life and an integral part of my quest for self-exploration? And, most importantly, how did I not notice this happening? How did I get so trapped in this vicious cycle that I didn’t even see the effect it was having on my life?

Crystal Renn, photographed by Terry Richardson for Vogue Paris.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My boyfriend and I were both guilty of putting a pizza party above sex on our priority list, especially when things got tough. And in the process, my body went from a well-proportioned vixen physique to a super-sized version—and all in a matter of two years. My boyfriend and I become coconspirators in our need to find warmth in a carb overload, our sex life taking a backseat as our daily stresses and pent up emotions became too much to bear—and too hard to ignore for the length of a sexy encounter.

I had never recognized the correlation between sex and food before. I mean, sure, they both provide satisfaction, help to spike serotonin, and they both can be described using many of the same terms. But, being an inherently sexual creature, it was hard to wrap my mind around how one act could easily replace the other in times of stress and unhappiness. Much like my relationship to sex, my friendliness towards food was never unhealthy. Sure, I ate and enjoyed going out for dinner, but it wasn’t the driving force that it, up-until-recently, had become.

Strangely enough, the scale initially began to tip towards an unhealthy relationship with all-things edible once my boyfriend and I moved in together and began to settle comfortably into our personal iteration of domestic bliss. Part of our bonding ritual was enjoying food together post- or pre-coitus—whether that meant visiting our favorite foodie haunts or me slaving over the stove—eating became a kind of foreplay. It also didn’t help that watching me cook is a major turn-on for my man, but that’s a whole other story…

Crystal Renn, photographed by Terry Richardson for Vogue Paris.

The more settled we became, the more I got lost in the bliss of indulgence and the act of satiation—whether that was sexual or food-wise, I was finding comfort and safety in both forms of fulfillment. But as time went on, and as life happened, the sex slowed down but the eating didn’t. Soon it almost began to replace sensual pleasures during our hardest times.

Although it has taken a while to fully understand and recognize these recent destructive patterns and my unhealthy coping mechanisms, it’s not all that surprising. I spent a large portion of my life relying on external things to quell my own personal demons and the daily stress of a basic mundane existence. Whether it was drugs, alcohol, shopping, or inappropriate romantic choices, there was always a diversion, something else I had to focus on that drew the attention away from me and my problems. Facing things head-on has never been easy for me, and now, trying to embrace my life as an adult, it has gotten even harder.

Food is plain and simply drugs for grownups. We fuss over new hard-to-get-into restaurants, coo about freshly-picked peaches at the overpriced farmers market, or brag about a decadent whole-pig roast we attended over the weekend the way we would about 20-something sexual conquests and debauched nights that used to define us. While I am easing into my thirties with grace—and a new diet—I don’t want to replace one compulsion for another. It’s time for a detox from all the distractions. It’s time to face life without the armor of excess.

The Ex-Files: The Dating Site Disaster

Andreas Kock's stalker fashion editorial.

Photo by Andreas Kock

At this point in our collective dating lives, I imagine we’ve all accumulated enough horror stories about ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends to fill a two-volume novel. Whether it’s the psycho stalker, the asshole who locks you—and your stuff—out of the apartment, or the blackmailer who posts naked photos of you on all of their social networking channels, there’s nothing worse than a butt-hurt former lover with an axe to grind. Luckily, I have had the pleasure of keeping most of my exes as friends. Some of which I still email with, joke with about old times over the phone, or share the occasional happy hour libation. I’ve only had one ex who really lost the script after our breakup and behaved so badly I had to change my phone number—twice.

Back in 2005, I was a full-time student and struggling freelancer who had no time to socialize and even less time to date. I was tired of using the same circle of friends as a conduit for romance, so in a bold attempt to rekindle my love mojo, I signed up for an online dating site. And not one with the “measure your long-term compatibility” bullshit. No, this was the era of Nerve.com, the notorious online dating destination known for its hot hipster singles, most of them looking for no-strings romps. Perfect. After I created my profile, added a coquettish picture, and filled out the requisite information with as much humor as I could muster while writing back-to-back papers on Spenser and eight record reviews for the music mag, I sat back and waited for the eligible man-dolescents to start lining up. And virtually line up they did! I was literally going out four nights a week on dates thanks to my Nerve profile.

Max was a seemingly normal guy—at least for my standards. I had gone out with about everyone in San Francisco, most of them were way out of my age range (Electra complex, anyone?) had major issues, and only wanted me because I was 25 and a not-so reformed party girl-cum-student. Max and I liked the same obscure indie bands, he had a deep voice, and an adventurous nature that was refreshing after all of the aloof and “over it” scenesters I used to roll around on unmade beds with. And just like that, it went from a casual phone call to pint-sized margaritas at Casanova to a marathon make out session in the dark corner of the bar while the DJ played obscure ’70s rock and Northern Soul. Coincidentally, I had a date scheduled with the DJ the very next night. It’s safe to say that date never happened.

I never wanted a boyfriend. Or, I guess I should rephrase that. I never wanted him as my boyfriend. But our chemistry was right on—well, that’s an understatement. I realize that I was completely hornswaggled into a relationship because of our incredible sex life. That coupled with the fact that summer was drawing to a foggy close with the fall semester looming like a dark cloud in the distance. So there I was, suckered into a union with a guy who looked like a deranged monkey when he smiled and used improper grammar. But he knew how to satisfy me physically, and that was my weakness.

 

So I quickly went from fun, flirty, and single to attached and confused about how I got there in the first place. But I was blinded by lust, and he kept me content by buying me pretty things, like naughty Wolford stockings, Led Zeppelin records, and expensive bottles of Pinot Noir. I was hooked on being worshipped, but this was far from the basis of a stable relationship. Looking at this time retrospectively, I also recognize that I spent very little of this period sober (I said not-so reformed party girl, remember?), and what we had in common was our consumption of top-shelf spirits, premium cocaine, and the mother of all drugs—sex. The more time that went on, the more I began to realize that our relationship was founded upon our sexual chemistry—it was a temporary fix, a moment in time, and somehow it managed to last three years. By the beginning of our second year, I started to have serious doubts. I slept with two men behind his back and fantasized about breaking up with him every single day as I rode the train to my cushy magazine job. Between his lack of ambition and his hopeless devotion towards me, I lost respect for him and with that my sex-drive. Without the lusty haze keeping us glued together, I knew that the end was imminent. I also knew that, because Max was so addicted to me, this breakup wouldn’t be an easy one. So I put it off eight long months.

With the realization that it was time to break it off with Max, I also recognized that I had gotten too comfortable in my current life and surroundings. It was time to shake things up. I did the most extreme thing I could think of. I decided to move from San Francisco to New York City with no plan in mind and no place to live. So with idealized visions of city life dancing in my head, I broke the news to Max. I told him that breaking up was the best thing I could do for him, and that it would light the fire under his ass to make him figure out what he wanted out of life. Because worshipping me had become a full-time gig. He sat in my room and cried and cried, wondering why I wasn’t upset about losing him. I walked him out, as he staggered to his car he looked at me like a puppy through the cage at the pound and I knew I was doing the right thing. As my astrologer so aptly put it, “Pity is not love. Let him go.” And so off he went into the damp Bay Area night.

But of course that wasn’t the last I’d see of him. He wrote me numerous love letters, painted me things that were symbolic of our relationship, and he broke into my house in an attempt to talk to me. That was the first time I changed my phone number. Frightened as I was, I knew he was just maddened by love and needed some time and space to heal. Or so I thought. As my plane touched down at JFK there was now a whole country between us. I began my life on the East Coast, and quickly forged a new relationship with a man I had been pining over for three years. Who would have thought that Max was living mere blocks away from my sublet in Brooklyn? Not heeding the wise words of my sage astrologer, I felt bad for the guy and emailed him back on a sunny Tuesday afternoon. That’s how I quickly learned that he too was living in Clinton Hill and fled California shortly after I broke up with him. “It was mere coincidence, right?” I wondered as I met him for lunch at the small café around the corner.

 

 

 

 

 

One lunch date seemed to rekindle a tentative friendship, which gave way to the dysfunctional dynamic of our recently terminated union. He took me out to dinners in the West Village when I had no money, or bought me glasses of wine when I had a hard day scouring the job boards. Soon I realized that it was like we were dating again—but without any of the lust to cloud my judgment. It became obvious to me that I really didn’t like him enough to be friends. And not to mention I had a new boyfriend that I was quickly falling in love with. The whole thing was flawed from the get-go. Again, my sympathy for him overruled my rational thought. The whole ambiguous friendship thing came to a head one night when he came over to my West Village apartment to use my Internet before I went off to meet my beau. As I emerged from the steamy bathroom I could tell the energy had shifted. Something was different. I asked Max what was wrong and he admitted to reading my emails while I was in the shower and came to the conclusion that I had no interest in ever getting back with him. I screamed at him, shocked by his idiocy and his disrespectful snooping and told him I never wanted him to contact me ever again. That was the second time I changed my number. That was also the second time he tried to break into my apartment.

That’s when the emails started. According to Max, I owed him money for the time he generously took me out to dinner when I was unemployed. I knew he was fishing for drama, finding some way to be able to write me off and call me a bitch. Fortunately, my boyfriend wasn’t having it. He emailed Max and told him that if he really wanted his money back, he would come and meet up with him in place of me. That settled the issue, and my boyfriend and I were back to domestic bliss while Max silently fumed in a dark apartment in Williamsburg. That was the end of the saga. Until two-years—and two awkward serendipitous street run-ins later—I got an email from my friend Kate.

“Hey, long time no see,” it read. “I wanted to ask you about your friend that’s on OKCupid. You’re in his photo. My friend is supposed to go out on a date with him and I figured I’d ask you about him. Is he a nice guy?” As I read the email I had a sinking suspicion that it was an old photo of Max and I. Probably the uber-flattering photo taken at my 27th birthday party. I emailed Kate, and she confirmed my suspicions. It was him—and me—in that profile photo. Not only that, the photo was at least four years old. I don’t even have that haircut anymore! It dawned on me how incredibly creepy this was on a multitude of levels—to use your ex-girlfriend as a “look I’m not crazy” device on a dating site, or even worse, to feature an out-of-date photo that neither reflects your current post-20s physique or your post-20s hairline. But as they say, how you find them is how you keep them. I met Max online, so in a strange way it’s pretty fitting that I would end up on his profile as a way to lure in a new wave of dates, our fate strangely entwined in the ether of the Internet.

Oversexed: Is the Modern Woman’s Amped Up Sex Drive Emasculating Men?

Rebecca Chandler shot by Robert Harper for ThePop.com

I attended a stylish rooftop soiree this past Saturday in the East Village. The Champagne was flowing—or overflowing I should say—and attractive singles danced and mingled with the monolithic Manhattan skyline in the background. It was my good friend’s birthday party, but I didn’t know any of the attendees. Instead of being a silent wallflower I poured myself a big glass of Pinot Noir and began striking up conversations with the partygoers. As usual, I subconsciously shifted the talk to relationships and sex. I was struck by how many women on this one Manhattan rooftop were bragging about their insatiable sexual appetites and how most men—both young and old—couldn’t keep up with them. Many complained about men frequently not being able to perform, or just not being in the mood and I was left wondering whether this generation of women are turning men off because of their empowered sense of sexuality.

For us women, is knowing what you want—and how to get it—emasculating our men and, as a result, diminishing their sex drives? Are we shifting the power so much that the men no longer know how to harness their power in the bedroom? I pondered over these questions on my breezy cab ride home over the Manhattan Bridge, praying that my red wine buzz wouldn’t manifest as a hangover the next morning.

With the increasing amount of power women have in the workplace, in contemporary politics, and many other facets of society and culture, it appears as though the influence of the strong female is wiping out the virility and potency of the male psyche—libido and all. There have been plenty of occasions that my boyfriend has complained about me being aggressive and “too independent,” insisting that I should respect the delicate balance of the masculine and feminine energies in our household and relationship. Being the neo-feminist that I am, at first I was pissed he broke things down like that, but I realized without the distinct gender roles that have been carved out for us by the media, our upbringing, and societal influence, many men don’t know how to operate or function correctly, especially when it comes to love and sex. Plainly stated: with the shift in the gender dynamic men don’t understand their new role and where they fit in—or how to fuck you.

Rebecca Chandler shot by Robert Harper for ThePop.com.

It’s a sad fact, but so much of who we are is a product of our upbringing and a reaction to our parent’s values. Unless your boyfriend grew up in a progressive household with parents that deemphasized the traditional roles of men and women, it’s likely that he was reinforced to see his role as the provider, the family figurehead, and the sexual aggressor. That’s not to say that he won’t appreciate you initiating sexually and feel thankful for having a partner that is as equally engaged in bringing the fire into the boudoir. But, he probably believes that there is a clear-cut male and female role within the lines of your relationship. Although these are archaic notions that are painfully outdated, once these definitions become hazy, his sexual role comes into question along with his sense of power.

Intoxicated by feeling free, beautiful, and successful, many women are looking to translate this energy into time spent between the sheets, only to be greeted by a less-than-interested man. As frustrating as this may be, we can’t expect our guys to just drop everything and update their operating systems to accommodate our amped up sex drives. This would require reprogramming many years of societal conditioning, and a complete ego overhaul. Instead, use your newfound power for good. Rather than pleading for him to have sex with you constantly, spend time pleasing your partner, indulging him in his fantasies, and trying out some steamy moves geared towards his climax. Also, take your pleasure into your own hands—literally. There’s no harm in channeling your monumental sex drive through self-love. Not only do you know how to get yourself going better than any lover, there is an array of affordable and exciting toys on the market to help you get to your sensual destination.

And, finally, try and communicate your feelings—and your urges—to your dude instead of pressuring him to pleasure you in an aggressive way. If you’re just trying to “put the pussy on him” every chance you can—like those unsatisfied rooftop partiers who found their partners unable to handle their advances—it’s a sure bet that your assertive tactics are a turnoff simply because they force him out of the dominant or “masculine” role. Because it’s this kind of gender shape shifting that is creating tension in the first place, try to make your point in a way that won’t be threatening and make him feel further emasculated. A male ego is a delicate thing, so instead of mentioning his sexual inadequacy, try to build him up by explaining how much he turns you on—because, let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a little flattery. Transport him back into a position of feigned power by hinting at your growing need for more sex, but by giving him the “authority” to decide when it can happen. Just let him know you need it more. By not forcefully making your point and carefully treading on this difficult subject matter—and hornswaggling him into thinking this was all his idea—the gender dynamic will shift on its own and, as a result, you will find that you will get what you want.